Dan 2.1-49 tells us about a dream Nebuchadnezzar has but forgot. He summons his magicians and astrologers to tell him what the dream was and its interpretation, threatening them with death if they could not tell him, and promising great rewards if they could.
v 1…Now in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar (after Daniel and his three friends had been presented to the king), Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was troubled and his sleep left him (because of the effect they had on him; he knew they were not normal “dreams” but premonitions).
v 2…Then the king gave orders to call in the magicians (philosophers who studied nature, etc), the conjurers (astrologers), the sorcerers (cast spells, whispered incantations, wizards, etc) and the Chaldeans (also astrologers), to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king.
v 3…And the king said to them, “I had a dream, and my spirit is anxious to understand the dream (it was strange to him, not his normal dreams).”
v 4…Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic (the king’s native language; from here to the end of Chapter 7 Daniel is written in Aramaic because it will deal with the nations; in Chapter 8 it is in Hebrew because it deals with Israel), “O king, live forever! Tell the dream to your servants, and we will declare the interpretation (but this was not what was asked of them in v 2).”
v 5…The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, “The command from me is firm; if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you will be torn limb from limb, and your houses will be made a rubbish heap (destroyed).
v 6…But if you declare the dream and its interpretation you will receive from me gifts and a reward and great honor; therefore declare to me the dream and its interpretation.”
v 7…They answered a second time and said, “Let the king tell the dream to his servants, and we will declare the interpretation.”
v 8…The king answered and said, “I know for certain that you are bargaining for time (stalling), inasmuch as you have seen that the command from me is firm (certain),
v 9…that if you do not make the dream known to me, there is only one decree for you. For you have agreed together to speak lying and corrupt words before me until the situation is changed (hoping he could remember the dream now and avoid having to tell him the dream, or he didn’t recall anything at all so the king could not prove otherwise if they just made something up); therefore tell me the dream, that I may know that you can declare to me its interpretation.”
v 10…The Chaldeans answered the king and said, “There is not a man on earth who could declare the matter for the king, inasmuch as no great king or ruler has ever asked anything like this of any magician, conjurer or Chaldean.
v 11…Moreover (in addition to), the thing which the king demands is difficult, and there is no one else who could declare it to the king except gods (Hebrew “Elohim” meaning powers in a pagan sense; they did not know the one true God Yehovah), whose dwelling place is not with flesh (the superior deities of the non-Jews dwelt in heaven and had no conversations with mere mortals).”
v 12…Because of this the king became indignant (furious because they could not tell him his dream, or interpret it, and they made the king sound unreasonable because no other king had ever requested this before), and gave orders to destroy all the wise men of Babylon (including Daniel and his friends).
v 13…So the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they looked for Daniel and his friends to kill them (notice Daniel and his three friends were wise men, or “chachmim”, so you did not need to be a magician, a conjurer or Chaldean to be a wise man; the king acted rashly and did not even think about exempting the innocent ones).
v 14…Then Daniel replied with discretion and discernment to Arioch the captain of the king’s executioners (slaughterers) who had gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon;
v 15…he answered and said to Arioch, the king’s official, “For what reason is the decree from the king so urgent (why so hasty)?” Then Arioch informed Daniel about the matter (Daniel was not in court and didn’t know what was happening).
v 16…So Daniel went in and requested of the king (at the palace) that he would give him time, in order that he might declare the interpretation to the king (what his dream was and what it meant, putting his trust in Yehovah because he did not know at this point if he could fulfill the king’s request).
v 17…Then Daniel went to his house and informed his friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, about the matter (to pray),
v 18…in order that they might request compassion from the God of heaven concerning this mystery (hidden secret), so that Daniel and his friends might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon (the clear and present danger; God many times works through the “means” rather than miracles. They needed to know the dream so he could use the gift of interpreting dreams that he had already been given in 1.17).
v 19…Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a night vision (by Yehovah). Then Daniel blessed the God (Elah in Aramaic) of heaven;
v 20…Daniel answered and said (exclaimed), “Let the name (Yehovah) of God be blessed forever and ever (Aramaic “almah vaed almah”) for wisdom (in planning the way the nations will rise and fall in the dream he now knew) and power (the might in carrying out his plans) belong to him (alone).
v 21…And it is he who changes the times and the seasons (in particular those pointed to in the dream when changing kingdoms, states and powers); he removes kings and establishes kings (this also relates to the dream God revealed to Daniel about the non-Jewish succession of kingdoms and the time of the end); he gives wisdom to wise men, and knowledge to men of understanding (Daniel is giving Yehovah credit for his gifts).
v 22…It is he who reveals the profound and hidden things (which are in secret before mere men); he knows what is in the darkness (covered), and the light (spiritual and intellectual understanding) dwells with him (he possesses the light and is the source of it).
v 23…To thee, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for thou hast given me wisdom and power (to go to the king when he was angry, to reveal his dream and its interpretation, to pray when things looked dark, to help save lives, etc); even now thou hast made known to me what we (v 17-18) requested of thee (it was only made known to Daniel, but the others were involved in a united effort), for thou hast made known to us the king’s matter (his dream and its interpretation were given to Daniel, but he told his friends).”
v 24…Therefore (as a result), Daniel went into Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon (the wise men or “magi” of Matt 2.1 were from the “east” or Babylon, too. Some believe they were Jewish scholars or rabbis like Daniel who still lived in Babylon and were coming to Jerusalem for the festival of Sukkot); he went and spoke to him as follows: “Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon. Take me into the king’s presence, and I will declare the interpretation to the king (and in doing so, he would also tell him what his dream was).”
