Daniel Taken to Babylon

Chapter 1 Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and surrounded it with his army. This happened during the third year that Jehoiakim[a] was king of Judah. The Lord allowed Nebuchadnezzar to defeat Jehoiakim king of Judah. Nebuchadnezzar took all the dishes and other things from God’s Temple and carried them to Babylon.[b] He put those things in the temple of his gods.

Then King Nebuchadnezzar ordered Ashpenaz, the man in charge of his officials, to bring some of the boys into the palace to train them. He was to include boys from among the Israelites,[c] from important Judean families, and from the royal family of Judah. King Nebuchadnezzar wanted only healthy boys who did not have any bruises, scars, or anything wrong with their bodies. He wanted handsome, smart young men who were able to learn things quickly and easily to serve in his palace. He told Ashpenaz to teach these young men the language and writings of the Chaldeans.

King Nebuchadnezzar gave the young men a certain amount of food and wine every day. This was the same kind of food that he ate. He wanted them to be trained for three years. After that they would become servants of the king of Babylon. Among those young men were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah from the tribe of Judah. Ashpenaz gave them Babylonian names. Daniel’s new name was Belteshazzar, Hananiah’s was Shadrach, Mishael’s was Meshach, and Azariah’s was Abednego.

Daniel did not want to eat the king’s rich food and wine because it would make him unclean. So he asked Ashpenaz for permission not to make himself unclean in this way.

God caused Ashpenaz, the man in charge of the officials, to be kind and loyal to Daniel. 10 But Ashpenaz told Daniel, “I am afraid of my master, the king. He ordered me to give you this food and drink. If you don’t eat this food, you will begin to look weak and sick. You will look worse than other young men your age. The king will see this, and he will become angry with me. He might cut off my head. And it would be your fault.”

11 Then Daniel talked to the guard who had been put in charge of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah by Ashpenaz. 12 He said, “Please give us this test for ten days: Don’t give us anything but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then after ten days, compare us with the other young men who eat the king’s food. See for yourself who looks healthier, and then decide how you want to treat us, your servants.”

14 So the guard agreed to test Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah for ten days. 15 After ten days, Daniel and his friends looked healthier than all the young men who ate the king’s food. 16 So the guard continued to take away the king’s special food and wine and to give only vegetables to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.

17 God gave these four young men the wisdom and ability to learn many different kinds of writing and science. Daniel could also understand all kinds of visions and dreams.

18 At the end of the three years of training, Ashpenaz brought all the young men to King Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked to them and found that none of the young men were as good as Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. So these four young men became the king’s servants. 20 Every time the king asked them about something important, they showed great wisdom and understanding. The king found they were ten times better than all the magicians and wise men in his kingdom. 21 So Daniel served the king until the first year that Cyrus[d] was king.

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

Chapter 2 During Nebuchadnezzar’s second year as king, he had dreams. They bothered him, and he could not sleep. So the king called his wise men to come to him. They used magic and watched the stars. They did this to try to interpret dreams and to learn what would happen in the future. The king wanted them to tell him what he had dreamed, so they came in and stood in front of him.

Then the king said to them, “I had a dream that bothers me. I want to know what it means.”

Then the Chaldeans answered the king. They spoke Aramaic[e] and said, “King, live forever! Please tell your dream to us, your servants, and then we will tell you what it means.”

Then King Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “No, you must tell me the dream, and then you must tell me what it means. If you don’t, I will give an order for you to be cut into pieces. And I will order your houses to be destroyed until they are nothing but piles of dust and ashes. But if you tell me my dream and explain its meaning, I will give you gifts, rewards, and great honor. So tell me about my dream and what it means.”

Again the wise men said to the king, “Please, Sir, tell us about the dream, and we will tell you what it means.”

Then King Nebuchadnezzar answered, “I know that you are trying to get more time. You know that I meant what I said. You know that you will be punished if you don’t tell me about my dream. So you have all agreed to lie to me. You are hoping for more time so that I will forget what I want you to do. Now tell me the dream. If you can tell me the dream, I will know that you can tell me what it really means.”

10 The Chaldeans answered the king. They said, “There is not a man on earth who can do what the king is asking! No king has ever asked the wise men, the men who do magic, or the Chaldeans to do something like this. Not even the greatest and most powerful king has ever asked his wise men to do such a thing. 11 The king is asking something that is too hard to do. Only the gods could tell the king his dream and what it means. But the gods don’t live with people.”

12 When the king heard that, he became very angry. So he gave an order for all the wise men of Babylon to be killed. 13 King Nebuchadnezzar’s order to kill all the wise men was announced. The king’s men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to kill them.

14 Arioch was the commander of the king’s guards. He was going to kill the wise men of Babylon, but Daniel talked to him. Daniel spoke politely to Arioch 15 and said, “Why did the king order such a severe punishment?”

