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Daniel 4-6 Listen
1 Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you.
2 I thought it good to shew the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me.
3 How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.
4 I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace:
5 I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me.
6 Therefore made I a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known unto me the interpretation of the dream.
7 Then came in the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers: and I told the dream before them; but they did not make known unto me the interpretation thereof.
8 But at the last Daniel came in before me, whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods: and before him I told the dream, saying,
9 O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret troubleth thee, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof.
10 Thus were the visions of mine head in my bed; I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great.
11 The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth:
12 The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it.
13 I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven;
14 He cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches:
15 Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth:
16 Let his heart be changed from man’s, and let a beast’s heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him.
17 This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.
18 This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now thou, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof, forasmuch as all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me the interpretation: but thou art able; for the spirit of the holy gods is in thee.
After Daniel's successful recitation and interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's first dream in Daniel 2 (see notes), Ol' Neb has a second dream. These first 18 verses detail that dream in a narrative that comes from Neb's own hand. It's interesting to me that, despite the fact that his regular entourage of wise men were not able to interpret his first dream, Neb gives them first shot at this second dream anyway. What's up with that? But after the failed attempt of the other would-be prognosticators (verse 7) to give him the interpretation of his latest dream, he lays out the dream to Daniel (aka Belteshazzar) beginning in verse 10 and concluding in verse 18. By the way, Belteshazzar was the name Neb gave to Daniel, and is not to be confused with Belshazzar who appears in chapter 5 (see below) as King of Babylon. We find the primary stipulations of the dream concerning Nebuchadnezzar in verses 16-17, "Let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth: Let his heart be changed from mans, and let a beasts heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him." What do you suppose that means? Read on...Daniel will interpret.
Daniel interprets the second dream (Daniel 4:19-27)
19 Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him. The king spake, and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies.
20 The tree that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth;
21 Whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation:
22 It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth.
23 And whereas the king saw a watcher and an holy one coming down from heaven, and saying, Hew the tree down, and destroy it; yet leave the stump of the roots thereof in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him;
24 This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the most High, which is come upon my lord the king:
25 That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
26 And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule.
27 Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.
Daniel's interpretation begins in verse 19. How do you tell the King who promoted you that, because of his sin, he's going to go insane for a period of seven years (verse 25)? Well, Daniel is a straight shooter - gotta tell the truth. Actually, Daniel gives him an out in verse 27 when he concludes his interpretation, "Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity." So...the insanity stipulated by the dream and its interpretation can be avoided, but did Neb take Daniel's counsel along with the interpretation? Apparently not...as we'll see in the balance of this chapter.
28 All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar.
29 At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon.
30 The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?
31 While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee.
32 And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
33 The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.
It took a little while for the stipulations of the dream and interpretation to be fulfilled, but about a year later it happens; Neb goes insane just like Daniel said - becomes socially repulsive and even starts eating grass like cattle (verses 25, 32, 33). Yuck! This goes on for seven years. This very-rare mental disorder actually has a name - "boanthropy." Incidentally, you will notice that Neb's mental illness follows on the heals of an ego trip in verse 30.
Neb is restored to sanity (Daniel 4:34-37)
34 And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation:
35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
36 At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me.
37 Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.
It was quite an ordeal, but when Neb emerges from his insanity (seven years later), he clearly has learned a lesson about the one true God. Compare verse 30 to 37 for a good before-and-after picture.
Daniel 4:30 The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?
Daniel 4:37 Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works ARE truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.
Verse 37 almost makes you like the man. Well, that's the end of Nebuchadnezzar in the Book of Daniel.
1 Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand.
2 Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein.
3 Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them.
4 They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.
In chapter 5, there's a new king over Babylon, Belshazzar - Nebuchadnezzar's grandson by his daughter. This new king throws a party for 1,000 of his leaders. Belshazzar actually took the sacred vessels that had been taken from the temple in Jerusalem while it was being destroyed and served wine in them. Literally, they were making fun of the God of Israel. How tacky! We see in verse 4 that they were polytheists with no substance to their religion. Making fun of God and living for pleasure - that's a dangerous combination. Friends don't let friends make fun of God.
Something strange, very strange happens (Daniel 5:5-12)
5 In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.
6 Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.
7 The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spake, and said to the wise men of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and shew me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.
8 Then came in all the king’s wise men: but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof.
9 Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonied.
