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3.2.5 - Daniel 2:5 Open Bible at Dan. 2:5 Listen to Dan. 2:5

My decision is firm

The KJV renders this phrase as “the thing is gone from me”, implying Nebuchadnezzar was unable to remember his dream. Firm is אַזְדָּא [ʾazdāʾ] .

(’zdā’, LXX, “gone”; passive part. of azaiti, “to go”), which translation supposes that the king forgot the dream. But that is unlikely, and most scholars construe the form as an adjective meaning “sure, assured” (Pers., azda; Sanskrit, addhâ; “certain,” BDB, p. 1079). Hence the Revised Standard Version is correct: “The word from me is sure”; or “The command from me is firm” (NASB), . . .1

The mistranslation of our versions encourages this opinion: “The thing is gone from me” (A. V.). Interpreters are quite commonly agreed that the rendering should be something like “the matter has been fully determined by me.” For the difficult word ’azda’ very likely means “assured, certain,” being a Persian loan word. The meaning is then: “The word is assured from me,” and that must mean, “The thing is fully resolved upon by me” (BDB).2

The LXX reading appears to have contributed to the interpretation reflected by the KJV: Ὁ λόγος ἀπˊ ἐμου ἀπέστη [Ho logos ap emou apestē] 3 , “The word from me has removed/departed/deserted.”4

The supposition that אָזַד [ʾāzaḏ] is equivalent to אָזַל [ʾāzal] , to go away, depart, is not tenable. The change of the ל into ד is extremely rare in the Semitic, and is not to be assumed in the word אזל [ʾzl] , since Daniel himself uses אֲזַל [ʾăzal] , Dan. 2:17+, 24+; 6:19+, 20+, and also Ezra 4:23; 5:8, 15. Moreover אזל [ʾzl] has not the meaning of יָצָא [yāṣāʾ] to go out, to take one’s departure, but corresponds with the Hebr. הָלַךְ [hālak] , to go. Therefore Winer, Hengst., Ibn Esr. [Aben Ezra], Saad., and other rabbis interpret the word as meaning firmus: “the word stands firm;”5

Evidence the phrase pertains to the decree rather than the dream is also found in Daniel 2:15+.

When Daniel asked Arioch about the drastic decree, “Arioch informed Daniel about the matter” (Dan. 2:15+), “the matter” being the same Aramaic word as “the thing” (KJV) that Nebuchadnezzar had supposedly forgotten (Dan. 2:5+). It obviously refers to his decree, not his dream.6

make known the dream to me

Make known . . . to me is תְהוֹדְעוּנַּנִי [ehôḏeʿûnnanî] , hafal stem of יְדַּ [yedda] , “to know.” Nebuchadnezzar is clearly expecting them to tell him the dream as well as its interpretation. Perhaps the king had forgotten aspects of the dream (see below). More likely, he has not forgotten the dream7 , but suspects his advisors have previously misled him concerning their occult knowledge in order to deceive him. Thus, he also accuses them of speaking “lying words” (Daniel 2:9+).8 The king reasons that if they can truly predict the future by interpreting dreams, then they should also be able to recall the past and reveal his dream.9 In either case, God’s hand is clearly in all that transpires, exposing the limitations of the king’s advisors and their gods in comparison with Daniel and his God.

The king’s decision . . . is clearly another example of God’s sovereignty . . . [the king’s] method of handling the situation would not only expose the fraudulence of the occult advisors but also show Daniel’s genuineness and redound to the glory of Daniel’s God, in showing that the dream was really a revelation from Him (and not from Marduk or Babylon’s gods).10

The [Chaldean] dream manuals, of which several examples have come to light, consist . . . of historical dreams and the events that followed them, arranged systematically for easy reference. Since these books had to try to cover every possible eventuality they became inordinately long; only the expert could find his way through them, and even he had to know the dream to begin with before he could search for the nearest possible parallel. The unreasonable demands of the king and the protests of the interpreters in verses 3-11 are in keeping with his character and the known facts concerning dream books.[Joyce G. Baldwin, Daniel: An Introduction and Commentary, p. 87. See also A. L. Oppenheim, “The Interpretation of Dreams in the Ancient Near East,” Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 46 (1956):179-373.]11