Then Arioch explained the whole story about the king’s dreams, and Daniel understood. 16 When Daniel heard the story, he went to King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel asked the king to give him some more time. Then he would tell the king what the dream meant.

17 So Daniel went to his house. He explained the whole story to his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 18 Daniel asked his friends to pray to the God of heaven that God would be kind to them and help them understand this secret. Then Daniel and his friends would not be killed with the other wise men of Babylon.

19 During the night, God explained the secret to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven. 20 He said,

“Praise God’s name forever and ever!
    Power and wisdom belong to him.
21 He changes the times and seasons.
    He gives power to kings,
    and he takes their power away.
He gives wisdom to people, so they become wise.
    He lets people learn things and become wise.
22 He knows hidden secrets that are hard to understand.
    Light lives with him,
    so he knows what is in the dark and secret places.
23 God of my ancestors, I thank you and praise you.
    You gave me wisdom and power.
You told us what we asked for.
    You told us about the king’s dream.”

Daniel Tells What the Dream Means

24 Then Daniel went to Arioch, the man who King Nebuchadnezzar had chosen to kill the wise men of Babylon. Daniel said to Arioch, “Don’t kill the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king. I will tell him what his dream means.”

25 So very quickly, Arioch took Daniel to the king. Arioch said to the king, “I have found a man among the captives[f] from Judah who can tell the king what his dream means.”

26 The king asked Daniel (Belteshazzar) a question. He said, “Are you able to tell me about my dream, and what it means?”

27 Daniel answered, “King Nebuchadnezzar, no wise man, no man who does magic, and no Chaldean could tell the king the secret things he has asked about. 28 But there is a God in heaven who tells secret things. God has given King Nebuchadnezzar dreams to show him what will happen later. This was your dream, and this is what you saw while lying on your bed: 29 King, as you were lying there on your bed, you began thinking about what might happen in the future. God can tell people about secret things—he has shown you what will happen in the future. 30 God also told this secret to me, not because I have greater wisdom than other men, but so that you, king, may know what it means. In that way you will understand what went through your mind.

31 “King, in your dream you saw a large statue in front of you that was very large and shiny. It was very impressive. 32 The head of the statue was made from pure gold. Its chest and the arms were made from silver. The belly and upper part of the legs were made from bronze. 33 The lower part of the legs was made from iron. Its feet were made partly of iron and partly of clay. 34 While you were looking at the statue, you saw a rock that was cut loose, but not by human hands. Then the rock hit the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold broke to pieces all at the same time. And all the pieces became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summertime. The wind blew them away, and there was nothing left. No one could tell that a statue had ever been there. Then the rock that hit the statue became a very large mountain and filled up the whole earth.

36 “That was your dream. Now we will tell the king what it means. 37 King, you are the most important king. The God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory. 38 He has given you control, and you rule over people and the wild animals and the birds. Wherever they live, God has made you ruler over them all. King Nebuchadnezzar, you are that head of gold on the statue.

39 “Another kingdom will come after you, but it will not be as great as your kingdom. Next, a third kingdom will rule over the earth—that is the bronze part. 40 Then there will be a fourth kingdom. That kingdom will be strong like iron. Just as iron breaks things and smashes them to pieces, that fourth kingdom will break all the other kingdoms and smash them to pieces.

41 “You saw that the feet and toes of the statue were partly clay and partly iron. That means the fourth kingdom will be a divided kingdom. It will have some of the strength of iron in it just as you saw the iron mixed with clay. 42 The toes of the statue were partly iron and partly clay. So the fourth kingdom will be partly strong like iron and partly weak like clay. 43 You saw the iron mixed with clay, but iron and clay don’t completely mix together. In the same way the people of the fourth kingdom will be a mixture. They will not be united as one people.

44 “During the time of the kings of the fourth kingdom, the God of heaven will set up another kingdom that will continue forever. It will never be destroyed. And it will be the kind of kingdom that cannot be passed on to another group of people. This kingdom will crush all the other kingdoms. It will bring them to an end, but that kingdom itself will continue forever.

45 “King Nebuchadnezzar, you saw a rock cut from a mountain, but no one cut that rock. The rock broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold to pieces. In this way God showed you what will happen in the future. The dream is true, and you can trust that this is what it means.”

46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar bowed down in front of Daniel to honor him. The king praised him. He gave an order that an offering and incense be given to honor Daniel. 47 Then the king said to Daniel, “I know for sure your God is the God over all gods and the Lord over all kings. He tells people about things they cannot know. I know this is true because you were able to tell these secret things to me.”

