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Daniel Taken to Babylon

1 Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar came to Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar surrounded Jerusalem with his army. This happened during the third year that Jehoiakim was king of Judah.* 2The Lord allowed Nebuchadnezzar to defeat Jehoiakim king of Judah. Nebuchadnezzar took all of the dishes and other things from God’s temple. Nebuchadnezzar carried those things to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar put those things in the temple of his idol gods. 3Then King Nebuchadnezzar gave Ashpenaz an order. (Ashpenaz was the most important leader of all the eunuchs* that served the king.) The king told Ashpenaz to bring some of the Jewish men into his house. Nebuchadnezzar wanted Jewish men from important families and from the family of the king of Israel. 4King Nebuchadnezzar wanted only healthy young Jewish men. The king wanted young men that did not have any bruises or scars, or anything wrong with their bodies. The king wanted handsome, smart young men. The king wanted young men that were able to learn things quickly and easily. The king wanted young men that were able to serve in his house. The king told Ashpenaz to teach those young men from Israel the language and writings of the Chaldean people.* 5King Nebuchadnezzar gave those young men a certain amount of food and wine every day. That was the same kind of food that the king ate. The king wanted those young men from Israel to be trained for three years. Then after three years, the young men would become servants of the king of Babylon. 6Among those young men were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. These young men were from the family group of Judah. 7Then Ashpenaz gave those young men from Judah Babylonian names. Daniel’s new name was Belteshazzar. Hananiah’s new name was Shadrach. Mishael’s new name was Meshach. And Azariah’s new name was Abednego. 8Daniel did not want to eat the king’s rich food and wine. Daniel did not want to make himself unclean* with that food and wine. So he asked Ashpenaz for permission not to make himself unclean in this way. 9God made Ashpenaz want to be good and kind to Daniel. 10But Ashpenaz said to Daniel, “I am afraid of my master, the king. The king ordered me to give you this food and drink. If you don’t eat this food, then you will begin to look weak and sick. You will look worse than other young men your age. The king will see this, and he will become angry at me. He might cut off my head! And it would be your fault.” 11Then Daniel talked to their guard. Ashpenaz had ordered the guard to watch Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 12Daniel 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.

13Then after ten days, compare us with the other young men who eat the king’s food. See for yourself who looks healthier. Then you judge for yourself how you want to treat us. We are your servants.” 14So the guard agreed to test Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah for ten days. 15After ten days, Daniel and his friends looked healthier than all of the young men that ate the king’s food. 16So the guard continued to take away the king’s special food and wine and to give vegetables to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 17God gave Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah the wisdom and ability to learn many different kinds of writing and science. Daniel could also understand all kinds of visions* and dreams. 18The king wanted all the young men to be trained for three years. At the end of that time, Ashpenaz brought all of the young men to King Nebuchadnezzar. 19The king talked to them. The king 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. 20Every time the king asked them about something important, they showed much wisdom and understanding. The king found they were ten times better than all the magic men and wise men in his kingdom. 21So Daniel continued to be the king’s servant until the first year that Cyrus was king.*

third year … Judah This is probably 605 B.C. eunuchs Men whose testicles have been removed. Rulers often gave such men important positions.  Chaldean people An important family group in Babylon. The king of Babylon was from this family group. The Chaldeans were educated people—they studied science, history, languages, and astronomy. But they also believed they could do magic and look at the stars to learn what would happen in the future. unclean See Lev. 11-15 for the rules about clean and unclean things. vision(s) Something like a dream that God used to speak to people. first year that Cyrus was king This is probably 539–539 B.C.

