The Message

Daniel 2

King Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

11-3 In the second year of his reign, King Nebuchadnezzar started having dreams that disturbed him deeply. He couldn’t sleep. He called in all the Babylonian magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and fortunetellers to interpret his dreams for him. When they came and lined up before the king, he said to them, “I had a dream that I can’t get out of my mind. I can’t sleep until I know what it means.”

The fortunetellers, speaking in the Aramaic language, said, “Long live the king! Tell us the dream and we will interpret it.”

5-6 The king answered the fortunetellers, “This is my decree: If you can’t tell me both the dream itself and its interpretation, I’ll have you ripped to pieces, limb from limb, and your homes torn down. But if you tell me both the dream and its interpretation, I’ll lavish you with gifts and honors. So go to it: Tell me the dream and its interpretation.”

They answered, “If it please your majesty, tell us the dream. We’ll give the interpretation.”

8-9 But the king said, “I know what you’re up to—you’re just playing for time. You know you’re up a tree. You know that if you can’t tell me my dream, you’re doomed. I see right through you—you’re going to cook up some fancy stories and confuse the issue until I change my mind. Nothing doing! First tell me the dream, then I’ll know that you’re on the up and up with the interpretation and not just blowing smoke in my eyes.”

10-11 The fortunetellers said, “Nobody anywhere can do what you ask. And no king, great or small, has ever demanded anything like this from any magician, enchanter, or fortuneteller. What you’re asking is impossible unless some god or goddess should reveal it—and they don’t hang around with people like us.”

12-13 That set the king off. He lost his temper and ordered the whole company of Babylonian wise men killed. When the death warrant was issued, Daniel and his companions were included. They also were marked for execution.

14-15 When Arioch, chief of the royal guards, was making arrangements for the execution, Daniel wisely took him aside and quietly asked what was going on: “Why this all of a sudden?”

15-16 After Arioch filled in the background, Daniel went to the king and asked for a little time so that he could interpret the dream.

17-18 Daniel then went home and told his companions Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah what was going on. He asked them to pray to the God of heaven for mercy in solving this mystery so that the four of them wouldn’t be killed along with the whole company of Babylonian wise men.

Dream Interpretation: A Story of Five Kingdoms

19-23 That night the answer to the mystery was given to Daniel in a vision. Daniel blessed the God of heaven, saying,

“Blessed be the name of God,
    forever and ever.
He knows all, does all:
    He changes the seasons and guides history,
He raises up kings and also brings them down,
    he provides both intelligence and discernment,
He opens up the depths, tells secrets,
    sees in the dark—light spills out of him!
God of all my ancestors, all thanks! all praise!
    You made me wise and strong.
And now you’ve shown us what we asked for.
    You’ve solved the king’s mystery.”

24 So Daniel went back to Arioch, who had been put in charge of the execution. He said, “Call off the execution! Take me to the king and I’ll interpret his dream.”

25 Arioch didn’t lose a minute. He ran to the king, bringing Daniel with him, and said, “I’ve found a man from the exiles of Judah who can interpret the king’s dream!”

26 The king asked Daniel (renamed in Babylonian, Belteshazzar), “Are you sure you can do this—tell me the dream I had and interpret it for me?”

27-28 Daniel answered the king, “No mere human can solve the king’s mystery, I don’t care who it is—no wise man, enchanter, magician, diviner. But there is a God in heaven who solves mysteries, and he has solved this one. He is letting King Nebuchadnezzar in on what is going to happen in the days ahead. This is the dream you had when you were lying on your bed, the vision that filled your mind:

29-30 “While you were stretched out on your bed, O king, thoughts came to you regarding what is coming in the days ahead. The Revealer of Mysteries showed you what will happen. But the interpretation is given through me, not because I’m any smarter than anyone else in the country, but so that you will know what it means, so that you will understand what you dreamed.

31-36 “What you saw, O king, was a huge statue standing before you, striking in appearance. And terrifying. The head of the statue was pure gold, the chest and arms were silver, the belly and hips were bronze, the legs were iron, and the feet were an iron-ceramic mixture. While you were looking at this statue, a stone cut out of a mountain by an invisible hand hit the statue, smashing its iron-ceramic feet. Then the whole thing fell to pieces—iron, tile, bronze, silver, and gold, smashed to bits. It was like scraps of old newspapers in a vacant lot in a hot dry summer, blown every which way by the wind, scattered to oblivion. But the stone that hit the statue became a huge mountain, dominating the horizon. This was your dream.

