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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)In the days of these kings.—Yet no kings have been mentioned hitherto. They must therefore correspond to the toes of the image. (Comp. Daniel 7:24.) It appears therefore that while this fourth kingdom still contrives to exist in some modified form, while its component parts are in a state of war and turmoil, the kingdom of God shall come. (Comp. Daniel 7:25-27.)
God of heaven.—(See Daniel 2:18).Daniel 2:44-45. And in the days of these kings — That is, kingdoms, or during the succession of these four monarchies; and it must be during the time of the last of them, because they are reckoned four in succession, and consequently this must be the fifth kingdom. Shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom — This can only be understood with propriety, as the ancients understood it, of the kingdom of Christ. Accordingly, his kingdom was set up during the days of the last of these kingdoms, that is, the Roman. The stone was totally a different thing from the image; and the kingdom of Christ is totally different from the kingdoms of this world. The stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, as our heavenly body is said (2 Corinthians 5:1) to be a building of God, a house not made with hands, that is, spiritual, as the phrase is used in other places. This the fathers generally apply to Christ himself, who was miraculously born of a virgin, without the concurrence of man: but it should be rather understood of the kingdom of Christ, which was formed out of the Roman empire, not by number of hands, or strength of armies, but without human means, and the virtue of second causes. This kingdom was set up by the God of heaven, and from hence the phrase of the kingdom of heaven came to signify the kingdom of the Messiah; and so it was used and understood by the Jews, and so it is applied by our Saviour in the New Testament. Other kingdoms were raised by human ambition and worldly power; but this was the work not of man, but of God: this was truly, as it is called, the kingdom of heaven, and (John 18:36) a kingdom not of this world; its laws, its powers were all divine. This kingdom was never to be destroyed, as the Babylonian, the Persian, and the Macedonian empires have been, and in a great measure also the Roman. This kingdom was not to be left to any other people; it was to be erected by God in a peculiar manner, to extend itself over all the nations, and still to consist of the same people, without any alteration or change of their name. What this people were to be, and by what name to be called, the prophet expressly declares Daniel 7:17-18; they were to be the saints of the Most High. Of such was this kingdom to consist, and never to depart from them; a character which expressly determines the nature of the kingdom, and by whom it was to be erected and governed. This kingdom was to break in pieces and consume all kingdoms — To spread and enlarge itself, so that it should comprehend within itself all the former kingdoms. This kingdom was to fill the whole earth, to become universal, and to stand for ever. As the fourth kingdom, or the Roman empire, was represented in different states, first strong and flourishing, with legs of iron, and then weakened and divided, with feet and toes part of iron and part of clay; so this fifth kingdom, or the kingdom of Christ, is described likewise in two states, which Mr. Mede rightly distinguishes by the names of regnum lapidis, the kingdom of the stone, and regnum montis, the kingdom of the mountain. The first commenced when the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, while the statue continued on its feet, and the Roman empire was in its full strength, with legs of iron: the second, when the stone began to increase into a mountain, and to fill the earth, the Roman empire being in its last and weakest state. The image is still standing upon its feet and toes of iron and clay; and the kingdom of Christ is yet a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence. But the stone will one day smite the image upon the feet and toes, and destroy it utterly, and will itself become a great mountain, and fill the whole earth: or, in other words, The kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever. We have, therefore, seen the kingdom of the stone; but we have not yet seen the kingdom of the mountain. Some parts of this prophecy still remain to be fulfilled; but the exact completion of the other parts will not suffer us to doubt of the accomplishment of the rest also in due season: see Bishop Newton.Ruth 1:1 : "It came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land;" that is, the famine occurred sometime under that general administration, or before it had passed away, evidently not meaning that there was a famine in the reign of each one. So it is said of Jephthah, that he was buried "in the cities of Gilead;" that is, some one of them. Josiah was buried in, "the sepulchres of his fathers;" that is, in some one of them.
Shall the God of heaven - The God, who rules in heaven; the true God. This is designed to show the Divine origin of this kingdom, and to distinguish it from all others. Though the others here referred to were under the Divine control, and were designed to act an important part in preparing the world for this, yet they are not represented as deriving their origin directly from heaven. They were founded in the usual manner of earthly monarchies, but this was to have a heavenly origin. In accordance with this, the kingdom which the Messiah came to establish is often called, in the New Testament, "the kingdom of heaven," "the kingdom of God," etc. Compare Micah 4:7; Luke 1:32-33.
Set up a kingdom - "Shall cause to arise or stand up" - יקים yeqı̂ym. It shall not owe its origin to the usual causes by which empires are constituted on the earth by conquests; by human policy; by powerful alliances; by transmitted hereditary possession - but shall exist because God shall "appoint" and "constitute" it. There can be no reasonable doubt as to what kingdom is here intended, and nearly all expositors have supposed that it refers to the kingdom of the Messiah. Grotius, indeed, who made the fourth kingdom refer to the Seleucidse and Lagidse, was constrained by consistency to make this refer to the Roman power; but in this interpretation he stands almost, if not entirely, alone. Yet even he supposes it to refer not to "pagan" Rome only, but to Rome as the perpetual seat of power - the permanent kingdom - the seat of the church: "Imperium Romanum perpetuo mansurum, quod sedes erit ecclesice." And although he maintains that he refers to Rome primarily, yet he is constrained to acknowledge that what is here said is true in a higher sense of the kingdom of Christ: Sensus sublimior, Christum finem impositurum omnibus. imperiis terrestribus. But there can be no real doubt as to what kingdom is intended. Its distinctly declared Divine origin; the declaration that it shall never be destroyed; the assurance that it would absorb all other kingdoms, and that it would stand forever; and the entire accordance of these declarations with the account of the kingdom of the Messiah in the New Testament, show beyond a doubt that the kingdom of the Redeemer is intended.
