Daniel Chapter 2
Chapter 2 begins with Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in about 604 B.C. It was obviously of some significance, as he called in his various “wise men” to interpret the dream for him. We do know that at various times in ages past, God sent messages to men through dreams.
King Abimelech had a dream about Sarah, Abraham’s wife: “But God came to Abimelech in a dream of the night, and said to him, "Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is married" (Genesis 3:20).
Jacob had a dream after he escaped the anger of Esau: “He had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it” (Genesis 28:12).
Joseph had a dream which he told to his brothers: “Then Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more” (Genesis 37:5).
Among those whom the king consulted were the Chaldeans. These were a group commonly called “wise men” and included those who were priests in idol worship. The “conjurors” (NASV) are from a Hebrew word some translate as “astrologers.” (KJV) or “enchanters” (ASV). It was common in both Babylon and Egypt to ponder the movement of the stars in order to predict the future.
It is interesting that Nebuchadnezzar would not tell the men what the dream was. He wanted them to tell him his dream and then interpret it for him. One wonders if he might have been a bit suspicious about their ability to actually interpret, or if they were fakers, such as modern fortune-tellers. Jeane Dixon (1904-1997) was a popular psychic whose column was a regular feature in many newspapers.
Unfortunately, Jeane Dixon had many false prophecies. For example, She predicted that Russia would be the first to land a man on the moon--that Richard Nixon would not resign from the presidency of the United States -- that the Vietnam War would be over by l966 -- that UFOs, with super-advanced humans from a hidden planet, would land and make contact with us by 1977.
“There shall not be found among you anyone…who uses divination…or one who interprets omen…For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12).
“When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him” (Deuteronomy 18:22).
It is also worth noting that beginning in Daniel 2:4b through chapter 7, the language in the original text is Aramaic and not Hebrew. But the style of the message is consistent whether in Hebrew or Aramaic, which contradicts the skeptics' view that the book was written centuries apart by different writers.
The prophecies in the book are so many and so detailed that many skeptics seek to undermine the authenticity of Daniel by claiming it was written during the Maccabean revolt during the second century B.C., during the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes. One major problem with this is that in four places, Daniel refers to the “Medes and Persians” (Daniel 5:28, 6:8, 12, 15). The problem? Historical documents from the second century all refer to them as the “Persians and Medes.” Thus a “second-century” Daniel does not fit in the historical record.
Daniel 2:5 indicates that the king was very disturbed by the dream, and he vows to mutilate the men if they do not interpret the dream. It was not just a common dream, and he suspected that it had an important message.
Daniel 2:8-9 shows that Nebuchadnezzar is onto their charlatanry, and gives them one more chance while accusing them of conspiring to talk it over and concoct a fabricated story to tell him.
These “wise” men finally come clean and admit they do not have supernatural power within themselves, but it can only through divine intervention that the dream can be described and interpreted.
The order was then given to execute all the wise men in the kingdom, This included Daniel and his companions, as they were considered “wise,” even though they were not among the Babylonian sorcerers and magicians.
When the king’s henchman came to Daniel, Daniel asked Arioch what was going on. Notice that Daniel “Then replied with discretion and discernment to Arioch.” Daniel’s wisdom is seen in how he answered Arioch. Upon hearing the explanation, he went in personally to speak to the king and asked for a delay of the death warrant. Having been granted the favor, he then went to his three friends, evidently to inform them of what was happening.
This indicates the high regard Nebuchadnezzar had for Daniel in that, in spite of his anger, he granted Daniel’s request.
Daniel went to his three Jewish friends and asked that they all might pray to God that he would reveal the mystery so that their lives might be spared.
God answered their prayer in a night vision that Daniel received. In Daniel 2:20-23, Daniel gives thanks and praise to God for what he has revealed. Notice the points made by Daniel in his prayer of thanksgiving.
Daniel answered and said, "Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, For wisdom and power belong to Him. (He is absolute in everything) And it is He who changes the times and the epochs; (He has control of the rise and fall of the rulers of the earth). He removes kings and establishes kings; (God is the supreme ruler of the universe); He gives wisdom to wise men, And knowledge to men of understanding. (He is the source of true wisdom) It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; (He is able to know the future). He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him. (There is nothing hidden from God)."
With Daniel’s understanding of the king’s request, he finds Arioch and asks that the wise men be spared the death penalty and that he would be taken to the king.
