Daniel

This prophet was a great interpreter of dreams.

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Reprinted with permission from Who's Who in the Hebrew Bible (The Jewish Publication Society).

Daniel, a prophet, visionary, interpreter of dreams, and high official in the Babylonian administration, was, according to the prophet Ezekiel, one of the three righteous men; the other two were Noah and Job (Ezekiel 14:14).

Daniel, a young man from a noble Jewish family that lived in exile in Babylon, was selected with three other boys--Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah--by order of King Nebuchadnezzar to take a three-year instructional course that would prepare them to serve in the Babylonian administration. Daniel was given the Babylonian name Belteshazzar.

In order not to transgress by eating and drinking ritually forbidden food and wine, Daniel asked the steward who had been placed in charge of them by the chief of the eunuchs if they could eat only legumes and drink only water.

The steward feared that this diet might endanger their health, but Daniel convinced him to let them try it for ten days. By the end of the ten days, the four Jewish boys looked better and healthier than the boys who had eaten the king's food.

The King's Dream of Conquer

Over the next three years, the four boys acquired knowledge and skill, and Daniel learned to interpret and determine the significance of visions and dreams. The king examined the four boys after their instruction ended and found them to be ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers in the kingdom.

Sometime later, the king had a disturbing dream but could not recall it. He summoned his magicians to his presence and ordered them to tell him what he had dreamed and then to interpret it. The magicians replied that it was impossible to comply with his request. The king flew into a rage and gave orders to Arioch, the captain of the king's guard, to kill all the wise men of Babylon.

When Arioch came to kill him, Daniel asked for an explanation. Arioch told him about the king's demand, and Daniel requested some time to study the matter. That night the king's dream was revealed to Daniel in a vision. The next morning, he spoke to Arioch and asked him to take him to the king so that he could interpret the dream.

Daniel told the king that he had dreamed of a great statue, its head made of gold, its breast and arms of silver, its thighs of brass, its legs of iron, and its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. In the dream, a stone was thrown at the statue, which then broke into small pieces that were blown away by the wind. The stone grew into a great mountain that filled the whole earth.

Daniel explained that the head of gold was Nebuchadnezzar himself and that the rest of the statue, made of different materials, represented successive kingdoms that would be swept away by the kingdom of God, which would last forever.

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David Mandel studied at the University of Pennsylvania under Bible scholar Moshe Greenberg, and moved to Israel in 1970, where he founded Computronic Corporation, an Israeli software development company that specializes in biblical software.