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Daniel 3:1

    Daniel 3:1 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was three score cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide: he put it up in the valley of Dura, in the land of Babylon.

    Webster's Revision

    Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.

    World English Bible

    Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits, and its breadth six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.

    Definitions for Daniel 3:1

    Threescore - Sixty.

    Clarke's Commentary on Daniel 3:1

    Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold - It is supposed that the history given here did not occur till the close, or near the end, of Nebuchadnezzar's reign. For it was after his insanity, as we see Daniel 4:33-36, and this happened near the close of his reign. The authorized version, which is followed in the margin, fixes the date of this event seventeen years earlier, and ten years before the king's insanity. A few observations on this image may be necessary: -

    1. It is not likely that this image was in human form - the dimensions show the improbability of this; for what proportion is there between sixty cubits (ninety feet) in length, and six cubits (nine feet) in breadth?

    2. It is not likely that this image was all of gold; for this would have required more of this precious metal than the whole province of Babylon could produce; for as I suppose the sixty cubits apply to the perpendicular altitude, so I take it for granted that the six cubits intend the diameter. Now a column of gold of this height in diameter, upon the supposition that the pillar was circular, contains five thousand seven hundred and twenty-five and a half cubic feet; and as there are nineteen thousand avoirdupois ounces in a cubic foot, the weight of the whole pillar would be eight million two hundred and sixty-two thousand eight hundred and six pounds, ten ounces of gold.

    3. It might have been a pillar on which an image of the god Bel was erected. The image itself might be of gold, or more probably gilt, that is, covered with thin plates of gold, and on this account it might be called the golden image; and most probably the height of the image may be confounded with the height of the pillar. Or perhaps it was no more than a pillar, on the sides of which their gods and sacred emblems were engraven, surmounted with Bel on the top.

    The plain of Dura - The situation of this place is not exactly known; there was a town or city called Dura, or Doura, in Mesopotamia, near the Tigris.

    Barnes' Notes on Daniel 3:1

    Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold - The time when he did this is not mentioned; nor is it stated in whose honor, or for what design, this colossal image was erected. In the Greek and Arabic translationns, this is said to have occurred in the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. This is not, however, in the original text, nor is it known on what authority it is asserted. Dean Prideaux (Consex. I. 222) supposes that it was at first some marginal comment on the Greek version that at last crept into the text, and that there was probably some good authority for it. If this is the correct account of the time, the event here recorded occurred 587 b.c., or, according to the chronology of Prideaux, about nineteen years after the transaction recorded in the previous chapter. Hales makes the chronology somewhat different, though not essentially. According to him, Daniel was carried to Babylon 586 b.c., and the image was set up 569 b.c., making an interval from the time that he was carried to Babylon of seventeen years; and if the dream Daniel 2 was explained within three or four years after Daniel was taken to Babylon, the interval between that and this occurrence would be some thirteen or fourteen years.

    Calmet makes the captivity of Daniel 602 years before Christ; the interpretation of the dream 598; and the setting up of the image 556 - thus making an interval of more than forty years. It is impossible to determine the time with certainty; but allowing the shortest-mentioned period as the interval between the interpretation of the dream Daniel 2 and the erection of this statue, the time would be sufficient to account for the fact that the impression made by that event on the mind of Nebuchadnezzar, in favor of the claims of the true God Daniel 2:46-47, seems to have been entirely effaced. The two chapters, in order that the right impression may be received on this point, should be read with the recollection that such an interval had elapsed. At the time when the event here recorded is supposed by Prideaux to have occurred, Nebuchadnezzar had just returned from finishing the Jewish war.

    From the spoils which he had taken in that expedition in Syria and Palestine, he had the means in abundance of rearing such a colossal statue; and at the close of these conquests, nothing would be more natural than that he should wish to rear in his capital some splendid work of art that would signalize his reign, record the memory of his conquests, and add to the magnificence of the city. The word which is here rendered "image" (Chaldee צלם tselēm - Greek εἰκόνα eikona), in the usual form in the Hebrew, means a shade, shadow; then what shadows forth anything; then an image of anything, and then an "idol," as representing the deity worshipped. It is not necessary to suppose that it was of solid gold, for the amount required for such a structure would have been immense, and probably beyond the means even of Nebuchadnezzar. The presumption is, that it was merely covered over with plates of gold, for this was the usual manner in which statues erected in honor of the gods were made. See Isaiah 40:19.

    It is not known in honor of whom this statue was erected. Grotius supposed that it was reared to the memory of Nabopolassar, the father of Nebuchadnezzar, and observes that it was customary to erect statues in this manner in honor of parents. Prideaux, Hales, the editor of the "Pict. Bible," and most others, suppose that it was in honor of Bel, the principal deity worshipped in Babylon. See the notes at Isaiah 46:1. Some have supposed that it was in honor of Nebuchadnezzar himself, and that he purposed by it to be worshipped as a god. But this opinion has little probability in its favor. The opinion that it was in honor of Bel, the principal deity of the place, is every way the most probable, and this derives some confirmation from the well-known fact that a magnificent image of this kind was, at some period of his reign, erected by Nebuchadnezzar in honor of this god, in a style to correspond with the magnificence of the city.

