The king will lose his kingdom (Dan 4:24-4:25)

“‘This is the interpretation!

O king!

It is a decree

Of the Most High,

That has come upon

My lord!

The king!

You shall be driven away

From human society!

Your dwelling

Shall be with

The wild animals!

You shall be made

To eat grass

Like oxen!

You shall be bathed

With the dew

Of heaven!

Seven times

It shall pass

Over you,

Until you have learned

That the Most High

Has sovereignty

Over the kingdoms

Of mortals!

He gives it

To whom he will.’”

Daniel then gave his shocking interpretation of the watcher’s cry to the king. He said that this was a decree that came from the Most High God. The king, Daniel’s lord, would be driven away from human society. He was going to live with the wild animals. He was going to eat grass like oxen do. He would be washed in heavenly dew for 7 years, until he would come to recognize that the Most High God ruled over all the mortal kingdoms. God was able to give his kingdoms to whomever he wanted.

Praise of the Most High God (Dan 4:2-4:3)

“I am pleased

To recount The signs,

The wonders,

That the Most High God

Has worked for me.

How great

Are his signs!

How mighty

His wonders!

His kingdom is

An everlasting kingdom!

His sovereignty is

From generation to generation.”

King Nebuchadnezzar now praised the Most High God that the 3 Judeans had worshipped. This most high God had worked signs and wonders for them and him. He was eager to let everyone know about them. He insisted that God’s signs were great and his wonders were mighty. The Most High God ruled an everlasting kingdom that has and will last for generations. This king almost sounds like one of the prophets in his praise of the Israelite God. This looks like a complete conversion for King Nebuchadnezzar.

The king’s new decree (Dan 4:1-4:1)

“King Nebuchadnezzar

To all people,

To all nations,

To all languages,

That live

Throughout the earth!

May you have

Abundant prosperity!”

Once again, King Nebuchadnezzar issued a decree to all the people and all the nations of the world, as if he ruled the whole world. He also included various language groups on earth. He wished everyone abundant prosperity. He wanted everyone to be happy. This is actually part of chapter 3 as in the Bible of Jerusalem. However, I will follow the verse numbers of the Oxford Bible.

 

These shepherds do not take care of their sheep (Ezek 34:3-34:4)

“You eat the fat.

You clothe yourselves

With wool.

You slaughter

The fatlings.

But you do not

Feed the sheep.

You have not strengthened

The weak ones.

You have not healed

The sick ones.

You have not bound up

The injured ones.

You have not brought back

The strayed ones.

You have not sought

The lost ones.

You have ruled them

With force.

You have ruled them

With harshness.”

Yahweh complained, via Ezekiel, to these shepherds that they ate the good fat things and clothed themselves with wool clothing. They slaughtered the fat livestock, but they did not feed the sheep. They did not strengthen the weak ones or heal the sick or injured sheep. They never brought back the straying or lost sheep. These shepherds ruled over the sheep with force and harshness.

The letter to the exiles (Jer 29:1-29:1)

“These are the words

Of the letter

That the prophet Jeremiah

Sent from Jerusalem

To the remaining elders

Among the exiles.

It was also sent to

The priests,

The prophets,

Including all the people

Whom King Nebuchadnezzar

Had taken into exile

From Jerusalem

To Babylon.

This was after King Jeconiah,

With the queen mother,

The court officials,

The leaders of Judah,

The leaders of Jerusalem,

The artisans.

With the smiths

Had departed from Jerusalem.”

Apparently Jeremiah wrote a letter to the elders from the first exile in 598 BCE. He sent this letter, like many of Yahweh’s oracles addressed to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, who went to Babylon during the first exile in 598 BCE. King Nebuchadnezzar had taken them from Jerusalem to Babylon. It is hard to tell whether this letter still exists in any form or when it was composed, but probably between 598-587 BCE. King Jeconiah or King Coniah or King Jeconiah of Judah had ruled for only a couple of months when King Nebuchadnezzar removed him in 598 BCE in favor of his uncle King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE). At that time, King Jeconiah’s mother, the wife of King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE), as well as the court officials and leaders of Judah and Jerusalem went into exile. With them also went the main artisans and iron workers of Jerusalem. Thus the remnant in Jerusalem was like a puppet government for King Nebuchadnezzar. Like the preceding chapter, this is a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapter 36, not chapter 29 as here.

Menace to the king and his mother (Jer 13:18-13:19)

“Say to the king!

Say to the queen mother!

‘Take a lowly seat!

Your beautiful crown

Has come down

From your head.’

The cities of the Negeb are shut up.

There is no one to open them.

Judah is taken into exile.

They are wholly taken into exile.”

