Bible: Daniel 3-4

3:1

Daniel’s Friends Are Tested

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King Nebuchadnezzar had a golden 2  statue made. 3  It was ninety feet 4  tall and nine feet 5  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, 6  and all the other authorities of the province to attend the dedication of the statue that he 7  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. 8 

3:4 Then the herald 9  made a loud 10  proclamation: “To you, O peoples, nations, and language groups, the following command is given: 11  3:5 When you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, 12  trigon, harp, pipes, and all kinds of music, you must 13  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 14  be thrown into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire! 3:7 Therefore when they all 15  heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, trigon, harp, pipes, 16  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 17  at that time certain 18  Chaldeans came forward and brought malicious accusations against 19  the Jews. 3:9 They said 20  to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 21  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 22  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 23  demanded that they bring 24  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego before him. So they brought them 25  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? 26  3:16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to King Nebuchadnezzar, 27 We do not need to give you a reply 28  concerning this. 3:17 If 29  our God whom we are serving exists, 30  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 31  toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He gave orders 32  to heat the furnace seven times hotter than it was normally heated. 3:20 He ordered strong 33  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, 34  and were thrown into the furnace 35  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 36  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were killed 37  by the leaping flames. 38  3:23 But those three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell into the furnace 39  of blazing fire while still securely bound. 40 

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 41  into 42  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! 43  3:26 Then Nebuchadnezzar approached the door of the furnace of blazing fire. He called out, 44 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the most high God, come out! Come here!”

Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego emerged from the fire. 45  3:27 Once the satraps, prefects, governors, and ministers of the king had gathered around, they saw that those men were physically 46  unharmed by the fire. 47  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, 48 Praised be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent forth his angel 49  and has rescued his servants who trusted in him, ignoring 50  the edict of the king and giving up their bodies rather than 51  serve or pay homage to any god other than their God! 3:29 I hereby decree 52  that any people, nation, or language group that blasphemes 53  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 54  promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

4:1 55  “King Nebuchadnezzar, to all peoples, nations, and language groups that live in all the land: Peace and prosperity! 56  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, 57 

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

Nebuchadnezzar Dreams of a Tree Chopped Down

4:4 58  I, Nebuchadnezzar, was relaxing in my home, 59  living luxuriously 60  in my palace. 4:5 I saw a dream that 61  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 62  for all the wise men of Babylon to be brought 63  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, 64  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 65  my dream that I saw and set forth its interpretation! 4:10 Here are the visions of my mind 66  while I was on my bed.

While I was watching,

there was a tree in the middle of the land. 67 

It was enormously tall. 68 

4:11 The tree grew large and strong.

Its top reached far into the sky;

it could be seen 69  from the borders of all the land. 70 

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

on it there was food enough for all.

Under it the wild animals 71  used to seek shade,

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

All creatures 72  used to feed themselves from it.

4:13 While I was watching in my mind’s visions 73  on my bed,

a holy sentinel 74  came down from heaven.

4:14 He called out loudly 75  as follows: 76 

‘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 77  in the ground,

with a band of iron and bronze around it 78 

surrounded by the grass of the field.

Let it become damp with the dew of the sky,

and let it live with 79  the animals in the grass of the land.

4:16 Let his mind 80  be altered from that of a human being,

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

and let seven periods of time 81  go by for 82  him.

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

this decision is by the pronouncement of the holy ones,

so that 83  those who are alive may understand

that the Most High has authority over human kingdoms, 84 

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 85  interpretation, for none of the wise men in 86  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; 87  his thoughts were alarming him. The king said, “Belteshazzar, don’t let the dream and its interpretation alarm you.” But Belteshazzar replied, “Sir, 88  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 89  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 90  used to live, and in whose branches birds of the sky used to nest 4:22 it is you, 91  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 92  from human society, 93  and you will live 94  with the wild animals. You will be fed 95  grass like oxen, 96  and you will become damp with the dew of the sky. Seven periods of time will pass by for you, before 97  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 98  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.” 99 

4:28 Now all of this happened 100  to King Nebuchadnezzar. 4:29 After twelve months, he happened to be walking around on the battlements 101  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 102  by my own mighty strength 103  and for my majestic honor? 4:31 While these words were still on the king’s lips, 104  a voice came down from heaven: “It is hereby announced to you, 105  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 106  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 107  this pronouncement about 108  Nebuchadnezzar came true. 109  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. 110 

4:34 But at the end of the appointed time 111  I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up 112  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. 113 

He does as he wishes with the army of heaven

and with those who inhabit the earth.

No one slaps 114  his hand

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

4:36 At that time my sanity returned to me. I was restored 115  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 116  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 117  in pride.

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