48 Then the king gave Daniel a very important job in his kingdom and gave him many expensive gifts. Nebuchadnezzar made Daniel ruler over the whole province of Babylon and put him in charge of all the wise men of Babylon. 49 Daniel asked the king to make Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego important officials over the province of Babylon. The king did as Daniel asked. Daniel himself became one of the important officials who was always near the king.

The Idol of Gold and the Hot Furnace

Chapter 3 King Nebuchadnezzar had a gold idol made that was 60 cubits[g] high and 6 cubits[h] wide. Then he set the idol up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. Then he called the satraps, prefects, governors, advisors, treasurers, judges, rulers, and all the other officials in his kingdom to come together. He wanted all of them to come to the dedication ceremony for the idol.

So all the men came and stood in front of the idol that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Then the man who makes announcements for the king spoke in a loud voice, “All you people from many nations and language groups, listen to me. This is what you are commanded to do: You must bow down as soon as you hear the sound of all the musical instruments. When you hear the horns, flutes, lyres, sambucas,[i] harps, bagpipes,[j] and all the other musical instruments, you must worship the gold idol. King Nebuchadnezzar has set this idol up. Whoever does not bow down and worship this gold idol will immediately be thrown into a very hot furnace.”

So as soon as they heard the sound of the horns, flutes, lyres, sambucas, bagpipes, and all the other musical instruments, they bowed down and worshiped the gold idol. All the peoples, nations, and different language groups there worshiped the gold idol that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

Then some of the Chaldeans came up to the king and began speaking against the people from Judah. They said, “King, may you live forever! 10 King, you gave a command. You said that everyone who hears the sound of the horns, flutes, lyres, sambucas, harps, bagpipes, and all the other musical instruments must bow down and worship the gold idol. 11 And you also said that whoever does not bow down and worship the gold idol will be thrown into a very hot furnace. 12 There are some Judeans who you made important officials in the province of Babylon that ignored your order, King. Their names are Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They don’t worship your gods, and they didn’t bow down to worship the gold idol you set up.”

13 Nebuchadnezzar became very angry. He called for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. So they were brought to him. 14 And Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, is it true that you don’t worship my gods? And is it true that you didn’t bow down and worship the gold idol I have set up? 15 Now when you hear the sound of the horns, flutes, lyres, sambucas, harps, bagpipes, and all the other musical instruments, you must bow down and worship the gold idol. If you are ready to worship the idol I have made, that is good. But if you don’t worship it, you will be thrown very quickly into the hot furnace. Then no god will be able to save you from my power!”

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, “Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to explain these things to you. 17 If you throw us into the hot furnace, the God we serve can save us. And if he wants to, he can save us from your power. 18 But even if God does not save us, we want you to know, King, that we refuse to serve your gods. We will not worship the gold idol you have set up.”

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar became very angry with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He gave an order for the oven to be heated seven times hotter than it usually was. 20 Then he commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He told the soldiers to throw them into the hot furnace.

21 So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were tied up and thrown into the hot furnace. They were wearing their robes, pants, cloth caps, and other clothes. 22 The king was very angry when he gave the command, so the soldiers quickly made the furnace very hot. The fire was so hot that the flames killed the strong soldiers. They were killed when they went close to the fire to throw in Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego fell into the fire. They were tied up very tightly.

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar jumped to his feet. He was very surprised and he asked his advisors, “We tied only three men, and we threw only three men into the fire. Is that right?”

His advisors said, “Yes, King.”

25 The king said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire. They are not tied up and they are not burned. The fourth man looks like an angel.[k]

26 Then Nebuchadnezzar went to the opening of the hot furnace. He shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, come out! Servants of the Most High God, come here!”

So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the fire. 27 When they came out, the satraps, prefects, governors, and royal advisors crowded around them. They could see that the fire had not burned Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Their bodies were not burned at all. Their hair was not burned, and their robes were not burned. They didn’t even smell as if they had been near fire.

28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Their God has sent his angel and saved his servants from the fire! These three men trusted their God and refused to obey my command. They were willing to die instead of serving or worshiping any other god. 29 So I now make this law: Anyone from any nation or language group who says anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego will be cut into pieces, and their house will be destroyed until it is a pile of dirt and ashes. No other god can save his people like this.” 30 Then the king gave Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego more important jobs in the province of Babylon.

Daniel and the Lions

Chapter 6 Darius thought it would be a good idea to choose 120 satraps to rule throughout his kingdom. He chose three men to rule over the 120 satraps. Daniel was one of the three supervisors. The king put these men in this position to keep anyone from cheating him. Daniel proved himself to be a better supervisor than any of the others. He did this by his good character and great ability. The king was so impressed with Daniel that he planned to make him ruler over the whole kingdom. But when the other supervisors and the satraps heard about this, they were very jealous. They tried to find reasons to accuse Daniel. So they watched what Daniel did as he went about doing the business of the government. But they could not find anything wrong with him, so they could not accuse him of doing anything wrong. Daniel was a man people could trust. He did not cheat the king, and he worked very hard.

