What does Daniel 4:10 mean?
ESV: The visions of my head as I lay in bed were these: I saw, and behold, a tree in the midst of the earth, and its height was great.
NIV: These are the visions I saw while lying in bed: I looked, and there before me stood a tree in the middle of the land. Its height was enormous.
NASB: ‘Now these were the visions in my mind as I lay on my bed: I was looking, and behold, there was a tree in the middle of the earth and its height was great.
CSB: In the visions of my mind as I was lying in bed, I saw this: There was a tree in the middle of the earth, and it was very tall.
NLT: '‘While I was lying in my bed, this is what I dreamed. I saw a large tree in the middle of the earth.
KJV: Thus were the visions of mine head in my bed; I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great.
When Nebuchadnezzar had his first disturbing dream, he insisted his wise men relate the vision, itself, instead of simply giving him an interpretation (Daniel 2:1–6, 17–19). It's possible he did the same thing here (Daniel 4:9), asking Daniel to first describe the dream, and then to give its meaning. But the narrative seems to indicate that the king told the enchanters and Daniel the content of the dream (Daniel 4:7–8). One way or another, the king and his captive advisor (Daniel 1:1–6) agreed on the content of Nebuchadnezzar's dream.
The king's dream depicted an enormous tree. He was familiar with Lebanon, the home of infamously massive trees with wide branches and cones the size of a person's hand. There, the king would have observed the process of cutting down tall cedars for his construction projects in Babylon. The cedars of Lebanon were also prominent in the construction of David's palace and in the construction of Solomon's temple and palace six centuries prior to Nebuchadnezzar's reign. According to 2 Chronicles 2:3–10, Solomon had requested that Hiram, King of Tyre, send him cedars in exchange for massive quantities of wheat, barley, wine, and oil.
The cedar of Lebanon has been called the "king of trees" in comparison with other trees found in Bible lands. This sense of dominance will connect to the dream's meaning, as explained later by Daniel (Daniel 4:22).
Daniel 4:1–18 introduces another of Nebuchadnezzar's mysterious dreams (Daniel 2:2–3). As before, the king summoned his wise men to interpret the experience. They failed, but Nebuchadnezzar also spoke with Daniel (Daniel 2:46–47). This time the king told his wise men and Daniel what he had dreamed. This sets the stage for Daniel's interpretation and the fulfillment of another prophecy.
Daniel 4 opens with a proclamation in which Babylon's king, Nebuchadnezzar, declares what God has done for him. He recalls yet another frightening dream (Daniel 2:1). He sees a tree cut down to the stump, and a man made like an animal. Once again, only Daniel could interpret the dream's meaning. The news is terrible: the king will be driven insane for "seven periods of time" until he learns humility. A year later, this happens. Also as promised, Nebuchadnezzar humbles himself and regains his senses and his throne. He praises God for this miraculous work.
Daniel chapter 1 depicted Babylon's King Nebuchadnezzar as powerful. Chapter 2 showed his vindictive nature. His extreme vanity was on display in chapter 3. Daniel chapter 4 records his submission, repentance, and return to prominence as the King of Babylon, all under God's humiliating judgment. Chapters 5, 6, and 7 continue to speak about Gentile rulers and related prophecies.
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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