In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and laid siege to it.

The Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his power, together with all that was left of the vessels of the house of God; and he carried them off to the land of Shinar, to the temple of his god, where he deposited the vessels in the treasury. Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to take certain of the Israelite exiles, of the blood royal and of the nobility, who were to be young men of good looks and bodily without fault, at home in all branches of knowledge, well-informed, intelligent, and fit for service in the royal court; and he was to instruct them in the literature and language of the Chaldaeans.

The king assigned them a daily allowance of food and wine from the royal table. Their training was to last for three years, and at the end of that time they would enter the royal service. 

Among them there were certain young men from Judah called Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; but the master of the eunuchs gave them new names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah Shadrach, Mishael Meshach and Azariah Abednego. Now Daniel determined not to contaminate himself by touching the food and wine assigned to him by the king, and he begged the master of the eunuchs not to make him do so. God made the master show kindness and goodwill to Daniel, and he said to him,

I am afraid of my lord the king: he has assigned you your food and drink, and if he sees you looking dejected, unlike the other young men of your own age, it will cost me my head.

Then Daniel said to the guard whom the master of the eunuchs had put in charge of Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah and himself, ‘

"Submit us to this test for ten days. Give us only vegetables to eat and water to drink; then compare our looks with those of the young men who have lived on the food assigned by the king, and be guided in your treatment of us by what you see."

The guard listened to what they said and tested them for ten days. At the end of ten days they looked healthier and were better nourished than all the young men who had lived on the food assigned them by the king. So the guard took away the assignment of food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them only the vegetables.

To all four of these young men God had given knowledge and under-standing of books and learning of every kind, while Daniel had a gift for interpreting visions and dreams of every kind. The time came which the king had fixed for introducing the young men to court, and the master of the eunuchs brought them into the presence of Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with them and found none of them to compare with Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the royal service. Whenever the king consulted them on any matter calling for insight and judgement, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and exorcists in his whole kingdom. Now Daniel was there till the first year of King Cyrus.


In the second year of his reign Nebuchadnezzar had dreams, and his mind was so troubled that he could not sleep. Then the king gave orders to summon the magicians, exorcists, sorcerers, and Chaldaeans to tell him what he had dreamt. They came in and stood in the royal presence, and the king said to them,

‘I have had a dream and my mind has been troubled to know what my dream was.’

The Chaldaeans, speaking in Aramaic, said,

"Tell us what you dreamt and we will tell you the interpretation."

The king answered,

"This is my declared intention. If you do not tell me both dream and interpretation, you shall be torn in pieces and your houses shall be forfeit. But if you can tell me the dream and the interpretation, you will be richly rewarded and loaded with honours. Tell me, therefore, the dream and its interpretation."

They answered a second time,

‘Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will tell him the interpretation.’

The king answered,

‘It is clear to me that you are trying to gain time, because you see that my intention has been declared. If you do not make known to me the dream, there is one law that applies to you, and one only. What is more, you have agreed among yourselves to tell me a pack of lies to my face in the hope that with time things may alter. Tell me the dream, therefore, and I shall know that you can give me the interpretation.’

The Chaldaeans answered in the presence of the king,

‘Nobody on earth can tell your majesty what you wish to know; no great king or prince has ever made such a demand of magician, exorcist, or Chaldaean. What your majesty requires of us is too hard; there is no one but the gods, who dwell remote from mortal men, who can give you the answer.’

At this the king lost his temper and in a great rage ordered the death of all the wise men of Babylon. A decree was issued that the wise men were to be executed, and accordingly men were sent to fetch Daniel and his companions for execution.

When Arioch, the captain of the king’s bodyguard, was setting out to execute the wise men of Babylon, Daniel approached him cautiously and with discretion and said, 

‘Sir, you represent the king; why has his majesty issued such a peremptory decree?’

