Daniel 4; Daniel 5; Daniel 6

1 King Nebuchadnezzar sent this letter to the people, nations, and those who speak every language in all the world: I wish you peace and great wealth! 2 The Most High God has done miracles and wonderful things for me that I am happy to tell you about. 3 His wonderful acts are great, and his miracles are mighty. His kingdom goes on forever, and his rule continues from now on. 4 I, Nebuchadnezzar, was happy and successful at my palace, 5 but I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying on my bed, I saw pictures and visions in my mind that alarmed me. 6 So I ordered all the wise men of Babylon to come to me and tell me what my dream meant. 7 The fortune-tellers, magicians, and wise men came, and I told them about the dream. But they could not tell me what it meant. 8 Finally, Daniel came to me. (I called him Belteshazzar to honor my god, because the spirit of the holy gods is in him.) I told my dream to him. 9 I said, "Belteshazzar, you are the most important of all the fortune-tellers. I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you, so there is no secret that is too hard for you to understand. This was what I dreamed; tell me what it means. 10 These are the visions I saw while I was lying in my bed: I looked, and there in front of me was a tree standing in the middle of the earth. And it was very tall. 11 The tree grew large and strong. The top of the tree touched the sky and could be seen from anywhere on earth. 12 The leaves of the tree were beautiful. It had plenty of good fruit on it, enough food for everyone. The wild animals found shelter under the tree, and the birds lived in its branches. Every animal ate from it. 13 "As I was looking at those things in the vision while lying on my bed, I saw an observer, a holy angel coming down from heaven. 14 He spoke very loudly and said, 'Cut down the tree and cut off its branches. Strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals under the tree run away, and let the birds in its branches fly away. 15 But leave the stump and its roots in the ground with a band of iron and bronze around it; let it stay in the field with the grass around it. "'Let the man become wet with dew, and let him live among the animals and plants of the earth. 16 Let him not think like a human any longer, but let him have the mind of an animal for seven years. 17 "'The observers gave this command; the holy ones declared the sentence. This is so all people may know that the Most High God rules over every kingdom on earth. God gives those kingdoms to anyone he wants, and he chooses people to rule them who are not proud.' 18 "That is what I, King Nebuchadnezzar, dreamed. Now Belteshazzar, tell me what the dream means. None of the wise men in my kingdom can explain it to me, but you can, because the spirit of the holy gods is in you." 19 Then Daniel, who was called Belteshazzar, was very quiet for a while, because his understanding of the dream frightened him. So the king said, "Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning make you afraid." Then Belteshazzar answered, "My master, I wish the dream were about your enemies, and I wish its meaning were for those who are against you! 20 You saw a tree in your dream that grew large and strong. Its top touched the sky, and it could be seen from all over the earth. 21 Its leaves were beautiful, and it had plenty of fruit for everyone to eat. It was a home for the wild animals, and its branches were nesting places for the birds. 22 O king, you are that tree! You have become great and powerful, like the tall tree that touched the sky. Your power reaches to the far parts of the earth. 23 "O king, you saw an observer, a holy angel, coming down from heaven who said, 'Cut down the tree and destroy it. But leave the stump and its roots in the ground with a band of iron and bronze around it; leave it in the field with the grass. Let him become wet with dew and live like a wild animal for seven years.' 24 "This is the meaning of the dream, O king. The Most High God has commanded these things to happen to my master the king: 25 You will be forced away from people to live among the wild animals. People will feed you grass like an ox, and dew from the sky will make you wet. Seven years will pass, and then you will learn this lesson: The Most High God is ruler over every kingdom on earth, and he gives those kingdoms to anyone he chooses. 26 "Since the stump of the tree and its roots were left in the ground, your kingdom will be given back to you when you learn that one in heaven rules your kingdom. 27 So, O king, please accept my advice. Stop sinning and do what is right. Stop doing wicked things and be kind to the poor. Then you might continue to be successful." 28 All these things happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 Twelve months later as he was walking on the roofn of his palace in Babylon, 30 he said, "I have built this great Babylon as my royal home. I built it by my power to show my glory and my majesty." 31 The words were still in his mouth when a voice from heaven said, "King Nebuchadnezzar, these things will happen to you: Your royal power has been taken away from you. 32 You will be forced away from people. You will live with the wild animals and will be fed grass like an ox. Seven years will pass before you learn this lesson: The Most High God rules over every kingdom on earth and gives those kingdoms to anyone he chooses." 33 Immediately the words came true. Nebuchadnezzar was forced to go away from people, and he began eating grass like an ox. He became wet from dew. His hair grew long like the feathers of an eagle, and his nails grew like the claws of a bird. 34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up toward heaven, and I could think normally again! Then I gave praise to the Most High God; I gave honor and glory to him who lives forever. God's rule is forever, and his kingdom continues for all time. 35 People on earth are not truly important. God does what he wants with the powers of heaven and the people on earth. No one can stop his powerful hand or question what he does. 36 At that time I could think normally again, and God gave back my great honor and power and returned the glory to my kingdom. The people who advised me and the royal family came to me for help again. I became king again and was even greater and more powerful than before. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, give praise and honor and glory to the King of heaven. Everything he does is right and fair, and he is able to make proud people humble.
