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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 closes the interpretation of the dream, and shews how God did not treat King Nebuchadnezzar so severely by not giving way to clemency. He mitigates, indeed, the extreme rigor of the punishment, to induce Nebuchadnezzar to call upon God and repent, through indulging the hope of pardon, as a clearer exhortation will afterwards follow. But Daniel now prepares him for penitence, by swing His kingdom should stand For God might cast him out from intercourse with mankind, and thus he would always remain among wild beasts. He might instantly remove him from the world; but this is a mark of his clemency, since he wished to restore him, not to a merely moderate station, but to his former dignity, as if it had never been trenched upon. We see, therefore, how useful the dream was to King Nebuchadnezzar, so long as he did not despise the Prophet’s holy admonition, through ingratitude towards God; because Daniel not only predicted the slaughter which was at hand, but brought at the same time a message of reconciliation. God, therefore, had instructed the king to some purpose, unless he had been unteachable and perverse, like the majority of mankind. Besides, we may gather from this the general doctrine of our being invited to repentance when God puts an end to his chastisements; since he sets before us a taste of his clemency to induce in us the hope of his being entreated, if we only fly to him heartily and sincerely, We must notice also what Daniel adds in the second part of the verse, from which thou mayest know that there is power in heaven: for under these words the promise of spiritual grace is included. Since God will not only punish the king of Babylon, to humble him, but will work in him and change his mind, as he afterwards fulfilled, though at a long interval.

From which thou shalt know, then, says he, that power is in heaven I have stated the grace of the Spirit to be here promised, as we know how badly men profit, even if God repeats his stripes an hundredfold. Such is the hardness and obstinacy of our hearts — for we rather grow more and more obdurate, while God calls us to repentance. And, doubtless, Nebuchadnezzar had been like Pharaoh, unless God had humbled him, not only with outward penalties, but had added also the inward instinct of his Spirit, to allow himself to be instructed, and to submit himself to the judgment and power of heaven. Daniel means this when he says, Wherefore thou shalt know; for Nebuchadnezzar would never have acquired this knowledge of his own accord, unless he had been touched by the secret movement of the Spirit. He adds, That there is power in heaven; meaning, God governs the world and exercises supreme power; for he here contrasts heaven with earth, meaning all mankind. For if kings see all filings tranquil around them, and if no one causes them terror, they think themselves beyond all chance of danger, as they say; and through being desirous of certainty in their station, they look round on all sides, but never raise their eyes upwards to heaven, as if God did not concern himself to behold the kingdoms of the earth, and to set up whom he would, and to prostrate all the proud. The princes of this world never consider their power to be from heaven, as if this were entirely out of God’s hands; but, as I have said, they look right and left, before and behind. This is the reason why Daniel said, Power is from heaven. There is a contrast then between God and all mankind, as if he had said, Thou shalt know God reigns — as we have formerly seen. It follows:

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