Nebuchadnezzar's Dream

1393
Ink on paper
Basel, Universitätsbibliothek, A II 5, 72v and 75v

The story is told in Daniel 2. King Nebuchadnezzar has a troubling dream but forgets the details when he awakens. None of his wise men can tell him what he dreamed, let alone what it meant, until Daniel is called in. He says the king dreamed of a statue with a head of gold, breast and arms of silver, belly and thighs of brass, legs of iron, and feet of clay. A stone came, struck the feet, and destroyed the statue. Daniel interprets the dream to mean that Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom will endure a number of changes until "the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed."

In the first illustration we see Nebuchadnezzar in his chamber having his dream of the statue. The person sleeping on the floor is presumably one of his body servants. The inscription on the capital and base of the column is statua quam vidit nabuchodo[nosor], "the statue that Nebuchadnezzar saw." Above the roof of the chamber is the inscription nabuchodonosor dormiens, "Nebuchadnezzar sleeping."

Above that another hand has written what looks like interpretatio sedens in angustiis, "the interpretation sitting on narrowness"? "the interpretation remains difficult"? A similar hand has written a note in the lower left margin of the second illustration. It appears to read hic rex iussit ut collocarentur et magi et et [sic] arioli, "Here the king orders that the magi and soothsayers be called together." The labels in the second illustration designate Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel, the magi, and the soothsayers (arioli).

More of Daniel

Source: e-Codices – Virtual Manuscript Library of Switzerland