Daniel 2

The king tells his wise men to explain his dream

1 When Nebuchadnezzar had been king for two years, he had many dreams. He had trouble in his mind and he could not sleep.

2 He told his servants that they must bring the magicians, enchanters, diviners and wise men to him. He wanted them to explain his dream. So they came in and they stood in front of the king. 3 Then the king said to them, ‘I have had a dream that gives me trouble in my mind. I want to know what the dream means.’

2:2An enchanter tries to make things happen by speaking magic words.

4 Then the wise men answered the king. (This is in the Aramaic language. ) They said, ‘King, live for ever! We are your servants. Tell us the dream. Then we will tell you what it means.’

2:4From here, through to Daniel 7:28, the book is written in the Aramaic language, instead of Hebrew.

5 The king replied to the wise men, ‘I have decided what to do. You must tell me what my dream was. Then you must tell me what it means. If not, I will punish you with death! My soldiers will cut you into pieces. They will knock down your houses so that they become heaps of stones. 6 You must tell me about the dream and you must tell me what it means. If you do that, I will give to you many gifts and great honour. So you must tell me my dream, and tell me what it means.’

7 They answered the king again, ‘We are your servants, so please tell us your dream. Then we will tell you what it means.’

8 The king said to them, ‘You know that I will not change my mind. So you are just trying to get more time. 9 If you do not tell me the dream, I will certainly punish you with death. You have agreed among yourselves to tell me lies. You want to deceive me until you can think of something better. So now, tell me the dream. Then I will believe you when you tell me what it means.’

10 The wise men answered the king, ‘There is nobody on earth who can know your dream! No king has ever asked anyone to do anything like this. No magician, enchanter or wise man could do that. Even the greatest and most powerful king has never asked anyone to do this. 11 You are asking us to do something much too difficult! Nobody can do it, except the gods. And they do not live among men.’

12 This made the king very angry. So he said to his soldiers, ‘Kill all the wise men in Babylon.’ 13 He sent a message to command them to kill all his wise men.

Some men went to look for Daniel and his friends too. They wanted to punish them with death. 14 But Daniel spoke carefully to Arioch. He was the captain of the king's soldiers who had gone to kill the wise men of Babylon. 15 Daniel said to Arioch, ‘Why is the king's command so cruel?’ Then Arioch explained everything to Daniel. 16 So Daniel went to see the king. He asked the king for more time. Then he would be able to tell the king what the dream meant.

God shows the dream to Daniel

17 Then Daniel went to his home. He told his friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah what had happened. 18 He told them that they should pray to God in heaven. They should pray that God would help them with this problem. They should ask God to keep them safe. Then they would not die with all the other wise men of Babylon. 19 During the night, Daniel had a vision. God showed him the secret of the king's dream. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven. 20 He said,

‘Praise God's great name for ever!

He has great wisdom and great power.

21 He makes things happen at the right time.

He gives to some kings authority to rule.

And he takes that authority away from other kings.

He causes some people to become wise.

He helps people to understand the things that they learn.

22 He explains difficult problems and secret things.

He knows about all things,

even when they are in dark places.

He himself lives in the light.

23 My ancestors' God,

I thank you and I praise you!

You have made me wise

and you have made me strong.

We asked you to help us,

and now you have shown me your answer.

You have explained the king's problem to us.

So I thank you.’

24 So Daniel went to see Arioch, the king's officer. The king had told Arioch to kill all the wise men of Babylon. But Daniel said to him, ‘Do not kill Babylon's wise men. Take me to the king. Then I will tell the king what his dream means.’

25 Then Arioch quickly took Daniel to meet the king. He said, ‘I have found this man, who is one of the people that you brought from Judah. He can tell you, sir, what your dream means.’

26 The king spoke to Daniel, whose other name was Belteshazzar. He asked Daniel, ‘Can you tell me my dream? And can you tell me what it means?’

27 Daniel answered the king, ‘Sir, your dream is a secret. No wise men, enchanters, magicians or diviners can tell you about it. 28 But there is a God in heaven. He explains secret things. In your dream, he has shown you what will happen in future years. Now I will tell you the dream and the visions that you had while you lay on your bed.

29 While you lay on your bed, you dreamed about future times. God explains secret things, and he has shown you what will happen in future years. 30 I am not more wise than other people. But God has explained your secret dream to me, because he wants you to know what it means. He wants you to understand the thoughts in your mind.’

The dream

31 Daniel said, ‘In your dream, you saw in front of you a statue with a man's shape. It was very big and very bright. It frightened people very much. 32 Its head was made from pure gold. The top of its body and its arms were made from silver. Its lower body was made from bronze. 33 The statue's legs were made from iron. Its feet had parts made from iron and parts made from clay. 34 While you looked, someone cut out a large stone from a mountain. But no human hand did this. The stone hit the statue on its iron and clay feet. The stone broke them into pieces. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold all broke into pieces. They became like chaff that the wind blows away. Nobody could see any of those pieces any more. But the stone that had hit the statue became a large mountain. It filled the whole earth.’

Daniel explains the dream to the king

36 Daniel continued to say, ‘That was your dream, King Nebuchadnezzar. Now we will tell you what it means. 37 You are a great king who rules over other kings. The God of heaven has given you authority to rule. He has given you power, strength and honour. 38 He has put all the people of this world, the wild animals and the birds under your power. He has given you authority to rule them all, in every place that they live. You are like the head of gold that you saw in your dream.

39 After you, there will be another kingdom. It will not be as great as your kingdom. Then a third kingdom will come. It will be like the bronze part of the statue. It will also rule the whole earth. 40 Then there will be a fourth kingdom. It will be as strong as iron which breaks everything into pieces. Like iron, that kingdom will destroy the other kingdoms. 41 In your dream, you saw that the statue's feet and toes had parts of clay and parts of iron. This shows that this kingdom will not be united as one. Some parts will be strong, like iron. The iron that you saw shows that strength. 42 But the iron parts of the statue were mixed with clay parts. This shows that the fourth kingdom will be strong in some parts and weak in other parts. 43 You saw iron and clay that were mixed together. The two parts of that kingdom will try to become united by marriage. But that will not help them to stay together as one. Iron cannot mix properly with clay.

44 During the time when those kings rule, the God of heaven will begin a new kingdom. That kingdom will continue for ever. No other people will ever have power over it. It will break up all those other kingdoms and it will destroy them. And it will continue for ever. 45 You saw the stone that came from the mountain. It was not a human hand that cut it out. That stone broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold into pieces.

In your dream, King Nebuchadnezzar, the great God has shown you what will happen in future years. I have told you the dream, and I have told you what it means. You can be sure that all this is true.’

The king thanks Daniel

46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar bent down with his face towards the ground. He gave honour to Daniel. He commanded his servants to offer sacrifices and to burn incense to praise Daniel. 47 The king said to Daniel, ‘It is true that your God rules all other gods. He rules over kings and he explains secret things. I know this because you were able to explain this dream to me.’

48 Then the king made Daniel an important officer. He also gave Daniel many valuable gifts. He gave Daniel authority to rule over the whole region of Babylon. Daniel also became the most important officer with authority over all the wise men in Babylon.

49 Daniel asked the king to give important jobs to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So the king gave them authority over the region of Babylon. But Daniel himself stayed in the king's palace.