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

2 During Nebuchadnezzar’s second year as king, he had some dreams. Those dreams bothered him and he could not sleep. 2So the king called his wise men to come to him. Those men used magic tricks and they watched the stars. They did this to try to interpret dreams and to learn what will happen in the future. The king wanted those men to tell him what he had dreamed. So they came in and stood in front of the king. 3Then the king said to those men, “I had a dream that bothers me. I want to know what the dream means.” 4Then the Chaldeans* answered the king. They spoke in the Aramaic language.* They said, “King, live forever! We are your servants. Please tell us your dream, then we will tell you what it means.” 5Then King Nebuchadnezzar said to those men, “No! You must tell me the dream. And then you must tell me what it means. If you don’t do these things, then I will give an order for you to be cut into pieces. And I will order your houses to be destroyed until they become piles of dust and ashes. 6But if you tell me my dream and explain the meaning, then I will give you gifts, rewards, and great honor. So tell me about my dream and tell me what it means.” 7Again the wise men said to the king, “Please, sir, tell us about the dream, and we will tell you what the dream means.” 8Then King Nebuchadnezzar answered, “I know that you are trying to get more time. You know that I meant what I said. 9You know that you will be punished if you don’t tell me about my dream. So you have all agreed to lie to me. You are hoping for more time. You are hoping that I will forget what I want you to do. Now, tell me the dream. If you can tell me the dream, then I will know that you can tell me what it really means!” 10The Chaldeans* answered the king. They said, “There is not a man on earth that can do what the king is asking! No king has ever asked the wise men or the men that do magic or the Chaldeans to do something like this. Not even the greatest and most powerful king ever asked his wise men to do something like this. 11The king is asking something that is too hard to do. Only the gods could tell the king his dream and what it means. But the gods don’t live with people.”

12When the king heard that, he became very angry. So he gave an order for all the wise men of Babylon to be killed. 13King Nebuchadnezzar’s order was announced. All the wise men were to be killed. The king’s men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to kill them. 14Arioch was the commander of the king’s guards. He was going to kill the wise men of Babylon. But Daniel talked to him. Daniel spoke to Arioch in a wise and polite way. 15Daniel said to Arioch, “Why did the king order such a severe punishment?” Then Arioch explained the whole story about the king’s dreams, and Daniel understood. 16When Daniel heard the story, he went to King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel asked the king to give him some more time. Then he would tell the king about the dream and what it meant. 17So Daniel went to his house. He explained the whole story to his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 18Daniel asked his friends to pray to the God of heaven. Daniel asked them to pray that God would be kind to them and help them understand this secret. Then Daniel and his friends would not be killed with the other wise men of Babylon. 19During the night, God explained the secret to Daniel in a vision.* Then Daniel praised the God of heaven. 20Daniel said: “Praise God’s name for ever and ever! Power and wisdom belong to him! 21He changes the times and seasons. And he changes the kings. He gives power to kings, and he takes their power away! He gives wisdom to people so they become wise, He lets people learn things and become wise. 22He knows hidden secrets that are hard to understand. Light lives with him, so he knows what is in the dark and secret places! 23God of my ancestors,* I thank you and praise you! You gave me wisdom and power. You told us the things we asked for! You told us about the king’s dream.”

Daniel Tells What the Dream Means

24Then Daniel went to Arioch. King Nebuchadnezzar had chosen Arioch to kill the wise men of Babylon. Daniel said to Arioch, “Don’t kill the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king. I will tell him about his dream and what it means.” 25So very quickly, Arioch took Daniel to the king. Arioch said to the king, “I have found a man among the captives* from Judah. He can tell the king what his dream means.” 26The king asked Daniel (Belteshazzar) a question. He said to Daniel, “Are you able to tell me about my dream, and what it means?” 27Daniel answered, “King Nebuchadnezzar, no wise man, no man that does magic tricks, and no Chaldean could tell the king the secret things he has asked about. 28But there is a God in heaven who tells secret things. God gave King Nebuchadnezzar dreams to show him what will happen at a later time. This was your dream, and these are the things you saw while lying on your bed: 29King, you were lying there on your bed. And you began thinking about things that will happen in the future. God can tell people about secret things—and he showed you what will happen in the future. 30God also told this secret to me! Why? It is not because I have greater wisdom than other men. No, God told me about this secret so that you, king, may know what it means. In that way, you will understand what went through your mind. 31“King, in your dream you saw a large statue* in front of you. The statue was very large and it was shiny and very impressive. It would make a person’s eyes wide from amazement.

