The dream and visions have four sections.
exceedingly great tree, 10-12
2. The cutting down of this
3. The seven-year drenching and animalistic
4. The messenger’s decree, 17
The king saw a (`uwr, “watcher,” “messenger,” or
“angel”) and a (qaddiysh, Aramaic for “holy one”). Did the
king see two beings or one? The Aramaic construction can
be translated either “behold, a watcher and a holy one
came down from heaven” or “there before me was a
messenger, a holy one, coming down from heaven.” Watchers
and holy ones are of different orders in the Chaldean
oracles. Verses 17 and 23 infer that watchers judge human
actions, with the power to determine the lot of men, and
holy ones executed their judgment. Hence, the king’s case
was tried in the Judicial Court of Watchers and the
sentence was executed by the holy ones. The decree of the
messengers (watchers) terrified the king.
Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him
live with the animals among the plants of the earth. Let
his mind be changed from that of a man and let him be
given the mind of an
animal, till seven times pass by
The change of pronouns from “it” and “its” (10-15a) to
“his” and “him” (15b-16) is significant—the tree signifies
“a man.” A person of Nebuchadnezzar’s intelligence might
have suspected that he was the tree. Great men and princes
are often represented, in the language of the prophets,
under the similitude of trees; see Psalm 1:3; 37:35;
Ezekiel 17:56; 31:3; Jeremiah 22:15. The tree symbolizes
his pride and imperial self-exaltation as well as God’s
sovereignty in raising him up and bringing him down (cf.
Ezekiel 17:22-24; 31:3-9).
Interestingly, Jesus employs a tree in one of His
kingdom parables to represent the Kingdom of Heaven in its
present mystery form.
He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is
like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his
field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet
when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and
becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and
perch in its branches” (Matthew 13:31-32).
In Jesus’ parable, the great mixture of good and evil
commonly called “Christendom” is symbolized by the
perversion of an herb becoming a tree. Earlier in Matthew
13, the birds of the air are seen typifying the evil one,
who snatches away the seed from men’s hearts before it
takes root. Now that the birds have fled in
Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, God’s Word will take root!
This man is to live with animals and to eat like them.
He will have the mind of (cheyva' Aramaic for “animal” or
“beast”) till seven times pass by him. In other words,
“Let him conceive of himself as a beast, and act as such,
herding among the beasts of the field till seven years
pass by for him.” The Aramaic phrase Nynde (`iddan,
“times”) hebv (shib`ah, “seven”) appears in this chapter
only and denotes seven literal years.
The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones
declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the
Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives
them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest
Here we gain insight into the invisible realm.
Messengers (watchers, angels) oversee the affairs of men,
enabling them to bring about the will of God on earth
(Daniel 4:17; 10:10-21; 11:1; 12:1; Matthew 18:10; Hebrews
1:14). Angels will be the harvesters at the end of this
present age (Matthew 13:39).
dream, God’s decision to cut down the king is announced by
heavenly messengers. Angels are the bearers of both good
and bad news in the book of Revelation. The angel Gabriel
announced the births of John the Baptist and Jesus; angels
announced Christ’s birth to shepherds; an angel told
Joseph, in a dream, to take Mary as his wife; an angel
warned the Magi, in a dream, to return home another way;
two angels announced the resurrection and ascension of
This dream revealed to Nebuchadnezzar that the Most
High is sovereign in the affairs of man and that He does
as He wishes, even setting the lowliest of men over them.
The throne enhances the status of man, but to be properly
filled, the man must be noble. Some of the greatest men
and some of the meanest men have sat on a throne or headed
nations. Kings and leaders seldom differ in wisdom from
their subjects. Ultimately, each ruler derives his power
and authority from God.