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The King’s Forgotten Dream

In the second year (604 b.c.) of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams which troubled and disturbed his spirit and [interfered with] his ability to sleep. Then the king gave a command to call the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the [a]Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king. The king said to them, “I had a dream, and my spirit is troubled and anxious to know the [content and meaning of the] dream.”

Then the Chaldeans said to the king in [b]Aramaic, “O king, live forever! Tell the dream to your servants, and we will declare the interpretation.” The king replied to the Chaldeans, “My command is firm and unchangeable: if you do not reveal to me the [content of the] dream along with its interpretation, you shall be cut into pieces and your houses shall be made a heap of rubbish. But if you tell [me] the [content of the] dream along with its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. So tell me the dream and its interpretation.” They answered again, “Let the king tell the dream to his servants, and we will explain its interpretation [to you].” The king replied, “I know for certain that you are bargaining for time, because you have seen that my command [to you] is firm and irrevocable. If you will not reveal to me the [content of the] dream, there is but one sentence for you; for you have [already] prepared lying and corrupt words [and you have agreed together] to speak [them] before me [hoping to delay your execution] until the situation is changed. Therefore, tell me the dream [first], and then I will know [with confidence] that you can give me its interpretation.” 10 The Chaldeans answered the king and said, “There is not a man on earth who can tell the king this matter, for no king, lord or ruler has ever asked such a thing as this of any magician or enchanter or Chaldean. 11 Furthermore, what the king demands is an unusual and difficult thing indeed! No one except the gods can reveal it to the king, and their dwelling is not with [mortal] flesh.”

12 Because of this the king was indignant and extremely furious and gave a command to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. 13 So the decree went out that the wise men were to be killed; and they looked for Daniel and his companions to put them to death.

14 Then Daniel replied with discretion and wisdom to Arioch, the captain of the king’s [c]bodyguard, who had gone out to execute the wise men of Babylon; 15 he said to Arioch, the king’s captain, “Why is the decree from the king so harsh and urgent?” Then Arioch explained the matter to Daniel. 16 So Daniel went in and asked the king to appoint a date and give him time, so that he might reveal to the king the interpretation of the dream.

17 Then Daniel returned to his house and discussed the matter with Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, 18 in order that they might seek compassion from the God of heaven regarding this secret, so that Daniel and his companions would not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.

The Secret Is Revealed to Daniel

19 Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night, and Daniel blessed the God of heaven. 20 Daniel answered,

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
For wisdom and power belong to Him.
21 
“It is He who changes the times and the seasons;
He removes kings and establishes kings.
He gives wisdom to the wise
And [greater] knowledge to those who have understanding!(A)
22 
“It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things;
He knows what is in the darkness,
And the light dwells with Him.(B)
23 
“I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers,
For You have given me wisdom and power;
Even now You have made known to me what we requested of You,
For You have made known to us [the solution to] the king’s matter.”

24 So Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon; he went and said this to him: “Do not execute the wise men of Babylon! Bring me before the king, and I will reveal to the king the interpretation [of his dream].”

25 Then Arioch hurriedly brought Daniel before the king and said this to him: “I have found a man among the exiles of Judah who can explain to the king the interpretation [of the dream].” 26 The king said to Daniel, whose [Babylonian] name was Belteshazzar, “Are you able to reveal to me the [content of the] dream which I have seen and its interpretation?” 27 Daniel answered the king and said, “Regarding the mystery about which the king has inquired, neither the wise men, enchanters, magicians, nor astrologers are able to answer the king, 28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days (end of days). This was your dream and the vision [that appeared] in your mind while on your bed. 29 As for you, O king, as you were lying on your bed thoughts came into your mind about what will take place in the future; and He who reveals secrets has shown you what will occur. 30 But as for me, this secret has not been revealed to me because my wisdom is greater than that of any other living man, but in order to make the interpretation known to the king, and so that you may understand [fully] the thoughts of your mind.

