The interpretation of the four great beasts (Dan 7:16-7:18)

“I approached

One of the attendants

To ask him

The truth

Concerning all this.

So,

He said

That he would disclose

To me.

The interpretation

Of the matter.

‘As for these four great beasts,

Four kings

Shall arise

Out of the earth.

But the holy ones

Of the Most High God

Shall receive the kingdom.

They shall possess

The kingdom forever,

Forever and ever.’”

In a strange way, Daniel approached one of the people in his dream or vision to ask for an interpretation of his dream. In fact, it seems to be just one of the attendants standing around there. Daniel wanted to know the truth and the interpretation about these 4 beasts. Then, this attendant told him that the 4 beasts were 4 kings that rose up and ruled. However, the holy ones of the Most High God got possession of the kingdom. They were then going to have possession of this kingdom forever. It was not clear whether the other 4 kings had ruled this same kingdom or other kingdoms.

The vision of the four winds (Dan 7:2-7:2)

“I!

Daniel!

Saw in my vision,

By night,

The four winds

Of heaven

Stirring up

The great sea.”

Clearly, the first-person singular indicates that this is no longer a description about Daniel, but Daniel himself writing about his dream or vision. He had this vision at night, as he saw the 4 winds of heaven stirring up the great sea, the Mediterranean Sea.

The king was the great tree (Dan 4:20-4:22)

“‘The tree

That you saw,

That grew great,

That became strong,

That its top reached

To heaven,

That was visible

To the end

Of the whole earth,

It is you!

O king!

Its leaves were beautiful.

It fruit was abundant.

It provided food for all.

Animals of the field

Lived under it.

Birds of the air

Had nests

In its branches.

It is you!

O king!

You have grown great!

You have become strong!

Your greatness has increased!

Your greatness reaches

To heaven.

Your sovereignty reaches

To the ends of the earth.’”

Belteshazzar or Daniel told the king that he was the tree that he saw in his dream, since a strong man was often equated with a big sturdy tree. After all, the king, like the tree in the dream, had grown great and strong. His greatness had reached to heaven and was visible to the ends of the whole earth, because his kingdom was so great. Daniel described the tree with its abundant beautiful leaves and fruit that provided food for everyone. He used the same remarks as in the dream about the tree being a shady place for field animals and birds to build nests on its branches.

Daniel sees the king (Dan 4:8-4:9)

“At last Daniel

Came in

Before me.

He was named

Belteshazzar,

After the name

Of my god.

He was endowed

With a spirit

Of the holy gods.

I told him the dream.

‘O Belteshazzar!

Chief of the magicians!

I know

That you are endowed

With a spirit

Of the holy gods!

No mystery

Is too difficult

For you.

Hear!

This is the dream

That I saw.

Tell me

Its interpretation.’”

Finally, Daniel came in to see the king. As with his companions, King Nebuchadnezzar had given Daniel a Babylonian name, Belteshazzar, based on the name of his Babylonian god, Bel. The king realized that Daniel, like Joseph with the Egyptian Pharaoh, had special spiritual powers. After all, in chapter 2, Daniel knew and interpreted his dream. The king called Daniel the chief of the magicians. He thought that no mystery would be too difficult for Daniel, because of the special divine powers that he had. Thus, the king was not afraid to tell Daniel, or Belteshazzar, his dream or ask for an interpretation.

The king called all his wise men (Dan 4:6-4:7)

“Therefore,

I made a decree

That all the wise men

Of Babylon

Should be brought

Before me.

Thus,

They might tell me

The interpretation

Of the dream.

Then the magicians,

The enchanters,

The Chaldeans,

The diviners,

Came in.

I told them

The dream.

But they could not

Tell me

Its interpretation.”

Continuing with the first-person singular, the king called all the wise men of Babylon. He wanted them all to come to him to give him an interpretation of his dream. Thus, he called for the Babylonian magicians, the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the diviners. However, none of them could give him an interpretation of his dream. He, at least, told them the dream this time.

The king recognizes the God of Daniel (Dan 2:47-2:47)

“The king said to Daniel.

‘Truly!

Your God is

The God of gods!

Your God is

The Lord of kings!

Your God is

A revealer of mysteries!

You have been able

To reveal this mystery!”

Next, the king made a profession of faith in the God of Daniel, not the God of Israel. He said that Daniel’s God (not Yahweh) was the God of gods, the Lord of the kings. These were all great Greek concepts. More important to him was the fact that Daniel’s God had helped to reveal the mystery of his dream.

King Nebuchadnezzar questions Daniel (Dan 2:26-2:26)

“The king said to Daniel,

Whose name was Belteshazzar.

‘Are you able

To tell me

The dream

That I have seen

With its interpretation?’”

The king then turned to Daniel, whose Babylonian name was Belteshazzar. He wanted to know if Daniel was able to tell him his dream and its interpretation. The palace master had given Daniel this new Babylonian name of Belteshazzar in the preceding chapter, when he began his Babylonian court studies.