Which shall never be destroyed - The others would pass away. The Babylonian would be succeeded by the Medo-Persian, that by the Macedonian, that by the Roman, and that in its turn by the one which the God of heaven would set up. This would be perpetual. Nothing would have power to overthrow it. It would live in the revolutions of all other kingdoms, and would survive them all. Compare the notes at Daniel 7:14; and the summary of the doctrines taught here at the close of the notes at Daniel 2:45.
And the kingdom shall not be left to other people - Margin, "thereof. Literally, "Its kingdom shall not be left to other people;" that is, the ruling power appropriate to this kingdom or dominion shall never pass away from its rightful possessor, and be transferred to other hands. In respect to other kingdoms, it often happens that their sovereigns are deposed, and that their power passes into the hands of usurpers. But this can never occur in this kingdom. The government will never change hands. The administration will be perpetual. No foreign power shall sway the scepter of this kingdom. There "may be" an allusion here to the fact that, in respect to each of the other kingdoms mentioned, the power over the same territory "did" pass into the hands of other people. Thus, on the same territory, the dominion passed from the hands of the Babylonian princes to the hands of Cyrus the Persian, and then to the hands of Alexander the Macedonian, and then to the hands of the Romans. But this would never occur in regard to the kingdom which the God of heaven would set up. In the region of empire appropriate to it, it would never change hands; and this promise of perpetuity made this kingdom wholly unlike all its predecessors.
But it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms - As represented by the stone cut out of the mountains without hands, impinging on the image. See the notes at Daniel 2:34-35.
Two inquiries at once meet us here, of somewhat difficult solution. The first is, How, if this is designed to apply to the kingdom of the Messiah, can the description be true? The language here would seem to imply some violent action; some positive crushing force; something like what occurs in conquests when nations are subdued. Would it not appear from this that the kingdom here represented was to make its way by conquests in the same manner as the other kingdoms, rather than by a silent and peaceful influence? Is this language, in fact, applicable to the method in which the kingdom of Christ is to supplant all others? In reply to these questions, it may be remarked,
(1) That the leading idea, as apparent in the prophecy, is not so much that of "violence" as that the kingdoms referred to would be "uttterly brought to an end;" that there would be, under this new kingdom, ultimately an entire cessation of the others; or that they would be removed or supplanted by this. This is represented Daniel 2:35 by the fact that the materials composing the other kingdoms are represented before this as becoming like "the chaff of the summer threshing-floors;" and as "being carried away, so that no place was found for them." The stone cut out of the mountain, small at first, was mysteriously enlarged, so that it occupied the place which they did, and ultimately filled the earth. A process of gradual demolition, acting on them by constant attrition, removing portions of them, and occupying their place until they should disappear, and until there should be a complete substitution of the new kingdom in their place, would seem to correspond with all that is essential in the prophetic description, See the notes at Daniel 2:34, on the expression, "which smote the image upon his feet." But
(2) This language is in accordance with what is commonly used in the predictions respecting the kingdom of the Messiah - language which is descriptive of the existence of "power" in subduing the nations, and bringing the opposing kingdoms of the world to an end. Thus in Psalm 2:9, "Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron: thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." Isaiah 9:12, "for the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted." So 1 Corinthians 15:24-25, "When he shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power. For he must reign until he hath put all enemies under his feet." These expressions denote that there will be an entire subjection of other kingdoms to that of the Messiah, called in the New Testament "the kingdom of God." They undoubtedly imply that there will be some kind of "force" employed - for this great work cannot be accomplished without the existence of "power;" but it may be remarked
(a) That it does not necessarily mean that there will be "physical" force, or power like that by which kingdoms have been usually overturned. The kingdom of the Redeemer is a kingdom of "principles," and those principles will subdue the nations, and bring them into subjection.
(b) It does not necessarily mean that the effect here described will be accomplished "at once." It may be by a gradual process, like a continual beating on the image, reducing it ultimately to powder.
The other question which arises here is, How can it be said that the new kingdom which was to be set up would "break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms?" How could the destruction of the image in the Roman period be in fact the destruction of the "three" previous kingdoms, represented by gold, and silver, and brass? Would they not in fact have passed away before the Roman power came into existence? And yet, is not the representation in Daniel 2:35, that the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold were broken in pieces together, and were all scattered like the chaff of the summer threshing-floor? Is it supposed that these kingdoms would be all in existence at the same time, and that the action of the symbolic "stone" was to be alike on all of them? To these questions, we may answer,
(1) That the meaning is, undoubtedly, that three of these kingdoms would have passed away at the time of the action of the "stone" referred to. They were to be a "succession" of kingdoms, occupying, to a great extent, the same territory, and not contemporary monarchies occupying distinct territories.
(2) The action of the "stone" was in fact, in a most important sense, to be on them all; that is, it was to be on what "constituted" these successive kingdoms of gold, silver, brass, and iron. Each was in its turn an universal monarchy. The same territory was substantially occupied by them all. The Medo-Persian scepter extended over the region under the Babylonian; the Macedonian over that; the Roman over that. There were indeed "accessions" in each successive monarchy, but still anything which affected the Roman empire affected what had "in fact" been the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, and the Macedonian. A demolition of the image in the time of the Roman empire would be, therefore, in fact, a demolition of the whole.
