2006-08-06 - Daniel ~ Installment 11
Verses 4-11: Something interesting occurs here. We are told in verse four that these mystics spoke Aramaic. This doesn't mean they started speaking it at this point, but Daniel changes the language of his account from Hebrew to Aramaic. As we already noted, the most probable reason for this is the focus of the next group of chapters on the Gentile nations. Later, when the language returns to Hebrew, while the Gentiles are still the subject, now the focus is on their relationship to the Hebrew people. In the first part, God speaks to the Gentiles. In the second, He speaks to the Jewish people.
Anyway, the "wise men" of Babylon weren't about to put their necks in the noose. They would rather practice only the skill of dream interpretation. So they ask the king for the content of his dreams, but he replies that he doesn't remember.
Did he, or did the king act in an astute manner? There is some debate over the meaning of the next few verses. One view is the king forgot the content of the dreams, and so he needs not only interpretation, but the content as well. The other position is the king withheld the information, so he could test the veracity of any interpretation that was given.
It's obvious the king didn't totally trust his advisors. In fact, it appears he may have believed they were self-serving. This being the case, this position seems the best understanding, since the dream was so vivid and from God. This also depends on how we understand the Hebrew.
"The NIV translates the passage, "this is what I have firmly decided." The reference isn't to the dream but to the king's edict of judgment." 3
In either case, if these people where using supernatural means to interpret the dream, they certainly should have been able to tell the king the content of his dreams as well.
Well, this was a fine kettle of fish. They knew they couldn't comply with his request. I suspect the mystics felt like employees of the "Psychic Friends Network" when they found out the company was in bankruptcy. Interestingly, they stated that only the gods could tell the king his dreams. And without realizing it, they weren't too far off track. Only God could meet the king's needs, for it was God who sent the dreams in the first place.
Ferguson makes an interesting point here about Nebuchadnezzar's personality, which comes out in this scene:
"As the narrative ... unfolds, Nebuchadnezzar's true character is unveiled in his reactions to his situation. ... His reactions are consistently characterized by a spirit of hostility as well as a sense of insecurity. These two reactions are intimately connected. Nebuchadnezzar is not at peace with the world because he is not at peace in himself. Because this sense of personal peace is absent, he cannot be at peace with or ultimately trust others, not even his closest advisers. This emerges when his counselors ask him to tell them the content of the dream so that they can interpret it. Nebuchadnezzar immediately accuses them of having formed a cabal in the hope of outlasting his death threat." 4
Those who are controlling personalities are generally fearful. They fear all of life, so they have to control it. This is especially for those in government, or as Shakespeare put it:
"Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown."
3 Wiersbe, p. 258.
Comments or Questions?