A Translation of Daniel 2:4-49… or Story Time!

08Nov09

My first Aramaic test is due this Tuesday, so I’ve been reading the story of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. A lot. In a language where the vowels are little tiny dots and dashes.

My eyes hurt a little bit, but the reading’s been good. If you’re in the mood for a story, here’s the fruit of my work so far (with much kudos to Dr. Bob Cole for teaching me the basics of Aramaic and Andy and Wes who helped me edit the rough draft):

4 Now the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic, “O king, live forever! Tell the dream to your servants, and we will make its interpretation known.”

5 The king responded and said to the Chaldeans, “My word is certain: if you do not make the dream and its interpretation known to me, you will be dismembered and your houses will be made rubble, 6 but if you make known the the dream and its interpretation, you will receive gifts and reward and great honor from before me. Therefore make the dream and its interpretation known to me.”

7 They responded a second time and said, “O king, let him tell the dream to his servants and we will make its interpretation known.”

8 The king responded and said, “Certainly, I know that you are buying time because you see that my word is certain, 9 that if you do not make the dream known to me, one is your law, and a false and corrupt word you have conspired to speak before me until the that time changes. Therefore, tell me the dream, and I will know that you will make its interpretation known to me.”

10 The Chaldeans responded before the king and said, “There is not a man upon all the dry earth who is able to make the king’s matter known to the extent that no great king or ruler ever requested such a thing as this of any magicians or conjuror or Chaldean. 11 The thing that the king is requesting is difficult and there is not another who will make it known before the king except gods, whose dwelling is not with people.”

12 Because of this the king was enraged and exceedingly angry, and he said to destroy all the wise ones of Babylon. 13 Now the decree went out, and the wise ones were being killed. And they sought to kill Daniel and his companions.

14 Then, Daniel responded to Arioch, the chief of the executioners who went out to kill all the wise ones of Babylon, with tact and judgment. 15 He responded and said to Arioch, the official of the king, “Why is the decree from the king so hurried?” Then Arioch made the thing known to Daniel.

16 And Daniel entered and sought from the king whatever time he would give to him in order to make the interpretation known to the king.

17 Then Daniel went to his house and to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his friends. He made the thing known, 18 and they requested mercies from before the God of the heavens concerning this mystery so that they might not destroy Daniel and his companions along with the rest of the wise ones of Babylon. 19 Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night.

Then Daniel blessed the God of the heavens. 20 Daniel responded and said, “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power are his 21 and he causes the seasons and the times to change, removing kings and crowning kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who know of discernment. 22 He reveals deep things and hidden things. He knows what is in the darkness and the light dwells with him. 23 To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise for you gave me wisdom and power, and now you’ve made what was requested from you known to me. That is, you made the matter of the king known to us.

24 Because of this, Daniel came to Arioch, whom the king commanded to destroy the wise ones of Babylon. He went and said this to him, “Do not destroy the wise ones of Babylon. Let me enter before the king and I will make the interpretation known to the king.”

25 Then Arioch quickly brought Daniel to enter before the king, and he said this to him, “I found a man from the sons of the exile of Judah who will make the interpretation known to the king.”

26 The king responded and said to Daniel, whose [Babylonian] name was Beltshaazzar, “Are you able to make the dream that I saw and its interpretation known to me?”

27 Daniel responded before the king and said, “The mystery that the king is requesting, neither the wise ones, the enchanters, the magicians, nor the exorcisers are able to make known to the king. 28 However, there is a god in the heavens who reveals mysteries, and he made known that which will be in the last days to the king Nebuchadnezzar. This is your dream and the vision of your head upon your bed: 29 You, O king, that which will be after this came up in your thoughts upon your bed. The one who reveals the mysteries made known to you that which will be. 30 And as for me, not through wisdom that is in me beyond any living thing was this mystery revealed to me, but rather so that the interpretation will be made known to the king, and so that you will know the thoughts of your heart.

31 ” You, O king, you were seeing and behold! an image! Great was that image, large, and its splendor was extravagant standing in front o

f you. And its appearance was frightening. 32 That image, its head was of good gold, its breasts and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of copper, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. 34 You were looking when a stone was broken off, but not with hands. And it struck the image on its feed of iron and clay and it crushed them. 35 Then they crumbled as one: the iron, the clay, the copper, the silver, and the gold. And they became like chaff from the threshing floor of summer, and the wind carried them. But no place was found for them, and the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. 36 This is the dream, and its interpretation we will say before the king.

37 You, O king, are king of kings because the God of the heavens gave you the kingdom, the power, and the might and the honor, 38 and in all places that the sons of men, living things of the field, and birds of the heavens dwell, he gave into your hand and made you over all of them. You are the head of gold. 39 And in your place a kingdom will rise, another inferior to you and another third kingdom of copper which will rule in all the earth. 40 And a fourth kingdom will become mighty like iron because iron crushes and shatters everything, even as iron which smashes all of these will crush and will shatter. 41 And where you saw the feet and the toes partly clay of a potter and partly iron, it will be a divided kingdom, and some of the firmness of the iron will be in it, just as you saw the iron was mixed with course clay 42 and the toes of the feet were partly iron and partly clay. Some of the kingdom will be strong, and part of it will be fragile. 43 You saw the iron mixed with course clay, mixed will they be among the seed of men, and they will not be cleaving this one with this one just as the iron is not mixed with clay.

44 And in the days of those kings, the God of the heavens will raise up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, and the kingdom will not be given to another nation. It will crush and bring to an end all of these kingdoms, and it will arise forever. 45 This is just as you saw that a stone was cut out from the mountain without hands, and it crushed the iron, the copper, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great god made that which will be after this known to the king. The dream is sure, and its interpretation trustworthy.”

46 Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face and bowed down to Daniel and said to pour out an offering and sacrifices to him. 47 The king responded to Daniel and said, “True it is that your god is god of gods and lord of kings and revealer of mysteries, so that you were able to reveal this mystery.”

48 Then the king made Daniel great and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon as well as chief of governors over all the wise ones of Babylon. 49 And Daniel made a request to the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed Nego over the servants of the province of Babylon. And Daniel was in the great hall of the king.

For both of you who made it this far, what do you like about the story? What don’t you like? What don’t you understand? What was God teaching you while you read it? And what must you do to obey him?

I’m mulling, but I don’t want to prompt you with my answers here. Please, share your thoughts (and/or critique of the translation) in the comments.

(Thanks to my wife’s Bible Storying class for the questions.)

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