The good and just King Josiah (640-609 BCE) had died in 609 BCE. His wife lived after him and thus his 3 so-called evil sons ruled until the Exile, King Jehoahaz or Shallum, (609-609 BCE), King Jehoiakim or Eliakim (609-598 BCE), King Jehoiachin (598-598 BCE), son of Jehoiakim, and finally King Zedekiah or Mattanyahu (598-587 BCE), the 3rd son of King Josiah. This last king was only 21 when he took over from his nephew. His mother would have been Hamutal. It is not clear which of these kings and his mother are implied here. However, it could be King Zedekiah since he was the last king before the exile. Their crowns would be taken from their heads. Already the southern cities of the Negeb, close to Edom were shut down. Judah was on its way to captivity.

The death of King Sennacherib of Assyria (Isa 37:36-37:38)

“Then King Sennacherib of Assyria left.

He went home.

He lived at Nineveh.

While he was worshiping

In the house of his god Nisroch,

His sons

Adrammelech with Sharezer killed him

With a sword.

They escaped

Into the land of Ararat.

Sennacherib’s son,

Esarhaddon,

Succeeded him.”

Once again, this is almost word for word from 2 Kings, chapter 19. As far we know, King Sennacherib died in 681 BCE. Thus it might not have been contemporaneous with his sojourn in Judah. In fact, the text does not indicate that. He was killed by 2 of his sons, Adrammelech and Sharezer, but a third son Esarhaddon took over. The god Nisroch was an eagle headed human figure that was a favorite of the Assyrians in Nineveh. Nineveh was on the Tigris River about 250 miles north of Babylon, near the modern day city of Mosul. Esarhaddon was the youngest son of the king’s second wife and ruled from 681-669 BCE, after he defeated his brothers who had killed their father.

The bad rulers in Jerusalem (Isa 28:14-28:15)

“Therefore hear the word of Yahweh!

You scoffers!

You rule this people in Jerusalem!

Because you have said.

‘We have made

A covenant with death.

We have an agreement with Sheol.

When the overwhelming scourge

Passes through,

It will not come to us.

We have made lies our refuge.

We have taken shelter in falsehood.’”

Isaiah wanted the scoffers who ruled Jerusalem to listen to the word of Yahweh. However, these arrogant rulers who had given up on Yahweh responded that they had a covenant with death, perhaps with Egypt against Assyria. They had an agreement with Sheol, the underworld afterlife place. They would be safe because of their deal with death. They were going to rely on lies and falsehood as their refuge and shelter.

The dead tyrant (Isa 14:4-14:8)

“How the oppressor has ceased!

How the insolence has ceased!

Yahweh has broken the staff of the wicked.

He has broken the scepter of rulers

That had struck down the peoples in wrath.

With unceasing blows,

This staff ruled the nations in anger.

It had ruled with unrelenting persecution.

The whole earth is at rest.

The whole earth is quiet.

They break forth into singing.

The cypresses exult over you.

The cedars of Lebanon say.

‘Since you were laid low,

No one comes to cut us down.’”

Yahweh has brought about the death of the tyrant who oppressed people with insolence. The staff of this wicked ruler has been broken. While he was in power, this wicked king had struck down people with many blows. He had ruled in anger and persecuted people. Now the whole world is at rest and quiet. They will break into singing. The cypress and cedar trees are happy also, since there will be no cutting wood for more building of huge palaces.

Isaiah and the sign of Immanuel (Isa 7:13-7:16)

“Then Isaiah said.

‘Hear then!

O house of David!

Is it too little for you to weary mortals?

Do you weary my God also?

Therefore Yahweh himself

Will give you a sign.

Look!

The virgin young woman

Is with child.

She shall bear a son.

You shall name him Immanuel.

God is with us.

He shall eat curds.

He shall eat honey,

By the time

He knows how to refuse the evil

And choose the good.

Before the child knows

How to refuse the evil,

Before the child knows

How to choose the good,

The land before whose two kings

You are in dread

Will be deserted.”

This time it is Isaiah who is speaking to King Ahaz and the whole house of David, not Yahweh. They should not weary each other or God. Yahweh was going to give them a sign. The young woman, who is presumed to be a virgin, will have a child. He will be called Immanuel that means God is with us. Quite often Christians have used this passage as a prophecy about the birth of Jesus. However, the context seems to indicate that King Ahaz will have a son to carry on his royal name. That son of Ahaz will be the great holy King Hezekiah who ruled Judah from 716-687 BCE. This young child would do good and refuse evil by the time he was able to eat the basic foods of curds and honey. Even before he learns how to choose good over evil, the 2 invading countries of these 2 kings will lay desolate and deserted.