1In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.2And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god.3Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility--4young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king's palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.5The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king's table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king's service.6Among these were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.7The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.8But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.9Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel,10but the official told Daniel, "I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you."11Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah,12"Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink.13Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see."14So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.15At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.16So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.17To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.18At the end of the time set by the king to bring them in, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar.19The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king's service.20In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.21And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.==Chapter 2==1In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled and he could not sleep.2So the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed. When they came in and stood before the king,3he said to them, "I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means."4Then the astrologers answered the king in Aramaic, "O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it."5The king replied to the astrologers, "This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble.6But if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. So tell me the dream and interpret it for me."7Once more they replied, "Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will interpret it."8Then the king answered, "I am certain that you are trying to gain time, because you realize that this is what I have firmly decided:9If you do not tell me the dream, there is just one penalty for you. You have conspired to tell me misleading and wicked things, hoping the situation will change. So then, tell me the dream, and I will know that you can interpret it for me."10The astrologers answered the king, "There is not a man on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer.11What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among men."12This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon.13So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death.14When Arioch, the commander of the king's guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact.15He asked the king's officer, "Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?" Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel.16At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him.17Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.18He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.19During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven20and said: "Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his.21He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.22He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.23I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king."24Then Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to execute the wise men of Babylon, and said to him, "Do not execute the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king, and I will interpret his dream for him."25Arioch took Daniel to the king at once and said, "I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can tell the king what his dream means."26The king asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar), "Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?"27Daniel replied, "No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about,28but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come. Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind as you lay on your bed are these:29"As you were lying there, O king, your mind turned to things to come, and the revealer of mysteries showed you what is going to happen.30As for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because I have greater wisdom than other living men, but so that you, O king, may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind.31"You looked, O king, and there before you stood a large statue--an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance.32The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze,33its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay.34While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them.35Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.36"This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king.37You, O king, are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory;38in your hands he has placed mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold.39"After you, another kingdom will rise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth.40Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron--for iron breaks and smashes everything--and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others.41Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay.42As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle.43And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.44"In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.45This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands--a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. "The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy."46Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him.47The king said to Daniel, "Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery."48Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men.49Moreover, at Daniel's request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego administrators over the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself remained at the royal court.==Chapter 3==1King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.2He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up.3So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it.4Then the herald loudly proclaimed, "This is what you are commanded to do, O peoples, nations and men of every language:5As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up.6Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace."7Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.8At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews.9They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, "O king, live forever!10You have issued a decree, O king, that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold,11and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace.12But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon--Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego--who pay no attention to you, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up."13Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king,14and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up?15Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?"16Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.17If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.18But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."19Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual20and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace.21So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace.22The king's command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego,23and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.24Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, "Weren't there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?" They replied, "Certainly, O king."25He said, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods."26Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, "Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!" So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire,27and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.28Then Nebuchadnezzar said, "Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.29Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way."30Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.