36-40 “And now we’ll interpret it for the king. You, O king, are the most powerful king on earth. The God of heaven has given you the works: rule, power, strength, and glory. He has put you in charge of men and women, wild animals and birds, all over the world—you’re the head ruler, you are the head of gold. But your rule will be taken over by another kingdom, inferior to yours, and that one by a third, a bronze kingdom, but still ruling the whole land, and after that by a fourth kingdom, ironlike in strength. Just as iron smashes things to bits, breaking and pulverizing, it will bust up the previous kingdoms.

41-43 “But then the feet and toes that ended up as a mixture of ceramic and iron will deteriorate into a mongrel kingdom with some remains of iron in it. Just as the toes of the feet were part ceramic and part iron, it will end up a mixed bag of the breakable and unbreakable. That kingdom won’t bond, won’t hold together any more than iron and clay hold together.

44-45 “But throughout the history of these kingdoms, the God of heaven will be building a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will this kingdom ever fall under the domination of another. In the end it will crush the other kingdoms and finish them off and come through it all standing strong and eternal. It will be like the stone cut from the mountain by the invisible hand that crushed the iron, the bronze, the ceramic, the silver, and the gold.

“The great God has let the king know what will happen in the years to come. This is an accurate telling of the dream, and the interpretation is also accurate.”

46-47 When Daniel finished, King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face in awe before Daniel. He ordered the offering of sacrifices and burning of incense in Daniel’s honor. He said to Daniel, “Your God is beyond question the God of all gods, the Master of all kings. And he solves all mysteries, I know, because you’ve solved this mystery.”

48-49 Then the king promoted Daniel to a high position in the kingdom, lavished him with gifts, and made him governor over the entire province of Babylon and the chief in charge of all the Babylonian wise men. At Daniel’s request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to administrative posts throughout Babylon, while Daniel governed from the royal headquarters.

New International Reader's Version

Daniel 2

Nebuchadnezzar Dreams About a Large Statue

1In the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s rule, he had a dream. His mind was troubled. He couldn’t sleep. So the king sent for those who claimed to get knowledge by using magic. He also sent for those who practiced evil magic and those who studied the heavens. He wanted them to tell him what he had dreamed. They came in and stood in front of the king. He said to them, “I had a dream. It troubles me. So I want to know what it means.”

Then those who studied the heavens answered the king. They spoke in Aramaic. They said, “King Nebuchadnezzar, may you live forever! Tell us what you dreamed. Then we’ll explain what it means.”

The king replied to them, “I have made up my mind. You must tell me what I dreamed. And you must tell me what it means. If you don’t, I’ll have you cut to pieces. And I’ll have your houses turned into piles of trash. So tell me what I dreamed. Explain it to me. Then I’ll give you gifts. I’ll reward you. I’ll give you great honor. So tell me the dream. And tell me what it means.”

Once more they replied, “King Nebuchadnezzar, tell us what you dreamed. Then we’ll tell you what it means.”

The king answered, “I know what you are doing. You are trying to gain more time. You realize that I’ve made up my mind. You must tell me the dream. If you don’t, you will pay for it. You have gotten together and made evil plans. You hope things will change. So you are telling me lies. But I want you to tell me what I dreamed. Then I’ll know that you can tell me what it means.”

10 They answered the king, “There is no one on earth who can do what you are asking! No king has ever asked for anything like that. Not even a king as great and mighty as you has asked for it. Those who get knowledge by using magic have never been asked to do what you are asking. And those who study the heavens haven’t been asked to do it either. 11 What you are asking is much too hard. No one can tell you what you dreamed except the gods. And they don’t live among human beings.”

12 That made the king very angry. He ordered that all the wise men in Babylon be put to death. 13 So the order was given to kill them. Men were sent out to look for Daniel and his friends. They were also supposed to be put to death.

14 Arioch was the commander of the king’s guard. He went out to put the wise men of Babylon to death. So Daniel spoke to him wisely and carefully. 15 He asked the king’s officer, “Why did Nebuchadnezzar give a terrible order like that?” Then Arioch explained to Daniel what was going on. 16 When Daniel heard that, he went to the king. He told him he would explain the dream to him. But he needed more time.

