Search the Bible
* powered by Bible Study Tools

Daniel 2:5

    Daniel 2:5 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    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.

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if you will not make known to me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, you shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill.

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if ye make not known unto me the dream and the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill.

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    The king made answer and said to the Chaldaeans, This is my decision: if you do not make clear to me the dream and the sense of it, you will be cut in bits and your houses made waste.

    Webster's Revision

    The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if ye make not known unto me the dream and the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill.

    World English Bible

    The king answered the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if you don't make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill.

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if ye make not known unto me the dream and the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill.

    Clarke's Commentary on Daniel 2:5

    Ye shall be cut in pieces - This was arbitrary and tyrannical in the extreme; but, in the order of God's providence, it was overruled to serve the most important purpose.

    Barnes' Notes on Daniel 2:5

    The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me - The Vulgate renders this, "Sermo recessit a me" - "The word is departed from me." So the Greek, Ὁ λόγος ἀπ ̓ ἐμοῦ ἀπέστη Ho logos ap' emou apestē. Luther, "Es ist mir entfallen" - "It has fallen away from me," or has departed from me. Coverdale, "It is gone from me." The Chaldee word rendered "the thing" - מלתה mı̂llethâh - means, properly, "a word, saying, discourse" - something which is "spoken;" then, like דבר dâbâr and the Greek ῥῆμα rēma, a "thing." The reference here is to the matter under consideration, to wit, the dream and its meaning. The fair interpretation is, that he had forgotten the dream, and that if he retained "any" recollection of it, it was only such an imperfect outline as to alarm him. The word rendered "is gone" - אזדא 'azeddâ' - which occurs only here and in Daniel 2:8, is supposed to be the same as אזל 'ăzal - "to go away, to depart." Gesenius renders the whole phrase, "The word has gone out from me; i. e., what I have said is ratified, and cannot be recalled;" and Prof. Bush (in loc.) contends that this is the true interpretation, and this also is the interpretation preferred by John D. Michaelis, and Dathe. A construction somewhat similar is adopted by Aben Ezra, C. B. Michaelis, Winer, Hengstenberg, and Prof. Stuart, that it means, "My decree is firm, or steadfast;" to wit, that if they did not furnish an interpretation of the dream, they should be cut off. The question as to the true interpretation, then, is between two constructions: whether it means, as in our version, that the dream had departed from him - that is, that he had forgotten it - or, that a decree or command had gone from him, that if they could not interpret the dream they should be destroyed. That the former is the correct interpretation seems to me to be evident.

    (1) It is the natural construction, and accords best with the meaning of the original words. Thus no one can doubt that the word מלה millâh, and the words דבר dâbâr and ῥῆμα rēma, are used in the sense of "thing," and that the natural and proper meaning of the Chaldee verb אזד 'ăzad is, to "go away, depart." Compare the Hebrew (אזל 'âzal) in Deuteronomy 32:36, "He seeth that their power is gone;" 1 Samuel 9:7, "The bread is spent in our vessels;" Job 14:11, "The waters fail from the sea;" and the Chaldee (אזל 'ăzal) in Ezra 4:23, "They went up in haste to Jerusalem;" Ezra 5:8, "We went into the province of Judea;" and Daniel 2:17, Daniel 2:24; Daniel 6:18 (19), 19(20).

    (2) This interpretation is sustained by the Vulgate of Jerome, and by the Greek.

    (3) It does not appear that any such command had at that time gone forth from the king, and it was only when they came before him that he promulgated such an order. Even though the word, as Gesenins and Zickler (Chaldaismus Dan. Proph.) maintain, is a feminine participle present, instead of a verb in the preterit, still it would then as well apply to the "dream" departing from him, as the command or edict. We may suppose the king to say, "The thing leaves me; I cannot recal it."

    (4) It was so understood by the magicians, and the king did not attempt to correct their apprehension of what he meant. Thus, in Daniel 2:7, they say, "Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation thereof." This shows that they understood that the dream had gone from him, and that they could not be expected to interpret its meaning until they were apprised what it was.

