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Daniel 4-5 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 4

Nebuchadnezzar’s Madness. I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, content and prosperous. I had a terrifying dream as I lay in bed, and the images and my visions frightened me. So I issued a decree that all the wise men of Babylon should be brought before me to give the interpretation of the dream. When the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and diviners had come in, I related the dream before them; but none of them could tell me its meaning. Finally there came before me Daniel, whose name is Belteshazzar after the name of my god,[a] and in whom is a spirit of the holy gods. I repeated the dream to him: “Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, I know that a spirit of the holy gods is in you and no mystery is too difficult for you; this is the dream that I saw, tell me its meaning.

“These were the visions I saw while in bed: I saw a tree of great height at the center of the earth. It was large and strong, with its top touching the heavens, and it could be seen to the ends of the earth. Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, providing food for all. Under it the wild beasts found shade, in its branches the birds of the air nested; all flesh ate of it. 10 In the vision I saw while in bed, a holy watcher[b] came down from heaven 11 and cried aloud in these words:

‘Cut down the tree and lop off its branches,
    strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit;
Let the beasts flee from beneath it, and the birds from its branches,
12     but leave its stump in the earth.
Bound with iron and bronze,
    let him be fed with the grass of the field
    and bathed with the dew of heaven;
    let his lot be with the beasts in the grass of the earth.
13 Let his mind be changed from a human one;
    let the mind of a beast be given him,
    till seven years pass over him.
14 By decree of the watchers is this proclamation,
    by order of the holy ones, this sentence;
That all who live may know
    that the Most High is sovereign over human kingship,
Giving it to whom he wills,
    and setting it over the lowliest of mortals.’

15 “This is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, had. Now, Belteshazzar, tell me its meaning. None of the wise men in my kingdom can tell me the meaning, but you can, because the spirit of the holy gods is in you.”

16 Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was appalled for a time, dismayed by his thoughts. “Belteshazzar,” the king said to him, “do not let the dream or its meaning dismay you.” “My lord,” Belteshazzar replied, “may this dream be for your enemies, and its meaning for your foes. 17 The tree that you saw, large and strong, its top touching the heavens, that could be seen by the whole earth, 18 its leaves beautiful, its fruit abundant, providing food for all, under which the wild beasts lived, and in whose branches the birds of the air dwelt— 19 you are that tree, O king, large and strong! Your majesty has become so great as to touch the heavens, and your rule reaches to the ends of the earth. 20 As for the king’s vision of a holy watcher, who came down from heaven and proclaimed: ‘Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave its stump in the earth. Bound with iron and bronze, let him be fed with the grass of the field, and bathed with the dew of heaven; let his lot be with wild beasts till seven years pass over him’— 21 here is its meaning, O king, here is the sentence that the Most High has passed upon my lord king: 22 You shall be cast out from human society and dwell with wild beasts; you shall be given grass to eat like an ox and be bathed with the dew of heaven; seven years shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High is sovereign over human kingship and gives it to whom he will. 23 The command that the stump of the tree is to be left means that your kingdom shall be preserved for you, once you have learned that heaven is sovereign. 24 Therefore, O king, may my advice be acceptable to you; atone for your sins by good deeds,[c] and for your misdeeds by kindness to the poor; then your contentment will be long lasting.”

25 All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. 26 Twelve months later, as he was walking on the roof of the royal palace in Babylon, 27 the king said, “Babylon the great! Was it not I, with my great strength, who built it as a royal residence for my splendor and majesty?” 28 While these words were still on the king’s lips, a voice spoke from heaven, “It has been decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar, that your kingship is taken from you! 29 You shall be cast out from human society, and shall dwell with wild beasts; you shall be given grass to eat like an ox, and seven years shall pass over you, until you learn that the Most High is sovereign over human kingship and gives it to whom he will.” 30 [d]At once this was fulfilled. Nebuchadnezzar was cast out from human society, he ate grass like an ox, and his body was bathed with the dew of heaven, until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle, and his nails like the claws of a bird.

31 When this period was over, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes to heaven; my reason was restored to me, and I blessed the Most High, I praised and glorified the One who lives forever,

Whose dominion is an everlasting dominion,
    and whose kingdom endures through all generations.
32 All who live on the earth are counted as nothing;
    he does as he wills with the powers of heaven
    and with those who live on the earth.
There is no one who can stay his hand
    or say to him, “What have you done?”

