The Bible Project

The Beastly King - Son of Man E5

Episode Summary

In this week's episode, Tim and Jon continue exploring the book of Daniel and discuss King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and his animal-like tendencies.

Episode Notes

In part one (0:00-6:30), the guys briefly go over the previous conversations from the Son of Man series. Tim explains that in order to fully understand the Son of Man imagery in Daniel 7, Daniel 1-6 needs to first be unpacked. Daniel 7 is significant because it’s a culminating vision of the whole Hebrew Bible imagery told in one very dense chapter.

In part two (6:30-25:50), the guys go over the history of the Babylonian Empire and King Nebuchadnezzar. He was a king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, a sort of resurgence of the previous Babylonian rule. Babylon had long been dormant while Assyria was the world superpower, but Babylon had a brief rise to prominence again under the rule of Nebuchadnezzar. He dominated Jerusalem and took their promising youth with him to Babylon. Daniel was in this group.

Tim points out a few hyperlinks to other parts of the Hebrew Bible at the beginning of the book of Daniel. Daniel is the "royal seed" carried away to Babylon who replays the test of Adam and Eve and succeeds!

Daniel 1:3-4: "And the king of Babylon told his officers to bring from the sons of Israel and from the royal seed… youths...who were good of sight and wise with all wisdom, and knowing knowledge, and understanding knowledge…"
Dan 1:5-7: "And the king assigned for them a daily ration of the king’s choice food and his wine, to raise them for three years so they could stand in his service. Among them were sons of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah...but Daniel set it upon his heart to not defile himself with the king’s choice food or his wine…"
Dan 1:12: "Daniel said, 'Let there be given to us from the seeds, and we will eat, and water, and we will drink.'"

Daniel is depicted as a new Adam, who is brought into Babylon already having great knowledge. He refuses the forbidden food (Daniel ch. 1) and only increases in wisdom! Instead, he adopts an Eden-diet of veggies and water and is elevated to serve in the king’s court.

Tim’s point is that Daniel is the forbidden fruit that the king of Babylon has just taken. Daniel has an opportunity to eat the forbidden food of the king and break his kosher diet. He refuses the forbidden food and therefore passes the test.

In part three (25:50-end), Tim and Jon go over the two dreams that Nebuchadnezzar has leading up to Daniel 7. In Daniel 2, the king has a dream. Once Daniel gives the interpretation, the king worships Daniel.

Daniel 2:46-49:
"Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face and worshipped (sagid) Daniel, and gave orders to present to him an offering and incense.
Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon.
And Daniel made request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego over the administration of the province of Babylon, while Daniel was at the king’s court."

Then Daniel 3 is an inversion of Daniel 2. The king wants everyone to worship an image of him. This is the story of the blazing furnace.

Daniel 3:10-12:
“You, O king, have made a decree that every man who hears the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, and bagpipe and all kinds of music, is to fall down and worship the image of gold.
“But whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire. “There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the administration of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. These men, O king, have disregarded you; they do not serve (palakh) your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.”

So Daniel 2 and 3 are inversions of each other, and then in Daniel 4, the king has another dream. In the dream, a "watcher” appears. Tim notes that this is the only time that specific word appears in the Hebrew Bible. However, it also appears in the book of Enoch, a Jewish book written in the same time period.

The king calls Daniel again to interpret the dream.

Daniel 4:20-25:
"The tree that you saw, which became large and grew strong, whose height reached to the sky and was visible to all the earth and whose foliage was beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in which was food for all, under which the beasts of the field dwelt and in whose branches the birds of the sky lodged— it is you, O king; for you have become great and grown strong, and your majesty has become great and reached to the sky and your dominion to the end of the earth. ‘In that the king saw a watcher, a holy one, descending from heaven and saying, “Chop down the tree and destroy it; yet leave the stump with its roots in the ground, but with a band of iron and bronze in the new grass of the field, and let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him share with the beasts of the field until seven periods of time pass over him,” this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king: that you be driven away from mankind and your dwelling place be with the beasts of the field, and you be given grass to eat like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven; and seven periods of time will pass over you, until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes."

Tim notes that when the Babylons of this world acknowledge that God is truly the wise sovereign, then they can become the true human rulers they’re intended to be. But when they do not, when they turn their national power and glory into an idol (as in Daniel chs. 2 and 3), God shows them what they are: beasts.

The narrative contrasts the beastly Babylon with the human Daniel who submits to God’s rule and is elevated to rule by God’s wisdom.

So to sum up the episode: The king of Babylon’s worship of the divine image of Daniel in Daniel 2 is ironically reversed in Daniel 3, where his friends are forced to worship the false image of Babylon. These twin stories set up the tension of the book: What humanity will be exalted as the divinely appointed ruler of the world? Babylon or the “royal seed” represented by Daniel and his friends? The king’s worship of Daniel becomes a narrative image of the worship of the son of man in Daniel 7. And Daniel 7 is a symbolic and cosmic depiction of a real, historical conflict (Antiochus’ attack on Jerusalem and defilement of the temple in 167 B.C.) that has been depicted as part of an ancient pattern going all the way back to Genesis 1-3.

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Show Produced By:
Dan Gummel, Jon Collins

Show Music:
Defender Instrumental, Tents
Bloc, KV

Show Resources:

Our video on the Son of Man: https://bit.ly/2URk3BH