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Daniel 4:8-18

4:8 Later Daniel entered (whose name is Belteshazzar after the name of my god, 1  and in whom there is a spirit of the holy gods). I recounted the dream for him as well, 4:9 saying, “Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, in whom I know there to be a spirit of the holy gods and whom no mystery baffles, consider 2  my dream that I saw and set forth its interpretation! 4:10 Here are the visions of my mind 3  while I was on my bed.

While I was watching,

there was a tree in the middle of the land. 4 

It was enormously tall. 5 

4:11 The tree grew large and strong.

Its top reached far into the sky;

it could be seen 6  from the borders of all the land. 7 

4:12 Its foliage was attractive and its fruit plentiful;

on it there was food enough for all.

Under it the wild animals 8  used to seek shade,

and in its branches the birds of the sky used to nest.

All creatures 9  used to feed themselves from it.

4:13 While I was watching in my mind’s visions 10  on my bed,

a holy sentinel 11  came down from heaven.

4:14 He called out loudly 12  as follows: 13 

‘Chop down the tree and lop off its branches!

Strip off its foliage

and scatter its fruit!

Let the animals flee from under it

and the birds from its branches!

4:15 But leave its taproot 14  in the ground,

with a band of iron and bronze around it 15 

surrounded by the grass of the field.

Let it become damp with the dew of the sky,

and let it live with 16  the animals in the grass of the land.

4:16 Let his mind 17  be altered from that of a human being,

and let an animal’s mind be given to him,

and let seven periods of time 18  go by for 19  him.

4:17 This announcement is by the decree of the sentinels;

this decision is by the pronouncement of the holy ones,

so that 20  those who are alive may understand

that the Most High has authority over human kingdoms, 21 

and he bestows them on whomever he wishes.

He establishes over them even the lowliest of human beings.’

4:18 “This is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, saw. Now you, Belteshazzar, declare its 22  interpretation, for none of the wise men in 23  my kingdom are able to make known to me the interpretation. But you can do so, for a spirit of the holy gods is in you.”

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[4:8]  1 sn This explanation of the meaning of the name Belteshazzar may be more of a paronomasia than a strict etymology.

[4:9]  2 tc The present translation assumes the reading חֲזִי (khazi, “consider”) rather than the MT חֶזְוֵי (khezvey, “visions”). The MT implies that the king required Daniel to disclose both the dream and its interpretation, as in chapter 2. But in the following verses Nebuchadnezzar recounts his dream, while Daniel presents only its interpretation.

[4:10]  3 tc The LXX lacks the first two words (Aram “the visions of my head”) of the Aramaic text.

[4:10]  4 tn Instead of “in the middle of the land,” some English versions render this phrase “a tree at the center of the earth” (NRSV); NAB, CEV “of the world”; NLT “in the middle of the earth.” The Hebrew phrase can have either meaning.

[4:10]  5 tn Aram “its height was great.”

[4:11]  6 tn Aram “its sight.” So also v. 17.

[4:11]  7 tn Or “to the end of all the earth” (so KJV, ASV); NCV, CEV “from anywhere on earth.”

[4:12]  8 tn Aram “the beasts of the field.”

[4:12]  9 tn Aram “all flesh.”

[4:13]  10 tn Aram “the visions of my head.”

[4:13]  11 tn Aram “a watcher and a holy one.” The expression is a hendiadys; so also in v. 23. This “watcher” is apparently an angel. The Greek OT (LXX) in fact has ἄγγελος (angelo", “angel”) here. Theodotion simply transliterates the Aramaic word (’ir). The term is sometimes rendered “sentinel” (NAB) or “messenger” (NIV, NLT).

[4:14]  12 tn Aram “in strength.”

[4:14]  13 tn Aram “and thus he was saying.”

[4:15]  14 tn Aram “the stock of its root.” So also v. 23. The implication here is that although the tree is chopped down, it is not killed. Its life-giving root is spared. The application to Nebuchadnezzar is obvious.

[4:15]  15 sn The function of the band of iron and bronze is not entirely clear, but it may have had to do with preventing the splitting or further deterioration of the portion of the tree that was left after being chopped down. By application it would then refer to the preservation of Nebuchadnezzar’s life during the time of his insanity.

[4:15]  16 tn Aram “its lot be.”

[4:16]  17 tn Aram “its heart.” The metaphor of the tree begins to fade here and the reality behind the symbol (the king) begins to emerge.

[4:16]  18 sn The seven periods of time probably refer to seven years.

[4:16]  19 tn Aram “over” (also in vv. 23, 25, 32).

[4:17]  20 tc The present translation follows an underlying reading of עַל־דִּבְרַת (’al-divrat, “so that”) rather than MT עַד־דִּבְרַת (’ad-divrat, “until”).

[4:17]  21 tn Aram “the kingdom of man”; NASB “the realm of mankind”; NCV “every kingdom on earth.”

[4:18]  22 tc The present translation reads פִּשְׁרֵהּ (pishreh, “its interpretation”) with the Qere and many medieval Hebrew MSS; the Kethib is פִּשְׁרָא (pishra’, “the interpretation”); so also v. 16.

[4:18]  23 tn Aram “of.”

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