Bible: Daniel 2-4

Nebuchadnezzar Has a Disturbing Dream

2:1 In the second year of his 1  reign Nebuchadnezzar had many dreams. 2  His mind 3  was disturbed and he suffered from insomnia. 4  2:2 The king issued an order 5  to summon the magicians, astrologers, sorcerers, and wise men 6  in order to explain his dreams to him. 7  So they came and awaited the king’s instructions. 8 

2:3 The king told them, “I have had a dream, 9  and I 10  am anxious to understand the dream.” 2:4 The wise men replied to the king: [What follows is in Aramaic 11 ] “O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will disclose its 12  interpretation.” 2:5 The king replied 13  to the wise men, “My decision is firm. 14  If you do not inform me of both the dream and its interpretation, you will be dismembered 15  and your homes reduced to rubble! 2:6 But if you can disclose the dream and its interpretation, you will receive from me gifts, a reward, and considerable honor. So disclose to me the dream and its interpretation! 2:7 They again replied, “Let the king inform us 16  of the dream; then we will disclose its 17  interpretation.” 2:8 The king replied, “I know for sure that you are attempting to gain time, because you see that my decision is firm. 2:9 If you don’t inform me of the dream, there is only one thing that is going to happen to you. 18  For you have agreed among yourselves to report to me something false and deceitful 19  until such time as things might change. So tell me the dream, and I will have confidence 20  that you can disclose its interpretation.”

2:10 The wise men replied to the king, “There is no man on earth who is able to disclose the king’s secret, 21  for no king, regardless of his position and power, has ever requested such a thing from any magician, astrologer, or wise man. 2:11 What the king is asking is too difficult, and no one exists who can disclose it to the king, except for the gods – but they don’t live among mortals! 22 

2:12 Because of this the king got furiously angry 23  and gave orders to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. 2:13 So a decree went out, and the wise men were about 24  to be executed. They also sought 25  Daniel and his friends so that they could be executed.

2:14 Then Daniel spoke with prudent counsel 26  to Arioch, who was in charge of the king’s executioners and who had gone out to execute the wise men of Babylon. 2:15 He inquired of Arioch the king’s deputy, “Why is the decree from the king so urgent?” 27  Then Arioch informed Daniel about the matter. 2:16 So Daniel went in and 28  requested the king to grant him time, that he might disclose the interpretation to the king. 2:17 Then Daniel went to his home and informed his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the matter. 2:18 He asked them to pray for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery so that he 29  and his friends would not be destroyed along with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 2:19 Then in a night vision the mystery was revealed to Daniel. So Daniel praised 30  the God of heaven, 2:20 saying, 31 

“Let the name of God 32  be praised 33  forever and ever,

for wisdom and power belong to him.

2:21 He changes times and seasons,

deposing some kings

and establishing others. 34 

He gives wisdom to the wise;

he imparts knowledge to those with understanding; 35 

2:22 he reveals deep and hidden things.

He knows what is in the darkness,

and light resides with him.

2:23 O God of my fathers, I acknowledge and glorify you,

for you have bestowed wisdom and power on me.

Now you have enabled me to understand what I 36  requested from you.

For you have enabled me to understand the king’s dilemma.” 37 

2:24 Then Daniel went in to see 38  Arioch (whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon). He came 39  and said to him, “Don’t destroy the wise men of Babylon! Escort me 40  to the king, and I will disclose the interpretation to him! 41 

2:25 So Arioch quickly ushered Daniel into the king’s presence, saying to him, “I 42  have found a man from the captives of Judah who can make known the interpretation to the king.” 2:26 The king then asked Daniel (whose name was also Belteshazzar), “Are you able to make known to me the dream that I saw, as well as its interpretation? 2:27 Daniel replied to the king, “The mystery that the king is asking about is such that no wise men, astrologers, magicians, or diviners can possibly disclose it to the king. 2:28 However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, 43  and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in the times to come. 44  The dream and the visions you had while lying on your bed 45  are as follows.

