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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

Chapter 2

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1 IN the second year of his reign Nebuchadnezzar was troubled by dreams he had, so much so that he could not sleep. 2He gave orders for the magicians, exorcists, sorcerers, and Chaldaeans to be summoned to expound to him what he had been dreaming. When they presented themselves before the king, 3he said to them, ‘I have had a dream, and my mind has been troubled to know what the dream was.’ 4The Chaldaeans, speaking in Aramaic, said, ‘Long live a 2:4 Long live: from here to the end of ch. 7 the text is in Aramaic. the king! Relate the dream to us, your servants, and we shall give you the interpretation.’ 5The king answered, ‘This is my firm decision: if you do not make both dream and interpretation known to me, you will be hacked limb from limb and your houses will be reduced to rubble b 2:5 reduced to rubble: or forfeit. . 6But if you tell me the dream and its interpretation, you will be richly rewarded by me and loaded with honours. Tell me, then, the dream and its interpretation.’ 7They said again, ‘Let the king relate the dream to his servants, and we shall tell him the interpretation.’ 8The king rejoined, ‘It is clear to me that you are trying to gain time, because you see that I have come to this firm decision: 9if you do not make the dream known to me, there is but one verdict for you, and one only. What is more, you have conspired to tell me mischievous lies to my face in the hope that with time things may alter. Relate the dream to me, therefore, and then I shall know that you can give me its interpretation.’ 10The Chaldaeans answered, ‘No one on earth can tell your majesty what you wish to know. No king, however great and powerful, has ever made such a demand of a magician, exorcist, or Chaldaean. 11What your majesty asks is too hard; none but the gods can tell you, and they dwell remote from mortals.’ 12At this the king became furious, and in great rage he ordered all the wise men of Babylon to be put to death. 13A decree was issued for the execution of the wise men, and search was made for Daniel and his companions.

14As Arioch, captain of the royal bodyguard, set out to execute the wise men of Babylon, Daniel made a discreet and tactful approach to him. 15He said, ‘May I ask you, sir, as the king's representative, why his majesty has issued so peremptory a decree?’ Arioch explained the matter, 16and Daniel went to the king and begged to be allowed a certain time by which he would give the king the interpretation. 17He then went home and made the matter known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, saying 18they should implore the God of heaven to disclose this secret in his mercy, so that they should not be put to death along with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19The secret was then revealed to Daniel in a vision by night, and he blessed the God of heaven 20in these words:

‘Blessed be God's name from age to age, for to him belong wisdom and power. 21He changes seasons and times; he deposes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have discernment; 22he reveals deep mysteries; he knows what lies in darkness; with him light has its dwelling. 23God of my fathers, to you I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and power. Now you have made known to me what we asked; you have given us the answer for the king.’

24Daniel therefore went to Arioch, whom the king had charged with the execution of the wise men of Babylon. He approached him and said, ‘Do not put the wise men to death; bring me before the king and I shall tell him the interpretation of his dream.’ 25Greatly agitated, Arioch brought Daniel before the king. ‘I have found among the Jewish exiles’, he said, ‘a man who will make known to your majesty the interpretation of your dream.’ 26The king asked Daniel (who was also called Belteshazzar), ‘Are you able to make known to me what I saw in my dream and to interpret it?’ 27Daniel answered: ‘No wise man, exorcist, magician, or diviner can tell your majesty the secret about which you ask. 28But there is in heaven a God who reveals secrets, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what is to be at the end of this age. This is the dream and these are the visions that came into your head: 29the thoughts that came to you, your majesty, as you lay on your bed, concerned the future, and he who reveals secrets has made known to you what is to be. 30This secret has been revealed to me, not because I am wiser than anyone alive, but in order that your majesty may know the interpretation and understand the thoughts which have entered your mind.

31‘As you watched, there appeared to your majesty a great image. Huge and dazzling, it stood before you, fearsome to behold. 32The head of the image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, 33its legs of iron, its feet part iron and part clay. 34While you watched, you saw a stone hewn from a mountain c 2:34 from a mountain: so Gk; Aram. omits. by no human hand; it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay and shattered them. 35Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were all shattered into fragments, and as if they were chaff from a summer threshing-floor the wind swept them away until no trace of them remained. But the stone which struck the image grew and became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.

36‘That was the dream; now we shall relate to your majesty its interpretation. 37Your majesty, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom with its power, its might, and its honour, 38in whose hands he has placed mankind wherever they live, the wild animals, and the birds of the air, granting you sovereignty over them all: you yourself are that head of gold. 39After you there will arise another kingdom, inferior to yours, then a third kingdom, of bronze, which will have sovereignty over the whole world. 40There will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron; just as iron shatters and breaks all things, it will shatter and crush all the others. 41As in your vision the feet and toes were part potter's clay and part iron, so it will be a divided kingdom, and just as you saw iron mixed with clay from the ground, so it will have in it something of the strength of iron. 42The toes being part iron and part clay means that the kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. 43As in your vision the iron was mixed with the clay, so there will be a mixing of families by intermarriage, but such alliances will not be stable: iron does not mix with clay. 44In the times of those kings the God of heaven will establish a kingdom which will never be destroyed, nor will it ever pass to another people; it will shatter all these kingdoms and make an end of them, while it will itself endure for ever. 45This is the meaning of your vision of the stone being hewn from a mountain by no human hand, and then shattering the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A mighty God has made known to your majesty what is to be hereafter. The dream and its interpretation are true and trustworthy.

46At this King Nebuchadnezzar prostrated himself and did homage to Daniel, and he gave orders that there should be presented to him a tribute of grain and soothing offerings. 47‘Truly,’ he said, ‘your God is indeed God of gods and Lord over kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you have been able to reveal this secret.’ 48The king then promoted Daniel to high position and bestowed on him many rich gifts. He gave him authority over the whole province of Babylon and put him in charge of all Babylon's wise men. 49At Daniel's request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego to administer the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself remained at court.


a 2:4 Long live: from here to the end of ch. 7 the text is in Aramaic.

b 2:5 reduced to rubble: or forfeit.

c 2:34 from a mountain: so Gk; Aram. omits.

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