4:1 (3:31) 1 “King Nebuchadnezzar, to all peoples, nations, and language groups that live in all the land: Peace and prosperity! 2 4:2 I am delighted to tell you about the signs and wonders that the most high God has done for me.
4:3 “How great are his signs!
How mighty are his wonders!
His kingdom will last forever, 3
and his authority continues from one generation to the next.”
4:4 (4:1) 4 I, Nebuchadnezzar, was relaxing in my home, 5 living luxuriously 6 in my palace. 4:5 I saw a dream that 7 frightened me badly. The things I imagined while lying on my bed – these visions of my mind – were terrifying me. 4:6 So I issued an order 8 for all the wise men of Babylon to be brought 9 before me so that they could make known to me the interpretation of the dream. 4:7 When the magicians, astrologers, wise men, and diviners entered, I recounted the dream for them. But they were unable to make known its interpretation to me. 4:8 Later Daniel entered (whose name is Belteshazzar after the name of my god, 10 and in whom there is a spirit of the holy gods). I recounted the dream for him as well, 4:9 saying, “Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, in whom I know there to be a spirit of the holy gods and whom no mystery baffles, consider 11 my dream that I saw and set forth its interpretation! 4:10 Here are the visions of my mind 12 while I was on my bed.
While I was watching,
there was a tree in the middle of the land. 13
It was enormously tall. 14
4:11 The tree grew large and strong.
Its top reached far into the sky;
4:12 Its foliage was attractive and its fruit plentiful;
on it there was food enough for all.
Under it the wild animals 17 used to seek shade,
and in its branches the birds of the sky used to nest.
All creatures 18 used to feed themselves from it.
a holy sentinel 20 came down from heaven.
‘Chop down the tree and lop off its branches!
Strip off its foliage
and scatter its fruit!
Let the animals flee from under it
and the birds from its branches!
with a band of iron and bronze around it 24
surrounded by the grass of the field.
Let it become damp with the dew of the sky,
and let it live with 25 the animals in the grass of the land.
and let an animal’s mind be given to him,
4:17 This announcement is by the decree of the sentinels;
this decision is by the pronouncement of the holy ones,
so that 29 those who are alive may understand
that the Most High has authority over human kingdoms, 30
and he bestows them on whomever he wishes.
He establishes over them even the lowliest of human beings.’
4:18 “This is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, saw. Now you, Belteshazzar, declare its 31 interpretation, for none of the wise men in 32 my kingdom are able to make known to me the interpretation. But you can do so, for a spirit of the holy gods is in you.”
4:19 Then Daniel (whose name is also Belteshazzar) was upset for a brief time; 33 his thoughts were alarming him. The king said, “Belteshazzar, don’t let the dream and its interpretation alarm you.” But Belteshazzar replied, “Sir, 34 if only the dream were for your enemies and its interpretation applied to your adversaries! 4:20 The tree that you saw that grew large and strong, whose top reached to the sky, and which could be seen 35 in all the land, 4:21 whose foliage was attractive and its fruit plentiful, and from which there was food available for all, under whose branches wild animals 36 used to live, and in whose branches birds of the sky used to nest – 4:22 it is you, 37 O king! For you have become great and strong. Your greatness is such that it reaches to heaven, and your authority to the ends of the earth. 4:23 As for the king seeing a holy sentinel coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Chop down the tree and destroy it, but leave its taproot in the ground, with a band of iron and bronze around it, surrounded by the grass of the field. Let it become damp with the dew of the sky, and let it live with the wild animals, until seven periods of time go by for him’ – 4:24 this is the interpretation, O king! It is the decision of the Most High that this has happened to my lord the king. 4:25 You will be driven 38 from human society, 39 and you will live 40 with the wild animals. You will be fed 41 grass like oxen, 42 and you will become damp with the dew of the sky. Seven periods of time will pass by for you, before 43 you understand that the Most High is ruler over human kingdoms and gives them to whomever he wishes. 4:26 They said to leave the taproot of the tree, for your kingdom will be restored to you when you come to understand that heaven 44 rules. 4:27 Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you. Break away from your sins by doing what is right, and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps your prosperity will be prolonged.” 45
4:28 Now all of this happened 46 to King Nebuchadnezzar. 4:29 After twelve months, he happened to be walking around on the battlements 47 of the royal palace of Babylon. 4:30 The king uttered these words: “Is this not the great Babylon that I have built for a royal residence 48 by my own mighty strength 49 and for my majestic honor?” 4:31 While these words were still on the king’s lips, 50 a voice came down from heaven: “It is hereby announced to you, 51 King Nebuchadnezzar, that your kingdom has been removed from you! 4:32 You will be driven from human society, and you will live with the wild animals. You will be fed grass like oxen, and seven periods of time will pass by for you before 52 you understand that the Most High is ruler over human kingdoms and gives them to whomever he wishes.”
