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Dream: “Chop Down the Tree!”

I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at ease in my house and flourishing in my palace. I had a dream that frightened me. While on my bed the images and visions in my mind[a] terrified me. So I issued a decree to bring all the wise men of Babylon before me so that they could make known to me the meaning of the dream. When the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans and diviners came in, I recounted the dream to them, but they were unable to make known its interpretation to me.

Finally Daniel—whose name was Belteshazzar after the name of my god and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods—came in before me and I told him the dream.

I said, “Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you and that no mystery baffles you. Consider my dream that I have seen and tell me its interpretation.

“These are the visions in my head while I was on my bed: I looked, and behold, there was a tree in the midst of the earth. Its height was enormous. The tree grew large and became strong and its top reached to heaven; it was visible to the ends of the earth. Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Beneath it the beasts of the field found shade and birds of the sky lived in its branches, and from it all creatures were fed.

10 “I was watching the visions in my mind while on my bed, and behold, a watcher, a holy one, descended from heaven. 11 He called loudly, saying:

‘Chop down the tree and cut off its branches,
    strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit!
Let beasts flee from under it,
    and birds from its branches.
12 Yet leave a stump with its roots in the earth,
    in fetters of iron and bronze,
    in the tender grass of the field.
Let him be damp with the dew of heaven,
    and let his portion be with the animals in the grass of the earth.
13 Let his mind be altered from that of a man
and let an animal’s mind be given to him
and let seven periods of time pass over him.
14 This sentence is by the decree of the watchers,
    this verdict by the command of the holy ones,
so that the living may know
    that the Most High is sovereign over the realm of man
and bestows it to whomever He wishes,
    and may set over them even the lowliest of men.’

15 “I, King Nebuchadnezzar, saw this dream. Now you, Belteshazzar, tell me its meaning, for none of the wise men of my kingdom are able to make known to me its interpretation. But you are able, for the spirit of the holy gods is in you.”

Interpretation: A King Eats Grass

16 Then Daniel, whose name is also Belteshazzar, was perplexed for a brief time; his thoughts alarmed him. The king answered, and said, “Belteshazzar, don’t let the dream or the interpretation disturb you.”

But Belteshazzar replied, “My lord, may the dream be for those who hate you and its interpretation for your enemies! 17 The tree that you saw grow large and strong, whose top reached to heaven and that was visible to all the earth, 18 whose leaves were beautiful and whose fruit was so abundant that there was food for all in it and beneath which the beasts of the fields lived and in its branches birds of the sky dwelt— 19 it is you, O king! For you have grown great and mighty. Your greatness reaches to heaven, and your authority extends to the end of the earth.

20 “‘You, O king, saw a watcher, a holy one,

coming down from heaven and saying,

‘Chop down the tree and destroy it!
Yet leave a stump with its roots
    in the ground,
    in fetters of iron and bronze,
    in the grass of the field.
Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven,
    and let his portion be with the beasts of the field,
until seven time periods pass over him.’

21 “This is the interpretation, O king. It is the decree of the Most High that has come upon my lord the king:

22 “You will be driven away from people and will dwell with the wild animals. You will feed on grass like an ox and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven periods of time will pass over you until you know that the Most High is sovereign over the realm of mankind and gives it to whomever He wishes.

23 “The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you[b] as soon as you understand that Heaven is sovereign. 24 Therefore, O king, may my counsel be acceptable to you: Renounce your sins through righteousness and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps your prosperity will be prolonged.”

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream Fulfilled

25 All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. 26 At the end of twelve months, as he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 27 the king exclaimed, “Is this not the great Babylon that I have built as the royal residence by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”

28 The words were still in the king’s mouth when a voice fell from heaven. “King Nebuchadnezzar, it has been decreed to you that your kingdom has been removed from you! 29 You will be driven away from men and you will live with the beasts of the field. You will feed on grass like an ox and seven periods of time will pass over you until you come to know that the Most High is sovereignover the realm of mankind and gives it to whomever He wishes.”

30 Immediately the word about Ne-buchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from men, ate grass like an ox, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.

31 But at the end of the appointed days, I Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes up to heaven and my sanity returned to me. So I blessed the Most High and I praised and honored Him who lives forever.

“For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
    and His kingdom endures from generation to generation!
32 All the inhabitants of earth are counted as nothing.
    He does as He wills with the army of heaven
and the inhabitants of the earth.
No one can hold back His hand,
    or say to Him, ‘What have you done?’

