The Bible

Daniel 4:10-37 : Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream of a Tree

Study the Inner Meaning

10 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.

11 The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth:

12 The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it.

13 I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven;

14 He cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches:

15 Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth:

16 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.

17 This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.

18 This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now thou, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof, forasmuch as all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me the interpretation: but thou art able; for the spirit of the holy gods is in thee.

19 Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him. The king spake, and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies.

20 The tree that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth;

21 Whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation:

22 It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth.

23 And whereas the king saw a watcher and an holy one coming down from heaven, and saying, Hew the tree down, and destroy it; yet leave the stump of the roots thereof in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him;

24 This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the most High, which is come upon my lord the king:

25 That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.

26 And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule.

27 Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.

28 All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar.

29 At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon.

30 The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?

31 While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee.

32 And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.

33 The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like birds' claws.

34 And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation:

35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?

36 At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellers and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me.

37 Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 175


Other references to this story:

Arcana Coelestia 274, 290, 395, 728, 776, 3301, 3384, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 47, 60, 158, 173, 474, 567, 717, ...

Doctrine of the Lord 40

True Christian Religion 93, 644


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 109, 204, 257, 650, 662, 1029, 1100

Coronis (An Appendix to True Christian Religion) 3

An Invitation to the New Church 22

Marriage 93

Scriptural Confirmations 4, 30, 31

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:


Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Genesis 11:4, 14:18

Deuteronomy 8:17, 32:4, 27

2 Samuel 18:32, 22:31

1 Chronicles 29:10, 13

Job 9:12, 12:24, 14:7, 9, 42:2

Psalms 66:7, 111:7, 115:3, 135:6, 145:13

Proverbs 11:2, 16:6, 18, 20:28

Isaiah 2:11, 10:13, 13:11, 40:15, 17, 47:8, 10

Jeremiah 27:5

Ezekiel 29:3, 9, 31:12

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Amos 6:13

Habakkuk 1:11

Zephaniah 2:15

Matthew 13:32

Luke 1:51, 13:7

Acts of the Apostles 12:23

Romans 9:10, 20, 13:1

1 Timothy 6:16

Revelation 4:9, 14:8

Word/Phrase Explanations

head
The head is the part of us that is highest, which means in a representative sense that it is what is closest to the Lord....

Bed
A bed of ivory (Amos 6:4) are doctrines apparently from rational truths.

A tree in the midst of the earth
'The tree' in Nebuchadnezzar's dream, in Daniel 4:7-14, represents the church which later became Babylon.

tree
In general, plants in the Bible represent facts, thoughts and ideas – intellectual things. This makes sense: Plants are rooted in place, but can grow...

midst
The "midst" of something in the Bible represents the thing that is most central and most important to the spiritual state being described, the motivation...

earth
"Earth" in the Bible can mean a person or a group of like-minded people as in a church. But it refers specifically to the external...

Height
'Height' signifies the good and truth of the church in every degree.

Strong
In the Word, people who trust to themselves and their own intelligence are sometimes called 'strong,' as in Isaiah 1:31. This is because they suppose...

reached
The hand in the Bible represents power, which is easy to understand, so to reach out or stretch out the hand means to exercise power,...

leaves
'Leaves' symbolize rational truths because a tree symbolizes a person, and every part of the tree symbolizes accordant elements in the person.

fruit
We tend to think of "fruit" in two ways in natural language. One is as food that grows on trees and vines, sweet and delicious,...

much
Intellectual things – ideas, knowledge, facts, even insight and understanding – are more separate and free-standing than emotional things, and it’s easier to imagine numbering...

