DANIEL 4      Other translations  -  previous  -  next  -  Daniel  -  BM Home  -  Full Page

CHAPTER IV. NEBUCHADNEZZAR'S SECOND DREAM

  1. Nebuchadnezzar the king, to all the peoples, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; peace be multiplied
  2. to you. It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has worked
  3. toward me. How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.
  4. I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing
  5. in my palace. I saw a dream which made me afraid; and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head
  6. troubled me. Therefore made I a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known
  7. to me the interpretation of the dream. Then came in the magicians, the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers: and I told the dream before them; but they did
  8. not make known to me the interpretation thereof. But at the last Daniel came in before me, whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods: and I told the dream before
  9. him, saying, O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you, and no secret troubles you, tell me the visions of my
  10. dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof. Thus were the visions of my head upon my bed: I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof
  11. was great. The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached to heaven, and the sight thereof to the
  12. end of all the earth. The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the birds of the heaven dwelt in the branches thereof, and all flesh was fed of it.
  13. I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven.
  14. He cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get away from under it, and the birds
  15. from his branches. Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the
  16. grass of the earth: let his heart be changed from man's, and let a beast's heart be given to him; and let seven times
  17. pass over him. The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomsoever he will, and
  18. sets up over it the lowest of men. This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen: and you, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation, for as much as all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation; but you are able, for the spirit of the holy gods is in you.
  19. Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonished for a while, and his thoughts troubled him. The king answered and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation, trouble you. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream be to them that hate you, and the
  20. interpretation thereof to your adversaries. The tree that you saw, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached to the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth;
  21. whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the birds of the heaven
  22. had their habitation: it is you, O king, that are grown and become strong: for your greatness is grown, and reaches to heaven, and your dominion to the end of the earth.
  23. And whereas the king saw "a watcher and an holy one coming down from heaven, and saying, Hew down the tree, and destroy it; nevertheless leave the stump of the roots thereof in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field,
  24. till seven times pass over him; this is the interpretation, O king, and it is the decree of the Most High, which is come
  25. upon my lord the king: that you shall be driven from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and you shall be made to eat grass as oxen, and shall be wet with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you; till you know that the Most High rules in the
  26. kingdom of men, and gives it to whomsoever he will. And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; your kingdom shall be sure to you, after that you
  27. shall have known that the heavens do rule. Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you, and break off your sins by righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if there may be a lengthening of your
  28. tranquillity. All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar.
  29. At the end of twelve months he was walking in the royal
  30. palace of Babylon. The king spoke and said, Is not this great Babylon, which I have built for the royal dwelling place, by the might of my power, and for the glory of my majesty?
  31. While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken:
  32. the kingdom is departed from you. And you shall be driven from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field; you shall be made to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over you; until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomsoever
  33. he will. 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 hair was grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails
  34. like birds' claws. And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes to heaven, and mine understanding returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honored him that lives for ever; for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom from
  35. generation to generation: and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he does according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say to him,
  36. What do you? At the same time mine understanding returned to me ; and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and brightness returned to me; and my counsellors and my lords sought to me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent greatness was added to me.
  37. Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honor the King of heaven; for all his works are truth, and his ways judgement; and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.

 

REFERENCES

Verses Numbers
1-4 P. P.
1 to end AR 717
3. 4. AC 3762
5. D. Lord 48
5, 6 P. P.
6. AC 5223
7-9 AE 109; P. P.
7-11 AC 9553
7-13.. AR 567; AE 650; Coronis 3
7-14. AE 1029
7-12, 14, 15 AE 1100
7-11, 17, 18 AR 757
7, 9, 11, 18 AC 5149
7, 19 AE 1029
8, 17 AC 9489
9. AC 3384; AE 662
9, 11 AR 936
9, 18 AC 776
10 AC 9229; AR 158; AE 204
10, 11 P. P.
10-13, 17-31 Dict. P. II
10, 20 D. Lord 40; AR 173; T. C. R. 93
12, 13, 14 P. P.
13, 22, 29 AC 395, 9228; AE 257
14, 21, 31 AC 8153
15, 16 P. P.
17-19 AE 1029
17-30 P.P.
25, 26 TCR 644
27. AE 1029
27-29 AE 650
29. AC 274
29-31 AE 1029
30 AC 3301; AR 47
31 AC 29; AR 60, 474
31-34 P.P.
34 AE 1029
Chapter cited AC 1326

COMMENTARY: Nebuchadnezzar's Second Dream.

the opening verses of the fourth chapter of the Book of Daniel, one to three, have reference to the decree which Nebuchadnezzar made, after witnessing the miracle of the saving of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace. They are in these words:

Nebuchadnezzar the King, to all the peoples, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you. It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has worked towards me. How great are His signs! and how mighty are His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion from generation to generation.