4:33 Now in that very moment 53 this pronouncement about 54 Nebuchadnezzar came true. 55 He was driven from human society, he ate grass like oxen, and his body became damp with the dew of the sky, until his hair became long like an eagle’s feathers, and his nails like a bird’s claws. 56
1 sn Beginning with 4:1, the verse numbers through 4:37 in the English Bible differ from the verse numbers in the Aramaic text (BHS), with 4:1 ET = 3:31 AT, 4:2 ET = 3:32 AT, 4:3 ET = 3:33 AT, 4:4 ET = 4:1 AT, etc., through 4:37 ET = 4:34 AT. Thus Dan 3:31-33 of the Aramaic text appears as Dan 4:1-3 in the English Bible, and the corresponding verses of ch. 4 differ accordingly. In spite of the division of the Aramaic text, a good case can be made that 3:31-33 AT (= 4:1-3 ET) is actually the introduction to ch. 4.
2 tn Aram “May your peace increase!”
3 tn Aram “his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.”
4 sn This verse marks the beginning of chap. 4 in the Aramaic text of Daniel (see the note on 4:1). The Greek OT (LXX) has the following addition: “In the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign he said.” This date would suggest a link to the destruction of Jerusalem in 586
5 tn Aram “my house.”
6 tn Aram “happy.”
7 tn Aram “and it.”
8 tn Aram “from me there was placed a decree.”
9 tn The Aramaic infinitive here is active.
10 sn This explanation of the meaning of the name Belteshazzar may be more of a paronomasia than a strict etymology.
11 tc The present translation assumes the reading חֲזִי (khazi, “consider”) rather than the MT חֶזְוֵי (khezvey, “visions”). The MT implies that the king required Daniel to disclose both the dream and its interpretation, as in chapter 2. But in the following verses Nebuchadnezzar recounts his dream, while Daniel presents only its interpretation.
12 tc The LXX lacks the first two words (Aram “the visions of my head”) of the Aramaic text.
13 tn Instead of “in the middle of the land,” some English versions render this phrase “a tree at the center of the earth” (NRSV); NAB, CEV “of the world”; NLT “in the middle of the earth.” The Hebrew phrase can have either meaning.
14 tn Aram “its height was great.”
16 tn Or “to the end of all the earth” (so KJV, ASV); NCV, CEV “from anywhere on earth.”
17 tn Aram “the beasts of the field.”
18 tn Aram “all flesh.”
19 tn Aram “the visions of my head.”
20 tn Aram “a watcher and a holy one.” The expression is a hendiadys; so also in v. 23. This “watcher” is apparently an angel. The Greek OT (LXX) in fact has ἄγγελος (angelo", “angel”) here. Theodotion simply transliterates the Aramaic word (’ir). The term is sometimes rendered “sentinel” (NAB) or “messenger” (NIV, NLT).
21 tn Aram “in strength.”
22 tn Aram “and thus he was saying.”
23 tn Aram “the stock of its root.” So also v. 23. The implication here is that although the tree is chopped down, it is not killed. Its life-giving root is spared. The application to Nebuchadnezzar is obvious.
24 sn The function of the band of iron and bronze is not entirely clear, but it may have had to do with preventing the splitting or further deterioration of the portion of the tree that was left after being chopped down. By application it would then refer to the preservation of Nebuchadnezzar’s life during the time of his insanity.
25 tn Aram “its lot be.”
26 tn Aram “its heart.” The metaphor of the tree begins to fade here and the reality behind the symbol (the king) begins to emerge.
27 sn The seven periods of time probably refer to seven years.
29 tc The present translation follows an underlying reading of עַל־דִּבְרַת (’al-divrat, “so that”) rather than MT עַד־דִּבְרַת (’ad-divrat, “until”).
30 tn Aram “the kingdom of man”; NASB “the realm of mankind”; NCV “every kingdom on earth.”
32 tn Aram “of.”
33 tn Aram “about one hour.” The expression refers idiomatically to a brief period of time of undetermined length.
34 tn Aram “my lord.”
35 tn Aram “its sight.”
37 sn Much of modern scholarship views this chapter as a distortion of traditions that were originally associated with Nabonidus rather than with Nebuchadnezzar. A Qumran text, the Prayer of Nabonidus, is often cited for parallels to these events.
41 tn Or perhaps “be made to eat.”
42 sn Nebuchadnezzar’s insanity has features that are associated with the mental disorder known as boanthropy, in which the person so afflicted imagines himself to be an ox or a similar animal and behaves accordingly.
43 tn Aram “until.”
44 sn The reference to heaven here is a circumlocution for God. There was a tendency in Jewish contexts to avoid direct reference to God. Cf. the expression “kingdom of heaven” in the NT and such statements as “I have sinned against heaven and in your sight” (Luke 15:21).
45 tn Aram “if there may be a lengthening to your prosperity.”
46 tn Aram “reached.”
47 tn The word “battlements” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied from context. Many English versions supply “roof” here (e.g., NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV); cf. NLT “on the flat roof.”
48 tn Aram “house.”
49 tn Aram “by the might of my strength.”
50 tn Aram “in the mouth of the king.”
51 tn Aram “to you they say.”
52 tn Aram “until.”
53 tn Aram “hour.”
54 tn Or “on.”
55 tn Aram “was fulfilled.”
56 tn The words “feathers” and “claws” are not present in the Aramaic text, but have been added in the translation for clarity.