Article #8 in our Daniel Series
And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him.
The third year of Jehoiakim as we have already seen in article #7 was 606 B.C. This was the year when Nebuchadnezzar came up against Jerusalem, besieged it and eventually took the choice captives back to Babylon including Daniel and his friends. Josephus records that it was while Nebuchadnezzar was in Palestine that he got word that his father, King Nebopolassar, had died. In our way of thinking, Nebuchadnezzar actually became king in the autumn of 606 B.C. upon the death of his father. However the Babylonians (unlike the Jews) did not include the ascension year as part of a king’s reign. To the Babylonians, the first year of a king’s reign was counted from the first full year that he reigned. This makes 605B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar’s first year and 604 B.C. his second year. Daniel was taken to Babylon (as we have just noted) in 606 B.C. and we know from chapter one that he served a three-year apprenticeship before being presented to the king.
606 B.C. – Daniel’s 1st year in training – Neb’s year of ascension
605 B.C. – Daniel’s 2nd year in training – Neb’s 1st year as king
604 B.C. – Daniel’s Final year in training – Neb’s 2nd year as king
Thus it would appear that it was during Daniel’s final year as a trainee that Nebuchadnezzar had this dream. He would only be around 18 years old. This explains why Daniel did not present himself before the king when the king called for the ‘wise men of Babylon’. In fact, none of the men that Ashpenaz was training for the king would have been ready at this time, so those that presented themselves before Nebuchadnezzar would no doubt have been the men who had served under Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar’s father; and as it becomes clear, Nebuchadnezzar does not trust them!
Nebuchadnezzar ruled his empire and had complete authority; what he said went. There was no government or cabinet that passed laws. It was all down to what him and what he said (this is alluded to in the king’s dream itself). No succeeding Babylonian ruler had this power. We see in chapter 6 when king Darius (the Mede) signed a decree, he was bound by the ‘law of the Meads and Persians’ (Dan 6:16). Although he was the king, he was himself bound by the Medo-Persian law. Cyrus was King of Persia while Darius the Mede was a sub king (Satrap) of Babylon.
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.
The king is so disturbed that he calls for his royal advisors, he is evidently not bothered about how this will make him look. He just needs to know what this dream meant. Many dreams are an amalgamation or merger of thoughts and images that we have seen that day, or in recent days.
Some dreams are simply because we had too much pepperoni on the pizza before we went to bed. In the book of Daniel, there are many dreams recorded in the Bible such as those connected to Joseph in the book of Genesis (Joseph’s own dreams per the stars in the heavens, sheaths of hay, the butler and baker in prison, Pharaoh’s dream). In Job we read:
“For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceived it not. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed;” (Job 33:14-15)
In the book of Acts, Peter quoted from the prophet Joel who said: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:17)
JIV NOTE: This should be taken to heart for those denominational ministers and religions who say such things as prophesy, visions from God, and dreams are only things of the past. This is a bit like global warmers who say the last ice age ENDED X thousands of years ago but without explanation as to when it ended or what was the cause. Prophecy, visions and dreams have NOT ended.
The magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans were supposed to be experts in interpreting dreams. Archaeologists have unearthed books containing formula whereby they would take the key elements of a dream and come up with the interpretation. The magicians, astrologers, sorcerers, and the Chaldeans were not just superstitious nut cases as we may think from our understanding of the terms; these were men of great learning and would have been highly respected. Babylon was famous for its science and discoveries. The division of the elliptic into 360o came from Babylon and was probably done so because of the earth’s orbit, which at that time may well have only been 360 days. Thus these characters were no daily newspaper horoscope columnists – yes they dabbled in the occult, but they tried to apply scientific method to their practices.
The magicians: – sacred scribes, involved in mystic writings and secret writings
The Astrologers – ‘Enchanters’, involved in séances (talking to the dead – and stars; Maji)
The Sorcerers – principally involved in using drugs and hallucinogenic; incantations etc. The Chaldeans: – the Babylonian priests.
And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream.
