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

Chapter 4

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1 a 4:1 In Aram. 3:31. KING Nebuchadnezzar to all peoples and nations of every language throughout the whole world: May your prosperity increase! 2It is my pleasure to recount the signs and wonders which the Most High God has worked for me:

3How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, his sovereignty endures through all generations.

4 b 4:4 In Aram. 4:1. I, Nebuchadnezzar, was living contentedly at home in the luxury of my palace, 5but as I lay on my bed, I had a dream which filled me with fear, and the fantasies and visions which came into my head caused me dismay. 6I issued an order summoning to my presence all the wise men of Babylon to make known to me the interpretation of the dream. 7When the magicians, exorcists, Chaldaeans, and diviners came in, I related my dream to them, but they were unable to interpret it for me. 8Finally there came before me Daniel, who is called Belteshazzar after the name of my god, a man in whom resides the spirit of the holy gods. To him also I related the dream: 9‘Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, you have in you, as I know, the spirit of the holy gods, and no secret baffles you; listen to c 4:9 listen to: so Gk (Theod.); Aram. visions of. what I saw in my dream, and tell me its interpretation.

10‘This is the vision which came to me while I lay on my bed:

As I was looking, there appeared a very lofty tree at the centre of the earth; 11the tree grew great and became strong; its top reached to the sky, and it was visible to earth's farthest bounds. 12Its foliage was beautiful and its fruit abundant, and it yielded food for all. Beneath it the wild beasts found shelter, the birds lodged in the branches, and from it all living creatures fed.

13‘This is what I saw in the vision which came to me while I lay on my bed:

There appeared a watcher, a holy one coming down from heaven. 14In a mighty voice he cried, “Hew down the tree, lop off the branches, strip away its foliage and scatter the fruit; let the wild beasts flee from beneath it and the birds from its branches; 15but leave the stump with its roots in the ground. ‘“So, bound with iron and bronze among the lush grass, let him be drenched with the dew of heaven and share the lot of the beasts in their pasture— 16his mind will cease to be human, and he will be given the mind of a beast. Seven times will pass over him. 17The issue has been determined by the watchers and the sentence pronounced by the holy ones.

‘“Thereby the living will know that the Most High is sovereign in the kingdom of men: he gives the kingdom to whom he wills, and may appoint over it the lowliest of mankind.”

18‘This is the dream which I, King Nebuchadnezzar, dreamt; now, Belteshazzar, tell me its interpretation, for, though not one of the wise men in all my kingdom is able to make its meaning known to me, you can do it, because in you is the spirit of the holy gods.’

19Daniel, who was called Belteshazzar, was dumbfounded for a moment, dismayed by his thoughts; but the king said, ‘Do not let the dream and its interpretation dismay you.’ Belteshazzar answered, ‘My lord, if only the dream applied to those who hate you and its interpretation to your enemies! 20The tree which you saw grow great and become strong, reaching with its top to the sky and visible to earth's farthest bounds, 21its foliage beautiful and its fruit abundant, a tree which yielded food for all, beneath which the wild beasts dwelt and in whose branches the birds lodged: 22that tree, your majesty, is you. You have become great and strong; your power has grown and reaches the sky; your sovereignty extends to the ends of the earth. 23Also, your majesty, you saw a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, “Hew down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump with its roots in the ground. So, bound with iron and bronze among the lush grass, let him be drenched with the dew of heaven and share the lot of the beasts until seven times pass over him.”

24‘This is the interpretation, your majesty: it is a decree of the Most High which affects my lord the king. 25You will be banished from human society; you will be made to live with the wild beasts; like oxen you will feed on grass, and you will be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass over you until you have acknowledged that the Most High is sovereign over the realm of humanity and gives it to whom he wills. 26As the command was given to leave the stump of the tree with its roots, by this you may know that from the time you acknowledge the sovereignty of Heaven your rule will endure. 27Your majesty, be advised by me: let charitable deeds replace your sins, generosity to the poor your wrongdoing. It may be that you will long enjoy contentment.’

28All this befell King Nebuchadnezzar. 29At the end of twelve months the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace at Babylon, 30and he exclaimed, ‘Is not this Babylon the great which I have built as a royal residence by my mighty power and for the honour of my own majesty?’ 31The words were still on his lips, when there came a voice from heaven: ‘To you, King Nebuchadnezzar, the word is spoken: the kingdom has passed from you. 32You are banished from human society; you are to live with the wild beasts and feed on grass like oxen. Seven times will pass over you until you have acknowledged that the Most High is sovereign over the realm of humanity and gives it to whom he will.’ 33At that very moment this judgement came upon Nebuchadnezzar: he was banished from human society to eat grass like oxen, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until his hair became shaggy like an eagle and his nails grew like birds' claws.

34At the end of the appointed time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up towards heaven and I was restored to my right mind. I blessed the Most High, praising and glorifying the Ever-living One:

His sovereignty is everlasting and his kingdom endures through all generations. 35All who dwell on earth count for nothing; he does as he pleases with the host of heaven and with those who dwell on earth. No one can oppose his power or question what he does.

36At that very time I was restored to my right mind and, for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and royal splendour returned to me. My courtiers and my nobles sought audience of me, and I was re-established in my kingdom and my power was greatly increased. 37Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven; for all his acts are right and his ways are just, and he can bring low those whose conduct is arrogant.

Notes:

a 4:1 In Aram. 3:31.

b 4:4 In Aram. 4:1.

c 4:9 listen to: so Gk (Theod.); Aram. visions of.

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