DANIEL 2      Other translations  -  previous  -  next  -  Daniel  -  BM Home  -  Full Page


  1. And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams; and his spirit was
  2. troubled, and his sleep break from him. Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the enchanters, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, for to tell the king his
  3. dreams. So they came in and stood before the king. And the king said to them, I have dreamed a dream, and my
  4. spirit is troubled to know the dream. Then spoke the Chaldeans to the king in the Syrian language, O king, live for ever: tell your servants the dream, and we will show the
  5. interpretation. The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if you make not known to me the dream and the interpretation thereof, you shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill.
  6. But if you show the dream and the interpretation thereof, you shall receive of me gifts and rewards and great honour: therefore show me the dream and the interpretation thereof.
  7. They answered the second time and said, Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation.
  8. The king answered and said, I know of a certainty that you would gain time, because you see the thing is gone from me.
  9. But if you make not known to me the dream, there is but one law for you: for you 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 you can show
  10. me the interpretation thereof. The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, There is not a man upon the earth that can show the king's matter: for as much as no king, lord, nor ruler, has asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter,
  11. or Chaldean. And it is a rare thing that the king requires, and there is none other that can show it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.
  12. For this cause the king was angry and very furious, and
  13. commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. So the decree went forth, and the wise men were to be slain; and
  14. they sought Daniel and his companions to be slain. Then Daniel returned answer with counsel and prudence to Arioch the captain of the king's guard, which was gone forth
  15. to slay the wise men of Babylon; he answered and said to Arioch the king's captain, Wherefore is the decree so urgent from the king? Then Arioch made the thing known to Daniel.
  16. And Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would appoint him a time, and he would show the king the interpretation.
  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 companions should
  19. not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Then was the secret revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night.
  20. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: and he changes the times and
  21. the seasons: he removes kings, and sets up kings: he gives wisdom to the wise, and knowledge to them that
  22. know understanding: he reveals the deep and secret things: he knows what is in the darkness, and the light
  23. dwells with him. I thank you, and praise you, O you God of my fathers, who have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we desired of you:
  24. for you have made known to us the king's matter. Therefore Daniel went in to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon: he went and said thus to him: Destroy not the wise men of Babylon: bring me in before the king, and I will show to the king the interpretation.
  25. Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste, and said thus to him, I have found a man of the children of the captivity of Judah, that will make known to the king
  26. the interpretation. The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, Art you able to make known to me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation
  27. thereof? Daniel answered before the king, and said, The secret which the king has demanded can neither wise men, enchanters, magicians, nor soothsayers, show to the
  28. king; but there is a God in heaven that reveals secrets, and he has made known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Your dream, and the visions of
  29. your head upon your bed, are these: as for you, O king, your thoughts came into your mind upon your bed, what should come to pass hereafter: and he that reveals secrets has
  30. made known to you what shall come to pass. But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but to the intent that the interpretation may be made known to the king, and that you
  31. may know the thoughts of your heart. You, O king, saw, and behold a great image. This image, which was mighty, and whose brightness was excellent, stood before
  32. you; and the aspect thereof was terrible. As for this image, his head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of
  33. silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his
  34. feet part of iron, and part of clay. You saw till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and break them in pieces.
  35. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken in pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain,
  36. and filled the whole earth. This is the dream; and we will
  37. tell the interpretation thereof before the king. You, O king, are king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the strength, and the
  38. glory; and wherever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven has he given into your hand, and has made you to rule over them all:
  39. you are the head of gold. And after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to you; and another third kingdom
  40. of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: for as much as iron breaks in pieces and subdues all things: and as iron that
  41. crushes all these, shall it break in pieces and crush. And whereas you saw the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, for as much as you
  42. saw the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom
  43. shall be partly strong, and partly broken. And whereas you saw the 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 does not mingle with clay.
  44. And in the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed, nor shall the sovereignty thereof be left to another people; but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it
  45. shall stand for ever. For as much as you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it break in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God has made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and
  46. the interpretation thereof sure. Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshiped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours
  47. to him. The king answered to Daniel, and said, Of a truth your God is the God of gods, and the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing you have been able to
  48. reveal this secret. Then the king made Daniel great, and gave him many great gifts, and made him to rule over the whole province of Babylon, and to be chief governor over
  49. all the wise men of Babylon. And Daniel requested of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel was in the gate of the king.



