Daniel in Babylon, and Nebuchadnezzar's Dream
Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar's dream.
FTER YOUNG DANIEL
and his free friends were numbered among the wise men in Babylon, one night the King had a very strange dream.
When he awoke from the dream he could not go to sleep again. And the dream troubled him greatly. He believed that surely that dream must have a deep meaning, and he decided to call the wise men in his kingdom and have them explain the meaning to him.
Morning came at last, and Nebuchadnezzar arose from his bed. But now he could no longer recall his dream. This fact troubled him, too, for he knew the dream had been strange and he believed it had a deep meaning.
He sent at once for the wise men who had often stood before him, and when they came he told them about his troubled thoughts regarding the strange dream which he could no longer remember. He asked them to tell the dream and the meaning of it.
The wise men were puzzled at this request from their King. They thought he was being unreasonable, for they did not know what he had dreamed about. So they asked him to tell the dream first, and then they would tell the meaning.
"I have forgotten the dream," replied the King, impatiently, "and if you are as wise as you claim to be you can tell me what it was. Then you can tell its meaning."
When the wise men insisted that no human being could do such a thing as tell what some one else had dreamed and forgotten, the King became very angry with them.
He said, "Unless you tell this dream and its meaning you shall all be killed."
Even this cruel threat could not enable the wise men to know the dream, so they turned away from his presence in great fear.
Nebuchadnezzar then called the captain of his guard and commanded him to kill all the wise men in Babylon. So Arioch, the captain, took his sword and prepared himself to do the terrible deed.
When he came to Daniel's house he found that the brave young man and his three friends had heard nothing about the the King's command. They had not appeared with the other wise men before Nebuchadnezzar.
When Daniel heard what had happened he begged the captain to delay the cruel work until he might first speak with the King. Then he hurried to the palace and went boldly in to tell Nebuchadnezzar that he would find out the dream and its interpretation if only a little time were given him to prepare. And Nebuchadnezzar granted him a little time.
Daniel knew that no living person could be wise enough in himself to do what the King had required; but Daniel knew also that secret things are known by the great God of all the earth, whom he and his three friends were serving.
So the four young men prayed very earnestly that God would cause Daniel to know his dream, and that night God showed Daniel in a vision what the dream had been and what it meant.
Now Daniel was very thankful to God. He knelt down and prayed a beautiful prayer of thanksgiving.
Then he went quickly to Arioch, the captain of the King's guard, and said, "Do not destroy the wise men, but bring me in to speak with the King; for I can tell the interpretation of his dream."
Arioch was glad, and he took Daniel and brought him to the palace. Then he told the King that he had found a man among the captives from Judah who could make known the strange dream and its meaning.
Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar that the power to make know his dream was given by the great God in heaven, for no wise man of earth could know such secret and reveal them.
Then he said: "O King, when you lay down to sleep on your bed you wondered what should come to pass in future years. Then you fell asleep, and in your dream God showed you what would happen hereafter. And this was your dream: You saw a great image, exceedingly bright, standing before you. The head of this image was of gold, the breast and arms were of silver, and the waist and hips were of brass, the legs were of iron, and the feet were part of iron and part of clay.
Then you saw a stone that was cut without hands roll toward this great image and strike the feet of it. And the stone broke the feet, and the whole image fell to the ground in broken pieces, and it became like dust, which the wind can blow away. Then while you looked in wonder, the stone grew until it became a great mountain, which filled the whole earth."
Nebuchadnezzar listened eagerly to the young man's words. Then Daniel continued:
"Now I will tell you what this dream means, for God intends to teach you something by it. This great image represents four great kingdoms of earth. Your kingdom is the first, and the head of gold represents this kingdom.
After you there will come another king not so great, and he is like the breast and arms of silver. The third kingdom is shown in the dream by the parts of brass, and the fourth by the iron legs and the feet. This fourth kingdom will be very strong at first, but afterwards it will become weaker; for the iron in the feet was mixed with clay.
"In the days of these kings," said Daniel, "God will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, and his kingdom is represented in your dream by that stone cut out without hands, which smote the great image till it fell.
God's kingdom will increase until it fills the whole earth, and it will break in pieces every other kingdom. This, O King, was your dream, and this is the meaning of it."
Nebuchadnezzar was astonished at the wisdom of this young Jew. He believed that Daniel was a wonderful person, like a god, and he fell on the floor before Daniel to worship him.
But Daniel had told him that the God in heaven had made known the dream and the meaning to him, so Nebuchadnezzar said, "Of a truth, your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets."
Then Nebuchadnezzar gave many great gifts to Daniel, and made him the ruler of all the province of Babylon, and the chief of all the wise men in his kingdom. He did not allow his captain to destroy the wise men, after Daniel had revealed the meaning of his dream.
At Daniel's request the King placed Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah in honorable offices of the province, among the governors of the land. And the names of these young men were known to the King as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
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