on Daniel 2 :1
The second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar - That is, the second year of his reigning alone, for he was king two years before his father's death. See the notes on Daniel 1:1 (note). This was therefore the fifth year of his reign, and the fourth of the captivity of Daniel.
Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams wherewith his spirit was troubled - The dream had made a deep and solemn impression upon his mind; and, having forgotten all but general circumstances, his mind was distressed.
on Daniel 2 :1
And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar - There is an apparent chronological difficulty in this statement which has given some perplexity to expositors. It arises mainly from two sources.
(1) That in Jeremiah 25:1, it is said that the first year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar corresponded with the fourth year of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and as the captivity was in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim Daniel 1:1, the time here would be the "fourth" year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, instead of the second.
(2) That we learn from Daniel 1:5, Daniel 1:18, that Daniel and his three friends had been in Babylon already three years, under a process of training preparatory to their being presented at court, and as the whole narrative leads us to suppose that it was "after" this that Daniel was regarded as enrolled among the wise men (compare Daniel 2:13-14), on the supposition that the captivity occurred in the first year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, this would bring the time of the dream into the fourth year of his reign. This difficulty is somewhat increased from the fact that when Nebuchadnezzar went up to besiege Jerusalem he is called "king," and it is evident that he did not go as a lieutenant of the reigning monarch; or as a general of the Chaldean forces under the direction of another. See 2 Kings 24:1, 2 Kings 24:11. Various solutions of this difficulty have been proposed, but the true one probably is, that Nebuchadnezzar reigned some time conjointly with his father, Nabopolassar, and, though the title "king" was given to him, yet the reckoning here is dated from the time when he began to reign alone, and that this was the year of his sole occupancy of the throne.
Berosus states that his father, Nabopolassar, was aged and infirm, and that he gave up a part of his army to his son Nebuchadnezzar, who defeated the Egyptian host at Carchemish (Circesium) on the Euphrates, and drove Necho out of Asia. The victorious prince then marched directly to Jerusalem, and Jehoiakim surrendered to him; and this was the beginning of the seventy years, captivity. See "Jahn's History of the Hebrew Commonwealth," p. 134. Nabopolassar probably died about two years after that, and Nebuchadnezzar succeeded to the throne. The period of their reigning together was two years, and of course the second year of his single reign would be the fourth of his entire reign; and a reckoning from either would be proper, and would not be misunderstood. Other modes of solution have been adopted, but as this meets the whole difficulty, and is founded on truth, it is unnecessary to refer to them. Compare Prof. Stuart, on Daniel, Excursus I. and Excursus II.((See Barnes' Appendix I and Appendix II to Daniel)
Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams - The plural is here used, though there is but one dream mentioned, and probably but one is referred to, for Nebuchadnezzar, when speaking of it himself Daniel 2:3, says, "I have dreamed a dream." In the Latin Vulgate, and in the Greek, it is also in the singular. It is probable that this is a popular use of words, as if one should say, "I had strange dreams last night," though perhaps but a single dream was intended. - Prof. Bush. Among the methods by which God made known future events in ancient times, that by "dreams" was one of the most common. See the notes at Daniel 1:17; Introduction to Isaiah, Section 7. (2); compare Genesis 20:3, Genesis 20:6; Genesis 31:11; Genesis 37:5-6; Genesis 40:5; Genesis 41:7, Genesis 41:25; 1 Kings 3:5; Numbers 12:6; Joel 2:28; Job 33:14-16. The belief that the will of heaven was communicated to men by means of dreams, was prevalent throughout the world in ancient times. Hence, the striking expression in Homer, Iliad i. 63 - καὶ γάρ τ ̓ ὄναρ ἐκ Διός ἐστιν kai gar t' onar ek Dios estin, "the dream is of Jove." So in the commencement of his second Iliad, he represents the will of Jupiter as conveyed to Agamemnon by Ὄνείρος Oneiros, or "the dream."