God of heaven … kingdom—hence the phrase, "the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 3:2).
not … left to other people—as the Chaldees had been forced to leave their kingdom to the Medo-Persians, and these to the Greeks, and these to the Romans (Mic 4:7; Lu 1:32, 33).
break … all—(Isa 60:12; 1Co 15:24).In the days of these kings, i.e. while the iron kingdom stood, (for Christ was born in the reign of Augustus Caesar, Luke 2:1)
shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom. Now see the difference of Christ’s kingdom from all other kingdoms in the world.
1. In the rise of it, it was not by earthly succession, or arms, or policy.
2. It is spiritual and heavenly in the laws and administration of it.
3. Jesus Christ was not a mere man, but God-man, he is the King, the Son of God.
4. It is stronger than all others, because it breaks them in pieces.
5. It is not bounded by any limits as worldly empires are, but truly universal.
6. It shall be for ever, and never destroyed and given to others, as the rest were.
shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; this is the kingdom of the Messiah, as is owned by both ancient and modern Jews: so it is said in an ancient book (p) of theirs,
"in the time of the King Messiah, Israel shall be one nation in the earth, and one people to the holy blessed God; as it is written, in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, &c.'';
and in another of their writings (q), esteemed very ancient, it is said,
"the Ishmaelites shall do fifteen things in the earth in the last days; the last of which mentioned is, they shall erect an edifice in the temple; at length two brothers shall rise up against them, and in their days shall spring up the branch of the Son of David; as it is said, in the days of these kings, &c.'';
and both Jarchi and Aben Ezra interpret this kingdom of the kingdom of the Messiah; and so Jacchiades, a much later writer, says the last kingdom is that of the Messiah: and another modern Jewish writer says (r), in the time of the King Messiah there shall be but one kingdom, and but one King; and this the King, the true Messiah; but the rest of the kingdoms and their kings shall not subsist in his time; as it is written, "in the days of these kings &c."; which kingdom is no other than his church on earth, where he reigns; has his throne; holds forth his sceptre; gives out his laws, and is obeyed: and, though this is already in the world, yet it is not so visible, stable, and glorious, as it will be at the close of the fourth monarchy, which is meant by its being set up, confirmed, and established; and this will be done by the God of heaven, the Maker and possessor of it, and who dwells in it, and rules there, and over all the earth; and therefore Christ's church, or kingdom, is often called the kingdom of heaven; and when it is thus established, it will ever remain visible; its glory will be no more eclipsed; and much less subverted and overthrown, by all the powers of earth and hell. Christ was set up as King from everlasting, and the elect of God were appointed and given him as a kingdom as early; and in and over these he reigns by his Spirit and grace in time, when they are effectually called, and brought into subjection to him; these are governed by laws of his making: he is owned by them as their Lord and King, and they yield a ready and cheerful obedience to his commands, and he protects and defends them from their enemies; and such a kingdom Christ has always had from the beginning of the world: but there was a particular time in which it was to be set up in a more visible and glorious manner: it was set up in the days of his flesh on earth, though it came not with observation, or was attended with outward pomp and grandeur, it being spiritual, and not of this world; upon his ascension to heaven it appeared greater; he was made or declared Lord and Christ, and his Gospel was spread everywhere: in the times of Constantine it was still more glorious, being further extended, and enjoying great peace, liberty, and prosperity: in the times of Popish darkness, a stop was put to the progress of it, and it was reduced into a narrow compass; at the Reformation there was a fresh breaking of it out again, and it got ground in the world: in the spiritual reign it will be restored, and much more increased, through the Gospel being preached, and churches set up everywhere; and Christ's kingdom will then be more extensive; it will be from sea to sea and from the river to the ends of the earth; it will be more peaceable and prosperous; there will be none to annoy and do hurt to the subjects of it; it will be no more subject to changes and revolutions, but will be in a firm and stable condition; it will be established upon the top of the mountains, and be more visible and glorious, which is here meant by its being "set up": especially this will be the case in the Millennium state, when Christ shall reign before his ancients gloriously and they shall reign with him; and this will never be destroyed, but shall issue in the ultimate glory; for now all enemies will be put under the feet of Christ and his church; the beast and false prophet will be no more; and Satan will be bound during this time, and after that cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, with all the wicked angels and men:
and the kingdom shall not be left to another people; as the Babylonian monarchy to the Medes and Persians; the Persian monarchy to the Greeks; and the Grecian monarchy to the Romans; but this shall not be left to a strange people, but shall be given to the saints of the most High; see Daniel 7:27,
but it shall break in pieces and subdue all these kingdoms; the Babylonian, Persian, Grecian, and Roman; the three former in the latter, which has swallowed them up; besides, the rest of these monarchies, which are all signified by beasts in an after prophecy, are said still to live, though their dominion is taken away, Daniel 7:12, the same nations are in being, though not as monarchies, and have not the same denomination, and are in other hands; now these, and whatsoever kingdoms shall exist, when this shall be set up, shall be either broke to pieces, and utterly destroyed, or become subject to it; see 1 Corinthians 15:24,
and it shall stand for ever: throughout time in this world, and to all eternity in another; it will be an everlasting kingdom; which is interpreted by Irenaeus (s), an ancient Christian writer in the second century, of the resurrection of the just; his words are,
"the great God hath signified by Daniel things to come, and he hath confirmed them by the Son; and Christ is the stone which is cut out without hands, who shall destroy temporal kingdoms, and bring in an everlasting one, which is the resurrection of the just; for he saith, the God of heaven shall raise up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed;''
this is the first resurrection, which brings on the personal reign, in which the righteous shall reign with him a thousand years; see Revelation 20:5.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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)44. in the days of these kings] i.e. of the Seleucidae and Ptolemies, as is implied by the part of the image on which the stone falls (Daniel 2:34). The period in the history of these monarchies which is more particularly referred to is the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes (b.c. 175–164), whose fall, according to the representation of the book of Daniel (cf. Daniel 7:25-27, Daniel 11:45 to Daniel 12:3), was to be succeeded immediately by the establishment of the kingdom of God.