Finally, they said, “We will never find any reason to accuse Daniel of doing something wrong. So we must find something to complain about that is connected to the law of his God.”

So the two supervisors and the satraps went as a group to the king. They said, “King Darius, live forever! The supervisors, prefects, satraps, advisors, and governors have all agreed on something. We think that the king should make this law and that everyone must obey it: For the next 30 days, whoever prays to any god or man except you, King, will be thrown into the lions’ den. Now, King, make the law and sign the paper it is written on so that it cannot be changed, because the laws of the Medes and Persians cannot be canceled or changed.” So King Darius made the law and signed it.

10 Daniel always prayed to God three times every day. Three times every day, he bowed down on his knees to pray and praise God. Even though Daniel heard about the new law, he still went to his house to pray. He went up to the upper room of his house and opened the windows that faced toward Jerusalem. Then Daniel bowed down on his knees and prayed just as he always had done.

11 Then the supervisors and satraps went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. 12 So they went to the king and talked to him about the law he had made. They said, “King Darius, you signed a law that says, for the next 30 days anyone who prays to any god or man except you, the king, would be thrown into the lions’ den. You did sign that law, didn’t you?”

The king answered, “Yes, I signed that law, and the laws of the Medes and Persians cannot be canceled or changed.”

13 Then they said to the king, “That man Daniel is not paying any attention to you. He is one of the captives from Judah, and he is not paying attention to the law you signed. Daniel still prays to his God three times every day.”

14 The king became very sad and upset when he heard this. He decided to save Daniel. He worked until sunset trying to think of a way to save him. 15 Then the men went as a group to the king and said to him, “Remember, King, that the law of the Medes and Persians says that no law or command signed by the king can ever be canceled or changed.”

16 So King Darius gave the order. They brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May the God you serve save you!” 17 A big rock was brought and put over the opening of the lions’ den. Then the king used his ring and put his seal on the rock. He also used the rings of his officials and put their seals on the rock. This showed that no one could move that rock and bring Daniel out of the lion’s den. 18 Then King Darius went back to his house. He did not eat that night. He did not want anyone to come and entertain him. He could not sleep all night.

19 The next morning, King Darius got up just as it was getting light and ran to the lions’ den. 20 He was very worried. When he got to the lions’ den, he called to Daniel. He said, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God been able to save you from the lions? You always serve your God.”

21 Daniel answered, “King, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel to save me. The angel closed the lions’ mouths. The lions have not hurt me because my God knows I am innocent. I never did anything wrong to you, King.”

23 King Darius was very happy. He told his servants to lift Daniel out of the lions’ den. And when Daniel was lifted out of the den, they did not find any injury on his body. The lions did not hurt Daniel because he trusted in his God.

24 Then the king gave a command to bring the men who had accused Daniel to the lions’ den. The men and their wives and children were thrown into the lions’ den. The lions grabbed them before they hit the floor. The lions ate their bodies and then chewed on their bones.

25 Then King Darius wrote this letter to all the people from other nations and language groups all around the world:


26 I am making a new law. This law is for people in every part of my kingdom. All of you must fear and respect the God of Daniel.

Daniel’s God is the living God;
    he lives forever.
His kingdom will never be destroyed.
    His rule will never end.
27 God helps and saves people.
    He does amazing miracles in heaven and on earth.
He saved Daniel from the lions.

28 So Daniel was successful during the time Darius was king and when Cyrus the Persian was king.


  1. Daniel 1:1 the third year … Jehoiakim This was about 605 B.C.
  2. Daniel 1:2 Babylon Literally, “Shinar,” which may be a form of the name Sumer.
  3. Daniel 1:3 Israelites Here, this probably means “ordinary citizens of Judah and Israel.” But it could mean “people from the northern tribes of Israel.”
  4. Daniel 1:21 the first year … Cyrus This was about 539–538 B.C.
  5. Daniel 2:4 Aramaic The text of Daniel from here to 7:28 is written in Aramaic. See “Aramaic” in the Word List.
  6. Daniel 2:25 captives People taken away as prisoners. Here, it means the Jewish people who were taken to Babylon.
  7. Daniel 3:1 60 cubits About 87' 4" (27 m) using the short cubit.
  8. Daniel 3:1 6 cubits About 8' 9" (2.7 m) using the short cubit.
  9. Daniel 3:5 sambucas A musical instrument, possibly a seven stringed instrument like a harp. The name in Hebrew comes from some other language, possibly Greek.
  10. Daniel 3:5 bagpipes A musical instrument with a bag and several horns or pipes. The name in Hebrew comes from some other language, possibly from the Greek word “symphony.”
  11. Daniel 3:25 angel Literally, “son of the god.”