Verses Numbers
1,2 P. P.
3 D. Lord 48; TCR 156
3-11 P. P.
12, 13 P. P.
14-30 P. P.
10, 20 AC 1422
22 AC 3384; AE 662
27 AC 3762
28 D. Lord 4; Dict. P. 11
31-33 AC l837
31-35 D. S. S. 117; TCR 275; AE 1029; P.P.
31-47 AR 717; TCR 754
31—35, 44 Coronis 2
31, 32, 44, 45 AC 1326
32 .AR 538; Coronis 37
32, 33 AC 1551, 2162, 3021, 10030, 10050; D. P. 328; AR 211, 775, 913; C. L. 78; AE 70, 577; Dict. P. 11
32-34, 41-43. AC 176
32, 33, 43 AC 9406
33, 40 AC 426
34, 35 AC 1298, 10030; AE 411
34-43 Dict. P. 11
34, 35, 44, 45 AC 6426, 8581; Dict. P. 11
35 TCR 788
36-38 P. P.
37, 38 AC 1361; AR 567; AE 650, 1029
37-46 AC 2547
38 AE 1029
39 P.P.
40-43 P. P.
43 AC 10033, 10355; AR 781, 913; C. L. 73,79; TCR 761; AE 237, 411, 1029
43, 44 C. L. 81; TCR 625
44 D. Lord 42; AR 664; TCR 788; AC 411, 1029
44. 45 P. P.
45 AR 913
46-49 P. P.
47 AC 7401; AR 664
48 AE 844
Chapter cited TCR 760

COMMENTARY: Nebuchadnezzar's Dream of the Great Image.

nearly the whole of the second chapter of Daniel is filled with an account of Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the great image and the interpretation of it by Daniel.

Dreams are commonly thought of, at this day, as something unreal, having no meaning. Such was not the case with the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar. In those days, and for a long period afterwards, revelations or communications from heaven were made by means of dreams. This may be seen from the Old Testament and from the New. It is a little remarkable that Nebuchadnezzar was not able to recall his dream of the great image, although he must have had an impression that it was of consequence to him. He had more than one dream, and the impressions they produced upon his mind induced anxiety and fear. They troubled him.

In the spiritual sense of the Word this dream denotes the revelation of Divine Truth. The particulars of the dream relate to the state of the church. This is especially seen in the interpretation given by Daniel. The state of the church, especially with respect to its consummation and the second coming of the Lord, could not have been known without a revelation from the Lord.

The nature of Divine revelation, even as to its form and manifestation, and especially as to its spiritual meaning, is such that it cannot be understood except by those who are enlightened by the Lord in a state of obedience, and who are in the desire of being led by the Lord. Those who are under the influence of the love of dominion cannot know the nature of Divine revelation; they regard the Word of the Lord in the same light as they do any human production, and they endeavor to interpret it to suit their own evil desires.

Nebuchadnezzar preeminently represents those who are in this evil love of dominion. His kingdom was Babylon, which always denotes the rule or government of this evil love in the human mind; that is, it denotes the church and the human mind entirely subject to the love of ruling over others from the love of self. There is, however, a good love of dominion and, in one sense, even Nebuchadnezzar represents this love, as we shall presently show.

When Nebuchadnezzar found that he could not remember his dream— it was gone from him — he called to him the magicians, the astrologers, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans. It is not fully understood, at this day, what these several classes of men were, but enough is known to give us a general idea about them. We find them and their arts spoken of in the writings of the New Church. The magicians of Chaldea like those of Egypt were enabled by means of a knowledge of correspondences to induce a belief in the reality of certain things which were in fact unreal. They captivated the senses, charming and deceiving. In this way we are told they perverted correspondences and obtained power over the minds of others by objective means.