shall never be destroyed] in contrast to the previous kingdoms, which, from different causes, had all perished. Cf. Daniel 7:14.
and the kingdom, &c.] nor shall the sovereignty thereof be left to another people. It will endure for ever; and its power will never be transferred to another people. The expression implies that the Divine kingdom itself is in the hands of a people, viz. Israel.
break in pieces] cf. Daniel 2:34-35.
and it shall stand for ever] the it is emphatic.
44, 45. The kingdom of God, to succeed these kingdoms.Verses 44, 45. - And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never he 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, Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, 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. The Greek versions differ from the Massoretic text only in the order in which the materials of the statue arc recorded. These are arranged in the reverse order in which they are first mentioned, that is to say, we have first the clay, then the iron, and so on, to the gold. This is the order followed by Jerome. On the other hand, the Peshitta follows the Massoretic order. The reason for the order adopted in the Septuagint. Theodotion, and the Vulgate is evidently a symmetrical one, and therefore more likely to be the result of emendation than the somewhat haphazard order of the received text. It is, however, not impossible that the similarity of sound has led to haspa, "clay," being brought out of its proper place at the beginning of the list and placed in juxtaposition with kaspa, "silver." Ewald thinks that the order of the Greek versions is to be preferred. Professor Bevan is doubtful, and refers to the order of the metals in Daniel 5:4, which begins with "gold" and ends with "stone." In the days of these kings. This must refer to the kings who made up the last dynasty, especially the kings of the sub-dynasties represented by the ten toes. If the traditional interpretation is correct, these days are still future. It is not impossible that all the dynasties of the vision are implied, and that the kingdom of heaven is preparing during the whole period; only the natural meaning is that we have assumed. Shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom. It may be noted that, while in the rest of this chapter the Septuagint renders this title, Κύριος τοῦ οὐρανοῦ or Κὐριος ὁ ὕψιστος, here the rendering is, ὁ Θεὸς τοῦ οὐρανοῦ. This is a clear statement of the Messianic hopes of the Jews on one side - a Messianic kingdom and Messianic times. This new kingdom is on a different plane from those that preceded it, which go to make up the mysterious image. It is explained to be from the direct interference of the God of heaven that this new kingdom is intruded upon history. When we look at the material, it is inferior to all that had gone before - inferior even to the fire-baked clay of the potter, which formed the toes of the image. This way of representing the Messianic kingdom would have appeared inadequate to an ordinary Jew. Waiving the fact that he regarded the Messianic empire to be another such as the empires of Assyria and Babylonia, only greater, the Jew would certainly have declared that the Messianic kingdom of heaven was a precious stone, not an ordinary piece of rock that goes to build up the framework of the mountains. It is impossible to deny that it is strange that the symbol should be thus a less precious material than even that of the lowest and weakest kingdom of the worldly system of dynasties. When we look at a metal, how homogeneous it is! With rocks, again, begins individualism. The more precious metals, with their extreme ductility, seem to be further removed from this individualism than the baser, such as copper and iron, and clay is still less removed than iron. But simple rock is furthest removed of all from metallic homogeneousness: the grains that compose it, unlike the chemical atoms of the metal, are visible to the naked eye. The process of degradation, which had proceeded through kingdom after kingdom, had now reached its lowest point. Wherever the setting up of this Messianic kingdom is placed, whenever it is held as occurring, it is certain it fits most naturally the Christian Church. The old civilization, represented by the Assyrian monarchy, had only one free man in the state, and that was the king. The Persians had nobles whose power rendered the king's supremacy less absolute than it had been in the Assyrian days. In the days of Greek and Roman supremacy the freedom of citizenship was, even in the republics, possessed only by a few, the rest were slaves. Still, the freedom was much more widely spread than in the Persian and Assyrian monarchies; only the Church, the kingdom of heaven, made of slaves citizens. It is the very acme of individualism. Looked at from without, the kingdom of heaven was a thing to be despised - a thing for freedmen and slaves, for poor workmen and peasants. In the Assyrian form of government the king was the state; so the royal metal, gold, is used. In the Persian the nobles rule; so we have silver. In Greece it is the free citizens, therefore the artistic but less noble metal, copper, or, perhaps, its composite form as bronze, is used. In Rome, in imperial times, it is the soldiery, and therefore iron is the metal that symbolizes them. Shall we step over the intervening centuries of retrogression, and see in the clay the modern mercantile and manufacturing interests? To the ordinary eye of the world, there is a progressive degeneracy here. The lowest point is reached; not even the rich, not to speak of the noble and learned, but the poor and the ignorant, form the kingdom. Another contrast in the symbol is that these metallic empires remained stationary; they reached a limit, then could go no further - not growth, but stationariness, is represented by their symbol; but this stone cut out of the mountain "grows," and ceases not till it has filled the earth. Further, the kingdoms which went to build up the dream-statue endure only for a time; this rock-built kingdom is an ever-lasting kingdom. It is not limited either in extent or duration. This, again, suits only the Church of Christ; fitted and intended to fill the earth, it also has an unending duration. The world itself may end, but the Church does not. We do not mean to assert that Daniel foresaw this distinctly; the