you shall be cut in pieces

הַדָּמִין תִּתְעַבְדוּן [haddāmîn tiṯʿaḇḏûn] , hitpeel stem, “(into) pieces you yourselves will be turned into.” Some have wondered at the severity of the kings’ threat, but it seems completely consistent with what is known of Nebuchadnezzar’s practices and is not uncommon in countries lacking a system of justice.12 Nebuchadnezzar’s cruelty is evident in the way Scripture records he killed Zedekiah’s sons prior to putting out his eyes—ensuring the last thing Zedekiah saw would bring him continued grief (2K. 25:7; Jer. 35:9-7; 52:10-11 cf. Jer. 32:4; 34:3; Eze. 12:13). At the capture of Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar rounded up all the important men from the city and slew them (2K. 15:18-21). Nebuchadnezzar roasted two Jewish rebels named Ahab and Zedekiah (not King Zedekiah) in the fire (Jer. 29:22) and would soon attempt to kill Daniel’s three companions in a similar manner (Dan. 3:20-21+). “The drastic character of the Assyrian-Babylonian punishments is gruesomely represented in the Assyrian bas-reliefs, and detailed in the codes of Babylonia and Assyria.”13

Nor would theirs be routine executions, but their arms and legs would be tied to four powerful trees, temporarily roped together at the top. When these ropes were cut, the victim would suddenly be torn apart into four pieces. . . . no verb for “cutting” is used here, nor is there any mention of a cutting instrument.14

your houses shall be made an ash heap

Ash heap is נְוָלִי [newālî] , “a garbage-heap or public latrine area (Ezra 6:11; Dan. 2:5+; 3:29+)”15 , “probably an Akkadian loan word.”16 Translations vary in their interpretation of the way their houses would be destroyed: “dung hill” (KJV, ASV), “rubbish heap” (NASB), “ruins” (ESV), “garbage dump” (HCSB), “rubble” (NET).17

A similar judgment is issued by King Darius against anyone who would interfere with Cyrus’ edict granting permission for the Jews to rebuild their temple (Ezra 6:11).

Notes

1 Merrill F. Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002), 1613.

2 H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Daniel (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1949, 1969), Dan. 2:5.

3 Alfred Rahlfs, ed., Septuaginta: With Morphology (Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1996, c1979.), Dan. 2:5.

4 “In the Greek translation of the Old Testament (LXX), this word with slight alterations is considered to be a verb form meaning ‘is gone from me.’ that is, the dream had been forgotten. The verb could, however, also mean ‘gone forth’ in the sense of ‘I have decreed.’ ”—John F. Walvoord, Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation (Chicago, IL: Moody Bible Institute, 1971), Dan. 2:1.

5 Carl Friedrich Keil, “Daniel,” in Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002), Dan. 2:5.

6 John C. Whitcomb, Daniel (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1985), 40.

7 “Nor is it psychologically probable that so impressive a dream, which on awaking he had forgotten, should have yet sorely disquieted his spirit during his waking hours.”—Keil, Daniel, Dan. 2:1-13.

8 “He’s saying you people are con artists; you ripped us off ever since you set up your system. You’re putting us on and I’m tired of being put on with phony answers. I’m tired of spending my life as the emperor of this kingdom with my children in the court’s house listening to you people and when it comes to a real crisis you can’t handle it, your system can’t handle it. You’re phonies.”—Charles Clough, Lessons on Daniel (Spokane, WA: Ellen Kelso, [transcriber], 2006), 5:63.

9 “If they could predict the future by interpreting dreams, they should be able to reconstruct the past and recall the king’s dream.”—J. Dwight Pentecost, “Daniel,” in John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, eds., The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Wheaton, IL: SP Publications, 1983), Dan. 2:5. “If his wise men could predict the future by interpreting dreams, they ought to be able to perform the lesser task of reconstructing the past (reproducing the king’s dream).”—Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament, 1613.

10 Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament, 1613.

11 Thomas Constable, Notes on Daniel (Garland, TX: Sonic Light, 2009), 21.

12 “This was the custom of the country. No law, no judge, no jury. The will or caprice of the king governed all things. Happy England! know and value thy excellent privileges!”—Adam Clarke, Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible - Daniel (Broken Arrow, OK: Study Lamp Software, 1832), Dan. 2:5.

13 James A. Montgomery, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Daniel (Edinburgh, Scotland: T & T Clark, 1927, 1959), 146.

14 Gleason Leonard Archer, “Daniel,” in Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 7 - Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1985), 2:5.

15 James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains : Aramaic (Old Testament) (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1997), #10470.

16 Robert Laird Harris, Gleason Leonard Archer, and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999, c1980), #2856.

17 “The Babylonian houses were built of sun-dried bricks; when demolished, the rain dissolves the whole into a mass of mire, in the wet land, near the river [STUART].”—A. R. Fausset, “The Book of Daniel,” in Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997, 1877), Dan. 2:5. “Enough instances are on record to show how, after a place had been utterly destroyed, further disgrace was heaped upon it by making it a public outhouse (cf. 2K. 10:27).”—Leupold, Exposition of Daniel, Dan. 2:5.


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