The astrologers were probably a distinct class from the magicians. They devoted themselves to the study of the heavenly bodies, and attributed to them or some of them certain attributes and powers and even worshiped them. They read in the stars the signs of future events and conditions of life. The sorcerers were another distinct class who acted directly upon the mind, producing a kind of mental stupor so as to keep one under their influence. In AR 462, there are three kinds of sorcery spoken of as follows:

Sorceries were in use among the ancients and were performed in three ways: first, by keeping the hearing and thus the mind of another continually intent upon his words and sayings, without retaining aught from them; and, at the same time, by an aspiration and inspiration of thought conjoined with affection, by means of the breath, into the sound of the voice, whereby the hearer is incapable of thinking anything from himself; in this manner did the lovers of falsehood pour in their falsities with violence. Secondly, they infused a persuasion, which was done by detaining the mind from everything of a contrary nature, and directing the attention exclusively to the idea involved in that which was uttered by themselves, hence the spiritual sphere of his mind dispelled the spiritual sphere of the mind of another, and stifled it; this was the kind of spiritual fascination which the magi of old made use of, and which was spoken of as the tying up and binding the understanding. The latter kind of sorcery pertained only to the spirit or thought but the former to the lips or speech also. Thirdly, the hearer kept his mind so fixed in his own opinion, that he almost shut his ears against hearing anything from the speaker, which was done by holding the breath and sometimes by a tacit muttering and thus by a continual negation of his adversary's sentiment. This kind of sorcery was practised by those who heard others, but the two former by those who spoke to others. These three kinds of sorcery prevailed among the ancients, and prevail still among infernal spirits; but with men in the world there remains only the third kind, and this with those, who, from the pride of their own intelligence, have confirmed in themselves the falsities of religion.

As to the word "Chaldeans," the term was probably applied at one time in a general way to all the inhabitants of Chaldea, but here it seems to denote a learned class who were known as such and who formed colleges for the cultivation of learning. Swedenborg not only says that the Chaldeans possessed a knowledge of correspondences but that they were acquainted with the internal sense of the Word. (AC 9011.) Whether they retained this knowledge at the time of Nebuchadnezzar is doubtful. But it is sufficient for us to know that neither they with all their learning, nor the magicians, astrologers, and sorcerers were able to read in the memory of the king the dream he had.

All these four classes of men represent those who pervert and profane the truth for their own selfish ends. Had they been permitted they would have interpreted the dream in such a way as to flatter and deceive the king, and thus confirm their own power. There are those even at the present day, who, although they deny the Divine in their hearts, are yet willing to use the Word for their own evil ends, and thus to falsify and profane it. Indeed, we must understand that every one who is in self-love and from this principle desires to gain power, either natural or spiritual, necessarily falsifies the truths of the Word when they are known to him. But many are kept in ignorance of the Word to prevent them from doing this. That all those upon whom the King of Babylon depended failed him, shows us that no one can from himself enter into a knowledge of Divine revelation or interpret the heavenly meaning of what the Lord has revealed. Daniel was able to do this because he was in illustration from the Lord. "The secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision." He said to the king: "But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but to the intent that the interpretation may be made known to the king, and that you might know the thoughts of your heart." (Chap. ii. ver. 30.)

The image was described by Daniel: "This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay."

In the "Coronis," no. 2, we are told that "four churches have existed on this earth since the creation of the world, the Aclamic, the Noahtic, the Israelitish, and the Christian, which manifestly appears in Daniel, first by the statue seen by Nebuchadnezzar in a dream, and afterwards from the four beasts rising up out of the sea."

The common method of interpretation which finds in the four parts of the statue a reference to four earthly or political kingdoms, generally believed to be the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Greek, and the Roman, is wholly inadequate for conveying the spiritual meaning, as may be seen from this little work called the "Coronis." This traditional interpretation is naturally drawn from the interpretation of the dream given by Daniel, understood only according to the letter.

