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Daniel Four

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Daniel 4:1 Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you.

Daniel 4:2 I thought it good to show the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me.

Daniel 4:3 How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.

great are his signs. Finally, through the humiliating experience of which he testifies in this chapter, the arrogant king acknowledged God as “the high God” (Daniel 4:2), whose “kingdom is ... everlasting,” whose dominion is worldwide and who is “the King of heaven” (Daniel 4:37).

Daniel 4:4 I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace:

Daniel 4:5 I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me.

Daniel 4:6 Therefore made I a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known unto me the interpretation of the dream.

Daniel 4:7 Then came in the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers: and I told the dream before them; but they did not make known unto me the interpretation thereof.

Daniel 4:8 But at the last Daniel came in before me, whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods: and before him I told the dream, saying,

spirit of the holy gods. Even at this point Nebuchadnezzar, who had acknowledged (Daniel 2:47) that Daniel's God was the greatest of the “gods,” was still thinking in polytheistic terms, assuming that Daniel was in touch with a number of “holy gods.” Later he seemed to acquire a somewhat better understanding of God's unique majesty (Daniel 2:34-37).

Daniel 4:9 O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret troubleth thee, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof.

Daniel 4:10 Thus were the visions of mine head in my bed; I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great.

Daniel 4:11 The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth:

Daniel 4:12 The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it.

Daniel 4:13 I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven;

watcher. This distinctive name for one of God's holy angels occurs in the Bible only in this chapter (see also Daniel 4:17, 23). It does occur also in extra-Biblical literature (the book of Enoch). The term is insightful, suggesting that angels are watching us, actually “desiring to look into” God's dealings with us (1 Peter 1:12).

Daniel 4:14 He cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches:

Daniel 4:15 Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth:

Daniel 4:16 Let his heart be changed from man's, and let a beast's heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him.

seven times. This means seven years. See note on Daniel 7:25.

Daniel 4:17 This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.

the watchers. These “watchers” are mentioned in the Bible only in this chapter (Daniel 4:13, 17, 23). They are evidently synonymous with “the holy ones” who have come “down from heaven.” They seem to represent a certain category of angels, dispatched in this case to bring disciplinary judgment on the presumptuous king Nebuchadnezzar. They are mentioned frequently in the apocryphal books of Enoch and Jubilees, where they appear to refer intermittently both to God's holy angels and also to certain fallen angels. Although we cannot see them, we need to know they are there, directly concerned at least with “watching” events on earth (1 Peter 1:12; Ephesians 3:10; Psalm 34:7, etc.).

basest of men. Arrogant, murderous, idolatrous Nebuchadnezzar was certainly among the “basest of men,” yet God made him king over the mightiest kingdom of his age, to accomplish His will in judging His own chosen nation. The same seems often true today, when kings and presidents often are immoral and wicked. In a sense, God gives a nation the kind of leader its people deserve. Now and again, in response to repentance and confession by at least some of its people, God provides a godly leader to lead his nation back to God.

Daniel 4:18 This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now thou, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof, forasmuch as all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me the interpretation: but thou art able; for the spirit of the holy gods is in thee.

Daniel 4:19 Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him. The king spake, and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies.

Daniel 4:20 The tree that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth;

Daniel 4:21 Whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation:

Daniel 4:22 It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth.

thy dominion. The Babylonian empire was thus recognized as the most important in the world at this time, capable at least in principle of extending itself through the whole world.

Daniel 4:23 And whereas the king saw a watcher and an holy one coming down from heaven, and saying, Hew the tree down, and destroy it; yet leave the stump of the roots thereof in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him;

Daniel 4:24 This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the most High, which is come upon my lord the king:

Daniel 4:25 That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.

Daniel 4:26 And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule.

Daniel 4:27 Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.

Daniel 4:28 All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar.

Daniel 4:29 At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon.

Daniel 4:30 The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?

great Babylon. Babylon was, indeed, a magnificent city and considered the most beautiful city in the ancient world. Located along the mighty Euphrates, it covered at least six square miles, contained great walls and palaces, and its hanging gardens are recognized as one of the world's seven wonders.

that I have built. One of the many evidences of the authenticity of Daniel is his knowledge that much of the greatness of the city of Babylon was due to Nebuchadnezzar's building activities. A writer four hundred years after Nebuchadnezzar would not have known this fact, which is now abundantly verified by archaeology.

Daniel 4:31 While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee.

Daniel 4:32 And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.

Daniel 4:33 The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like birds' claws.

driven from men. This period of Nebuchadnezzar's strange madness has been somewhat cryptically mentioned in the writings of the later Babylonian historian Berosus.

Daniel 4:34 And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation:

Daniel 4:35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?

Daniel 4:36 At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me.

Daniel 4:37 Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.

able to abase. This is proud Nebuchadnezzar's final testimony. He had learned that God gives kingdoms to “whomsoever He will,” even “the basest of men” (Daniel 4:17), and he himself had been “abased” to confirm this.