The King’s Dream

31 “You, O king, were looking, and behold, [there was] a single great statue; this image, which was large and of unsurpassed splendor, stood before you, and its appearance was awesome and terrifying. 32 As for this [d]statue, its head was made of fine gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay [pottery]. 34 As you were looking, a [e]stone was cut out without [human] hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them.(C) 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together and became like the chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them could be found. And the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

The Interpretation—Babylon the First Kingdom

36 “This was the dream; now we will tell the king its interpretation. 37 You, O king, are the king of [earthly] kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the strength and the glory;(D) 38 and wherever the sons of men dwell, and the beasts of the field, and the birds of the heavens, He has given them into your hand and has made you ruler over them all. You [king of Babylon] are the head of gold.

Medo-Persia and Greece

39 After you will arise another kingdom (Medo-Persia) inferior to you, and then a third kingdom of bronze (Greece under Alexander the Great), which will rule over all the earth.

Rome

40 Then a fourth kingdom (Rome) will be strong as iron, for iron breaks to pieces and shatters all things; and like iron which crushes things in pieces, it will break and crush all these [others].(E) 41 And as you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it will be a divided kingdom; but there will be in it some of the durability and strength of iron, just as you saw the iron mixed with common clay. 42 As the [ten] toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so some of the kingdom will be strong, and another part of it will be brittle. 43 And as you saw the iron mixed with common clay, so they will combine with one another in the seed of men; but they will not merge [for such diverse things or ideologies cannot unite], even as iron does not mix with clay.

The Divine Kingdom

44 In the days of those [final ten] kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will its sovereignty be left for another people; but it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it will stand forever.(F) 45 Just as you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold, the great God has revealed to the king what will take place in the future; so the dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.”

Daniel Promoted

46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell face downward and paid respect to Daniel [as a great prophet of the highest God], and gave orders for an offering and fragrant incense to be presented to him [in honor of his God]. 47 The king answered Daniel and said, “Most certainly your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, since you have been able to reveal this mystery!”(G) 48 Then the king promoted Daniel [to an exalted position] and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and chief governor over all the wise men of Babylon. 49 And Daniel made a request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego over the affairs of the province of Babylon, while Daniel was at the court of the king.

Footnotes

  1. Daniel 2:2 I.e. Babylonian sages who were master astrologers, and so below.
  2. Daniel 2:4 In addition to their native language, most people involved in government or trade could speak and write in Aramaic. At this point in the book Daniel switches from writing in Hebrew to writing in Aramaic. He returns to writing in Hebrew in ch 8.
  3. Daniel 2:14 Or executioners.
  4. Daniel 2:32 Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream outlines the further history of Gentile world power. The four metals of which the statue was made represented four successive empires, each with the power to rule the inhabited earth—though each stopped short of that. They were: (1) Babylon (Jer 51:7); (2) Medo-Persia; (3) Greece under Alexander; and (4) Rome. The latter power was divided first into the two legs, corresponding to the eastern and western Roman Empires, and then (after a very long time apparently) into the ten toes, a confederacy made up largely of European nations (7:24-27).
  5. Daniel 2:34 The eternal kingdom of God, the Messianic kingdom, will extend over all the earth, and those who reject Jesus, the Messiah, the Stone, will be crushed. See also Ps 118:22, 23; Is 8:14; Matt 21:44; Luke 20:18; 1 Pet 2:4-8.

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams;(A) his mind was troubled(B) and he could not sleep.(C) So the king summoned the magicians,(D) enchanters, sorcerers(E) and astrologers[a](F) to tell him what he had dreamed.(G) When they came in and stood before the king, he said to them, “I have had a dream that troubles(H) me and I want to know what it means.[b]

Then the astrologers answered the king,[c](I) “May the king live forever!(J) Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it.”

The king replied to the astrologers, “This is what I have firmly decided:(K) If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces(L) and your houses turned into piles of rubble.(M) But if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor.(N) So tell me the dream and interpret it for me.”

