Daniel 1-3 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Daniel and His Friends
1 In the third year that Jehoiakim was king of Judah,[a] King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia attacked Jerusalem. 2 The Lord let Nebuchadnezzar capture Jehoiakim and take away some of the things used in God’s temple. And when the king returned to Babylonia,[b] he put these things in the temple of his own god.
3 One day the king ordered Ashpenaz, his highest palace official, to choose some young men from the royal family of Judah and from other leading Jewish families. 4 The king said, “They must be healthy, handsome, smart, wise, educated, and fit to serve in the royal palace. Teach them how to speak and write our language 5 and give them the same food and wine that I am served. Train them for three years, and then they can become court officials.”
6 Four of the young Jews chosen were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, all from the tribe of Judah. 7 But the king’s chief official gave them Babylonian names: Daniel became Belteshazzar, Hananiah became Shadrach, Mishael became Meshach, and Azariah became Abednego.
8 Daniel made up his mind to eat and drink only what God had approved for his people to eat. And he asked the king’s chief official for permission not to eat the food and wine served in the royal palace. 9 God had made the official friendly and kind to Daniel. 10 But the man still told him, “The king has decided what you must eat and drink. And I am afraid he will kill me, if you eat something else and end up looking worse than the other young men.”
11 The king’s official had put a guard in charge of Daniel and his three friends. So Daniel said to the guard, 12 “For the next ten days, let us have only vegetables and water at mealtime. 13 When the ten days are up, compare how we look with the other young men, and decide what to do with us.” 14 The guard agreed to do what Daniel had asked.
15 Ten days later, Daniel and his friends looked healthier and better than the young men who had been served food from the royal palace. 16 After this, the guard let them eat vegetables instead of the rich food and wine.
17 God made the four young men smart and wise. They read a lot of books and became well educated. Daniel could also tell the meaning of dreams and visions.
18 At the end of the three-year period set by King Nebuchadnezzar, his chief palace official brought all the young men to him. 19 The king interviewed them and discovered that none of the others were as outstanding as Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. So they were given positions in the royal court. 20 From then on, whenever the king asked for advice, he found their wisdom was ten times better than that of any of his other advisors and magicians. 21 Daniel served there until the first year of King Cyrus.[c]
2 During the second year that Nebuchadnezzar was king, he had such horrible nightmares that he could not sleep. 2 So he called in his counselors, advisors, magicians, and wise men, 3 and said, “I am disturbed by a dream that I don’t understand, and I want you to explain it.”
4 They answered in Aramaic,[d] “Your Majesty, we hope you live forever! We are your servants. Please tell us your dream, and we will explain what it means.”
5 But the king replied, “No! I have made up my mind. If you don’t tell me both the dream and its meaning, you will be chopped to pieces and your houses will be torn down. 6 However, if you do tell me both the dream and its meaning, you will be greatly rewarded and highly honored. Now tell me the dream and explain what it means.”
7 “Your Majesty,” they said, “if you will only tell us your dream, we will interpret it for you.”
8 The king replied, “You’re just stalling for time, 9 because you know what’s going to happen if you don’t come up with the answer. You’ve decided to make up a bunch of lies, hoping I might change my mind. Now tell me the dream, and that will prove that you can interpret it.”
10 His advisors explained, “Your Majesty, you are demanding the impossible! No king, not even the most famous and powerful, has ever ordered his advisors, magicians, or wise men to do such a thing. 11 It can’t be done, except by the gods, and they don’t live here on earth.”
12-13 This made the king so angry that he gave orders for every wise man in Babylonia to be put to death, including Daniel and his three friends.
God Tells Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream to Daniel
14 Arioch was the king’s official in charge of putting the wise men to death. He was on his way to have it done, when Daniel very wisely went to him 15 and asked, “Why did the king give such cruel[e] orders?” After Arioch explained what had happened, 16 Daniel rushed off and said to the king, “If you will just give me some time, I’ll explain your dream.”
17 Daniel returned home and told his three friends. 18 Then he said, “Pray that the God who rules from heaven will be merciful and explain this mystery, so that we and the others won’t be put to death.” 19 In a vision one night, Daniel was shown the dream and its meaning. Then he praised the God who rules from heaven:
20 “Our God, your name
22 “You explain deep mysteries,
Daniel Interprets the Dream
24 Daniel went back to Arioch, the official in charge of executing the wise men. Daniel said, “Don’t kill those men! Take me to the king, and I will explain the meaning of his dream.”
25 Arioch rushed Daniel to the king and announced, “Your Majesty, I have found out that one of the men brought here from Judah can explain your dream.”
26 The king asked Daniel,[f] “Can you tell me my dream and what it means?”
27 Daniel answered:
Your Majesty, not even the smartest person in all the world can do what you are demanding. 28-29 But the God who rules from heaven can explain mysteries. And while you were sleeping, he showed you what will happen in the future. 30 However, you must realize that these mysteries weren’t explained to me because I am smarter than everyone else. Instead, it was done so that you would understand what you have seen.
