Daniel 1; Daniel 2; Daniel 3

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Daniel 1

1 During the third year that Jehoiakim was king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and surrounded it with his army.
2 The Lord allowed Nebuchadnezzar to capture Jehoiakim king of Judah. Nebuchadnezzar also took some of the things from the Temple of God, which he carried to Babylonia and put in the temple of his gods.
3 Then King Nebuchadnezzar ordered Ashpenaz, his chief officer, to bring some of the Israelite men into his palace. He wanted them to be from important families, including the family of the king of Judah.
4 King Nebuchadnezzar wanted only young Israelite men who had nothing wrong with them. They were to be handsome and well educated, capable of learning and understanding, and able to serve in his palace. Ashpenaz was to teach them the language and writings of the Babylonians.
5 The king gave the young men a certain amount of food and wine every day, just like the food he ate. The young men were to be trained for three years, and then they would become servants of the king of Babylon.
6 Among those young men were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah from the people of Judah.
7 Ashpenaz, the chief officer, gave them Babylonian names. Daniel's new name was Belteshazzar, Hananiah's was Shadrach, Mishael's was Meshach, and Azariah's was Abednego.
8 Daniel decided not to eat the king's food or drink his wine because that would make him unclean. So he asked Ashpenaz for permission not to make himself unclean in this way.
9 God made Ashpenaz, the chief officer, want to be kind and merciful to Daniel,
10 but Ashpenaz said to Daniel, "I am afraid of my master, the king. He ordered me to give you this food and drink. If you begin to look worse than other young men your age, the king will see this. Then he will cut off my head because of you."
11 Ashpenaz had ordered a guard to watch Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
12 Daniel said to the guard, "Please give us this test for ten days: Don't give us anything but vegetables to eat and water to drink.
13 After ten days compare how we look with how the other young men look who eat the king's food. See for yourself and then decide how you want to treat us, your servants."
14 So the guard agreed to test them for ten days.
15 After ten days they looked healthier and better fed than all the young men who ate the king's food.
16 So the guard took away the king's special food and wine, feeding them vegetables instead.
17 God gave these four young men wisdom and the ability to learn many things that people had written and studied. Daniel could also understand visions and dreams.
18 At the end of the time set for them by the king, Ashpenaz brought all the young men to King Nebuchadnezzar.
19 The king talked to them and found that none of the young men were as good as Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. So those four young men became the king's servants.
20 Every time the king asked them about something important, they showed much wisdom and understanding. They were ten times better than all the fortune-tellers and magicians in his kingdom!
21 So Daniel continued to be the king's servant until the first year Cyrus was king.

