Daniel 4:8-9

8. But at the last Daniel came in before me, (whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods,) and before him I told the dream, saying,

8. Quousque tandem coram me introductus est Daniel cujus nomen Beltsazar secundum nomen dei mei, et in quo spiritus deorum sanctorum: et somnium coram ipso narravi.

9. O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret troubleth thee, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof.

9. Beltsazar princeps, vel, magister, magorum, quia ego novi quod spiritus deorum sanctorum in te sit, et nullum arcanum to anxium reddit, 1 visiones somnii mei quod vidi, et interpretationem ejus expone.


Here the king of Babylon addresses Daniel kindly, since he saw himself deserted by his own teachers. And hence we gather that no one comes to the true God, unless impelled by necessity. Daniel was not either unknown or far off; for we saw him to have been in the palace. Since then the king had Daniel with him from the first, why did he pass him over? Why did he call the other Magi from all quarters by his edict? Hence, as I have said, it clearly appears he would never have given glory to God, unless when compelled by extreme necessity. Hence he never willingly submitted to the God of Israel; and his affections were clearly but momentary, whenever they manifested any sign of piety. Because he besought Daniel so imploringly, we see his disposition to have been servile; just as all proud men swell out when they do not need any one's help, and become overbearing in their insolence; but when they are reduced to extremity, they would rather lick the dust than not obtain the favor which they need. Such was the king's disposition, since he willingly despised Daniel, and purposely preferred the Magi. But as soon as he saw himself left in difficulties, and unable to find any remedy except in Daniel, this was his last refuge; and he now seems to forget his own loftiness while speaking softly to God's holy Prophet. But I shall proceed with the rest to-morrow.


Grant, Almighty God, since thou here proposest a remarkable example before our eyes, that we may learn thy power to be so great as not to be sufficiently celebrated by any human praises: and since we hear how its herald was a profane king, nay, even a. cruel and proud one, and thou hast afterwards deigned to manifest thyself to us familiarly in Christ, -- Grant, that in the spirit. of humility we may desire to glorify thee, and to cleave entirely to thee. May we declare thee to be ours, not only in mouth and tongue, but also in works; not only as our true and only God, but our Father, since thou hast adopted us in thine only-begotten Son, until at length we enjoy that eternal inheritance which is laid up for us in heaven by the same Christ our Lord. -- Amen.

Lecture Eighteenth.

9. O Belteshazzar, master of the Magi, since I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret can escape thee -- or overcome thee, as I shall soon explain the word -- relate the visions of my sleep which I saw, and their interpretation. We yesterday shewed King Nebuchadnezzar to be a suppliant to Daniel, when reduced to extremity. He did not seek him at first, but consulted his Magicians, and he is now compelled to venerate the person whom he had despised. He calls him Belteshazzar, and doubtless the name severely wounded the Prophet's mind; for another name had been imposed upon him by his parents from his earliest infancy; whence he could recognize himself as a Jew, and could draw his origin from a holy and elect nation. For his change of name was doubtless made by the tyrant's cunning, as we have previously said, as to cause him to forget his own family. King Nebuchadnezzar wished, by changing his name, to render this holy servant of God degenerate. Hence, as often as he was called by this name, he was clearly offended in no slight degree. But this evil could not be remedied, since he was a captive, and knew he had to deal with a people victorious, proud, and cruel. Thus, in the last verse, Nebuchadnezzar had used this name according to the name of his god. Since then Daniel had a name of his own, which his parents had given him by God's appointment, Nebuchadnezzar wished to blot out that sacred name, and so called him as a mark of respect Belteshazzar, which we may believe to have been deduced from the name of an idol. Hence this doubled the Prophet's grief, when he was stained with that base spot in bearing an idol's mark on his name; but it was his duty to endure this scourge of God among his other trials. Thus God exercised his servant in every way by enduring a cross.

He now calls him Prince of the Magi, and this doubtless wounded the holy Prophet's feelings. He wished nothing better than separation from the Magi, who deceived the world by their impostures and soothsaying. For although they were skilled in the science of astrology, and knew some principles worthy of praise, yet we are sure they corrupted all the sciences. Hence Daniel did not willingly hear himself included among them; but he could not free himself from this infamy. Thus we see his patience to have been divinely proved in various ways. Now, Nebuchadnezzar adds, because I know the spirit of the holy gods to be in thee. Many understand this of angels; and this interpretation is not objectionable, as I have hinted elsewhere. For the existence of a supreme God was known to all the nations, but they fancied angels to be inferior deities. Whatever be the true meaning, Nebuchadnezzar here betrays his own ignorance, since he had made no real progress in the knowledge of the true God; because he was entangled in his former errors, and retained many gods, as from the beginning he had been imbued with that superstition. This passage might have been translated in the singular number, as some do, but it would be too forced, and the reason for such a translation is too weak; for they think Nebuchadnezzar to have been truly converted; but the vanity of this is proved by the whole context; and being occupied by this opinion, they wish to relieve him from all fault. But since it is clear that in this edict of Nebuchadnezzar many proofs of his old ignorance are comprehended, there is no reason why we should depart from the simple sense of the words. Hence he attributes a divine spirit to Daniel, but meanwhile imagines many gods. Since, therefore, the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, he says, and no secret overcomes thee. Some translate ona, anes, to be troublesome; it properly signifies to compel, or to force; for those who translate "there is no secret which can surpass thee," depart from the correct sense. Others translate it, "to be troublesome." This would be a more tolerable translation, but they would do better by translating, "no secret renders thee anxious or perplexed." If the rules of .grammar would allow the a aleph, to be a servile letter, the sense would be more suitable. For hon, neseh, signifies to try, or prove, and also to elevate. We may translate it, "No secret is loftier than thy understanding;" or, "No secret proves thee;" if he had said, -- Daniel was endued with a divine spirit; -- he does not examine any proposition, and has no need to make an experiment in any science, since his answer is easy and at hand. But. it is necessary to remember what I said,--No secret renders thee anxious, or confounds thee. Nebuchadnezzar knew this. Then why did he not directly call him to himself in his perplexity? As Daniel could free him from all perplexity, the king's ingratitude is proved, because he admitted the Magi to his counsels, and neglected Daniel. We see then how he always endeavored to avoid God, till he was drawn along by a violent. hand, and thereby displayed the absence of conversion. For repentance is voluntary, and those only are said to repent, who willingly return by a change of mind to the God from whom they had revolted; and this cannot be done without faith and the love of God. He then asks him to relate his dream and its interpretation. But the dream was not unknown, and he relates it to Daniel. There is, therefore, something superfluous in these words, but no doubt about the sense -- as Nebuchadnezzar only asks for the explanation of his dream. It follows: --

1 Some translate, "may be troublesome to thee," but I shall treat this word by and bye -- Calvin.