Daniel was brought before Nebuchadnezzar, who asked if Daniel was able to both reveal and interpret the dream. Daniel answered in the affirmative but gives God the glory and praise for the revelation that is about to be made known, as seen in the following verses.
“You, O king, were looking and behold, there was a single great statue; that statue, which was large and of extraordinary splendor, was standing in front of you, and its appearance was awesome. The head of that statue [was made] of fine gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay, and crushed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth” (Daniel 2:31-35).
After telling the dream, Daniel proceeds to give the interpretation, detailing the four kingdoms represented in the image.
The Babylonian empire came to an end in 539 B.C. when the Persian army stormed the city under the leadership of Cyrus, who was a respected ruler who showed kindness to the Jews and allowed those who desired to return to Judah and even provided funds for the rebuilding of the temple. Remember that Cyrus had been prophesied in Isaiah 44:28 100 years earlier.
Alexander the Great became a world ruler in 331 B.C. at the age of 25. He was born in 356 and inherited the strong kingdom of Greece at age 20 when his father Philip died in 336. He laid much of the foundation for the spread of the gospel in spreading the Greek language through all his conquered nations, as everywhere the early Christians traveled, they had a common language in addition to their native language. He was only 33 when he died in 323, but the Grecian Empire continued on until 168. He conquered Babylon in 331 and was in the city when he died. He had hoped to restore the city to its previous greatness but failed to do so. In time the city fell to decay and is today uninhabited. This is in accord with the prophecies made about the city, as it lies in ruins and is abandoned even today. Its site is just north of Bagdad in Iraq. Even Iraq’s ruler, Saddam Hussein had visions of rebuilding the city, but he also failed, as God decreed.
Upon Alexander’s death, the kingdom continued, although divided among four of his generals. This is symbolized by the four heads of the leopard in 7:6, which will be discussed later.
"And Babylon, the beauty of kingdoms, the glory of the Chaldean's pride, will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah" (Isaiah 13:19).
"Thus, says the Lord of hosts, 'The broad wall of Babylon will be completely razed, and her high gates will be set on fire... there will be nothing dwelling in it, whether man or beast, but it will be a perpetual desolation" (Jeremiah 51:58,62)
Rome then gained world power in the Battle of Pydna, which took place in 168 B.C. between Rome and Macedon during the Third Macedonian War. The battle saw the further ascendancy of Rome in the Hellenistic world and the end of the Antigonid line of kings, whose power can be traced all the way back to Alexander the Great.
Daniel’s interpretation continues in Daniel 2:43-45:
“And in that you saw the iron mixed with common clay, they will combine with one another in the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, even as iron does not combine with pottery. And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. Inasmuch as you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it crushed the Iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future; so the dream is true, and its interpretation is trustworthy."
Note Daniel 2:44 as this refers to the spiritual kingdom/church that was established in the city of Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost following the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. When did this happen? During the Roman Empire, the fourth kingdom in Nebuchadnezzar’s image. There has never been a secular “world kingdom” since then. But God’s spiritual kingdom continues since 33 A.D. by the common reckoning of time.
Nebuchadnezzar then honored Daniel and acknowledged the greatness of God. He promoted Daniel as a ruler over the area of Babylon and gave similar responsibilities also to Daniel’s three friends.
The fact that the “stone was cut out of the mountain without hands” (Daniel 2:45) shows that this kingdom is of divine origin, and Christians are citizens in that kingdom--“and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father; to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1:6). Any church/kingdom established or built by man would not be the same one described in the Bible which was built by Christ.
"Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He began asking His disciples, saying, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" And Simon Peter answered and said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal [this] to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it” " (Matthew 16:13-18).
“According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 3:10-11).
Following are some descriptions of one of the wonders of the ancient world, Babylon.
Diodorus Siculus gives a length of about 20 miles to the walls of the city of Babylon, miles which would more closely describe the actual rectangle that modern archaeologists recognize as Babylon’s inner city. The classical geographer Strabo lists the walls as being 75 feet in height with battlement towers reaching up to 90 feet.
The classical geographer Strabo lists the walls as being 75 feet in height with battlement towers reaching up to 90 feet. The Ishtar gate was in itself a marvel of engineering. To put the size of this gate in perspective, imagine that you were standing at the base of a 10 or 12-story building and looking up towards the top. That is what a visitor to Babylon would see upon entering the Ishtar Gate. Rather amazing, is it not?