Daniel 2

1 During Nebuchadnezzar's second year as king, he had dreams that bothered him and kept him awake at night.
2 So the king called for his fortune-tellers, magicians, wizards, and wise men, because he wanted them to tell him what he had dreamed. They came in and stood in front of the king.
3 Then the king said to them, "I had a dream that bothers me, and I want to know what it means."
4 The wise men answered the king in the Aramaic language, "O king, live forever! Please tell us, your servants, your dream. Then we will tell you what it means."
5 King Nebuchadnezzar said to them, "I meant what I said. You must tell me the dream and what it means. If you don't, I will have you torn apart, and I will turn your houses into piles of stones.
6 But if you tell me my dream and its meaning, I will reward you with gifts and great honor. So tell me the dream and what it means."
7 Again the wise men said to the king, "Tell us, your servants, the dream, and we will tell you what it means."
8 King Nebuchadnezzar answered, "I know you are trying to get more time, because you know that I meant what I said.
9 If you don't tell me my dream, you will be punished. You have all agreed to tell me lies and wicked things, hoping things will change. Now, tell me the dream so that I will know you can tell me what it really means!"
10 The wise men answered the king, saying, "No one on earth can do what the king asks! No great and powerful king has ever asked the fortune-tellers, magicians, or wise men to do this;
11 the king is asking something that is too hard. Only the gods could tell the king this, but the gods do not live among people."
12 When the king heard their answer, he became very angry. He ordered that all the wise men of Babylon be killed.
13 So King Nebuchadnezzar's order to kill the wise men was announced, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to kill them.
14 Arioch, the commander of the king's guards, was going to kill the wise men of Babylon. But Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and skill,
15 saying, "Why did the king order such a terrible punishment?" Then Arioch explained everything to Daniel.
16 So Daniel went to King Nebuchadnezzar and asked for an appointment so that he could tell the king what his dream meant.
17 Then Daniel went to his house and explained the whole story to his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
18 Daniel asked his friends to pray that the God of heaven would show them mercy and help them understand this secret so he and his friends would not be killed with the other wise men of Babylon.
19 During the night God explained the secret to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven.
20 Daniel said: "Praise God forever and ever, because he has wisdom and power.
21 He changes the times and seasons of the year. He takes away the power of kings and gives their power to new kings. He gives wisdom to those who are wise and knowledge to those who understand.
22 He makes known secrets that are deep and hidden; he knows what is hidden in darkness, and light is all around him.
23 I thank you and praise you, God of my ancestors, because you have given me wisdom and power. You told me what we asked of you; you told us about the king's dream."
24 Then Daniel went to Arioch, the man King Nebuchadnezzar had chosen to kill the wise men of Babylon. Daniel said to him, "Don't put the wise men of Babylon to death. Take me to the king, and I will tell him what his dream means."
25 Very quickly Arioch took Daniel to the king and said, "I have found a man among the captives from Judah who can tell the king what his dream means."
26 The king asked Daniel, who was also called Belteshazzar, "Are you able to tell me what I dreamed and what it means?"
27 Daniel answered, "No wise man, magician, or fortune-teller can explain to the king the secret he has asked about.
28 But there is a God in heaven who explains secret things, and he has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen at a later time. This is your dream, the vision you saw while lying on your bed:
29 O king, as you were lying there, you thought about things to come. God, who can tell people about secret things, showed you what is going to happen.
30 God also told this secret to me, not because I have greater wisdom than any other living person, but so that you may know what it means. In that way you will understand what went through your mind.
31 "O king, in your dream you saw a huge, shiny, and frightening statue in front of you.
32 The head of the statue was made of pure gold. Its chest and arms were made of silver. Its stomach and the upper part of its legs were made of bronze.
33 The lower part of the legs were made of iron, while its feet were made partly of iron and partly of baked clay.
34 While you were looking at the statue, you saw a rock cut free, but no human being touched the rock. It hit the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them.
35 Then the iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold broke to pieces at the same time. They became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summertime; the wind blew them away, and there was nothing left. Then the rock that hit the statue became a very large mountain that filled the whole earth.
36 "That was your dream. Now we will tell the king what it means.
37 O king, you are the greatest king. God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory.
38 Wherever people, wild animals, and birds live, God made you ruler over them. King Nebuchadnezzar, you are the head of gold on that statue.
39 "Another kingdom will come after you, but it will not be as great as yours. Next a third kingdom, the bronze part, will rule over the earth.
40 Then there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron. In the same way that iron crushes and smashes things to pieces, the fourth kingdom will smash and crush all the other kingdoms.
41 "You saw that the statue's feet and toes were partly baked clay and partly iron. That means the fourth kingdom will be a divided kingdom. It will have some of the strength of iron in it, just as you saw iron was mixed with clay.
42 The toes of the statue were partly iron and partly clay. So the fourth kingdom will be partly strong like iron and partly breakable like clay.
43 You saw the iron mixed with clay, but iron and clay do not hold together. In the same way the people of the fourth kingdom will be a mixture, but they will not be united as one people.
44 "During the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up another kingdom that will never be destroyed or given to another group of people. This kingdom will crush all the other kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will continue forever.
45 "King Nebuchadnezzar, you saw a rock cut from a mountain, but no human being touched it. The rock broke the iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold to pieces. In this way the great God showed you what will happen. The dream is true, and you can trust this explanation."
46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell facedown on the ground in front of Daniel. The king honored him and commanded that an offering and incense be presented to him.
47 Then the king said to Daniel, "Truly I know your God is the greatest of all gods, the Lord of all the kings. He tells people about things they cannot know. I know this is true, because you were able to tell these secret things to me."
48 Then the king gave Daniel many gifts plus an important position in his kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar made him ruler over the whole area of Babylon and put him in charge of all the wise men of Babylon.
49 Daniel asked the king to make Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego leaders over the area of Babylon, so the king did as Daniel asked. Daniel himself became one of the people who stayed at the royal court.

