Nebuchadnezzar’s Second Dream – Part One

Posted by on Sep 10, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Nebuchadnezzar’s Second Dream – Part One

Nebuchadnezzar’s Second Dream – Part One

We take up our reading in Daniel 4:10-12 from Nebuchadnezzar’s own words which read, “Now these were the visions in my mind as I lay on my bed: I was looking, and behold, there was a tree in the midst of the earth and its height was great. ‘The tree grew large and became strong. And its height reached to the sky, And it was visible to the end of the whole earth. ‘Its foliage was beautiful and its fruit abundant, And in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it, And the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches, And all living creatures fed themselves from it.” (NASB).

One could be forgiven if this passage was the only evidence of the dream and why it would trouble the king so much. There is nothing here that gives any thought of danger. Quite the contrary, in fact. But the dream that Nebuchadnezzar details are explained in two parts as he is relating it to Daniel. You see this by the same phrase used in verse thirteen that is used in verse ten. In verse ten the king states, “Now these were the visions in my mind as I lay on my bed: I was looking, and behold.” When we get to verse thirteen we see the king use virtually the same introduction saying, “I was looking in the visions in my mind as I lay on my bed, and behold.” You could say, if we read the entire narrative of the dreams description, that Nebuchadnezzar is saying, “Here’s the good news (verses 10-12) and here is the bad news (verses 13-17). Before we get to the “bad news” portion of the dream we need to understand what is being described here first in the “good news” section of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.

To simplify the following explanation of the passage keep in mind the main item of Daniel 4:10-12 is a tree. That may be an oversimplification of it but it will help to put the jigsaw puzzle together, so to speak.

The tree is, in fact, referring to Nebuchadnezzar and, in part, to the kingdom of Babylon. The Aramaic word for midst is gav which corresponds to the word gev which, in fact, means middle. So this tree that Nebuchadnezzar saw was situated in the midst or middle of the earth. The significance of this was that Nebuchadnezzar’s power extended to all points of the then known world. As a side note, an interesting fact is that the estimated geographical landmass believed to mark the middle of the earth is situated in the Middle East, though not exactly in Babylon. Nevertheless, when one looks at the captured lands and peoples of the then known world by the Babylonian Empire there is no ambiguity as to the symbolic nature of the description and location of this tree (Nebuchadnezzar) being in the midst of the earth.

Likewise, Nebuchadnezzar’s dignity and eminence, as well as his power above all of the nation’s surrounding him, signified the tree’s great height. The conquest of all the nations leading to Babylon becoming a world power supports the previous points mentioned. Symbolic use of trees to describe someone or something is not uncommon in Scripture. Ezekiel 31:3 speaks of Assyria being a “cedar in Lebanon”. (See also 2Kings 14:9; Psalm1:3; 37:35; 52:8; 92:12).

The foliage of the tree being beautiful likely refers to the pomp and splendor of Nebuchadnezzar’s court as well as the city of Babylon. We should also not forget that we are at the juncture of Scripture describing the ease of Nebuchadnezzar’s life after decades of conquest. He was flourishing in his peaceful state and making Babylon even more stunning to look at than before.

Referring to the tree having abundant fruit may, in fact, refer to the prosperity enjoyed by those shading under the tree. Or, it may refer more literally that there was no shortage of food. The beasts of the field found shade under it. The birds of the sky dwelt in its branches, and all living creatures fed themselves from it. Some theologians also suggest that verse twelve of this passage shows the Sovereign nature of God in placing governments in control of its people and the provision such governments provide to its citizens.