King Nebuchadnezzar's dream
1During the second year that Nebuchadnezzar was king, he had such horrible nightmares that he could not sleep. 2So he called in his counsellors, advisers, magicians, and wise men, 3and said, “I am disturbed by a dream that I don't understand, and I want you to explain it.”
4They answered in Aramaic,#2.4 Aramaic: Chapter 2.4—7.28 is written in Aramaic, a language closely related to Hebrew. “Your Majesty, we hope you live for ever! We are your servants. Please tell us your dream, and we will explain what it means.”
5But the king replied, “No! I have made up my mind. If you don't tell me both the dream and its meaning, you will be chopped to pieces and your houses will be torn down. 6However, if you do tell me both the dream and its meaning, you will be greatly rewarded and highly honoured. Now tell me the dream and explain what it means.”
7“Your Majesty,” they said, “if you will only tell us your dream, we will interpret it for you.”
8The king replied, “You're just stalling for time, 9because you know what's going to happen if you don't come up with the answer. You've decided to make up a pack of lies, hoping I might change my mind. Now tell me the dream, and that will prove that you can interpret it.”
10His advisers explained, “Your Majesty, you are demanding the impossible! No king, not even the most famous and powerful, has ever ordered his advisers, magicians, or wise men to do such a thing. 11It can't be done, except by the gods, and they don't live here on earth.”
12-13This made the king so angry that he gave orders for every wise man in Babylonia to be put to death, including Daniel and his three friends.
God tells Nebuchadnezzar's dream to Daniel
14Arioch was the king's official in charge of putting the wise men to death. He was on his way to have it done, when Daniel very wisely went to him 15and asked, “Why did the king give such cruel#2.15 cruel: Or “urgent”. orders?” After Arioch explained what had happened, 16Daniel rushed off and said to the king, “If you will just give me some time, I'll explain your dream.”
17Daniel returned home and told his three friends. 18Then he said, “Pray that the God who rules from heaven will be merciful and explain this mystery, so that we and the others won't be put to death.” 19In a vision one night, Daniel was shown the dream and its meaning. Then he praised the God who rules from heaven:
20“Our God, your name
will be praised
for ever and for ever.
You are all-powerful,
and you know everything.
21You control human events—
you give rulers their power
and take it away,
and you are the source
of wisdom and knowledge.
22“You explain deep mysteries,
because even the dark
is light to you.
23You are the God
who was worshipped
by my ancestors.
Now I thank you and praise you
for making me wise
and telling me the king's dream,
together with its meaning.”
Daniel interprets the dream
24Daniel went back to Arioch, the official in charge of executing the wise men. Daniel said, “Don't kill those men! Take me to the king, and I will explain the meaning of his dream.”
25Arioch rushed Daniel to the king and announced, “Your Majesty, I have found out that one of the men brought here from Judah can explain your dream.”
26The king asked Daniel,#2.26 Daniel: Aramaic “Daniel whose name was Belteshazzar” (see 1.7). “Can you tell me my dream and what it means?”
Your Majesty, not even the cleverest person in all the world can do what you are demanding. 28-29But the God who rules from heaven can explain mysteries. And while you were sleeping, he showed you what will happen in the future. 30However, you must realize that these mysteries weren't explained to me because I am cleverer than everyone else. Instead, it was done so that you would understand what you have seen.
31Your Majesty, what you saw standing in front of you was a huge and terrifying statue, shining brightly. 32Its head was made of gold, its chest and arms were silver, and from its waist down to its knees, it was bronze. 33From there to its ankles it was iron, and its feet were a mixture of iron and clay.
34As you watched, a stone was cut from a mountain—but not by human hands. The stone struck the feet, completely shattering the iron and clay. 35Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed and blown away without a trace, like husks of wheat at threshing time. But the stone became a tremendous mountain that covered the entire earth.
36That was the dream, and now I'll tell you what it means. 37Your Majesty, you are the greatest of kings, and God has highly honoured you with power 38over all humans, animals, and birds. You are the head of gold. 39After you are gone, another kingdom will rule, but it won't be as strong. Then it will be followed by a kingdom of bronze that will rule the whole world. 40Next, a kingdom of iron will come to power, crushing and shattering everything.#2.40 crushing … everything: Three ancient translations; Aramaic adds “and like iron crushing”.
41-42This fourth kingdom will be divided—it will be both strong and brittle, just as you saw that the feet and toes were a mixture of iron and clay. 43This kingdom will be the result of a marriage between kingdoms, but it will crumble, just as iron and clay don't stick together.
44-45During the time of those kings, the God who rules from heaven will set up an eternal kingdom that will never fall. It will be like the stone that was cut from the mountain, but not by human hands—the stone that crushed the iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold. Your Majesty, in your dream the great God has told you what is going to happen, and you can trust this interpretation.
Daniel is promoted
46King Nebuchadnezzar bowed low to the ground and worshipped Daniel. Then he gave orders for incense to be burnt and a sacrifice of grain to be offered in honour of Daniel. 47The king said, “Now I know that your God is above all other gods and kings, because he gave you the power to explain this mystery.” 48The king then presented Daniel with a lot of gifts; he promoted him to governor of Babylon Province and put him in charge of the other wise men. 49At Daniel's request, the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to high positions in Babylon Province, and he let Daniel stay on as a palace official.