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Daniel 2:7-9

7. They answered again and said, Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation of it.

7. Responderunt secundo, et dixerunt, Rex sonmium exponat 113113     Narrate — Calvin. servis suis, et interpretationem indicabimus.

8. The king answered and said, I know of certainty that ye would gain the time, because ye see the thing is gone from me.

8. Respondit rex et dixit, Vere 114114     In truth. — Calvin. novi ego 115115     Now I know.Calvin. quod tempus redimitis, quia scitis quod exierit sermo a me. 116116     That is, that the dream has fallen out of my mind, or the sentence has gone out of my lips. — Calvin.

9. 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 shew me the interpretation thereof.

9. Propterea si somnium non indicaveritis mihi, una haec sententia est; et sermonem mendacem 117117     Or, fallacious — Calvin. et corruptum praeparastis ad dicendum coram me, donec tempus mutetur; 118118     That is, pass by.Calvin. propterea somnium narrate mihi, et cognoscam quod interpretationem ejus mihi indicetis. 119119     That is, ye may be able to explain to me — Calvin.

 

Here the excuse of the Magi is narrated. They state the truth that their art only enabled them to discover the interpretation of a dream; but the king wished to know the dream itself. Whence he appears again to have been seized with prodigious fury and became quite implacable. Kings sometimes grow warm, but are appeased by a single admonition, and hence this sentiment is very true, — anger is assuaged by mild language. But since the fair reply of the Magi did not mitigate the king’s wrath, he was quite hurried away by diabolical vehemence. And all this, as I have said, was governed by God’s secret counsel, that Daniel’s explanation might be more noticed. They next ask the king — to relate his dream, and then they promise as before to interpret it directly. And even this was too great a boast, as we have said, and they ought to have corrected their own conceit and foolish boasting when in such a difficulty. But since they persist in that foolish and fallacious self-conceit, it shews us how they were blinded by the devil, just as those who have become entangled by superstitious deceptions confidently defend their own madness. Such an example we have in the Magi, who always claimed the power of interpreting dreams.

The king’s exception now follows: — I know, says he, that ye would gain time, since you are aware that the matter has gone from me, or the word has been pronounced, if we adopt the former sense. The king here accuses them of more disgraceful cunning, since the Magi have nothing to offer, and so desire to escape as soon as they know that the king has lost all remembrance of his dream. It is just as if he had said — You promised me to be sure interpreters of my dream, but this is false; for if I could narrate the dream, it would be easy to prove your arrogance, since ye cannot explain that enigma; but as lye know I have forgotten my dream, for that reason ye ask me to relate it; but this is only to gain time, says he; thus ye manage to conceal your ignorance and retain your credit for knowledge. But if my dream still remained in my memory I should soon detect your ignorance, for we cannot perform your boasting. We see, therefore, how the king here loads the Magi with a new crime, because they were impostors who deluded the people with false boastings; and hence he shews them worthy of death, unless they relate his dream. The argument indeed is utterly vicious; but it is not surprising when tyrants appear in the true colors of their cruelty. Meanwhile we must remember what I have said. — the Magi deserved this reproof, for they were puffed up with vanity and made false promises, through conjecturing the future from dreams, auguries, and the like. But in the king’s case, nothing was more unjust. than to invent such a crime against the Magi, since if they deceived others it arose from being self-deceived. They were blinded and fascinated by the foolish persuasion of their own wisdom, and had no intention of deceiving the king; for they thought something might immediately occur which would free his mind from all anxiety. But the king always pursued the blindest impulse of his rage. Meanwhile we must notice the origin of this feeling, — he was divinely tormented, and could not rest a single moment till he obtained an explanation of his dream. He next adds, If ye do not explain my dream, this sentence alone remains for you, says he; that is, it is already decreed concerning you all, I shall not inquire particularly which of you is in fault and which wishes to deceive me; but I will utterly cut off all the tribe of the Magi, and no one shall escape punishment, unless ye explain to me both the dream and its interpretation.

He adds again, Ye have prepared a fallacious and corrupt speech to relate here before me, as your excuse. Again, the king charges them with fraud and malice, of which they were not guilty; as if he had said, they purposely sought specious pretenses for practicing deceit. But he says, a lying speech, or fallacious and corrupt; that is, yours is a stale excuse, as we commonly say, and I loathe it. If there were any colorable pretext I might admit what. ye say, but I see in your words nothing but fallacies, and those too which savor of corruption. Now, therefore, we observe the king not only angry because the Magi cannot relate his dream, but charging it against them, as a greater crime, that they brought a stale excuse and wished purposely to deceive him. He next adds, tell me the dream and then I shall know it; or then I shall know that ye can faithfully interpret, its meaning. Here the king takes up another argument to convict the Magi of cunning. Ye boast, indeed, that you have no difficulty in interpreting the dream. How can ye be confident of this, for the dream itself is still unknown to you? If I had told it you, ye might then say whether ye could explain it or not; but when I now ask you about the dream of which both you and I are ignorant, ye say, when have related the dream, the rest is in your power; I therefore shall prove you to be good and true interpreters of dreams if ye can tell me mine, since the one thing depends on the other, and ye are too rash in presuming upon what is not yet discovered. Since, therefore, ye burst forth so hastily, and wish to persuade me that ye are sure of the interpretation, you are evidently quite deceived in this respect; and your rashness and fraud are herein detected, because ye are clearly deceiving me. This is the substance — the rest to-morrow.


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