Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold
Not of solid gold; but either of a plate of gold, and hollow within; or of wood overlaid with gold; for otherwise it must have took up a prodigious quantity of gold to make an image of such dimensions as follow; this be ordered his statuaries or workmen to make for him; whether this image was for himself, or his father Nabopolassar, or for his chief god Bel, or as a new deity, is not easy to say; however, it was made for religious worship: the reasons that moved him to it cannot be ascertained; it might be out of pride and vanity, and to set forth the glory and stability of his monarchy, as if be was not only the head of gold, but as an image all of gold; and to contradict the interpretation of his dream, and avert the fate of his empire signified by it; or to purge himself from the jealousies his subjects had entertained of him, of relinquishing the religion of his country, and embracing the Jewish religion, by his praise of the God of Israel, and the promotion of Jews to places of trust and honour; or this might be done by the advice of his nobles, to establish an uniformity of religion in his kingdom, and to prevent the growth of Judaism; and it may be to lay a snare for Daniel and his companions; of which we have an instance of the like kind in chapter six. When this image was made is not certain; some think in a short time after his dream before related; if so, he soon forgot it, and the God that had revealed it. The Septuagint and Arabic versions place it in the eighteenth year of his reign; and some are of opinion that it was after his victories over the Jews, Tyre, Egypt, and others; and that being flushed therewith, in the pride of his heart, ordered this image to be made; and out of the spoils he brought with him from the various countries he had conquered. Mr. Whiston F21 places this fact in the year of the world 3417 A.M., and before Christ 587; and so Dr. Prideaux F23, who makes it to be in the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar, agreeably to the above versions. Mr. Bedford F24 puts it in the year before Christ 585: whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits;
a common cubit being half a yard, it was thirty yards high, and three yards broad; but Herodotus F25 says the king's cubit in Babylon was three fingers larger than the usual one; and, according to that, this image must be thirty five yards high, and three yards and a half broad; but since there is so great a disproportion between the height and breadth, some have thought that the height includes the pedestal on which it stood; and, allowing twelve cubits for that, the height of the image was forty six cubits. Diodorus Siculus F26 makes mention of a statue of gold in the temple of Belus, which Xerxes demolished, which was forty feet high, and contained a thousand Babylonish talents of gold, which, at the lowest computation, amounts to three millions and a half of our money; which image Doctor Prideaux F1 conjectures was this image of Nebuchadnezzar's; but this seems not likely, since the one was between thirty and forty yards high, the other but thirteen or fourteen; the one in the plain of Dura, the other in the temple of Bel: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon;
that so it might be seen of all, and there might be room enough for a vast number of worshippers together. The Septuagint version calls this place the plain of Deeira, which some take to be the Deera of Ptolemy F2; but that is in the province of Susiana; rather this is Duraba F3, which he places near the river Euphrates, in the province of Babylon. Aben Ezra says, this is the place where the children of Ephraim fell, and where the Chaldeans slew the Jews when they came into captivity. In the Talmud F4 it is said,
``from the river Eshal unto Rabbath is the valley of Dura;''in Arabic
``although the design of that generation was not accomplished, yet after their times their punishment was made manifest, in that they said, "let us make us a name", ( Genesis 11:4 ) for Nebuchadnezzar having wasted and subverted many kingdoms, and destroyed the sanctuary, thought it possible to put in execution the wicked design of the age of the dispersion; hence it is said, ( Daniel 3:1 ) , "King Nebuchadnezzar made an image, &c. and set it up", (arwd teqbb) , "in the valley of generation", in the province of Babylon, which is the valley spoken of in ( Genesis 11:2 Genesis 11:9 ) what therefore they could not do, he attempted to do; hence he gathered all the people to worship the image, which agrees with ( Genesis 11:4 ) , for he put a certain vessel of the vessels of the temple on the mouth of it (the image), on which was engraven the divine name, that he might render ineffectual the intention of the dispersed generation but the Scripture says, ( Jeremiah 51:44 ) , "and I will punish Bel in Babylon, and I will bring forth out of his mouth that which he hath swallowed up, and the nations shall not flow together any more unto him"; for Daniel came and caused that vessel that was swallowed to be taken out of the mouth of the image, whence it fell, and was broke to pieces, which is the same as that in ( Genesis 11:4 ) F5.''
F21 Chronological Tables, cent. 10.
F23 Connexion par 1. B. 2. p. 87.
F24 Scripture Chronology, p. 709.
F25 Clio, sive l. 1. c. 178.
F26 Bibliothec. Hist. I. 2. p. 98. Ed. Rhod.
F1 Connexion par. 1. B. 2. p. 103.
F2 Geograph. l. 6. c. 3.
F3 lbid. l. 5. c. 20.
F4 T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 92. 2.
F5 Kabala Denudata, par. 1. p. 671.