The Old Testament: The Book of Daniel—Power of Interpreting Dreams

I get night terrors.  They tend to brought on by stress and they usual involve someone trying to attack me.  Mom gets these too, although hers are different. But what they have in common is that they always end with us screaming at the top of our lungs. Were I inclined, I might seek out a professional to break these down for me, although, since they’re stress related, I wonder what I might learn besides: cut the stress out of your life.

As the Bible demonstrates, people have been looking for meaning in their dreams for thousands of years, and if you were a person who could make sense of these dreams, you were treasured.

In the Book of Daniel (like Joseph before him), Daniel possesses such as a skill—though it helps that God is feeding him the analysis.  But he also has his own dreams to relate. So he’s sort of like a psychic, but then again not really, for his visions come from God.  And it’s a good thing that they have a source, for some of them are quite out there, so out there that if a friend conveyed a similar dream to you, you might suggest they go check in somewhere for some help.

While in exile, four young Israelites are called to the Babylonian Court.  One of these men is Daniel. When king Nebuchadnezzar has a troubling dream and needs some input, he challenges the wise men of his court to not only explain his dream but to tell him the content of his dream.  Apparently he didn’t want some nonsense interpretation, so he believed that the person with the right answer wouldn’t need to be told what the dream was about in the first place.

No pressure, really.

Turns out, with God’s help, Daniel figures out this dream, and when he presents the explanation to the king, Daniel is appointed prefect over the wise men (2:48).

Later, his usefulness comes in even more handy when, during a feast, a spirit writes something odd on a wall. Daniel is brought in to make sense of it, and he interprets the message, which explains the downfall of the dethroned king (Nebuchadnezzar) (5:20) and chastises the new king—who, conveniently, is killed that night (5:30)

So naturally, Daniel’s useful talent draws enemies, who conspire unsuccessfully against him (6:24). Daniel then starts having his own visions. Predictably, he sees a bleak future, which includes God’s reckoning, menacing empires (7:23), and the arrival of a human being from heaven—which sounds an awful lot like Jesus (7:13). The details are fuzzy—a bunch of terrifying beasts with multiple horns, etc.

Good thing God is around to explain them, otherwise, one wonders what a head trip these would have played on Daniel—or anyone he went to for insight.

With God’s ability to communicate with his chosen people, you would think he would have chosen the most direct route—why obscure the message? Just tell us what you want? But, then again, the human brain works in mysterious ways.  Maybe the message is more vivid when you have to work to figure it out? After all, what better way for me to realize just how stressed out I can get without waking up screaming?


About virgowriter

Brad Windhauser has a Master's in English from Rutgers University (Camden campus) and an MFA in creative writing from Queens University of Charlotte. He is an Associate Professor (Teaching/Instruction) in the English Department at Temple University. His short stories have appeared in The Baltimore Review, The Santa Fe Writer's Project Journal, Ray's Road Review, Philadelphia Review of Books, Northern Liberty Review, and Jonathan. His first novel, Regret (a gay-themed thriller set in Philadelphia) was published in 2007. You can read more about (and buy) it here: His second novel, The Intersection, is being published by Black Rose Writing September 2016. He is one of five regular contributors to On his solo blog, he is chronicling his experience as a gay writer reading the Bible for the first time: Follow his work at:
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