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Relationship to Daniel. The relationship of Chapter 2 to Daniel as a whole, and in particular to the two visions of beasts in Chapters 7-8, is discussed at Daniel. The historical setting of Chapter 2 is also discussed at Daniel.
Story. Chapter 2 tells the story of Daniel interpreting king Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the statue. Chapter 2 can be read in several parts.
- Verses 1-9: the king’s request to recount the dream will verify its interpretation.
- Verses 10-13: the king’s priests state that only a god can reveal dreams.
- Verses 14-19: Daniel promises to interpret the dream.
- Verses 19-23: Daniel praises God as the controller of history, revealer of secrets, and source of his own wisdom.
- Verses 24-25: Daniel states that he is ready to interpret the dream.
- Verses 26-30: Daniel states that only God can reveal the dream.
- Verses 31-36: Daniel recounts the king’s dream.
- Verses 37-45: Daniel interprets the king’s dream.
- Verses 46-49: the king praises God as a true revealer of secrets.
Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 2 include:
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This chapter can be read as a chiasmus. When this is done, it emerges that the main point is not the interpretation of the dream, but the fact that God is in change of the future history that was revealed in the dream.
- a. the king’s request to recount the dream will verify its interpretation (2:1-9)
- b. the king’s priests state that only a god can reveal dreams (2:10-13)
- b. Daniel states that only God can reveal the dream (2:26-30)
- a. Daniel recounts the king’s dream (2:31-36)
- a. Daniel interprets the king’s dream (2:37-45)
- d. the king praises God as a true revealer of secrets (2:46-49)
Discussions of this chapter usually focus on the substance of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. But at the most important point in this chiasmus, the center, Daniel instead emphasizes the more basic point that God alone can reveal such dreams and that God does control in the affairs of men (2:19-23).
The single best resource for interpreting the visions in the Book of Daniel is the collection of general authority quotes in the LDS Old Testament Institute Manual: Daniel. (PDF version), sec. 28-13, p. 298-99. It quotes Apostle Rudger Clawson stating in the April 1930 General Conference that: (#1) the head of brass is the Babylonian empire, (#2) the arms and breast of silver are the empire of the Medes and Persians, (#3) the belly and thighs of brass are the Greek empire of Alexander the Great, which upon his death was split into four empires, (#4) the two legs of iron are the Roman empire with its two capitals at Rome and Constantinople, and (#4b) the ten toes are the European nations that descended from Rome. It also quotes President Spencer Kimball stating in the April 1976 General Conference that the Church has been restored in the days of the European nations as (#5) “the kingdom set up by the God of heaven that would never be destroyed nor superseded, and the stone cut out of the mountain without hands that would become a great mountain and would fill the whole earth.”
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Points to ponder
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- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "Daniel: Prophet of God, Companion of Kings." In Old Testament: First Kings to Malachi (Institute Manual), vol. 2, third ed. (PDF version), ch. 28, p. 297-309. Salt Lake City, Utah: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2003.
Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.