Setting Date Overview Commentary
1 And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him.
2 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.
3 And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream.
4 Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriack, O king, live for ever: tell thy servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation.
5 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.
6 But if ye shew the dream, and the interpretation thereof, ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards and great honour: therefore shew me the dream, and the interpretation thereof.
7 They answered again and said, Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation of it.
8 The king answered and said, I know of certainty that ye would gain the time, because ye see the thing is gone from me.
9 But if ye will not make known unto me the dream, there is but one decree for you: for ye 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 ye can shew me the interpretation thereof.
10 The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, There is not a man upon the earth that can shew the king's matter: therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that asked such things at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean.
11 And it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can shew 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 commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon.
13 And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain.
14 Then Daniel answered with counsel and wisdom to Arioch the captain of the king's guard, which was gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon:
15 He answered and said to Arioch the king's captain, Why is the decree so hasty from the king? Then Arioch made the thing known to Daniel.
16 Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would shew 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 fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.
19 Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.
20 Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his:
21 And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:
22 He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.
23 I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou hast now made known unto us the king's matter.
24 Therefore Daniel went in unto Arioch, whom the king had ordained to destroy the wise men of Babylon: he went and said thus unto him; Destroy not the wise men of Babylon: bring me in before the king, and I will shew unto the king the interpretation.
25 Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste, and said thus unto him, I have found a man of the captives of Judah, that will make known unto the king the interpretation.
26 The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof?
27 Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king;
28 But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these;
29 As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter: and he that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what shall come to pass.
30 But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart.
31 Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible.
32 This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass,
33 His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.
34 Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.
35 Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
36 This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.
37 Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.
38 And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.
39 And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.
40 And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.
41 And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay.
42 And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken.
43 And whereas thou sawest 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 is not mixed with clay.
44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
45 Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
46 Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours unto him.
47 The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.
48 Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon.
49 Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel sat in the gate of the king.
When chapter 2 opens, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego have been in Babylon for two years. They have completed their training program and have shown themselves to be ten times wiser than all the wise men of Babylon. For this reason they have been assigned to important positions, which fact we understand from the words of Daniel 1:19, "therefore stood they before the king."
Verse 1 tells us that the events of chapter 2 took place in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. But how could Daniel's three-year training period (Daniel 1:5) under Nebuchadnezzar be completed in the king's second year? This is easily explained when we consider the principles of inclusive reckoning and accession year reckoning.
The "three years" of Daniel 1:5 were 605, 604, and 603 B.C. Even though only a portion of 605 and 603 were included, they were counted as years. In actuality, according to our method of reckoning, the training period was only about two years.
Nebuchadnezzar became king in the summer of 605 B.C. The second year of his reign may be calculated as follows:
|From Summer, 605 B.C.
to Spring, 604 B.C.
|From Spring, 604 B.C.
to Spring, 603 B.C.
|From Spring, 603 B.C.
to Spring, 602 B.C.
Since most of Nebuchadnezzar's second year was in the year 603, we can most safely assume 603 B.C. to be the date of this chapter.
In Daniel chapter 2 God gave King Nebuchadnezzar a dream. When he awoke, he could not remember the dream, yet he knew it was of something very important. He asked his magicians and astrologers and sorcerers to tell him the dream and its interpretation. When they could not, he sentenced them all to death.
When Daniel learned of the situation, he asked the king to give him time, and that he would tell the king the dream and its interpretation. Daniel went to his house, and together with his three Hebrew companions, presented the matter to God in prayer.
God answered their prayer and revealed the whole matter to Daniel. Daniel then went to the king and told him the dream and the interpretation.
It turned out to be one of the most important dreams anyone has ever had. It revealed the whole course of human history from the time of Daniel down to the second coming of Christ. The prophecy contained in that dream has become the foundational prophecy upon which all other major Bible prophecies are built. The principles we learn in this chapter will guide us throughout the rest of our study.
Verse 1 Text
"The second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar"
See the discussion of the date above.
Verse 2 Text
The term "Chaldeans" had two meanings. First, it designated the Babylonians in general. Secondly, it referred to a specific group of wise men which served as the king's counsellors. It is in the latter sense that the word is used in this verse.
Verse 4 Text
In this verse Daniel's writing switches from Hebrew to Aramaic. The change occurs at the beginning of the Chaldeans' reply to the king, "O king, live for ever . . . ." The Aramaic language is used from this point through chapter 7.
Verse 11 Text
"The gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh"
Contrast the distant gods of the pagans with the personal nearness of the true God:
"God was manifest in the flesh." 1 Timothy 3:16.
"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." John 1:14.
Verses 19-23 Text
"Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven"
The truth expressed in these verses of praise to God is one of the great lessons of the book of Daniel. The God of heaven is in control of human affairs. He understands all mysteries, including the events of the future, and He has made known to His prophets the secrets of His providence. Those secrets He will reveal to us as we study His inspired word.
Verses 26-28 Text
"Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof?"
Daniel makes it perfectly clear from the beginning that the ability to reveal such secrets belongs to God alone. It was God who had given Nebuchadnezzar the dream, and only God could disclose it to him now.
Verse 29 Text
"What should come to pass hereafter: . . . what shall come to pass"
The purpose of the dream was to reveal the course of the future, indeed, the whole progression of human events from Nebuchadnezzar's day until the end of the world.
