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Nebuchadnezzar’s Second Dream


King Nebuchadnezzar to all peoples, nations, and languages that live throughout the earth: May you have abundant prosperity! 2The signs and wonders that the Most High God has worked for me I am pleased to recount.


How great are his signs,

how mighty his wonders!

His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,

and his sovereignty is from generation to generation.

4 I, Nebuchadnezzar, was living at ease in my home and prospering in my palace. 5I saw a dream that frightened me; my fantasies in bed and the visions of my head terrified me. 6So I made a decree that all the wise men of Babylon should be brought before me, in order that they might tell me the interpretation of the dream. 7Then the magicians, the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the diviners came in, and I told them the dream, but they could not tell me its interpretation. 8At last Daniel came in before me—he who was named Belteshazzar after the name of my god, and who is endowed with a spirit of the holy gods—and I told him the dream: 9“O Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, I know that you are endowed with a spirit of the holy gods and that no mystery is too difficult for you. Hear the dream that I saw; tell me its interpretation.


Upon my bed this is what I saw;

there was a tree at the center of the earth,

and its height was great.


The tree grew great and strong,

its top reached to heaven,

and it was visible to the ends of the whole earth.


Its foliage was beautiful,

its fruit abundant,

and it provided food for all.

The animals of the field found shade under it,

the birds of the air nested in its branches,

and from it all living beings were fed.


13 “I continued looking, in the visions of my head as I lay in bed, and there was a holy watcher, coming down from heaven. 14He cried aloud and said:

‘Cut down the tree and chop off its branches,

strip off its foliage and scatter its fruit.

Let the animals flee from beneath it

and the birds from its branches.


But leave its stump and roots in the ground,

with a band of iron and bronze,

in the tender grass of the field.

Let him be bathed with the dew of heaven,

and let his lot be with the animals of the field

in the grass of the earth.


Let his mind be changed from that of a human,

and let the mind of an animal be given to him.

And let seven times pass over him.


The sentence is rendered by decree of the watchers,

the decision is given by order of the holy ones,

in order that all who live may know

that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdom of mortals;

he gives it to whom he will

and sets over it the lowliest of human beings.’


18 “This is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, saw. Now you, Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation, since all the wise men of my kingdom are unable to tell me the interpretation. You are able, however, for you are endowed with a spirit of the holy gods.”

Daniel Interprets the Second Dream

19 Then Daniel, who was called Belteshazzar, was severely distressed for a while. His thoughts terrified him. The king said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or the interpretation terrify you.” Belteshazzar answered, “My lord, may the dream be for those who hate you, and its interpretation for your enemies! 20The tree that you saw, which grew great and strong, so that its top reached to heaven and was visible to the end of the whole earth, 21whose foliage was beautiful and its fruit abundant, and which provided food for all, under which animals of the field lived, and in whose branches the birds of the air had nests— 22it is you, O king! You have grown great and strong. Your greatness has increased and reaches to heaven, and your sovereignty to the ends of the earth. 23And whereas the king saw a holy watcher coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave its stump and roots in the ground, with a band of iron and bronze, in the grass of the field; and let him be bathed with the dew of heaven, and let his lot be with the animals of the field, until seven times pass over him’— 24this is the interpretation, O king, and it is a decree of the Most High that has come upon my lord the king: 25You shall be driven away from human society, and your dwelling shall be with the wild animals. You shall be made to eat grass like oxen, you shall be bathed with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, until you have learned that the Most High has sovereignty over the kingdom of mortals, and gives it to whom he will. 26As it was commanded to leave the stump and roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be re-established for you from the time that you learn that Heaven is sovereign. 27Therefore, O king, may my counsel be acceptable to you: atone for your sins with righteousness, and your iniquities with mercy to the oppressed, so that your prosperity may be prolonged.”

Nebuchadnezzar’s Humiliation

28 All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. 29At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30and the king said, “Is this not magnificent Babylon, which I have built as a royal capital by my mighty power and for my glorious majesty?” 31While the words were still in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven: “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: The kingdom has departed from you! 32You shall be driven away from human society, and your dwelling shall be with the animals of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like oxen, and seven times shall pass over you, until you have learned that the Most High has sovereignty over the kingdom of mortals and gives it to whom he will.” 33Immediately the sentence was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven away from human society, ate grass like oxen, and his body was bathed with the dew of heaven, until his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers and his nails became like birds’ claws.