Daniel 3

1 King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue ninety feet high and nine feet wide and set it up on the plain of Dura in the area of Babylon.
2 Then he called for the leaders: the governors, assistant governors, captains of the soldiers, people who advised the king, keepers of the treasury, judges, rulers, and all other officers in his kingdom. He wanted them to come to the special service for the statue he had set up.
3 So they all came for the special service and stood in front of the statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
4 Then the man who made announcements for the king said in a loud voice, "People, nations, and those of every language, this is what you are commanded to do:
5 When you hear the sound of the horns, flutes, lyres, zithers, harps, pipes, and all the other musical instruments, you must bow down and worship the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up.
6 Anyone who doesn't bow down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace."
7 Now people, nations, and those who spoke every language were there. When they heard the sound of the horns, flutes, lyres, zithers, pipes, and all the other musical instruments, they bowed down and worshiped the gold statue King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
8 Then some Babylonians came up to the king and began speaking against the men of Judah.
9 They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, "O king, live forever!
10 O king, you gave a command that everyone who heard the horns, lyres, zithers, harps, pipes, and all the other musical instruments would have to bow down and worship the gold statue.
11 Anyone who wouldn't do this was to be thrown into a blazing furnace.
12 O king, there are some men of Judah whom you made officers in the area of Babylon that did not pay attention to your order. Their names are Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They do not serve your gods and do not worship the gold statue you have set up."
13 Nebuchadnezzar became very angry and called for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. When they were brought to the king,
14 Nebuchadnezzar said, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, is it true that you do not serve my gods nor worship the gold statue I have set up?
15 In a moment you will again hear the sound of the horns, flutes, lyres, zithers, harps, pipes, and all the other musical instruments. If you bow down and worship the statue I made, that will be good. But if you do not worship it, you will immediately be thrown into the blazing furnace. What god will be able to save you from my power then?"
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, saying, "Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves to you.
17 If you throw us into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from the furnace. He will save us from your power, O king.
18 But even if God does not save us, we want you, O king, to know this: We will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up."
19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and he changed his mind. He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than usual.
20 Then he commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace.
21 So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were tied up and thrown into the blazing furnace while still wearing their robes, trousers, turbans, and other clothes.
22 The king's command was very strict, and the furnace was made so hot that the flames killed the strong soldiers who threw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the furnace.
23 Firmly tied, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego fell into the blazing furnace.
24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was so surprised that he jumped to his feet. He asked the men who advised him, "Didn't we tie up only three men and throw them into the fire?" They answered, "Yes, O king."
25 The king said, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire. They are not tied up, and they are not burned. The fourth man looks like a son of the gods."
26 Then Nebuchadnezzar went to the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, come out! Servants of the Most High God, come here!" So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the fire.
27 When they came out, the governors, assistant governors, captains of the soldiers, and royal advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies. Their hair was not burned, their robes were not burned, and they didn't even smell like smoke!
28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, "Praise the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Their God has sent his angel and saved his servants from the fire! These three men trusted their God and refused to obey my command. They were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god other than their own.
29 So I now give this command: Anyone from any nation or language who says anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego will be torn apart and have his house turned into a pile of stones. No other god can save his people like this."
30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the area of Babylon.