very idea of the prophetic office implied that the speaker often did not know the full import of his own words. It shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. The silent, disruptive influence of Christianity is exhibited in regard to slavery, which was the foundation of the ancient state. Without opposing slavery, to appearance, it laid down principles which rendered slavery impossible. The supreme dignity it gives to the individual, as bearing the image of God, affirms the claims of democracy, and so affirms them that the modern state must disappear. Forasmuch as thou sawest the stone teas cut out of the mountain without hands. Nothing could be more silent or unobserved by the men of the world, or more unlikely to form the beginning of a new world-power than Christianity. If Judaism was regarded as "the mountain of the Lord's house," then this new kingdom was cut from it, as Christianity was from Judaism. And that it brake, etc. The reason why Nebuchadnezzar had seen all this - the growth of this kingdom, the way it destroyed all other kingdoms - was now to be made known. The great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter; or, as it ought to be rendered, a great god. The word, as observed by Professor Bevan, is not in the status emphaticus; see Ezra 5:8, אלחא רבא (elaha rabba). Daniel thus recognizes the fact that, to his heathen master, all that in the first instance he can convey to him - the only idea he can give him - of the greatness of Jehovah is that he is very great, not that he is the solely Great One in the universe (see Behrmann). Zockler, Ewald, Keil, and Kranichfeld assert that the fact of the words "great god" (elah tab) being in the absolute, not the emphatic state, is due to the elevation of pectic language. In the first place, this is not poetry, and, in the second place, neither of these writers gives any example of such a change of construction taking place. Made known to the king. Why was it to "the king"? One objectsecured by making this revelation known to Nebuchadnezzar himself was that it secured its publicity. Had the vision been made known to Daniel himself, he could not have announced that the empire of Babylon should pass away, without running the risk of being condemned for treason. The king's action had made both dream and interpretation perforce public in a way they could not otherwise have been. What shall come to pass hereafter; literally, which shall be after these things. This does not mean in the immediate future, but after the state of matters at present existing - the domination of the world by great powers after the system of great world-empires has passed away, then will the Lord's kingdom be set up. And the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure; or, literally, to bring out the emphasis, certain - established - it is the dream, and sure - faithful - the interpretation. This is not a mere assertion of the fact that he, Daniel, had given an exact account of what the king had seen in his dream, and a correct interpretation of its import; of the first the king was the best judge. It is rather an argument: "The account of the dream is correct; from this learn that the interpretation is sure."
When Jehovah shall have judged all the heathen in the valley of Jehoshaphat, and shall dwell as King of His people upon Zion His holy mountain, then will the mountains trickle with new wine, and the hills run with milk, and all the brooks of Judah flow with water; and a spring will proceed from the house of Jehovah, and water the Acacia valley. With these figures Joel (Joel 4:18) has already described the river of salvation, which the Lord would cause to flow to His congregation in the time when the kingdom of God shall be perfected. This picture of the Messianic salvation shapes itself in the case of our prophet into the magnificent vision contained in the section before us.
(Note: Compare W. Neumann, Die Wasser des Lebens. An exegetical study on Ezekiel 47:1-12. Berlin, 1848.)
Ezekiel 47:1. And he led me back to the door of the house, and, behold, water flowed out from under the threshold of the house toward the east, for the front side of the house was toward the east; and the water flowed down from below, from the right shoulder of the house on the south of the altar. Ezekiel 47:2. And he led me out by the way of the north gate, and caused me to go round about on the outside, to the outer gate of the way to the (gate), looking toward the east; and, behold, waters rippled for the right shoulder of the gate. Ezekiel 47:3. When the man went out toward the east, he had a measuring line in his hand, and he measured a thousand cubits, and caused me to go through the water-water to the ankles. Ezekiel 47:4. And he measured a thousand, and caused me to go through the water-water to the knees; and he measured a thousand, and caused me to go through-water to the hips. Ezekiel 47:5. And he measured a thousand-a river through which I could not walk, for the water was high, water to swim in, a river which could not be forded. Ezekiel 47:6. And he said to me, Hast thou seen it, son of man? and he led me back again by the bank of the river. Ezekiel 47:7. When I returned, behold, there stood on the bank of the river very many trees on this side and on that. Ezekiel 47:8. And he said to me, This water flows out into the eastern circle, and runs down into the plain, and reaches the sea; into the sea is it carried out, that the waters may become wholesome. Ezekiel 47:9. And it will come to pass, every living thing with which it swarms everywhere, whither the double river comes, will live, and there will be very many fishes; for when this water comes thither they will become wholesome, and everything will live whither the river comes. Ezekiel 47:10. And fishermen will stand by it, from Engedi to Eneglaim they will spread out nets; after their kind will there be fishes therein, like the fishes of the great sea, very many. Ezekiel 47:11. Its marshes and its swamps, they will not become wholesome, they will be given up to salt. Ezekiel 47:12. And by the river will all kinds of trees of edible fruit grow on its bank, on this side and on that; their leaves will not wither, and their fruits will not fail; every moon they will bear ripe fruit, for its water flows out of its sanctuary. And their fruits will serve as food, and their leaves as medicine.
