Could Nebuchadnezzar Not Remember His Own Dream?

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Could Nebuchadnezzar Not Remember His Own Dream?

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Because of an unclear translation of Daniel 2:5 Daniel 2:5The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if you will not make known to me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, you shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill.
American King James Version×
, for generations many readers of the King James Version of the Bible have understood the verse to mean that King Nebuchadnezzar couldn’t recall his dream of the night before. In the KJV the verse reads:

“The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces . . .” The problem is the phrase “The thing is gone from me,” which readers of the verse have understandably taken to mean “The dream is gone from me.” The verse seems to say that the king couldn’t remember his own dream, therefore he ordered the wise men to describe it to him.

However, other translations correctly render the verse. Here it is in the New King James Version: “But the king answered and said to the Chaldeans, ‘My decision is firm: if you do not make known the dream to me, and its interpretation, you shall be cut in pieces . . .”

In the original Hebrew, the “thing” refers to the king’s decree, not the dream. “The thing is gone from me” could be paraphrased: “The decree has gone out from me, therefore it cannot be changed.” Smith & Goodspeed translates the phrase: “I am fully resolved that . . .” The New International Version has it: “This is what I have firmly decided . . .”

Contrary to a prevalent misconception about the king’s dream, he could well remember the vision that had appeared to him while he lay sleeping. But he insisted, as a test, that the wise men describe the dream to him. If they could summarize the dream, then, he reasonably assumed, their interpretation might also be the correct one. GN

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