1During Nebuchadnezzar’s second year as king, he had dreams that bothered him and kept him awake at night. 2So the king called for his fortune-tellers, magicians, wizards, and wise men, because he wanted them to tell him what he had dreamed. They came in and stood in front of the king.
3Then the king said to them, “I had a dream that bothers me, and I want to know what it means.”
4The wise men answered the king in the Aramaic language, “O king, live forever! Please tell us, your servants, your dream. Then we will tell you what it means.”
5King Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “I meant what I said. You must tell me the dream and what it means. If you don’t, I will have you torn apart, and I will turn your houses into piles of stones. 6But if you tell me my dream and its meaning, I will reward you with gifts and great honor. So tell me the dream and what it means.”
7Again the wise men said to the king, “Tell us, your servants, the dream, and we will tell you what it means.”
8King Nebuchadnezzar answered, “I know you are trying to get more time, because you know that I meant what I said. 9If you don’t tell me my dream, you will be punished. You have all agreed to tell me lies and wicked things, hoping things will change. Now, tell me the dream so that I will know you can tell me what it really means!”
10The wise men answered the king, saying, “No one on earth can do what the king asks! No great and powerful king has ever asked the fortune-tellers, magicians, or wise men to do this; 11the king is asking something that is too hard. Only the gods could tell the king this, but the gods do not live among people.”
12When the king heard their answer, he became very angry. He ordered that all the wise men of Babylon be killed. 13So King Nebuchadnezzar’s order to kill the wise men was announced, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to kill them.
14Arioch, the commander of the king’s guards, was going to kill the wise men of Babylon. But Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and skill, 15saying, “Why did the king order such a terrible punishment?” Then Arioch explained everything to Daniel. 16So Daniel went to King Nebuchadnezzar and asked for an appointment so that he could tell the king what his dream meant.
17Then Daniel went to his house and explained the whole story to his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 18Daniel asked his friends to pray that the God of heaven would show them mercy and help them understand this secret so he and his friends would not be killed with the other wise men of Babylon.
19During the night God explained the secret to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven. 20Daniel said:
“Praise God forever and ever,
because he has wisdom and power.
21He changes the times and seasons of the year.
He takes away the power of kings
and gives their power to new kings.
He gives wisdom to those who are wise
and knowledge to those who understand.
22He makes known secrets that are deep and hidden;
he knows what is hidden in darkness,
and light is all around him.
23I thank you and praise you, God of my ancestors,
because you have given me wisdom and power.
You told me what we asked of you;
you told us about the king’s dream.”
The Meaning of the Dream
24Then Daniel went to Arioch, the man King Nebuchadnezzar had chosen to kill the wise men of Babylon. Daniel said to him, “Don’t put the wise men of Babylon to death. Take me to the king, and I will tell him what his dream means.”
25Very quickly Arioch took Daniel to the king and said, “I have found a man among the captives from Judah who can tell the king what his dream means.”
26The king asked Daniel, who was also called Belteshazzar, “Are you able to tell me what I dreamed and what it means?”
27Daniel answered, “No wise man, magician, or fortune-teller can explain to the king the secret he has asked about. 28But there is a God in heaven who explains secret things, and he has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen at a later time. This is your dream, the vision you saw while lying on your bed: 29O king, as you were lying there, you thought about things to come. God, who can tell people about secret things, showed you what is going to happen. 30God also told this secret to me, not because I have greater wisdom than any other living person, but so that you may know what it means. In that way you will understand what went through your mind.
31“O king, in your dream you saw a huge, shiny, and frightening statue in front of you. 32The head of the statue was made of pure gold. Its chest and arms were made of silver. Its stomach and the upper part of its legs were made of bronze. 33The lower part of the legs were made of iron, while its feet were made partly of iron and partly of baked clay. 34While you were looking at the statue, you saw a rock cut free, but no human being touched the rock. It hit the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. 35Then the iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold broke to pieces at the same time. They became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summertime; the wind blew them away, and there was nothing left. Then the rock that hit the statue became a very large mountain that filled the whole earth.
36“That was your dream. Now we will tell the king what it means. 37O king, you are the greatest king. God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory. 38Wherever people, wild animals, and birds live, God made you ruler over them. King Nebuchadnezzar, you are the head of gold on that statue.
39“Another kingdom will come after you, but it will not be as great as yours. Next a third kingdom, the bronze part, will rule over the earth. 40Then there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron. In the same way that iron crushes and smashes things to pieces, the fourth kingdom will smash and crush all the other kingdoms.
41“You saw that the statue’s feet and toes were partly baked clay and partly iron. That means the fourth kingdom will be a divided kingdom. It will have some of the strength of iron in it, just as you saw iron was mixed with clay. 42The toes of the statue were partly iron and partly clay. So the fourth kingdom will be partly strong like iron and partly breakable like clay. 43You saw the iron mixed with clay, but iron and clay do not hold together. In the same way the people of the fourth kingdom will be a mixture, but they will not be united as one people.
44“During the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up another kingdom that will never be destroyed or given to another group of people. This kingdom will crush all the other kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will continue forever.
45“King Nebuchadnezzar, you saw a rock cut from a mountain, but no human being touched it. The rock broke the iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold to pieces. In this way the great God showed you what will happen. The dream is true, and you can trust this explanation.”
46Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell facedown on the ground in front of Daniel. The king honored him and commanded that an offering and incense be presented to him. 47Then the king said to Daniel, “Truly I know your God is the greatest of all gods, the Lord of all the kings. He tells people about things they cannot know. I know this is true, because you were able to tell these secret things to me.”
48Then the king gave Daniel many gifts plus an important position in his kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar made him ruler over the whole area of Babylon and put him in charge of all the wise men of Babylon. 49Daniel asked the king to make Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego leaders over the area of Babylon, so the king did as Daniel asked. Daniel himself became one of the people who stayed at the royal court.