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Daniel 4:16

ESV Let his mind be changed from a man’s, and let a beast’s mind be given to him; and let seven periods of time pass over him.
NIV Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let him be given the mind of an animal, till seven times pass by for him.
NASB Let his mind change from that of a human And let an animal’s mind be given to him, And let seven periods of time pass over him.
CSB Let his mind be changed from that of a human, and let him be given the mind of an animal for seven periods of time.
NLT For seven periods of time, let him have the mind of a wild animal instead of the mind of a human.
KJV Let his heart be changed from man's, and let a beast's heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him.

What does Daniel 4:16 mean?

The dream which bothered King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:4–5) began by depicting a massive tree (Daniel 4:10–12). An angelic messenger appeared and commanded this tree be cut down to a stump (Daniel 4:13–14). Then, suddenly, this messenger began to speak about a person, rather than a plant (Daniel 4:15). Here, the symbolism is made clearer by indicating that the person in question would be driven insane. This person—the same one symbolized by the formerly impressive tree—would be confined to that state for seven periods of time.

This part of the dream must have been extremely terrifying for Nebuchadnezzar as he presumably suspected the meaning was very personal, and not simply about the kingdom of Babylon. As Daniel will confirm, soon, this predicts that King Nebuchadnezzar will suffer a humiliating period of severe mental illness (Daniel 4:24–25).

Scholars and interpreters differ on the exact meaning of the "seven periods of time." In other prophetic passages, this might imply seven years. For example, in Daniel 7:25, the reference to "a time, times, and half a time" is generally interpreted to mean three-and-a-half years (Revelation 12:6, 14). For Nebuchadnezzar to grow his hair and nails long (Daniel 4:33) would take more than seven days or weeks. Scholars also question whether the ruler of such a kingdom could be incapacitated for seven years without such a thing being noted in other records. A shorter term of insanity, however, might not have been recorded by historians.

In this instance, the meaning may not be tied to the exact duration of the king's suffering. The message is about God humbling an arrogant ruler (Daniel 4:37). The use of seven implies completeness. That there are "periods of time" implies it would be a temporary concern, not a lifelong malady.
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