1 King Belshazzar gave a big banquet for a thousand royal guests and drank wine with them. 2 As Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring the gold and silver cups that his ancestor Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Temple in Jerusalem. This was so the king, his royal guests, his wives, and his slave women could drink from those cups. 3 So they brought the gold cups that had been taken from the Temple of God in Jerusalem. And the king and his royal guests, his wives, and his slave women drank from them. 4 As they were drinking, they praised their gods, which were made from gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone. 5 Suddenly the fingers of a person's hand appeared and began writing on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. 6 King Belshazzar was very frightened. His face turned white, his knees knocked together, and he could not stand up because his legs were too weak. 7 The king called for the magicians, wise men, and wizards of Babylon and said to them, "Anyone who can read this writing and explain it will receive purple clothes fit for a king and a gold chain around his neck. And I will make that person the third highest ruler in the kingdom." 8 Then all the king's wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or tell the king what it meant. 9 King Belshazzar became even more afraid, and his face became even whiter. His royal guests were confused. 10 Then the king's mother, who had heard the voices of the king and his royal guests, came into the banquet room. She said, "O king, live forever! Don't be afraid or let your face be white with fear! 11 There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods. In the days of your father, this man showed understanding, knowledge, and wisdom like the gods. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, put this man in charge of all the wise men, fortune-tellers, magicians, and wizards. 12 The man I am talking about is named Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. He was very smart and had knowledge and understanding. He could explain dreams and secrets and could answer very hard problems. Call for Daniel. He will tell you what the writing on the wall means." 13 So they brought Daniel to the king, and the king asked, "Is your name Daniel? Are you one of the captives my father the king brought from Judah? 14 I have heard that the spirit of the gods is in you, and that you are very smart and have knowledge and extraordinary understanding. 15 The wise men and magicians were brought to me to read this writing and to explain what it means, but they could not explain it. 16 I have heard that you are able to explain what things mean and can find the answers to hard problems. Read this writing on the wall and explain it to me. If you can, I will give you purple clothes fit for a king and a gold chain to wear around your neck. And you will become the third highest ruler in the kingdom." 17 Then Daniel answered the king, "You may keep your gifts for yourself, or you may give those rewards to someone else. But I will read the writing on the wall for you and will explain to you what it means. 18 "O king, the Most High God made your father Nebuchadnezzar a great, important, and powerful king. 19 Because God made him important, all the people, nations, and those who spoke every language were very frightened of Nebuchadnezzar. If he wanted someone to die, he killed that person. If he wanted someone to live, he let that person live. Those he wanted to promote, he promoted. Those he wanted to be less important, he made less important. 20 "But Nebuchadnezzar became too proud and stubborn, so he was taken off his royal throne. His glory was taken away. 21 He was forced away from people, and his mind became like the mind of an animal. He lived with the wild donkeys and was fed grass like an ox and became wet with dew. These things happened to him until he learned his lesson: The Most High God rules over every kingdom on earth, and he sets anyone he chooses over those kingdoms. 22 "Belshazzar, you already knew these things, because you are a descendant of Nebuchadnezzar. Still you have not been sorry for what you have done. 23 Instead, you have set yourself against the Lord of heaven. You ordered the drinking cups from the Temple of the Lord to be brought to you. Then you and your royal guests, your wives, and your slave women drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone that are not really gods; they cannot see or hear or understand anything. You did not honor God, who has power over your life and everything you do. 24 So God sent the hand that wrote on the wall. 25 "These are the words that were written on the wall: 'Mene, mene, tekel, and parsin.' 26 "This is what the words mean: Mene: God has counted the days until your kingdom will end. 27 Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found not good enough. 28 Parsin: Your kingdom is being divided and will be given to the Medes and the Persians." 29 Then Belshazzar gave an order for Daniel to be dressed in purple clothes and to have a gold chain put around his neck. And it was announced that Daniel was the third highest ruler in the kingdom. 30 That very same night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonian people, was killed. 31 So Darius the Mede became the new king when he was sixty-two years old.