These words seem properly to belong to the preceding chapter, forming a conclusion to the wonderful miracle, and they are so placed by Swedenborg, as already noticed.

The language seems like the expression of a humble servant of the Lord; the sincere acknowledgement of the Lord's power. Nebuchadnezzar was, no doubt, much impressed by what he had witnessed. But he was operated upon by fear, and not by love to the Lord. Those who are in the love of dominion are often compelled to acknowledge the Lord's power, although they have not ceased to love themselves, and to desire to exercise dominion over others. The language of the Popes of Rome has been full of this lip confession, while in their hearts they have thought of the power of Rome, and desired the submission of others to their decrees. There have been, of course, notable exceptions. This feeling, however, is almost inseparable from the exercise of arbitrary power. What follows in this chapter shows this.

The second dream of Nebuchadnezzar is a revelation of the state of his own life, and, in the higher spiritual meaning, it shows the spiritual state of the church, at the last times, when it is wholly given up to the love of dominion originating in the love of self. Some doubt has been expressed whether in his madness which was of the species called lycanthropy (from two Greek words, lukos, a wolf, and anthropos, a man) he actually led the life of a beast, or only imagined himself to do the things which Daniel predicted. From the language used by Swedenborg, in AE 1029, it would seem that we ought to accept the statement as it is given in this chapter literally, that is, as an historical fact, especially in verse 33, where the words of Daniel are declared to have been fulfilled. But the spiritual meaning is of course more important. We are told in the passage from the Apocalypse Explained, above cited, that "by the state of Nebuchadnezzar is described the state of those after death who extol themselves as gods over all things of the church, namely, that they are driven out from man, that is, that they are no longer men as to understanding; that they become beasts, and eat grass as oxen, and that their hairs grow like the eagles', and their nails like birds' claws, whereby is signified that they are altogether sensual, that in place of intelligence they have infatuation, and in place of wisdom insanity; to eat grass, to have hair like eagles' and nails like birds' claws, signifies to become sensual."

We can readily understand that in a state of insanity where there is a loss of all rationality a person may become in outward appearance like a beast, and may even act like one, snatching and eating grass, although he could not live upon it as food.

Let us now consider briefly this second dream of the king. As in the first dream, it is recited in full, as the king told it to Daniel, and it is then repeated as Daniel gave the interpretation, with the particulars, some of which are repeated again when the fulfillment is given. The dream and the interpretation are one.

The great tree which was strong and reached to heaven has a double representation it represents in the first place, Nebuchadnezzar himself, and all who, like him, are filled with the love of dominion and become insane from its lust; and, at the same time, it represents the church at its consummation when this love prevails.

As in the former case, the king called in the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers to interpret the dream. One would suppose that they having failed to interpret his former dream, the king would not seek them again. This only shows, however, that those who do not fully believe in the Lord, and love Him, will, even after they have known from Divine revelation that the truth must be derived from the Word, still resort to external signs and proofs to know the will of God.

The correspondence of the tree to the church must be found in man himself, for the church is only a man in a larger form. The leaves of the tree are the thoughts and perceptions of the mind, which are at first connected with some knowledge of God, and thus have a fair appearance. It is said "the fruit was much," according to the Revised Version, but Swedenborg translates it, "the flower thereof much," which seems to refer to the blossoms from which the fruit comes. There is a correspondence here to works, because the fruit of a tree corresponds to the good which is done by man. But there are different kinds of works those which are done from knowledge before it becomes fully united with the love of doing good to others, are only fruit blossoms which may never grow into fruit.

The beasts of the field and the birds of the air are the affections of the mind and the thoughts of man which look to self; for this tree although it grew towards heaven, does not really represent the spiritual church. It cannot be said that the first Christian Church was a spiritual church. It did not have a true idea of the Lord in His Divine Humanity as the source of all life and power ; consequently it fell away and became a prey to the love of dominion. Had the tree been good, it would have afforded shelter for all the harmless and innocent beasts and birds, and it would not have been hewn down.