From the outer court, where Ezekiel had been shown the sacrificial kitchens for the people (Ezekiel 46:21.), he is taken back to the front of the door of the temple house, to be shown a spring of water, flowing out from under the threshold of the temple, which has swollen in the short course of four thousand cubits from its source into a deep river in which men can swim, and which flows down to the Jordan valley, to empty itself into the Dead Sea. In Ezekiel 47:1 and Ezekiel 47:2, the origin and course of this water are described; in Ezekiel 47:3 and Ezekiel 47:5, its marvellous increase; in Ezekiel 47:6, the growth of trees on its banks; in Ezekiel 47:7-12, its emptying itself into the Arabah and into the Dead Sea, with the life-giving power of its water. - Ezekiel 47:1. The door of the house is the entrance into the holy place of the temple, and מפתּן הבּית the threshold of this door. קדימה, not "in the east" (Hitzig), for the following sentence explaining the reason does not require this meaning; but "toward the east" of the threshold, which lay toward the east, for the front of the temple was in the east. מתּחת is not to be connected with מכּתף, but to be taken by itself, only not in the sense of downwards (Hitzig), but from beneath, namely, down from the right shoulder of the house. ירד, to flow down, because the temple stood on higher ground than the inner court. The right shoulder is the part of the eastern wall of the holy place between the door and the pillars, the breadth of which was five cubits (Ezekiel 41:1). The water therefore issued from the corner formed by the southern wall of the porch and the eastern wall of the holy place (see the sketch on Plate I), and flowed past the altar of burnt-offering on the south side, and crossed the court in an easterly direction, passing under its surrounding wall. It then flowed across the outer court and under the pavement and the eastern wall into the open country, where the prophet, on the outside in front of the gate, saw it rippling forth from the right shoulder of that gate. That he might do this, he was led out through the north gate, because the east gate was shut (Ezekiel 44:1), and round by the outside wall to the eastern outer gate. דּרך חוּץ is more minutely defined by אל־שׁער החוּץ, and this, again, by דּרך הפּונה קדים, "by the way to the (gate) looking eastwards." The ἁπ. λεγ. ּרך̓̀ינבל;, Piel of פּכה, related to בּכה, most probably signifies to ripple, not to trickle. מים has no article, because it is evident from the context that the water was the same as that which Ezekiel had seen in the inner court, issuing from the threshold of the temple. The right shoulder is that portion of the eastern wall which joined the south side of the gate. - Ezekiel 47:3-5. The miraculous increase in the depth of the water. A thousand cubits from the wall, as one walked through, it reached to the ankles; a thousand cubits further, to the knees; a thousand cubits further, to the hips; and after going another thousand cubits it was impossible to wade through, one could only swim therein. The words מי אפסים are a brief expression for "there was water which reached to the ankles." אפס is equivalent to פּס, an ankle, not the sole of the foot. In 1 Chronicles 11:13, on the other hand, we have פּס דּמּים for אפס דּמּים . The striking expression מים בּרכים for מי ברכים may possibly have been chosen because מי ברכים had the same meaning as מימי רגלים in Isaiah 36:12 (Keri). The measuring man directed the prophet's attention (Ezekiel 47:6) to this extraordinary increase in the stream of water, because the miraculous nature of the stream was exhibited therein. A natural river could not increase to such an extent within such short distances, unless, indeed, other streams emptied themselves into it on all sides, which was not he case here. He then directed him to go back again על שׂפת, along the bank, not "to the bank," as he had never left it. The purpose for which he had been led along the bank was accomplished after he had gone four thousand cubits. From the increase in the water, as measured up to this point, he could infer what depth it would reach in its further course. He is therefore now to return along the bank to see how it is covered with trees. בּשׁוּבני cannot be explained in any other way than as an incorrect form for בּשׁוּבי, though there are no corresponding analogies to be found.
In Ezekiel 47:8-12 he gives him a still further explanation of the course of the river and the effect of its waters. The river flows out into הגּלילה הקּדמונה, the eastern circle, which is identical with גּלילות היּרדּן htiw lacitne, the circle of the Jordan (Joshua 22:10-11), the region above the Dead Sea, where the Jordan valley (Ghor) widens out into a broad, deep basin. הערבה is the deep valley of the Jordan, now called the Ghor (see the comm. on Deuteronomy 1:1), of which Robinson says that the greater part remains a desolate wilderness. It was so described in ancient times (see Joseph. Bell. Jude 3.10. 7, iv. 8. 2), and we find it so to-day (compare v. Raumer, Pal. p. 58). היּמּה is the Dead Sea, called היּם הקּדמוני in Ezekiel 47:18, and the sea of the Arabah in Deuteronomy 3:17; Deuteronomy 4:49. We agree with Hengstenberg in taking the words אל־היּמּה המּוּצאים as an emphatic summing up of the previous statement concerning the outflow of the water, to which the explanation concerning its effect upon the Dead Sea is attached, and supply בּאוּ from the clause immediately preceding: "the waters of the river that have been brought out (come) to the sea, and the waters of the Dead Sea are healed." There is no need, therefore, for the emendation proposed by Hitzig, namely, אל היּם הם מוּצאים. So much, however, is beyond all doubt, that היּמּה is no other than the Dead Sea already mentioned. The supposition that it is the Mediterranean Sea (Chald., Ros., Ewald, and others) cannot be reconciled with the words, and has only been transferred to this passage from Zechariah 14:8. נרפּא signifies, as in 2 Kings 2:22, the healing or rendering wholesome of water that is injurious or destructive to life. The character of the Dead Sea, with which the ancients were also well acquainted, and of which Tacitus writes as follows: Lacus immenso ambitu, specie maris sapore corruptior, gravitate odoris accolis pestifer, neque vento impellitur neque pisces aut suetas aquis volucres patitur (Hist. v. c. 6), - a statement confirmed by all modern travellers (cf. v. Raumer, Pal. pp. 61ff., and Robinson, Physical Geography of the Holy Land), - is regarded as a disease of the water, which is healed or turned into wholesome water in which fishes can live, by the water of the river proceeding from the sanctuary. The healing and life-giving effect of this river upon the Dead Sea is described in Ezekiel 47:9 and Ezekiel 47:10. Whithersoever the waters of the river come, all animated beings will come to life and flourish.