In AR 913, which is referred to in the "Coronis," and more fully in AC 10030, we find a particular explanation of the meaning of the parts of the great image. It is to be understood that this great image represents the successive states of the church. We are not to confine the interpretation to the four churches above named, as represented by the gold, the silver, the, brass, and the iron. Each one of these four churches or dispensations has had its different changes corresponding to the different parts of the image. In "Coronis" no. 5 we read: "There have been four successive states or periods of every one of the above-named churches." Much confusion about the meaning of the Book of Daniel has arisen from ignorance of the true method of spiritual interpretation, and from attempting to apply the prophecy almost wholly to the Roman Catholic Church. That Babel or Babylon refers to this church or its religion, especially in the seventeenth chapter of the Apocalypse, is plainly taught in the writings of the New Church. But this great image represents all the states of the church down to the period of the Last Judgement and the Second Coming of the Lord. This last period is denoted by these words: "And whereas you saw 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 does not mingle with clay."

This is the explanation of these words given in AR 913 -

By iron is signified the truths of faith, as was said; but when there is no truth of faith, but faith without truth, then the iron is mixed with miry clay, which do not cohere. By the seed of man, with which they should mingle themselves, the truth of the Word is signified. This is the state of the church at this day.

Swedenborg wrote these words, probably, in the year 1765.

Although, then, the Christian Church is represented particularly by the legs of iron, and its state of consummation when there is no faith remaining by the feet part of iron and part of clay, yet we are not to forget that the Christian Church has had its state of love or charity grounded in innocence represented by the head of gold, its state of faith represented by the breast and arms of silver, and its state of natural good represented by the belly and thighs of brass.

As to the preceding dispensations they must also have reached a state similar to the last state of the Christian Church, although it is with some difficulty that we apply the correspondence of the feet of iron mixed with miry clay to the lowest states of the Most Ancient Church and the Ancient Church respectively. Christians have been taught to think of the last state of the Jewish Church as the lowest of all, and the Lord's first advent as the period when a new humanity began to be formed. With many this idea still remains. They do not know that the first Christian Church has been spiritually consummated. The stone cut out of the mountain without hands, that smote the image and break it in pieces, they believe to be Jesus Christ; but Swedenborg teaches that this stone or rock denotes the doctrine of the New Church revealed by the Lord at His Second Coming, by which a final judgement was executed upon the states of all in the world of spirits at that time (1757), and also upon the first Christian Church as it then existed in the world. The coming of the Lord in the spirit and power of His Word, "in all His glory," is foretold in the seventh chapter of Daniel where the "Ancient of Days" is spoken of as appearing after the beasts have risen from the sea.

We can have very little knowledge of the successive states of the Most Ancient Church and of the Ancient Church as they were manifested outwardly in the world. We know, however, that they, like the two succeeding dispensations came to an end from the loss of charity, or love, as the ruling principle of heavenly life. They successively declined from the celestial love of good which is the love of good for its own sake, or the purest form of it, to the spiritual love of good, to which man is led by the truths of faith, and then to the natural love of good to which man is led by obedience; and finally to the love of what was not good, but which they called good because it ministered to selfish delight and pleasure. The fall was not occasioned by one act of disobedience, but by successive departures from the centre of life. In the last state they corrupted all good and profaned every truth that remained — the iron was mixed with miry clay. This was the lowest state of each of these two dispensations — the Most Ancient and the Ancient — although the human race had not sunk so low as it did at the end of the Jewish and the Christian Dispensations.

In the Old Testament we have a literal history of the Jewish Church, not however full and connected. We may trace somewhat, in the Bible stories, the successive changes and final consummation of that church. The same general causes operated to produce its decline and consummation as in the former churches. It was not, however, a real church, but only the representative of a true church, having no spiritual faith or heavenly charity within it. And yet so long as its members preserved the outward forms of Divine worship which were prescribed to them under the Mosaic law, the church itself was preserved from destruction, but as soon as its members fell into disobedience and the open indulgence of evil, the church began to decline and finally came to an end. The judgement upon it took place when the Lord came into the world. The great image seen by Nebuchadnezzar in his dream was as fully representative of this church as of the two former ones.

