Just as the Chaldeans, astrologers and others from the court of Nebuchadnezzar said, ‘there is no king or lord who had asked for something like this’, nobody could have even thought of asking anyone what Nebuchadnezzar had asked.
The king had just been the king for two years and he had learnt all the precious knowledge required for executing the affairs of his kingdom. His commandment was this:
Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, for to shew the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king.
The efficacy of an interpretation would lie only in the coming to pass of such events as interpreted.
Let us analyse what Daniel did. Daniel says that God revealed to Nebuchadnezzar that he was the head of gold of all the kingdoms that had been and yet to be.
Is that even remotely true by hindsight?
I guess not. Compared to the Kingdoms held by Xerxes; Suleiman the Magnificent; or even some of the lesser known Caesars, neither was Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom as vast as theirs nor did he have the power that some of the above mentioned kings/ emperors had wielded. We are not including the Akbars and Louis the Fourteenth, who were more tactful and wisely ruled their kingdoms with vast resources. Nor are we including the brutal Chengiz Khans, Tamerlanes and their ilk of marauders. So by hindsight, the interpretation of the head of gold being Nebuchadnezzar nailed it for Daniel. It was a wise self promotion scheme, which was not by motive or intent, but a by product of a mind that was wired for survival – not just to escape – but to thrive and overcome all odds. Daniel submitted to the ultimate of all logic – if Daniel could repeat the dream which Nebuchadnezzar had dreamt earlier, Daniel’s interpretation would be believed, rather trusted. But Daniel had to place all interpretation beyond the life of Nebuchadnezzar except exalting him to a position which the wily Nebuchadnezzar had desired. The rest of it is all read as prophecy.
This prophecy was not ‘time specific’ like that of Joseph’s explanation of seven cattle as seven years and that accurate prediction of the coming of the seven years of famine in succession to the plenty of seven years, to the Pharaoh.
Then the silver, brass or bronze (as per the version of your Old Testament), the iron and clay. At the time of Daniel, no one could have imagined any of those kingdoms. Much less the possibility of a more powerful kingdom than that of the then Babylonian empire coming into existence, which lasted only for a total of 80 years. In fact Darius, the Persian takes over Babylon within Daniel’s own lifetime. In all, the interpretation satisfied the deep seated desire of Nebuchadnezzar – which was pandered to by Daniel.
Maybe God wanted it that way – to elevate Daniel and his friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. I am more inclined to believe that. For God, there is no such thing as a fact or fiction – He could turn a fiction into a fact and make any fiction into a reality.
We as living human beings don’t have to exalt God, because He showed the dream of Nebuchadnezzar to Daniel upon the prayers of Daniel and his three friends, but our very life is a miracle in many ways. A self realisation is enough.
If we build our Faith based on these instances, which smack of stupidity, we are just getting into the jingoism of praise because we are aligning ourselves with a ‘powerful’ God, and not because we are in alignment with God’s expectation in men.
What will happen to such faith built on these stories if in some point in the future the excavations discover a record of the dreams dreamt by the Babylonian kings which are recorded real time and kept by a scribe? – just like the records maintained by the Kings of the line of Ahasuerus (Xerxes) of the Book of Esther? Would it not lead to a speculation that Daniel could have sweet talked his way to read those contemporaneous records of the Babylonian kings, with the assistance of the Ariochs?
Therefore, I believe that certain factual narrations which might have triggered our faith at the Sunday school level, should not be used as props to our faith in God after self realisation.
Life is a miracle and God is the master planner running the entire gamut of existence through set principles, with exceptions and provisos and special mentions. As such no knowledge – human knowledge would be sufficient to make formulae on the methods of God.
But acknowledging the existence of God and submitting to such a thought considering the vastness and depth and continuity of Existence could bring one to a sober self-realisation which is the best way to realise God. Definitely not through these jingoistic episodic narrations.