4 1 King Nebuchadnezzar to everyone, everywhere - every race, color, and creed: "Peace and prosperity to all! 2 It is my privilege to report to you the gracious miracles that the High God has done for me. 3 "His miracles are staggering, his wonders are surprising. His kingdom lasts and lasts, his sovereign rule goes on forever.
4 "I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home taking it easy in my palace, without a care in the world. 5 But as I was stretched out on my bed I had a dream that scared me - a nightmare that shook me. 6 I sent for all the wise men of Babylon so that they could interpret the dream for me. 7 When they were all assembled - magicians, enchanters, fortunetellers, witches - I told them the dream. None could tell me what it meant. 8 "And then Daniel came in. His Babylonian name is Belteshazzar, named after my god, a man full of the divine Holy Spirit. I told him my dream. 9 "'Belteshazzar,' I said, 'chief of the magicians, I know that you are a man full of the divine Holy Spirit and that there is no mystery that you can't solve. Listen to this dream that I had and interpret it for me. 10 "'This is what I saw as I was stretched out on my bed. I saw a big towering tree at the center of the world. 11 As I watched, the tree grew huge and strong. Its top reached the sky and it could be seen from the four corners of the earth. 12 Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant - enough food for everyone! Wild animals found shelter under it, birds nested in its branches, everything living was fed and sheltered by it. 13 "'And this also is what I saw as I was stretched out on my bed. I saw a holy watchman descend from heaven, 14 and call out: Chop down the tree, lop off its branches, strip its leaves and scatter its fruit. Chase the animals from beneath it and shoo the birds from its branches. 15 But leave the stump and roots in the ground, belted with a strap of iron and bronze in the grassy meadow. Let him be soaked in heaven's dew and take his meals with the animals that graze. 16 Let him lose his mind and get an animal's mind in exchange, And let this go on for seven seasons. 17 The angels announce this decree, the holy watchmen bring this sentence, So that everyone living will know that the High God rules human kingdoms. He arranges kingdom affairs however he wishes, and makes leaders out of losers. 18 "'This is what I, King Nebuchadnezzar, dreamed. It's your turn, Belteshazzar - interpret it for me. None of the wise men of Babylon could make heads or tails of it, but I'm sure you can do it. You're full of the divine Holy Spirit.'" "You Will Graze on the Grass Like an Ox"
19 At first Daniel, who had been renamed Belteshazzar in Babylon, was upset. The thoughts that came swarming into his mind terrified him. "Belteshazzar," the king said, "stay calm. Don't let the dream and its interpretation scare you." "My master," said Belteshazzar, "I wish this dream were about your enemies and its interpretation for your foes. 20 "The tree you saw that grew so large and sturdy with its top touching the sky, visible from the four corners of the world; 21 the tree with the luxuriant foliage and abundant fruit, enough for everyone; the tree under which animals took cover and in which birds built nests 22 - you, O king, are that tree. 23 "But the part about the holy angel descending from heaven and proclaiming, 'Chop down the tree, destroy it, but leave stump and roots in the ground belted with a strap of iron and bronze in the grassy meadow; let him be soaked with heaven's dew and take his meals with the grazing animals for seven seasons' 24 - this, O king, also refers to you. It means that the High God has sentenced my master the king: 25 You will be driven away from human company and live with the wild animals. You will graze on grass like an ox. You will be soaked in heaven's dew. This will go on for seven seasons, and you will learn that the High God rules over human kingdoms and that he arranges all kingdom affairs. 26 "The part about the tree stump and roots being left means that your kingdom will still be there for you after you learn that it is heaven that runs things. 27 "So, king, take my advice: Make a clean break with your sins and start living for others. Quit your wicked life and look after the needs of the down-and-out. Then you will continue to have a good life." The Loss and Regaining of a Mind and a Kingdom
28 All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 Just twelve months later, he was walking on the balcony of the royal palace in Babylon 30 and boasted, "Look at this, Babylon the great! And I built it all by myself, a royal palace adequate to display my honor and glory!" 31 The words were no sooner out of his mouth than a voice out of heaven spoke, "This is the verdict on you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your kingdom is taken from you. 32 You will be driven out of human company and live with the wild animals. You will eat grass like an ox. The sentence is for seven seasons, enough time to learn that the High God rules human kingdoms and puts whomever he wishes in charge." 33 It happened at once. Nebuchadnezzar was driven out of human company, ate grass like an ox, and was soaked in heaven's dew. His hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a hawk.