2:29As for you, O king, while you were in your bed your thoughts turned to future things. 46  The revealer of mysteries has made known to you what will take place. 2:30 As for me, this mystery was revealed to me not because I possess more wisdom 47  than any other living person, but so that the king may understand 48  the interpretation and comprehend the thoughts of your mind. 49 

2:31You, O king, were watching as a great statue – one 50  of impressive size and extraordinary brightness – was standing before you. Its appearance caused alarm. 2:32 As for that statue, its head was of fine gold, its chest and arms were of silver, its belly and thighs were of bronze. 2:33 Its legs were of iron; its feet were partly of iron and partly of clay. 51  2:34 You were watching as 52  a stone was cut out, 53  but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its iron and clay feet, breaking them in pieces. 2:35 Then the iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold were broken in pieces without distinction 54  and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors that the wind carries away. Not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the statue became a large mountain that filled the entire earth. 2:36 This was the dream. Now we 55  will set forth before the king its interpretation.

Daniel Interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

2:37You, O king, are the king of kings. The God of heaven has granted you sovereignty, power, strength, and honor. 2:38 Wherever human beings, 56  wild animals, 57  and birds of the sky live – he has given them into your power. 58  He has given you authority over them all. You are the head of gold. 2:39 Now after you another kingdom 59  will arise, one inferior to yours. Then a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule in all the earth. 2:40 Then there will be a fourth kingdom, one strong like iron. Just like iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything, and as iron breaks in pieces 60  all of these metals, 61  so it will break in pieces and crush the others. 62  2:41 In that you were seeing feet and toes 63  partly of wet clay 64  and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom. Some of the strength of iron will be in it, for you saw iron mixed with wet clay. 65  2:42 In that the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, the latter stages of this kingdom will be partly strong and partly fragile. 2:43 And 66  in that you saw iron mixed with wet clay, so people will be mixed 67  with one another 68  without adhering to one another, just as 69  iron does not mix with clay. 2:44 In the days of those kings the God of heaven will raise up an everlasting kingdom that will not be destroyed and a kingdom that will not be left to another people. It will break in pieces and bring about the demise of all these kingdoms. But it will stand forever. 2:45 You saw that a stone was cut from a mountain, but not by human hands; it smashed the iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold into pieces. The great God has made known to the king what will occur in the future. 70  The dream is certain, and its interpretation is reliable.”

2:46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar bowed down with his face to the ground 71  and paid homage to Daniel. He gave orders to offer sacrifice and incense to him. 2:47 The king replied to Daniel, “Certainly your God is a God of gods and Lord of kings and revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery! 2:48 Then the king elevated Daniel to high position and bestowed on him many marvelous gifts. He granted him authority over the entire province of Babylon and made him the main prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. 2:49 And at Daniel’s request, the king 72  appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over the administration of the province of Babylon. Daniel himself served in the king’s court. 73 

3:1

Daniel’s Friends Are Tested

74 

King Nebuchadnezzar had a golden 75  statue made. 76  It was ninety feet 77  tall and nine feet 78  wide. He erected it on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. 3:2 Then King Nebuchadnezzar sent out a summons to assemble the satraps, prefects, governors, counselors, treasurers, judges, magistrates, 79  and all the other authorities of the province to attend the dedication of the statue that he 80  had erected. 3:3 So the satraps, prefects, governors, counselors, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the other provincial authorities assembled for the dedication of the statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had erected. They were standing in front of the statue that Nebuchadnezzar had erected. 81 

3:4 Then the herald 82  made a loud 83  proclamation: “To you, O peoples, nations, and language groups, the following command is given: 84  3:5 When you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, 85  trigon, harp, pipes, and all kinds of music, you must 86  bow down and pay homage to the golden statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has erected. 3:6 Whoever does not bow down and pay homage will immediately 87  be thrown into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire! 3:7 Therefore when they all 88  heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, trigon, harp, pipes, 89  and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations, and language groups began bowing down and paying homage to the golden statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had erected.

3:8 Now 90  at that time certain 91  Chaldeans came forward and brought malicious accusations against 92  the Jews. 3:9 They said 93  to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 94  3:10 You have issued an edict, O king, that everyone must bow down and pay homage to the golden statue when they hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, trigon, harp, pipes, and all kinds of music. 3:11 And whoever does not bow down and pay homage must be thrown into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire. 3:12 But there are Jewish men whom you appointed over the administration of the province of Babylon – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – and these men 95  have not shown proper respect to you, O king. They don’t serve your gods and they don’t pay homage to the golden statue that you have erected.”

