In the third year that Jehoiakim was king of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia attacked Jerusalem and surrounded the city. 2
The Lord let him capture King Jehoiakim and seize some of the temple treasures. He took some prisoners back with him to the temple of his gods in Babylon, and put the captured treasures in the temple storerooms.
3The king ordered Ashpenaz, his chief official, to select from among the Israelite exiles some young men of the royal family and of the noble families. 4They had to be handsome, intelligent, well trained, quick to learn, and free from physical defects, so that they would be qualified to serve in the royal court. Ashpenaz was to teach them to read and write the Babylonian language. 5The king also gave orders that every day they were to be given the same food and wine as the members of the royal court. After three years of this training they were to appear before the king. 6Among those chosen were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, all of whom were from the tribe of Judah. 7The chief official gave them new names: Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
8Daniel made up his mind not to let himself become ritually unclean by eating the food and drinking the wine of the royal court, so he asked Ashpenaz to help him, 9and God made Ashpenaz sympathetic to Daniel. 10Ashpenaz, however, was afraid of the king, so he said to Daniel, “The king has decided what you are to eat and drink, and if you don't look as fit as the other young men, he may kill me.”
11So Daniel went to the guard whom Ashpenaz had placed in charge of him and his three friends. 12“Test us for ten days,” he said. “Give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13Then compare us with the young men who are eating the food of the royal court, and base your decision on how we look.”
14He agreed to let them try it for ten days. 15When the time was up, they looked healthier and stronger than all those who had been eating the royal food. 16So from then on the guard let them continue to eat vegetables instead of what the king provided.
17God gave the four young men knowledge and skill in literature and philosophy. In addition, he gave Daniel skill in interpreting visions and dreams.
18At the end of the three years set by the king, Ashpenaz took all the young men to Nebuchadnezzar. 19The king talked with them all, and Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah impressed him more than any of the others. So they became members of the king's court. 20No matter what question the king asked, or what problem he raised, these four knew ten times more than any fortune teller or magician in his whole kingdom. 21Daniel remained at the royal court until Cyrus the emperor of Persia conquered Babylonia.
21In the second year that Nebuchadnezzar was king, he had a dream. It worried him so much that he couldn't sleep, 2
so he sent for his fortune tellers, magicians, sorcerers, and wizards to come and explain the dream to him. When they came and stood before the king, 3he said to them, “I'm worried about a dream I have had. I want to know what it means.”
4They answered the king in Aramaic,2.4 From here to the end of chapter 7, the language used is Aramaic, not Hebrew. “May Your Majesty live for ever! Tell us your dream, and we will explain it to you.”
5The king said to them, “I have made up my mind that you must tell me the dream and then tell me what it means. If you can't, I'll have you torn limb from limb and make your houses a pile of ruins. 6But if you can tell me both the dream and its meaning, I will reward you with gifts and great honour. Now then, tell me what the dream was and what it means.”
7They answered the king again, “If Your Majesty will only tell us what the dream was, we will explain it.”
8At that, the king exclaimed, “Just as I thought! You are trying to gain time, because you see that I have made up my mind 9to give all of you the same punishment if you don't tell me the dream. You have agreed among yourselves to go on telling me lies because you hope that in time things will change. Tell me what the dream was, and then I will know that you can also tell me what it means.”
10The advisers replied, “There is no one on the face of the earth who can tell Your Majesty what you want to know. No king, not even the greatest and most powerful, has ever made such a demand of his fortune tellers, magicians, and wizards. 11What Your Majesty is asking for is so difficult that no one can do it for you except the gods, and they do not live among human beings.”
12At that, the king flew into a rage and ordered the execution of all the royal advisers in Babylon. 13So the order was issued for all of them to be killed, including Daniel and his friends.
14Then Daniel went to Arioch, commander of the king's bodyguard, who had been ordered to carry out the execution. Choosing his words carefully, 15he asked Arioch why the king had issued such a harsh order. So Arioch told Daniel what had happened.
