Let’s return to the start of chapter 7, in Old Testament times. Compared to the last two chapters, this chapter is not very long. So let’s have a crack at it. Some of this story might be a little familiar… Read the names aloud, and see if you recognise them.
1. In the eighteenth year of the reign of Bakhtanassar, i.e. in the year before the destruction of Bayt al-Maqdis, [the king] made an idol of gold sixty cubits high and six cubits wide, and erected it in the centre of the city of Bābil, ordering all the people of his kingdom to worship it. Anyone who refused to worship it would be burned in the furnace. Bakhtanassar chose three young Israelites and named the first Sīdrākh, the second Mīsākh and the third ‘Abdanāghū. These three young men refused to prostrate themselves in front of the idol and the king commanded them to be thrown into the furnace. But God sent them an angel from heaven who extinguished the fire, and the fire was changed for them into coolness and health. Seeing this, Bakhtanassar ordered them to be taken out of the furnace, scrutinized them thoroughly and found no traces of fire injuries either on their bodies or on their garments. This increased his astonishment, and he was afraid, and honored them, invoking his power and making them heads of his household.
2. In the fourth year after the destruction of Bayt al-Maqdis, Bakhtanassar had a dream. He therefore summoned the interpreters of dreams and the astrologers and said to them: “Tell me about the dream I had and give me an explanation, otherwise I will kill you.” They replied, “How will we know what dream you had, if you do not tell us what you dreamed about, so that we can give it an interpretation?” Bakhtanassar became angry and thought about having them beheaded. The prophet Dāniyāl was still young when the deportation had taken place. Bakhtanassar had taken him for himself, and had educated him in his house covering him with favours. He then sent to call him. Dāniyal said to him: “I will tell you the dream you had, and I will give you an interpretation. The king saw a great idol, which looked like a beast. Its head was of gold, its hands of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, the legs of iron, and the feet of clay. Then the king saw a huge boulder fall from a mountain, and batter and shatter the idol until nothing was left of it. The boulder then became an imposing mountain and filled the earth. This is what the king saw. The interpretation is then the following. You, O king, are the head of that idol, the gold. After you will rule one less than you, the silver. After him will rule a king less than him, the bronze. After him will rule a king less than him, the iron. After him will rule a king less than him, the clay. Then after him will rule a great king whose kingdom will never end. And just as you saw a boulder fall from the mountain alone and break the idol and fill the earth, so that king will reign over all the earth forever”. Bakhtanassar then ordered them to give new clothes to Dāniyāl, to cover him with honour, preferred him to all the wise men of Bābīl, appointed him chief of his house and called him Baltāssar.
3. In the fifth year of the captivity of Bābil and the destruction of Ūrashalīm, Hizqiyāl, son of Yūzi, prophesied at Bābil, in the place called Karmila, Bārūkh, son of Nāriyā, and his brother Sirās, Dāniyāl of the house of David, Mardukhāf of the house of Benjamin, Hakāy, Zakhariyā, son of Bārāshiyā, Malākhīya, ‘Izrā e Nāhūm. In Egypt there were Habaqūq, the tribe of Simeon, and the prophet Irimiyā. In Bābil the Israelites worshiped idols, and the prophet Hizqiyāl reproached them for their conduct. But the magnates of the Israelites attacked him and killed him.
4. In the twenty-fifth year of the reign of Bakhtanassar, he marched against Egypt, devastated it and killed its king, thus extending his kingdom over Egypt, Syria, the land of Judah, of the Rūm, of the Greeks, the Fāris, of Bābil and of Mossul. Bakhtanassar reigned for forty-five years, nineteen of which were before the destruction of Ūrashalīm and the captivity of the Israelites, and twenty-six after the destruction of Ūrashalīm. King Bakhtnassar died.