In Ezekiel 47:9 the dual נחלים occasions some difficulty. It is not likely that the dual should have been used merely for the sake of its resemblance to מים, as Maurer imagines; and still less probable is it that there is any allusion to a junction of the river proceeding from the temple at some point in its course with the Kedron, which also flows into the Dead Sea (Hvernick), as the Kedron is not mentioned either before or afterwards. According to Kliefoth, the dual is intended to indicate a division which takes place in the waters of the river, that have hitherto flowed on together, as soon as they enter the sea. But this would certainly have been expressed more clearly. Hengstenberg takes the expression "double river" to mean a river with a strong current, and refers to Jeremiah 50:21 in support of this. This is probably the best explanation; for nothing is gained by altering the text into נחלם (Ewald) or נחלים (Hitzig), as נחל does not require definition by means of a suffix, nor doe the plural answer to the context. is to be taken in connection with אשׁר ישׁרץ: "wherewith it swarms whithersoever the river comes;" though אל does not stand for על after Genesis 7:21, as Hitzig supposes, but is to be explained from a species of attraction, as in Genesis 20:13. יחיה is a pregnant expression, to revive, to come to life. The words are not to be understood, however, as meaning that there were living creatures in the Dead Sea before the health-giving water flowed into it; the thought is simply, that whithersoever the waters of the river come, there come into existence living creatures in the Dead Sea, so that it swarms with them. In addition to the שׁרץ, the quantity of fish is specially mentioned; and in the second hemistich the reason is assigned for the number of living creatures that come into existence by a second allusion to the health-giving power of the water of the river. The subject to וירפאוּ, viz., the waters of the Dead Sea, is to be supplied from the context. The great abundance of fish in the Dead Sea produced by the river is still further depicted in Ezekiel 47:10. Fishermen will spread their nets along its coast from Engedi to Eneglaim; and as for their kind, there will be as many kinds of fish there as are to be found in the great or Mediterranean Sea. עין גּדי, i.e., Goat's spring, now Ain-Jidi, a spring in the middle of the west coast of the Dead Sea, with ruins of several ancient buildings (see the comm. on Joshua 15:62, and v. Raumer, Pal. p. 188). עין עגלים has not yet been discovered, though, from the statement of Jerome, "Engallim is at the beginning of the Dead Sea, where the Jordan enters it," it has been conjectured that it is to be found in Ain el-Feshkhah, a spring at the northern end of the west coast, where there are also ruins of a small square tower and other buildings to be seen (vid., Robinson's Palestine, II pp. 491, 492), as none of the other springs on the west coast, of which there are but few, answer so well as this. למינה is pointed without Mappik, probably because the Masoretes did not regard the ה as a suffix, as the noun to which it alludes does not follow till afterwards. - Ezekiel 47:11 introduces an exception, namely, that notwithstanding this the Dead Sea will still retain marshes or pools and swamps, which will not be made wholesome (בּצּאת for בּצּות, pools). An allusion to the natural character of the Dead Sea underlies the words. "In the rainy season, when the sea is full, its waters overspread many low tracts of marsh land, which remain after the receding of the water in the form of moist pools or basins; and as the water in these pools evaporates rapidly, the ground becomes covered with a thick crust of salt" (Robinson's Physical Geography, p. 215). למלח נתּנוּ, they are given up to salt, i.e., destined to remain salt, because the waters of the river do not reach them. The light in which the salt is regarded here is not that of its seasoning properties, but, in the words of Hengstenberg, "as the foe to all fruitfulness, all life and prosperity, as Pliny has said (Hist. Nat. xxxi. c. 7: Omnis locus, in quo reperitur sal, sterilis est nihilque gignit") (cf. Deuteronomy 29:22; Jeremiah 17:6; Zephaniah 2:9; Psalm 107:34). - In Ezekiel 47:12 the effect of the water of the river upon the vegetation of the ground, already mentioned in Ezekiel 47:7, is still further described. On its coast grow all kinds of trees with edible fruits (עץ מאכל, as in Leviticus 19:23), whose leaves do not wither, and whose fruits do not fail, but ripen every month (בּכּר, or produce first-fruits, i.e., fresh fruits; and לחדשׁים distributive, as in Isaiah 47:13), because the waters which moisten the soil proceed from the sanctuary, i.e., "directly and immediately from the dwelling-place of Him who is the author of all vital power and fruitfulness" (Hitzig). The leaves and fruits of these trees therefore possess supernatural powers. The fruits serve as food, i.e., for the maintenance of the life produced by the river of water; the leaves as medicine (תּרוּפה from רוּף equals רפא, healing), i.e., for the healing of the sick and corrupt (εἰς θεραπείαν, Revelation 22:2).