33 At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and my splendor returned to me. My counselors and nobles sought me out; I was restored to my kingdom and became much greater than before. 34 Now, I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, all of whose works are right and ways just; and who is able to humble those who walk in pride.

Chapter 5

The Writing on the Wall. King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles, with whom he drank. Under the influence of the wine, he ordered the gold and silver vessels which Nebuchadnezzar, his father,[e] had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, to be brought in so that the king, his nobles, his consorts, and his concubines might drink from them. When the gold vessels taken from the temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, had been brought in, and while the king, his nobles, his consorts, and his concubines were drinking wine from them, they praised their gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.

Suddenly, opposite the lampstand, the fingers of a human hand appeared, writing on the plaster of the wall in the king’s palace. When the king saw the hand that wrote, his face became pale; his thoughts terrified him, his hip joints shook, and his knees knocked. The king shouted for the enchanters, Chaldeans, and diviners to be brought in. “Whoever reads this writing and tells me what it means,” he said to the wise men of Babylon, “shall be clothed in purple, wear a chain of gold around his neck, and be third in governing the kingdom.” But though all the king’s wise men came in, none of them could either read the writing or tell the king what it meant. Then King Belshazzar was greatly terrified; his face became pale, and his nobles were thrown into confusion.

10 When the queen heard of the discussion between the king and his nobles, she entered the banquet hall and said, “O king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts terrify you, or your face become so pale! 11 There is a man in your kingdom in whom is a spirit of the holy gods; during the lifetime of your father he showed brilliant insight and god-like wisdom. King Nebuchadnezzar, your father, made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and diviners. 12 Because this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, has shown an extraordinary spirit, knowledge, and insight in interpreting dreams, explaining riddles and solving problems, let him now be summoned to tell you what this means.”

13 Then Daniel was brought into the presence of the king. The king asked him, “Are you the Daniel, one of the Jewish exiles, whom my father, the king, brought from Judah? 14 I have heard that the spirit of the gods is in you, that you have shown brilliant insight and extraordinary wisdom. 15 The wise men and enchanters were brought in to me to read this writing and tell me its meaning, but they could not say what the words meant. 16 But I have heard that you can give interpretations and solve problems; now, if you are able to read the writing and tell me what it means, you shall be clothed in purple, wear a chain of gold around your neck, and be third in governing the kingdom.”

17 Daniel answered the king: “You may keep your gifts, or give your presents to someone else; but the writing I will read for the king, and tell what it means. 18 The Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar kingship, greatness, splendor, and majesty. 19 Because he made him so great, the nations and peoples of every language dreaded and feared him. Whomever he willed, he would kill or let live; whomever he willed, he would exalt or humble. 20 But when his heart became proud and his spirit hardened by insolence, he was put down from his royal throne and deprived of his glory; 21 he was cast out from human society and his heart was made like that of a beast; he lived with wild asses, and ate grass like an ox; his body was bathed with the dew of heaven, until he learned that the Most High God is sovereign over human kingship and sets over it whom he will. 22 You, his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this; 23 you have rebelled against the Lord of heaven. You had the vessels of his temple brought before you, so that you and your nobles, your consorts and your concubines, might drink wine from them; and you praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, that neither see nor hear nor have intelligence. But the God in whose hand is your very breath and the whole course of your life, you did not glorify. 24 By him was the hand sent, and the writing set down.

25 “This is the writing that was inscribed: Mene, Tekel, and Peres.[f] These words mean: 26 [g]Mene, God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it; 27 Tekel, you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting; 28 Peres, your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”

29 Then by order of Belshazzar they clothed Daniel in purple, with a chain of gold around his neck, and proclaimed him third in governing the kingdom. 30 That very night Belshazzar, the Chaldean king, was slain:

Footnotes:

