Pages

May 2024
S M T W T F S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

Daniel 1 study

Please Pray
Before beginning this exploration into these two marvelous Books [Daniel and Revelation] of the Bible [or any of God’s Word], let us consider some simple, common–sense principles of interpretation:
• (1) Pray that the same God who through His Holy Spirit inspired Daniel and John to write these messages, will inspire you to understand their meaning. This is basic to any study of the Bible, and especially to Daniel and the Revelation. Without the power of the Holy Spirit, it is very easy to be led off into dead end roads that lead nowhere.
• (2) Although this may sound simple, it is probably one of the most difficult principles to employ: relegate preconceived opinion to the trash heap. In other words, if your opinion fails to measure up to what God’s Word actually says, abandon it; no matter how many times.
• (3) Take care not to take anything out of context. Remember: “text without context is pretext.” While this principle is important in Daniel, it is especially important in Revelation. Although this principle might be viewed with some skepticism, all the chapters and verses of Daniel and Revelation (especially Revelation) are contextual with the preceding.
• (4) As a Seventh–day Adventist Christian, I have found the writings of Ellen G. White enormously helpful. But, I caution those of like faith, to give the Bible its rightful priority and then look for confirmation in the Spirit of Prophecy. Confusion is sure to follow if her writings are elevated above that of the Bible.
• (5) Various references are made to the, now rather dated, Seventh–day Adventist Bible Commentary. Never–the–less, the authors of the Commentary have no more claim to inspiration than us. Therefore, when conflict arises we must opt for the source that is truly inspired: the Bible itself, and, secondarily, the Spirit of Prophecy in the writings of Ellen G. White.
• (6) Use the Concordance freely including Strong’s, Young’s, various Lexacons, etc. Look up the original words, meanings, how they were used in the prophecy itself or in other scriptures. Other sources such as the internet contribute many interesting things that can add to the quality of your study.
• (7) When it comes to the study of Revelation, remember that it is the complement of Daniel. Therefore, look for parallels; you will find lots of them. Both are apocalyptic prophecies that cover much of the same material with John’s vision filling out many details missing in Daniel’s.
• (8) All the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation build on themselves. Sequences are frequently repeated and with each repetition more details are revealed that are not depicted in the previous scenario.
• (9) Remember, assertion is not proof. All assertions must be accompanied by Biblical or Spirit of Prophecy evidence to support the assertion. No building is sound without a solid foundation.
• (10) While Revelation is the complement of Daniel, there are distinct differences. Since the Book of Daniel was written at successive periods in the life of Daniel, the entire vision of the Revelation was given John in only one day, the “Lord’s day” (Revelation 1:10) when he was very old. But Daniel was only in his twenties at first with the final revelation coming to him when he was in his eighties. Never–the–less they were all closely interconnected and related like the exquisite mechanism of a fine watch. If one part is left out or misplaced, the whole picture is flawed.
• (11) Especially in the Book of Revelation, most commentators tend to over spiritualize the symbols making it mystical and unintelligible. But, like Daniel, we can safely assume it was intended to be practical and edifying. Therefore, it is important to apply a definite, or literal meaning when possible. For example, allow the “trees” in Revelation 8:7 to be “trees” rather than symbolic of something else. In contrast, the “great red dragon”  of  Revelation 12:3, is obviously symbolic. But, we don’t have to look far to find the definite meaning which is supplied in verse 9.
• (12) While there are probably more principles we could discuss, just remember that the ultimate test of authenticity alluded to in Isaiah 8:20 “To the Law and to the Testimony,” in other words, let the Bible, including Daniel and the Revelation exposit themselves.
It is my prayer that anybody who takes the time to study this material will be blessed even if we fail to agree completely. After all, the study of prophecy is inexhaustible and nobody can claim they know it all! So, do not hesitate to check me out. While the bibliographies of each chapter are designed for just that purpose, you may have other materials I am not aware of. So, I solicit any insight or inputs you care to offer.
Be alert to changes. These writings are not a substitute for the Bible or the Spirit of Prophecy. Rather, it is intended to be a dynamic exploration into the words of prophecy given by God for the benefit of His people. Hopefully it will be be a spark to ignite the true spirit of investigation of what God has said.
In closing, consider these words: “The solemn messages that have been given in their order in the Revelation are to occupy the first place in the minds of God’s people. Nothing else is to be allowed to engross our attention.” [8T 302 (1904)]
Daniel 1
Daniel Chapter 1
Da1.1 ¶ In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.
Da1.2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.
Da1.3 ¶ And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring [certain] of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes;
Da1.4 Children in whom [was] no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as [had] ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.
Da1.5 And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.
Da1.6 Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:
Da1.7 Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel [the name] of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego.
Da1.8 ¶ But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
Da1.9 Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.
Da1.10 And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which [are] of your sort? then shall ye make [me] endanger my head to the king.
Da1.11 Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,
Da1.12 Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.
Da1.13 Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.
Da1.14 So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.
Da1.15 And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.
Da1.16 Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.
Da1.17 ¶ As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
Da1.18 Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar.
Da1.19 And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king.
Da1.20 And in all matters of wisdom [and] understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians [and] astrologers that [were] in all his realm.
Da1.21 And Daniel continued [even] unto the first year of king Cyrus.
DANIEL
General Notes
Daniel was born in Judea c. 623 BC to an upper–class Jewish family; he was of the royal line of David. During 606 BC / 605 BC when Daniel was about 17 years old, the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar conquered the Jewish nation, Jerusalem fell and Daniel and his companions were taken captive to serve in the Babylonia government.
From 605 BC until his death in 562 BC, Nebuchadnezzar ruled and developed Babylon into a great empire. However in 23 years and through bad ruler–ship, Babylon was conquered by Cyrus the Great in 539 BC and became a colony of Achaemenid Persia. For a little while, Darius the Mede ruled in Babylon. Darius the Mede is mentioned in the Book of Daniel as king of Babylon between Belshazzar and Cyrus the Great, but he is not known to history, and no additional king can be placed between the known figures of Belshazzar and Cyrus. However, “Babylon was besieged by Cyrus, nephew of Darius the Mede, and commanding general of the combined armies of the Medes and Persians” [Prophets and Kings 523.1].
Daniel was recognised as a prophet by Christ – Matthew 24:15.
The Ministry of Daniel was during the Neo–Babylonian period: 605–539 BC. A new line of kings [ Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar, Evil–Merodach [Amel–Marduk], Neriglissar [Nergal–shar–usur], Laborosoarchad [Labashi–Marduk], and Nabonidus ] established the Neo–Babylonian Empire, which lasted from 626 BC to 539 BC. The Neo–Babylonian Empire became the most powerful state in the world after defeating the Assyrians at Nineveh in 612 BC. The Neo–Babylonian Empire enjoyed a period of cultural renaissance in the Near East.
The Book of Daniel, named after its principal character, was written in the 6th century BC by a man well versed in Babylonian affairs. The facts about such knowledge, which were lost after the 6th century BC, have only relatively recently been re–established through archaeological finds.
The Book of Daniel falls into two parts: chapters 1–6 being mainly historical and chapters 7–12 mainly prophetic.
The first 6 chapters of Daniel record the major events that occurred in Babylon during approximately 70 years of his Babylonia captivity and service. These chapters also record 2 prophetic visions given to Nebuchadnezzar during this time.
• Chapter 1: – Capture and Education.
• Chapter 2: – Nebuchadnezzar’s Image Dream – Future World Empires.
• Chapter 3: – The Fiery Furnace.
• Chapter 4: – Nebuchadnezzar’s Tree Dream – A Warning about His Own Future.
• Chapter 5: – The Fall of Babylon.
• Chapter 6: – The Lion’s Den.
The last 6 chapters of Daniel record his prophetic visions received from God. These prophecies foretell the emergence of major world powers from that period to the end of earth’s history; also the time of the first coming of Jesus as the Messiah / Christ.
• Chapter 7: – Four Great Beasts – Judgement.
• Chapter 8: – Ram and Goat – the 2300 Day Prophecy.
• Chapter 9: – 70 Weeks – The Messiah.
• Chapters 10–12: – King of the North, King of the South – The Time of the End.
Background
The Book of Daniel was written by Daniel; he identifies himself as the author of the Book in Daniel 12:4 and Jesus also identified him in Matt 24:15. Daniel was led into exile as a youth in 605 BC  and most estimates place him at around 16–18 years old at the time. We know from Daniel 10:1 that he was still alive in third year of Cyrus in 536 BC so he was around 85 at that time.
Daniel’s life is one of complete abandonment and devotion to the God of Israel. The Book itself is well known for its extraordinary prophecies that outline the future gentile world powers, the coming Messiah and the end of this world but it also holds many lessons for living in an age and society that is hostile to belief in the God of Israel.
The Book of Daniel was written by Daniel a Jew who, together with his countrymen, was taken into
Babylonian exile 606 / 605 BC. Precise historical documentation supports the claim that Daniel was indeed
the author of the Book named after him. Daniel was a contemporary of Jehoiakim, king of Judah;
Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, kings of Babylon; Cyros and Darius, both Medo–Persian kings; and others.
Book of Daniel – Introduction
1. Time frame: The prophet Daniel lived in the sixth century before the birth of Jesus. During this approximate period:
• Chinese philosophy become the “religion” of China. Confucianism, Daoism, Legalism, and Moism flourish, the Spring and Autumn Period in China.
• Mid–6th century BC – Foundation of Temple of Olympian Zeus is made.
• 528 BC – Gautama Buddha attained Enlightenment, and began his ministry. Gautama Buddha founds Buddhism in India which becomes a major world religion. Living in India are the founders of two great religions of mankind. They were Mahavira Jina and Gautama Buddha, the founders of Jainism and Buddhism; they challenge Hinduism and the caste system.
• 510 BC – Establishment of the Roman Republic.
• September 13, 509 BC – The temple of Jupiter on Rome’s Capitoline Hill is dedicated on the ides of September.
• 501 BC – Confucius is appointed governor of Chung–tu.
• Pythagoras of Samos, Greek mathematician and discoverer of the Pythagorean theorem (582 BC–496 BC)
2. The Book of Daniel was written by Daniel; he writes mostly in the third person.
The exception being Daniel 8:1, 9:2, 9:20, and 10:2, where he speaks in the “I, Daniel” form. However, it was customary for ancient writers to speak in the third person even when writing about themselves. The one Old Testament exception to this is the Book of Nehemiah, which is in the form of a personal diary.
• Even God switches between the grammatical first and third person when speaking of Himself. One can compare Exodus 20:2 (I [am] the LORD thy God) and Exodus 20:7 (for the LORD will not hold him guiltless).
• Fortunately, Jesus took away all doubt on the matter. He told us that Daniel wrote the Book of Daniel: When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, (Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14).
The Book of Daniel predicts events of the second century before the coming of Jesus [especially the period where, the king of Syria, Antiochus IV Epiphanes was on the throne – 175–164 BC and captures Jerusalem in 169 BC] with such precision that doubting critics believe it had to have been written after that period, during the time of the Maccabees (in–between the Old and New Testaments).
Chapter 1 provides an introduction to the whole Book. It relates early events in the lives of Daniel and his three Hebrew contemporaries, but the emphasis is on Daniel’s decisions. These choices formed the basis for his character, and his character and abilities accounted for the unusually long and successful career that he enjoyed in the service of several monarchs. His godly character also provides a key concerning God’s choice of him to receive and transmit the remarkable revelations of the future that this Book contains. God’s choice of Daniel was sovereign, but Daniel’s choices qualified him to serve as God intended (cf. 1Timothy 1:12).
Structurally, the Chapter is a chiasm with the first 14 verses presenting a tension and the last 7 providing the resolution.
• A Babylonia assumes supremacy over Israel – Daniel 1:1-2
• B Young men taken and subjected to pagan training – Daniel 1:3-7
• C Daniel seeks to remain faithful to his God – Daniel 1:8-14
• C Daniel remains faithful to his God – Daniel 1:15-16
• B Young men triumph in their pagan training – Daniel 1:17-20
• A Daniel proves supreme over the Babylonians – Daniel 1:21
In this Chapter, notice the similarity between Daniel’s experience and character to that of Joseph’s.
History Dates [BC]
c. 623 Daniel was born in Judea to an upper–class Jewish family; he was of the royal line of David.
606 In Jehoiakim’s [Eliakim’s] 3rd year and Nebuchadnezzar’s ascension year [Daniel 1:1 – 4], 1st deportation of Jews taken captive to Babylon; includes Daniel. Start of 70 YEARS OF CAPTIVITY – God went with them [Ezekiel 11:16 – 21]. Jehoiakim’s 3rd regnal year according to the Jewish calendar and verified by archaeological discoveries lasted from the autumn of 606 BC to the autumn of 605 BC.
606 3rd Year of the rule of Jehoiakim. Daniel begins to prophesy.
606? Jeremiah enacts parable [Jeremiah 19:1 – 10] for elders / priests.
605 22 years after prophetic appointment to office, God commissions Jeremiah to write His message in a scroll.
605? May – June Egyptians are defeated by the Babylonians at the battle of Carchemish. Excavations document the victory of Nebuchadnezzar over the Egyptians at Carchemish in May or June of 605 BC. Archaeologists found evidence of battle, vast quantities of arrowheads, layers of ash, and the shield of a Greek mercenary fighting for the Egyptians.
605? June – August Fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel and his companions are taken captive. Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar conquered the Jewish nation, Jerusalem fell and Daniel, aged about 16–18 (17?), and his companions were taken captive to serve in the Babylonia government. The siege of Jerusalem was cut short by Nebuchadnezzar’s return to Babylon. This campaign of Nebuchadnezzar was interrupted suddenly when he heard of his father’s death in July 605 BC. He raced back to Babylon to secure his succession to the throne; covering about 500 miles in two weeks.
605 September 7 Nebuchadnezzar II king of Babylon [until 562 BC – 43 years]. Nebuchadnezzar II succeeds his father Nabopolassar, who dies, as king of Babylon.
605–603 Daniel refuses the king’s portion [Daniel 1].
605 / 604 1st Year of Daniel’s Training.
604? Scroll read in temple on a fast day [Jeremiah 36:5 – 8], later read by Jehudi [Jeremiah 36:20 – 23] where Jehoiakim cuts scroll with a penknife and burns pieces.
604? God commissions Jeremiah to write a new scroll – Jeremiah provides in more detail than first scroll.
c. 604 The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see[Habakkuk 1:1]. [Habakkuk 1 – 3].
604 / 603 2nd Year of Daniel’s Training.
603 / 602 Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar dream [Daniel 2].
603 / 602 3rd Year of Daniel’s Training.
602 – 582 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego [Daniel 3].
601 The Medes from Media [western Iran] and the Scythians from modern Russia and Ukraine invade the northern and eastern parts of Assyria.
601 Revolt of Jehoiakim [2Kings 24].
600 Nebuchadnezzar builds the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
600 Smyrna sacked and destroyed.
600 – 598 Cyrus II the Great born to Cambyses I & Mandane of Media.
597 Jehoiakim [Eliakim] – king of Judah [Southern Kingdom] end [wicked] [2Chronicles 36:5 – 8].
597 Jehoiachin [Jeconiah] [Coniah] – king of Judah [Southern Kingdom] start – exiled after 3 months [2Kings 24:10].
597 Jehoiachin [Jeconiah] [Coniah] – king of Judah [Southern Kingdom] end [bad] [2Chronicles 36:8 – 10].
597 March 16 Jerusalem falls at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The 2nd group of captives are taken to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar captures Jehoiachin [Jeconiah] [Coniah] and takes him as prisoner to Babylon. Zedekiah is set up as a puppet king over Judah; he is indecisive, moral weakling who is dominated by rebellious princes [Jeremiah 38:5; 5T297]. Ezekiel, and others were taken away. This deportation is described in 2Kings 24:14–16.