33 “At that moment my sanity returned to me, and my majesty and my splendor were restored to me, for the glory of my kingdom. My ministers and nobles sought me out and I was reestablished over my kingdom. I became even greater than before. 34 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, because all His works are right and His ways just. He is able to humble those who walk in pride.”

Footnotes

  1. Daniel 4:2 Lit. of my head.
  2. Daniel 4:23 Lit. remain as yours.

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream of a Tree

[a]King Nebuchadnezzar,

To the nations and peoples of every language,(A) who live in all the earth:

May you prosper greatly!(B)

It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs(C) and wonders that the Most High God(D) has performed for me.

How great are his signs,
    how mighty his wonders!(E)
His kingdom is an eternal kingdom;
    his dominion endures(F) from generation to generation.

I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented(G) and prosperous. I had a dream(H) that made me afraid. As I was lying in bed,(I) the images and visions that passed through my mind(J) terrified me.(K) So I commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be brought before me to interpret(L) the dream for me. When the magicians,(M) enchanters, astrologers[b] and diviners(N) came, I told them the dream, but they could not interpret it for me.(O) Finally, Daniel came into my presence and I told him the dream. (He is called Belteshazzar,(P) after the name of my god, and the spirit of the holy gods(Q) is in him.)

I said, “Belteshazzar, chief(R) of the magicians, I know that the spirit of the holy gods(S) is in you, and no mystery is too difficult for you. Here is my dream; interpret it for me. 10 These are the visions I saw while lying in bed:(T) I looked, and there before me stood a tree in the middle of the land. Its height was enormous.(U) 11 The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth.(V) 12 Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the wild animals found shelter, and the birds lived in its branches;(W) from it every creature was fed.

13 “In the visions I saw while lying in bed,(X) I looked, and there before me was a holy one,(Y) a messenger,[c] coming down from heaven. 14 He called in a loud voice: ‘Cut down the tree(Z) and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from under it and the birds from its branches.(AA) 15 But let the stump and its roots, bound with iron and bronze, remain in the ground, in the grass of the field.

“‘Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the animals among the plants of the earth. 16 Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let him be given the mind of an animal, till seven times[d] pass by for him.(AB)

17 “‘The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High(AC) is sovereign(AD) over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest(AE) of people.’

18 “This is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, had. Now, Belteshazzar, tell me what it means, for none of the wise men in my kingdom can interpret it for me.(AF) But you can,(AG) because the spirit of the holy gods(AH) is in you.”(AI)

Daniel Interprets the Dream

19 Then Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified(AJ) him. So the king said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you.”(AK)

Belteshazzar answered, “My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries! 20 The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth, 21 with beautiful leaves and abundant fruit, providing food for all, giving shelter to the wild animals, and having nesting places in its branches for the birds(AL) 22 Your Majesty, you are that tree!(AM) You have become great and strong; your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky, and your dominion extends to distant parts of the earth.(AN)

23 “Your Majesty saw a holy one,(AO) a messenger, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump, bound with iron and bronze, in the grass of the field, while its roots remain in the ground. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven; let him live with the wild animals, until seven times pass by for him.’(AP)

24 “This is the interpretation, Your Majesty, and this is the decree(AQ) the Most High has issued against my lord the king: 25 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox and be drenched(AR) with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High(AS) is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.(AT) 26 The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots(AU) means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules.(AV) 27 Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed.(AW) It may be that then your prosperity(AX) will continue.(AY)

The Dream Is Fulfilled

28 All this happened(AZ) to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory(BA) of my majesty?”(BB)

31 Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you.(BC) 32 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.”(BD)

33 Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched(BE) with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.(BF)

34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity(BG) was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.(BH)

His dominion is an eternal dominion;
    his kingdom(BI) endures from generation to generation.(BJ)
35 All the peoples of the earth
    are regarded as nothing.(BK)
He does as he pleases(BL)
    with the powers of heaven
    and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back(BM) his hand(BN)
    or say to him: “What have you done?”(BO)

36 At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom.(BP) My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt(BQ) and glorify(BR) the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just.(BS) And those who walk in pride(BT) he is able to humble.(BU)

Footnotes

  1. Daniel 4:1 In Aramaic texts 4:1-3 is numbered 3:31-33, and 4:4-37 is numbered 4:1-34.
  2. Daniel 4:7 Or Chaldeans
  3. Daniel 4:13 Or watchman; also in verses 17 and 23
  4. Daniel 4:16 Or years; also in verses 23, 25 and 32

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