Now when we come to the Christian Church, it would seem as if the facts of its history would supply us with the means of ascertaining whether its successive states were not also represented by the great image. But this can only be seen by those who view these facts in the light of the revelations made to the New Church. No one in the Christian world could fully know or understand the causes of the decline of the Christian Church, or believe that it came to an end spiritually, and was judged, unless the Lord had revealed such knowledge from heaven. There were no "wise men," none in the East or in the West, in any part of the Christian world, in the Greek, Roman Catholic, or Reformed Churches, who could read or understand the meaning of the great image, maximus homo, or the church viewed collectively as one man in the sight of the Lord. This is evident from the conflicting and erroneous interpretations which have been put upon this book called Daniel, and the Apocalypse.

Referring again to the little work called the "Coronis," we find that the four successive changes of state in each one of the above-named churches are said to be: "first the appearance of the Lord Jehovih and redemption, and the morning or rise of the church; second, its instruction, and its day or progression; third, its declension, and its evening or vastation; fourth, its end, and its night or consummation." Now in reference to the sources of knowledge respecting the changes in the Christian Church we read in the "Brief Continuation of the Coronis" the following:

The periodical changes which succeeded in the fourth or Christian Church are described in the Word both of the Old and New Testaments; in particular, its rise or morning is described in the Evangelists, in the Acts, and in the writings of the Apostles; its progression towards mid-day, in the ecclesiastical history of the first three centuries; its declension or evening, in the history of the following ages; and its vastation, and final consummation, or night, in the Apocalypse.

Here, then, we have the sources of information — the Word, the Apostolic writings, and the history of the Christian Church. The Apostolic writings and ecclesiastical history must be interpreted in the light of the revelations made to the New Church in order to be understood as the fulfillment of prophecy. To understand how the great image seen by Nebuchadnezzar in his dream typifies all the successive states of the Christian Church, we must study all these sources of information. The book called Daniel and the Apocalypse refer more particularly to the judgement upon this church, its consummation, and the coming of the Lord to establish a New Church. The Reformation is often taken as the beginning of a new era in the Christian Church, but it was only the beginning of the end. The age represented by gold did not extend as far as the third century, perhaps, not longer than the time when the beloved apostle, John, passed into the spiritual world, or about the end of the first century. The second or silver age lasted until near the close of the third century, from whence it began to decline. The succeeding ages can only be defined as they are represented by the brass and the iron, by a careful study of ecclesiastical history.

As to the interpretation of the dream or the explanation given by Daniel, it must be observed that the king becomes the representative of the image. Here there is just as much need of a spiritual interpretation as in the language describing the dream itself. It is somewhat like the explanation of the parable of the Sower, given by the Lord, and that parable itself. Both need to be spiritually unfolded.

Nebuchadnezzar primarily represents the kingdom of love, which is the government of heaven and should be of the church on earth. Daniel said to him, "You are that head of gold." As the King of Babylon he represented the dominion of the Divine Love. This is the head of the image. There is a good love of dominion. It is the love of ruling for the sake of serving, or for the sake of use. When this love is turned to the opposite and becomes the love of ruling from the love of self, then the church comes to an end. So Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom came to an end. The second kingdom is not referred to as of silver, but the third is spoken of as of brass, and the fourth, it is said, shall be as "strong as iron." The different kingdoms simply denote the prevalence or rule of certain principles in the human mind, thus the successive states of the church, just as in the image. The "kingdom which shall never be destroyed" is the final reign of the Lord in His Divine Humanity as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The truth which is revealed by Him at His Second Coming, especially the doctrine that His humanity is. Divine, is compared to a stone cut out of the mountain without hands, because this doctrine is not derived from the self-derived intelligence of man, but from the Lord alone.

We are not to understand that the Divine homage paid to Daniel by Nebuchadnezzar represents the pure worship of the Lord. The worship of those who are represented by Nebuchadnezzar is not from a free and rational principle — it is not the worship of the Father in spirit and in truth. It is a compulsory worship from fear and not from love. Those who are in the love of dominion are governed by no other motive. They are compelled to acknowledge the power of Divine Truth, but they desire to make use of the knowledge they possess for their own power and gain.

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