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And whereas the king saw a watcher, and an holy one coming down from heaven, and saying, Hew the tree down, and destroy it, yet leave the stump of the roots thereof in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass in the tender grass of the field, and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him:
This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the most High, which is come upon my
lord the king : that they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till tlou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever hc will.
And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree-roots: thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule.
Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousnes, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor: if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.
All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar.
At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the king of Babylon.
The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon that I have built for the house of the kingdom, by the miglit of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?
While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken, The kingdom is departed from thee.
And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwell. ing shall be with the beasts of the field : they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar, and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagle's feathers, and his nails like bird's claws.
And at the end of the days, I Nebuchadnezzar lift up mine eyes unto heaven, and my understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation.
And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth ; and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
At the same time my reason returned unto me, and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me: and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me.
Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of Heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment, and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
The beginning of this Section is a royal edict, pub. lished by Nebuchadnezzar himself, to acknowledge the supremacy of the High and Mighty God.
How wonderful were the dispensations of Divine Providence towards this famous monarch, who, in the power of the SUPREME GOVERNOR, unknowingly, went forth to punish those nations who had filled up the mea. sure of their iniquity.
This Section is particularly calculated to suppress the pride of princes, by teaching them that their being exalted over their fellow-creatures is no invariable sign that they are the peculiar favourites of heaven, or possessed of extraordinary worth ; for sometimes the Most High setieth up the basest of mankind, especially when he means to employ them as scourges to wicked nations.
It likewise contains an excellent admonition to such princes as have provoked Divine justice by the enormity of their own conduct. The most effectual measure they can pursue, in order to prolong their tranquillity, is to break off their sins by righteousness, and their iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor.
How it came about, that Nebuchadnezzar did not apply first to Daniel, is uncertain; but we may suppose the prophet was absent from Babylon at that time, and the king imagined the magicians could interpret for him, as he was able to relate the dream to them. Daniel's exposition is very easy to be understood : by the watcher or holy one, is supposed to be meant an angel. Nebuchadnezzar is thought to have been seized with sudden distraction of mind; and during its continuance to have been in a most deplorable state, unfit for the society or converse of mankind, and levelled with the beasts who have no understanding. Whether he actually eat grass, or was restrained to a vegetable diet, is uncertain; but, from the scripture account of the extraordinary growth of his hair and nails, it is likely that he wandered from home in desert places till his reason was restored; at which time he is supposed to have re
turned to his kingdom, when his son, who had governed in his stead, resigned the throne to him, and his nobles gladly received him again, as he was honoured and respected by them. Nebuchadnezzar is said to have lived a year afterwards : he reigned between forty-three and forty-four years.
From Nebuchadnezzar's own words we may con. clude, that he at length became a convert to the LORD, the only true Gop. Various means had been employed to engage him to leave his idolatrous practices, and they proved at last effectual: he had, therefore, reason to bless the Lord for his humiliation, as in all probability it proved the means of saving his soul from perdition.
On the death of Nebuchadnezzar, Evil-merodach, his son, succeeded to the kingdom of Babylon.
SECTION LI. THE KINDNESS OF EVIL-MERODACH TO JEHOIACHIN
KING OF JUDAH.
From 2 Kings, Chap. xxvi. And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, that Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, did lift up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah out of prison ;
And he spake kindly to him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon;
And changed his prison garments; and he did eat bread continually before him all the days of his life.
And his allowance was a continual allowance given him of the king, a daily rate for every day, all the days of his life.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS. Whether this reverse of fortune in the Jewish momarch was sent as a reward for his penitence we are not 3 4
told; but it is agreeable to the usual dispensations of Providence to suppose this was the case. Nothing farther is said of Jehoiachin by the sacred historian, but it is imagined that he died svon after.
Upon the death of Jehoiachin, Salathiel his son became the nominal prince of the Jews in his stead; for, after the loss of their authority, they still kept up the title; and for a great many years there was always one of the house of David, who was honoured and acknowledged as a prince, under the name of the head of the captivity. They had some kind of jurisdiction consistent with the government they were under, which was sometimes ratified and confirmed by the kings of that country.
When Evil-merodach had reigned two years in Babylon, his crimes made him so hateful, that at length even his own relations conspired against him, and put him to death. Neriglissar, his sister's husband, who was at the head of this conspiracy, reigned in his stead.
In the same year that Evil merodach was slain, died Astyages king of Media. He was succeeded by his son Darius, who divided his authority with Cyrus, the son of Cambyses king of Persia, and Mandane, the daughter of Astyages. Cyrus at this time was forty years age, and Darius was forty.one. This prince is called in profane history, Cyaxares.
Neriglissar, king of Babylon, on his coming to the crown, made great preparations for a war with the Medes. Darius, gaining intelligence of this, sent for Cyrus out of Persia to his assistance; and, on his arria val with thirty thousand Persians, Darius made him
general of the Medes, and sent himn with the joint forces of both nations to make war against Neriglissar. From this time Cyrus was reckoned king over both nations, through he was in reality no more than commander in chief of the confederate army under the king of Media;