In the process of time, when this church was fully consummated, a judgement was executed upon it. This judgement was accompanied by a new revelation of Divine truth. The Lord revealed Himself anew in order that the state of the church might be known. This is denoted by the "watcher" and the "holy one" who came down from heaven. The judgement was that this tree should be hewn down and destroyed, but the stump of the roots should be left in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field, and it is added, "let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field until seven times pass over him."

When Daniel comes to interpret these words he applies them directly to the king, who is warned what his fate will be; but as Nebuchadnezzar and his kingdom represent the church, either in a state of purity filled with the genuine love of the Lord, or consummated and filled with the unholy love of dominion, we may properly understand these words as referring to the church at the time of its consummation, and the judgement upon it. The effect of every judgement is to remove all the mere appearances of religion, especially all external forms which are not in correspondence with heavenly internals. The Roman Catholic Church has maintained its power in the world through these very externals. When these are removed there remains nothing but the stump with the roots. These roots denote the different motives of the will from which the tree or the man has derived his power and life. If there be any remains of good, these will be kept alive by the dews of heaven by influx of truth from the Lord into the internal degree of human life.

At the end of every church or dispensation there are these remains of good in the will from which a new church may be formed. But there must be a full consummation which is meant by the words, "seven times shall pass over him."

The love of dominion is suffered to continue and to exalt itself until it produces spiritual insanity. During this state the church is kept together by bands of brass and iron. When the king was walking in his palace twelve months after Daniel, called Belteshazzar, had interpreted this dream, and was exulting in his power and grandeur, the voice came from heaven telling him that the kingdom had departed from him, and in the same hour the judgement was fulfilled and the king became an outlaw and a wanderer, losing his reason and becoming like a beast.

When man is left to himself, unrestrained by law, and all his natural passions burn within him, he loses all rationality. This will continue until the evil has spent its power, and then if there be still some good left, the Lord raises him up and he again becomes rational, obedient, loving, and wise. The return of Nebuchadnezzar to power seems to be confirmed by what remains to us of the history of those times, and I cannot but regard the concluding words of the chapter, where he ascribes honor and glory and dominion to the Lord, or the Most High, to be the expression of true worship, unless indeed, by the Most High, he meant his own god, Bel-Merodach. I think the representation changes after his return to reason. These last words of praise and honor are not those of a proud ecclesiastic or ruler, who still cherishes the love of dominion. The Babylonians, even, may become changed. The love of dominion originating in the love of self may become the love of ruling for the sake of serving. Certain it is that this must be the case with every one in whom the kingdom of heaven is established.

In verse seventeen of this chapter, we read these words:

The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones; to the intent that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomsoever He will, and sets up over it the lowest of men.

It is a common belief that the Lord makes use of all kinds of instruments to accomplish His ends, and even permits evil men to do good that His kingdom may ultimately prevail. What is meant by the "lowest of men," in this verse, does not clearly appear, unless it refers to those who are suffered to rule, after those of the Babylonish character are removed. We have seen kingdoms fall and men of low degree assume the places of power that have been filled by the learned and the great. In all the changes of government the end which the Lord has in view is the final reign of His own truth and love in the hearts of men.

In regard to the interpretation of this dream by Daniel, we have a remarkable statement from Daniel himself. When the king saw that the dream troubled Daniel, he said: "Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation, trouble you." Belteshazzar answered and said: "The dream be to them that hate you, and the interpretation thereof to your adversaries.

The Word of the Lord is interpreted in one way by the good, and in the opposite way by the evil. The king's enemies are those who would confirm him in the love of dominion, and these are the evil spirits who continually act upon man's evil affections and endeavor to confirm him in evil through false persuasions. But the truth always reacts against those who pervert and profane it, so that while the Word is a light and protection to the good, it is the means of destruction to its enemies. Daniel's interpretation of the dream must be understood in this way, and our own application of it, as exhibiting the dangerous and deadly character of this evil love, should be to that love in ourselves, which is our greatest enemy, and is diametrically opposed to the love which reigns in the highest heaven, the love of ruling for the sake only of promoting the good of the Lord's kingdom.

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