Daniel 2

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

1 In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled and he could not sleep.
2 So the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers[a] to tell him what he had dreamed. When they came in and stood before the king,
3 he said to them, “I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means.[b]
4 Then the astrologers answered the king,[c] “May the king live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it.”
5 The king replied to the astrologers, “This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble.
6 But if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. So tell me the dream and interpret it for me.”
7 Once more they replied, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will interpret it.”
8 Then the king answered, “I am certain that you are trying to gain time, because you realize that this is what I have firmly decided:
9 If you do not tell me the dream, there is only one penalty for you. You have conspired to tell me misleading and wicked things, hoping the situation will change. So then, tell me the dream, and I will know that you can interpret it for me.”
10 The astrologers answered the king, “There is no one on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer.
11 What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among humans.”
12 This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon.
13 So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death.
14 When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact.
15 He asked the king’s officer, “Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?” Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel.
16 At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him.
17 Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.
18 He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.
19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven
20 and said: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his.
21 He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.
22 He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.
23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king.”

Daniel Interprets the Dream

24 Then Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to execute the wise men of Babylon, and said to him, “Do not execute the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king, and I will interpret his dream for him.”
25 Arioch took Daniel to the king at once and said, “I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can tell the king what his dream means.”
26 The king asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar), “Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?”
27 Daniel replied, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about,
28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come. Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind as you were lying in bed are these:
29 “As Your Majesty was lying there, your mind turned to things to come, and the revealer of mysteries showed you what is going to happen.
30 As for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because I have greater wisdom than anyone else alive, but so that Your Majesty may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind.
31 “Your Majesty looked, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance.
32 The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze,
33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay.
34 While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them.
35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were all broken to pieces and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.
36 “This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king.
37 Your Majesty, you are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory;
38 in your hands he has placed all mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds in the sky. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold.
39 “After you, another kingdom will arise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth.
40 Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others.
41 Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay.
42 As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle.
43 And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.
44 “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.
45 This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. “The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.”
46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him.
47 The king said to Daniel, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.”
48 Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men.
49 Moreover, at Daniel’s request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego administrators over the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself remained at the royal court.

Daniel 2 Commentary

Chapter 2

Nebuchadnezzar's dream. (1-13) It is revealed to Daniel. (14-23) He obtains admission to the king. (24-30) The dream and the interpretation. (31-45) Honours to Daniel and his friends. (46-49)

Verses 1-13 The greatest men are most open to cares and troubles of mind, which disturb their repose in the night, while the sleep of the labouring man is sweet and sound. We know not the uneasiness of many who live in great pomp, and, as others vainly think, in pleasure also. The king said that his learned men must tell him the dream itself, or they should all be put to death as deceivers. Men are more eager to ask as to future events, than to learn the way of salvation or the path of duty; yet foreknowledge of future events increases anxiety and trouble. Those who deceived, by pretending to do what they could not do, were sentenced to death, for not being able to do what they did not pretend to.

Verses 14-23 Daniel humbly prayed that God would discover to him the king's dream, and the meaning of it. Praying friends are valuable friends; and it well becomes the greatest and best men to desire the prayers of others. Let us show that we value our friends, and their prayers. They were particular in prayer. And whatever we pray for, we can expect nothing but as the gift of God's mercies. God gives us leave in prayer to tell our wants and burdens. Their plea with God was, the peril they were in. The mercy Daniel and his fellows prayed for, was bestowed. The fervent prayers of righteous men avail much. Daniel was thankful to God for making known that to him, which saved the lives of himself and his fellows. How much more should we be thankful to God, for making known the great salvation of the soul to those who are not among the worldly wise and prudent!

Verses 24-30 Daniel takes away the king's opinion of his magicians and soothsayers. The insufficiency of creatures should drive us to the all-sufficiency of the Creator. There is One who can do that for us, and make known that to us, which none on earth can, particularly the work of redemption, and the secret designs of God's love to us therein. Daniel confirmed the king in his opinion, that the dream was of great consequence, relating to the affairs and changes of this lower world. Let those whom God has highly favoured and honoured, lay aside all opinion of their own wisdom and worthiness, that the Lord alone may be praised for the good they have and do.