597 Zedekiah – king of Judah [Southern Kingdom] start – 11 years. [2Kings 24:17 – 18].
595 Necho II end of reign [Egyptian Dynasty 26 [Saite]].
595 Psamtik II start of reign [Egyptian Dynasty 26 [Saite]].
594 Jeremiah prophesies against Moab [Jeremiah 48].
594 Jeremiah prophesies against Ammon [Jeremiah 49].
593 Ezekiel begins to prophesy.
593 Ezekiel’s prophecy at Chebar [Ezekiel 1].
593 Ezekiel’s calling and instruction [Ezekiel 2].
593 Ezekiel eats the scroll [Ezekiel 3].
593 Ezekiel foretells siege of Jerusalem [Ezekiel 4, 5].
593 Ezekiel’s vision of the end [Ezekiel 6, 7].
593 / 592 Ezekiel – prophet re. Judah start – 22 years.
592 Ezekiel’s 1st Temple vision [Ezekiel 8 – 19].
591 Ezekiel sees God refuse the elders [Ezekiel 20].
591 Ezekiel prophesies against Jerusalem [Ezekiel 21, 22].
591 Ezekiel prophesies against 2 sisters [Ezekiel 23].
c. 589 Nabonidus’ has son Belshazzar, whose mother is either wife or daughter of Nebuchadnezzar [possibly Nitocris of Babylon].
589 Psamtik II end of reign [Egyptian Dynasty 26 [Saite]].
589 Apries start of reign [Egyptian Dynasty 26 [Saite]].
588 January 27 Babylonian invasion. Beginning of final siege of Jerusalem [2Kings 25:1, Ezekiel 24:1–2]. Nebuchadrezzar II of Babylon begins siege of Jerusalem [2Kings 25, Ezekiel 24]. Prophesy fulfilment: And Isaiah said unto Hezekiah, Hear the word of the Lord. Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. [2Kings 20:16–18]. And the Lord said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there. [2Kings 23:27].
588 Jeremiah’s conflicts [Jeremiah 21 – 33].
587 September 29 Release of Hebrew slaves at beginning of a Sabbatical year [Jeremiah 34: 8–10].
587 Jeremiah prophesies judgment on Judah [Jeremiah 34 – 45].
587 October – 586 April Babylonians temporarily lift siege due to approach of Egyptian army. Slaves taken back. Jeremiah arrested as he attempts to go to Anathoth; he is imprisoned for about a year. [Jeremiah 34:11–22, 37:5–16].
587 God’s vengeance on Ammon and Edom [Ezekiel 25].
586 April 29 Egyptians defeated. Siege resumes [Jeremiah 34:22, Ezekiel 30:20–21].
586 July 2 Wall breached. Zedekiah captured [2Kings 25:2–4; Jeremiah 39:2, 52:7; Ezekiel 33:21, 40:1].
586 August 25 Nebuzaradan arrives at Jerusalem from Riblah in Hamath and begins consultation with commanders in the field regarding the pillaging of Jerusalem [2Kings 25:8]. Nebuzaradan was the commander of Nebuchadnezzar’s guard who was in charge of the destruction of the Temple and the deportation of the people of Judah.
586 Nebuchadnezzar lays siege to Jerusalem. The Babylonians destroy Jerusalem and the 1st Temple. The destruction of the temple starts on the 9th of Ab [Hebrew month] and completes on the 10th. [The 9th of Ab will also be the day Jerusalem’s SECOND temple [Herod’s temple] will be completely destroyed in 70 AD].
586 August 28 The fall of Jerusalem [2Kings 25; Jeremiah 52]. Nebuzaradan leads forces into Jerusalem to pillage, destroy, and burn the city and its temple [2Kings 25:9–19; 2Chronicles 36:18–19; Jeremiah 52:12–25].
586 Zedekiah – king of Judah [Southern Kingdom] end [bad] [2Chronicles 36].
586 Jeremiah freed from prison by Nebuchadnezzar – rather than go to Babylon he chooses to remain with the remnant in Palestine at Mispah under the appointed governor, Gedaliah.
586 End of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The conquerors exile the land’s remaining inhabitants. The 3rd group of captives taken to Babylon. Babylonian Captivity for the Jews begins.
586 Lamentations written by Jeremiah. The rabbis preempt the priests as the chief custodians of divine truth.
586 Gedaliah becomes governor of Jerusalem. Ishmael, and the ten men who were with him, murder Gedaliah, together with most of the Jews who had joined him and many Babylonians whom Nebuchadnezzar had left with Gedaliah [Jeremiah 41:2–3] The remnant of the Jews under Johanan flee to Egypt taking Jeremiah and Baruch to Tahpanhes.
586 Jeremiah prophesies against Babylon [Jeremiah 50, 51].
586 Psalms of desolation [Jeremiah 52, Psalms 74, 79].
586 Jeremiah’s lamentations [Lamentations 1 – 5].
586 Ezekiel pronounces judgement on Tyre [Ezekiel 26 – 28].
586 Siege of Tyre by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar II starts. [Ezekiel 26:7 – 14].
586 Ezekiel prophesies against Egypt [Ezekiel 29 – 32].
586 Ezekiel the watchman [Ezekiel 33].
c. 586 Obadiah – prophet re. Judah.
585 Ezekiel explains Jerusalem’s fall [Ezekiel 33:21].
585 Ezekiel foresees reproof and restoration [Ezekiel 34 – 36].
585 Ezekiel sees resurrection of dry bones [Ezekiel 37].
585 Ezekiel sees future battle [Ezekiel 38].
585 Ezekiel sees God’s judgment upon Gog [Ezekiel 39].
582 Nebuchadnezzar’s dream [Daniel 4].
582 Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream [Daniel 4:19].
580 Cambyses I succeeds Cyrus I as king of Anshan and head of the Achaemenid dynasty [approximate date].
573 Ezekiel’s 2nd Temple vision [Ezekiel 40 – 48].
573 Siege of Tyre by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar II ends.
571? Darius the Mede born to ? & ?[f.].
570 End of the Babylonian siege against the city of Tyre with a partial victory by the Babylonians. It was the longest siege of the city in history, lasting 13 years.
570 Pharaoh Hophra [Apries] deposed [Jeremiah 44:30].
570 Apries end of reign [Egyptian Dynasty 26 [Saite]].
570 Amasis start of reign [Egyptian Dynasty 26 [Saite]].
c. 570 Ezekiel – prophet re. Judah end.
c. 570 Jeremiah – prophet re. Judah end.
563 Buddhism founded by Siddhartha.
562 Nebuchadnezzar II [age 71 / 72] dies. Evil–Merodach [Amel–Marduk], son of Nebuchadnezzar, assumes throne.
560 Murder of Evil–Merodach. Neriglissar [Nergal–shar–usur], son–in–law of Nebuchadnezzar, assumes throne.
559 King Cambyses I of Anshan dies and is succeeded by his son Cyrus II the Great.
559 Cyrus II [the Great] becomes king of Persia. He succeeds his father as ruler of a small vassal kingdom in modern eastern Iran. The Persian Empire is formed under Cyrus II [the Great].
556 Neriglissar dies naturally.
556 Laborosoarchad [Labashi–Marduk] succeeds Neriglissar as king of Babylon.
556 Laborosoarchad [Labashi–Marduk], grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, assumes throne.
556 Laborosoarchad [Labashi–Marduk] is assassinated.
556 Nabonidus succeeds Laborosoarchad [Labashi–Marduk] as king of Babylon. Nabonidus, son of the Assyrian priestess Adda–Guppi, comes to the throne as king of Babylon, after overthrowing the young king Laborosoarchad [Labashi–Marduk]. For long periods he entrusts rule to his son, prince and co–regent Belshazzar, who was a capable soldier, but a poor politician. All of this left him somewhat unpopular with many of his subjects, particularly the priesthood and the military class.
550 Belshazzar becomes co–regent in Babylon. Through the folly and weakness of Belshazzar, the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, proud Babylon was soon to fall. Admitted in his youth to a share in kingly authority, Belshazzar gloried in his power and lifted up his heart against the God of heaven [Prophets and Kings 522.2].
550 Belshazzar is co–regent of Babylon, governing the country after his father, king Nabonidus, went into exile in 550 BC.
550 Darius I born to Hystaspes and Rhodugune. Hystaspes was a leading figure of authority in Persia and a governor of Bactria in 522 BC.
550 The temple of Artemis is erected at Ephesus.
550 Cyrus II the Great overthrows Astyages of the Medes, establishing the Persian Empire.
549 Cyrus II [the Great] becomes king of Media.
547 Cyrus II [the Great] becomes king of Lydia.
547 Croesus, Lydian King, is defeated by Cyrus of Persia near the River Halys.
546 Cyrus of Persia completes his conquest of Lydia, and makes Pasargadae his capital.
540 Cyrus II the Great now rules the Persian Empire stretching from the Mediterranean to Central Asia.
c. 540 Persians conquer Lycian city of Xanthos, now in southern Turkey.
539 Jewish exiles suddenly able to prepare for return to Judah – approx. 1 year preparation.
539 Babylon is conquered by Cyrus the Great, defeating Nabonidus, the king of Babylon. Cyrus the Great invasion of Babylonia turns it into a colony of Achaemenid Persia. Cyrus then claims to be the legitimate successor of the ancient Babylonian kings.
539 Belshazzar, aged 62 years and king of the Chaldeans is slain. Belshazzar dies after Babylon falls to the Persians and Medes.
539 For a little while, Darius the Mede [age 32?] rules in Babylon. Darius the Mede is mentioned in the Book of Daniel as king of Babylon between Belshazzar and Cyrus the Great, but he is not known to history, and no additional king can be placed between the known figures of Belshazzar and Cyrus. However, Babylon was besieged by Cyrus, nephew of Darius the Mede, and commanding general of the combined armies of the Medes and Persians [Prophets and Kings 523.1]. [Most scholars view him as a literary fiction, but conservatives seeking to harmonise Daniel with history have put forward several theories, the most common being that he is identical with either Cyrus or with Ugbaru, the general who was first to enter Babylon when it fell to the Persians]. In 23 years since the death of Nebuchadnezzar II [562–539] and through bad ruler–ship, Babylon was conquered by Cyrus the Great in 539 BC and became a colony of Achaemenid Persia.
539 With Babylon falling to the Medes and Persians, Cyrus becomes king of Babylon. The history of post exilic Jewry begins.
539 Ascension of Darius the Mede to the former throne of Babylon prompted Daniel to restudy Jeremiah’s prophecies.
539 Daniel interprets handwriting on the wall [Daniel 5].
539 Daniel survives the lions’ den [Daniel 6]. Cyrus, tricked by Daniel’s enemies, issued a decree to worship the king – Daniel saved by Jesus from the lion’s den – Daniel 6:4–27.
539 Daniel’s vision of 4 beasts [Daniel 7].
539 Daniel’s vision of the ram and goat [Daniel 8].
539 Daniel’s prayer and Gabriel’s answer [Daniel 9].
539 Daniel comforted by the angel [Daniel 10].
539 Daniel prophesies overthrow of Persia [Daniel 11].
539 Daniel prophesies deliverance for Israel [Daniel 12].
538 Zerubbabel [the grandson of Jeconiah] and Joshua [who was appointed as high priest] lead a small party of Jewish repatriates back to Palestine. Return of some Jews from Babylonian exile who later in 520 BC – 516 BC build the Second Temple [about 70 years after the destruction of the First Temple]. The Jews return to the land of Israel from the Babylonian exile following the decree by the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great [the conqueror of the Babylonian empire in 539 BC].
537? The proclamation of Cyrus [Ezra 1]. 1st decree by Cyrus to rebuild the temple [Ezra 1:1 – 4].
536 End of 70 YEARS OF CAPTIVITY. Spring – Zerubbabel [Sheshbazzar] – descendant of Judah’s last king – led initial migration back home – only about 50,000 Jews returned from Babylon to Judah – 4 months journey [Ezra 2:64 – 67]. Jews transported to Babylon are allowed to return to Jerusalem, bringing to a close the Babylonian captivity.
536 Altar built by Zerubbabel for burnt [i.e. worship, gratitude, dedication] offerings. Jews scattered to their ancestral cities [Ezra 2:70].
536 Temple building in Jerusalem begins [Ezra 2 & 3]. Samaritan offer for help rejected.
536 False reports by Samaritans sent to the court of Persia. 3rd year of Cyrus – Daniel’s glorious vision following 3 weeks of mourning [Daniel 10]. Supernatural powers locked in combat as they seek to influence Cyrus during these 21 days – fate of Judah hung in balance as Daniel prayed for Israel’s deliverance from Samaritan opposition [Daniel 10:12&13].
536 Daniel – prophet re. Judah end.
The Book of DANIEL
INTRODUCTION
1. Title. The Book is named after its principal character, Daniel. The practice of
naming OT Books for their main hero is demonstrated by other Books such as Joshua,
Samuel, Esther, Job, etc. Such a title does not necessarily indicate authorship, although
that may be included as well, as is the case with the Book of Daniel.
2. Authorship. The traditional view of both Jews and Christians is that the Book was
written in the 6th century BC, and that Daniel was its author. In favor of the correctness
of this traditional view are the following points of evidence:
• a. The claims of the Book. The prophet Daniel speaks in the first person in many passages
(Daniel 8:1–7, 13–19, 27; 9:2–22; 10:2–5; etc.). He states that he personally received the
divine order to preserve the Book (Daniel 12:4). The fact that there are sections in which the
author refers to himself in the third person (Daniel 1:6–11, 17, 19, 21; 2:14–20; etc.) is not
strange, for in works of antiquity such a usage is frequently observed (see on Ezra 7:28).
• b. The author well acquainted with history. Only a man of the 6th century (BC), well
versed in Babylonian affairs, could have provided some of the historical facts found in
the Book. The knowledge of these facts was lost after the 6th century BC, not being
recorded in other ancient literature after that time (see p. 748). Relatively recent
archeological finds have once more brought these facts to light.
• c. The testimony of Jesus Christ. Quoting a passage from the Book, Jesus Christ mentions
Daniel as author (Matthew 24:15). For every Christian believer this testimony should be
convincing evidence.
The Book falls into two clearly distinguishable parts, the first (Chapters 1–6) mainly
historical, and the second (Chapters 7–12) mainly prophetic; yet the Book is a literary unit. In
support of such unity the following arguments can be listed:
• 1. The various parts of the Book are mutually related, one to the other. The use of the
Temple vessels at Belshazzar’s feast can be understood in the light of the record of how
they came to Babylon (Daniel 5:3; cf. Daniel 1:1, 2). Daniel 3:12 refers back to the political
action of Nebuchadnezzar described first in Daniel 2:49. In Daniel 9:21 reference is made to an
earlier vision (see Daniel 8:15, 16).
• 2. The historical part contains a prophecy (Chapter 2) closely related in theme to the
prophecies found in Chapters 7–12. Chapter 7 develops further the theme of Chapter 2. Also the
historical and prophetic elements are related. The historical section (Chapters 1–6) narrates
God’s dealings with one nation, Babylon, and its role in the divine plan. This illustrates
God’s dealings with all nations (see Education 175–177). Like Babylon, each successive world
power portrayed in the prophetic portion had an opportunity to know the divine will and
cooperate with it, and each was measured by its fulfillment of the divine purpose. Thus
each nation’s rise and fall in Chapters 7–12 is to be understood in terms of the principles set
forth in the historical portion as they related to Babylon. This unifies the Book and
illuminates the role played by each empire.
The literary unity of the Book, demonstrated in the composition, general channel of
thought, and expressions used in the two languages (see p. 748), is generally recognized.
The arguments adduced for two authors for the Book appear pointless.
In Qumrân Cave 1 (see pp. 86–88) were three fragments from the Book of Daniel.
They were published by D. Barthélemy and J. T. Milik, in Discoveries in the Judaean
Desert I: Qumran Cave I (Oxford, 1955), pp. 150–152. The fragments came either from
two scrolls or from one scroll in which Chapters 1 and 2 were written by one scribe and Chapter 3
by another, containing parts of Daniel 1:10–17; 2:2–6; 3:22–30. A comparison of this text
with the Masoretic text shows 16 variants, none of which affects the meaning of the
passage. Nine of these 16 variations are spelling variants, each affecting only one letter;
two of these seem to be spelling errors; the other seven are variously spelled also in the
Masoretic text. Four additions are found: one of the conjunction “and,” and one of the
particle “that” before an “if”; two words have a vowel letter added. Once, a vowel letter
occurring in the Masoretic text is not found in the fragments. Two verbal endings seem to
be scribal errors. The list shows that the differences are so insignificant that they would
not be noticeable in a translation. This is a strong proof that the Masoretic text of Daniel
is now in substantially the same form as it was at least in the time of Christ.
