Daniel 2: Verses 17-35 Nebuchadnezzar Dreams a Dream


God gives Daniel the contents and meaning of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. It is a vision of the future, of a statue made by man, destroyed and replaced by God.

In the last post, king Nebuchadnezzar had a dream and called his advisors together to interpret the dream. But there was a catch… the king not only wanted them to interpret the dream, but also demanded they tell him the contents of the dream. The advisors told the king this was impossible… something only the gods could accomplish. Nebuchadnezzar became angry and ordered the execution of his wise men.

Daniel Asks God for Mercy

Daniel responds by turning to God. Let’s jump into the text:

Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions: that they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his companions should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.

Daniel 2: 17-19

Daniel, who had now completed his education program was a member of the wise men, was surprised by this command. He asked Nebuchadnezzar for more time, in exchange for telling the king the contents of his dream. Surprisingly, the king granted Daniel his request, something he had refused to give to the Chaldean, perhaps because Nebuchadnezzar had been impressed with Daniel during his past interactions. 

Daniel tells the other three youths about the dream, and all four of them ask God for mercy. God responds to their prayers and requests and shares the contents of the dream with Daniel. Daniel immediately praises God.

Daniel answered,

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever;

For wisdom and might are his.

He changes the time and the seasons.

He removes kings, and sets up kings.

He gives wisdom to the wise,

And knowledge to those who have understanding.

He reveals the deep and secret things.

He knows what is in the darkness,

And the light dwells with him,

I thank you, and praise you,

You God of my fathers,

Who have given me wisdom and might,

And have now made known to me what we desired of you;

For you have made known to us the king’s matter.”

Daniel 2: 20-23

In his prayer, Daniel repeats the theme that God is the ultimate source of worldly authority and knowledge. All kings, including Nebuchadnezzar, rule only with the permission of God.

Daniel Tells Nebuchadnezzar His Dream

Daniel then returns to Nebuchadnezzar to tell him the contents of the dream, and to interpret it for the king.

Therefore, Daniel went in to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon; he went and said this to him: “Don’t destroy the wise men of Babylon. Bring me in before the king, and I will show the king the interpretation.”

Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste, and said this to him: “I have found a man of the children of the captivity of Judah, who will make known to the king the interpretation.”

The king answered Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, “Are you able to make known to me the dream which I have seen and its interpretation?” 

Daniel 2: 24-26

Daniel is careful not to take credit for the miracle of knowing the dream. Instead, he gives credit where it is due, to God. He reinforces that only God can provide what the king has asked.

Daniel answered before the king and said, “The secret which the king has demanded can neither wise men, enchanters, magicians nor soothsayers, show to the king; but there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and he has made known to king Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream and the visions of your bed, are these:

Daniel 2: 25-28

Daniel also tells Nebuchadnezzar God has given the king his dream, so the king will know what the future holds, as well as the “thoughts of your heart.” This is the first step to Nebuchadnezzar acknowledging that God is almighty.

“As for you, O king, your thoughts came on your bed, what should happen hereafter; and he who reveals secrets has made known to you what will happen. But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but the intent that the interpretation may be made known to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your heart.

Daniel 2: 29-30

A Statue of Gold, Silver, Brass, Iron and Clay

Daniel then describes the dream. Nebuchadnezzar dreamed of a statue of a man, large and impressive. The head was made of gold, then each subsequent layer was made of another metal: silver for the chest and arms, brass for the abdomen and upper legs, and iron for the legs. Strangely, the feet were made from a mixture of clay and iron.

“You, O king, saw, and behold, a great image. This image, which was mighty, and whose brightness was excellent, stood before you; and its aspect was awesome. As for this image, its head was of find gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of brass, its legs of iron, its feet part of iron and part of clay. 

Daniel 2: 31-33

A Stone Destroys the Statue

As the king was watching, a large stone struck the statue at the feet and destroyed the statue. The stone is “cut out without hands,” which suggests a supernatural origin.

You saw until a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet that were of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver and the gold, broken in pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that no place was found for them: and the stone that struck the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.

Daneil 2: 34-35

Separating the wheat from the chaff is a common image in the Bible. In ancient near east culture, after the harvest of wheat from the fields, the crop was laid out on the ground. The wheat was then thrown into the air. The chaff, which is the inedible portion of the crop and was lighter than the wheat, is blown away by the winds. The wheat would fall back to the ground, where it was collected to be ground. In the Bible, the chaff is used to symbolize something that is worthless and needs to be discarded.

After the statue is destroyed by the stone, the stone then grows into a mountain, and continues to grow until it fills the entire world, replacing all remnants of the statue.

Overall, the dream is an image of a statue made of different segments, each segment composed of different materials. The statue is then destroyed by a stone, all remnants of the statue are blown away by the wind, and the stone grows to fill the entire earth.

In the next post, Daniel gives Nebuchadnezzar the meaning of his dream.

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