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Sefer Daniel: Part 7 - Perek 4 con't: Nevuchadnetzer Becomes A Beast and Heads For The Forest
Daniel now answered Nevuchadnetzer, and explained the dream. The tree which grew so powerful and high represented the greatness of Nevuchadnetzer's kingdom which was so powerful and far reaching. Nevuchadnetzer's kingdom will be "cut down;" he will lose his kingdom and its "branches", which represent his servants and officers, and all the nations which were subservient to him. However, the "roots of the tree" will remain in the ground; Nevuchadnetzer will only lose his kingdom temporarily.
How will Nevuchadnetzer lose his kingdom? He will slowly lose his sanity; he will become wild and attempt to harm his surroundings, and those around him will be forced to bind him with iron chains. Eventually, his mental health will continue to deteriorate until he becomes like a beast of the field; he will desire to eat grass and wash himself with dew. Ultimately, he will escape to the wild and become like a beast, sustaining himself by grazing in the field. He will pass through seven stages, until eventually he'll regain his sanity, recognize the sovereignty of Hashem, return to civilization and regain his kingdom.
Nevuchadnetzer originally thought that he would be able to nullify the Heavenly decree of the absolution of his malchus conveyed to him in his first dream, and that was his purpose in erecting the tzelem. Hashem punished him for this, and removed his malchus in order that he should recognize that Hashem rules humankind, and man cannot change His decrees.
Nevuchadnetzer was fearful of the fulfillment of his dream for a year after Daniel interpreted it. When he realized that a year had passed, he thought that the decree had been annulled. He reasoned that if the decree was true, it would already have made an impression on his kingdom, and his kingdom would have been diminished in some way. When he realized that his kingdom still retained its full strength, his natural pride returned in full force. He took a walk on top of his palace, and said, "'Isn't this the great Bavel which I built into a house of malchus with my mighty strength, and to glorify my splendor?'"
While Nevuchadnetzer was still speaking, "a voice fell from Heaven" and informed him that his kingdom had been removed from him. The decree befell him, and Nevuchadnetzer became like a beast in the forest. Eventually, his sanity was restored, he recognized the truth of Hashem's rule, and he blessed Hashem. His malchus was restored to him, and he gained even more kavod that he had previously.
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