Daniel 2 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Daniel 2)

Verse 1

[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.

In the second year — This was properly in the fifth year of that king's reign, but in the second year after Daniel had been brought before the king.

Dreams — It was one dream, but of many parts.

Verse 2

[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.

The astrologers — Who pretended great skill in natural, and supernatural things.

The sorcerers — Or necromancers, who used diabolical arts.

Chaldeans — This name the magicians assumed as being national, and most noble.

Verse 3

[3] And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream.

To know — He remembered the fact in general, but could not repeat it perfectly. Yet it had left such an impression on him, as put him in great perplexity. The Lord hath ways to affright the greatest men in the world, in the midst of their security.

Verse 4

[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.

In Syriack — That is in the Chaldee tongue, for Syria or Aram is sometimes taken in a large sense, containing, Assyria, Babylon, Mesopotamia, Phoenicia, Palestine, 2 Kings 18:26. From hence all is written in the Chaldee language, to the eighth chapter.

Verse 9

[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.

But one decree — I will not retract my sentence.

Verse 13

[13] And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain.

Daniel and his fellows — Daniel and his fellows were not called, because of their youth, which the Chaldeans despised. Here it is observable: 1. The magicians confessed, that knowledge and revelation must come from God, and therefore what Daniel did, was not of any human strength. 2. That the Lord held the governor's hands, so that he did not slay Daniel presently with the first. 3. That Daniel by his prudence and piety, saved all the magicians lives.

Verse 21

[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:

He changeth — God can make the sun go back or stand still, as in Ahaz and Joshua's time, it is the great part of God's power and prerogative to change times. Daniel here attributes that to God, which Heathens attributed to nature, or chance. God only, that made all by his power, doth rule, and over-rule all by his providence.

Verse 26

[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?

Belteshazzar — By this name of Belteshazzar he had given Daniel, he took courage as if he might expect some great thing from him: for the word signifies the keeper of secret treasure.

Verse 28

[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;

What shall be — Observe the prophet's wisdom, he does not fall abruptly upon the dream, but first prepares this lofty king for it, and by degrees labours to win him to the knowledge of the true God.

Verse 30

[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.

But — But that the interpretation may be manifest to the king, and that thou mayest be better instructed and satisfied in thy mind.

Verse 36

[36] This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.

And we — By this word we appears Daniel's piety and modesty, or he declares by it, that he and his companions had begged this skill from God, and therefore he did not arrogate it to himself.

Verse 38

[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.

Made thee ruler — He hath given thee absolute dominion of all creatures, men and beasts within the bounds of thy vast kingdom.

Thou — He was first in order, as the head is before the other parts, and the vision began in him, and descended downwards to the other three monarchies. He was the head of gold, because of the vast riches wherein this monarchy abounded, and because it stood longest, five hundred years, and was fortunate and flourishing to the last.

Verse 39

[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.

Another kingdom — This was that of the Medes and Persians, inferior in time for it lasted not half so long as the Assyrian in prosperity and tranquillity; yet, was this wonderful, rich and large for a time.

Third kingdom — This was the Grecian monarchy under Alexander the great, called brass, because coarser than the other.

Over all the earth — Alexander marched even to the Indies, and was said to conquer the world.

Verse 40

[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.

Fourth kingdom — This is the kingdom of the Romans, and was to last not only to Christ's first coming, but under antichrist, to his second coming. This did break in pieces all other kingdoms, being too strong for them, and brought all into subjection to it, 'till the stone fell upon it.

Verse 41

[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.

Divided — Partly strong, and partly weak; the Roman kingdom was divided, partly by their civil wars, partly when conquered provinces and kingdoms cast off the Roman yoke, and set up king's of their own, and so the empire was divided into ten kingdoms or toes.

Verse 42

[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.

Broken — This was plain in the civil wars of the Romans, and the falling off of some countries, especially towards the end of it.

Verse 43

[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.

Mingle themselves — By marriage, but they shall never knit well together, because ambition is stronger than affinity.

Verse 44

[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.

In the days of these kings — While the iron kingdom stood, for Christ was born in the reign of Augustus Caesar. And this kingdom is not bounded by any limits, as worldly empires are, but is truly universal. And it shall be for ever, never destroyed or given to others, as the rest were.

Verse 45

[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.

And the gold — This denotes the small beginning of Christ's visible kingdom, and the different rise of Christ from all other; his conception by the Holy Ghost, without father and mother, respectively as to his two natures. This stone, falling from the mountain, brake the image in pieces; for Christ is a stone that grinds to powder those it falls on: and he is a growing stone even to a mountain, and therefore will fill the earth.

Verse 46

[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.

That they should offer — This was strange, that so great a monarch should thus worship his vassal, which he did in consternation and admiration. But doubtless Daniel put a stop to it: though he could not hinder the king in his prostration, and in his word of command. And the king being instructed of Daniel, gives God all the glory in the next words.

Verse 47

[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.

God of gods — The supreme God of all the world, above Baal and all other gods.

Lord of kings — The word in the Syriack signifies, high Lord, seeing he is the highest king of all the earth.

Verse 49

[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.

And he set — He substituted them as lieutenants for the king's service under Daniel, but Daniel sat in the king's gate to be ready for the king's chief business.