17 Then Daniel returned to his house. He explained everything to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 18 He asked them to pray that the God of heaven would give him mercy. He wanted God to help him understand the mystery of the king’s dream. Then he and his friends wouldn’t be killed along with Babylon’s other wise men. 19 During that night, God gave Daniel a vision. He showed him what the mystery was all about. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven. 20 He said,

“May God be praised for ever and ever!
    He is wise and powerful.
21 He changes times and seasons.
    He removes some kings from power.
    He causes other kings to rule.
The wisdom of those who are wise comes from him.
    He gives knowledge to those who have understanding.
22 He explains deep and hidden things.
    He knows what happens in the darkest places.
    And where he is, everything is light.
23 God of my people of long ago, I thank and praise you.
    You have given me wisdom and power.
You have made known to me what we asked you for.
    You have shown us the king’s dream.”

Daniel Tells the King What His Dream Means

24 Then Daniel went to Arioch. The king had appointed him to put the wise men of Babylon to death. Daniel said to him, “Don’t kill the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king. I’ll tell him what his dream means.”

25 So Arioch took Daniel to the king at once. Arioch said, “I have found a man among those you brought here from Judah. He can tell you what your dream means.”

26 Nebuchadnezzar spoke to Daniel, who was also called Belteshazzar. The king asked him, “Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream? And can you tell me what it means?”

27 Daniel replied, “You have asked us to explain a mystery to you. But no wise man can do that. And those who try to figure things out by using magic can’t do it either. 28 But there is a God in heaven who can explain mysteries. King Nebuchadnezzar, he has shown you what is going to happen. Here is what you dreamed while lying in bed. And here are the visions that passed through your mind.

29 “Your Majesty, while you were still in bed your mind was troubled. You were thinking about things that haven’t happened yet. The God who explains mysteries showed these things to you. 30 Now the mystery has been explained to me. But it isn’t because I have greater wisdom than anyone else alive. It’s because God wants you to know what the mystery means, Your Majesty. He wants you to understand what went through your mind.

31 “King Nebuchadnezzar, you looked up and saw a large statue standing in front of you. It was huge. It shone brightly. And it terrified you. 32 The head of the statue was made out of pure gold. Its chest and arms were made out of silver. Its stomach and thighs were made out of bronze. 33 Its legs were made out of iron. And its feet were partly iron and partly baked clay. 34 While you were watching, a rock was cut out. But human hands didn’t do it. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay. It smashed them. 35 Then the iron and clay were broken to pieces. So were the bronze, silver and gold. All of them were broken to pieces. They became like straw on a threshing floor at harvest time. The wind blew them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain. It filled the whole earth.

36 “This was your dream. Now I will tell you what it means. 37 King Nebuchadnezzar, you are the greatest king of all. The God of heaven has given you authority and power. He has given you might and glory. 38 He has put everyone under your control. He has also given you authority over the wild animals and the birds in the sky. It doesn’t matter where they live. He has made you ruler over all of them. You are that head of gold.

39 “After you, another kingdom will take over. It won’t be as powerful as yours. Next, a third kingdom will rule over the whole earth. The bronze part of the statue stands for that kingdom. 40 Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom. It will be as strong as iron. Iron breaks and smashes everything to pieces. And the fourth kingdom will crush and break all the others. 41 You saw that the feet and toes were made out of iron and baked clay. And the fourth kingdom will be divided up. But it will still have some of the strength of iron. That’s why you saw iron mixed with clay. 42 The toes were partly iron and partly clay. And the fourth kingdom will be partly strong and partly weak. 43 You saw the iron mixed with baked clay. And the fourth kingdom will be made up of all kinds of people. They won’t hold together any more than iron mixes with clay.

44 “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom. It will never be destroyed. And no other nation will ever take it over. It will crush all those other kingdoms. It will bring them to an end. But it will last forever. 45 That’s what the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain means. Human hands didn’t cut out the rock. It broke the statue to pieces. It smashed the iron, bronze, clay, silver and gold.

“The great God has shown you what will take place in days to come. The dream is true. And you can trust the meaning of it that I have explained to you.”

46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar bowed low in front of Daniel. He wanted to honor him. So he ordered that an offering and incense be offered up to him. 47 The king said to Daniel, “I’m sure your God is the greatest God of all. He is the Lord of kings. He explains mysteries. That’s why you were able to explain the mystery of my dream.”

48 Then the king put Daniel in a position of authority. He gave him many gifts. He made him ruler over the city of Babylon and the towns around it. He put him in charge of all its other wise men. 49 The king also did what Daniel asked him to. He appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to help Daniel govern Babylon and the towns around it. Daniel himself remained at the royal court.