Daniel 2:1-23

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 2:1-23 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO DANIAL 2

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 2:1-23 In-Context

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 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. ”
4 Then the astrologers answered the king, “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.”
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,

Cross References 42

  • 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

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.