Meat
'Meat,' as in Genesis 40:17, signifies celestial good, because 'the meat of the angels' are nothing but the goods of love and charity, which not...

field
When we have a desire to be good people and to do good things, the natural first questions are "What does that mean?" "What should...

shadow
Since the sun’s light represents the Lord’s Divine Truth, “shade” represents a spiritual state in which that light is blocked. The Writings often use the...

under
Generally speaking things that are seen as lower physically in the Bible represent things that are lower or more external spiritually. In some cases this...

flesh
Flesh has several meanings just in its most obvious form. It can mean all living creatures as when the Lord talks about the flood "destroying...

holy
The Bible describes many things as being holy, or sacred. The Ark of the Covenant is one very holy object. The inmost chamber of the...

one
A company might have executives setting policy and strategy, engineers designing products, line workers building them, managers handling personnel and others handling various functions. They...

came
As with common verbs in general, the meaning of “come” in the Bible is highly dependent on context – its meaning is determined largely by...

down
"Down" is used many different ways in natural language, and its spiritual meaning in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Phrases like "bowing down,"...

cried
As with most common verbs, the spiritual meaning of “crying” or “crying out” (meaning a shout or wail, not weeping) is highly dependent on context....

said
As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

Shake
'To shake bread on the palm of Aaron’s hand,' as in Exodus 29:21, denotes acknowledgment that life comes from the Lord, and that it is...

scatter
The meaning of "scatter" in the Bible is relatively literal, but it is used in regard to spiritual things, not natural ones. So to "scatter"...

Stump of his roots
Leave the stump of his roots in the earth,' as in Daniel 4:15, signifies the Word, which is understood only in the letter and the...

iron
'An iron pan,' as in Ezekiel 4:3, signifies the truth that was falsified and adulterated among the Jewish people.

Brass
Brass and iron as in Isaiah 48:4 and Daniel 7:19 signify what is hard.

tender
'Weak eyed' relates to the understanding.

Grass
Grass signifies the scientific principle. Just as green grass serves animals for support, scientific truth serves men for spiritual nourishment. ‘Grass’ is scientific truth, and...

Dew
Dew, in Deut. 32:2 signifies the multiplication of truth from good, and the fructification of good by truth.

heart
The heart means love. A good heart means love to the Lord and to the neighbor while a hard or stony heart means the love...

beast
"Beasts" represent the affection for doing good things, a true desire to do them from the heart. In the negative sense, "beasts" stand for the...

seven
The number 'seven' was considered holy, as is well known, because of the six days of creation, and the seventh, which is the celestial self,...

Pass
'To pass,' as in Genesis 31:52, signifies flowing in. 'To pass the night,' as in Genesis 24:54, signifies having peace. 'To pass through,' as in...

over
Over' or 'upon' in the Word, signifies being within, because the highest part in successive order becomes inmost in simultaneous order. This is why the...

the Word
In general, we tend to be very aware of how knowing what's true leads to doing what is good. That starts as children, with parents...

Word
'Word,' as in Psalms 119:6-17, stands for doctrine in general. 'The Word,' as in Psalms 147:18, signifies divine good united with divine truth. 'Word,' as...

know
Like so many common verbs, the meaning of "know" in the Bible is varied and dependent on context. And in some cases – when it...

Most high
'The most high' signifies the inmost.

High
'Height' signifies what is inward, and also heaven.

kingdom
In the most general sense, a kingdom in the Bible represents a church. In a more specific sense, a kingdom represents a church in regards...

men
The relationship between men and women is deep and nuanced, and one entire book of the Writings – Conjugial Love or Love in Marriage –...

giveth
Like other common verbs, the meaning of "give" in the Bible is affected by context: who is giving what to whom? In general, though, giving...

Dream
A dream, as in Genesis 20:3,signifies being somewhat obscure.

king
The human mind is composed of two parts, a will and an understanding, a seat of loves and affections, and a seat of wisdom and...

Nebuchadnezzar
Nebuchadnezzar was a powerful king of the Babylonian empire. His fiery furnace and his dreams of the great tree and of the great statue are...

seen
The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

Belteshazzar
The book of Daniel follows after Ezekiel in the Old Testament. Daniel was a prophet during the early part of the captivity of the Jews...

declare
To "declare" something means to say it formally, publicly and with emphasis; you might say what you think, but you only declare things you're sure...

wise
At its heart, wisdom is love's imperative desire to take form. That's a tricky statement, but think of it this way: If you love someone,...

wise men
'Wise men,' as in Matthew 23:34, signify the good of doctrine. 'The wise' signify people who teach the Word. 'They that be wise' signify being...

make known
In natural language the word "manifest" simply means to make something clear or obvious. A unique use, in fact, has to do with shipping; a...