It is of further interest that the fragment of Chapter 2 covers the passage in which the
transition occurs from Hebrew to Aramaic (see Daniel 2:4). At that point a space is left
between the last Hebrew word and the first Aramaic word, thus making a distinct break
between the language sections. It is also noteworthy that, in agreement with the
Masoretic text, these fragments do not contain the apocryphal Song of the Three Children
(see Daniel 3:23).
Qumrân Cave 4 has produced leather fragments from three Daniel MSS
reported to be well preserved and representing sizable portions of the
Book. F. M. Cross, in Biblical Archaeologist, 19 (1956), 85, 86; Cross, in Revue Biblique,
63 (1956), 58.
From Qumrân Cave 6 come several papyrus fragments of Daniel, representing chs.
8:20, 21; 10:8–16; and 11:33–38 (containing nine minor spelling variants), published by
M. Baillet in Discoveries in the Judaean Desert III: Les “Petites Grottes” de Qumrân
(Oxford, 1962), pp. 114–116.
3. Historical Setting. The Book of Daniel contains (1) a record of certain historical
incidents from the life of Daniel and his three friends, who were Jewish exiles in
Babylonian government service, and (2) a record of a prophetic dream of King
Nebuchadnezzar, interpreted by Daniel, together with records of visions the prophet
himself had received. Although the Book was written in Babylonia during the Exile and
shortly thereafter, its purpose was not to provide either a history of the Jewish exile or a
biography of Daniel. The Book relates high–light experiences of the statesman–prophet
and his associates and was compiled with specific objectives in mind.
First of all Daniel presents brief information concerning the reason for his being
found in the public service of the Babylonian king (Chapter 1). Having been taken to Babylon
in the first captivity in 605 BC, during the course of Nebuchadnezzar’s first Syrian
campaign, Daniel and other princes of royal blood were chosen to be trained for
government service. The initial 19 years of Daniel’s stay in Babylonia were the last years
of Judah’s existence as a kingdom, albeit subject to Babylon. The futile anti–Babylonian
policies of Judah’s last kings brought one catastrophe after another upon the Jewish nation.
King Jehoiakim, during whose reign Daniel had gone into captivity, remained loyal to
Babylon for a few years. Eventually, however, he acceded to the policy of the pro–
Egyptian party in Judah, and rebelled. As a result the country suffered military invasions,
its citizens lost their liberty and were taken into captivity, and the king lost his life. His
son and successor, Jehoiachin, after a brief reign of only three months, saw the armies of
Babylon return to mete out punishment for disloyalty. He, together with thousands of the
upper–class citizens of Judah, went into captivity in 597 BC. His successor, Zedekiah,
apparently attempted to remain loyal to Babylon. However, being weak and vacillating,
he could not long withstand the overtures of Egypt and the anti–Babylonian sentiment of
his chief advisers. As a result Nebuchadnezzar, weary of the repeated revolts in Palestine,
decided to put an end to the kingdom of Judah. For two and a half years the Babylonian
armies ravaged Judah, took and destroyed the cities, including Jerusalem, with its Temple
and its palaces, and led the majority of the inhabitants of Judah into captivity in 586 BC
Daniel was in Babylon during these eventful days. He must have seen the Babylonian
armies depart for their several campaigns against his homeland, and witnessed their
victorious returns and the arrival of captured Jews. Among the captives were the young
king Jehoiachin with his family (2Kings 24:10–16), and later the blinded king Zedekiah
(2Kings 25:7). During these years Daniel must also have been aware of the political
agitation that was going on among the exiled Jews, which resulted in Nebuchadnezzar’s
burning to death some of the chief instigators. It was this agitation that caused Jeremiah
to send a letter to his captured compatriots urging them to lead a quiet and peaceful life in
Babylonia (Jer. 29).
During all these years Daniel and his three friends quietly and loyally performed their
duties as royal officers and subjects of the realm. After their scholarly training they
became members of the elite group called wise men, who served the king as advisers. It
was then that Daniel had the unique opportunity of explaining to Nebuchadnezzar the
dream of future empires (Daniel 2). As a result Daniel was appointed to a position of
exceptionally high rank, which he seems to have held for many years. This office gave
him the opportunity of acquainting the king with the power of the God of heaven and
earth, whom Daniel and his friends served. How long Daniel retained this position is not
known. He seems to have lost it before 570 BC, since his name is not found in a
contemporary “Court and State Almanac,” written in cuneiform, which lists the chief
officers of Nebuchadnezzar’s government holding office at that time. No other court and
state almanacs for the reign of Nebuchadnezzar are extant. In fact, Daniel is not
mentioned in any contemporary non–Biblical source.
The absence of Daniel’s name in this document is not strange, since we do not know
how long Daniel remained in public office. Only four principal events during
Nebuchadnezzar’s reign are recorded in the Book of Daniel, and Daniel played a role in
three of them: (1) the education of the Jewish princes during the king’s first three years of
reign, including his accession year (Chapter 1), (2) the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s
dream in the king’s second regnal year (Chapter 2), (3) the dedication of the image in the plain
of Dura, with the resulting experience of Daniel’s friends in an unspecified year (Chapter 3),
and (4) Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, announcing that the king
would suffer madness for a period of seven years, which probably occurred during the
king’s last years (Chapter 4).
Nothing is known of Daniel’s activities during the years of Nebuchadnezzar’s
incapacity. We likewise do not know what Daniel did after the king regained his faculties
and throne, or whether his services were demanded during the reigns of the succeeding
kings, Amel–Marduk (the Biblical Evil–Merodach), Nergal–shar–usur, Labashi–Marduk,
and Nabonidus. However, he was permitted to observe the mighty empire of
Nebuchadnezzar become morally weak and corrupt under kings who were assassins of
their predecessors. He also must have watched with more than ordinary interest the
cometlike rise of King Cyrus in Persia to the east, since a man by that name had been
mentioned in prophecy as Israel’s liberator (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1). In 553 BC (the year in
which Cyrus became master over the Median Empire) it is also possible that
Daniel saw Nabonidus appoint his son Belshazzar to rule over Babylonia, while
Nabonidus himself set out to conquer Tema in Arabia. It was during the first three years
of Belshazzar that great visions were given to Daniel (Chapters 7; 8), and the man who so far
had been known only as an interpreter of dreams and visions became one of the great
prophets of all time.
The Babylonians demanded Daniel’s services once more, during the night of
Babylon’s fall, in 539 BC, to read and interpret the handwriting of doom on the wall of
Belshazzar’s festal hall. After the Persians became masters over Babylon and its empire,
the new rulers made use of the talents and experience of the old statesman of a past
generation. Daniel again became a chief counselor of the crown. It was presumably he
who brought the prophecies of Isaiah to the notice of the king (see PK 557), which
prophecies influenced the Persian ruler to issue the decree that ended exile for the Jews
and restored to them a homeland and a Temple. During this later term of Daniel’s public
office there was an attempt on his life by his envious colleagues, but the Lord
marvelously intervened and delivered His servant (Chapter 6). Additional important visions
were received during these last years of Daniel’s life, first under Darius the Mede (Chapter 9;
see Additional Note on Chapter 6), and then under Cyrus (Chapters 10–12).
In any study of the Book of Daniel two points call for special examination:
• a. The historicity of Daniel. Since the first major attacks on the historicity of Daniel
were made by the Neoplatonic philosopher Porphyry (AD 233–c. 304), the Book has
been under the fire of critics, at first only sporadically, but during the past two centuries,
constantly. As a result the majority of Christian scholars today consider the Book of
Daniel the product of an anonymous author who lived about the time of the Maccabean
revolt, in the 2nd century BC.
These scholars set forth two main reasons for ascribing so late a date to the Book of
Daniel: (1) Since, as they assert, certain prophecies point to Antiochus IV Epiphanes
(175–c. 163 BC), and since, according to their concept, most prophecies—at least those
that have been demonstrated to have had an accurate fulfillment—were written after the
events described had occurred, Daniel’s prophecies, according to their claims, must be
dated in the time following the reign of Antiochus IV; and (2) since, according to their
contentions, the historical sections of Daniel record certain events that disagree with
historical facts known from available sources, these disagreements can best be explained
by assuming that the author was removed from the actual events so much in space and
time that he possessed but a limited knowledge of what had actually happened in the 7th
and 6th centuries BC, 400 years earlier.
The first of the two arguments has no validity for one who believes that the inspired
prophets of old actually made accurate predictions concerning the course of history. The
second argument deserves more detailed attention because of the seriousness of the claim
that Daniel contains historical inaccuracies, anachronisms, and misconceptions. For this
reason a brief discussion of the historical trustworthiness of Daniel is here presented.
It is true that Daniel describes some events that even today cannot be verified by
means of available ancient source material. One such event is the madness of
Nebuchadnezzar, which is not mentioned in any extant ancient records. The absence of
verification for a temporary incapacity of the greatest king of the Neo–Babylonian Empire
is not a strange phenomenon in a time when royal records contain only praiseworthy
narratives (see on Daniel 4:36). Also enigmatic is Darius the Mede, whose real place in
history has not been established by reliable non–Biblical source material. Hints as to his
identity are found in the writings of Greek authors and fragmentary information from
cuneiform sources (see Additional Note on Chapter 6).
The other so–called historical difficulties that puzzled conservative commentators of
Daniel a hundred years ago have been solved by the increase of historical knowledge
provided by archeology. Some of the more important of these now–solved problems are
here listed:
• 1. The supposed chronological discrepancy between Daniel 1:1 and Jer. 25:1.
Jeremiah, who, scholars generally agree, is a trustworthy historical source, synchronizes
the 4th year of Jehoiakim of Judah with the 1st year of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.
However, Daniel speaks of King Nebuchadnezzar’s first conquest of Jerusalem as taking
place in Jehoiakim’s 3rd year, apparently implying that Nebuchadnezzar’s 1st year
coincided with the 3rd year of Jehoiakim. Before the discovery of contemporary records
revealing various systems of reckoning the regnal years of ancient kings, commentators
found it difficult to explain this seeming discrepancy. They tried to solve the difficulty
either by supposing a coregency of Nebuchadnezzar with his father Nabopolassar (see
Vol. III, p. 91), or by assuming that Jeremiah and Daniel dated events according to
different systems of reckoning, Jeremiah using a Jewish and Daniel the Babylonian
system. Both explanations are today out of date.
The whole difficulty has been solved by the discovery that Babylonian kings, like
those of Judah at the time, counted their regnal years according to the “accession–year”
method (see Vol. II, p. 138). The year in which a Babylonian king came to the throne was
not reckoned as his official 1st year, but merely the year of his accession, and his 1st
year, meaning his 1st full calendar year, did not begin until the next New Year’s Day,
when, in a religious ceremony, he took the hands of the Babylonian god Bel.
We also know from Josephus (citing Berosus) and a Babylonian chronicle that
Nebuchadnezzar was on a military campaign in Palestine against Egypt when his father
died and he succeeded to the throne (see p. 756; also Vol. II, pp. 95, 96, 161; Vol. III, p.
91). Hence Daniel and Jeremiah completely agree with each other. Jeremiah
synchronized Nebuchadnezzar’s 1st regnal year with Jehoiakim’s 4th year, whereas
Daniel was taken captive in Nebuchadnezzar’s accession year, which he identifies with
Jehoiakim’s 3rd year.
• 2. Nebuchadnezzar the great builder of Babylon. According to the Greek historians,
Nebuchadnezzar played an insignificant role in the affairs of ancient history. He is never
referred to as a great builder or as the creator of a new and greater Babylon. That this
honor is usually ascribed to Queen Semiramis, who is given a prominent place in the
history of Babylonia, is evident to every reader of classical Greek histories.
Yet the contemporary cuneiform records, unearthed by the archeologist during the
last hundred years, have entirely changed the picture derived from classical writers, and
have corroborated the account of the Book of Daniel, which credits Nebuchadnezzar with
the building (rebuilding) of “this great Babylon” (Daniel 4:30). Semiramis, called Sammu–
ramat in cuneiform inscriptions, it has now been discovered, was a queen mother of
Assyria, regent for her infant son Adad–nirari III, and not a queen over Babylonia as the
classical sources claimed. The inscriptions have shown that she had nothing to do with
any building activity in Babylon. On the other hand, numerous building inscriptions of
Nebuchadnezzar prove that he became, in a sense, the creator of a new Babylon by
rebuilding the palaces, temples, and temple tower of the city, and by adding new
buildings and fortifications (see Additional Note on Chapter 4).
Such information none but a writer of the Neo–Babylonian age could have, for it had
been completely lost by the time of the Hellenistic era. The presence of such information
in the Book of Daniel greatly puzzles critical scholars who do not believe that Daniel was
written in the 6th century, but rather in the 2d. A typical example of their dilemma is the
following statement of R. H. Pfeiffer, of Harvard University: “We shall presumably never
know how our author learned that the new Babylon was the creation of Nebuchadnezzar
…, as the excavations have proved” (Introduction to the Old Testament [New York,
1941], pp. 758, 759).
• 3. Belshazzar, king of Babylon. On the amazing experience of the discovery by modern
orientalists of the identity of Belshazzar, see Additional Note on Chapter 5. The fact that
the name of this king had not been found in any non–Biblical writings of antiquity, while
Nabonidus always appeared as the last Babylonian king prior to the Persian conquest,
was regularly used as one of the strongest arguments against the historicity of the Book of
Daniel. But discoveries since the mid–nineteenth century have refuted all critics of Daniel
in this respect and vindicated the trustworthiness of the prophet’s historical narrative with
regard to Belshazzar in a most impressive way.
• b. The languages of the Book. Like Ezra (see Vol. III, p. 320), Daniel was written
partly in Hebrew and partly in Aramaic. Some have accounted for the use of two
languages in the case of Ezra by assuming that the author took over Aramaic documents
with their accompanying historical descriptions, and incorporated them into his books,
otherwise written in Hebrew, the national tongue of his people. Such an interpretation
does not fit the Book of Daniel, where the Aramaic section begins with Daniel 2:4 and ends
with the last verse of Chapter 7.
Following is a partial list of the many explanations of this problem offered by
scholars, together with some observations in parentheses that seem to speak against the
reasonableness of these explanations:
• 1. That the author wrote the historical stories for the Aramaic–speaking people and the
prophecies for the Hebrew–speaking scholars. (Yet the Aramaic in Chapters 2 and 7, both
great prophecies, speaks against the correctness of this view.)
• 2. That the two languages point to two sources. (This view cannot be correct, because the
Book bears a strong stamp of unity, as even many radical critics have acknowledged; see
p. 743.)
• 3. That the Book was written originally in one language, either Aramaic or Hebrew, and
parts of it were later translated. (This view leaves unanswered the question as to why only
sections were translated into the other language and not the whole Book.)
• 4. That the author issued the Book in two editions, one in Hebrew and another one in
Aramaic, so that all classes of people could read it; that in the time of the Maccabean
persecution parts of the Book were lost, and those parts that were salvaged from both
editions were put together without any changes. (This view suffers from the fact that it
cannot be proved to be correct, and that it deals with too many uncertainties.)
• 5. That the author began to write in Aramaic at the point where the Chaldeans addressed
“the king in Syriack [literally, Aramaic]” (Daniel 2:4), and continued in this language as long
as he was writing at that time, but that when he resumed writing (with Daniel 8:1) he used
Hebrew.
The last view appears to lead in the right direction, for the various sections of the
Book seem to have been written at different times. As a trained government official
Daniel spoke and wrote in several languages. He probably wrote some of the historical
narratives and visions in Hebrew and others in Aramaic. On the basis of this assumption,
Chapter 1 was written in Hebrew, probably in the 1st year of Cyrus, and the narratives of chs.