Once more they replied, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will interpret it.”

Then the king answered, “I am certain that you are trying to gain time, because you realize that this is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me the dream, there is only one penalty(O) for you. You have conspired to tell me misleading and wicked things, hoping the situation will change. So then, tell me the dream, and I will know that you can interpret it for me.”(P)

10 The astrologers(Q) answered the king, “There is no one on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer.(R) 11 What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods,(S) and they do not live among humans.”

12 This made the king so angry and furious(T) that he ordered the execution(U) of all the wise men of Babylon. 13 So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death.(V)

14 When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact. 15 He asked the king’s officer, “Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?” Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. 16 At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him.

17 Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.(W) 18 He urged them to plead for mercy(X) from the God of heaven(Y) concerning this mystery,(Z) so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 During the night the mystery(AA) was revealed to Daniel in a vision.(AB) Then Daniel praised the God of heaven(AC) 20 and said:

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;(AD)
    wisdom and power(AE) are his.
21 He changes times and seasons;(AF)
    he deposes(AG) kings and raises up others.(AH)
He gives wisdom(AI) to the wise
    and knowledge to the discerning.(AJ)
22 He reveals deep and hidden things;(AK)
    he knows what lies in darkness,(AL)
    and light(AM) dwells with him.
23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:(AN)
    You have given me wisdom(AO) and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
    you have made known to us the dream of the king.(AP)

Daniel Interprets the Dream

24 Then Daniel went to Arioch,(AQ) whom the king had appointed to execute the wise men of Babylon, and said to him, “Do not execute the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king, and I will interpret his dream for him.”

25 Arioch took Daniel to the king at once and said, “I have found a man among the exiles(AR) from Judah(AS) who can tell the king what his dream means.”

26 The king asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar),(AT) “Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?”

27 Daniel replied, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about,(AU) 28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.(AV) He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come.(AW) Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind(AX) as you were lying in bed(AY) are these:(AZ)

29 “As Your Majesty was lying there, your mind turned to things to come, and the revealer of mysteries showed you what is going to happen.(BA) 30 As for me, this mystery has been revealed(BB) to me, not because I have greater wisdom than anyone else alive, but so that Your Majesty may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind.

31 “Your Majesty looked, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue,(BC) awesome(BD) in appearance. 32 The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. 34 While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands.(BE) It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed(BF) them.(BG) 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were all broken to pieces and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away(BH) without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain(BI) and filled the whole earth.(BJ)

36 “This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king.(BK) 37 Your Majesty, you are the king of kings.(BL) The God of heaven has given you dominion(BM) and power and might and glory; 38 in your hands he has placed all mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds in the sky. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all.(BN) You are that head of gold.

39 “After you, another kingdom will arise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth.(BO) 40 Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others.(BP) 41 Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. 42 As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. 43 And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.

44 “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush(BQ) all those kingdoms(BR) and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.(BS) 45 This is the meaning of the vision of the rock(BT) cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands(BU)—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.

“The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future.(BV) The dream is true(BW) and its interpretation is trustworthy.”

46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate(BX) before Daniel and paid him honor and ordered that an offering(BY) and incense be presented to him. 47 The king said to Daniel, “Surely your God is the God of gods(BZ) and the Lord of kings(CA) and a revealer of mysteries,(CB) for you were able to reveal this mystery.(CC)

48 Then the king placed Daniel in a high(CD) position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men.(CE) 49 Moreover, at Daniel’s request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego administrators over the province of Babylon,(CF) while Daniel himself remained at the royal court.(CG)

Footnotes

  1. Daniel 2:2 Or Chaldeans; also in verses 4, 5 and 10
  2. Daniel 2:3 Or was
  3. Daniel 2:4 At this point the Hebrew text has in Aramaic, indicating that the text from here through the end of chapter 7 is in Aramaic.

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