Make
'To make,' as in Hosea 8:11, refers to good. In the opposite sense it refers to evil. To make heaven, and earth, and the sea,...

spirit
There are two aspects to the life of each person. We might call them "heart" and "mind," a part of us that wants and feels...

gods
The Lord is called "Jehovah" in the Bible when the text is referring to his essence, which is love itself. He is called "God" when...

name
It's easy to see that names are important in the Bible. Jehovah changed Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah, changed Jacob to Israel and...

Thoughts
There are thoughts from perception, from conscience, and from a lack of conscience. Thoughts from perception are only possible in the celestial, that is, people...

troubled
The Bible often talks of people being "troubled." The internal meaning is pretty straightforward; it indicates a state of spiritual turmoil, usually due to the...

hate
If you truly hate someone, that means you would kill them and destroy their reputation if you could do so without repercussion – not a...

habitation
'The sanctuary and habitation' together signify heaven and the church, 'sanctuary' regarding the good of love, and 'tabernacle' regarding truths of that good, because the...

to
‘To grow’ signifies to be perfected.

dwelling
Many people were nomadic in Biblical times, especially the times of the Old Testament, and lived in tents that could be struck, moved and re-raised...

eat
When we eat, our bodies break down the food and get from it both energy and materials for building and repairing the body. The process...

Oxen
'Oxen' or 'calves' signify the affections of the natural mind.

break
To “break” something creates an image that is much different from “attacking,” “destroying,” or “shattering.” It is less emotional, less violent in its intent; it...

sins
'Bound up transgressions,' as in Lamentations 1:14, stands for falsities coming up towards interior or rational things.

righteousness
The word "righteous" has taken on a bit of negative shading in modern language. That may be because we hear it most often as part...

iniquities
In the Word three terms are used to mean bad things that are done. These three are transgression, iniquity, and sin, and they are here...

mercy
In regular language, "mercy" means being caring and compassionate toward those who are in poor states. That's a position we are all in relative to...

Poor
'Poor' signifies someone who is not in truths, and people who are ignorant of good and truth, but desire instruction.

Twelve
'Twelve' signifies all aspects of faith. This has been unknown to the world until now. Nevertheless, this is the constant significance of 'twelve,' anywhere it...

Palace
'A palace,' as in Psalm 144:12, represents the understanding in which truths have a beautiful form. They have a beautiful form when they are from...

babylon
Babylon was an ancient city built on the Euphrates river in what is now southern Iraq. It once was the capital of a great empire...

spake
Like "say," the word "speak" refers to thoughts and feelings moving from our more internal spiritual levels to our more external ones – and ultimately...

built
To build something generally means to put together a variety of simpler pieces to make a useful and more complex structure, as to build a...

house of the
'The house of the prison' denotes the vastation of falsity, and also falsity itself.

Might
'Might' denotes the forces or power of truth.

Power
Power,' as in Revelation 4, signifies salvation, because all divine power regards this as its final purpose. A person is reformed by divine power, and...

mouth
In most cases, "mouth" in the Bible represents thought and logic, especially the kind of active, concrete thought that is connected with speech. The reason...

fell
Like other common verbs, the meaning of "fall" is highly dependent on context in regular language, and is highly dependent on context in a spiritual...

Voice
'Voice' signifies what is announced from the Word. 'Voice' often refers and is applied to things that cannot have a voice, as in Exodus 4,...

hour
The Writings tell us that time and space are aspects of the physical world, but do not exist as we know them in the spiritual...

Fulfilled
When the Lord said that all things which were written concerning him were fulfilled, he meant that all things were fulfilled in their inmost sense.

