The King Acknowledges God
4 Nebuchadnezzar the king, to all the peoples, nations, and speakers of every language that live in all the earth: “May your peace abound! 2 It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me.
“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.(A)
The Vision of a Great Tree
4 “I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at rest in my house and prospering in my palace. 5 I saw a dream and it made me afraid; and the fantasies and thoughts and the visions [that appeared] in my mind as I lay on my bed kept alarming me. 6 So I gave orders to bring in before me all the wise men of Babylon, so that they might make known to me the interpretation of the dream. 7 Then the magicians, the enchanters (Magi), the Chaldeans [who were the master astrologers] and the diviners came in, and I told them the dream, but they could not interpret it and make known its meaning to me. 8 But at last Daniel came in before me, whose name is Belteshazzar, after the name of my god, and in whom is [a]a spirit of the holy gods; and I told the dream to him, saying, 9 ‘O Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, because I know that a spirit of the holy gods is in you and no mystery baffles or troubles you, tell me the visions of my dream which I have seen, along with its interpretation.
10 ‘The visions that passed through my mind as I lay on my bed were these: I was looking, and behold, there was a tree in the middle of the earth, and its height was great.
‘The tree grew large and became strong
And its height reached to heaven,
And it was visible to the end of the earth.
‘Its leaves were beautiful and its fruit abundant,
And in it was food for all.
The beasts of the field found shade under it,
And the birds of the sky nested in its branches,
And all living creatures fed themselves from it.
13 ‘And behold, I saw in the visions of my mind as I lay on my bed, an angelic watcher, a holy one, descended from heaven.
‘He shouted aloud and said this:
“Cut down the tree and cut off its branches;
Shake off its leaves and scatter its fruit;
Let the living creatures run from under it
And the birds fly from its branches.
“Nevertheless leave the stump with its roots in the ground,
Bound with a band of iron and bronze
In the new grass of the field;
And let him be wet with the dew of heaven,
And let him feed with the animals in the grass of the earth.
“Let his mind and nature be changed from a man’s
And let an animal’s mind and nature be given to him,
And let seven periods of time pass over him.
“This sentence is by the decree of the angelic watchers
And the decision is a command of the holy ones,
So that the living may know [without any doubt]
That the Most High [God] rules over the kingdom of mankind
And He bestows it on whomever He desires
And sets over it the humblest and lowliest of men.”(B)
18 This is the dream which I, King Nebuchadnezzar, have seen. Now you, Belteshazzar, explain its meaning, since none of the wise men of my kingdom are able to reveal its interpretation to me; but you are able, for a spirit of the holy gods is in you.’
Daniel Interprets the Vision
19 “Then Daniel, whose [Babylonian] name was Belteshazzar, was appalled and speechless for a while [because he was deeply concerned about the destiny of the king], and his thoughts alarmed him. The king said, ‘Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its interpretation frighten you.’ Belteshazzar answered, ‘My lord, may the dream be [meant] for those who hate you and its message for your enemies! 20 The tree that you saw, which became great and grew strong, whose height reached to heaven and which was visible to all the earth, 21 whose foliage was beautiful and its fruit abundant, and on which was food for all, under which the beasts of the field lived, and in whose branches the birds of the sky nested— 22 it is you, O king, who have become great and grown strong; your greatness has increased and it reaches to heaven, and your dominion [reaches] to the ends of the earth. 23 In that the king saw an angelic watcher, a holy one, descending from heaven and saying, “Cut the tree down and destroy it; but leave the stump with its roots in the earth, but with a band of iron and bronze around it in the new grass of the field, and let him be wet with the dew of heaven, and let him feed with the beasts of the field until seven periods of time pass over him,” 24 this is the interpretation, O king: It is the decree of the Most High [God], which has come upon my lord the king: 25 that you shall be driven from mankind and your dwelling place shall be with the beasts of the field; and that you be given grass to eat like the cattle and be wet with the dew of heaven; and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know [without any doubt] that the Most High [God] rules over the kingdom of mankind and He bestows it to whomever He desires. 26 And in that it was commanded to leave the stump with the roots of the tree [in the earth], your kingdom shall be restored to you after you recognize (understand fully) that Heaven rules. 27 Therefore, O king, let my advice to you be [considered and found] acceptable; break away now from your sins and exhibit your repentance by doing what is right, and from your wickedness by showing mercy to the poor, so that [if you repent] there may possibly be a continuance of your prosperity and tranquility and a healing of your error.’
The Vision Fulfilled
28 “All this happened to Nebuchadnezzar the king. 29 Twelve months later he was walking on the upper level of the royal palace of Babylon. 30 The king said thoughtfully, ‘Is not this the great Babylon which I myself have built as the royal residence and seat of government by the might of my power and for the honor and glory of my majesty?’ 31 While the words were still in the king’s mouth, a voice came [as if falling] from heaven, saying, ‘O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: “The kingdom has been removed from you, 32 and you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place will be with the animals of the field. You will be given grass to eat like the cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over you until you know [without any doubt] that the Most High God rules over the kingdom of mankind and He bestows it on whomever He desires.”’ 33 Immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was [b]driven away from mankind and began eating grass like cattle, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven until his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails were like birds’ claws.
34 “But at the end of the days [that is, at the seven periods of time], I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my understanding and reason returned to me; and I blessed the Most High [God] and I praised and honored and glorified Him who lives forever,
For His dominion is an everlasting dominion;
And His kingdom endures from generation to generation.
“All the inhabitants of the earth are regarded as nothing.
But He does according to His will in the host of heaven
And among the inhabitants of the earth;
And no one can hold back His hand
Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’
36 Now at the same time my reason returned to me; and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor were returned to me, and my counselors and my nobles began seeking me out; so I was re-established in my kingdom, and still more greatness [than before] was added to me. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and faithful and His ways are just, and He is able to humiliate and humble those who walk in [self-centered, self-righteous] pride.”
- Daniel 4:8 Or possibly the Spirit of the holy God, and so throughout the chapter.
- Daniel 4:33 It is likely that Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar’s advisors continued to run the government while the king was incapacitated, keeping him in an inconspicuous place within the palace enclosure during his illness. The king may have been stricken with a very rare mental condition, boanthropy, in which patients believe themselves to be cattle.