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Daniel 2:11

ESV The thing that the king asks is difficult, and no one can show it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.”
NIV What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among humans.'
NASB Moreover, the thing which the king demands is difficult, and there is no one else who could declare it to the king except gods, whose dwelling place is not with mortal flesh.'
CSB What the king is asking is so difficult that no one can make it known to him except the gods, whose dwelling is not with mortals."
NLT The king’s demand is impossible. No one except the gods can tell you your dream, and they do not live here among people.'
KJV And it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can shew it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.

What does Daniel 2:11 mean?

This portion of the book of Daniel (Daniel 2:4—7:28) is written in Aramaic. At the time, this was the common language of the Babylonian culture. The miracles and stories recorded in this section are mostly messages about, or targeted at, the Gentile people. The statement recorded in this verse comes from the pagan magicians and sorcerers of king Nebuchadnezzar. He has commanded them to prove their divining powers not merely by interpreting a dream, but also by describing the dream he had (Daniel 2:1–3). What the conjurers admit here is a cornerstone idea in the story of Daniel.

The diviners likely meant this as a cry for sympathy from the king. He had threatened them with gruesome death (Daniel 2:4–7). One reason Nebuchadnezzar created this challenge was to test the spiritual insight of his magicians (Daniel 2:8–9). So, it might even be a subtle admission that they had been lying in the past. Their contention is that only a real god—a true deity—could know what Nebuchadnezzar had dreamed without being told. As it happens, Daniel (Daniel 1:17) has insight from the One True God (Daniel 2:27–35) and will be able to meet the king's demands.

The God who created all things is transcendent—above and beyond all—yet He involves Himself in human affairs. The Babylonian deities were fictional, so they could not communicate with human beings. Yet the God of Israel has communicated with human beings through direct revelation, dreams, visions, signs, nature, Jesus' incarnation, the Holy Spirit, and His inspired Word (Romans 1:19–20; Hebrews 1:1–4; 1 Corinthians 2:10–16; 2 Timothy 3:16–17). Second Timothy 3:16 affirms that all Scripture is God-breathed, and 2 Peter 1:21 states that "no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit."
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