  1. 4:5 After the name of my god: Belteshazzar, the Babylonian name given to Daniel at the king’s orders (1:7), is Balāṭ-šu-uṣur, “protect his life.” This passage implies a name connected with Bel, a Babylonian god. A spirit of the holy gods: or a holy divine spirit; or spirit of a holy God. See also vv. 6, 15; 5:11–12, 14; 6:4.
  2. 4:10 A holy watcher: lit., “a watcher and a holy one.” Two terms for angels. The term watcher is found in the Bible only in this chapter of Daniel, but it is common in extra-canonical Jewish literature. In 1 Enoch, the fallen angels are called watchers.
  3. 4:24 Good deeds: the Aramaic word ṣidqâ has the root meaning of “righteousness,” but in a late text such as this could mean “almsgiving.”
  4. 4:30–32 There is no historical record that these events happened to Nebuchadnezzar. Scholars have long suspected that the story originally involved Nabonidus, the father of Belshazzar, who was absent from Babylon and lived at Teima in the Arabian desert for a number of years. This suggestion is now strengthened by the Prayer of Nabonidus, found at Qumran, which is closely related to chap. 4. The biblical author’s chief interest was not in the historicity of this popular tale, but in the object lesson it contained for the proud “divine” kings of the Seleucid dynasty.
  5. 5:2 Nebuchadnezzar, his father: between Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar several kings ruled in Babylon. Belshazzar was the son of Nabonidus, and he acted as regent in Babylon during his father’s absence.
  6. 5:25 Mene, Tekel, and Peres: these seem to be the Aramaic names of weights and monetary values: the mina, the shekel (the sixtieth part of a mina), and the parsu (a half-mina).
  7. 5:26–28 Daniel interprets these three terms by a play on the words: Mene, connected with the verb meaning to number; Tekel, with the verb meaning to weigh; Peres, with the verb meaning to divide. There is also a play on the last term with the word for Persians.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Ben Sira 39:1-16 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 39

How different the person who devotes himself
    to the study of the law of the Most High!
He explores the wisdom of all the ancients
    and is occupied with the prophecies;
He preserves the discourses of the famous,
    and goes to the heart of involved sayings;
He seeks out the hidden meaning of proverbs,
    and is busied with the enigmas found in parables.

He is in attendance on the great,
    and appears before rulers.
He travels among the peoples of foreign lands
    to test what is good and evil among people.
His care is to rise early
    to seek the Lord his Maker,
    to petition the Most High,
To open his mouth in prayer,
    to ask pardon for his sins.

If it pleases the Lord Almighty,
    he will be filled with the spirit of understanding;
He will pour forth his words of wisdom
    and in prayer give praise to the Lord.
He will direct his knowledge and his counsel,
    as he meditates upon God’s mysteries.
He will show the wisdom of what he has learned
    and glory in the Law of the Lord’s covenant.

Many will praise his understanding;
    his name can never be blotted out;
Unfading will be his memory,
    through all generations his name will live;
10 Peoples will speak of his wisdom,
    and the assembly will declare his praise.
11 While he lives he is one out of a thousand,
    and when he dies he leaves a good name.

Praise of God the Creator[a]

12 Once more I will set forth my theme
    to shine like the moon in its fullness!
13 Listen to me, my faithful children: open up your petals,
    like roses planted near running waters;
14 Send up the sweet odor of incense,
    break forth in blossoms like the lily.
Raise your voices in a chorus of praise;
    bless the Lord for all his works!
15 Proclaim the greatness of his name,
    loudly sing his praises,
With music on the harp and all stringed instruments;
    sing out with joy as you proclaim:

16 The works of God are all of them good;
    he supplies for every need in its own time.

Footnotes:

  1. 39:12–35 Ben Sira invites his disciples to join him in joyfully proclaiming his favorite theme: The works of God are all good; God supplies for every need in its own time (vv. 12–16, 32–35). The sage describes God’s omniscience, supreme power and wisdom, whereby all created things, good in themselves, are ever present to him, obey him, and fulfill their intended purpose (vv. 17–21), bringing blessing to the virtuous, but evil and punishment to the wicked who misuse them (vv. 22–31). Cf. similar hymns of praise, 36:1–22; 42:15–43:33.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Revelation 11 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 11

The Two Witnesses. [a]Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff and I was told, “Come and measure the temple of God and the altar, and count those who are worshiping in it. But exclude the outer court[b] of the temple; do not measure it, for it has been handed over to the Gentiles, who will trample the holy city for forty-two months. I will commission my two witnesses[c] to prophesy for those twelve hundred and sixty days, wearing sackcloth.” These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands[d] that stand before the Lord of the earth. [e]If anyone wants to harm them, fire comes out of their mouths and devours their enemies. In this way, anyone wanting to harm them is sure to be slain. They have the power to close up the sky so that no rain can fall during the time of their prophesying. They also have power to turn water into blood and to afflict the earth with any plague as often as they wish.