    The account of this given by Herodotus is the following: "The temple of Jupiter Belus, whose huge gates of brass may still be seen, is a square building, each side of which is two furlongs. In the midst rises a tower, of the solid depth and height of one furlong; upon which, resting as upon a base, seven other lesser towers are built in regular succession. The ascent is on the outside; which, winding from the ground, is continued to the highest tower; and in the middle of the whole structure there is a convenient resting place. In the last tower is a large chapel, in which is placed a couch, magnificently adorned, and near it a table of solid gold; but there is no statue in the place. In this temple there is also a small chapel, lower in the building, which contains a figure of Jupiter, in a sitting posture, with a large table before him; these, with the base of the table, and the seat of the throne, are all of the purest gold, and are estimated by the Chaldeans to be worth eight hundred talents.

    On the outside of this chapel there are two altars; one is gold, the other is of immense size, and appropriated to the sacrifice of full-grown animals; those only which have not yet left their dams may be offered on the golden altar. On the larger altar, at the anniversary festival in honor of their god, the Chaldeans regularly consume incense to the amount of a thousand talents. There was formerly in this temple a statue of solid gold twelve cubits high; this, however, I mention from the information of the Chaldeans, and not from my own knowledge." - Clio, 183. Diodorus Siculus, a much later writer, speaks to this effect: "Of the tower of Jupiter Belus, the historians who have spoken have given different descriptions; and this temple being now entirely destroyed, we cannot speak accurately respecting it. It was excessively high; constructed throughout with great care; built of brick and bitumen. Semiramis placed on the top of it three statues of massy gold, of Jupiter, Juno, and Rhea. Jupiter was erect, in the attitude of a man walking; he was forty feet in height; and weighed a thousand Babylonian talents: Rhea, who sat in a chariot of gold, was of the same weight. Juno, who stood upright, weighed eight hundred talents." - B. ii.

    The temple of Bel or Belus, in Babylon, stood until the time of Xerxes; but on his return from the Grecian expedition, he demolished the whole of it, and laid it in rubbish, having first plundered it of its immense riches. Among the spoils which he took from the temple, are mentioned several images and statues of massive gold, and among them the one mentioned by Diodorus Siculus, as being forty feet high. See Strabo, lib. 16, p. 738; Herodotus, lib. 1; Arrian "de Expe. Alex." lib. 7, quoted by Prideaux I. 240. It is not very probable that the image which Xerxes removed was the same which Nebuchadnezzar reared in the plain of Dura - compare the Introduction to this chapter, Section I. VII. (a); but the fact that such a colossal statue was found in Babylon may be adduced as one incidental corroboration of the probability of the statement here. It is not impossible that Nebuchadnezzar was led, as the editor of Calmet's "Dictionary" has remarked (Taylor, vol. iii. p. 194), to the construction of this image by what he had seen in Egypt. He had conquered and ravaged Egypt but a few years before this, and had doubtless been struck with the wonders of art which he had seen there.

    Colossal statues in honor of the gods abounded, and nothing would be more natural than that Nebuchadnezzar should wish to make his capital rival everything which he had seen in Thebes. Nor is it improbable that, while he sought to make his image more magnificent and costly than even those in Egypt were, the views of sculpture would be about the same, and the "figure" of the statue might be borrowed from what had been seen in Egypt. See the statues of the two celebrated colossal figures of Amunoph III standing in the plains of Goorneh, Thebes, one of which is known as the Vocal Memnon. These colossi, exclusive of the pedestals (partially buried), are forty-seven feet high, and eighteen feet three inches wide across the shoulders, and according to Wilkinson are each of one single block, and contain about 11,500 cubic feet of stone. They are made of a stone not known within several days' journey of the place where they are erected. Calmet refers to these statues, quoting from Norden.

    Whose height was threescore cubits - Prideaux and others have been greatly perplexed at the "proportions" of the image here represented. Prideaux says on the subject (Connections, I. 240, 241), "Nebuchadnezzars golden image is said indeed in Scripture to have been sixty cubits, that is, ninety feet high; but this must be understood of the image and pedestal both together, for that image being said to be but six cubits broad or thick, it is impossible that the image would have been sixty cubits high; for that makes its height to be ten times its breadth or thickness, which exceeds all the proportions of a man, no man's height being above six times his thickness, measuring the slenderest man living at the waist. But where the breadth of this image was measured is not said; perchance it was from shoulder to shoulder; and then the proportion of six cubits breadth will bring down the height exactly to the measure which Diodorus has mentioned; for the usual height of a man being four and a half of his breadth between the shoulders, if the image were six cubits broad between the shoulders, it must, according to this proportion, have been twenty-seven cubits high, which is forty and a half feet."