Arioch explained everything; so Daniel went in to the king’s presence and begged for a certain time by which he would give the king the interpretation. Then Daniel went home and told the whole story to his companions, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. They should ask the God of heaven in his mercy, he said, to disclose this secret, so that they and he with the rest of the wise men of Babylon should not be put to death. Then in a vision by night the secret was revealed to Daniel, and he blessed the God of heaven in these words:

Blessed be God’s name from age to age, for all wisdom and power are his. He changes seasons and times; he deposes kings and sets them up; he gives wisdom to the wise and all their store of knowledge to the men who know; he reveals deep mysteries; he knows what lies in darkness, and light has its dwelling with him. To thee, God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for thou hast given me wisdom and power; thou hast now revealed to me what we asked, and told us what the king is concerned to know.

Daniel therefore went to Arioch who had been charged by the king to put to death the wise men of Babylon and said to him, ‘Do not put the wise men of Babylon to death. Take me into the king’s presence, and I will now tell him the interpretation of the dream.’

Arioch in great trepidation brought Daniel before the king and said to him, ‘I have found among the Jewish exiles a man who will make known to your majesty the interpretation of your dream.’

Thereupon the king said to Daniel (who was also called Belteshazzar),

‘Can you tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?’

Daniel answered in the king’s presence,

‘The secret about which your majesty inquires no wise man, exorcist, magician, or diviner can disclose to you. But there is in heaven a god who reveals secrets, and he has told King Nebuchadnezzar what is to be at the end of this age. This is the dream and these the visions that came into your head: the thoughts that came to you, O king, as you lay on your bed, were thoughts of things to come, and the revealer of secrets has made known to you what is to be. This secret has been revealed to me not because I am wise beyond all living men, but because your majesty is to know the interpretation and understand the thoughts which have entered your mind.

As you watched, O king, you saw a great image. This image, huge and dazzling, towered before you, fearful to behold. The head of the image was of fine gold, its breast and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet part iron and part clay. While you looked, a stone was hewn from a mountain, not by human hands; it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay and shattered them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, were all shattered to fragments and were swept away like chaff before the wind from a threshing-floor in summer, until no trace of them remained. But the stone which struck the image grew into a great mountain filling the whole earth.

That was the dream. We shall now tell your majesty the interpretation. You, O king, king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom with all its power, authority, and honour; in whose hands he has placed men and beasts and  birds of the air, wherever they dwell, granting you sovereignty over them all ─ you are that head of gold.  After you there shall arise another kingdom, inferior to yours, and yet a third kingdom, of bronze, which shall have sovereignty over the whole world. And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron; as iron shatters and destroys all things, it shall break and shatter the whole earth. As, in your vision, the feet and toes were part potter’s clay and part iron just as you saw iron mixed with the common clay; as the toes were part iron and part clay, the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle.

As, in your vision, the iron was mixed with common clay, so shall men mix with each other by intermarriage, but such alliances shall not be stable: iron does not mix with clay. In the period of those kings the God of heaven will establish a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; that kingdom shall never pass to another people; it shall shatter and make an end of all these kingdoms, while it shall itself endure forever. This is the meaning of your vision of the stone being hewn from a mountain, not by human hands, and then shattering the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. The mighty God has made known to your majesty what is to be hereafter. The dream is sure and the interpretation to be trusted.’

Then King Nebuchadnezzar prostrated himself and worshipped Daniel, and gave orders that sacrifices and soothing offerings should be made to him.

‘Truly,’ he said, ‘your god is indeed God of gods and Lord over kings, a revealer of secrets, since you have been able to reveal this secret.’

Then the king promoted Daniel, bestowed on him many rich gifts, and made him regent over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. Moreover at Daniel’s request the king put Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in charge of the administration of the province of Babylon. Daniel himself, however, remained at court.

CHAPTER 3 – The Golden Image

King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet broad. He had it set up in the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. Then he sent out a summons to assemble the satraps, prefects, viceroys, counsellors, treasurers, judges, chief constables, and all governors of provinces to attend the dedication of the image. which he had set up. So they assembled—the satraps, prefects, viceroys, counsellors, treasurers, judges, chief constables, and all governors of provinces—for the dedication of the image. Then the herald loudly proclaimed,

‘O peoples and nations of every language, you are commanded, when you hear the sound of horn, pipe, zither, triangle, dulcimer, music, and singing of every kind, to prostrate yourselves and worship the golden image. which King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not prostrate himself and worship shall forthwith be thrown into a blazing furnace.’ ...

