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Story of the Bible by  Jesse Lyman Hurlbut
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THE TREE THAT WAS CUT DOWN AND GREW AGAIN

Daniel iv: 1 to 37.

[462]

T HIS is the story that King Nebuchadnezzar himself told to all the people in his great kingdom, of a strange dream that came to him, the meaning of the dream, as it was given by Daniel, and how the dream came true. He said, "Nebuchadnezzar the king sends this message to all the people, and nations, that live in all the world. May peace be given to you! It has seemed good to me to show you the signs and wonders that the Most High God has sent to me. His kingdom is without end, and his rule is from age to age forever!

"I, King Nebuchadnezzar, was at rest in my house, and was living at peace in my palace. One night a dream came to me which made me afraid, and my thoughts and my visions made me troubled in heart. I sent for all the wise men of Babylon to come before me, and to tell me the meaning of my dream. But they did not tell me what the meaning was because they could not. At last came Daniel, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and to him I said:

"O Daniel, master of the wise men, I know that in you is the spirit of the holy gods, and that no secret is hidden from you; now tell me what is the meaning of the dream that has come to me. This was the dream:

"I saw a tree standing upon the earth. It grew until the top of it reached up to heaven; and it was so great that it could be seen over all the earth. The leaves of it were beautiful, and its fruit was in plenty, and gave food for all. The beasts in the field stood in its shadow, and the birds of the heaven lived on its branches, and many people ate of its fruit.

[463] "I saw in my dream that a Holy One came down from heaven. He cried aloud, and said:

" 'Hew down the tree, and cut off its branches, shake off its leaves, and scatter its fruit. Let the beasts get away from beneath it, and let the birds fly from its branches. But leave the stump of the tree with its roots in the ground, with a band of iron and of brass around it, and the grass of the field growing about it. Let the stump be wet with the dew from heaven, and let it be among the beasts eating the grass of the field. And let seven years pass over it; that those who live may know that the Most High God rules over the kingdoms of men, and gives them as is pleasing to his will.' This dream I saw, and now, O Daniel, whose name is Belteshazzar, tell me what it means. Then Daniel stood surprised and wondering, and was in deep trouble. And I, Nebuchadnezzar, said to him, 'Daniel, let not the dream give you trouble. Fear not to tell me what is the meaning of it.'

[464] "Then Daniel said to me, 'My lord, O king, may the dream be to those who hate you, and the meaning to your enemies! The tree which you saw, with green leaves, and rich fruit, and height reaching to heaven, and in sight of all the earth; that tree is yourself. You have become great; your power reaches up to heaven, and your rule is over all the lands.

" 'And as you saw a Holy One coming down from heaven, saying, "Cut down the tree, and destroy it; but leave its stump in the earth, with a band of iron and of brass until seven years pass over it," this is the meaning, O king, and it is the command of the Most High God that shall come upon my lord the king.

" 'You, O king, shall be driven away from men. You shall live with the beasts of the field; you shall be made to eat grass like oxen; and you shall be wet with the dew of heaven; and seven years shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High God rules in your kingdom, and gives it to the one whom he chooses. And as the Holy One gave command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots, so it shall be with you. Your kingdom shall stand and shall be sure to you, and shall come back to you when you have known that he who sits in the heavens shall rule over the earth.

" 'And now, O king, take my advice, and break off from your sins, and do right, and show mercy to the poor. It may be that God will give to you more days of peace.'

"All this Daniel said to me, King Nebuchadnezzar; and it came to pass. Twelve months afterward I was walking in my kingly palace. I looked over the city, and said, 'Is not this great Babylon that I have built for my own royal home, by my power, and for my own glory?'

"While the word was in my mouth a voice fell from heaven, saying, 'O King Nebuchadnezzar, the word has been spoken, and your kingdom is gone from you!'

"And in that hour my reason left me, and another heart was given to me, the heart of a beast instead of the heart of a man. I was driven out of my palace, and lived among the beasts, and ate grass as oxen eat it; and my body was wet with the dew of heaven, until my hair was grown like eagles' feathers, and my nails like birds' claws.


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NEBUCHADNEZZAR'S REASON LEAVES HIM

"And at the end of seven years my mind came back to me, and my reason returned. I blessed the king of heaven, and praised him [465] that lives forever. My kingdom was given to me once more, my princes and rulers came to me again, and I was again the king over all the lands.

"Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and honor the king of heaven. His words are truth and his works are right; and those who walk in pride he is able to make humble."

This was the story of the seven years' madness of King Nebuchadnezzar, and of his reason and his power coming back to him again.


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