    The statue itself, therefore, according to Prideaux, was forty feet high; the pedestal fifty feet. But this, says Taylor, the editor of Calmet, is a disproportion of parts which, if not absolutely impossible, is utterly contradictory to every principle of art, even of the rudest sort. To meet the difficulty, Taylor himself supposes that the height referred to in the description was rather "proportional" than "actual" height; that is, if it had stood upright it would have been sixty cubits, though the actual elevation in a sitting posture may have been but little more than thirty cubits, or fifty feet. The breadth, he supposes, was rather the depth or thickness measured from the breast to the back, than the breadth measured from shoulder to shoulder. His argument and illustration may be seen in Calmet, vol. iii. Frag. 156. It is not absolutely certain, however, that the image was in a sitting posture, and the "natural" constructsion of the passage is, that the statue was actually sixty cubits in height.

    No one can doubt that an image of that height could be erected; and when we remember the one at Rhodes, which was 105 Grecian feet in height (see art. "Colossus," in Anthon's "Class. Dict."), and the desire of Nebuchadnezzar to adorn his capital in the most magnificent manner, it is not to be regarded as improbable that an image of this height was erected. What was the height of the pedestal, if it stood on any, as it probably did, it is impossible now to tell. The length of the "cubit" was not the same in every place. The length originally was the distance between the elbow and the extremity of the middle finger, about eighteen inches. The Hebrew cubit, according to Bishop Cumberland and M. Pelletier, was twenty-one inches; but others fix it at eighteen. - Calmet. The Talmudists say that the Hebrew cubit was larger by one quarter than the Roman. Herodotus says that the cubit in Babylon was three fingers longer than the usual one. - Clio, 178. Still, there is not absolute certainty on that subject. The usual and probable measurement of the cubit would make the image in Babylon about ninety feet high.

    And the breadth thereof six cubits - About nine feet. This would, of course, make the height ten times the breadth, which Prideaux says is entirely contrary to the usual proportions of a man. It is not known on what "part" of the image this measurement was made, or whether it was the thickness from the breast to the back, or the width from shoulder to shoulder. If the "thickness" of the image here is referred to by the word "breadth," the proportion would be well preserved. "The thickness of a well-proportioned man," says Scheuchzer (Knupfer Bibel, in loc.), "measured from the breast to the back is one-tenth of his height." This was understood to be the proportion by Augustine, Civi. Dei, 1. xv. c. 26. The word which is here rendered "breadth" (פתי pethay) occurs nowhere else in the Chaldean of the Scriptures, except in Ezra 6:3 : "Let the house be builded, the height thereof threescore cubits, and the "breadth" thereof threescore cubits." Perhaps this refers rather to the "depth" of the temple from front to rear, as Taylor has remarked, than to the breadth from one side to another. If it does, it would correspond with the measurement of Solomon's temple, and it is not probable that Cyrus would vary from that plan in his instructions to build a new temple. If that be the true construction, then the meaning here may be, as remarked above, that the image was of that "thickness," and the breadth from shoulder to shoulder may not be referred to.

    He set it up in the plain of Dura - It would seem from this that it was set up in an open plain, and not in a temple; perhaps not near a temple. It was not unusual to erect images in this manner, as the colossal figure at Rhodes shows. Where this plain was, it is of course impossible now to determine. The Greek translation of the word is Δεειρᾷ Deeira - "Deeira." Jerome says that the translation of Theodotion is "Deira;" of Symmachus, Doraum; and of the Septuagint. περίβολον peribolon - which he says may be rendered "vivarium vel conclusum locum." "Interpreters commonly," says Gesenius, "compare Dura, a city mentioned by Ammian. Marcel. 25. 6, situated on the Tigris; and another of like name in Polyb. 5, 48, on the Euphrates, near the mouth of the Chaboras." It is not necessary to suppose that this was in the "city" of Babylon; and, indeed, it is probable that it was not, as the "province of Babylon" doubtless embraced more than the city, and an extensive plain seems to have been selected, perhaps near the city, as a place where the monument would be more conspicuous, and where larger numbers could convene for the homage which was proposed to be shown to it.

    In the province of Babylon - One of the provinces, or departments, embracing the capital, into which the empire was divided, Daniel 2:48.

    Wesley's Notes on Daniel 3:1

    3:1 Made an image - Perhaps he did this, that he might seem no ways inclined to the Jews, or their religion, whereof the Chaldeans might be jealous, seeing he had owned their God to be greatest, and had preferred Daniel and his friends to great honours.