Daniel, lines 676-760 [end]

Belshazzar is the third generation after Nebuchadnezzar and is responsible for the defeat of the Chaldeans by the Medes and Persians. Babylon had been safe and its people protected by its walls until Belshazzar provoked God by desecrating the sacred vessels of the Israelites (which had been captured) by using them in feasting.

Belshazzar boasts of the power of his armies, saying that they are more powerful than the God of the Israelites. Suddenly, an angel causes a hand to appear in the hall, writing unknown writings [Mene, Tekel, Pares are not mentioned by the poet].

The king is frightened, and no one can interpret the writing until Daniel the prophet comes. He interprets the writing on the wall to mean that God is angry about the improper use of the sacred vessels and the arrogance of Belshazzar.

Daniel, 531-675

Daniel is summoned by the king and ordered to explicate the dream. He summarizes the dream and says that the tree represents the king’s glory, so that the king’s power will be toppled and he will go into exile. There he will descend to the level of a beast, living in the wild with no understanding of human speech. After seven years, the king will finally believe in the truth of the power of God, and his kingdom will continue to abide. Daniel advises the king to give alms, and so, perhaps, prevent this from happening.

But Nebuchadnezzer is not swayed. He brags and boasts that he will stay ruler in Babylon. But suddenly the king has some kind of fit and rushes off into the wild, where he lives for seven years. But finally he looks up at the heavens, thinks about God, and his spirit turns back towards men. He goes back to his kingdom as a naked beggar, but his kingdom is waiting for him.

After this the king preaches the power of God, telling people about his exile and insanity. Everything happens just as Daniel had predicted. Nebuchadnezzar remains the mightiest ruler on earth until he dies, and his heirs enjoy strength and prosperity.

Daniel, lines 440-530

Now that the youths are free of the furnace, the angel returns to heaven. Nebuchadnezzar is eventually convinced by the prayers of the youths that they have been saved by God, and he command that none of his people are to deny this fact. The youths are given rewards and become counselors in Babylon.

Nebuchadnezzar calls an assembly and announces that the Lord is the true and single God. However, the king is still arrogant until, the poet tells us, the Lord reduced him through force.

Nebuchadnezzar has a dream of a beautiful tree rising up into the heavens and encompassing the entire world. Its branches are covered with fruit, and it provides food and shelter to every animal and bird. But then an angel commands the tree to be cut down, but the stump be left in place as a token (and when God commands, green shoots will arise from the stump). The tree is also fettered and given over for torment so that it knows that there is a being mightier than it.

Nebuchadnezzar awakes from this dream and ask his counselors what its meaning is. They do not know.

Daniel, lines 333-439

After Azarias’ hymn, and angel comes from heaven and protects the three men, throwing the fire at those who had put them in the furnace. And in the furnace itself the temperature becomes like that of a pleasant summer and the flames were put out wherever the men walked within the furnace.

Then the three men begin a hymn of praise, blessing the work of God and cataloguing his creation.

After this long prayer, Nebuchadnezzar speaks with his counselors, noting that four men, not three, were in the fire (and, we assume, recognizing that none of them have been burned up).

His counselor says that God is protecting the men and that it would be a good idea to take them out of the furnace. They are released, and though the ropes that had bound them were burned away, their clothing was not harmed at all by the flames.

Daniel, lines 209-332

The king is furious and tells the three young men that if they will not worship the idol, they will suffer torture in flames. But the young men still refuse. The king then commands that a furnace be heated, and when it is as hot as possible, he has the three young men bound and thrown inside.

But God sends an angel into the furnace who wraps the three youths in his arms, protecting them from the flame.

The king is even further infuriated, and commands that the youths be burned. More and more wood is thrown into the fire, but the three youths are still protected, and the fire harms the Babylonians. The king observes what is happening and understands he is seeing a miracle.

Then one of the youths, Azarias, sings a hymn in praise of God. [portions of this Hymn of Azarias are also treated in Old English in the Exeter Book].

Daniel, lines 104-208

We learn that the rule of Babylon dreamed that a violent end was coming to all empires. He gathered together his sorcerers and asked what he had dreamed (for he had forgotten), but they were unable to answer him. The king then tells his sorcerers that they will suffer death if they cannot understand the king’s dream. No one is successful at interpreting the dream until the prophet Daniel comes to the king.

Daniel explains the dream and become famous, but he is unable to convert the king to the worship of God. Instead, the king raises up a gold idol.

[There is then a leaf missing from the manuscript]

The people are then summoned to worship the idol. But there are three men who refuse to worship the idol.

Daniel, lines 1-103

The poem opens with a proem or overture very much like that of Beowulf: the poet has heard of the might of the Hebrews and how, after their escape from Egypt, they enjoyed great power and prosperity. But then the people [apparently similar to the Anglo-Saxons whom Bede describes as overwhelmed by a surfeit of “corn and luxury”] began to abandon the law. God becomes angry at them and send the Chaldeans, under their king, Nebuchadezzar, to invade the and plunder the land of Israel.

Nebuchadnezzar seeks out youths who had been well educated. He finds three, named Hananiah, Azarias and Mishael, who are commanded to make their wisdom available to the king.