Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Daniel 2:11

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And it is a rare thing that the king requireth - Chaldee, יקירה yaqqı̂yrâh - meaning, “choice, valuable, costly;” then, “heavy, hard, difficult.” Greek, βαρύς barus Vulgate, “gravis - heavy, weighty.” The idea is not so much that the thing demanded by the king was “uncommon” or “rarely made” - though that was true, as that it was so difficult as to be beyond the human powers. They would not have been likely on such an occasion to say that the requirement was absolutely unjust or unreasonable. The term which they used was respectful, and yet it implied that no man could have any hope of solving the question as it was proposed by him.

And there is none other that can show it before the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh - This was clearly true, that a matter of that kind could not be disclosed except by Divine assistance. It would seem from this that these persons did not claim to be inspired, or to have communication with the gods; or, at least, that they did not claim to be inspired by the Supreme God, but that they relied on their own natural sagacity, and their careful and long study of the meaning of those occurrences which prefigured future events, and perhaps on the mystic arts derived from their acquaintance with science as then understood. The word “gods” here - אלהין 'ĕlâhı̂yn the same as the Hebrew אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym - is in the plural number, but might be applied to the true God, as the Hebrew אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym often is. It is by no means certain that they meant to use this in the plural, or to say that it was an admitted truth that the gods worshipped in Babylon did not dwell with people.

It was, undoubtedly, the common opinion that they did; that the temples were their abode; and that they frequently appeared among men, and took part in human affairs. But it was a very early opinion that the Supreme God was withdrawn from human affairs, and had committed the government of the world to intermediate beings - internuncii - demons, or aeons: beings of power far superior to that of men, who constantly mingled in human affairs. Their power, however, though great, was limited; and may not the Chaldeans here by the word אלהין 'ĕlâhı̂yn - have meant to refer to the Supreme God, and to say that this was a case which pertained to him alone; that no inferior divinity could be competent to do such a thing as he demanded; and that as the Supreme God did not dwell among men it was hopeless to attempt to explain the matter? Thus understood, the result will convey a higher truth, and will show more impressively the honor put on Daniel. The phrase, “whose dwelling is not with flesh,” means “with men - in human bodies.”

On the supposition that this refers to the Supreme God, this undoubtedty accords with the prevailing sentiment of those times, that however often the inferior divinities might appear to men, and assume human forms, yet the Supreme God was far removed, and never thus took up his abode on the earth. They could hope, therefore, for no communication from Him who alone would be competent to the solution, of such a secret as this. This may be regarded, therefore, as a frank confession of their entire failure in the matter under consideration. They acknowledged that “they” themselves were not competent to the solution of the question, and they expressed the opinion that the ability to do it could not be obtained from the help which the inferior gods rendered to men, and that it was hopeless to expect the Supreme God - far withdrawn from human affairs - to interpose. It was a public acknowledgment that their art failed on a most important trial, and thus the way was prepared to show that Daniel, under the teaching of the true God, was able to accomplish what was wholly beyond all human power.

The trial had been fairly made. The wisest men of the Chaldean realm had been applied to. They on whom reliance had been placed in such emergencies; they who professed to be able to explain the prognostics of future events; they who had been assembled at the most important and magnificent court of the world - the very center of Pagan power; they who had devoted their lives to investigations of this nature, and who might be supposed to be competent to such a work, if any on earth could, now openly acknowledged that their art failed them, and expressed the conviction that there was no resource in the case.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The greatest men are most open to cares and troubles of mind, which disturb their repose in the night, while the sleep of the labouring man is sweet and sound. We know not the uneasiness of many who live in great pomp, and, as others vainly think, in pleasure also. The king said that his learned men must tell him the dream itself, or they should all be put to death as deceivers. Men are more eager to ask as to future events, than to learn the way of salvation or the path of duty; yet foreknowledge of future events increases anxiety and trouble. Those who deceived, by pretending to do what they could not do, were sentenced to death, for not being able to do what they did not pretend to.
Ellen G. White
Fundamentals of Christian Education, 410-3