So the king explains the predicament. Man is created in God’s image. He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit just as we have a body, mind and spirit. Nebuchadnezzar’s spirit was troubled within him. He had a dream but couldn’t even recall it in as much as he was troubled by it.
Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriac, O king, live: tell thy servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation.
In the usual (and no doubt wise) way you address the most powerful man in the known world, the Chaldeans get straight in there and ask the king to tell them the dream and they would be only too pleased to give the interpretation – no doubt their formula books at the ready.
IMPORTANT NOTE: In the original manuscripts the writing in this verse changes from Hebrew (which the book has been in up to now), into Aramaic (Syriac). It is significant that Daniel then uses Aramaic all the while he is referring to the Gentiles. Later in the book when the focus comes back to the Jews he will switch back to Hebrew (chapter 7, verse 28). Normally in the Bible we see the world through the lens of Israel, however in Daniel we get a rare glimpse at the world from a purely gentile perspective. Perhaps it also means that beginning in Daniel 2:4, the target market of the scriptures is to the gentiles of this world and End Time parallels.
Most people assume that the Bible was written in Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament). In general this is true. There are parts in both the Old and New that are in Aramaic. Aramaic itself is closely linked to the original Hebrew and was a pictorial language; i.e. letters themselves were shapes – little pictures – that carried meaning with them. As with original Hebrew, their letter ‘A’ was written like an ox head and meant ‘strength’. Their letter ‘B’ was drawn like a tent and symbolized a ‘house’. Thus when you put the two letters together, ‘A’ & ‘B’ you get AB = the Strength of the House – this is their word for Father! We see this in the word ‘Abba’ Father. This is no longer the Hebrew in use.
Ezra was another biblical author who used both Hebrew and Aramaic, and in the New Testament Jesus used Aramaic words, such as ‘Talitha cumi’ spoken to Jairus’ daughter in Mark 5:41.
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.
There is some debate as to what Nebuchadnezzar is saying here; he is either saying that he can’t remember the dream, or that the ‘thing’ that has gone [forth] from him is the command to interpret the dream; it would seem more likely that it is the latter. J Vernon McGee states: This would be a rather extreme judgment, but you can see what the king wants. Frankly, a faulty translation of this verse gives the impression that the king had forgotten his dream. He hadn’t forgotten his dream. He knows the dream, senses its importance, and refuses to divulge it to the wise men. Why? He wants to get a correct interpretation of it. In the margin, the American Standard Version of 1901 translates “The thing is gone from me” as, “The word is gone forth from me.” In other words, Nebuchadnezzar is saying to these men, “I will not change my mind about this judgment I am pronouncing. Don’t beg me to tell you the dream—I’m not going to do it. You are going to come up with the dream if I am ever to listen to your interpretations.” The Berkeley Version has a helpful translation at this point also: “The king answered the Chaldeans, ‘This word I speak, I mean! If you do not tell me the dream and what it means, you shall be torn limb from limb and your houses will be destroyed.’” Nebuchadnezzar is putting fear in these men. They have to come up with the interpretation of the dream, but they first of all have to give what the dream is.
These wise men are fakes and know it. This is Nebuchadnezzar’s way of separating the wise from the wise-guy.
But if ye show the dream, and the interpretation thereof, ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards and great honor: therefore show me the dream, and the interpretation thereof. Just in case being cut to pieces and having one’s house made into a dunghill was not a big enough incentive, the king offers a reward for whoever can tell him the dream and the interpretation.
They answered again and said, ‘Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation of it.’
This was a real problem for them. They believed that they could interpret dreams – if they had them! But without a dream to begin with, they were well and truly stuck. A group of the scientists who believe that they have become so clever they don’t need God. They explain to God that they can now create life. God asks them if they could do it like He did it – from the dust of the ground. They look at each other and confidently assert that they could even do this, after all, the essential ingredients that we are made of are found in the dust of the earth. God decides to take them up on this challenge, so says ‘Go ahead then. Create life from the dust of the ground’. So the scientists bend down and pick up a few handfuls of dust to head back to their laboratory. All of a sudden God interrupts them, “Oh no you don’t. Get your own dust!”