When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the abyss[f] will wage war against them and conquer them and kill them. Their corpses will lie in the main street of the great city,[g] which has the symbolic names “Sodom” and “Egypt,” where indeed their Lord was crucified. [h]Those from every people, tribe, tongue, and nation will gaze on their corpses for three and a half days, and they will not allow their corpses to be buried. 10 The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and be glad and exchange gifts because these two prophets tormented the inhabitants of the earth. 11 But after the three and a half days, a breath of life from God entered them. When they stood on their feet, great fear fell on those who saw them. 12 Then they heard a loud voice from heaven say to them, “Come up here.” So they went up to heaven in a cloud as their enemies looked on. 13 At that moment there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell in ruins. Seven thousand people[i] were killed during the earthquake; the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.

14 The second woe has passed, but the third is coming soon.

The Seventh Trumpet.[j] 15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet. There were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world now belongs to our Lord and to his Anointed, and he will reign forever and ever.” 16 The twenty-four elders who sat on their thrones before God prostrated themselves and worshiped God 17 and said:

“We give thanks to you, Lord God almighty,
    who are and who were.
For you have assumed your great power
    and have established your reign.
18 The nations raged,
    but your wrath has come,
    and the time for the dead to be judged,
and to recompense your servants, the prophets,
    and the holy ones and those who fear your name,
    the small and the great alike,
and to destroy those who destroy the earth.”

19 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder, an earthquake, and a violent hailstorm.

Footnotes:

  1. 11:1 The temple and altar symbolize the new Israel; see note on Rev 7:4–9. The worshipers represent Christians. The measuring of the temple (cf. Ez 40:3–42:20; 47:1–12; Zec 2:5–6) suggests that God will preserve the faithful remnant (cf. Is 4:2–3) who remain true to Christ (Rev 14:1–5).
  2. 11:2 The outer court: the Court of the Gentiles. Trample…forty-two months: the duration of the vicious persecution of the Jews by Antiochus IV Epiphanes (Dn 7:25; 12:7); this persecution of three and a half years (half of seven, counted as 1260 days in Rev 11:3; 12:6) became the prototype of periods of trial for God’s people; cf. Lk 4:25; Jas 5:17. The reference here is to the persecution by the Romans; cf. Introduction.
  3. 11:3 The two witnesses, wearing sackcloth symbolizing lamentation and repentance, cannot readily be identified. Do they represent Moses and Elijah, or the Law and the Prophets, or Peter and Paul? Most probably they refer to the universal church, especially the Christian martyrs, fulfilling the office of witness (two because of Dt 19:15; cf. Mk 6:7; Jn 8:17).
  4. 11:4 The two olive trees and the two lampstands: the martyrs who stand in the presence of the Lord; the imagery is taken from Zec 4:8–14, where the olive trees refer to Zerubbabel and Joshua.
  5. 11:5–6 These details are derived from stories of Moses, who turned water into blood (Ex 7:17–20), and of Elijah, who called down fire from heaven (1 Kgs 18:36–40; 2 Kgs 1:10) and closed up the sky for three years (1 Kgs 17:1; cf. 18:1).
  6. 11:7 The beast…from the abyss: the Roman emperor Nero, who symbolizes the forces of evil, or the antichrist (Rev 13:1, 8; 17:8); cf. Dn 7:2–8, 11–12, 19–22 and Introduction.
  7. 11:8 The great city: this expression is used constantly in Revelation for Babylon, i.e., Rome; cf. Rev 14:8; 16:19; 17:18; 18:2, 10, 21. “Sodom” and “Egypt”: symbols of immorality (cf. Is 1:10) and oppression of God’s people (cf. Ex 1:11–14). Where indeed their Lord was crucified: not the geographical but the symbolic Jerusalem that rejects God and his witnesses, i.e., Rome, called Babylon in Rev 16–18; see note on Rev 17:9 and Introduction.
  8. 11:9–12 Over the martyrdom (Rev 11:7) of the two witnesses, now called prophets, the ungodly rejoice for three and a half days, a symbolic period of time; see note on Rev 11:2. Afterwards they go in triumph to heaven, as did Elijah (2 Kgs 2:11).
  9. 11:13 Seven thousand people: a symbolic sum to represent all social classes (seven) and large numbers (thousands); cf. Introduction.
  10. 11:15–19 The seventh trumpet proclaims the coming of God’s reign after the victory over diabolical powers; see note on Rev 10:7.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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