0 Nebuchadnezzar's second dream (Daniel 4)

Episode 212: Nebuchadnezzar's second dream

Daniel 4

Nebuchadnezzar's letter to everyone on earth

4 1 I, Nebuchadnezzar, am writing to all the people on earth.

3 I want to tell you about all the signs and wonders that God has done for me.

4 One night, I had a bad dream.

6 So I asked the wise men in Babylon to interpret it.

7 None of them could do it.

8 So I asked Daniel (whom I renamed Belteshazzar after my God and in whom the spirit of the holy gods resides) to interpret it for me. I said to him,

Oh Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, I know the spirits of the gods are in you, please interpret my dream for me.

Nebuchadnezzar's second dream

10-11 Here's what I saw in my dream:

I saw a tree that was so tall that it reached heaven and could be seen everywhere on earth.

13 A holy watcher came down from heaven, and cried:

14 Cut down this tree.

15-16 But leave a stump with an iron and brass band. The chopped tree will live with the beasts in the grass, with his heart changed from a human's to a beast's. And let seven times pass over him.

18 Nebuchadnezzar said to Daniel, "Interpret this dream for me."

Daniel's interpretation

19 Daniel was astonished for one hour. But then he said to Nebuchadnezzar,

20 The big tree in your dream is you.

25 You'll eat grass like an ox and live with the beasts. You'll get wet and seven times will pass over you.

26 But your stump will be left standing.

Nebuchadnezzar's dream comes true

29-31 Twelve months later, while King Nebuchadnezzar was walking in his palace, a voice came from heaven, saying,

Your kingdom is being taken from you.

32 You will live with the beasts, eating grass like an ox. Seven times will pass over you.

33 And at that very moment, Nebuchadnezzar started eating grass like an ox, his body was wet with the dew, his hair grew like eagles' feathers, and his nails were like birds' claws.

34 After this ordeal was over, I, Nebuchadnezzar, praised God.

36 And my kingdom returned to me like it was before.

37 So now I praise God, the king of heaven.

A few more words about this episode

A holy watcher (4:13)
This is the only occurrence of this term in the Bible, but it often occurs in the pseudepigrapha (1 Enoch 1:5, 20:1, Jubilees 4:15, and the Dead Sea Scrolls) referring to angels that come down to earth.
Let seven times pass over him. (4:16)
The mysterious "seven times" in this chapter forms the basis for the Jehovah's Witness belief that Jesus returned in 1914 and began to rule of earth through the Governing Body of the Jehovah's Witnesses. You can read all about it in the the official Jehovah's Witness website here: JW.org: What Does Bible Chronology Indicate About the Year 1914?
Nebuchadnezzar's dream comes true. (4:28-37)
All of this story is, of course, historically absurd. Nebuchadnezzar didn't wander around for years with the animals eating grass, while his hair was replaced with feathers and his nails with birds' claws. And he never converted to Judaism.
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