Daniel Chapter 2

Daniel Chapter 2 – History and Dreams
Class Notes
February 24, 2013

One of my favorite movies is ‘The Matrix Reloaded’, which was released back in 2003. It’s not so much the plot for me as it is the hidden subtleties within the movie that point back to the Old Testament in the Bible; specifically with nods toward Daniel and Isaiah.

The most memorable scene along those regards to me is the dream of Neo. In the scene he has a dream that he knows is very important, but he just can’t understand it. So he goes to visit the oracle to figure out what his dream meant, and as he drives off in his car, the license plate reads DA203. The subtle reference is to Daniel 2:3 which reads, “And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream.”

At the beginning of the movie, Agent Smith drives up in an Audi, and his license plate reads IS 5416. If you reference Isaiah 54:16 you come up with, “Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.” This verse can also be used to sum up Agent Smith’s character in the movie.

The final kicker is the ship that Morpheus uses in the movie. If you are following me, the name of the ship is the Nebuchadnezzar, or one of the main characters in the book of Daniel.

When we left off last week, Daniel and his three friends had been blessed by being promoted in the kingdom of Babylon due to the stand they had taken on G_d’s law. We begin chapter 2 with two anomalies that require deeper thinking than merely skimming the surface with a quick read. Let’s jump right in and find these items:

Daniel 2
[1] And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him.

In chapter 1 we were told that Nebuchadnezzar had commanded Ashpenaz to feed and ‘school’ the Hebrew teens for a period of three years. However, Daniel will be called upon later in this chapter to interpret a dream and it clearly states in this first verse that it is the ‘second’ year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. We also read at the end of the last chapter that the four young men were brought before Nebuchadnezzar at the appointed time, and he had found them ‘ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.’

So what gives here? Is the Bible contradicting itself? Many scholars (scoffers) have pointed at this apparent inconsistency and concluded as such.

However, archeologists uncovered the secret as they delved into the ancient writings and records of Babylon. They found that the Babylonians, who gave us our ‘0’ for the numbering system we use, counted the first year of a king’s reign as the ‘0’ year. So the ‘second year’ recorded here is the actual third year of his reign. Let me spell it out for you: 0,1,2 – three recorded years of Nebuchadnezzar so far.

Another possibility here is John Wesley’s interpretation: 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.

Much like Neo, Nebuchadnezzar has a dream in this verse that troubles him. In fact it troubles him so much that he can no longer sleep at night. We are told in the Bible that a decent night’s sleep is a gift from G_d for those He loves:

Psalms 127
[2] It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.

Daniel 2
[2] Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, for to shew the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king.

Nebuchadnezzar called for his brain trust of the philosophers and religious leaders of his kingdom. “Magicians” were those who could supposedly predict the future by various means; they were also the sacred writers. The “astrologers” were a group who studied the stars to determine the future. “Sorcerers” were those who could cast spells by witchcraft or incantations. The “Chaldeans”, a sect of preists, were thought to be divine soothsayers who were gainfully employed by teaching Chaldean culture.

[3] And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream.

This verse is notable from a literary viewpoint because in verse 4 Daniel changes from writing in Hebrew to writing in Aramaic. This leads some to believe that the book has more than one author, but it also could be that Daniel has been learning the language and writings of the Babylonians for three years, and after such a time the new language becomes natural to the writer. He will go back to writing in Hebrew during the seventh chapter of the book.

[4] Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriack, O king, live for ever: tell thy servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation.

In Syriack – in Aramaic. ‘Tell us the dream and we will tell you what it means.’ No doubt they knew already to tell the king whatever he wanted to hear to make him happy. They probably had an answer ready-made for any situation. But the king throws them a curve:

[5] The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill.
[6] But if ye shew the dream, and the interpretation thereof, ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards and great honour: therefore shew me the dream, and the interpretation thereof.

There is a major problem for these false prophets, and you have to know by now that it surely came from G_d. Nebuchadnezzar can no longer remember the dream, only that it was a bad dream. He expects his ‘wise’ men to not only interpret the dream, but also to tell him what he dreamed in the first place! They are floored, and the best they can do is repeat what they told him in verse 4:

[7] They answered again and said, Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation of it.

