1. Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.
1. Nebuchadnezer rex fecit imaginem ex auro, altitudo ejus cubitorum sexaginta, latitudo cubitorum sex: erexit eam in planitie Dura, 1 in provincia Babylonis.
Very probably this statue was not erected by King Nebuchadnezzar within a short period, as the Prophet does not notice how many years had passed away; for it is not probable that it was erected within a short time after he had confessed the God of Israel to be the Supreme Deity. Yet as the Prophet is silent, we need not discuss the matter. Some of the rabbis think this statue to have been erected as an expiation; as if Nebuchadnezzar wished to avert the effect of his dream by this charm, as they say. But their guess is most frivolous We may inquire, however, whether Nebuchadnezzar deified himself or really erected this statue to Bel the principal deity of the Chaldeans, or invented some new-fangled divinity? Many incline to the opinion that he wished to include himself in the number of the deities, but this is not certain -- at least I do not think so. Nebuchadnezzar seems to me rather to have consecrated this statue to some of the deities; but, as superstition is always joined with ambition and pride, very likely Nebuchadnezzar was also induced by vain glory and luxury to erect this statue. As often as the superstitious incur expense in building temples and in fabricating idols, if any one asks them their object, they immediately reply -- they do it in honor of God! At the same time they are all promoting their own fame and reputation. All the superstitious reckon God's worship valueless, and rather wish to acquire for themselves favor and estimation among men. I readily admit this to have been Nebuchadnezzar's intention, and indeed I am nearly certain of it. But at the same time some pretense to piety was joined with it; for he pretended that he wished to worship God. Hence, also, what I formerly mentioned appears more clear, namely, -- King Nebuchadnezzar was not truly and heartily converted, but rather remained fixed in his own errors, when he was attributing glory to the God of Israel. As I have already said, that confession of his was limited, and he now betrays what he nourished in his heart; for when he erected the statue he did not return to his own natural disposition, but; rather his impiety, which was hidden for a time, was then detected. For that remarkable confession could not be received as a proof of change of mind. All therefore would have said he was a new man, if God had not wished it to be made plain that he was held bound and tied by the chains of Satan, and was still a slave to his own errors. God wished then to present this example to manifest Nebuchadnezzar to be always impious, although through compulsion he gave some glory to the God of Israel.
Grant, Almighty God, since our minds have so many hidden recesses that nothing is more difficult than thoroughly to purge them from all fiction and lying, -- Grant, I say, that we may honestly examine ourselves. Do thou also shine upon us with the light of thy Holy Spirit; may we truly acknowledge our hidden faults and put them far away from us, that thou mayest be our only God, and our true piety may obtain the palm of thine approbation. May we offer thee pure and spotless; worship, and meanwhile may we conduct ourselves in the world with a pure conscience; and may each of us be so occupied in our duties as to consult our brother's advantage as well as our own, and at length be made partakers of that true glory which thou hast prepared for us in heaven through Christ our Lord. -- Amen.
WE began in the last Lecture to treat of The Golden Statue which Nebuchadnezzar erected, and placed in the plain or open country of Dura. We stated this statue to have been erected for a religious reason, when the ambition of that king or tyrant was at its full sway, which we may always observe in the superstitious. For although they always put forward the name of God, and persuade themselves that they are worshipping God, yet pride always impels them to desire the approbation of the world. Such was the desire of King Nebuchadnezzar in erecting this statue, as its very magnitude displays. For the Prophet says,
1 Some make this word a noun appellative, and translate it, "habitable land," but the following translation is more correct: -- He placed an image on the plains of Dura. -- Calvin.