3–6 in Aramaic at various times. The prophetic visions were recorded mostly in Hebrew
(Chapters 8–12), although the vision of Chapter 7 was written in Aramaic. The account of
Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the future monarchies (Chapter 2), on the other hand, was written
in Hebrew up to the point where the Chaldeans’ speech was quoted (Daniel 2:4), and then
continued in Aramaic from this point to the end of the narrative.
When, at the end of his life, Daniel collected all his writings into one Book, he may
not have deemed it necessary to translate certain parts in order to unify the Book
linguistically, knowing that most of his readers were bilingual—a fact evident from other sources.
It may further be noted that the existence of two languages in Daniel cannot be used
as an argument for a late date of the origin of the Book. Those who date the origin of
Daniel in the 2nd century BC also have the problem of explaining why a Hebrew author
of the Maccabean period wrote part of the Book in Hebrew and part of it in Aramaic.
It is true that the orthographic (spelling) peculiarities of the Aramaic sections of
Daniel are related most closely to those of the 4th–3rd century Aramaic of Western Asia.
This would seem to be due to a modernization of the language, a characteristic noticeable
also in most of the Hebrew Books of the Bible. Orthography cannot reveal the date of
writing any more than the latest revision of the English Bible can be taken as proof that
the Bible was originally written or translated in the 20th century AD The orthographic
peculiarities can at most indicate at what time the latest revisions in spelling took place.
Among the Dead Sea scrolls (see Vol. I, pp. 31–34) there are several fragments of
Daniel dating from the 2nd century BC. At least two of these preserve that section of Chapter 2
where the change is made from Hebrew to Aramaic, and show clearly the bilingual
character of the Book at that time (see p. 744).
4. Theme. The Book of Daniel might appropriately be called a handbook on history
and prophecy. Predictive prophecy is a preview of history; history is predictive prophecy
passing in review. The element of prediction enables God’s people to see the things of
time in the light of eternity, alerts them for effective action at appropriate times,
facilitates personal preparation for the final crisis, and provides a firm basis for faith upon
fulfillment of the prediction.
The four major lines of prophecy in the Book of Daniel set forth in brief outline,
against the background of world history, the experiences of God’s people from the days
of Daniel down to the close of time. “The curtain is drawn aside, and we behold, above,
behind, and through all the play and counterplay of human interest and power and
passions, the agencies of the All–merciful, One, silently, patiently working out the
counsels of His own will” (PK 500). Each of the four lines of prophecy reaches a climax
when “the God of heaven” sets “up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed” (Daniel
2:44), when the “Son of man” receives “everlasting dominion” (Daniel 7:13, 14), when
opposition to the “Prince of princes” is “broken without hand” (Daniel 8:25), and when
God’s people are delivered forever from their oppressors (Daniel 12:1). The prophecies of
Daniel thus provide a divinely constructed bridge from the precipice of time to the
boundless shores of eternity, a bridge over which those who, like Daniel, purpose in their
hearts to love and serve God, may pass by faith from the uncertainty and distress of the
present life to the peace and security of life everlasting.
The historical section of the Book of Daniel reveals, in most striking manner, the true
philosophy of history (see Education 173–184). This section stands as a preface to the prophetic
section. By providing a detailed account of God’s dealings with one nation, Babylon, the
Book enables us to understand the meaning of the rise and fall of other nations outlined in
the prophetic portion of the Book. Without a clear understanding of the philosophy of
history as revealed in the narrative of the role of Babylon in the divine plan, the role of
the other nations that succeeded Babylon on the screen of prophetic vision cannot be fully
understood or appreciated. For a summary of the divine philosophy of history as set forth
by inspiration, see on Daniel 4:17.
In the historical section of the Book we find Daniel, God’s man of the hour, brought
face to face with Nebuchadnezzar, the genius of the Gentile world, that the king might
have opportunity to know Daniel’s God, the Arbiter of history, and to cooperate with
Him. Nebuchadnezzar not only was monarch of the greatest nation of the time but was
also eminently wise, and had an innate sense of justice and right. He was, in fact, the
leading personality of the Gentile world, “the mighty one of the heathen” (Ezekiel 31:11),
raised to power for a specific role in the divine plan. Of him God said, “Now have I given
all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant” (Jer.
27:6). As the Jews went captive to Babylon it was desirable that they be held under a
hand that was firm without being cruel (according to the standards of that day). Daniel’s
mission at the court of Nebuchadnezzar was to secure the submission of the king’s will to
the will of God in order that the divine purpose might be realized. In one of the dramatic
moments of history God brought together these two great personalities.
The first four chapters of Daniel narrate the means by which God secured the
allegiance of Nebuchadnezzar. First of all, God needed a man who would be a fit
representative of the principles and policies of heaven at the court of Babylon, so He
chose Daniel to be His personal ambassador to Nebuchadnezzar. The means God
employed to bring Daniel, a captive, to the favorable attention of Nebuchadnezzar, and
the means by which Nebuchadnezzar came to have confidence, first in Daniel and then in
Daniel’s God, illustrate the manner in which God uses men today to accomplish His will
on earth. God could use Daniel because Daniel was a man of principle, a man of sterling
character, a man whose chief business in life was to live for God.
Daniel “purposed in his heart” (Daniel 1:8) to live in harmony with all the revealed will
of God. First, God brought him “into favour and tender love” with the officials of
Babylon (v. 9). This prepared the way for the second step, the demonstration of the
physical superiority of Daniel and his companions (vs. 12–15). Then followed a
demonstration of intellectual superiority. “God gave them knowledge and skill in all
learning and wisdom” (v. 17), with the result that they were considered “ten times better”
than their closest competitors (v. 20). Thus in personality, physique, and intellect Daniel
proved to be markedly superior to his fellow men, and thereby won the confidence and
respect of Nebuchadnezzar.
These events prepared Nebuchadnezzar to meet Daniel’s God. A series of dramatic
experiences—the dream of Chapter 2, the striking deliverance from the fiery furnace (Chapter 3),
and the dream of Chapter 4—demonstrated to the king’s satisfaction the knowledge, power,
and authority of Daniel’s God. The inferiority of human knowledge, exhibited in the
experience of Chapter 2, led Nebuchadnezzar to admit to Daniel, “Of a truth it is, that your
God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets” (Daniel 2:47). He freely
acknowledged that the wisdom of God was superior, not only to human wisdom, but even
to the supposed wisdom of his own gods. The incident of the golden image and the fiery
furnace led Nebuchadnezzar to admit that the God of heaven “delivered his servants” (ch.
3:28). His conclusion was that no one in all his realm, should “speak any thing amiss
against the God” of the Hebrews, in view of the fact that “no other God” can “deliver
after this sort” (v. 29). Nebuchadnezzar now recognized that the God of heaven was not
only wise but powerful, that He was not only omniscient but omnipotent. The third
experience—the seven years during which his own vaunted wisdom and power were
temporarily removed—taught the king not only that “the most High” is wise and
powerful but that He exercises that wisdom and power to rule in human affairs (Daniel 4:32).
He has wisdom, power, and authority. It is significant that the first act Nebuchadnezzar
performed after his reason returned to him was to “praise and extol and honour the King
of heaven” and to acknowledge that “those that walk in pride” as he had done for so
many years, God “is able to abase” (v. 37).
But the lessons Nebuchadnezzar personally learned over a period of many years
largely failed to benefit those who succeeded him upon the throne of Babylon. The last
ruler of Babylon, Belshazzar, openly defied the God of heaven (Daniel 5:23) in spite of the
fact that he was acquainted with the experience of Nebuchadnezzar (v. 22). Instead of
working in harmony with the divine plan, “Babylon became a proud and cruel oppressor”
(Education 176), and in the rejection of the principles of heaven wrought its own ruin (Education 177).
The nation was weighed and found wanting (Chapter 5:25–28), and world dominion passed to
the Persians.
In delivering Daniel from the lions’ den, God demonstrated His power and authority
before the rulers of the Persian Empire (see Chapter 6:20–23; PK 557) as He had previously
before those of Babylon. An edict of Darius the Mede acknowledged “the living God”
and admitted that He is “stedfast for ever” (v. 26). Even “the law of the Medes and
Persians, which altereth not” (v. 8), was obliged to yield before the decrees of “the most
High,” who “ruleth in the kingdom of men” (Chapter 4:32). Cyrus was favorably impressed by
the miraculous evidence of divine power exhibited in the deliverance of Daniel from the
lions’ den (PK 557). The prophecies outlining his role in the restoration of Jerusalem and
the Temple (Isaiah 44:26 to 45:13) also made a deep impression upon him. “His heart was
profoundly moved, and he determined to fulfill his divinely appointed mission” (PK 557).
Thus the Book of Daniel gives a demonstration of the principles according to which
God’s wisdom, power, and authority operate through the history of nations for the
eventual accomplishment of the divine purpose. “God exalted Babylon that it might
fulfil” His “purpose” (Education 175). It had its period of test; it “failed, its glory faded, its
power departed, and its place was occupied by another” (Education 177; see on Chapter 4:17).
All four visions of the Book of Daniel are concerned with the struggle between the
forces of good and evil on this earth from the time of Daniel to the establishment of the
eternal kingdom of Christ. Inasmuch as Satan uses the powers of earth in his effort to
thwart God’s plan and to destroy God’s people, these visions introduce those powers
through which he has been most active.
The first vision (Chapter 2) deals primarily with political changes. Its primary objective
was to reveal to Nebuchadnezzar his role as ruler of Babylon, to make known to him
“what should come to pass hereafter” (v. 29).
As if to supplement the first vision, the second (Chapter 7) emphasizes the experiences of
God’s people during the sovereignty of the powers mentioned in the first vision, and
forecasts the ultimate victory of the saints and God’s judgment upon their enemies (see
vs. 14, 18, 26, 27).
The third vision (Chapters 8; 9), supplementing the second, emphasizes Satan’s attempts
to do away with the religion and people of Christ.
The fourth vision (Chapters 10–12) summarizes the preceding visions and covers the
ground with more detail than any of the others. It amplifies the subject of the second
vision and that of the third vision. The focus of its emphasis is on “what shall befall thy
people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days” (Daniel 10:14), and “the time
appointed was long” (v. 1). The narrative outline of history covered in Daniel 11:2–39 leads
up to “the latter days” (Daniel 10:14) and the events of “the time of the end” (Daniel 11:40).
The prophecies of Daniel are closely related to those of the Book of Revelation. In
large measure Revelation covers the same ground but gives particular emphasis to the
role of the Christian church as God’s chosen people. Thus details that may be obscure in
the Book of Daniel are often clarified by comparison with the Book of Revelation. That
part of his “prophecy which related to the last days, Daniel was bidden to close up and
seal ‘to the time of the end’” (GC 356), when, through a diligent study of the Book,
“knowledge” of its import would be “increased” (Daniel 12:4). Though “that portion of the
prophecy of Daniel relating to the last days” was sealed (Daniel 12:4; AA 585), John was
specifically instructed to “seal not the sayings of the prophecy” of his Book, “for the time
is at hand” (Revelation 22:10). Thus, for a clearer interpretation of any portions of the Book of
Daniel that tend to be obscure, we should search carefully the Book of Revelation for
light to dispel the darkness.
5. Outline.
1. Historical Section, 1:1 to 6:28.
A. The education of Daniel and his companions, 1:1–21.
• 1. The first transportation of captives from Judah to Babylon, 1:1, 2.
• 2. Daniel and his friends selected to be trained for royal service, 1:3–7.
• 3. Daniel procures permission to live according to his law, 1:8–16.
• 4. Successful education and acceptance into the royal service, 1:17–21.
B. Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the great image, 2:1–49.
• 1. Nebuchadnezzar disturbed by a dream, 2:1–11.
• 2. Execution of wise men commanded and countermanded, 2:12–16.
• 3. Daniel receives knowledge and expresses gratitude, 2:17–23.
• 4. Daniel communicates the dream to the king, 2:24–35.
• 5. Daniel interprets the dream, 2:36–45.
• 6. Nebuchadnezzar acknowledges God’s greatness, 2:46–49.
C. Deliverance of Daniel’s friends from the fiery furnace, 3:1–30.
• 1. Nebuchadnezzar erects an image and demands its worship, 3:1–7.
• 2. The three faithful Hebrews refuse to worship, 3:8–18.
• 3. The deliverance from the furnace by divine intervention, 3:19–25.
• 4. Nebuchadnezzar’s confession and decree; the Hebrews promoted, 3:26–30.
D. Nebuchadnezzar’s second dream, humiliation, and restoration, 4:1–37.
• 1. Nebuchadnezzar’s confession of God’s knowledge and power, 4:1–9.
• 2. Description of the dream, 4:10–18.
• 3. Daniel’s interpretation of the dream, 4:19–27.
• 4. Nebuchadnezzar’s fall and restoration, 4:28–36.
• 5. Nebuchadnezzar praises the God of heaven, 4:37.
E. Belshazzar’s banquet and the loss of the monarchy, 5:1–31.
• 1. Belshazzar’s desecration of Temple vessels, 5:1–4.
• 2. The mysterious handwriting on the wall, 5:5–12.
• 3. Daniel’s interpretation, 5:13–28.
• 4. Daniel receives honor, Babylon falls, 5:29–31.
F. Daniel’s deliverance from the lions’ den, 6:1–28.
• 1. Daniel’s elevation and the jealousy of his colleagues, 6:1–5.
• 2. Darius’ decree restricting prayers, 6:6–9.
• 3. Daniel’s transgression of the decree and his condemnation, 6:10–17.
• 4. Daniel’s deliverance and the punishment of the accusers, 6:18–24.
• 5. Public recognition of the greatness of Daniel’s God, 6:25–28.
II. Prophetic Section, 7:1 to 12:13.
A. Daniel’s second prophetic message, 7:1–28.
• 1. The four beasts and little horn, 7:1–8.
• 2. Judgment and eternal reign of the Son of man, 7:9–14.
• 3. Interpretation of the vision by an angel, 7:15–27.
• 4. Impression on Daniel, 7:28.
B. Daniel’s third prophetic message, 8:1 to 9:27.
• 1. The ram, he–goat, and horns, 8:1–8.
• 2. The little horn and its wickedness, 8:9–12.
• 3. The time prophecy concerning the cleansing of the sanctuary, 8:13, 14.
• 4. Gabriel interprets the first portion of the vision, 8:15–26.
• 5. Daniel’s sickness as the result of the vision, 8:27.
• 6. Daniel prays for restoration and confesses his people’s sin, 9:1–19.
• 7. Gabriel interprets the remaining portion of the vision, 9:20–27.
C. Daniel’s fourth prophetic message, 10:1 to 12:13.
• 1. Daniel’s fast, 10:1–3.
• 2. The appearance of “a certain man” and the effect on Daniel, 10:4–10.
• 3. The “man’s” preliminary talk with Daniel, 10:11 to 11:1.
• 4. A vision concerning future historical events, 11:2 to 12:3.
• 5. The duration of the “wonders”; personal promises to Daniel, 12:4–13.
Daniel 1
Even though Daniel’s “little book” [1] is only twelve chapters long, its pages are full of meaning for the believer in spite of it being more than two thousand, six hundred years old! Instead of his prophecies becoming obsolete and outdated, their relevance has increased exponentially with the passage of time.
• [1] See Revelation10:2, 8, 9 & 10 the name given by John the Revelator to the “little book” he saw in the hand of the “mighty angel”.
Because of the astounding accuracy of the prophecies found in its pages, scholars have concluded its author lived many years later than the events depicted. They assume that these things must have been recounted from a retrospective viewpoint.