In the effect of the water proceeding from the sanctuary upon the Dead Sea and the land on its shores, as described in Ezekiel 47:8-12, the significance of this stream of water in relation to the new kingdom of God is implied. If, then, the question be asked, what we are to understand by this water, whether we are to take it in a literal sense as the temple spring, or in a spiritual and symbolical sense, the complete answer can only be given in connection with the interpretation of the whole of the temple vision (Ezekiel 40-48). Even if we assume for the moment, however, that the description of the new temple, with the worship appointed for it, and the fresh division of Canaan, is to be understood literally, and therefore that the building of an earthly temple upon a high mountain in the most holy terumah of the land set apart for Jehovah, and a renewal of the bleeding sacrifices in this temple by the twelve tribes of Israel, when restored to Palestine from the heathen lands, are to be taken for granted, it would be difficult to combine with this a literal interpretation of what is said concerning the effect of the temple spring. It is true that in Volck's opinion "we are to think of a glorification of nature;" but even this does not remove the difficulties which stand in the way of a literal interpretation of the temple spring. According to Ezekiel 47:12, its waters posses the life-giving and healing power ascribed to them because they issue from the sanctuary. But how does the possession by the water of the power to effect the glorification of nature harmonize with its issuing from a temple in which bullocks, rams, calves, and goats are slaughtered and sacrificed? - Volck is still further of opinion that, with the spiritual interpretation of the temple spring, "nothing at all could be made of the fishermen;" because, for example, he cannot conceive of the spiritual interpretation in any other way than as an allegorical translation of all the separate features of the prophetic picture into spiritual things. But he has failed to consider that the fishermen with their nets on the shore of the sea, once dead, but now swarming with fish, are irreconcilably opposed to the assumption of a glorification of nature in the holy land, just because the inhabitants of the globe or holy land, in its paradisaically glorified state, will no more eat fish or other flesh, according to the teaching of Scripture, than the first men in Paradise. When once the wolf shall feed with the lamb, the leopard with the kid, the cow with the bear, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox, under the sceptre of the sprout from the stem of Jesse, then will men also cease their fishing, and no longer slaughter and eat either oxen or goats. To this the Israelites will form no exception in their glorified land of Canaan. - And if even these features in the vision before us decidedly favour the figurative or spiritual view of the temple spring, the necessity for this explanation is placed beyond the reach of doubt by a comparison of our picture with the parallel passages. According to Joel 4:18, at the time when a spring issues from the house of Jehovah and the vale of Shittim is watered, the mountains trickle with new wine, and the hills run with milk. If, then, in this case we understand what is affirmed of the temple spring literally, the trickling of the mountains with new wine and the flowing of the hills with milk must be taken literally as well. But we are unable to attain to the belief that in the glorified land of Israel the mountains will be turned into springs of new wine, and the hills into fountains of milk, and in the words of the whole verse we can discern nothing but a figurative description of the abundant streams of blessing which will then pour over the entire land. And just as in Joel the context points indisputably to a non-literal or figurative explanation, so also does the free manner in which Zechariah uses this prophecy of his predecessors, speaking only of living waters which issue from Jerusalem, and flow half into the eastern (i.e., the Dead) sea, and half into the western (i.e., the Mediterranean) sea (Zechariah 14:8), show that he was not thinking of an actual spring with earthly water. And here we are still provisionally passing by the application made of this feature in the prophetic descriptions of the glory of the new kingdom of God in the picture of the heavenly Jerusalem (Revelation 22:1 and Revelation 22:2).
The figurative interpretation, or spiritual explanation, is moreover favoured by the analogy of the Scriptures. "Water," which renders the unfruitful land fertile, and supplies refreshing drink to the thirsty, is used in Scripture as a figure denoting blessing and salvation, which had been represented even in Paradise in the form of watering (cf. Genesis 13:10). In Isaiah 12:3, "and with joy ye draw water from the wells of salvation," the figure is expressly interpreted. And so also in Isaiah 44:3, "I will pour water upon the thirsty one, and streams upon the desert; I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:" where the blessing answers to the water, the Spirit is named as the principal form in which the blessing is manifested, "the foundation of all other salvation for the people of God" (Hengstenberg). This salvation, which Joel had already described as a spring issuing from the house of Jehovah and watering the dry acacia valley, Ezekiel saw in a visionary embodiment as water, which sprang from under the threshold of the temple into which the glory of the Lord entered, and had swollen at a short distance off into so mighty a river that it was no longer possible to wade through. In this way the thought is symbolized, that the salvation which the Lord causes to flow down to His people from His throne will pour down from small beginnings in marvellously increasing fulness. The river flows on into the barren, desolate waste of the Ghor, and finally into the Dead Sea, and makes the waters thereof sound, so that it swarms with fishes. The waste is a figure denoting the spiritual drought and desolation, and the Dead Sea a symbol of the death caused by sin. The healing and quickening of the salt waters of that sea, so fatal to all life, set forth the power of that divine salvation which conquers death, and the calling to life of the world sunk in spiritual death. From this comes life in its creative fulness and manifold variety, as shown both by the figure of the fishermen who spread their nets along the shore, and by the reference to the kinds of fish, which are as manifold in their variety as those in the great sea. But life extends no further than the water of salvation flows. Wherever it cannot reach, the world continues to life in death. The pools and swamps of the Dead Sea are still given up to salt. And lastly, the water of salvation also possesses the power to produce trees with leaves and fruits, by which the life called forth from death can be sustained and cured of all diseases. This is the meaning, according to the express statement of the text, of the trees with their never withering leaves, upon the banks of the river, and their fruits ripening every month.
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