I can almost see the looks of confusion in their eyes, and the smell of fear emanating from them. All of those years in magician school or Chaldean school had not prepared them for this.

[8] The king answered and said, I know of certainty that ye would gain the time, because ye see the thing is gone from me.
[9] But if ye will not make known unto me the dream, there is but one decree for you: for ye have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before me, till the time be changed: therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that ye can shew me the interpretation thereof.

Nebuchadnezzar does not see how magnanimous his request actually is. He is blinded either by his confidence in his brain trust and his belief that they really can see into his forgotten dream, or else he is slowly realizing the charade they have been pulling over his eyes during his short reign. Probably the latter, as he speaks of their ‘lying and corrupt’ words.

[10] The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, There is not a man upon the earth that can shew the king's matter: therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that asked such things at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean.

Earth to Nebuchadnezzar, come in please! They respond that no one can perform this feat, therefore no one should ask for it.

[11] And it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can shew it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.

In fact, no one can perform the king’s request except the gods (Bel) and he doesn’t live around here!

[12] For this cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon.

I told you last week that Nebuchadnezzar was a loose cannon and life had no value in his court! He decides to simply kill all the wise men in the kingdom because they can’t give him an impossible answer.

[13] And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain.

What do you do when the bad guys show up at your door to kill you? Daniel responds with what he knows best—counsel and wisdom:

[14] Then Daniel answered with counsel and wisdom to Arioch the captain of the king's guard, which was gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon:
[15] He answered and said to Arioch the king's captain, Why is the decree so hasty from the king? Then Arioch made the thing known to Daniel.

The decree was so hasty from the king that Daniel knew nothing about it until Arioch and the guards dropped by to murder him. Obviously he had not been called in with the wise men earlier that day. Arioch explains the situation and we do not know the conversation that followed. Somehow they aborted their mission to kill Daniel and his friends.

[16] Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would shew the king the interpretation.

Somehow Daniel gains an audience with the king, and asks for time. His request is granted, even though Nebuchadnezzar had accused his wise men of ‘stalling for time’ earlier back in verse 8.

[17] Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions:
[18] That they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.

Daniel leaves the king’s palace and goes immediately to his three friends, and asks them to pray both for him and for themselves, that G_d would open this secret dream to him and not let them perish. When things are darkest, it helps to have the prayers of friends adding an exclamation point to your own prayers.

[19] Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.

The dream was revealed to Daniel in a night vision from the Lord. Either in a dream while Daniel slept, or an actual vision—we may never know. But what we do know is that G_d reveals the secret things (Deut. 29:29) to those with an earnest faith, and those who have it revealed to them should waste no time in thanking Him for doing so.

[20] Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his:
[21] And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:
[22] He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.
[23] I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou hast now made known unto us the king's matter.

Even though his life is on the line, as well as the lives of his friends, and the executioner could arrive at his/their doorstep at any minute, Daniel takes the time to pray a sincere prayer of thankfulness. He worships G_d and praises Him for giving them the miraculous answer they sorely needed.

[24] Therefore Daniel went in unto Arioch, whom the king had ordained to destroy the wise men of Babylon: he went and said thus unto him; Destroy not the wise men of Babylon: bring me in before the king, and I will shew unto the king the interpretation.

Despite their differences, Daniel shows that he cares for the welfare of the wise men here. He asks Arioch not to begin killing the wise men, but to bring him in before the king as he, Daniel, has received an answer from on high.

[25] Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste and said thus unto him, I have found a man of the captives of Judah, that will make known unto the king the interpretation.

Notice the haste with which Daniel is brought before the king. Obviously Nebuchadnezzar’s rage was not yet abated and the quicker he got an answer, the better off the whole court (including Arioch) would be. Arioch also announces to the king that Daniel is a Jew (from Judah) but I do not think it was used in a derogatory sense here.

[26] The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof?

The contrast between verse 25 where Daniel is noted as a Jew, and this verse where he is called by his Babylonian name is notable. Nebuchadnezzar had spent time and resources trying to assimilate Daniel into his culture; now he is looking for results. I can only speculate, but I see Nebuchadnezzar with dark eyes, ringed from lack of sleep, and his brow furrowed with the worry of a dream he can no longer remember. He is humbled when he asks, “Are you able to tell me my dream and also what it means?” It is almost a plea at this point.