Then all the peoples and nations of every language prostrated themselves and worshipped the golden image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.  It was then that certain Chaldaeans came forward and brought a charge against the Jews.

They said to King Nebuchadnezzar,

‘Long live the king! Your majesty has issued an order that every man who hears the sound of horn, pipe, zither, triangle, dulcimer, music, and singing of every kind shall fall down and worship the image of gold. Whoever does not do so shall be thrown into a blazing furnace. There are certain Jews, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, whom you have put in charge of the administration of the province of Babylon. These men, your majesty, have taken no notice of your command; they do not serve your god, nor do they worship the golden image.

Then in rage and fury Nebuchadnezzar ordered Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to be fetched, and they were brought into the king’s presence. Nebuchadnezzar said to them,

‘Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my god or worship the golden image which I have set up? If you are ready at once to prostrate yourselves when you hear the sound of horn, pipe, zither, triangle, dulcimer, music, and singing of every kind, and to worship the image that I have set up, well and good. But if you do not worship it, you shall forthwith be thrown into the blazing furnace; and what god is there that can save you from my power?

’ Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego said to King Nebuchadnezzar,

‘We have no need to answer you on this matter. If there is a god who is able to save us from the blazing furnace, it is our God whom we serve, and he will save us from your power, O king; but if not, be it known to your majesty that we will neither serve your god nor worship the golden image that you have set up.

Then Nebuchadnezzar flew into a rage with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his face was distorted with anger. He gave orders that the furnace should be heated up to seven times its usual heat, and commanded some of the strongest men in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. Then those men in their trousers, their shirts, and their hats and all their other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace exceedingly hot, the men who were carrying Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were killed by the flames that leapt out; and those three men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, fell bound into the blazing furnace.

Then King Nebuchadnezzar was amazed and sprang to his feet in great trepidation. He said to his courtiers,

‘Was it not three men whom we threw bound into the fire?’

They answered the king,

‘Assuredly, your majesty.’

‘Yet I see four men walking about in the fire free and unharmed; and the fourth looks like a god.

Nebuchadnezzar approached the door of the blazing furnace and said to the men,

‘Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, servants of the Most High God, come out, come here.’

Then Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego came out from the fire. And the satraps, prefects, viceroys, and the king’s courtiers gathered round and saw how the fire had had no power to harm the bodies of these men; the hair of their heads had not been singed, their trousers were untouched, and no smell of fire lingered about them. Then Nebuchadnezzar spoke out,

‘Blessed is the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. He has sent his angel to save his servants who put their trust in him, who disobeyed the royal command and were willing to yield themselves to the fire rather than to serve or worship any god other than their own. God. I therefore issue a decree that any man, to whatever people or nation he belongs, whatever his language, if he speaks blasphemy against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, shall be torn to pieces and his house shall be forfeit; for there is no other god who can save men in this way.’

Then the king advanced the fortunes of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego in the province of Babylon


KING NEBUCHADNEZZAR TO ALL PEOPLES AND NATIONS of every language living in the whole world: May all prosperity be yours! It is my pleasure to recount the signs and marvels which the Most High God has worked for me:

How great are his signs, and his marvels overwhelming! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, his sovereignty stands to all generations.

I, Nebuchadnezzar, was living peacefully at home in the luxury of my palace. As I lay on my bed, I saw a dream which terrified me; and fantasies and visions which came into my head dismayed me. So I issued an order summoning into my presence all the wise men of Babylon to make known to me the interpretation of the dream. Then the magicians, exorcists, Chaldaeans, and diviners came in, and in their presence I related my dream. But they could not interpret it. And yet another came into my presence, Daniel, who is called Belteshazzar after the name of my god, a man possessed by the spirit of the holy gods. To him, too, I related the dream:

Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, whom I myself know to be possessed by the spirit of the holy gods, and whom no secret baffles, listen to the vision I saw in a dream, and tell me its interpretation.