10 Now the queen, by reason of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed:
11 There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers;
12 Forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will shew the interpretation.
In the midst of the party, a man's fingers mysteriously appear and begin writing on the wall. "Wonder what it says and means?" the King queries. The kingdom wise men are summoned, but nobody has a clue regarding this unusual event. The Queen (probably the Queen mom, Nebuchadnezzar's wife) remembers Daniel (perhaps he was retired). They summon him and silly ol' Belshazzar promises him one third of the kingdom if he can interpret the writing. Daniel says, "Don't need the reward, just let me at the writing."
Whoa! The interpretation is baaaaaaad news! (Daniel 5:13-31)
13 Then was Daniel brought in before the king. And the king spake and said unto Daniel, Art thou that Daniel, which art of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry?
14 I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee.
15 And now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing, and make known unto me the interpretation thereof: but they could not shew the interpretation of the thing:
16 And I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom.
17 Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.
18 O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour:
19 And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down.
20 But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him:
21 And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will.
22 And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this;
23 But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified:
24 Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written.
25 And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.
26 This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.
27 TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.
28 PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.
29 Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.
30 In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain.
31 And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.
You will notice in verse 13 that Belshazzar doesn't seem to know Daniel. The ol' Queen Mom might have passed on summoning Daniel had she known the news would be so bad. Daniel begins his interpretation with a history lesson (verses 18-21) regarding the fate (sudden insanity) of Nebuchadnezzar, seen in chapter 4 (see above). Daniel had prophesied that seven-year ordeal in advance.
Then Daniel transitions to the interpretation of this event. This wall writing said that Belshazzar was a loser of a king before God and that he did not deserve to rule (so to speak). In other words, "You're a loser and your reign is over!" For some reason (honor, I guess) Belshazzar rewards Daniel anyway - unreal! And...that night Belshazzar is killed and his kingdom overtaken by the Medo-Persians under the leadership of Darius the Mede. Wow! What started out as a great party night turned bad rapidly. So Belshazzar gets just one chapter and boom - assassinated! This marks the end of the Babylonian Empire. Belshazzar does get mentioned in 7:1 and 8:1 as a point of reference for two of Daniel's prophecies. Nevertheless, Belshazzar places Daniel back in power in Babylon as a result of interpreting the writing on the wall.
INTERESTING NOTE: There's a common expression "writing on the wall" i.e. "He should have seen the writing on the wall." It is used to express the anticipation of doom or misfortune, and it originates right here in Daniel 5.
1 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom;
2 And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage.
3 Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.
4 Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.
5 Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.
6 Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever.
7 All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions.
8 Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.
9 Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.
Under new empire management (Medo-Persian), Daniel is now over 1/3 of the whole kingdom - soon to be appointed over the whole thing by the new king, Darius (verse 3). However, the rest of the upper-management kingdom personnel (122 men) are jealous of this Jewish man having so much authority over them. They conspire to have the king establish a decree declaring that he who worships anyone except the king for 30 days will be thrown into the lions' den. For a polytheistic society, this decree is no big deal. However, for Daniel, it's a career decision, and they know it. Think about the implications here regarding Daniel's public testimony. He was so faithful to God, his enemies knew that he would choose God over compromise...every time. Darius apparently has no idea he is, in effect, signing a death decree for Daniel.
The plan backfires (Daniel 6:10-28)
10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.
11 Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God.
12 Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king’s decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.
13 Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day.
14 Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him.
15 Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed.
16 Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.
17 And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.
18 Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of musick brought before him: and his sleep went from him.
19 Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions.
20 And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?
21 Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever.
22 My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.
23 Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.
24 And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den.
25 Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you.
26 I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.
27 He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.
28 So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.
Daniel didn't change a thing. Three times a day he prayed to God in front of his open window. Hey Daniel...just close the window! Nothing doing - no compromise for Daniel! They reported him to the king. The king hated it and tried to find a loophole that would save Daniel (verse 14), but was obligated to transport Daniel to the lions' den; the other 122 government leaders insisted on it based upon the law (verse 15). The king wished him well and went back to the palace for the night - a miserable, foodless, sleepless night back at the palace (verse 18). Very early the next morning the king is there checking on Daniel, "Hey Daniel...are you in there?" Daniel answers, giving glory to God, and Darius is overjoyed.
Hold on for a minute here; maybe the lions just aren't hungry! Let's just check out that possibility. Darius summons the leaders (122 of them) who had plotted against Daniel along with their families and has them all cast into the lions' den. Oooops - turns out the lions were hungry after all! They pounced upon their new guests and consumed them before they even reached the bottom of the den. Subsequently, King Darius issues a very nice decree regarding the one true God who delivered Daniel, and Daniel prospers.