A most interesting and important history is given in Daniel 2. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, dreamed a dream which he could not bring to his remembrance when he awoke. “Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans,” those whom he had exalted and upon whom he depended, and, relating the circumstances, demanded that they should tell him the dream. The wise men stood before the king in terror; for they had no ray of light in regard to his dream. They could only say, “O king, live forever: tell thy servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation.” “The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if ye will not make known unto me the dream with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses made a dunghill. But if ye show the dream, and the interpretation thereof, ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards and great honor: therefore show me the dream, and the interpretation thereof.” Still the wise men returned the same answer, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation of it.” FE 410.1

Nebuchadnezzar began to see that the men whom he trusted to reveal mysteries through their boasted wisdom, failed him in his great perplexity, and he said, “I know of certainty that ye would gain the time, because ye see the thing is gone from me. But if ye will not make known unto me the dream, there is but one decree for you: for ye have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before me, till the time be changed: therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that ye can show me the interpretation thereof. The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, There is not a man upon the earth that can show the king's matter.... It is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there in none other that can show it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.” Then was the king “angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon.” FE 410.2

Hearing of this decree, “Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would show the king the interpretation. Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions: that they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret.” The Spirit of the Lord rested upon Daniel and his fellows, and the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. As he related the facts, the dream came fresh to the king's mind, and the interpretation was given, showing the remarkable events that were to transpire in prophetic history. FE 411.1

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Ellen G. White
The Great Controversy, 364

Bengel's writings have been spread throughout Christendom. His views of prophecy were quite generally received in his own state of Wurttemberg, and to some extent in other parts of Germany. The movement continued after his death, and the advent message was heard in Germany at the same time that it was attracting attention in other lands. At an early date some of the believers went to Russia and there formed colonies, and the faith of Christ's soon coming is still held by the German churches of that country. GC 364.1

The light shone also in France and Switzerland. At Geneva where Farel and Calvin had spread the truth of the Reformation, Gaussen preached the message of the second advent. While a student at school, Gaussen had encountered that spirit of rationalism which pervaded all Europe during the latter part of the eighteenth and the opening of the nineteenth century; and when he entered the ministry he was not only ignorant of true faith, but inclined to skepticism. In his youth he had become interested in the study of prophecy. After reading Rollin's Ancient History, his attention was called to the second chapter of Daniel, and he was struck with the wonderful exactness with which the prophecy had been fulfilled, as seen in the historian's record. Here was a testimony to the inspiration of the Scriptures, which served as an anchor to him amid the perils of later years. He could not rest satisfied with the teachings of rationalism, and in studying the Bible and searching for clearer light he was, after a time, led to a positive faith. GC 364.2

As he pursued his investigation of the prophecies he arrived at the belief that the coming of the Lord was at hand. Impressed with the solemnity and importance of this great truth, he desired to bring it before the people; but the popular belief that the prophecies of Daniel are mysteries and cannot be understood was a serious obstacle in his way. He finally determined—as Farel had done before him in evangelizing Geneva—to begin with the children, through whom he hoped to interest the parents. GC 364.3

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Ellen G. White
Prophets and Kings, 491-502

This chapter is based on Daniel 2.

Soon after Daniel and his companions entered the service of the king of Babylon, events occurred that revealed to an idolatrous nation the power and faithfulness of the God of Israel. Nebuchadnezzar had a remarkable dream, by which “his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him.” But although the king's mind was deeply impressed, he found it impossible, when he awoke, to recall the particulars. PK 491.1

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, 161

The Lord directed that publishing houses should be established for the promulgation of present truth and for the transaction of the various lines of business which this work embraces. At the same time they should keep in touch with the world, that the truth may be as a light set on a candlestick, to give light to all that are in the house. In God's providence, Daniel and his fellows were connected with the great men of Babylon, that these men might become acquainted with the religion of the Hebrews and know that God rules over all kingdoms. Daniel in Babylon was placed in a most trying position; but while faithfully performing his duties as a statesman, he steadfastly refused to engage in any work that would militate against God. This course provoked discussion, and thus the Lord brought the faith of Daniel to the attention of the king of Babylon. God had light for Nebuchadnezzar, and through Daniel were presented to the king things foretold in the prophecies concerning Babylon and other kingdoms. By the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, Jehovah was exalted as more powerful than earthly rulers. Thus, through the faithfulness of Daniel, God was honored. In like manner the Lord desires that our publishing houses shall witness for Him. 7T 161.1

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