But we will not waste time on skeptical questioning, but rather, point out that Daniel’s contemporary, the prophet Ezekiel, classed him with two Bible heroes “Noah . . . and Job” (Ezekiel 14:14, 20) and said that his wisdom was exceeded only by that of a superhuman being called “the prince of Tyrus” (Ezekiel 28:2, 3). Jesus Himself referred to the “abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet” (Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14), proof that He believed Daniel genuine. The SDA Bible Commentary offers other convincing claims of its authenticity including such archeological findings as fragments of the Dead Sea scrolls containing portions of the Book of Daniel. [2]
• [2] Seventh–day Adventist Bible Commentary Vol.4. page 744, paragraph 3, 4
Therefore, we can safetly say, that there is no question that: (1) the Book of Daniel is the genuine article, (2) the events and prophecies contained are accurate and truthful, and (3) its sealed portion was complemented over six hundred years later by John in the open Book of Revelation. [3]
• [3] “In the Revelation all the Books of the Bible meet and end. Here is the complement of the Book of Daniel. One is a prophecy; the other a revelation. The Book that was sealed is not the Revelation, but that portion of the prophecy of Daniel relating to the last days.” (Acts of the Apostles by E.G. White page 585)
Summary of chapter 1: This chapter gives us the background setting for the Book of Daniel telling us how the prophet, as a young man, found himself to be an unwilling captive in the great kingdom of Babylon. However, he, and his three companions determined to make the best of the situation. They were among a select group of Hebrews chosen to be members of the king’s advisers to help him solve difficult matters of state and religion. The first thing the Babylonian captors did was to subject these men to a subtle form of brain washing. They gave them names designed to flatter and augment their self esteem. The rest of the group, which remain unmentioned anywhere else in the Book of Daniel, appears to have gone with the “flow,” but Daniel and his three associates went against the current and remained true to God even on the point of diet. Daniel’s tactful, diplomatic manner of conduct when asking for favor in that sensitive matter is an example of true Christian courtesy that God approved by making “them ten times better than all the magicians [and] astrologers that [were] in all his [the kings’] realm.
Chapter 1 . . . is introductory. It sets forth the moral condition suited to enlightenment in the ways and counsels of God. . . .
If we are going to get the mind of God in studying this Book, we must remember that it consists of revelations, deliverances and visions given to a spiritually-minded man who was separated from the iniquity of his day.
The Book opens with a synopsis of the first Jewish deportation in 605 BC (cf. 2Kings 24:1-2; 2Chronicles 36:6). Daniel and his three friends were part of the nobles and royal families taken from Jerusalem as captives. We know nothing more about Daniel’s family background. Apparently he lived apart from his family in Babylon (cf. Daniel 1:11-13).
The date of this deportation by Nebuchadnezzar (605 BC), as Daniel recorded it, was the third year of King Jehoiakim’s reign (Daniel 1:1). However, Jeremiah wrote that the first year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign (605 BC) was the fourth year of Jehoiakim’s reign (Jeremiah 25:1; cf. Jeremiah 46:2). Many critics of Daniel have seized upon this apparent contradiction and have tried to discredit this prophecy.
To explain this difference, is to say that Daniel wrote from the Babylonian perspective and Jeremiah from the Jewish. It would have been only natural for Daniel to do so since he spent virtually all of his life in Babylon. The Babylonians considered the first year of their kings’ reigns as the accession year, the year they acceded to the throne. That “year” sometimes lasted only a few months. The first regnal year, the first full year of their reign, began with the first day of the new civil year. For the Babylonians this was the first of Nisan (late March and early April). This is the accession-year system of dating.
Jeremiah was writing from the Jewish perspective. During the reigns of Jehoash to Hoshea, the Jews also followed the accession-year system. However, the Jews began their civil years on the first of Tishri (late September and early October). This explanation harmonizes these references.
Analysis of Daniel Chapter 1
This Chapter is entirely historical, the prophetic portions of the Book commencing with the second chapter. The “object” of this chapter seems to be to state the way in which Daniel, who subsequently acted so important a part in Babylon, was raised to so distinguished favor with the king and court. It was remarkable that a Jewish captive, and a young man, should be so honored; that he should be admitted as one of the principal counselors of the king, and that he should ultimately become the prime–minister of the realm; and there was a propriety that there should be a preliminary statement of the steps of this extraordinary promotion. This chapter contains a record of the way in which the future premier and prophet was introduced to the notice of the reigning monarch, and by which his wonderful genius and sagacity were discovered.
Lessons from Daniel 1
I. Discussion of the Chapter
The Historical Setting
• 1. Verse 1—The third year of Jehoiakim’s rule lasted from Fall 606 to Fall 605 BC. Under
Nebuchadnezzar the Babylonian kingdom flourished and became a world empire.
• 2. Verse 2—God allowed the Babylonian exile to happen because His people had apostatized,
worshiped idols, and gotten involved in all kinds of injustice and evil. The prophets had warned against the
exile, calling the people to repentance in order to avoid the disaster (see Jeremiah 4:5–31, where Shinar is another name for Babylon).
The Test for the Young Exiled
• 1. Verse 3—Daniel and his friends were part of the first of three deportations. It was customary to
take the leading families first in order to secure the faithfulness of the rest of the captives to the new ruler.
• 2. Verse 4—Nebuchadnezzar choose young people because they are full of energy and drive, and can
still be easily influenced. God often called young people such as Jesus and his disciples, Samuel, David,
Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:6), and Timothy. However, God also calls older people such as Moses, Aaron, Noah, and
Nicodemus. Likewise, God calls you and me to follow and serve Him.
• 3. Verse 5—Nebuchadnezzar’s decision may not have been harassment, but a privileged opportunity.
To refuse would have been more than impoliteness; at that time, a refusal to do what was demanded could have dangerous consequences.
• 4. Verses 6, 7—The giving of new names signified that the young men were accepted and welcome at the Babylonian kingly court.
Daniel and His Friends’ Reaction
• 1. Verse 8—Daniel exhibited courage and faithfulness. He was obedient to God. His stand was a
difficult one to take especially when his countrymen reacted to the contrary. It is hard to address an issue,
when others have already compromised. Daniel’s life was in danger, yet for him obedience to God was more important than his own life.
In what ways could we become “unclean” today? Through a false use of the gift of sexuality; by
eating unclean and unhealthy food; or by entertaining bad thoughts (Matt 15:18, 19).
• 2. Verse 9—Daniel experienced God’s help, and learned that those who remain faithful to God will
not be abandoned by the Lord. They have wonderful experiences. However, we need to dare to be
obedient. Whoever is not faithful does not give God a chance to intervene.
• 3. Verse 10—In comparison to Daniel, how did the commander respond?
He was fearful and tense; Daniel did not show any fear.
He was all alone; Daniel had God’s support.
He did not believe in Yahweh; Daniel did.
He only valued what this earthy life holds; Daniel focused on eternal life.
He doubted the positive outcome of the test; Daniel exercised his faith that the outcome will be
for God’s glory.
• 4. Verse 11—Daniel turned to his immediate supervisor and did not give up after an initial failure.
How do we react to failures?
• 5. Verse 12—Daniel’s simple food differed radically from the king’s menu.
• 6. Verse 13—Daniel was courageous in proposing the direct comparison. In what did he believe?
God’s power
The correctness of his decision
The superiority of his meal plan
Success
Because he dared believe as he did, he dared ask that his friends and he be compared with the
other young men (v. 13).
• 7. Verse 14—The official had doubts but, nevertheless, took the risk.
The Final Result
• 1. Verses 15–17—Daniel’s exercise in faith results in success for Daniel; he received God’s blessings,
experienced God’s power, and was strengthened in faith.
What possible reasons could there have been for Daniel and his friends to look better in just ten days?
• God’s blessings
• The right food (see biblical health principles)
• Faster recovery after the walk through the desert
Besides the obvious external signs of well–being, there were positive consequences in their mental and
spiritual health. When one part of the body is compromised, other parts are also affected. When we place
our complete selves—both body and mind—into God’s will, we experience total, comprehensive health (3 John 1:2).
• 2. Verses 18–21—At the final examination Daniel and his friends were ten times wiser than the wise
men, astrologers, and scientists in the entire kingdom. They were called to serve the king. God’s blessings are crucial.
Babylonian wisdom was mixed with paganism and idolatry. How was Daniel able to stay away from
these elements?
• He was determined to be absolutely faithful to God and His will.
• He remained dependent on God and was humble.
• His experience mentioned in Daniel 1 may have been a safeguard for future trials.
• His constant prayer life (Daniel 6) and his study of Scripture (Daniel 9) shaped him.
• God blessed and sustained him.
II. Application of the Chapter
The following principles are important for our lives:
• The positive effects of purity and health
• Faithfulness pays off.
• Absolute obedience to God makes a difference.
• Most of all, God supports his children.
Especially for Last Days.–Read the Book of Daniel. Call up, point by point, the history of the kingdoms there represented. Behold statesmen, councils, powerful armies, and see how God wrought to abase the pride of men, and lay human glory in the dust. God alone is represented as great. In the vision of the prophet He is seen casting down one mighty ruler, and setting up another. He is revealed as the monarch of the universe, about to set up His everlasting kingdom–the Ancient of days, the living God, the Source of all wisdom, the Ruler of the present, the Revealer of the future. Read, and understand how poor, how frail, how short–lived, how erring, how guilty is man in lifting up his soul unto vanity. . . .  [4BC 1166.4]
The light that Daniel received direct from God was given especially for these last days. The visions he saw by the banks of the Ulai and the Hiddekel, the great rivers of Shinar, are now in process of fulfillment, and all the events foretold will soon have come to pass (Letter 57, 1896).  [4BC 1166.5]
1:1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.
Jehoiakim’s 3rd regnal year according to the Jewish calendar and verified by archaeological discoveries lasted from the autumn of 606 BC to the autumn of 605 BC.
In the third year – Jeremiah said it would be the fourth year – difference is due to how king years were counted when beginning to reign.
Jehoiakim [‘My God raises up’] was the second son of Josiah and his name was changed from Eliakim by his Egyptian overlord.
At the time that Nebuchadnezzar came against Jerusalem his father, Nabopolassar, had not died; his death occurred on Ab 8 [August 15?] and on Elul 1 [September 7?] Nebuchadnezzar ascended the throne.
City of Babylon – history – part of kingdom founded by Nimrod, the great grandson of Noah (Genesis 10:8–10).
CHAPTER 1
1 Jehoiakim’s captivity. 3 Ashpenaz taketh Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 8
They refusing the king’s portion do prosper with pulse and water. 17 Their excellency in wisdom.
1. The third year. On the basis of Biblical synchronisms that correlate the reigns of
several kings of Judah with that of Nebuchadnezzar, whose Babylonian regnal years have
been astronomically established, Jehoiakim’s 3rd regnal year lasted, by the Jewish
calendar, from the autumn of 606 to the autumn of 605 BC (see Vol. II, p. 160; Vol. III,
p. 91). Hence the events recorded in this and the following verse must have taken place
sometime during the Jewish civil year that began in the fall of 606 and ended in the fall of
605 BC. Before the ancient systems of regnal reckonings were understood, this verse
presented commentators with a seemingly insuperable problem because of the apparent
contradiction with Jer. 25:1. As a result of modern archeological discoveries all historical
and chronological difficulties on this point have vanished, and the evidence provides a
completely harmonious pattern (see p. 747). The integrity of the Sacred Record has once
more been vindicated (see p. 746).
Jehoiakim was the second son of Josiah. When Josiah lost his life at Megiddo the
people made Jehoahaz, fourth son of Josiah (see on 1Chronicles 3:15), king in his father’s
stead. After Jehoahaz had reigned for a period of three months Necho of Egypt, during
that summer’s Mesopotamian campaign, deposed him and placed Jehoiakim on the
throne (2Kings 23:29–34). The new ruler of Judah, whose name was changed by the
Egyptian king from Eliakim, “My God raises up,” to Jehoiakim, “Jehovah raises up,” was
forced to pay a heavy tribute to Egypt (2Kings 23:34, 35), but seems to have been
content to be loyal to his Egyptian overlord.
Nebuchadnezzar. The common Hebrew transliteration of the
Babylonian name, meaning “May [the god] Nabû protect the son,” or
“May Nabû protect my borderstone.” The form of this name
occurs more frequently in the Hebrew Bible than the more correct spelling
of (Nebuchadrezzar) (see Jer. 21:2; Ezekiel 26:7; etc.). The Greek sources
show the same interchange of n and r. The LXX spells the name Nabouchodonosor; but
it is spelled Nabokodrosoros in Strabo’s works and as a variant in Josephus.
Nebuchadnezzar’s presence in Palestine in the early summer of 605 BC, as Daniel 1:1
indicates, is confirmed by two Babylonian accounts: (1) a narrative by the historian
Berosus, whose lost work has been quoted on this event by Josephus in his Against Apion
(1.19); and (2) a portion of a hitherto unknown Babylonian chronicle (D. J. Wiseman,
editor, Chronicles of Chaldaean Kings, 1956), which covers the entire reign of
Nabopolassar and the first eleven years of his son Nebuchadnezzar.
Berosus, as Josephus quotes him, relates that Nebuchadnezzar was ordered by his
father Nabopolassar to quench a rebellion in Egypt, Phoenicia, and Coele–Syria. Having
completed his mission but still being in the west, he received word of his father’s death.
Leaving the captives—among whom Jews are mentioned—in the hands of his generals,
he hurried back to Babylon by the short desert route as quickly as possible. This haste
was doubtless due to a desire to prevent any usurper from taking the throne. Berosus says
that Nebuchadnezzar left Jewish captives with his generals when he hurriedly returned to
Babylon. Daniel and his friends must have been among these captives. The statement of
Daniel 1:1, 2 and that of Berosus were the only known ancient records that spoke of this
campaign of Nebuchadnezzar until the discovery of this chronicle, a year–by–year account
yielding for the first time exact dates for the accession and death of Nabopolassar, the
accession of Nebuchadnezzar, and the capture of a king of Judah, obviously Jehoiachin,
eight years later (it also places the death of Josiah in 609 and the battle of Carchemish in 605).
Previously the accession of Nebuchadnezzar had been dated approximately to
August, 605, by the date lines of clay–tablet business documents from Babylonia (see
Vol. III, pp. 86, 87), since the last from Nabopolassar’s year 21 bore a date corresponding
to August 8, and the first from the new reign (not counting one assigned formerly to
July–August but now to October) was written in September.
But the chronicle gives the very day. It tells how, in his father’s 21st year,
Nebuchadnezzar decisively defeated the Egyptians at Carchemish and subdued Hattiland
(Syria–Palestine); then, on hearing of his father’s death on Ab 8 (approximately August
15) he hurried to Babylon and ascended the throne on Elul 1 (approximately September
7). Later in his accession year and again in his year 1 (which began in spring, 604) he
returned to the west and received tribute from the subject kings.
This explains how Daniel could be taken captive in the 3rd year of Jehoiakim, the year
preceding the 1st of Nebuchadnezzar (see p. 747).
King of Babylon. When Nebuchadnezzar came against Jerusalem in Jehoiakim’s 3rd
year, a few weeks or, at the most, a few months before his father’s death, he was not yet
king. But Daniel, recording these events, probably in the 1st year of Cyrus (v. 21), some
70 years after the events described had taken place, calls Nebuchadnezzar “king of
Babylon.” When Daniel arrived at Babylon as a young captive, Nebuchadnezzar was
already king. From then on he saw Nebuchadnezzar reigning for 43 years. Hence, it
seems quite natural that Daniel would call him “king.” It is also possible, but hardly
likely, that Daniel was taken during the short interval between Nabopolassar’s death and
Nebuchadnezzar’s return to Babylon.
This catastrophic event befalling the city of Jerusalem took place in 605 BC [4] with Daniel himself, being only “eighteen years old.” [5] “Jehoiakim [6] king of Judah” “was twenty and five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem, . . .” (2Kings 23:36). But he was only a vassal to the king of Egypt for his first three years up to the time Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem. Then, of course, he became servant to Nebuchadnezzar. Interestingly, his original name was Eliakim, but the Egyptian king “Pharoahnechoh” put Eliakim in place of his brother Jehoaz and changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim (2Kings 23:34) to remind him and his people he was in charge.
• [4] Maxwell (see God Cares Vol.1, page 15) and the SDA Bible Commentary (Vol.4, page 755) suggest 605 BC. This date is usually accepted as the beginning date for the seventy year captivity predicted by Jeremiah (see Jer.25:11,12; 29:10). Using 606 / 605 BC, the ending date for the Cyrus decree to free the Jews is 536 / 535 BC. Maxwell doesn’t really say although he suggests 535 BC as being the “third year of Cyrus” (page 267) in reference to Daniel 10:1. Whichever date is chosen, it is really only of academic interest since no other prophetic time line hinges on it at least for SDA’s even though Daniel himself may have considered it to be the beginning point of the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14.
