Chapter Four

Wild King

Daniel was busy working at his desk when a messenger from King Nebuchadnezzar suddenly burst into the room.

"Belteshazzar!" he cried, using Daniel's Babylonian name.

Daniel looked up from his work, startled. "What is the meaning of this intrusion?" he asked.

"Excuse me for the interruption, Belteshazzar; I come from King Nebuchadnezzar. The king is requesting your presence immediately!"

As they hurried on their way through the streets of Babylon, the messenger told Daniel, "The king had a dream that worried him a great deal. He called for his advisors and counselors, but none of them have been able to interpret the dream."

This sounds familiar, Daniel thought. Dear L-rd G-d of Israel, Daniel prayed as he hurried along, give me the ability to interpret the king's dream correctly. I will give all the praise, honor, and glory to you, O L-rd.

As Daniel entered the king's presence, he was just finishing his prayer.

Nebuchadnezzar spoke, "Belteshazzar, not only are you the wisest of all advisors and counselors, but the holy gods have given you special powers to solve the most difficult mysteries. So I implore you, please listen to my dream and tell me what it means.

"In my dream I saw a very tall tree in the center of the world. It grew stronger and higher, until it reached to heaven and could be seen from anywhere on earth. It was covered with leaves and heavy with fruit -- enough for all nations. Wild animals enjoyed its shade, birds nested in its branches, and all creatures on earth lived on its fruit.

"A holy angel then came down from heaven and shouted; 'Chop down the tree and cut off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Make the animals leave its shade and send the birds flying from its branches, but leave its stump and roots in the ground, surrounded by grass and held by chains of iron and bronze. Make sure that this ruler lives like the animals out in the open fields, unprotected from the dew, and give him the mind of a wild animal for seven long years. This punishment is given at the command of the holy angels. It will show to all who live that G-d Most High controls all kingdoms and chooses for their rulers persons of humble birth.'

"Daniel, that was my dream that none of the wise men in my kingdom were able to understand; however, I am sure that you will understand what it means because the holy gods have given you special powers." 1

____________________

The wind was picking up a bit and the trees were swaying to and fro. An owl hooted from his perch in the tree above them.

"A tree!" Brian was laughing. "He had a dream about a fruit tree, with animals in its shade and birds nesting in its branches. I think he's crazy!"

"You don't know how close to the truth you are, Brian," replied Elizabeth.

"What does it all mean, Dad?" Jamie asked. "An angel said to chop the tree down but leave the roots, and who is supposed to live like an animal for seven years?"

"I am going to let Daniel explain the dream before I comment on it," Darryl answered.

____________________

Daniel sat thinking about the dream, and it greatly troubled him. Finally Nebuchadnezzar prodded him to speak.

Daniel replied, "Your Majesty, I wish the dream had been against your enemies.2 That tree is you. Your glorious reputation has reached heaven, and your kingdom covers the earth.3 Your Majesty, G-d Most High has sent you this message, and it means that you will be forced to live with wild animals, far away from humans. You will eat grass like a wild animal and live outdoors for seven years, until you learn that G-d Most High controls all earthly kingdoms and chooses their rulers. However, He gave orders not to disturb the stump and roots. This is to show that you will be king once again, after you learn that the G-d who rules from heaven is in control. Your Majesty, please be willing to do what I say. Turn from yours sins and start living right; have mercy on those who are mistreated, then all will go well with you for a long time."4

After Daniel completed his interpretation of the dream, the room became strangely silent. Everyone's eyes were on the king, wondering what his reaction would be. Would he reward Daniel as he had done in the past? Would he have him executed? It was hard to tell what Nebuchadnezzar's reaction would be.

Finally Nebuchadnezzar broke the silence. "Thank you, Daniel, that will be all for now." His face was expressionless as he spoke.

Daniel left the king's presence, with the messenger who had summoned him close behind. As soon as they could not be overheard, the messenger spoke. "I can't believe what you told him. Are you crazy? I'm surprised he didn't order your execution on the spot."

Daniel turned to the messenger and stared into his eyes. "I know it wasn't a very pleasant message, but I must be honest no matter what the outcome."

"Do you really believe he will live like a wild animal?" the messenger asked.

"Yes, if he doesn't change his ways, it's only a matter of time until he does," Daniel explained.