3:13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in a fit of rage 96  demanded that they bring 97  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego before him. So they brought them 98  before the king. 3:14 Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you don’t serve my gods and that you don’t pay homage to the golden statue that I erected? 3:15 Now if you are ready, when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, trigon, harp, pipes, and all kinds of music, you must bow down and pay homage to the statue that I had made. If you don’t pay homage to it, you will immediately be thrown into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire. Now, who is that god who can rescue you from my power? 99  3:16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to King Nebuchadnezzar, 100 We do not need to give you a reply 101  concerning this. 3:17 If 102  our God whom we are serving exists, 103  he is able to rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and he will rescue us, O king, from your power as well. 3:18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we don’t serve your gods, and we will not pay homage to the golden statue that you have erected.”

3:19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with rage, and his disposition changed 104  toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He gave orders 105  to heat the furnace seven times hotter than it was normally heated. 3:20 He ordered strong 106  soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and to throw them into the furnace of blazing fire. 3:21 So those men were tied up while still wearing their cloaks, trousers, turbans, and other clothes, 107  and were thrown into the furnace 108  of blazing fire. 3:22 But since the king’s command was so urgent, and the furnace was so excessively hot, the men who escorted 109  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were killed 110  by the leaping flames. 111  3:23 But those three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell into the furnace 112  of blazing fire while still securely bound. 113 

God Delivers His Servants

3:24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was startled and quickly got up. He said to his ministers, “Wasn’t it three men that we tied up and threw 114  into 115  the fire?” They replied to the king, “For sure, O king.” 3:25 He answered, “But I see four men, untied and walking around in the midst of the fire! No harm has come to them! And the appearance of the fourth is like that of a god! 116  3:26 Then Nebuchadnezzar approached the door of the furnace of blazing fire. He called out, 117 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the most high God, come out! Come here!”

Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego emerged from the fire. 118  3:27 Once the satraps, prefects, governors, and ministers of the king had gathered around, they saw that those men were physically 119  unharmed by the fire. 120  The hair of their heads was not singed, nor were their trousers damaged. Not even the smell of fire was to be found on them!

3:28 Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed, 121 Praised be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent forth his angel 122  and has rescued his servants who trusted in him, ignoring 123  the edict of the king and giving up their bodies rather than 124  serve or pay homage to any god other than their God! 3:29 I hereby decree 125  that any people, nation, or language group that blasphemes 126  the god of Shadrach, Meshach, or Abednego will be dismembered and his home reduced to rubble! For there exists no other god who can deliver in this way.” 3:30 Then Nebuchadnezzar 127  promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

4:1 128  “King Nebuchadnezzar, to all peoples, nations, and language groups that live in all the land: Peace and prosperity! 129  4:2 I am delighted to tell you about the signs and wonders that the most high God has done for me.

4:3How great are his signs!

How mighty are his wonders!

His kingdom will last forever, 130 

and his authority continues from one generation to the next.”

Nebuchadnezzar Dreams of a Tree Chopped Down

4:4 131  I, Nebuchadnezzar, was relaxing in my home, 132  living luxuriously 133  in my palace. 4:5 I saw a dream that 134  frightened me badly. The things I imagined while lying on my bed – these visions of my mind – were terrifying me. 4:6 So I issued an order 135  for all the wise men of Babylon to be brought 136  before me so that they could make known to me the interpretation of the dream. 4:7 When the magicians, astrologers, wise men, and diviners entered, I recounted the dream for them. But they were unable to make known its interpretation to me. 4:8 Later Daniel entered (whose name is Belteshazzar after the name of my god, 137  and in whom there is a spirit of the holy gods). I recounted the dream for him as well, 4:9 saying, “Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, in whom I know there to be a spirit of the holy gods and whom no mystery baffles, consider 138  my dream that I saw and set forth its interpretation! 4:10 Here are the visions of my mind 139  while I was on my bed.

While I was watching,

there was a tree in the middle of the land. 140 

It was enormously tall. 141 

4:11 The tree grew large and strong.

Its top reached far into the sky;

it could be seen 142  from the borders of all the land. 143 

4:12 Its foliage was attractive and its fruit plentiful;

on it there was food enough for all.

Under it the wild animals 144  used to seek shade,

and in its branches the birds of the sky used to nest.

All creatures 145  used to feed themselves from it.

4:13 While I was watching in my mind’s visions 146  on my bed,

a holy sentinel 147  came down from heaven.

4:14 He called out loudly 148  as follows: 149 

‘Chop down the tree and lop off its branches!