[27] Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king;

Daniel relates the obvious and verifies what the wise men had told the king earlier. There is no way to go into someone’s mind and tell them what they dreamed, let alone what the dream would possibly mean. At best it would be a magician’s parlor trick to even suggest that it could be done. Though he basically repeats what the wise men stated earlier, this time the king is not thrown into a rage.

[28] But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these;

There is a G_d in Heaven – nuff said. We could stop there if we wanted to and it would be enough and more. Daniel boldly tells Nebuchadnezzar that his (Daniel’s) G_d could reveal the secrets of dreams, and hints that the interpretation is of things that are going to happen in the later days of the future.

[29] As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter: and he that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what shall come to pass.
[30] But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart.

Daniel is about to do something profound. He is going to recall a dream that only the king could know, and also give the interpretation. But first he explains to the king that he can do so not because his own wisdom surpassed that of the other wise men, but that G_d—the Revealer of Secrets—had revealed it to him. And he was going to make this dream known to save the lives of those who the king in his anger was prepared to slay.

[31] Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible.

You can almost see the recognition in Nebuchadnezzar’s eyes as the dream begins to come back to him. A monstrous image, huge in size and scope that shown brightly against the horizon.

[32] This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass,
[33] His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.

The statue was made up of several different elements, and we should note the way the image began with a golden head and denigrated to feet of clay. The atomic weights of each section gradually declined, from fine gold to worthless mixture of iron and clay.

[34] Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.
[35] Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.

The dream continues to a point where an un-cut stone smites the image in its feet of iron and clay and breaks it into pieces small enough to be carried away by the wind. Again note how the dream began at the head and was described down to the feet, and at the end the listing of elements go from the bottom back up to the head. (iron, clay, brass, silver, and gold)

Nebuchadnezzar had to be smiling at this point, for by now he surely remembered the dream in its entirety. Yet one thing remains; he now remembers the dream, but what does it all mean? Daniel will not disappoint him:

[36] This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.

‘We’ will tell the interpretation to the king. This could mean that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego had came before the king with Daniel, or more likely Daniel is still giving credit to G_d here. Daniel was a vessel created for G_d’s work.

[37] Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.
[38] And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.

Nebuchadnezzar had to be relieved to hear that the head of gold represented his kingdom, and Daniel’s interpretation sounds a lot like flattery in its description of Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon. The head of gold reference is probably going to be the root cause of the trouble encountered in the next chapter. Daniel makes it known to the king that none of his glory would be possible without the G_d of Heaven behind it.

[39] And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.
[40] And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.
[41] And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay.
[42] And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken.
[43] And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
[44] And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
[45] Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.

Other kingdoms will follow Nebuchadnezzar’s culminating in the Kingdom of G_d at the very end—a kingdom that will stand forever. We will look deeper into these kingdoms in the next section of notes, but what is important to take from this lesson is that this future prophecy of the world was not given to a priest, scribe, or prophet. It was relayed through a dream from G_d to a wicked, despotic king and interpreted to him by a mere slave.

[46] Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours unto him.

Nebuchadnezzar is soundly impressed by Daniel’s wisdom and he has no doubt of the dream or its interpretation by Daniel. He set Daniel in a high place of honor on that day, replete with oblations and incense burned in his honor.

It seems strange that he is mentioned as ‘worshipping’ Daniel, but I have to imagine that Daniel somehow re-directed the king’s worship without offending him as Nebuchadnezzar gives G_d the glory in the following verse. Perhaps John Wesley can explain it a little better:

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.

[47] The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.
[48] Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon.
[49] Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel sat in the gate of the king.

Daniel is promoted to a very high position in Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom, and we must remember here that he could have been no more than 18 or 19 years old at the time. But Nebuchadnezzar saw something in Daniel that day, in his spirit and in his words, which proved him to be of utmost value to the Babylonian kingdom.

There’s an old saying ‘you dance with who brung ya’ and we see it personified here. Note that Daniel was promoted, but he also requested promotions for his three ‘prayer warrior’ friends, as their prayers certainly helped with the interpretation of the dream and the following good fortune for Daniel.

Mayger-Minute Verse

Deuteronomy 29
[29] The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.

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