The king responded to the Chaldeans with a public decree. If they were unable to tell him both the dream and its interpretation, they would be torn limb from limb. Their houses would be ruined also. However, if they were able to tell him both the dream and its interpretation, they would receive great gifts, rewards, and great honor. This was their challenge. The easier part might be interpreting the dream, but knowing the dream seemed almost impossible.
The Chaldean wise men responded directly to the king. They greeted him in Aramaic with the salutation that he might live forever, as was the Persian and later Islamic custom. Notice that they spoke in Aramaic, another indication of a later work. These Chaldeans told the king that they would be able to interpret his dream for him.
The Babylonian king told these men of the royal court that he had a dream that troubled him. He had a great desire to understand it, since dreams were important in ancient civilizations as a way of communicating with higher spirits. Thus, this king wanted to know what his dream was all about. He spoke in the first-person singular. Remember Joseph with the Egyptian Pharaoh in Genesis, chapters 40-41.
King Nebuchadnezzar summoned all his court people. This included the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans. These were the so-called wise men of his kingdom. These magicians, enchanters, sorcerers were believed to have special powers, while the Chaldeans were the traditional erudite men of Chaldea. They all stood before the king to help him understand his dream.
When King Nebuchadnezzar was in his second year of ruling, he had trouble sleeping because of his dreams. The 2nd year of this Babylonian king would have been before the siege of Jerusalem in 603 BCE, 5 years before the first Israelite captivity. Nevertheless, his spirit was troubled so that he could not sleep.
The Babylonian king spoke with all his new young court people. These 4 young Israelite royal students, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were very successful, since no one could compare to them. Thus, they were stationed in the king’s court. In anything about wisdom and understanding, these 4 court attendants were 10 times better than the more traditional Babylonian court magicians and enchanters. These 4 young men became the favorites of King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel, in fact, stayed the whole time in the royal court until King Cyrus of Persia took over around 538 BCE. Thus, Daniel would have spent pretty much his entire life in the Babylonian royal court, about 70 years.
These four young men were good learners. God, not Yahweh, gave them the skills needed for every aspect of literature, as well as wisdom. In addition, Daniel also had an insight into all kinds of visions and dreams.
The guard agreed to Daniel’s request for 10 days. Then after 10 days, he observed that they were fatter and in better shape than the other young men who had been eating and drinking the royal food and wine. Thus, the guard continued to give them only vegetables instead of the rich royal food and wine.
Daniel had a plan. He was going to ask the guard that the palace master had assigned over him and his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah for a favor. He wanted to have a 10-day test. They would only eat vegetables and water. Then after 10 days, the guard could compare their appearance to the others who were eating the royal food. At that point, Daniel would leave it up to the guard to decide what was best for the four of them.