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Daniel - Chapter 4

1 'I, Nebuchadnezzar, was living comfortably in my house, prosperously in my palace.

2 I had a dream; it appalled me. Dread assailed me as I lay in bed; the visions that passed through my head tormented me.

3 So I decreed that all the sages of Babylon be summoned to explain to me what the dream meant.

4 Magicians, soothsayers, Chaldaeans and exorcists came, and I told them what I had dreamt, but they could not interpret it for me.

5 Daniel, renamed Belteshazzar after my own god, and in whom the spirit of the holy gods resides, then came into my presence. I told him my dream:

6 ' "Belteshazzar, chief of magicians," I said, "I know that the spirit of the holy gods resides in you and that no mystery puts you at a loss. This is the dream I have had; tell me what it means.

7 ' "The visions that passed through my head as I lay in bed were these: I saw a tree in the middle of the world; it was very tall.

8 The tree grew taller and stronger, until its top reached the sky and it could be seen from the very ends of the earth.

9 Its foliage was beautiful, its fruit abundant, in it was food for all. For the wild animals it provided shade, the birds of heaven nested in its branches, all living creatures found their food on it.

10 ' "I watched the visions passing through my head as I lay in bed: Next, a Watchful One, a holy one, came down from heaven.

11 At the top of his voice he shouted: Cut the tree down, lop off its branches, strip off its leaves, throw away its fruit; let the animals flee from its shelter and the birds from its branches.

12 But leave the stump with its roots in the ground, bound with hoops of iron and bronze, in the grass of the countryside. Let it be drenched by the dew of heaven and have its lot with the animals, eating grass!

13 Let it cease to have a human heart, and be given the heart of a beast, and seven times shall pass over him!

14 Such is the sentence proclaimed by the Watchers, the verdict announced by the holy ones- so that every living thing may learn that the Most High rules over human sovereignty; he confers it on whom he pleases, and raises the lowest of humankind.

15 ' "This was the dream I had-I, Nebuchadnezzar the king. Now it is for you, Belteshazzar, to pronounce on its meaning, since not one of the sages in my kingdom has been able to interpret it for me; you, however, can do so, since the spirit of the holy gods resides in you."'

16 Daniel, known as Belteshazzar, was confused for a time and upset. The king said, 'Belteshazzar, do not be upset at the dream and its meaning.' Belteshazzar answered, 'My lord, may the dream apply to those who hate you, and its meaning to your foes!

17 The tree you saw, so large and strong and tall that it reached the sky and could be seen throughout the world,

18 the tree with beautiful foliage and abundant fruit, with food for all in it, providing shade for the wild animals, with the birds of heaven nesting in its branches:

19 that tree is yourself, Your Majesty, for you have grown great and strong; your stature is now so great that it reaches the sky, and your empire extends to the ends of the earth.

20 'And the Watchful One seen by the king, the holy one coming down from heaven and saying, "Cut the tree down and destroy it, but leave stump and roots in the ground, bound with hoops of iron and bronze in the grass of the countryside; let it be drenched by the dew and have its lot with the wild animals until seven times have passed over":

21 the meaning of this, Your Majesty, the verdict of the Most High passed on my lord the king, is this:

22 You will be driven from human society and will make your home with the wild animals, you will feed on grass, as oxen do, you will be drenched by the dew of heaven; seven times will pass over you until you have learnt that the Most High rules over human sovereignty and confers it on whom he pleases.

23 'And the order, "Leave the stump and roots of the tree", means that your kingdom will be kept for you until you come to understand that Heaven rules all.

24 May it please the king to accept my advice: by upright actions break with your sins, break with your crimes by showing mercy to the poor, and so live long and peacefully.'

25 This all happened to King Nebuchadnezzar.

26 At the end of twelve months, while strolling on the roof of the royal palace in Babylon,

27 the king was saying, 'Great Babylon! Was it not built by me as a royal residence, by the force of my might and for the majesty of my glory?'

28 The words were not out of his mouth when a voice came down from heaven: 'Of you, King Nebuchadnezzar, it is decreed: the empire has been taken from you,

29 you will be driven from human society and will make your home with the wild animals; you will feed on grass, as oxen do, and seven times will pass over you until you have learnt that the Most High rules over human sovereignty and gives it to whom he pleases.'

30 The words were immediately fulfilled: Nebuchadnezzar was driven from human society and ate grass as oxen do; he was drenched by the dew of heaven; his hair grew like an eagle's feathers, and his nails became like a bird's talons.

31 'When the time was over, I, Nebuchad- nezzar, raised my eyes to heaven: my reason returned. And I blessed the Most High, praising and glorifying him who lives for ever, for his empire is an everlasting empire, his kingship endures, age after age.

32 All who dwell on earth count for nothing; as he thinks fit, he disposes the army of heaven and those who dwell on earth. No one can arrest his hand or ask him, "What have you done?"

33 'At that moment my reason returned and, for the honour of my royal state, my glory and splendour returned too. My counsellors and noblemen acclaimed me; I was restored to my throne, and to my past greatness even more was added.

34 And now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, extol and glorify the King of heaven, all of whose deeds are true, all of whose ways are right, and who can humble those who walk in pride.'

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