“Daniel answered and said,”Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his.- Daniel 2:20 NIV (New International Version)

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 20. – And Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the Name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his. The Septuagint, having practically given the beginning of this verse as the end of ver 19. omits it now: hence it renders, “Blessed be the Name of the great Lord for ever, because the wisdom and the greatness are his.” The fact that מִן־עָלְמָא (min’alma), “from eternity,” is not rendered in this version, and that the adjective “great” is added in its place, indicates a difference of reading. Probably there was a transposition of מברך and מן־עלמא and the מן omitted. Then עלמא would be regarded as status em-phaticus of the adjective עלּים (allim) This is not likely to be a correct reading, as allim means “robust,” – possessing the vigour of youth.” Theodotion differs somewhat more from the Massoretic text than is his custom, “And he said, Be the Name of God blessed from eternity to eternity, for (the) wisdom and (the) understanding are his.” This is shorter; the omission of the pleonastic formula, “answered and said,” has an appearance of genuineness that is impressive. It would seem as if Theodotion had בינְתָא (beenetha), “understanding,” instead of גְבוּרָה (geboorah), “might.” The Peshitta and the Vulgate do not differ from the Massoretic text. The first, word of the Hebrew text of this song of thanksgiving has an interest for us, as throwing light on the question of the original language, לְהֶוֵא has the appearance of an infinitive, but it is the third person plural of the imperfect; ל is here the preformative of the third person singular and plural as in Eastern Aramaic as distinct from Western. This preformative is found occasionally in the Aramaic of the Babylonian Talmud, along with נ, the preformative we find regularly in Syriac. In Biblical Aramaic this pre-formative is found only with the substantive verb; the reason of this, however, we have considered in regard to the language (see Introduction, p. 23.). Suffice it that we regard this as an evidence that Daniel was originally written in Eastern Aramaic. Professor Bevan’s explanation, that the phenomenon is due to the likeness these parts of this verb have to the Divine Name, is of force to afford a reason why, in the midst of the general process of Occidentalizing the Aramaic, they shrank from applying it to this verb. That they had no scruple in writing it first hand, we find in the Targums; thus Onkelos, Genesis 18:18, יֶהֲוֵי. We might refer to ether examples in the later Aramaic of the Talmud and other Rabbinic works. The Name of God. Later Judaism, to avoid using the sacred covenant name of God, was accustomed to use the “Name,” in this sense. This may be noted that throughout this whole book, “Jehovah” occurs only in ch. 9. This may be due to something of that reverence which has led the Jews for centuries to avoid pronouncing the sacred name, and to use instead, Adonai, “Lord.” It is to be observed that all through Daniel the Septuagint has Κύριος, the Greek equivalent for Jehovah, while Theodotion follows the Massoretic in having Θεός. For ever and ever. This is not an accurate translation, although it appears not only in the Authorized, but also in the Revised Version. The sound of the phrase impresses us with a sense of grandeur, perhaps due to the music with which it has been associated. When we think of the meaning we really give to the phrase, or of its actual grammatical sense, it only conveys to us the idea of unending future duration; it does not at all imply unbeginning duration. More correct is Luther’s “veto Ewigkeit zu Ewigkeit.” The Greek of Theodotion conveys this also, ἀπό τοῦ αἰῶνος καὶ ἕως τοῦ αἰῶνος. Jerome renders, “a saeculo et usque in saeculum.” The true rendering is, “from eternity to eternity.” It is quite true that the עָלְמָא means primarily “an age,” as does also αἰών and saculum: it is also quite true that it is improbable that in ancient days man had definite ideas of eternity; even at the present time, when men strive after definiteness, they have no real conception of unending existence, still less of existence unbeginning. Still, it was used as having that meaning so far as men were able to apprehend it. As αἰών, it is used for “world.” For wisdom and wight are his. Wisdom is the Divine quality of which they have had proof now, but “might” is united with it as really one in thought. The fact that the usual combination is “wisdom and understanding” (see Exodus 31:3; Isaiah 11:2; Ezekiel 28:4) has led the scribe, whose text Theodotion used, to replace “might” by “understanding.” He might feel himself confirmed in his emendation by the fact that, while God’s wisdom and, it might be said, his understanding were exhibited in thus revealing to Daniel the royal dream, there was no place for “might.” What was in the mind of Daniel and his friends was that they were in the hands of a great Monarch, who was practically omnipotent. They now make known their recognition of the glorious truth that not only does the wisdom of the wise belong to God, but also the might of the strong. Further, there is another thought here which is present in all Scripture – that wisdom and might are really two sides of one and the same thing; hence a truth is proved by a miracle, a work of power.

All scriptures are from the King James Version, unless stated otherwise.

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