Verses 31-45 This image represented the kingdoms of the earth, that should successively rule the nations, and influence the affairs of the Jewish church. 1. The head of gold signified the Chaldean empire, then in being. 2. The breast and arms of silver signified the empire of the Medes and Persians. 3. The belly and thighs of brass signified the Grecian empire, founded by Alexander. 4. The legs and feet of iron signified the Roman empire. The Roman empire branched into ten kingdoms, as the toes of these feet. Some were weak as clay, others strong as iron. Endeavours have often been used to unite them, for strengthening the empire, but in vain. The stone cut out without hands, represented the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, which should be set up in the kingdoms of the world, upon the ruins of Satan's kingdom in them. This was the Stone which the builders refused, because it was not cut out by their hands, but it is become the head stone of the corner. Of the increase of Christ's government and peace there shall be no end. The Lord shall reign, not only to the end of time, but when time and days shall be no more. As far as events have gone, the fulfilling this prophetic vision has been most exact and undeniable; future ages shall witness this Stone destroying the image, and filling the whole earth.

Verses 46-49 It is our business to direct attention to the Lord, as the Author and Giver of every good gift. Many have thoughts of the Divine power and majesty, who do not think of serving God themselves. But all should strive, that God may be glorified, and the best interests of mankind furthered.

Cross References 85

  • 1. ver 3; S Genesis 20:3; S Job 33:15,18; Daniel 4:5
  • 2. Genesis 41:8
  • 3. S Esther 6:1; Daniel 6:18
  • 4. S Genesis 41:8
  • 5. Exodus 7:11; Jeremiah 27:9
  • 6. S ver 10; S Isaiah 19:3; S Isaiah 44:25; Daniel 5:7
  • 7. Daniel 4:6
  • 8. Daniel 4:5
  • 9. S Ezra 4:7
  • 10. S Nehemiah 2:3; Daniel 3:9; Daniel 5:10
  • 11. Genesis 41:32
  • 12. ver 12
  • 13. Ezra 6:11; Daniel 3:29
  • 14. ver 48; Daniel 5:7,16
  • 15. Esther 4:11
  • 16. Isaiah 41:22-24
  • 17. ver 2; Daniel 3:8; Daniel 4:7
  • 18. ver 27; Daniel 5:8
  • 19. S Genesis 41:38; Daniel 5:11
  • 20. Daniel 3:13,19
  • 21. ver 5
  • 22. S Daniel 1:20; Daniel 5:19
  • 23. S Daniel 1:6
  • 24. S Isaiah 37:4
  • 25. Ezra 1:2; Nehemiah 1:4; John 1:9; Revelation 11:13
  • 26. ver 23; Jeremiah 33:3
  • 27. ver 28
  • 28. S Job 33:15; S Daniel 1:17
  • 29. S Joshua 22:33
  • 30. S Psalms 113:2; Psalms 145:1-2
  • 31. S Job 9:4; S Jeremiah 32:19
  • 32. Daniel 7:25
  • 33. Daniel 4:17
  • 34. S Job 12:19; Psalms 75:6-7; Romans 13:1
  • 35. S Psalms 119:34; James 1:5
  • 36. S 2 Samuel 14:17
  • 37. S Genesis 40:8; S Job 12:22; Psalms 25:14; Daniel 5:11; 1 Corinthians 2:10
  • 38. Job 12:22; Psalms 139:11-12; Jeremiah 23:24; S Hebrews 4:13
  • 39. Isaiah 45:7; James 1:17
  • 40. S Genesis 31:5; S Exodus 3:15
  • 41. S Daniel 1:17
  • 42. S Ezekiel 28:3
