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Notes on the Book of Daniel: Chapter 2

Posted by lehunt on October 5, 2015

Chapter 2:

v. 8: I suspect that Daniel went to a court official at first rather than to the king himself (v. 16) since the issue of time seemed a sore spot to Nebuchadnezzar.

vs. 15-16: Verse 16 says that Daniel asked the king for time, but Arioch’s introduction of Daniel to the king (v. 26) seems to assume that the king does not know of Daniel’s proposal.  Arioch says, “I have found a man of the captives of Judah, who will make known to the king the interpretation.”  I think, therefore, that Daniel does not literally meet the king face to face in v. 16.  Daniel probably went to another official at Arioch’s suggestion, and this official told Arioch in the name of the king to put off the execution of Daniel and company.  I would say that Arioch himself took responsibility for the decision to stay the execution (as the steward does in1:11) but for the fact that v. 16 seems to be the record an action subsequent to Daniel’s talk with Arioch.

v. 27: I get the impression that everyone was shocked at the severity of Nebuchadnezzar’s decree, hence the willingness of Arioch to delay its execution and his apparent enthusiasm to bring Daniel before the king (v. 25).  Daniel is also concerned here for the other wise men.  He is careful to take up their argument that what the king asks is impossible (and so the wise men do not deserve death)

The following conclusions apply to the statue:

1) All of these kingdoms are part of one thing in some way.

2) The body of the statue is arranged chronologically.

Perhaps the clue as to what all these kingdoms have in common (so that they are thus represented as one statue) is in the rock that strikes the feet.  It is of a different substance (rock, not metal) and was cut out, but not by human hands.   Since the rock is a kingdom, and since it has this in common with the parts of the statue, perhaps the fact that the rock is of a different substance and is not made with human hands is meant to contrast the nature of the kingdoms of the statue: those kingdoms are man-made, finite kingdoms, whereas the rock is a different sort of kingdom, an eternal one from God.  Note too that the rock is, by worldly standards, the most inferior substance yet mentioned (not any metal), and yet it destroys all the other kingdoms and eventually fills the earth.

Also, the rock strikes the statue’s feet, which must mean that it appeared (chronologically) in the time of the last kingdom; however, its appearance destroys not only the last kingdom but the other three as well.  Perhaps one should interpret this to mean that it destroyed what the statue as a whole represents, and that it did this in the time of Rome (the last kingdom).  This seems more reasonable to me than to believe that it destroyed the four individual kingdoms represented by the parts of the statue.  The statue as a whole represents man-made kingdoms or the idea of man-made power generally.  This is what is destroyed by the rock.  It does not do this physically but conceptually.  The coming of this kingdom represented by the rock brings a significant shift in our understanding of power and nations (borders, authority, allegiance, things like that).

The interesting thing about this dream is that it is so easily interpreted.  The head is obviously Babylon (we are given that much), and the three succeeding kingdoms must be Medo-Persia, Macedonia, and Rome.  The stone represents the coming of Christ and the institution of Christianity (spiritual Israel), which occurred in the time of Rome.  Christ’s kingdom, as the stone anticipates, is eternal (the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it), and it exists across the whole earth, without borders, wherever Christians dwell.

I also think, contrary to Barnes, that the mountain from which the stone is cut is important.  Perhaps it is Israel (maybe the image is of Mt. Zion) from which Christ came to be the head of spiritual Israel.

Alexander’s kingdom (Macedonia) was bigger than that of Persia and Babylon; I do not know if it was bigger than Rome at the height of the Roman Empire, but if it was, then its superlative size may have been the reason that it is said to rule over the whole earth.  Another symbolic manifestation of its great size might be in the fact that the largest portion of the statue designates Macedonia.

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