32The head of the statue was made from pure gold. The chest and the arms of the statue were made from silver. The belly and upper part of the legs of the statue were made from bronze. 33The lower part of the legs of the statue were made from iron. The feet of the statue were made partly of iron and partly of clay. 34While you were looking at the statue, you saw a rock. The rock was cut loose—but a person did not cut the rock. Then the rock {went through the air and} hit the statue on its feet of iron and clay. The rock smashed the feet of the statue. 35Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and gold broke to pieces all at the same time. And all those pieces became like chaff* on a threshing floor* in the summertime. The wind blew those pieces away, and there was nothing left. No one could tell that a statue had ever been there. Then the rock that hit the statue became a very large mountain and filled up the whole earth. 36“That was your dream. Now we will tell the king what it means. 37King, you are the most important king. The God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory. 38God has given you control and you rule over people and over the wild animals and over the birds. Wherever they live, God has made you ruler over them all. King Nebuchadnezzar, you are that head of gold on the statue.* 39“Another kingdom will come after you—{that is the silver part}. But that kingdom will not be as great as your kingdom. Next, a third kingdom will rule over the earth—that is the bronze part. 40Then there will be a fourth kingdom. That kingdom will be strong like iron. Iron breaks and smashes things to pieces. In the same way, that fourth kingdom will smash and break all the other kingdoms. 41“You saw that the feet and toes of the statue* were partly 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 because you saw the iron mixed with clay. 42The toes of the statue were partly iron and partly clay. So the fourth kingdom will be partly strong like iron, and partly weak like clay. 43You saw the iron mixed with clay. But iron and clay don’t mix completely together. In the same way, the people of the fourth kingdom will be a mixture. Those people will not be united as one people. 44“During the time of the kings {of the fourth kingdom}, the God of heaven will set up another kingdom. This kingdom will continue forever! It will never be destroyed! And it will be the kind of kingdom that can’t be passed on to another group of people. This kingdom will crush all those other kingdoms. It will bring those kingdoms to an end. But that kingdom itself will continue forever. 45“King Nebuchadnezzar, you saw a rock cut from a mountain—but no person cut that rock! The rock broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold to pieces. In this way, God showed you what will happen in the future. The dream is true and you can trust this interpretation.” 46Then King Nebuchadnezzar bowed down in front of Daniel. The king praised Daniel. The king gave an order that an offering and incense be given to honor Daniel. 47Then the king said to Daniel, “I know for sure your God is the most important and powerful God. And he is the Lord of all the kings. He tells people about things they can’t know. I know this is true because you were able to tell these secret things to me.” 48Then the king gave Daniel a very important job in his kingdom. And the king gave many expensive gifts to Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar made Daniel ruler over the whole province of Babylon. And he put Daniel in charge of all the wise men of Babylon. 49Daniel asked the king to make Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego important officials over the province of Babylon. And the king did as Daniel asked. And Daniel himself became one of the important people that stayed near the king.

Chaldean(s) An important family group in Babylonia. Sometimes this name means simply “People from Babylonia.” Aramaic language This was the official language of the Babylonian Empire. People from many countries also used this language when they wrote official letters to people in other countries. The text of Daniel from here to Daniel 7:28 is written in Aramaic.  vision Something like a dream that God used to speak to people. ancestors Literally, “fathers, “meaning a person‘s parents, grandparents, and all the people they are descended from. captives People taken away like prisoners. Here this means the Jewish people that were taken to Babylon.  statue An image, made to look like a person or an animal. Statues are made from stone, metal, or wood.  chaff The seed coverings and stems separated from the seeds of plants like wheat or barley. Farmers saved the seeds but let the wind blow the useless chaff away.  threshing floor A place where grain is beaten or walked on to remove the hulls from the grain.

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