  • 43. ver 14
  • 44. S Deuteronomy 21:10
  • 45. S Daniel 1:6; Daniel 5:13; Daniel 6:13
  • 46. S Daniel 1:7
  • 47. S ver 10; S Genesis 41:8
  • 48. S Genesis 40:8; Jeremiah 10:7; Amos 4:13
  • 49. S Genesis 49:1; Daniel 10:14; Matthew 24:6; Revelation 1:1; Revelation 22:6
  • 50. Daniel 4:5
  • 51. S Psalms 4:4
  • 52. S Ezekiel 28:3; S Daniel 1:20
  • 53. S Genesis 41:25
  • 54. Isaiah 45:3; S Daniel 1:17; Amos 4:13
  • 55. Habakkuk 1:7
  • 56. Isaiah 25:3-5
  • 57. S Job 12:19; Zechariah 4:6
  • 58. S Job 34:24
  • 59. ver 44-45; Psalms 2:9; S Isaiah 60:12; Daniel 8:25
  • 60. Psalms 1:4; Psalms 37:10; S Isaiah 17:13; Isaiah 41:15-16
  • 61. Isaiah 2:3; Micah 4:1
  • 62. Zechariah 12:3
  • 63. S Genesis 40:12
  • 64. S Ezra 7:12; Ezekiel 26:7
  • 65. S Jeremiah 27:7; Daniel 4:26
  • 66. S Jeremiah 27:6; Daniel 4:21-22; Daniel 5:18
  • 67. Daniel 7:5
  • 68. Daniel 7:7,23
  • 69. S Genesis 27:29; Psalms 2:9; S Psalms 110:5; Matthew 21:43-44; 1 Corinthians 15:24
  • 70. S 1 Samuel 9:20; Haggai 2:22; Isaiah 60:12
  • 71. Psalms 145:13; S Isaiah 9:7; Daniel 4:34; Daniel 6:26; Daniel 7:14,27; Obadiah 1:21; Micah 4:7,13; S Luke 1:33; Revelation 11:15
  • 72. S Isaiah 28:16
  • 73. Daniel 8:25
  • 74. S Genesis 41:25
  • 75. Revelation 22:6
  • 76. Daniel 8:17; Acts 10:25
  • 77. Acts 14:13
  • 78. S Deuteronomy 10:17; Daniel 11:36
  • 79. Daniel 4:25; 1 Timothy 6:15
  • 80. S ver 22,28
  • 81. Daniel 4:9; 1 Corinthians 14:25
  • 82. S 2 Kings 25:28
  • 83. S ver 6; S Esther 8:2; S Daniel 1:20; Daniel 4:9; Daniel 5:11; Daniel 8:27
  • 84. S Daniel 1:7; Daniel 3:30
  • 85. Daniel 6:2

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. Or "Chaldeans" ; also in verses 4, 5 and 10
  • [b]. Or "was"
  • [c]. At this point the Hebrew text has "in Aramaic" , indicating that the text from here through the end of chapter 7 is in Aramaic.

Chapter Summary


The subject of this chapter is a dream which Nebuchadnezzar had dreamed, but had forgot; upon which he calls his magicians and astrologers together, to tell him it, and the interpretation of it; threatening them with death if they did not, and promising them great rewards and honour if they did, Da 2:1-6, they urge the unreasonableness of the demand, and the impossibility of the thing; which so highly incensed the king, that he ordered their immediate destruction, Da 2:7-13, Daniel and his companions being in danger, he goes in to the king, and desires time, and he would show him what he had dreamed; which being granted, he spent it in prayer to God, Da 2:14-18, and the thing being revealed to him, he gave thanks to God, Da 2:19-23, and being introduced to the king, he both told him his dream, and the interpretation of it; which concerned the four monarchies of the world, and the everlasting kingdom of the Messiah, Da 2:24-45, upon which he was highly honoured, and greatly promoted by the king, Da 2:46-49.

Daniel 2 Commentaries

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