16Daniel went at once and obtained royal permission for more time, so that he could tell the king what the dream meant. 17Then Daniel went home and told his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah what had happened. 18He told them to pray to the God of heaven for mercy and to ask him to explain the mystery to them so that they would not be killed along with the other advisers in Babylon. 19Then that same night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision, and he praised the God of heaven:
20“God is wise and powerful!
Praise him for ever and ever.
21He controls the times and the seasons;
he makes and unmakes kings;
it is he who gives wisdom and understanding.
22He reveals things that are deep and secret;
he knows what is hidden in darkness,
and he himself is surrounded by light.
23I praise you and honour you, God of my ancestors.
You have given me wisdom and strength;
you have answered my prayer
and shown us what to tell the king.”
24So Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had commanded to execute the royal advisers. He said to him, “Don't put them to death. Take me to the king, and I will tell him what his dream means.”
25At once Arioch took Daniel into King Nebuchadnezzar's presence and told the king, “I have found one of the Jewish exiles, who can tell Your Majesty the meaning of your dream.”
26The king said to Daniel (who was also called Belteshazzar), “Can you tell me what I dreamt and what it means?”
27Daniel replied, “Your Majesty, there is no wizard, magician, fortune teller, or astrologer who can tell you that. 28But there is a God in heaven, who reveals mysteries. He has informed Your Majesty what will happen in the future. Now I will tell you the dream, the vision you had while you were asleep.
29“While Your Majesty was sleeping, you dreamt about the future; and God, who reveals mysteries, showed you what is going to happen. 30Now, this mystery was revealed to me, not because I am wiser than anyone else, but so that Your Majesty may learn the meaning of your dream and understand the thoughts that have come to you.
31“Your Majesty, in your vision you saw standing before you a giant statue, bright and shining, and terrifying to look at. 32Its head was made of the finest gold; its chest and arms were made of silver; its waist and hips of bronze; 33its legs of iron, and its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. 34While you were looking at it, a great stone broke loose from a cliff without anyone touching it, struck the iron and clay feet of the statue, and shattered them. 35At once the iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold crumbled and became like the dust on a threshing place in summer. The wind carried it all away, leaving not a trace. But the stone grew to be a mountain that covered the whole earth.
36“This was the dream. Now I will tell Your Majesty what it means. 37Your Majesty, you are the greatest of all kings. The God of heaven has made you emperor and given you power, might, and honour. 38He has made you ruler of all the inhabited earth and ruler over all the animals and birds. You are the head of gold. 39After you there will be another empire, not as great as yours, and after that a third, an empire of bronze, which will rule the whole earth. 40And then there will be a fourth empire, as strong as iron, which shatters and breaks everything. And just as iron shatters everything, it will shatter and crush all the earlier empires. 41You also saw that the feet and the toes were partly clay and partly iron. This means that it will be a divided empire. It will have something of the strength of iron, because there was iron mixed with the clay. 42The toes — partly iron and partly clay — mean that part of the empire will be strong and part of it weak. 43You also saw that the iron was mixed with the clay. This means that the rulers of that empire will try to unite their families by intermarriage, but they will not be able to, any more than iron can mix with clay. 44At the time of those rulers the God of heaven will establish a kingdom that will never end. It will never be conquered, but will completely destroy all those empires, and then last for ever. 45You saw how a stone broke loose from a cliff without anyone touching it and how it struck the statue made of iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold. The great God is telling Your Majesty what will happen in the future. I have told you exactly what you dreamt, and have given you its true meaning.”
46Then King Nebuchadnezzar bowed to the ground and gave orders for sacrifices and offerings to be made to Daniel. 47The king said, “Your God is the greatest of all gods, the Lord over kings, and the one who reveals mysteries. I know this because you have been able to explain this mystery.” 48Then he gave Daniel a high position, presented him with many splendid gifts, put him in charge of the province of Babylon, and made him the head of all the royal advisers. 49At Daniel's request the king put Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in charge of the affairs of the province of Babylon; Daniel, however, remained at the royal court.