v 25…Then Arioch hurriedly brought Daniel into the king’s presence (Daniel was not well known at this point because he could not approach the king on his own yet) and spoke to him as follows: “I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can make the interpretation known to the king!”
v 26…The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar (Bel protects the king), “Are you able to make known to me the dream which I have seen and its interpretation?”
v 27…Daniel answered before the king and said, “As for the mystery about which the king has inquired, neither wise men, conjurers, magicians, diviners are able to declare it to the king (no mere mortal can do it).
v 28…However (but), there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries (possesses the ability), and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days (the acharit yamim meaning “last days” and an eschatological term for when Messiah comes). This was your dream and the visions in your mind while on your bed.
v 29…As for you, O king, on your bed your thoughts turned to what would take place in the future (what the future held); and he (Yehovah) who reveals mysteries has made known to you what will take place.
v 30…But as for me, this mystery has not been revealed to me for any wisdom residing in me more than any other living man (he had no ability on his own to declare this), but for the purpose of making the interpretation known to the king, and that you may understand the thoughts of your mind.
v 31…You, O king, were looking (as he was dreaming) and behold (see and take note), there was a single great statue; that statue which was large and of extraordinary splendor (the metals of the statue were brighter than normal), was standing in front of you, and its appearance was awesome (because of its appearance, fearsome).
v 32…The head of that statue was of fine gold; its breasts and its arms of silver; its belly and its thighs of bronze;
v 33…its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly clay.
v 34…You continued looking until a stone (a term for the Messiah) was cut out without hands (without human help, an act of God) and it struck the statue on its feet (this gives us a time reference for the coming of the messianic kingdom) of iron and clay, and crushed them (like David striking Goliath with a stone).
v 35…Then (as a result of the striking stone) the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed (named in reverse order) all at the same time (alluding to the defeat of the world kingdoms when Messiah comes), and became like chaff (reduced to dust) from the summer threshing floors; and the wind (Ruach) carried them away so that not a trace of them was found (nothing remained of them). But the stone that struck the statue (Messiah and his return) became a great mountain (the kingdom of God; it wasn’t at first) and it filled the whole earth (like leaven in Matt 13.33; Zech 14.9; Mark 11.22-23; Gen 49.24; Matt 21.44).
v 36…This was the dream (so the king would recognize it and bring it back to his memory, now giving Daniel credibility with the interpretation); now we shall tell its interpretation before the king.
v 37…You, O king, the king of kings (many earthly kings under him), whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the strength, and the glory (Babylon, a great and mighty empire);
v 38…and wherever the sons of men dwell, the beasts of the field, or the birds of the sky, he has given them into your hand and has caused you to rule over them all. You are the head of gold (alluding to the riches of Babylon; they ruled for about 66 years).
v 39…And after you there will arise another kingdom (Medo-Persia) inferior to you (their power and strength will weaken); then another third kingdom (Greece) of bronze which will rule over all the earth (Hellenism was spread by Alexander the Great as he conquered the east, and it still can be seen today in history, religion, architecture and law all over the world).
v 40…Then there will be a fourth kingdom as strong as iron (the character of Rome was firm, long-lasting); inasmuch as iron crushes and shatters all things, so like iron that breaks in pieces, it will crush and break all these (the other nations) in pieces.
v 41…And in that you saw the feet and the toes (separate from the legs), partly of potter’s clay (weak like pottery) and partly of iron, it will be a divided kingdom (because of internal instability), but it will have in it the toughness of iron, inasmuch as you saw the iron mixed with common clay.
v 42…And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay (pottery), so some of the kingdom will be strong and part will be broken (too weak to support the statue, on the brink of destruction-this will be a revived Rome in the last days ruled by the False Messiah).
v 43…And in that you saw the iron mixed (arav) with common clay, they will combine with one another in the seed of men (to establish unity, a marriage to blend the nations ethnic, racial and religious divisions), but they will not adhere (cling) to one another, even as iron does not combine with clay (ambition and selfish interests will cause them to be in conflict; the kingdom of the False Messiah and the ten kings will not be unified together).
v 44…And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom (the Messianic Kingdom of God) will not be left for another people (to have like the worldly kingdoms); it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever (The Israel of God and Messiah’s kingdom, the restored Kingdom of God; the Kahal-Acts 1.6-8; Gal 6.16).
v 45…Inasmuch as you saw that a stone (Messiah-Psa 118.22; Matt 16.13-18, 21.42-44) was cut out of the mountain without hands (supernatural) and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future (after this); so the dream is true, and its interpretation is trustworthy (reliable enough to put your faith on it).”
v 46…Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face and did homage to Daniel (like the nations will do when Yeshua and his kingdom returns, but the king thought Daniel had some divinity in him), and gave orders to present to him an offering (minchah) and fragrant incense (to honor him).
v 47…The king answered Daniel and said, “Surely your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, since you have been able to reveal this mystery (it was obviously beyond human ability).”
v 48…Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts (as was the custom of eastern kings), and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon (the most important province) and chief prefect (the governor) over all the wise men of Babylon (giving him influence over all their occult practices, and being able to impart the true knowledge of Yehovah to them).
v 49…And Daniel made a request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego over the administration of the province of Babylon while Daniel was at the king’s court (or “gate”-either as a judge or to introduce people into the king’s presence. He may have been chief counselor over the various divisions of the wise men. This alludes to Israel’s coming promotion over the nations and the preeminence of Yeshua-Col 1.18).