    (5) It is not necessary to suppose that the king retained the memory of the dream himself, and that he meant merely to try them; that is, that he told them a deliberate falsehood, in order to put their ability to the test. Nebuchadnezzar was a cruel and severe monarch, and such a thing would not have been entirely inconsistent with his character; but we should not needlessly charge cruelty and tyranny on any man, nor should we do it unless the evidence is so clear that we cannot avoid it. Besides, that such a test should be proposed is in the highest degree improbable. There was no need of it; and it was contrary to the established belief in such matters. These men were retained at court, among other reasons, for the very purpose of explaining the prognostics of the future. There was confidence in them; and they were retained "because" there was confidence in them. It does not appear that the Babylonian monarch had had any reason to distrust their ability as to what they professed; and why should he, therefore, on "this" occasion resolve to put them to so unusual, and obviously so unjust a trial?

    For these reasons, it seems clear to me that our common version has given the correct sense of this passage, and that the meaning is, that the dream had actually so far departed from him that he could not repeat it, though he retained such an impression of its portentous nature, and of its appalling outline, as to fill his mind with alarm. As to the objection derived from this view of the passage by Bertholdt to the authenticity of this chapter, that it is wholly improbable that any man would be so unreasonable as to doom others to punishment because they could not recal his dream, since it entered not into their profession to be able to do it (Commentary i. p. 192), it may be remarked, that the character of Nebuchadnezzar was such as to make what is stated here by Daniel by no means improbable. Thus it is said respecting him 2 Kings 25:7, "And they slew the sons of Zedekiah 'before his eyes,' and put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him with fetters of brass, and carried him to Babylon." Compare 2 Kings 25:18-21; Jeremiah 39:5, following; Jeremiah 52:9-11. See also Daniel 4:17, where he is called "the basest of men." Compare Hengstenberg, "Die Authentie des Daniel," pp. 79-81. On this objection, see Introduction to the chapter, Section I.I.

    If ye will not make known, unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof - Whatever may be thought as to the question whether he had actually forgotten the dream, there can be no doubt that he demanded that they should state what it was, and then explain it. This demand was probably as unusual as it was in one sense unreasonable, since it did not fall fairly within their profession. Yet it was not unreasonable in this sense, that if they really had communication with the gods, and were qualified to explain future events, it might be supposed that they would be enabled to recal this forgotten dream. If the gods gave them power to explain what was to "come," they could as easily enable them to recal "the past."

    Ye shall be cut in pieces - Margin, "made." The Chaldee is, "Ye shall be made into pieces; "referring to a mode of punishment that was common to many ancient nations. Compare 1 Samuel 15:33 : "And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal." Thus Orpheus is said to have been torn in pieces by the Thracian women; and Bessus was cut in pieces by order of Alexander the Great.

    And your houses shall be made a dunghill - Compare 2 Kings 10:27. This is an expression denoting that their houses, instead of being elegant or comfortable mansions, should be devoted to the vilest of uses, and subjected to all kinds of dishonor and defilement. The language here used is in accordance with what is commonly employed by Orientals. They imprecate all sorts of indignities and abominations on the objects of their dislike, and it is not uncommon for them to smear over with filth what is the object of their contempt or abhorrenee. Thus when the caliph Omar took Jerusalem, at the head of the Saracen army, after ravaging the greater part of the city, he caused dung to be spread over the site of the sanctuary, in token of the abhorrence of all Mussulmans, and of its being henceforth regarded as the refuse and offscouring of all things. - Prof. Bush. The Greek renders this, "And your houses shall be plundered;" the Vulgate, "And your houses shall be confiscated." But these renderings are entirely arbitrary. This may seem to be a harsh punishment which was threatened, and some may, perhaps, be disposed to say that it is improbable that a monarch would allow himself to use such intemperate language, and to make use of so severe a threatening, especially when the magicians had as yet shown no inability to interpret the dream, and had given no reasons to apprehend that they would be unable to do it. But we are to remember

    (1) the cruel and arbitrary character of the king (see the references above);

    (2) the nature of an Oriental despotism, in which a monarch is acccustomed to require all his commands to be obeyed, and his wishes gratified promptly, on pain of death;

    (3) the fact that his mind was greatly excited by the dream; and

    continued...