So Diogenes Laertius makes mention of a dream of Socrates, by which he foretold his death as to happen in three days. This method of communicating the Divine will was adopted, not only in reference to the prophets, but also to those who were strangers to religion, and even to wicked men, as in the case of Pharaoh, Abimelech, Nebuchadnezzar, the butler and baker in Egypt, etc. In every such instance, however, it was necessary, as in the case before us, to call in the aid of a true prophet to interpret the dream; and it was only when thus interpreted that it took its place among the certain predictions of the future. One "object" of communicating the Divine will in this manner, seems to have been to fix the attention of the person who had the dream on the subject, and to prepare him to receive the communication which God had chosen to make to him. Thus it cannot be doubted that by the belief in dreams entertained by Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar, as disclosing future events, and by the anxiety of mind which they experienced m regard to the dreams, they were better prepared to receive the communications of Joseph and Daniel in reference to the future than they could have been by any other method of making known the Divine will.
They had no doubt that some important communication had been made to them respecting the future, and they were anxious to know what it was. They were prepared, therefore, to welcome any explanation which commended itself to them as true, and in this way the servants of the true God had a means of access to their hearts which they could have found in no other way. By what laws it was so regulated that a dream should be "known" to be a preintimation of coming events, we have now no means of ascertaining. That it is "possible" for God to have access to the mind in sleep, and to communicate his will in this manner, no one can doubt. That it was, so far as employed for that purpose, a safe and certain way, is demonstrated by the results of the predictions thus made in the case of Abimelech, Genesis 20:3, Genesis 20:6; of Joseph and his brethren, Genesis 37:5-6; of Pharaoh, Genesis 41:7, Genesis 41:25; and of the butler and baker, Genesis 40:5. It is not, however, to be inferred that the same reliance, or that any reliance, is now to be placed on dreams, for were there no other consideration against such reliance, it would be sufficient that there is no authorized interpreter of the wanderings of the mind in sleep. God now communicates his truth to the souls of men in other ways.
Wherewith his spirit was troubled - Alike by the unusual nature of the dream, and by the impression which he undoubtedly had that it referred to some important truths pertaining to his kingdom and to future times. See Daniel 2:31-36 The Hebrew word here rendered "troubled" (פעם pâ‛am) means, properly, to "strike, to beat, to pound;" then, in Niph., to be moved, or agitated; and also in Hithpa., to be agitated, or troubled. The proper signification of the word is that of striking as on an anvil, and then it refers to any severe stroke, or anything which produces agitation. The "verb" occurs only in the following places: Judges 13:25, where it is rendered "move;" and Psalm 67:4, (5); Genesis 41:8; Daniel 2:1, Daniel 2:3, where it is rendered "troubled." The "noun" is of frequent occurrence. "And his sleep brake from him." Hebrew עליו נהיתה שׁנתו shenâthô nı̂heyethâh ‛ālâyv.
Literally, "His sleep was upon him." The Greek is, "his sleep was from him;" i. e., left him. The Vulgate, "his sleep fled (fugit) from him." But it may be doubted whether the Hebrew will bear this construction. Probably the literal construction is the true one, by which the sense of the Hebrew - על ‛al "upon" - will be retained. The meaning then would be, that this remarkable representation occurred when he was "in" a profound sleep. It was a "dream," and not "an open vision." It was such a representation as passes before the mind when the senses are locked in repose, and not such as was made to pass before the minds of the prophets when they were permitted to see visions of the future, though awake. Compare Numbers 24:4, Numbers 24:16. There is nothing in the words which conveys the idea that there was anything preternatural in the sleep that had come upon Nebuchadnezzar, but the thought is, that all this occurred when he "was" sound asleep. Prof. Stuart, however, renders this, "his sleep failed him," and so does also Gesenius. Winer renders it, "his sleep went away from him." But it seems to me that the more natural idea is what occurs in the literal translation of the words, that this occurred as a dream, in a state of profound repose.
on Daniel 2 :1