34 "At the end of the seven years, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked to heaven. I was given my mind back and I blessed the High God, thanking and glorifying God, who lives forever. "His sovereign rule lasts and lasts, his kingdom never declines and falls. 35 Life on this earth doesn't add up to much, but God's heavenly army keeps everything going. No one can interrupt his work, no one can call his rule into question. 36 "At the same time that I was given back my mind, I was also given back my majesty and splendor, making my kingdom shine. All the leaders and important people came looking for me. I was reestablished as king in my kingdom and became greater than ever. 37 And that's why I'm singing - I, Nebuchadnezzar - singing and praising the King of Heaven: "Everything he does is right, and he does it the right way. He knows how to turn a proud person into a humble man or woman."
The Handwriting on the Wall
5 1 King Belshazzar held a great feast for his one thousand nobles. The wine flowed freely. 2 Belshazzar, heady with the wine, ordered that the gold and silver chalices his father Nebuchadnezzar had stolen from God's Temple of Jerusalem be brought in so that he and his nobles, his wives and concubines, could drink from them. 3 When the gold and silver chalices were brought in, the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines, drank wine from them. 4 They drank the wine and drunkenly praised their gods made of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone. 5 At that very moment, the fingers of a human hand appeared and began writing on the lamp-illumined, whitewashed wall of the palace. When the king saw the disembodied hand writing away, 6 he went white as a ghost, scared out of his wits. His legs went limp and his knees knocked. 7 He yelled out for the enchanters, the fortunetellers, and the diviners to come. He told these Babylonian magi, "Anyone who can read this writing on the wall and tell me what it means will be famous and rich - purple robe, the great gold chain - and be third-in-command in the kingdom." 8 One after the other they tried, but could make no sense of it. They could neither read what was written nor interpret it to the king. 9 So now the king was really frightened. All the blood drained from his face. The nobles were in a panic.
10 The queen heard of the hysteria among the king and his nobles and came to the banquet hall. She said, "Long live the king! Don't be upset. Don't sit around looking like ghosts. 11 There is a man in your kingdom who is full of the divine Holy Spirit. During your father's time he was well known for his intellectual brilliance and spiritual wisdom. He was so good that your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, made him the head of all the magicians, enchanters, fortunetellers, and diviners. 12 There was no one quite like him. He could do anything - interpret dreams, solve mysteries, explain puzzles. His name is Daniel, but he was renamed Belteshazzar by the king. Have Daniel called in. He'll tell you what is going on here." 13 So Daniel was called in. The king asked him, "Are you the Daniel who was one of the Jewish exiles my father brought here from Judah? 14 I've heard about you - that you're full of the Holy Spirit, that you've got a brilliant mind, that you are incredibly wise. 15 The wise men and enchanters were brought in here to read this writing on the wall and interpret it for me. They couldn't figure it out - not a word, not a syllable. 16 But I've heard that you interpret dreams and solve mysteries. So - if you can read the writing and interpret it for me, you'll be rich and famous - a purple robe, the great gold chain around your neck - and third-in-command in the kingdom." 17 Daniel answered the king, "You can keep your gifts, or give them to someone else. But I will read the writing for the king and tell him what it means. 18 "Listen, O king! The High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar a great kingdom and a glorious reputation. 19 Because God made him so famous, people from everywhere, whatever their race, color, and creed, were totally intimidated by him. He killed or spared people on whim. He promoted or humiliated people capriciously. 20 He developed a big head and a hard spirit. Then God knocked him off his high horse and stripped him of his fame. 21 He was thrown out of human company, lost his mind, and lived like a wild animal. He ate grass like an ox and was soaked by heaven's dew until he learned his lesson: that the High God rules human kingdoms and puts anyone he wants in charge. 22 "You are his son and have known all this, yet you're as arrogant as he ever was. 23 Look at you, setting yourself up in competition against the Master of heaven! You had the sacred chalices from his Temple brought into your drunken party so that you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines, could drink from them. You used the sacred chalices to toast your gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone - blind, deaf, and imbecile gods. But you treat with contempt the living God who holds your entire life from birth to death in his hand. 24 "God sent the hand that wrote on the wall, 25 and this is what is written: mene, teqel, and peres. 26 This is what the words mean: "Mene: God has numbered the days of your rule and they don't add up. 27 "Teqel: You have been weighed on the scales and you don't weigh much. 28 "Peres: Your kingdom has been divided up and handed over to the Medes and Persians." 29 Belshazzar did what he had promised. He robed Daniel in purple, draped the great gold chain around his neck, and promoted him to third-in-charge in the kingdom.