31 Your Majesty, what you saw standing in front of you was a huge and terrifying statue, shining brightly. 32 Its head was made of gold, its chest and arms were silver, and from its waist down to its knees, it was bronze. 33 From there to its ankles it was iron, and its feet were a mixture of iron and clay.
34 As you watched, a stone was cut from a mountain—but not by human hands. The stone struck the feet, completely shattering the iron and clay. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed and blown away without a trace, like husks of wheat at threshing time. But the stone became a tremendous mountain that covered the entire earth.
36 That was the dream, and now I’ll tell you what it means. 37 Your Majesty, you are the greatest of kings, and God has highly honored you with power 38 over all humans, animals, and birds. You are the head of gold. 39 After you are gone, another kingdom will rule, but it won’t be as strong. Then it will be followed by a kingdom of bronze that will rule the whole world. 40 Next, a kingdom of iron will come to power, crushing and shattering everything.[g]
41-42 This fourth kingdom will be divided—it will be both strong and brittle, just as you saw that the feet and toes were a mixture of iron and clay. 43 This kingdom will be the result of a marriage between kingdoms, but it will crumble, just as iron and clay don’t stick together.
44-45 During the time of those kings, the God who rules from heaven will set up an eternal kingdom that will never fall. It will be like the stone that was cut from the mountain, but not by human hands—the stone that crushed the iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold. Your Majesty, in your dream the great God has told you what is going to happen, and you can trust this interpretation.
Daniel Is Promoted
46 King Nebuchadnezzar bowed low to the ground and worshiped Daniel. Then he gave orders for incense to be burned and a sacrifice of grain to be offered in honor of Daniel. 47 The king said, “Now I know that your God is above all other gods and kings, because he gave you the power to explain this mystery.” 48 The king then presented Daniel with a lot of gifts; he promoted him to governor of Babylon Province and put him in charge of the other wise men. 49 At Daniel’s request, the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to high positions in Babylon Province, and he let Daniel stay on as a palace official.
King Nebuchadnezzar’s Gold Statue
3 King Nebuchadnezzar ordered a gold statue to be built ninety feet high and nine feet wide. He had it set up in Dura Valley near the city of Babylon, 2 and he commanded his governors, advisors, treasurers, judges, and his other officials to come from everywhere in his kingdom to the dedication of the statue. 3 So all of them came and stood in front of it.
4 Then an official stood up and announced:
People of every nation and race, now listen to the king’s command! 5 Trumpets, flutes, harps, and all other kinds of musical instruments will soon start playing. When you hear the music, you must bow down and worship the statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6 Anyone who refuses will at once be thrown into a flaming furnace.
7 As soon as the people heard the music, they bowed down and worshiped the gold statue that the king had set up.
8 Some Babylonians used this as a chance to accuse the Jews to King Nebuchadnezzar. 9 They said, “Your Majesty, we hope you live forever! 10 You commanded everyone to bow down and worship the gold statue when the music played. 11 And you said that anyone who did not bow down and worship it would be thrown into a flaming furnace. 12 Sir, you appointed three men to high positions in Babylon Province, but they have disobeyed you. Those Jews, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, refuse to worship your gods and the statue you have set up.”
13 King Nebuchadnezzar was furious. So he sent for the three young men and said, 14 “I hear that you refuse to worship my gods and the gold statue I have set up. 15 Now I am going to give you one more chance. If you bow down and worship the statue when you hear the music, everything will be all right. But if you don’t, you will at once be thrown into a flaming furnace. No god can save you from me.”
16 The three men replied, “Your Majesty, we don’t need to defend ourselves. 17 The God we worship can save us from you and your flaming furnace. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we still won’t worship your gods and the gold statue you have set up.”
19 Nebuchadnezzar’s face twisted with anger at the three men. And he ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than usual. 20 Next, he commanded some of his strongest soldiers to tie up the men and throw them into the flaming furnace. 21-23 The king wanted it done at that very moment. So the soldiers tied up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and threw them into the flaming furnace with all of their clothes still on, including their turbans. The fire was so hot that flames leaped out and killed the soldiers.
24 Suddenly the king jumped up and shouted, “Weren’t only three men tied up and thrown into the fire?”
“Yes, Your Majesty,” the people answered.
25 “But I see four men walking around in the fire,” the king replied. “None of them is tied up or harmed, and the fourth one looks like a god.”[h]
26 Nebuchadnezzar went closer to the flaming furnace and said to the three young men, “You servants of the Most High God, come out at once!”
They came out, 27 and the king’s high officials, governors, and advisors all crowded around them. The men were not burned, their hair wasn’t scorched, and their clothes didn’t even smell like smoke. 28 King Nebuchadnezzar said:
Praise their God for sending an angel to rescue his servants! They trusted their God and refused to obey my commands. Yes, they chose to die rather than to worship or serve any god except their own. 29 And I won’t allow people of any nation or race to say anything against their God. Anyone who does will be chopped up and their houses will be torn down, because no other god has such great power to save.
30 After this happened, the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to even higher positions in Babylon Province.
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