• [5] Testimonies For The Church by E.G. White Vol. 4, page 570
• [6] Nebuchadnezzar tried to be gracious to Jehoiakim even after he had “bound him in fetters, and carried him to Babylon.”[2Kings 25:7; 2Chronicles 33:11] Instead of slaying him or making him a slave, Nebuchadnezzar permitted him to remain on the throne if he agreed to be loyal to Babylon. As events go, Jehoiakim became [Nebuchadnezzar’s] servant [for] three years after the initial siege at Jerusalem. But “he violated his word of honor to the Babylonian ruler, and rebelled” three years later. As a result of his insubordination he was “despised by the rulers of Babylon whose confidence he had betrayed—and all as the result of his fatal mistake in turning from the purpose of God as revealed through His appointed messenger” Jeremiah.
So, for three years thereafter, being Nebuchadnezzar’s servant, “he [foolishly] turned and rebelled against him” (2Kings 24:1) in spite of repeatedly being warned, especially by Jeremiah, against doing so.
Evidently, then, Daniel who must have been some 15 years old when Jehoiakim became king, must also have been familiar with the good king Josiah, the father of Jehoiakim. Doubtless his parents had often recounted the good things Josiah did which compared unfavorably with the character and behavior of his son. Daniel never forgot what he heard.
During the three years Jehoiakim spent planning a vain rebellion, we find (verse 5) Daniel spending that time (through no choice of his) in the Babylonian court being trained to “stand before the king.”
Nevertheless, his reign, which began three years before the first siege of Jerusalem, lasted at total of “eleven years.” After his rebellion, five more years remained, but, they were not trouble free. “Against him were sent ‘bands of the Chaldees, and bands of the Syrian, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children of Ammon,’ and he was powerless to prevent the land from being overrun by these marauders.”
So, while Nebuchadnezzar came to respect, even love Daniel, he lost all respect for Jehoiakiam who could not even keep a promise!
In spite of the counsel of God’s prophet to “seek the peace of the city whither I have cause you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it; for in peace thereof shall he have peace,” Jehoiakiam would have none of it. He spent the next three years plotting rebellion while Daniel and his companions were busily engaged in their three year training exercises.
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah
King Jehoiakim is a weak vassal ruler operating under the power of Pharaoh Necho of Egypt. Since killing Jehoiakim’s father, King Josiah, in the valley of Megiddo a few years prior, Necho has maintained Judah as a tributary state. Jehoiakim’s failure as king is summed up in 2Kings 23:37 where it says that he “did evil in the eyes of the Lord.
Came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon
It is fitting that we are introduced to King Nebuchadnezzar in this first verse, considering the major role that he will play throughout much of this Book. In 605 BC, the Babylonian empire rises to regional domination with Nebuchadnezzar’s defeat of the Assyrian and Egyptian armies at the battle of Carchemish.
Unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.
This is the first of three invasions by Babylon into the heart of Judah. The second invasion occurs around 597 BC. And the final siege came in 586 BC when the Babylonians torched the city of Jerusalem, including the Jewish temple complex. Solomon’s temple lay in utter ruins and the people of Judah were killed by the thousands. Most who survived were taken as captives back to Babylon.
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem – According to Usher, this event occurred in the 369th year after the revolt of the ten tribes, and 606 BC. The computation of Usher is the one generally received. Jehoiakim was a son of Josiah, a prince who was distinguished for his piety, 2Kings 22:2; 2Chronicles 35:1–7. After the death of Josiah, the people raised to the throne of Judah Jehoahaz, the youngest son of Josiah, probably because he appeared better qualified to reign than his elder brother, 2Kings 23:30; 2Chronicles 36:1. He was a wicked prince, and after he had been on the throne three months, he was removed by Pharaoh–nechoh, king of Egypt, who returned to Jerusalem from the conquest of Phoenicia, and placed his elder brother, Eliakim, to whom he gave the name of Jehoiakim, on the throne, 2Kings 23:34; 2Chronicles 36:4.
Jehoahaz was first imprisoned in Riblah, 2Kings 23:33, and was afterward removed to Egypt, 2Chronicles 36:4. Jehoiakim, an unworthy son of Josiah, was, in reality, as he is represented by Jeremiah, one of the worst kings who reigned over Judah. His reign continued eleven years, and as he came to the throne 608 BC, his reign continued to the year 597 BC. In the third year of his reign, after the battle of Megiddo, Pharaoh–nechoh undertook a second expedition against Nabopolassar, king of Babylon, with a numerous army, drawn in part from Western Africa, Lybia and Ethiopia. This Nabopolassar, who is also called Nebuchadnezzar I, was at this time, aged and infirm. He therefore gave up a part of his army to his son Nebuchadnezzar, who defeated the Egyptian host at Carchemish (Circesium) on the Euphrates, and drove Nechoh out of Asia. The victorious prince marched directly to Jerusalem, which was then under the sovereignty of Egypt. After a short siege Jehoiakim surrendered, and was again placed on the throne by the Babylonian prince.
Nebuchadnezzar took part of the furniture of the temple as booty, and carried back with him to Babylon several young men, the sons of the principal Hebrew nobles, among whom were Daniel and his three friends referred to in this chapter. It is not improbable that one object in conveying them to Babylon was that they might be hostages for the submission and good order of the Hebrews in their own land. It is at this time that the Babylonian sovereignty over Judah commences, commonly called the Babylonian captivity, which, according to the prophecy of Jeremiah, Jeremiah 25:1–14; Jeremiah 29:10, was to continue seventy years. In Jeremiah 25:1; Jeremiah 46:2, it is said that this was in the fourth year of Jehoiakim; in the passage before us it is said that it was the third year. This difference, arises from a different mode of computation: “Jehoiakim came to the throne at the end of the year, which Jeremiah reckons as the first (and such a mode of reckoning is not uncommon), but Daniel, neglecting the incomplete year, numbers one less:”
And besieged it – Jerusalem was a strongly–fortified place, and it was not easy to take it, except as the result of a siege. It was, perhaps, never carried by direct and immediate assault. Compare 2Kings 25:1–3, for an account of a siege of Jerusalem a second time by Nebuchadnezzar. At that time the city was besieged about a year and a half. How long the siege here referred to continued is not specified.
(1–2) Nebuchadnezzar conquers Jerusalem.
Jehoiakim king of Judah: This was a Judean king placed on the throne by the Pharaoh of Egypt. His name means “Yahweh raises up,” but the LORD did not raise him up at all – Pharaoh did.
Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon: This was the mighty ruler of the Babylonian Empire. The name Nebuchadnezzar is a Hebrew transliteration of the Babylonian name Nebu–kudduri–utzur, which means “Nebu protects the crown.”
Came to Jerusalem and besieged it: Nebuchadnezzar came against Jerusalem because the Pharaoh of Egypt invaded Babylon. In response, the young prince Nebuchadnezzar defeated the Egyptians at Charchemish, then he pursued their fleeing army all the way down to the Sinai. Along the way (or on the way back), he subdued Jerusalem, which had been loyal to the Pharaoh of Egypt.
This happened in 605 BC and it was the first (but not the last) encounter between Nebuchadnezzar and Jehoiakim. There would be two later invasions (597 and 587 BC).
Some say that this mention of the siege of Jerusalem is a historical blunder made by a pseudo–Daniel. This is based on the fact that this invasion in 605 BC is not mentioned in the Book of Kings. But the Jewish historian Josephus quotes the Babylonian historian Berossus, showing that the Biblical account of three separate Babylonian attacks on Judah is accurate.
This specific attack mentioned by Daniel is documented by the Babylonian Chronicles, a collection of tablets discovered as early as 1887 and kept in the British Museum. Nebuchadnezzar’s 605 BC presence in Judah is documented and clarified in these tablets.
When the Babylonian Chronicles were finally published in 1956, they gave us first–rate, detailed political and military information about the first 10 years of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. L.W. King prepared these tablets in 1919. He then died, and they were neglected for four decades.
Excavations also document the victory of Nebuchadnezzar over the Egyptians at Carchemish in May or June of 605 BC. Archaeologists found evidence of battle, vast quantities of arrowheads, layers of ash, and the shield of a Greek mercenary fighting for the Egyptians.
This campaign of Nebuchadnezzar was interrupted suddenly when he heard of his father’s death and raced back to Babylon to secure his succession to the throne. He traveled about 500 miles in two weeks – remarkable speed for travel in that day.
Therefore, we know that the siege of Jerusalem in 605 BC was cut short by Nebuchadnezzar’s return to Babylon. This was not specifically detailed in the Babylonian Chronicles, but it is entirely consistent with the record.
In the third year of the reign: There is also no contradiction between Daniel (who said this happened in the third year of Jehoiakim) and Jeremiah 46:2 (which said it was in the fourth year of Jehoiakim). Daniel reckoned a king’s years after the Babylonian method: the first year of a king’s reign began at the start of the calendar year after he took the throne. Jeremiah used the Jewish method.
It was customary for the Babylonians to consider the first year of a king’s reign as the year of accession and to call the next year the first year… Having spent most of his life in Babylon, it is only natural that Daniel should use a Babylonian form of chronology.
And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand: In this 597 BC deportation Jehoiakim, Ezekiel, and others were taken away. This deportation is described in 2Kings 24:14–16.
This was prophesied in Isaiah 39:7: And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. This prophecy leads some to think Daniel and his companions were made eunuchs. Certainly, the Hebrew term saris was used of literal eunuchs; but the word derives from a phrase that simply means to be a servant of the king. It wasn’t exclusively applied to literal eunuchs.
The LORD gave Judah into the hands of the Babylonians for mainly two reasons. The first was Israel’s idolatry and the second was their failure to observe the Sabbaths for the land (Leviticus 25:1–7 and 26:2–35). This shows that God always settles accounts with those who refuse to respond to His warnings. In the 587 BC invasion the city of Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed (2Kings 25:9–10).
Part of the vessels of the house of God: Nebuchadnezzar did not take all the furnishings of the temple, only some. The remaining furnishings were either hidden before Nebuchadnezzar came or they were brought to Babylon later.
The confiscation of these items and their deposit in a Babylonian temple was a dramatic declaration by Nebuchadnezzar saying, “my god is better than your God.” Now the God of Israel had to vindicate Himself.
This was a low time for Judah and God’s people. It seemed that the God of Israel lost out to the gods of Assyria, Egypt, and Babylon. The Book of Daniel shows God vindicating Himself at a time when the conquest of Israel might have brought God’s reputation into disgrace.
Introduction to the siege and exile – then and now!
The Book starts with Nebuchadnezzar’s siege of Judah and Jerusalem. Why did the Lord allow Judah to be besieged? It can be traced back to the actions of Hezekiah in 2Kings 20:12–19 and Isaiah’s prophecy [7]. In short, pride and worldliness! It is important also that you read Jeremiah 25:4–12 if you are truly interested in the background to how many Israelites, like Daniel, found themselves exiled in Babylon. Now Babylon means ‘confusion’ and traces its roots back to Genesis 11:9 where God confused the people’s language at the tower of Babel. As a type, Babylon stands for this present world with its false religion and systems. The future fall of Babylon is prophesied in Revelation chapter 17 and 18 where these two systems are shown. Revelation chapter 17 speaks of the destruction of the world’s false religious system and chapter 18 speaks of the fall of the world’s financial system. So like Daniel, in many ways the Christian’s life is one of exile, in a world that is by and large set against the ways of God. We too are under siege and are to consider ourselves as exiles and strangers on this earth because it is not our real home! See Hebrews 11:8–16.
• [7] After the reign of Solomon, the Israelite nation split into two different kingdoms. The northern kingdom was called ‘Israel’ and consisted of 10 of the twelve tribes. The southern kingdom was called ‘Judah’ and consisted of the two remaining tribes. Both of these kingdoms would eventually be ruled by 20 different kings. Out of the 20 kings who ruled in the southern kingdom, the Bible says that 7 were generally considered godly kings. Could the northern kingdom top that? Not likely! Out of their 20 kings they had precisely 0 godly kings. Couldn’t even find one! It is not surprising then that they were the first to fall. You can read about this in 2Kings 18:9–11. While you are there, you will see that one of Judah’s godly kings, Hezekiah, is coming under siege by the same Assyrian army that defeated the northern kingdom of Israel. Have a look 2Kings 18:17–19:37. It is a fantastic event and highlights the trust and godliness of Hezekiah and the faithfulness of the God of Israel in looking after His people! But then read 2Kings 20 – especially vs 12–19. It seems that in his older age, even Hezekiah began to allow ‘things’ to take the place that the Lord should have. And in a moment of pride and worldliness he shows the Babylonians all his gold, silver, armory and treasures. Fatal mistake as Isaiah tells Hezekiah Behold, the days come, that all that [is] in thine house, and [that] which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the LORD.
So what can we learn from this?
Hezekiah’s courting and flirting with Babylon (the world) would ultimately lead to Israel’s downfall even though he would not have known his decision would have led to such consequences. It can have the same affect in our lives and that of the church (which does seem to be pretty smitten by the world!)
If even a godly man such as Hezekiah can lose his focus and start taking pride in worldly things then so can we.
Always remember that in any long distance race anyone can take off sprinting at the start… that’s not that impressive. But going the distance and finishing well is impressive. Be mindful to endure and finish your Christian life well. Galatians 5:7 Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?
1:2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.
Shinar being a term for Babylonia.
For more than a thousand years since the First Dynasty, the chief god of the Babylonians was Marduk – more often called Bel [‘lord’].
2. Part of the vessels. Nebuchadnezzar doubtless took the most valuable and finest
Temple vessels for use in the service of his god Marduk. He naturally left no more than
were absolutely necessary to carry on the daily ritual in the Temple at Jerusalem. There
were three occasions on which the Chaldeans carried away sacred vessels to Babylon: (1)
in the campaign recorded in this passage, (2) when Jerusalem was taken at the close of
Jehoiachin’s reign in 597 BC (2Kings 24:13), and (3) at the end of the reign of
Zedekiah, when, in 586 BC after a long siege, Jerusalem was taken and destroyed (2
Kings 25:8–15). The spoiling of Jerusalem’s treasures by the Babylonian forces was the
fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy pronounced almost a century earlier (Isaiah 39:6). On the
fate of the ark see on Jer. 37:10.
Land of Shinar. Earlier commentators identified this term with “the
land of Sumer,” or southern Babylonia, but this interpretation has now been generally
discarded. In most of the OT references Shinar is simply a term for Babylonia. The origin
of the word “Shinar” is still obscure (see on Genesis 10:10). However, in Genesis 14:1, 9,
Shinar seems to be the name of an area in northern Mesopotamia called San?ar in
cuneiform texts. As in Genesis 11:2, Isaiah 11:11, and Zechariah 5:11, the Shinar mentioned in
Daniel is definitely Babylonia.
His god. The chief god of the Babylonians was Marduk, who, since the time of the
First Dynasty, more than a thousand years earlier, had popularly been called Bêl, “lord.”
His main temple, called Esagila, in the court of which stood the great temple tower,
Etemenanki, was in the heart of Babylon.
Treasure house. Babylonian cuneiform documents frequently mention the treasures
of Esagila, the great temple of Marduk. Which of the many auxiliary buildings belonging
to that temple complex might have housed these treasures is not known. However, a
treasure house of a secular nature has been excavated within the palace compound.
Excavators have called this building the Palace Museum because they found there many
sculptures and inscriptions collected from conquered cities. As in a modern museum,
objects from different parts of the empire were also exhibited. Though the building was
open to the public, admission was prohibited to “evil people,” according to a
contemporary inscription. It is not impossible that many treasures from Jerusalem,
especially such as came from the royal treasury, were housed in this Palace Museum and
were viewed by many visitors.
Note the first phrase: “And the Lord gave . . .” Judah into Nebuchadnezzar’s hand. Nebuchadnezzar himself, of course, did not see it that way at all! Having confiscated the articles of the “house of [Judah’s] God” and placing them “into the treasure house of his  god” was proof positive to him that his god was far stronger than Judah’s. It took a long time for him to recognize the superiority of Judah’s God, but thirty–six years later, Nebuchadnezzar himself, after suffering an extremely humiliating experience, said: “Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works [are] truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.” (Daniel 4:37).
