- In this chapter we have, The perplexity of Nebuchadnezzar thro' his dream which he had forgotten, and which the magicians could not tell him, verse 1-11.
- Orders given to destroy all the wise men of Babylon, verse 12-15.
- The dream discovered to Daniel, and his thanksgiving, verse 16-23.
- His discovery of the dream and the meaning of it to the king, verse 24-45.
- The honour put upon Daniel and his companions, verse 46-49.
In the second year - This was properly in the fifth year of that king's reign, but in the second year after Daniel had been brought before the king. Dreams - It was one dream, but of many parts.
The astrologers - Who pretended great skill in natural, and supernatural things. The sorcerers - Or necromancers, who used diabolical arts. Chaldeans - This name the magicians assumed as being national, and most noble.
To know - He remembered the fact in general, but could not repeat it perfectly. Yet it had left such an impression on him, as put him in great perplexity. The Lord hath ways to affright the greatest men in the world, in the midst of their security.
In Syriack - That is in the Chaldee tongue, for Syria or Aram is sometimes taken in a large sense, containing, Assyria, Babylon, Mesopotamia, Phoenicia, Palestine, 2 Kings 18:26. From hence all is written in the Chaldee language, to the eighth chapter.
But one decree - I will not retract my sentence.
Daniel and his fellows - Daniel and his fellows were not called, because of their youth, which the Chaldeans despised. Here it is observable: 1. The magicians confessed, that knowledge and revelation must come from God, and therefore what Daniel did, was not of any human strength. 2. That the Lord held the governor's hands, so that he did not slay Daniel presently with the first. 3. That Daniel by his prudence and piety, saved all the magicians lives.
He changeth - God can make the sun go back or stand still, as in Ahaz and Joshua's time, it is the great part of God's power and prerogative to change times. Daniel here attributes that to God, which Heathens attributed to nature, or chance. God only, that made all by his power, doth rule, and over-rule all by his providence.
Belteshazzar - By this name of Belteshazzar he had given Daniel, he took courage as if he might expect some great thing from him: for the word signifies the keeper of secret treasure.
What shall be - Observe the prophet's wisdom, he does not fall abruptly upon the dream, but first prepares this lofty king for it, and by degrees labours to win him to the knowledge of the true God.
But - But that the interpretation may be manifest to the king, and that thou mayest be better instructed and satisfied in thy mind.
And we - By this word we appears Daniel's piety and modesty, or he declares by it, that he and his companions had begged this skill from God, and therefore he did not arrogate it to himself.
Made thee ruler - He hath given thee absolute dominion of all creatures, men and beasts within the bounds of thy vast kingdom. Thou - He was first in order, as the head is before the other parts, and the vision began in him, and descended downwards to the other three monarchies. He was the head of gold, because of the vast riches wherein this monarchy abounded, and because it stood longest, five hundred years, and was fortunate and flourishing to the last.
Another kingdom - This was that of the Medes and Persians, inferior in time for it lasted not half so long as the Assyrian in prosperity and tranquillity; yet, was this wonderful, rich and large for a time. Third kingdom - This was the Grecian monarchy under Alexander the great, called brass, because coarser than the other. Over all the earth - Alexander marched even to the Indies, and was said to conquer the world.
Fourth kingdom - This is the kingdom of the Romans, and was to last not only to Christ's first coming, but under antichrist, to his second coming. This did break in pieces all other kingdoms, being too strong for them, and brought all into subjection to it, 'till the stone fell upon it.
Divided - Partly strong, and partly weak; the Roman kingdom was divided, partly by their civil wars, partly when conquered provinces and kingdoms cast off the Roman yoke, and set up king's of their own, and so the empire was divided into ten kingdoms or toes.
Broken - This was plain in the civil wars of the Romans, and the falling off of some countries, especially towards the end of it.
Mingle themselves - By marriage, but they shall never knit well together, because ambition is stronger than affinity.
In the days of these kings - While the iron kingdom stood, for Christ was born in the reign of Augustus Caesar. And this kingdom is not bounded by any limits, as worldly empires are, but is truly universal. And it shall be for ever, never destroyed or given to others, as the rest were.
And the gold - This denotes the small beginning of Christ's visible kingdom, and the different rise of Christ from all other; his conception by the Holy Ghost, without father and mother, respectively as to his two natures. This stone, falling from the mountain, brake the image in pieces; for Christ is a stone that grinds to powder those it falls on: and he is a growing stone even to a mountain, and therefore will fill the earth.
That they should offer - This was strange, that so great a monarch should thus worship his vassal, which he did in consternation and admiration. But doubtless Daniel put a stop to it: though he could not hinder the king in his prostration, and in his word of command. And the king being instructed of Daniel, gives God all the glory in the next words.
God of gods - The supreme God of all the world, above Baal and all other gods. Lord of kings - The word in the Syriack signifies, high Lord, seeing he is the highest king of all the earth.
And he set - He substituted them as lieutenants for the king's service under Daniel, but Daniel sat in the king's gate to be ready for the king's chief business.