Body
The body (Matt. 6:22), signifies the man (homo). "His body shall not remain all night upon the tree" (Deut. 21:23), signifies lest it should be...

feathers
Quills or 'feathers of yellow gold,' as in Psalm 68:14, signify spiritual good from which truth is derived.

birds
"Birds" mean rational concepts in the external man and intellectual concepts in the internal man.

days
"Day" describes a state in which we are turned toward the Lord, and are receiving light (which is truth) and heat (which is a desire...

lifted
The idea of "lifting" is used in a number of different ways in the Bible. In general, it means connecting with a higher spiritual state...

eyes
It’s common to say “I see” when we understand something. And indeed, “seeing” in the Bible represents grasping and understanding spiritual things. So it makes...

heaven
"Heaven" and "heavens" are used many times in the Bible, with a couple of variations of meaning. Sometimes it is relatively literal, including times when...

blessed
The Lord is perfect love expressed as perfect wisdom. He created us so that He could love us, could give us love and wisdom of...

everlasting
In many cases, the use of “eternity” in the Bible is pretty literal, simple meaning forever. This is especially true when the text is referring...

generation
To “generate” something is to create it, and that idea underpins the meaning of a “generation” of people – it is a group that was...

the inhabitants
'The inhabitants of Teman,' as in Jeremiah 49:20, signifies the evils and falsities opposed to the Lord’s celestial kingdom.

Inhabitants
Inhabitants,' in Isaiah 26:9, signify the men of the church who are in good of doctrine, and thence in the good of life.

army
A host and an army come from the same Hebrew word and mean the same thing in Bible; when the Children of Israel were numbered...

none
'No one,' or 'none' denotes the negative side of something.

Stay
'To stay with,' as in Genesis 32:4, relates to the life of truth when accompanied by good, and in this instance, it means to take...

hand
In Genesis 27:22, 'voice' relates to truth, and 'hand,' to good.

time
Time is an aspect of the physical world, but according to Swedenborg is not an aspect of the spiritual world. The same is true of...

glory
We tend to speak somewhat casually of "truth from the Lord," but in actual fact the Writings tell us that in its true form the...

lords
Characters in the Bible will often address others using the term “my lord,” and it seems to be no more than an expression of respect....

Works
'Works,' as in Genesis 46:33, denote goods, because they are from the will, and anything from the will is either good or evil, but anything...

truth
There's a great deal of talk in Swedenborg about "truth" as a concept – it's how we learn the Lord's will, what we must seek...

ways
These days we tend to think of "roads" as smooth swaths of pavement, and judge them by how fast we can drive cars on them....

Judgment
Judgement' pertains to the Lord's divine human and holy proceeding. Judgment' has two sides, a principle of good, and a principle of truth. The faithful...

walk
To walk in the Bible represents living, and usually means living according to the true things taught to us by the Lord -- to "walk...

Pride
'Pride' signifies the love of self.

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.


 Blessings: The Kingdom of Heaven
Blessings to say at mealtime.
Activity | Ages over 7

 Blessings: The Lord Our King
Blessings to say at mealtime.
Activity | Ages over 7

 Daniel, Interpreter of Dreams
Project | Ages 11 - 17

 Overview of Daniel: A Man of Conscience for ages 3-14
Overview of a series of scripted lessons for the first six chapters of the book of Daniel. Suitable for Sunday schools, families and classrooms. Levels A, B and C provide materials for ages 3-14.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 3 - 14

 Thinking About Eternity
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story or passage and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

Commentary

Daniel Series, Part 6 of 8 - Developing a Smooth Stone

By Rev. Todd Beiswenger


To continue browsing while you listen, play the audio in a new window.

It can be frustrating when we feel like we've been struggling with the same problem our entire life. The Scriptures are repetitive too, and they reflect the reality that so much of life seems to repeat itself. Our job is to find one way to defeat our enemy, then use that strategy again and again as we win over our temptations and dig deeper into ourselves to take the evil out at its root.

(References: Daniel 4:10-37)


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