Eliakim [later called Jehoiakim] was born in 634 BC. He was installed as king in 608 BC until 597 BC. 2Chronicles 36:5–6 state: Jehoiakim [was] twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem: and he did [that which was] evil in the sight of the LORD his God. Against him came up Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and bound him in fetters, to carry him to Babylon. Thus Jehoiakim was 25 when he began to reign and 46 years at the end of his reign. Evidently, life for him was hard and he aged rapidly.
Another lesson to learn from this experience is that “giving” his people into the hand of their enemy is God’s usual method of punishment. We can call it His passive or indirect mode of discipline. But God occasionally resorts to a direct mode. The prime example is Noah’s [it’s really God’s] flood. Another is seen in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah etc. Those are examples of His “strange act” (see Isaiah 28:21).
As it was, Daniel himself had no misgivings about God having abandoned him. The adverse circumstances he found himself in was all according to God’s plan and he, being separated from family and loved ones, determined right from the start where his loyalty was.
And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand,
As punishment against the wickedness of the people of Judah, the Lord delivers their rebellious leader, Jehoiakim, into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. This humiliating hostile takeover of Judah is yet another tragic fulfillment of God’s prophetic warning against his people’s disobedience to the Mosaic law and covenant. (See Leviticus 26:33,39) During the invasion, Jehoiakim is taken and vetted by Nebuchadnezzar before he is permitted to return as a vassal ruler under Babylon.
With part of the vessels of the house of God:
The scripture is clear that Nebuchadnezzar carries only “some” or “part” of the temple vessels away. His pillaging of the temple vessels was not intended to prevent daily temple operations, but instead as a display of power and control over the people of Judah. More temple vessels are taken during the next two Babylonian invasions but are fully restored under the reign of the Persian king, Cyrus.
Which he carried into the land of Shinar
Nebuchadnezzar carries the temple vessels into the “land of Shinar,” an ancient name for Babylonia. The word Shinar appears eight times throughout the Old Testament in reference to Babylonia, and possibly Sumer. In Genesis 10:10, the land of Shinar is described as an important part of the early kingdom of Nimrod.
To the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.
Nebuchadnezzar seizes the holy temple treasures from “the house of God” and carries them away to “the treasure house of his god.” Who is Nebuchadnezzar’s god? It was the ancient Mesopotamian god, Marduk. It is difficult to overstate the blasphemy of Nebuchadnezzar’s actions. His actions, however, are blinded by pride and self–ambition. Later in his reign, he will learn to fear of the only true God.
And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand – Jehoiakim was taken captive, and it would seem that there was an intention to convey him to Babylon 2Chronicles 36:6, but that for some cause he was not removed there, but died at Jerusalem 2Kings 24:5–6, though he was not honorably buried there, Jeremiah 22:19; Jeremiah 36:30. At 2Chronicles 36:6, it is said that “Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and bound Jehoiakim in fetters, to take him to Babylon.” Jahn supposes that an error has crept into the text in the Book of Chronicles, as there is no evidence that Jehoiakim was taken to Babylon, but it appears from 2Kings 24:1–2, that Jehoiakim was continued in authority at Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar three years, and then rebelled against him, and that then Nebuchadnezzar sent against him “bands of the Chaldees, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children of Ammon, and sent them against Judah to destroy it.” There is no necessity of supposing an error in the text in the account in the Book of Chronicles. It is probable that Jehoiakim was taken, and that the “intention” was to take him to Babylon, according to the account in Chronicles, but that, from some cause not mentioned, the purpose of the Chaldean monarch was changed, and that he was placed again over Judah, under Nebuchadnezzar, according to the account in the Book of Kings, and that he remained in this condition for three years until he rebelled, and that then the bands of Chaldeans, etc., were sent against him. It is probable that at this time, perhaps while the siege was going on, he died, and that the Chaldeans dragged his dead body out of the gates of the city, and left it unburied, as Jeremiah had predicted, Jeremiah 22:19; Jeremiah 36:30.
With part of the vessels of the house of God – 2Chronicles 36:7. Another portion of the vessels of the temple at Jerusalem was taken away by Nebuchadnezzar, in the time of Jehoiachin, the successor of Jehoiakim, 2Chronicles 36:10. On the third invasion of Palestine, the same thing was repeated on a more extensive scale, 2Kings 24:13. At the fourth and final invasion, under Zedekiah, when the temple was destroyed, all its treasures were carried away, 2Kings 25:6–20. A part of these treasures were brought back under Cyrus, Ezra 1:7; the rest under Darius, Ezra 6:5. Why they were not “all” taken away at first does not appear, but perhaps Nebuchadnezzar did not then intend wholly to overthrow the Hebrew nation, but meant to keep them tributary to him as a people. The temple was not at that time destroyed, but probably he allowed the worship of Jehovah to be celebrated there still, and he would naturally leave such vessels as were absolutely necessary to keep up the services of public worship.
Which he carried into the land of Shinar – The region around Babylon. The exact limits of this country are unknown, but it probably embraced the region known as Mesopotamia – the country between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates. The derivation of the name “Shinar” is unknown. It occurs only in Genesis 10:10; Genesis 11:2; Genesis 14:1, Genesis 14:9; Joshua 7:21; Isaiah 11:11; Daniel 1:2; Zechariah 5:11.
Into the treasure house of his god. – To the temple of Bel, at Babylon. This was a temple of great magnificence, and the worship of Bel was celebrated there with great splendor. For a description of this temple, and of the god which was worshipped there, see the notes at Isaiah 46:1. These vessels were subsequently brought out at the command of Belshazzar, at his celebrated feast, and employed in the conviviality and revelry of that occasion. See Daniel 5:3.
And he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god. – It would seem from this that the vessels had been taken to the temple of Bel, or Belus, in Babylon, not to be used in the worship of the idol, but to be laid up among the valuable treasures there. As the temples of the gods were sacred, and were regarded as inviolable, it would be natural to make them the repository of valuable spoils and treasures. Many of the spoils of the Romans were suspended around the walls of the temples of their gods, particularly in the temple of Victory.
(2) Daniel wrote that the Lord was responsible for Nebuchadnezzar’s success in defeating Jehoiakim. He viewed God as sovereignly controlling the past affairs of His chosen people (cf. Ephesians 1:4). As the Book unfolds, this appreciation for God’s sovereignty continues as Daniel described God’s future dealings with the Jews and the Gentiles.
Daniel used the name “Shinar” to describe Babylon (Daniel 1:2). Shinar is a biblical name for Babylon that often connotes a place hostile to God and faith in God (cf. Genesis 10:10; Genesis 11:2; Genesis 14:1). Carrying off the vessels from a conquered people’s temple was a way that ancient Near Eastern kings expressed their victorious sovereignty over that nation, particularly it’s gods (cf. Daniel 5:3-4). In this Book, Daniel confirms that it was not only Israel’s king who suffered defeat at Nebuchadnezzar’s hands, but also that God experienced humiliation. He then proceeded to vindicate God with all that followed.
1:3 And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring [certain] of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes;
Ashpenaz was possibly a Persian who, like many foreigners, had won rank and honour in the service of the Chaldeans.
After the destruction of Samaria in 723/722 BC, when the ten northern tribes ceased to exist as a separate nation, the kingdom of Judah remained the sole representative of the descendants of Jacob or Israel; hence during the Exile and post–exilic period the name of Israel is used to designate the representatives of the southern kingdom. (See Ezekiel 14:1; 17:2; etc.; Ezra 3:1, 11; etc.).
According to custom, royal hostages were also taken (this time from the house of Judah) to receive an Egyptian training prior to their ‘replacement’ on the throne of a deceased satellite [Palestine or Syrian] king.
3. Ashpenaz. A name appearing in the cuneiform texts from Nippur of the 5th century
in the slightly different form Ashpazanda, but in Aramaic incantation texts, also from
Nippur, in the form Aspenaz. Though the meaning is still obscure the name has been
thought to indicate Persian origin. It is possible that this high officer was a Persian. Many
foreigners won rank and honor in the service of the Chaldeans.
Master of his eunuchs. The Hebrew title rab–saris, “chief eunuch,” appears also in
an Aramaic text written in 682 BC. In Babylonian inscriptions we find as its equivalent
the title, literally, “the chief of the one on the head [of the king].” The title
was applied to the royal confidant.
It has frequently been debated whether the term saris was used to designate only
officers who were eunuchs in the literal, physical sense of the word, that is, castrated, or
whether saris was used in a general way for any type of royal officer. A clear–cut answer
to this question cannot be given. However, Assyrian pictorial representations of court life
indicate clearly, by showing a distinction of facial features, such as the absence or
presence of beards, that the king was surrounded by officers who were literal eunuchs as
well as by those who were not. They indicate furthermore that the literal eunuchs seem to
have been in the majority. Some of the greatest men in Assyrian history belonged to this
class, as, for example, Daiân–Ashshur, the grand vizier of Shalmaneser III, along with
many military commanders and other high officers. Isaiah prophesied that some of
Hezekiah’s descendants would become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon (Isaiah
39:7). Some commentators have held that Daniel and his three companions were included
in this prophecy.
Israel. After the destruction of Samaria in 723/722 BC, when the ten northern tribes
ceased to exist as a separate nation, the kingdom of Judah remained the sole
representative of the descendants of Jacob or Israel. Hence, the name Israel is frequently
employed during the Exile and in the postexilic period to designate the representatives of
the southern kingdom (see Ezekiel 14:1; 17:2; etc.; Ezra 3:1, 11; etc.).
King’s seed. When Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem in 605 BC he took hostages
from the royal house of Judah as well as from the first families of that unhappy country.
It was an old custom of conquerors to carry away princely hostages to guarantee the
loyalty of the conquered foe. Such a practice is reported in the annals of Thutmose III of
Egypt, who, after defeating an alliance of Syrian and Palestinian rulers at the battle of
Megiddo in the 15th century BC, allowed the defeated kings to retain their thrones, but
carried to Egypt one prince from each of his defeated enemies. In Egypt they were
educated in the Egyptian way of life, and when one of the satellite kings of Palestine or
Syria died, one of the deceased’s sons, educated in Egypt and friendly to the Pharaoh,
was put on the vacant throne.
Princes. Hebrew partemim, a loan word from Old Persian fratama, “nobles,” basically
meaning “foremost.” Partemim occurs elsewhere in the Bible only in Esther (1:3;
6:9). The presence of this and other Persian loan words in Daniel can easily be accounted
for on the reasonable assumption that the first chapter of Daniel was written in the 1st
year of Cyrus, when Persian influence had become strong (see Daniel 1:21).
And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs,
As the chief eunuch, Ashpenaz is the chief of staff over Nebuchadnezzar’s palace affairs. As such, he likely wielded great power within the king’s palace and was apparently entrusted with the responsibility of stewarding the Jewish captives taken by Nebuchadnezzar during his invasion of Judah. The word “eunuch,” while often used of a man who has been castrated, carried various meanings in different regions of the ancient world. Regardless of whether Ashpenaz was impotent, or even voluntary celibate, the important point is that he is placed at a very high level within Nebuchadnezzar’s court. As such, he is careful to follow the king’s every command.
That he should bring [certain] of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes;
During Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion of Judah (verse 1), he apparently snatched several members of the noble class in Judah, including members of the royal family, and brought them back to Babylon. It is not surprising that Nebuchadnezzar is interested in the royal seed of David as it was likely the king’s custom to seize a nation’s rulers upon a conquest. By this, Nebuchadnezzar could test the loyalty of his new vassal rulers. And if they needed to be replaced, Nebuchadnezzar had rulers–in–training at his palace waiting to take their place. However, Nebuchadnezzar apparently views Jehoiakim as a pliable and willing vassal that can be easily controlled. Therefore, Nebuchadnezzar sends him back to Judah as a puppet ruler, where he remains until his death at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar in 597 BC.
As we will see in verse 6, Daniel is one of the captives taken by Nebuchadnezzar during this first of three invasions into Judah.
And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs – Of Ashpenaz, nothing more is known than is stated here. Eunuchs were then, as they are now, in constant employ in the harems of the East, and they often rose to great influence and power. A large portion of the slaves employed at the courts in the East, and in the houses of the wealthy, are eunuchs. They are regarded as the guardians of the female virtue of the harem, but their situation gives them great influence, and they often rise high in the favor of their employers, and often become the principal officers of the court.
That he should bring certain of the children of Israel – Hebrew, “of the sons of Israel.” Nothing can with certainty be determined respecting their “age” by the use of this expression, for the phrase means merely the descendants of Jacob, or Israel, that is, “Jews,” and it would be applied to them at any time of life. It would seem, however, from subsequent statements, that those who were selected were young men. It is evident that young men would be better qualified for the object contemplated – to be “trained” in the language and the sciences of the Chaldeans Daniel 1:4 – than those who were at a more advanced period of life.
And of the king’s seed, and of the princes – That the most illustrious, and the most promising of them were to be selected; those who would be most adapted to accomplish the object which he had in view. It is probable that the king presumed that among the royal youths who had been made captive there would be found those of most talent, and of course those best qualified to impart dignity and honor to his government, as well as those who would be most likely to be qualified to make known future events by the interpretation of dreams, and by the prophetic intimations of the Divine will.
(3–4) And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring [certain] of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes;  Children in whom [was] no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as [had] ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.
So, the Bible, in spite of Nebuchadnezzar’s many failings, does not at all depict him as a villain.  “An idolater by birth and training, and at the head of an idolatrous people, he had nevertheless an innate sense of justice and right, and God was able to use him as an instrument for the punishment of the rebellious and for the fulfillment of the divine purpose.” [8]
• [8] Prophets and Kings by E.G. White page 514, 515
Nebuchadnezzar’s preoccupation was the prosperity of his kingdom and the welfare of his people, desiring to bring all the honor and glory to his god Bel, but mostly to himself. This becomes clear later on when he is heard to exclaim “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30). Hollow boasting, even megalomania to be sure, but not paranoia. He took evident pride in the prosperity of his kingdom.
With Ashpenaz being “master of his eunuchs” one wonders if Daniel was subjected to mutilating surgery. Whatever the case in this situation Isaiah predicted a hundred years before that “the days [will] come, that . . . of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon” (2Kings 20: 17, 18). Undoubtedly, Daniel was fully aware of the prophecy and had resigned himself to it.
Babylon’s system of indoctrination.
(3–4) The best and the brightest of Jerusalem’s young men are chosen and taken to Babylon.
Bring [certain] of the children of Israel: Nebuchadnezzar not only confiscated holy things from the temple but also the shining lights of Judah’s future (young men perhaps 13 to 17 years old).
The Hebrew for the princes is a Persian word, partemim, which is cited as another proof for a late date of Daniel. However, inasmuch as Daniel lived in his latter years under Persian government as a high official, there is nothing strange about an occasional Persian word.
Such as [had] ability in them to stand in the king’s palace: Nebuchadnezzar demonstrated that he was a wise administrator and a shrewd tactician. Taking these young men as hostages reminded the people back in Jerusalem that they should not revolt against the recently imposed Babylonian rule.
The goal of the Babylonians – Let the brain washing begin
Now it is very interesting to see the method used to make good little ‘Babylonians’ of the exiled Israelites. So what was Babylon’s method? Well, first they were taught to speak the lingo… then they had to read all the Babylonian literature, and finally they even had their names changed. Everything is done to separate these guys from their Jewish roots. In short, brain washing and indoctrination! Babylon doesn’t want them remembering or thinking of their real home. The idea was to make the Jews so taken up by the things of Babylon that no time is taken to think of their own home and their own God. [9] Now, I am sure you see a familiar pattern here… You should because the enemies plan is no different for Christians today! The world would rather that we are just like them. But we’re not.