Nebuchadnezzar Praises God

34 When that period was over, I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me.

I blessed the Most High,

and praised and honored the one who lives forever.

For his sovereignty is an everlasting sovereignty,

and his kingdom endures from generation to generation.


All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,

and he does what he wills with the host of heaven

and the inhabitants of the earth.

There is no one who can stay his hand

or say to him, “What are you doing?”

36 At that time my reason returned to me; and my majesty and splendor were restored to me for the glory of my kingdom. My counselors and my lords sought me out, I was re-established over my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. 37Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven,

for all his works are truth,

and his ways are justice;

and he is able to bring low

those who walk in pride.


Here Daniel relates how he was in some sense astonished. And I refer this to the sorrow which the holy Prophet had endured from that horrible punishment which God had shewn under a figure; nor ought it to seem surprising for Daniel to be grievously afflicted on account of the calamity of the king of Babylon; for although he was a cruel tyrant, and had harassed and all but destroyed God’s Church, yet since he was under his Sway, he was bound to pray for him. But God had deafly taught the Jews this, by means of Jeremiah, Pray ye for the prosperous state of Babylon, because your peace shall be in it. (Jeremiah 29:7.) At the close of seventy years it was lawful for the pious worshippers of God to beg him to free them; but until the time predicted by the Prophet had elapsed, it was not lawful either to indulge in hatred against the king, or to invoke God’s wrath upon him. They knew him to be the executor of God’s just vengeance, and also to be their sovereign and lawful ruler. Since then Daniel was treated kindly by the king when by the rights of warfare he was dragged into exile, he ought to be faithful to his own king, although he exercised tyranny against the people of God. This was the reason why he suffered so much sorrow from that sad oracle. Others think he was in an ecstasy; but this seems to suit better because he does not simply speak of being astonished, but even disturbed and terrified in his thoughts. Meanwhile, we must remark, how variously the Prophets were affected when God uses them in denouncing his approaching judgments. Whenever God appointed his Prophets the heralds of severe calamities, they were affected in two ways; on the one side, they condoled with those miserable men whose destruction they saw at hand, and still they boldly announced what had been divinely commanded; and thus their sorrow never hindered them from discharging their duty freely and consistently. In Daniel’s case we see both these feelings. The sympathy, then, was right in his condoling with his king and being silent for about an hour. And when the king commands him to be of good courage and not to be disturbed, we have here depicted the security of those who do not apprehend the wrath of God. The Prophet is terrified, and yet he is free from all evil; for God does not threaten him, nay, the very punishment which he sees prepared for the king, afforded the hope of future deliverance. Why then is he frightened? because the faithful, though God spares them and shews himself merciful and propitious, cannot view his judgments without fear, for they acknowledge themselves subject to similar penalties, if God did not treat them with indulgence. Besides this, they never put off human affections, and so pity takes possession of them, when they see the ungodly punished or even subject to impending wrath. For these two reasons they suffer sorrow and pain. But the impious, even when God openly addresses and threatens them, are not moved, but remain stupid, or openly deride his power and treat his threats as fabulous, till they feel them seriously. Such is the example which the Prophet sets before us in the king of Babylon.

Belteshazzar, he says, let not thy thoughts disturb thee; let not the dream and its interpretation frighten thee/ Yet Daniel was afraid for his sake. But, as I have already said, while the faithful are afraid though they feel God to be propitious, yet the impious sleep in their security, and are unmoved and unterrified by any threats. Daniel adds the cause of his grief, — O my lord, he says, may the dream be for thine enemies, and its interpretation to thy foes! Here Daniel explains why he was so astonished — because he wished so horrible a punishment to be turned away from the person of the king; for although he might deservedly have detested him, yet he reverenced the power divinely assigned to him. Let us learn, therefore, from the Prophet’s example, to pray for blessings on our enemies who desire to destroy us, and especially to pray for tyrants if it please God to subject us to their lust; for although they are unworthy of any of the feelings of humanity, yet we must modestly bear their yoke, because they could not be our governors without God’s permission; and not only for wrath, as Paul admonishes us, but for conscience’ sake, (Romans 13:5,) otherwise we should not only rebel against them, but against God himself. But, on the other hand, Daniel shews the impossibility of his being changed or softened by any sentiment of pity, and thus turned from his intended course:

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