Article #19 of the Daniel series

Daniel 4:32-33

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.

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.

There is a condition known as Lycanthropy, coming from the Greek ‘lykos’ meaning ‘wolf’ and ‘anthropos’ meaning ‘man’, from which we identify ‘Wolf-Man’. Very few recorded cases exist yet extensive mythology has originated by the belief that a person could change into a wolf; this has led to legends of werewolf’s etc. that are found around the world.

A variation of this disease is Boanthropy where, rather than believing oneself to be a wolf, one believes oneself to be an ox or cow. It is this illness that most likely fits this situation. Myth and legend aside, there was a case recorded in England just after the Second World War. A man in his early twenties was admitted to a mental institution with all the symptoms consistent with Boanthropy. In his commentary on Daniel, Dr John Walvoord, one with whom I have a great respect, offers the following: “Raymond Harrison recites a personal experience with a modern case similar to that of Nebuchadnezzar which he observed in a British mental institution in 1946. Harrison writes: ‘A great many doctors spend an entire busy professional career without once encountering an incidence of this kind of Boanthropy described in the book of Daniel. Harrison therefore considers him-self particularly fortunate to have actually observed a clinical case of Boanthropy in a British mental institution in 1946.

The patient was in his early twenties, who had reportedly been hospitalized for about five years. His symptoms were well developed on admission and diagnosis was immediate and conclusive. He was of average height and weight, with a good physique and he was in excellent bodily health. His mental symptoms included pronounced anti-social tendencies, and because of this he spent the entire day from dawn to dusk outdoors in the grounds of the institution. His daily routine consisted of wandering around the magnificent lawns, of the hospital. And it was his custom to pluck up and eat handfuls of grass all day long.

On observation he was seen to discriminate carefully between grass and weeds. On enquiry from the attendant, Harrison was told that the diet of this patient consisted exclusively of grass from the hospital lawns. He never ate institutional food with other inmates, and his only drink was water. The writer was able to examine him curiously, and the only physical abnormality noted, consisted of a lengthening of the hair and a coarse thickened condition of the fingernails. Without institutional care the patient would have manifested precisely the same physical conditions as those mentioned in Daniel 4:33. From the foregoing it seems evident that the forth chapter of Daniel was describing an accurate and attestable mental affliction.”

Of course the critics of the Bible say that this could never have happened, however Eusebius refers to a Greek historian called Abydenus who sites a case in 268BC of a man with almost identical symptoms to Nebuchadnezzar. Josephus also quotes Berosus, a Babylonian historian, who documented the case of a Chaldean priest at the time of Alexander the Great, who once again appears to have suffered from this disease. In the East India Company Museum in London there is a cuneiform tablet that has been discovered that is inscribed with details about Nebuchadnezzar’s illness. Yet further evidence to support the Biblical account was the discovery of what has become known as the ‘Prayer of Nabonidus’ found in cave #4 at Qumran (part of the Dead Sea Scrolls found between 1947-1956). There is little doubt that the author is none other than Nebuchadnezzar himself. The scroll reads:

The words of the prayer that (Nabonidus?), the king of Assyria and Babylon, the [great] king, prayed [when he was smitten] with a malignant disease by the decree of the [Most High God] in [the city of] Tema. I was smitten for *seven years and from [men] I was put away. But when I confessed my sins and my faults, He [God] allowed me (to have) a soothsayer. This was a Jewish [man of the exiles in Babylon. He] explained (it) and wrote (me) to render honor and great glory to the name of the [Most High God]…” (JIV NOTE: Soothsayer was most likely Daniel himself.]

*Some bible scholars believe this to be written as 7 seasons or periods of time. In this geographical area there are only two recognized seasons; summer and winter. If this is correct that would mean the translation would then read 3 ½ years.

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 honored him that liveth forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation:”

How often do we take ‘seven years’ to learn the most basic lesson that God is in control? So often our pride exhibits or unveils itself as worry, which is a declaration that we and not God, are in control. Oswald Chambers said: “If God is the God we know Him to be when we are closest to Him, what an impertinence worry is”. (see Matt 6:25-34 & Phil 4:6-7) Worry is simply a lack of faith in the one whose dominion is an everlasting dominion. What will be will be as “He’s got the whole world in his hands.”

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?”

Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashions it, What makest thou? The post has no hands?” (Isaiah 45:9) In short, we try to make God into something that fits our heart’s desire and will. Genesis 1:1 does not read in any translation…”in the beginning Man created an image of a god to fit his and her wishes in life.”

Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why have you made me [like] thus?” (Rom 9:20)

Daniel 4:36-37

36 At the same time my reasoning returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honor and brightness returned unto me; and my counselors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me.

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

Nebuchadnezzar lived for about one year after returning to his Babylonian throne. The Jewish Talmud records that Daniel was the one who looked after Nebuchadnezzar throughout the seven years, and then saw him restored to his throne. However this time the king knew that ‘his’ throne was really only on loan! The Bible does not explain or define who cared for him but we do suspect Nebuchadnezzar was kept within the palace grounds.

Also we should remember the admonition by Paul: “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all
godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior;
Who will [wills that] have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus

(1 Tim 2:1-5)

Do not misunderstand this verse. ALL MANKIND will not be forgiven at the end of time, but all mankind will be judged. God wills that all mankind would follow him and be saved but man has a free will to choose.

Belshazzar.

JIV NOTE: In our next article (#20; chapter 5) we jump forward several years into the reign of Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson, Belshazzar. Some translations identify him as “the son of Nebuchadnezzar.” However we know two other kings ruled for some time in Babylon. One of those short term rulers was a son-in-law, Nabonidus, from whom came Belshazzar. Belshazzar never was the actual king but was left to rule Babylon while his father, King Nabonides, ventured around the Middle East and Egypt with his armies. Odd as it may seem, Nabonides was defeated by the Medo-Persians and allowed to live. Very shortly thereafter, his son Belshazzar was killed in his palace in Babylon by the Medes.

Ruler Reigned Comments
Nabu-apla-usur (Nabopolassar) 626 – 605 BC Took control of Babylonia from Sinsharishkun of Assyria, ejected Assyrian armies from Babylonia in 616 BC. Entered into alliance with Cyaxares and destroyed the Assyrian empire.
Nabu-kudurri-usur (Nebuchadnezzar II) 605 – 562 BC Chaldean king. Defeated the Egyptians and Assyrians at Carchemish. Is associated with Daniel in the Bible.
Amel-Marduk (Evil-Merodach) 562 – 560 BC Released Jeconiah after 37 years in captivity.
Nergal-shar-usur (Nergal-sharezer/Neriglissar) 560 – 556 BC Son-in-law of Nebuchadnezzar II. Murdered Amel-Marduk.
Labashi-Marduk 556 BC Son of Neriglissar. Murdered after being deemed unfit to rule.
Nabu-na’id (Nabonidus/Belshazzar) 556 – 539 BC Last Mesopotamian king of Babylon, originated in Harran in Assyria. Was not a Chaldean, often left rule to his son Belshazzar in a co-regency arrangement. He married a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar.

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