Strip off its foliage

and scatter its fruit!

Let the animals flee from under it

and the birds from its branches!

4:15 But leave its taproot 150  in the ground,

with a band of iron and bronze around it 151 

surrounded by the grass of the field.

Let it become damp with the dew of the sky,

and let it live with 152  the animals in the grass of the land.

4:16 Let his mind 153  be altered from that of a human being,

and let an animal’s mind be given to him,

and let seven periods of time 154  go by for 155  him.

4:17 This announcement is by the decree of the sentinels;

this decision is by the pronouncement of the holy ones,

so that 156  those who are alive may understand

that the Most High has authority over human kingdoms, 157 

and he bestows them on whomever he wishes.

He establishes over them even the lowliest of human beings.’

4:18This is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, saw. Now you, Belteshazzar, declare its 158  interpretation, for none of the wise men in 159  my kingdom are able to make known to me the interpretation. But you can do so, for a spirit of the holy gods is in you.”

Daniel Interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

4:19 Then Daniel (whose name is also Belteshazzar) was upset for a brief time; 160  his thoughts were alarming him. The king said, “Belteshazzar, don’t let the dream and its interpretation alarm you.” But Belteshazzar replied, “Sir, 161  if only the dream were for your enemies and its interpretation applied to your adversaries! 4:20 The tree that you saw that grew large and strong, whose top reached to the sky, and which could be seen 162  in all the land, 4:21 whose foliage was attractive and its fruit plentiful, and from which there was food available for all, under whose branches wild animals 163  used to live, and in whose branches birds of the sky used to nest 4:22 it is you, 164  O king! For you have become great and strong. Your greatness is such that it reaches to heaven, and your authority to the ends of the earth. 4:23 As for the king seeing a holy sentinel coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Chop down the tree and destroy it, but leave its taproot in the ground, with a band of iron and bronze around it, surrounded by the grass of the field. Let it become damp with the dew of the sky, and let it live with the wild animals, until seven periods of time go by for him’ – 4:24 this is the interpretation, O king! It is the decision of the Most High that this has happened to my lord the king. 4:25 You will be driven 165  from human society, 166  and you will live 167  with the wild animals. You will be fed 168  grass like oxen, 169  and you will become damp with the dew of the sky. Seven periods of time will pass by for you, before 170  you understand that the Most High is ruler over human kingdoms and gives them to whomever he wishes. 4:26 They said to leave the taproot of the tree, for your kingdom will be restored to you when you come to understand that heaven 171  rules. 4:27 Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you. Break away from your sins by doing what is right, and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps your prosperity will be prolonged.” 172 

4:28 Now all of this happened 173  to King Nebuchadnezzar. 4:29 After twelve months, he happened to be walking around on the battlements 174  of the royal palace of Babylon. 4:30 The king uttered these words: “Is this not the great Babylon that I have built for a royal residence 175  by my own mighty strength 176  and for my majestic honor? 4:31 While these words were still on the king’s lips, 177  a voice came down from heaven: “It is hereby announced to you, 178  King Nebuchadnezzar, that your kingdom has been removed from you! 4:32 You will be driven from human society, and you will live with the wild animals. You will be fed grass like oxen, and seven periods of time will pass by for you before 179  you understand that the Most High is ruler over human kingdoms and gives them to whomever he wishes.”

4:33 Now in that very moment 180  this pronouncement about 181  Nebuchadnezzar came true. 182  He was driven from human society, he ate grass like oxen, and his body became damp with the dew of the sky, until his hair became long like an eagle’s feathers, and his nails like a bird’s claws. 183 

4:34 But at the end of the appointed time 184  I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up 185  toward heaven, and my sanity returned to me.

I extolled the Most High,

and I praised and glorified the one who lives forever.

For his authority is an everlasting authority,

and his kingdom extends from one generation to the next.

4:35 All the inhabitants of the earth are regarded as nothing. 186 

He does as he wishes with the army of heaven

and with those who inhabit the earth.

No one slaps 187  his hand

and says to him, ‘What have you done?’

4:36 At that time my sanity returned to me. I was restored 188  to the honor of my kingdom, and my splendor returned to me. My ministers and my nobles were seeking me out, and I was reinstated 189  over my kingdom. I became even greater than before. 4:37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, for all his deeds are right and his ways are just. He is able to bring down those who live 190  in pride.

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