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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT



DANIEL 2

 

CHAPTER II.

 

Ver. 1.  Year, from the death of his father, Nabopolassar; for he had reigned before as partner with his father, in the empire.  Ch. --- In that quality he conquered Syria, (A. 3397) took Daniel, &c. in 3399.  He succeeded his father.  Usher.  C. --- After he had enlarged his empire by the conquest of Egypt, &c. he had this dream.  A. R. 25.  W. --- Mind.  Sept. "his sleep departed from him."  H. --- He was restless, recollecting enough to fill him with trouble.  When the dream was repeated over, he knew that it was the same.  C.

 

Ver. 2.  The Chaldeans.  That is, the astrologers, that pretended to divine by stars.  Ch. --- They dwelt on the banks of the Euphrates, and were highly esteemed.  Diod. Sic. i. --- They were the most ancient philosophers.  Civ. Div. i.

 

Ver. 3.  I know.  Heb. also, "to know or understand what," &c.

 

Ver. 4.  Syriac.  It was originally the same as the Chaldee.  Daniel understood this language, as well as Heb. and writes in it what concerned the Chaldees, to C. viii.  This shews his accuracy, as he makes his speakers use their own tongue.  Spinosa ignorantly asserts, that all the seven first chapters are in Chal. and taken from the records of that nation by Judas Macc.  How then did Matthathias become acquainted with the contents?

 

Ver. 5.  Put.  Chal. "torn to pieces, and your house become infamous places;" (C.)  Prot. "a dunghill"  H. --- Such cruel punishments were not uncommon.  1 Esd. vi. 11.  C. --- Bessus was torn in pieces by the relations of Darius; (Diod. xvii.) and the Persians generally cut off some member of criminals.  Brisson ii.

 

Ver. 8.  Gain.  Lit. "redeem"  H. --- S. Paul uses a similar expression, exhorting us to save our souls even at the expense of our temporal interest.  C. --- The diviners wished to give the king's fury time to abate, (H.) and to save their lives; (C.) or delay punishment, at least, as much as possible.  H.

 

Ver. 9.  Thereof.  It is indeed more easy to discover what dream a person has had, than to explain it; since the devil might disclose the former, but he can only guess at what will happen, and herein his agents are often deceived.  See Gen. xl.  W. --- It is not even certain that the devil can know the dreams which we have not divulged, as it is the privilege of God to discern the secrets of the heart.  H.

 

Ver. 11.  Men.  They acknowledged greater and less gods.  Stanley, p. 13. C. i. --- They pretend not to have any communication with the superior ones, (C.) and by their answer unguardedly bear testimony to the excellence of the God whom Daniel served.  S. Jer.

 

Ver. 13.  Slain.  Lit. "were slaughtering;" interficiebantur. H. --- Many think that some had already suffered.  Geier.  M. --- The had been perhaps jealous of Daniel, and had not informed him of the matter.  S. Jer.

 

Ver. 14.  General.  He occupied the same office as Putiphar, in Egypt.  Gen. xxxix. 1.  It was no disgrace for such a one to execute himself the king's order, as Banaias slew the brother of Solomon.  3 K. ii.

 

Ver. 15.  Cruel.  Chal. also, "precipitate."  C.

 

Ver. 16.  Declare the dream. H. --- The Chaldeans had promised only to explain it, and the king knew the superior merit of Daniel.  C. i. 19.  C.

 

Ver. 18.  Secret. Lit. "sacrament."  Gr. "mystery," which seems to be derived from (C.) mosthor, "a secret."  H.

 

Ver. 19.  Night, while he was probably asleep, (C.) or praying with his companions.  Villet.

 

Ver. 20.  His.  He grants them to whom he pleases, and disposes of kingdoms (C.) without control.  v. 21.

 

Ver. 27.  Soothsayers.  Chal. Gazerin, (H.) who inspect entrails, (Ezec. xxi. 21.  S. Jer.) or tell fortunes by sticks.  C. iii. 3.

 

Ver. 28.  Times.  In the Old Test. this commonly signifies when Christ shall appear; but in the New, it refers to the end of the world.  C.

 

Ver. 29.  Begin.  By thus telling what thoughts the king had entertained before his dream, he would be heard with greater confidence.  W.

 

Ver. 31.  Terrible, or unusual.  C. --- The statue denoted the four great empires of the Chaldees, Persians, Greeks and Romans.  The metals did not mean that the empire of gold was greater than the rest, as that signified by iron was far more powerful; but only that the empire of the Chaldees was then the greatest, and that the Persians would acquire still more power and be surpassed by the Greeks, as they were by the Romans, till the kingdom of Christ should be spread over all the earth.  W.

 

Ver. 37.  Of kings.  This title was used by the Persians.  Nabuchodonosor was at that time the most potent monarch on earth.  He conquered many nations, and greatly embellished the city of Babylon, surrounding it with three walls in fifteen days, and building hanging gardens, which were the wonder of the world.  See Eus. præp. ix. 41. and x. 42. &c.  C.

 

Ver. 39.  Another kingdom; viz. that of the Medes and Persians.  Ch. --- Inferior; later, of less duration and extent.  C. --- Third, &c.  That of Alexander the Great.  Ch. --- World.  Alexander received ambassadors at Babylon, from the most distant nations, testifying their submission.  He conquered beyond the river Indus, &c.  Diod. A. 1.  Olym. 14.  C.

