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Discovery Magazine 10/1/1997

The King Who Thought He Was a Cow!

The Bible contains a lot of interesting science, as well as many interesting stories. Sometimes the two are combined together. For example, consider the story of the king who thought he was a cow.

In the book of Daniel, we are told about a man by the name of Nebuchadnezzar, who was the king of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar was rich and powerful. He had a lovely palace, and had built impressive cities. But he did not give God the glory.

One night, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that was very disturbing to him. He did not understand the dream, so he called for a young man named Daniel to come tell him what the dream meant. Daniel loved God with all his heart, and prayed to God often. Nebuchadnezzar knew this, and thought that maybe Daniel could interpret the dream.

When the king told Daniel what he had dreamed, Daniel became very upset. He knew that if he told the truth, the king probably would not like what he heard. But Daniel knew he had to tell the truth, so he told Nebuchadnezzar what the dream meant.

Daniel told the powerful king that he was wrong in not giving God the glory for his success. As a result, God was going to force the king from his palace. But even worse, Nebuchadnezzar was going to end up in the pastures eating grass like oxen! And, Daniel said, the king would stay there until he learned to love and honor God.

Sure enough, Daniel’s interpretation of the dream came true. The king of Babylon left his palace, and ended up eating grass in the fields. The Bible even says that Nebuchadnezzar "...ate grass like oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws" (Daniel 4:33).

Some people—who do not believe the Bible is God’s Word—have said that this story could not be true. But today we know that there is a rare medical condition that can cause people to act just like Nebuchadnezzar. It even has a name: boanthropy (bo-AN-thra-pee). When people are sick with boanthropy, they do not like to be indoors; in fact, they will spend almost all of their time outdoors, if allowed to do so. Further, they gladly will eat grass (like an ox or cow), and even will drink from muddy puddles (like a dog, or other animal). The hair on their body becomes coarse, and their fingernails and toenails become thick and long.

The Bible’s description of what happened to Nebuchadnezzar sounds like God caused the king to come down with a bad case of boanthropy, in order to teach him a lesson. Did Nebuchadnezzar learn his lesson as a result of having this horrible disease? Yes, he did. He realized he was wrong in not giving God the glory, and he changed his ways (read Daniel 4:34-37). As a result, he was cured, and was able to return to his palace to take his rightful place as king.

This story is a good example of how something that sounds too strange to be true actually can be true. When the Bible talks about things having to do with science, you can be sure that it always is right, because God doesn’t make mistakes!



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