What does Daniel 2:5 mean?
ESV: The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, “The word from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you shall be torn limb from limb, and your houses shall be laid in ruins.
NIV: The king replied to the astrologers, 'This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble.
NASB: The king replied to the Chaldeans, 'The command from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you will be torn limb from limb and your houses will be turned into a rubbish heap.
CSB: The king replied to the Chaldeans, "My word is final: If you don't tell me the dream and its interpretation, you will be torn limb from limb, and your houses will be made a garbage dump.
NLT: But the king said to the astrologers, 'I am serious about this. If you don’t tell me what my dream was and what it means, you will be torn limb from limb, and your houses will be turned into heaps of rubble!
KJV: The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill.
Verse Commentary:
As did most rulers in the ancient world, king Nebuchadnezzar held absolute and unlimited power. After being disturbed by a recurring dream (Daniel 2:1–4), the king demands his astrologers and magicians explain it. Not only does the king want to know what the dream means, but he also expects the advisors to tell him what the dream was about. This, it seems, was a way of testing their insight. If they couldn't divine the content of the dream, why think they could determine its meaning?

Nebuchadnezzar's threat is extreme, but almost certainly literal. Babylonian rulers were known for their cruelty. When Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah, his men slaughtered Zedekiah's sons while Zedekiah looked on. It was the last thing Zedekiah would see, because Nebuchadnezzar's men gouged out Zedekiah's eyes, chained him, and transported him to Babylon (2 Kings 25:7). The same king demonstrated a violent temper when three advisors refused to worship his idol (Daniel 3:19–20).

What follows is a series of attempted delays and excuses from the Babylonian occultists. Eventually, they will admit that only a real god could know what the king had dreamed (Daniel 2:10–11). This creates an opportunity for Daniel (Daniel 1:17–20) to prove that the God of Israel is the only true God (Daniel 2:27–35).
Verse Context:
Daniel 2:1–16 builds on the introduction to Daniel and his three friends given in chapter 1. Babylon's king, Nebuchadnezzar, is deeply disturbed by a recurring dream. He insists that his pagan advisors tell him what the dream contained, to prove they have genuine insight. When the Babylonian counselors say that only a god could do that, the king plans to have every advisor in Babylon killed. Daniel, however, claims he can meet Nebuchadnezzar's challenge. The text switches from Hebrew to Aramaic in verse 4 and will not revert until chapter 8.
Chapter Summary:
King Nebuchadnezzar tests his magicians, demanding they tell him what he has dreamed, rather than merely inventing an interpretation. When they fail, he prepares to execute the entire department of wise men. Daniel promises he can meet the king's request and is given a special vision from God. The king dreamed of a massive statue shattered into powder by a supernatural rock. Daniel accurately describes this and interprets it as a prophecy about kingdoms which would come after Babylon. The king appoints Daniel and his friends to positions of power and influence over Babylon.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 1 introduced King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, Daniel—a captive youth from Jerusalem—and three other Jewish boys. After three years of education, the four Hebrew captives outperformed all the other trainees, even surpassing the wise men in Babylon. In chapter 2, Daniel describes and interprets Nebuchadnezzar's disturbing dream, though the court magicians could not. As a result, the king promotes Daniel and his three friends to high positions over the provinces of Babylon. This sets the stage for a severe test of faith in chapter 3.
Book Summary:
The book of Daniel contains famous Old Testament stories and prophecies. Daniel was taken from the Israelite people and made an advisor for a conquering empire. He demonstrates faithfulness and wisdom during many years serving in this role. Though Daniel does not deliver a public message, Jesus refers to him as a "prophet" (Matthew 24:15). The first portion of the book mostly describes Daniel's interpretations of dreams and other events. The second portion looks ahead to the end times. Daniel is classified in English Bibles as a "major" prophet, meaning the book is relatively long and the content has broad implications. The book of Revelation echoes and expands on many of the same themes.
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