This article reassesses the significance of the description of Nebuchadnezzar in animalistic terms in Dan 4:30 by turning to the common Achaemenid-era visual image of the Heroic Encounter. This visual motif was widespread throughout the empire and depicts a heroic figure controlling or engaging in combat with a variety of animals, including hybrid creatures. In light of this visual motif from the immediate sociohistorical context, Daniel’s image of an animalistic Nebuchadnezzar appears at once rooted in and resistant to aspects of Achaemenid imperial ideology as it suggests that the true hero who controls all is YHWH rather than any Persian king or deity.

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