Verses 31-35 Text
"Thou, O king, sawest"
The dream is recounted in verses 31 through 35. Nebuchadnezzar saw a statue of a man. The head was made of gold, the breast and arms of silver, the belly and thighs of brass, the legs of iron, and the feet of iron and clay. Then a stone, cut out of a mountain without hands, struck the image on its feet. The image was broken to pieces and blown away by the wind. The stone then became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
Verse 34 Text
This word is used to mark the focal point of each of Daniel's three major outline prophecies:
See also verse 45. In Daniel 8:25 the power of the little horn is broken "without hand." In Hebrews 9:11, 24 the heavenly sanctuary is described as being made without hands.
Verses 35 Text
"And the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them"
Compare Revelation 20:11, "From whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them."
Verses 36-40 Text
No guess work is necessary. Daniel gives a complete explanation of the dream. The four metals represent four successive world-dominating empires beginning with Babylon. In verse 38 Daniel says to King Nebuchadnezzar, "Thou art this head of gold." Babylon was Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom.
Verse 39 indicates that the second kingdom would be inferior to the first. It would be followed by a third kingdom, and then a fourth which would be strong as iron.
The fourth kingdom would then be divided and partially weakened as by the addition of clay to the iron. That arrangement would exist in a somewhat disunited state until God Himself sets up His kingdom which will destroy all the kingdoms of men.
We can go to history to discover what nations ruled the world after the fall of Babylon. But the Bible also tells us. God revealed to the last king of Babylon on the night of its fall, that its power would be turned over to the Medes and Persians (Daniel 5:28). And chapter 8 tells us that the kingdom to conquer Medo-Persia would be Greece (Daniel 8:3-7, 20, 21). All of that was predicted while Babylon was still in power.
The student of history will readily recognize the fourth world empire to be that of Rome. So there we have it:
Babylon (605-539 B.C.)
Medo-Persia (539-331 B.C.)
Greece (331-168 B.C.)
Rome (168 B.C. - A.D. 476)
Verse 41 Text
"The kingdom shall be divided"
This is exactly what happened to the Roman Empire. During the fifth century the territory was invaded by a number of independent Germanic tribes which established rule throughout western Europe. The invaders were called "barbarians" by the Romans because they spoke a foreign language. Yet these groups became the link between the ancient and modern world. Being actually a continuation of the Roman Empire in the west, they were the predecessors of the present European nations. Europe today is thus the outgrowth of the Roman Empire blended with these Germanic peoples. For more information on this, see comments on Daniel 7:7.
Verse 42 Text
"The toes of the feet"
"Part of iron, and part of clay"
When we move from the image's legs to its feet, one metal is not supplanted by another. Instead, a weakening ingredient is added to the existing metal. The Roman empire was not overthrown, but its nature was changed. One of the most significant changes was the rise of ecclesiastical authority which united with civil power and actually became the dominant force. This mingling of churchcraft and statecraft is well described by the adding of clay to the iron.
Verse 43 Text
"They shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another"
This prophecy predicts that the European nations would attempt to unite through intermarriage, but all attempts to undo the prophesied "dividing" (verse 41) of the kingdom would fail. History has shown this to be exactly the case. Upon the authority of this inspired verse, Europe will never become a single nation.
Verse 44 Text
"In the days of these kings"
The next world government will be the kingdom of God. When will He set up His kingdom? In the days of the nations now existing. His kingdom "shall never be destroyed," and it "shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever."
Verse 45 Text
"The stone was cut out of the mountain without hands"
"Thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain." Daniel 9:16.
"And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning." Isaiah 4:3, 4.
"And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." Revelation 21:2.
"This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church." Ephesians 5:32.
"Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious." Revelation 21:9-11.
We must first identify the "mountain," and then the "stone."
When Scripture speaks of the mountain, it is usually in reference to God's people. Take Psalm 48:1, 2 for example. "Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King." Compare that with Joel 2:1. "Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain."
These verses equate God's mountain with the term "Zion." What is Zion? Isaiah 51:16 tells us, "And say unto Zion, Thou art my people."
This mountain represents the kingdom of God. But His kingdom is made up of those who are the subjects of that kingdom. It is God's people, His church, which forms the mountain.
"And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." Isaiah 2:2, 3. The mountain of the Lord is in this verse equated with "the house of God," which, according to 1 Timothy 3:15, "is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
What, then, is the stone cut out of the mountain? The stone is actually a part of the mountain, and it ultimately becomes the great mountain which fills the whole earth. The mountain from which the stone is taken represents the professed people of God. The stone that is cut out without hands represents the sealing work accomplished by the investigative judgment or cleansing of the sanctuary. The stone then becomes a great mountain and fills the whole earth. This mountain is the resulting kingdom of God, made up of his redeemed people. This is the "great and high mountain" to which John was carried in the spirit in Revelation 21:9-11 where the bride of Christ is likened to "a stone most precious."
Compare this imagery with the parallel prophecies in Daniel. Looking at the chapter comparison chart, we find a row designated "The Sealing of God's People." It seems that each of Daniel's prophecies points to a special period just before the end of time when something happens in the lives of God's true people which separates them from false believers and seals them as a mighty demonstration of God's redeeming power.
This is all accomplished "without hands," meaning that it is God, and not man, who does it.
"And that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold"
This does not mean that God's people will destroy the kingdoms of men, but the sealing of that people will be the final blow to Satan's claim to dominion. When God displays these trophies, the victory has been won, the kingdoms of men can stand no longer. It is God who overthrows all earthly dominions.
Daniel 2 clearly teaches that the establishment of God's kingdom annihilates of all human governments. Verse 35 says that the powdered iron, clay, brass, silver, and gold "became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth."
"The dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure."
Thus was given to Nebuchadnezzar an accurate overview of world dominions from his day until the end of the world. Each detail so far has happened just as predicted. We may, therefore, be certain that the rest of the prophecy will occur just as the Scripture declares.