‘Here is the vision which came into my head as I was lying upon my bed:

As I was looking, I saw a tree of great height at the centre of the earth; the tree grew and became strong, reaching with its top to the sky and visible to earth’s farthest bounds. Its foliage was lovely, and its fruit abundant; and it yielded food for all.

Beneath it the wild beasts found shelter, the birds lodged in its branches, and from it all living creatures fed.

‘Here is another vision which came into my head as I was lying upon my bed:

As I was watching, there was a Watcher,a Holy One coming down from heaven. He cried aloud and said,

“Hew down the tree, lop off the branches, strip away the foliage, scatter the fruit. Let the wild beast flee from its shelter and the birds from its branches, but leave the stump with its roots in the ground. So, tethered with an iron ring, let him eat his fill of the lush grass; let him be drenched with the dew of heaven and share the lot of the beasts in their pasture; let his mind cease to be a man’s mind, and let him be given the mind of a beast. Let seven times pass over him. The issue has been determined by the Watchers and the sentence pronounced by the Holy Ones. Thereby the living will know that the Most High is sovereign in the kingdom of men: he gives the kingdom to whom he will and he may set over it the humblest of mankind.”

‘This is the dream which I, King Nebuchadnezzar, have dreamed; now, Belteshazzar, tell me its interpretation; for, though all the wise men of my kingdom are unable to tell me what it means, you can tell me, since the spirit of the holy gods is in you.’

Daniel, who was called Belteshazzar was dumbfounded for a moment, dismayed by his thoughts; but the king said,

‘Do not let the dream and its interpretation dismay you.’

Belteshazzar answered,

‘My lord, if only the dream were for those who hate you and its interpretation for your enemies! The tree which you saw grow and become strong, reaching with its top to the sky and visible to earth’s farthest bounds, its foliage lovely and its fruit abundant, a tree which yielded food for all, beneath which the wild beasts dwelt and in whose branches the birds lodged, that tree, O king, is you. You have grown and become strong. Your power has grown and reaches the sky; your sovereignty stretches to the ends of the earth. Also, O king, you saw a Watcher, a Holy One, coming down from heaven and saying,

“Hew down the tree and destroy it, but leave its stump with its roots in the ground…

“Hew down the tree and destroy it, but leave its stump with its roots in the ground. So, tethered with an iron ring, let him eat his fill of the lush grass; let him be drenched with the dew of heaven and share the lot of the beasts until seven times pass over him.”

This is the interpretation, O king—it is a decree of the Most High which touches my lord the king. You will be banished from the society of men; you will have to live with the wild beasts; you will feed on grass like oxen and you will be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass over you until you have learnt that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will. The command was given to leave the stump of the tree with its roots. By this you may know that from the time you acknowledge the sovereignty of heaven your rule will endure. Be advised by me, O king: redeem your sins by charity and your iniquities by generosity to the wretched. So may you long enjoy peace of mind.’

All this befell King Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of twelve months the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace at Babylon, and he exclaimed,

 ‘Is not this Babylon the great which I have built as a royal residence by my own mighty power and for the honour of my majesty?

The words were still on his lips, when a voice came down from heaven:

‘To you, King Nebuchadnezzar, the word is spoken: the kingdom has passed from you. You are banished from the society of men and you shall live with the wild beasts; you shall feed on grass like oxen, and seven times will pass over you until you have learnt that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.

At that very moment this judgement came upon Nebuchadnezzar. He was banished from the society of men and ate grass like oxen; his body was drenched by the dew of heaven, until his hair grew long like goats’ hair and his nails like eagles’ talons

At the end of the appointed time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes to heaven and I returned to my right mind. I blessed the Most High, praising and glorifying the Ever-living One:

His sovereignty is never-ending and his rule endures through all generations; all dwellers upon earth count for nothing and he deals as he wishes with the host of heaven; no one may lay hand upon him and ask him what he does.

At that very time I returned to my right mind and my majesty and royal splendour were restored to me for the glory of my kingdom. My courtiers and my nobles sought audience of me. I was established in my kingdom and my power was greatly increased. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven; for all his acts are right and his ways are just and those whose conduct is arrogant he can bring low.