Daniel 4-6

Good morning! Today’s passage (Daniel 4-6) continues the mythological stories of Daniel’s exploits that we began yesterday. With three successive leaders of Babylon, Daniel shows that his faithfulness preserves from every harm. In each case, the foreign leader either learns humility and praises the Hebrew God, or dies. This theme of a superhero Hebrew who trusts in God through strenuous trials (and who perseveres in the end) connects today’s reading to the miracle stories we read yesterday.

An explicit sequel to yesterday’s dream-interpretation miracle comes in Daniel 4, when the prophet interprets another vision by Nebuchadnezzar. Fearful Daniel dreads the meaning of the dream because it bodes poorly for the king, but nevertheless he tells it to Nebuchadnezzar. The mighty will fall, Daniel tells the Babylonian king, and the humiliation around the corner will be from God, in order to teach Nebuchadnezzar that he himself is not divine. We’re told the onset of madness does take place, and that “seven times” (years?) come to pass before the king returns to his senses and praises God alone.

Nebuchadnezzar can be taught, but not so his son Belshazzar, who is in charge during the next chapter. He literally sees “the writing on the wall” foretelling his destruction (and the phrase does comes from this story). Note that it’s the queen—rather than all the king’s wise men—who has the key idea to bring in Daniel as interpreter of such signs. Daniel discerns that the writing is a judgment on Belshazzar, because he presumed for himself and his dinner guests to drink out of the divine serving utensils looted from the Jerusalem temple. Daniel is exalted, but Belshazzar is brought low to the ground in death.

Jealousy ensues over Daniel’s high position, envy from peers and others. The plot against him is set in writing and, once sealed, can’t be changed. (This is the same presumption that leads to much of the back-and-forth drama in Esther, and I think that might even have also been the exact words used, “the law of the Medes and the Persians”.) It’s in this way that Darius must do what he doesn’t want to do, even though he’s king. Then, similarly to what happens in Esther, those who plot against God’s righteous leader experience for themselves the punishment they were calling down for others. Happy reading!

Read Daniel 4-6.

Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is Daniel 7-9. Thanks for reading!

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