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Daniel 2:2

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

The magicians - חרטמים chartummim . See the note on Genesis 41:8; (note).

The astrologers - אשפים ashshaphim . Perhaps from נשף nashaph, to breathe, because they laid claim to Divine inspiration; but probably the persons in question were the philosophers and astronomers among the Babylonians.

The sorcerers - מכשפים mechashshephim . See the note on Deuteronomy 18:10, and on Exodus 22:18; (note), and Leviticus 19:31; (note), where several of these arts are explained.

The Chaldeans - Who these were is difficult to be ascertained. They might be a college of learned men, where all arts and sciences were professed and taught. The Chaldeans were the most ancient philosophers of the world; they might have been originally inhabitants of the Babylonian Irak; and still have preserved to themselves exclusively the name of Chaldeans, to distinguish themselves from other nations and peoples who inhabited the one hundred and twenty provinces of which the Babylonish government was composed.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Then the king commanded - That is, when he awoke. The particle rendered “then,” does not imply that this occurred immediately. When he awoke, his mind was agitated; he was impressed with the belief that he had had an important Divine communication; but he could not even recal the dream distinctly, and he resolved to summon to his presence those whose business it was to interpret what were regarded as prognostics of the future.

The magicians, and the astrologers - These are the same words which occur in Daniel 1:20. See the note at that place.

And the sorcerers - Hebrew מכשׁפים mekashepı̂ym Vulgate, malefici - sorcerers. Greek, φαρμακεύς pharmakeus Syriac, “magician.” The Hebrew word is derived from כשׁף kâshaph - meaning, in Piel, to practice magic; to use magic formulas, or incantations; to mutter; and it refers to the various arts by which those who were addicted to magic practiced their deceptions. The particular idea in this word would seem to be, that on such occasions some forms of prayers were used, for the word in Syriac means to offer prayers, or to worship. Probably the aid of idol gods was invoked by such persons when they practiced incantations. The word is found only in the following places: once as a “verb,” 2 Chronicles 33:6, and rendered “used witchcraft;” and as a “participle,” rendered “sorcerers,” in Exodus 7:11; Daniel 2:2; Malachi 3:5; and “witch,” in Exodus 22:18 (17); Deuteronomy 18:10. The noun (כשׁף kashâph and כשׁפים keshâpı̂ym ) is used in the following places, always with reference to sorcery or witchcraft: Jeremiah 27:9; 2 Kings 9:22; Isaiah 47:9; Micah 5:12 (11); Nahum 3:4. It may not be easy to specify the exact sense in which this word is used as distinguished from the others which relate to the same general subject, but it would seem to be that some form of “prayer” or “invocation” was employed. The persons referred to did not profess to interpret the prognostics of future events by any original skill of their own, but by the aid of the gods.

And the Chaldeans - See the notes at Daniel 1:4. The Chaldeans appear to have been but one of the tribes or nations that made up the community at Babylon (compare the notes at Isaiah 23:13), and it would seem that at this time they were particularly devoted to the practice of occult arts, and secret sciences. It is not probable that the other persons referred to in this enumeration were Chaldeans. The Magians, if any of these were employed, were Medians (see the notes at Daniel 1:20), and it is not improbable that the other classes of diviners might have been from other nations. The purpose of Nebuchadnezzar was to assemble at his court whatever was remarkable throughout the world for skill and knowledge (see analysis of Genesis 41:24; Judges 14:12; 1 Kings 10:3. That it was common for kings to call in the aid of interpreters to explain the import of dreams, appears from Herodotus. When Astyages ascended the throne, he had a daughter whose name was Mandane. She had a dream which seemed to him so remarkable that he called in the “magi,” whose interpretation, Herodotus remarks, was of such a nature that it “terrified him exceedingly.” He was so much influenced by the dream and the interpretation, that it produced an entire change in his determination respecting the marriage of his daughter. - Book i., 107: So again, after the marriage of his daughter, Herodotus says (book i., cviii.): “Astyages had another vision. A vine appeared to spring from his daughter which overspread all Asia. On this occasion, also, he consulted his interpreters; the result was, that he sent for his daughter from Persia, when the time of her delivery approached. On her arrival, he kept a strict watch over her, intending to destroy her child. The magi had declared the vision to intimate that the child of his daughter should supplant him on the throne.” Astyages, to guard against this, as soon as Cyrus was born, sent for Harpagus, a person in whom he had confidence, and commanded him to take the child to his own house, and put him to death. These passages in Herodotus show that what is here related of the king of Babylon, demanding the aid of magicians and astrologers to interpret his dreams, was by no means an uncommon occurrence.

Uriah Smith
Daniel and the Revelation, 32

Verse 2

The magicians were such as practiced magic, using the term in its bad sense; that is, they practiced all the superstitious rites and ceremonies of fortune-tellers, casters of nativities, etc. Astrologers were men who pretended to foretell future events by the study of the stars. The science, or the superstition, of astrology was extensively cultivated by the Eastern nations of antiquity. Sorcerers were such as pretended to hold communication with the dead. In this sense, we believe, it is always used in the Scriptures. Modern Spiritualism is simply ancient heathen sorcery revived. The Chaldeans here mentioned were a sect of philosophers similar to the magicians and astrologers, who made physic, divinations, etc., their study. All these sects or professions abounded in Babylon. The end aimed at by each was the same; namely, the explaining of mysteries and the foretelling of future events, the principal difference between them being the means by which they sought to accomplish their object. The king’s difficulty lay equally within the province of each to explain; hence he summoned them all. With the king it was an important matter. He was greatly troubled, and therefore concentrated upon the solution of his perplexity the whole wisdom of his realm.DAR 33.1

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
The Sanctified Life, 34

In the same year that Daniel and his companions entered the service of the king of Babylon events occurred that severely tested the integrity of these youthful Hebrews and proved before an idolatrous nation the power and faithfulness of the God of Israel. SL 34.1

While King Nebuchadnezzar was looking forward with anxious forebodings to the future, he had a remarkable dream, by which he was greatly troubled, “and his sleep brake from him” (Daniel 2:1). But although this vision of the night made a deep impression on his mind, he found it impossible to recall the particulars. He applied to his astrologers and magicians, and with promises of great wealth and honor commanded them to tell him his dream and its interpretation. But they said, “Tell thy servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation” (verse 4). SL 34.2

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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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