Daniel in the Lions' Den
6 1 Darius reorganized his kingdom. He appointed one hundred twenty governors to administer all the parts of his realm. 2 Over them were three vice-regents, one of whom was Daniel. The governors reported to the vice-regents, who made sure that everything was in order for the king. 3 But Daniel, brimming with spirit and intelligence, so completely outclassed the other vice-regents and governors that the king decided to put him in charge of the whole kingdom. 4 The vice-regents and governors got together to find some old scandal or skeleton in Daniel's life that they could use against him, but they couldn't dig up anything. He was totally exemplary and trustworthy. They could find no evidence of negligence or misconduct. 5 So they finally gave up and said, "We're never going to find anything against this Daniel unless we can cook up something religious."
6 The vice-regents and governors conspired together and then went to the king and said, "King Darius, live forever! 7 We've convened your vice-regents, governors, and all your leading officials, and have agreed that the king should issue the following decree: For the next thirty days no one is to pray to any god or mortal except you, O king. Anyone who disobeys will be thrown into the lions' den. 8 "Issue this decree, O king, and make it unconditional, as if written in stone like all the laws of the Medes and the Persians." 9 King Darius signed the decree. 10 When Daniel learned that the decree had been signed and posted, he continued to pray just as he had always done. His house had windows in the upstairs that opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he knelt there in prayer, thanking and praising his God.
11 The conspirators came and found him praying, asking God for help. 12 They went straight to the king and reminded him of the royal decree that he had signed. "Did you not," they said, "sign a decree forbidding anyone to pray to any god or man except you for the next thirty days? And anyone caught doing it would be thrown into the lions' den?" "Absolutely," said the king. "Written in stone, like all the laws of the Medes and Persians." 13 Then they said, "Daniel, one of the Jewish exiles, ignores you, O king, and defies your decree. Three times a day he prays." 14 At this, the king was very upset and tried his best to get Daniel out of the fix he'd put him in. He worked at it the whole day long. 15 But then the conspirators were back: "Remember, O king, it's the law of the Medes and Persians that the king's decree can never be changed." 16 The king caved in and ordered Daniel brought and thrown into the lions' den. But he said to Daniel, "Your God, to whom you are so loyal, is going to get you out of this." 17 A stone slab was placed over the opening of the den. The king sealed the cover with his signet ring and the signet rings of all his nobles, fixing Daniel's fate.
18 The king then went back to his palace. He refused supper. He couldn't sleep. He spent the night fasting. 19 At daybreak the king got up and hurried to the lions' den. 20 As he approached the den, he called out anxiously, "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve so loyally, saved you from the lions?" 21 "O king, live forever!" said Daniel. 22 "My God sent his angel, who closed the mouths of the lions so that they would not hurt me. I've been found innocent before God and also before you, O king. I've done nothing to harm you." 23 When the king heard these words, he was happy. He ordered Daniel taken up out of the den. When he was hauled up, there wasn't a scratch on him. He had trusted his God. 24 Then the king commanded that the conspirators who had informed on Daniel be thrown into the lions' den, along with their wives and children. Before they hit the floor, the lions had them in their jaws, tearing them to pieces.
25 King Darius published this proclamation to every race, color, and creed on earth: Peace to you! Abundant peace! 26 I decree that Daniel's God shall be worshiped and feared in all parts of my kingdom. He is the living God, world without end. His kingdom never falls. His rule continues eternally. 27 He is a savior and rescuer. He performs astonishing miracles in heaven and on earth. He saved Daniel from the power of the lions. 28 From then on, Daniel was treated well during the reign of Darius, and also in the following reign of Cyrus the Persian.