1 Darius thought it would be a good idea to choose one hundred twenty governors who would rule his kingdom. 2 He chose three men as supervisors over those governors, and Daniel was one of the supervisors. The supervisors were to ensure that the governors did not try to cheat the king. 3 Daniel showed that he could do the work better than the other supervisors and governors, so the king planned to put Daniel in charge of the whole kingdom. 4 Because of this, the other supervisors and governors tried to find reasons to accuse Daniel about his work in the government. But they could not find anything wrong with him or any reason to accuse him, because he was trustworthy and not lazy or dishonest. 5 Finally these men said, "We will never find any reason to accuse Daniel unless it is about the law of his God." 6 So the supervisors and governors went as a group to the king and said: "King Darius, live forever! 7 The supervisors, assistant governors, governors, the people who advise you, and the captains of the soldiers have all agreed that you should make a new law for everyone to obey: For the next thirty days no one should pray to any god or human except to you, O king. Anyone who doesn't obey will be thrown into the lions' den. 8 Now, O king, make the law and sign your name to it so that it cannot be changed, because then it will be a law of the Medes and Persians and cannot be canceled." 9 So King Darius signed the law. 10 Even though Daniel knew that the new law had been written, he went to pray in an upstairs room in his house, which had windows that opened toward Jerusalem. Three times each day Daniel would kneel down to pray and thank God, just as he always had done. 11 Then those men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. 12 So they went to the king and talked to him about the law he had made. They said, "Didn't you sign a law that says no one may pray to any god or human except you, O king? Doesn't it say that anyone who disobeys during the next thirty days will be thrown into the lions' den?" The king answered, "Yes, that is the law, and the laws of the Medes and Persians cannot be canceled." 13 Then they said to the king, "Daniel, one of the captives from Judah, is not paying attention to you, O king, or to the law you signed. Daniel still prays to his God three times every day." 14 The king became very upset when he heard this. He wanted to save Daniel, and he worked hard until sunset trying to think of a way to save him. 15 Then those men went as a group to the king. They said, "Remember, O king, the law of the Medes and Persians says that no law or command given by the king can be changed." 16 So King Darius gave the order, and Daniel was brought in and thrown into the lions' den. The king said to Daniel, "May the God you serve all the time save you!" 17 A big stone was brought and placed over the opening of the lions' den. Then the king used his signet ring and the rings of his royal officers to put special seals on the rock. This ensured that no one would move the rock and bring Daniel out. 18 Then King Darius went back to his palace. He did not eat that night, he did not have any entertainment brought to him, and he could not sleep. 19 The next morning King Darius got up at dawn and hurried to the lions' den. 20 As he came near the den, he was worried. He called out to Daniel, "Daniel, servant of the living God! Has your God that you always worship been able to save you from the lions?" 21 Daniel answered, "O king, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel to close the lions' mouths. They have not hurt me, because my God knows I am innocent. I never did anything wrong to you, O king." 23 King Darius was very happy and told his servants to lift Daniel out of the lions' den. So they lifted him out and did not find any injury on him, because Daniel had trusted in his God. 24 Then the king commanded that the men who had accused Daniel be brought to the lions' den. They, their wives, and their children were thrown into the den. The lions grabbed them before they hit the floor of the den and crushed their bones. 25 Then King Darius wrote a letter to all people and all nations, to those who spoke every language in the world: I wish you great peace and wealth. 26 I am making a new law for people in every part of my kingdom. All of you must fear and respect the God of Daniel. Daniel's God is the living God; he lives forever. His kingdom will never be destroyed, and his rule will never end. 27 God rescues and saves people and does mighty miracles in heaven and on earth. He is the one who saved Daniel from the power of the lions. 28 So Daniel was successful during the time Darius was king and when Cyrus the Persian was king.