 

Ver. 40.  The fourth kingdom, &c.  Some understand this of the successors of Alexander, the kings of Syria and Egypt: others, of the Roman empire and its civil wars.  Ch. --- The former supposition seems best, though the latter is almost universally received, and will be explained hereafter.  C. --- The Roman empire did not immediately rise out of Alexander's, and had no relation to the Jews, &c.  Grot.  L'Empereus. --- But it surely swallowed up all that he had left to his generals, and proved the greatest scourge to the Jewish nation; which has been ever since scattered, while the kingdom of Christ gains ground, and will flourish till that of Rome shall be no more.  Antichrist will then appear to cast a cloud over, but not destroy it for three years and a half.  It is the opinion of many Fathers, &c. that the Roman empire will subsist till that event take place; (see 2 Thes. ii. 3. 7.) and thus it may be said, that the fourth empire shall not be given to another people.  For antichrist will not strive to exalt a particular nation, but to rule over all.  Yet his dominion will be short, and will end in the general dissolution of nature; so that the Roman empire maybe deemed to last for a long time, or even for ever.  v. 44.  Those who adopt the former system, allow (H.) that the stone designates both the Roman empire and that of Christ; so that some parts of the prediction may refer to one and some to the other.  The origin and progress of the Roman empire, might be a figure of the spiritual power of the Church.  It is certain that the successors of Alexander owed their dominion to their valour, and established it by the slaughter of many great generals.  The kings who followed Seleucus and Ptolemy were remarkable for a mixture of good and bad qualities.  Their efforts to preserve their power by intermarriages, proved abortive.  The prophet seems also to have had them in view, C. vii. 7. and viii. 22.  C.

 

Ver. 41.  Clay.  The iron was in a rude state, mixed with earth.  The Roman power was at last partly exercised by consuls and partly by emperors.  M. --- Florus (l.) compares it to the four states of a man, infancy, childhood, youth, and old age.  Its youth may be dated from the conquest of all Italy to Tiberius; afterwards it fell to decay, while the eternal kingdom of Christ was forming.  v. 44.

 

Ver. 43.  Man.  Pompey and Cæsar, Anthony and Augustus, married each other's relations; but they soon quarrelled, and the race of the Cæsars was extinct in Nero.  But this is better understood of the kings of Syria and of Egypt.  C.

 

Ver. 44.  Kingdom of Christ, in the Catholic Church, which cannot be destroyed.  Ch. --- This alone cannot be destroyed.  W. --- All other empires change.  The Catholic Church has stood for seventeen centuries in the midst of persecutions, which gives us an assurance that she will continue for ever.  C. --- "Then," says Munster, "was the kingdom of Christ set up, not by arms,...but by the divine power."  This interpretation arises from the  improper version, without hands; whereas the sequel shews that the empire here spoken of, is attended with the like violence as the four others, which it destroys.  The Roman empire was in no degree connected with others by marriage.  In the following verse, Munster improperly turns to the second coming of our Saviour.  Grotius here asserts that the stone alludes to the Roman armies, prefiguring the Son of man, whose gospel is indicated by the progress of the Roman empire, as both sprung from small beginnings.  But who informed him that there were such figures in that empire as in the Old Testament?  All empires begin in that manner, and types should have some greater resemblance with the reality.  The Church meddles not with the temporal powers.  It is therefore plain that the prophet speaks of empires which shall succeed each other.  Houbigant. perf. Prop. 340. --- Kingdoms.  That of Rome comprised all the former.  The persecuting emperors are forced to yield, and the colossal power of infidelity and vice falls before the gospel.  Christ's dominion is spiritual, exercised against wickedness; (C.) is heavenly and eternal.  H. --- The blood of martyrs was more efficacious in the establishing of Christianity, than fire and sword had been in forming other empires.  M.

 

Ver. 45.  Hands.  Prot. marg. "mountain, which was not in hand."  H. --- Christ was born of a virgin; and his kingdom was not established by ambition, like others.  Yet it presently became a mountain, and filled the earth.  S. Just. dial.  S. Aug. tr. 9. in Jo. --- God himself sets up this kingdom.  C.

 

Ver. 46.  Daniel, taking him for a little god, under the great one, v. 17.  W. --- Victims.  Chal. mincha, (H.) of flour, &c.  But the prophet had already declared his sentiments on this head, (v. 28.) and abhorred such honours, like S. Paul, (Acts xiv. 10.  C.) though this is not here recorded.  M.

 

Ver. 47.  Of gods, above all those of the country for explaining hidden things: yet he did not acknowledge  him to be the only true God.  C. --- He afterwards erected an idol to represent his own greatness.  W.

 

Ver. 48.  Provinces, or that of Babylonia, which was the first. --- Wise men.  This would not engage him in any idolatrous practices.

 

Ver. 49.  Works of agriculture, (C.) which the ancient kings of Persia encouraged with great attention, appointing officers to reward or punish according as their land was cultivated.  Xenophon, Cyr. 8. & Œcon. --- S. Jerom thinks they were appointed judges, (C.) or assistants of Daniel.  Grot. --- Palace.  Lit. "gates," (H.) as receiver of the taxes, particularly at Susa.  C. viii. 2.  Marsham Egypt. sæc. 18.

 

 








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