• [9] Although this is easier said than done with the Jewish nation for the importance of their roots, background, beliefs and God are repeatedly taught to their young (in accordance with God’s commands) from an early age. And it seems from Psalm 137 that the Jews in Babylon were in no mood to forget Jerusalem despite any attempts of the Babylonians to ‘encourage’ them to do so. It was By the rivers of Babylon there we, as Boney M used to sing about, that the Jews sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
Now in this passage we are introduced to four important Jewish youths – Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah – although you might know Daniel’s friends by their Babylonian names – Shadrach, Mechach and Abed–nego. It is interesting to look at the meaning of their names before and after the change. According to the Ryrie Study Bible:
Names and meanings of Daniel and his friends
Daniel (“God is judge”) become Belteshazzar (“May Bel protect his life”)
Hananiah (“Yahweh is gracious”) becomes Shadrach (“command of Aku”)
Mishael (“Who is what God is”) becomes Meshach (“Who is what Aku is”)
Azariah (“Whom Yahweh helps”) becomes Abed–nego (“Servant of Nebo”)
In each case, their Hebrew name spoke of the true God and their names were changed to speak of the Babylonian gods. The bottom line for our lives is clear: Don’t let the world change your name or your character! [10] So nearly all of Daniel’s outward life was changed… But could they change his heart?
• [10] It is interesting that the first trial in the Book of Daniel is towards worldliness. Later in the life of Daniel will come direct persecution. It’s a side note really but currently, in the Western world at least, the main trial or temptation is towards worldliness. But there is a sense that things are changing and persecution of Christians even amongst so called ‘Christian’ nations is beginning. First comes worldly compromise and then comes persecution. That is the order in Daniel and will probably be the case in the western world.
(3–5) Nebuchadnezzar’s enlightened policy was to employ the best minds in his kingdom in government service, regardless of their national or ethnic origin. We do not know how many other Jews and Gentiles were with Daniel and his three friends. However, they were evidently the only ones who expressed a desire to observe the Jewish dietary laws (Exodus 34:15; Leviticus 11; Deuteronomy 14; cf. Deuteronomy 8:3; Proverbs 20:1).
In selecting such youths for education in the king’s court in Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar was accomplishing several objectives. Those carried away captive could well serve as hostages to help maintain the royal family of the kingdom of Judah. Their presence in the king’s court also would be a pleasant reminder to the Babylonian king of his conquest and success in battle. Further, their careful training and preparation to be his servants might serve Nebuchadnezzar well in later administration of Jewish affairs.
Daniel and his three friends may have been castrated and made eunuchs. Josephus implied that they may have become eunuchs.
The Hebrew word saris (“official,” Daniel 1:3) can mean both “court official” (cf. Genesis 37:36, where it describes Potiphar, who was married) and “eunuch” (Isaiah 56:3; cf. 2Kings 20:18). These youths were without defects (Daniel 1:4).
Josephus also wrote that Daniel and his three friends “were four of the family of Zedekiah.” [Josephus, 10:10:1.] This may be accurate or only Jewish tradition, but clearly they were either members of the royal family or children of Judean nobles (Daniel 1:3; cf. Isaiah 39:6-7).
The three-year program of study that Daniel and his three companions underwent involved study of the literature and language of the Chaldeans (Daniel 1:4). The term “Chaldean” has a double meaning in the Book of Daniel. In some places, including here, it refers to ethnic southern Babylonians (cf. Daniel 3:8; Daniel 5:30; Daniel 9:1). In others, it describes a class of astrologers and priests that emerged from the ethnic Chaldeans (Daniel 2:2; Daniel 2:4-5; Daniel 2:10; Daniel 4:7; Daniel 5:7; Daniel 5:11).
The Babylonian sages were the guardians of the sacred traditional lore developed and preserved in Mesopotamia over centuries, covering natural history, astronomy, mathematics, medicine, myth, and chronicle. Much of this learning had a practical purpose, being designed to be applied to life by means of astrology, oneirology, hepatoscopy and the study of other organs, rites of purification, sacrifice, incantation, exorcism and other forms of divination and magic.
Nebuchadnezzar was seeking to acculturate these youths and make them thoroughly Babylonian. Their learning included the old Akkadian and the ancient Sumerian cultures from which the Babylonian had developed.
1:4 Children in whom [was] no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as [had] ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.
Young men, rather than Children, both physically sound and handsome were considered indispensable to officers of high rank among the ancient Orientals.
Attain 17th year before young men could enter into service of Persian kings – Daniel had reached 18 (4T570).
Age of ‘young men’ – cf. Genesis 44:20, 46:21 – Benjamin about 30 and father of 10 sons.
Chaldeans – members of the Aramaean tribe whose early settlement was in Lower Mesopotamia and who had taken over the rulership of Babylonia when Nabopolassar founded the Neo–Babylonian dynasty.
4. Children. Hebrew yeladim, here designating a word covering a much wider range of
age than the English word “children.” Here it designates “youth,” “young men.” The
young counselors who had been brought up with King Rehoboam are called yeladim (1
Kings 12:8). The word is translated “young men” (KJV) because it is obvious that they
were not children in the English sense of the word. The same term is applied to Benjamin
at about the age of 30, shortly before he went down to Egypt, and when he was the father
of 10 sons (Genesis 44:20; cf. 46:21). Hence it is not strange to see the word for
children” applied to youth, of whom one at least, Daniel, had reached the age of 18
years (4T 570). It is worth noticing in this connection that Xenophon, speaking of a later
time, says that no young men could enter the service of the Persian kings before they had
attained their 17th year (Cyropaedia i. 2).
No blemish. Physical soundness and a handsome form were considered indispensable
to officers of high rank among the ancient Orientals, and are considered highly desirable
qualities in the modern East.
Chaldeans. This term (Akkadian, Kaldu) designates the members of an Aramaean
tribe whose early settlement was in Lower Mesopotamia and who had taken over the
rulership of Babylonia when Nabopolassar founded the Neo–Babylonian dynasty. The
term applies also to a class of scholars at the Babylonian court who were the foremost
astronomers of their day. These scholars were equally proficient in other exact sciences,
such as mathematics, although they included magic and astrology in their activities.
Commentators have been divided in their interpretation of the phrase “learning and the
tongue of the Chaldeans.” The older view, found among the church Fathers, sees in the
phrase a study of Aramaic language and literature, while many modern commentators are
inclined to interpret it as meaning the combined scientific and linguistic knowledge of the
Chaldeans. All known scientific writings of that time were inscribed on clay tablets in
cuneiform script in the Babylonian language. It must therefore be concluded that “the
learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans” included a thorough training in the classical
language and script of the country—that is, in the Babylonian language and in cuneiform
writing—in addition to colloquial Aramaic. Since proficiency in the cuneiform script,
with its hundreds of characters, was not easy to acquire, a good educational background,
a natural ability to learn easily, and the gift of picking up a new language readily would
be deemed desirable prerequisites for acceptance into the royal school for future courtiers
(see PK 480).
From this passage, it is evident that Nebuchadnezzar is seeking to vet Judah’s royal family and nobility for those with the most promising leadership qualities. At its height, the Babylonian empire stretched from southern Mesopotamia (modern–day southern Iraq) to the Mediterranean Sea. As new regions were conquered, the previous leaders would often be replaced by new leaders that were officially trained in the king’s palace. This verse is helpful in describing the traits that Nebuchadnezzar sought in new potential leaders.
Children in whom [was] no blemish, but well favoured,
Nebuchadnezzar wanted these potential leaders to be young, (literally “children” in the Hebrew) without physical or mental defects, and outwardly attractive. After all, the minds and aspirations of a child are much easier to mold than those of an adult. “no blemish” – implies that these youths were to be untainted and free from physical and mental defects. “of good appearance” – Outward attractiveness was prized in the ancient world, much as it is today. Nebuchadnezzar wanted those who would potentially represent him and his vast empire to look pleasing to the eye.
And skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science,
Another important trait that Nebuchadnezzar desired within his future leaders was their ability to apply the wisdom of the Chaldeans in their daily lives. The wisdom spoken of here is that which sprung forth from the religious mysticism of the Chaldeans. In order to apply this wisdom, it was imperative that these youths be “endowed” with the right kind of knowledge. (Namely, the knowledge promoted by the Chaldeans.) “understanding learning” – This root word for “learning” can be translated as “science” (as it is in the KJV.) This could include disciplines in which the Babylonians excelled, such as astronomy, mathematics, and philosophy. Only the youths who are able to grasp the volumes of knowledge and apply it through wisdom would be worthy of Nebuchadnezzar’s attention.
And such as [had] ability in them to stand in the king’s palace,
Any position of leadership is demanding. However, ruling the world’s largest empire at the time was tough work and was not for the weak. The politics of empire would often be grueling. To survive the political intrigue and constant betrayal associated with levels of such great power would require that these youths would be able to handle the job. They must be strong and “competent” enough to be able to endure and “stand” in the king’s palace no matter what the cost.
And whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.
The Neo–Babylonian empire was a highly religious order motivated by the worship of many gods, but especially Marduk. While the people of Judah had no doubt heard of the “literature and language of the Chaldeans,” most of them were steeped in the teachings of the Torah. All future Babylonian leaders, regardless of their position, would need to be immersed in both the literature and the language of the Chaldeans. The ancient literature employed by the Chaldeans, such as Enuma Elish and the Epic of Gilgamesh, directly contradicted the creation account and flood occurrence as set forth in the Torah. This represented a major challenge to the faith of the Hebrew captives. Meanwhile, the language of the Chaldeans was Akkadian, with a distinct Babylonian dialect. Over time, the language slowly changed from Akkadian to Aramaic, which is used heavily in the Book of Daniel.
Children in whom was no blemish – The word rendered “children” in this place is different from that which is rendered “children” in Job 1:3). That word denotes merely that they were “sons,” or “descendants,” of Israel, without implying anything in regard to their age; the word here used would be appropriate only to those who were at an early period of life, and makes it certain that the king meant that those who were selected should be youths. Compare Genesis 4:23, where the word is rendered “a young man.” It is sometimes, indeed, used to denote a son, without reference to age, and is then synonymous with a “son.” But it properly means “one born;” that is, “recently born;” a child, Genesis 21:8; Exodus 1:17; Exodus 2:3; and then one in early life. There can be no doubt that the monarch meant to designate youths. So the Vulgate, pueros, and the Greek, neaniskous, and so the Syriac. All these words would be applicable to those who were in early life, or to young men. The word “blemish” refers to bodily defect or imperfection. The object was to select those who were most perfect in form, perhaps partly because it was supposed that beautiful youths would most grace the court, and partly because it was supposed that such would be likely to have the brightest intellectual endowments. It was regarded as essential to personal beauty to be without blemish, 2Samuel 14:25 : “But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for beauty; from the sole of Iris foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him.” Solomon 4:7 : “thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.” The word is sometimes used in a moral sense, to denote corruption of heart or life Deuteronomy 32:5; Job 11:15; Job 31:7, but that is not the meaning here.
But well–favored – Hebrew, “good of appearance;” that is, beautiful.
And skillful in all wisdom – Intelligent, wise – that is, in all that was esteemed wise in their own country. The object was to bring forward the most talented and intelligent, as well as the most beautiful, among the Hebrew captives.
And cunning in knowledge – In all that could be known. The distinction between the word here rendered “knowledge” and the word rendered “science” is not apparent. Both come from the word to “know,” and would be applicable to any kind of knowledge. The word rendered “cunning” is also derived from the same root, and means “knowing,” or “skilled in.” We more commonly apply the word to a particular kind of knowledge, meaning artful, shrewd, astute, sly, crafty, designing. But this was not the meaning of the word when the translation of the Bible was made, and it is not employed in that sense in the Scriptures. It is always used in a good sense, meaning intelligent, skillful, experienced, well–instructed. Compare Genesis 25:27; Exodus 26:1; Exodus 28:15; Exodus 38:23; 1Samuel 16:16; 1Chronicles 25:7; Psalms 137:5; Isaiah 3:3.
And understanding science – That is, the sciences which prevailed among the Hebrews. They were not a nation distinguished for “science,” in the sense in which that term is now commonly understood – embracing astronomy, chemistry, geology, mathematics, electricity, etc.; but their science extended chiefly to music, architecture, natural history, agriculture, morals, theology, war, and the knowledge of future events; in all which they occupied an honorable distinction among the nations. In many of these respects they were, doubtless, far in advance of the Chaldeans; and it was probably the purpose of the Chaldean monarch to avail himself of what they knew.
And such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace – Hebrew, “had strength”. Properly meaning, who had strength of body for the service which would be required of them in attending on the court. The word “palace” here is commonly used to denote the temple (2Kings 24:13; 2Chronicles 3:17; Jeremiah 50:28; Haggai 2:15. Its proper and primitive signification, however, is a large and magnificent building – a palace – and it was given to the temple as the “palace” of Jehovah, the abode where he dwelt as king of his people.
And whom they might teach – That they might be better qualified for the duties to which they might be called. The purpose was to bring forward their talent, that it might contribute to the splendor of the Chaldean court; but as they were, doubtless, ignorant to a great extent of the language of the Chaldeans, and as there were sciences in which the Chaldeans were supposed to excel, it seemed desirable that they should have all the advantage which could be delayed from a careful training under the best masters.
The learning – – literally, “writing” Isaiah 29:11–12. Gesenius supposes that this means the “writing” of the Chaldeans; or that they might be able to read the language of the Chaldeans. But it, doubtless, included “the knowledge” of what was written, as well as the ability “to read” what was written; that is, the purpose was to instruct them in the sciences which were understood among the Chaldeans. They were distinguished chiefly for such sciences as these:
• (1) Astronomy. This science is commonly supposed to have had its origin on the plains of Babylon, and it was early carried there to as high a degree of perfection as it attained in any of the ancient nations. Their mild climate, and their employment as shepherds, leading them to pass much of their time at night under the open heavens, gave them the opportunity of observing the stars, and they amused themselves in marking their positions and their changes, and in mapping out the heavens in a variety of fanciful figures, now called constellations.
• (2) Astrology. This was at first a branch of astronomy, or was almost identical with it, for the stars were studied principally to endeavor to ascertain what influence they exerted over the fates of men, and especially what might be predicted from their position, on the birth of an individual, as to his future life. Astrology was then deemed a science whose laws were to be ascertained in the same way as the laws of any other science; and the world has been slow to disabuse itself of the notion that the stars exert an influence over the fates of men. Even Lord Bacon held that it was a science to be “reformed,” not wholly rejected.
• (3) Magic; soothsaying; divination; or whatever would contribute to lay open the future, or disclose the secrets of the invisible world. Hence, they applied themselves to the interpretation of dreams; they made use of magical arts, probably employing, as magicians do, some of the ascertained results of science in producing optical illusions, impressing the common with the belief that they were familiar with the secrets of the invisible world; and hence, the name “Chaldean” and “magician” became almost synonymous terms. See Daniel 2:2; 4:7; and 5:7.
• (4) It is not improbable that they had made advances in other sciences, but of this we have little knowledge. They knew little of the true laws of astronomy, geology, chemistry, electricity, mathematics; and in these, and in kindred departments of science, they may be supposed to have been almost wholly ignorant.
And the tongue of the Chaldeans – In regard to the “Chaldeans,” see Job 1:17 and Isaiah 23:13. The kingdom of Babylon was composed mainly of Chaldeans, and that kingdom was called “the realm of the Chaldeans” Daniel 9:1. Of that realm, or kingdom, Babylon was the capital. The origin of the Chaldeans has been a subject of great perplexity, on which there is still a considerable variety of opinions.
There exists at the present time, in the vicinity of the Bahrein Islands, and along the Persian Gulf, in the neighborhood of the Astan River, an Arab tribe, of the name of the “Beni Khaled,” who are probably the same people as the “Gens Chaldei” of Pliny, and doubtless the descendants of the ancient race of the Chaldeans. The language was very closely allied to the Hebrew, but was so different that those who were acquainted with only one of the two languages could not understand the other. Compare Nehemiah 8:8. Both were the offspring of the original Shemitish language.
5–17. Daniel risked death by choosing to reject the king’s food and drink, but he determined to be true to God and obey the dietary requirements set out in His law. See Leviticus 11; 17:12; Deuteronomy 14:3–21. Daniel also knew that the royal diet would not be good for his health. Instead of “choice food” Daniel asked for pulse – plant foods such as grains, fruits and vegetables – and instead of wine he asked for plain water.
The ten–day test showed that Daniel and his friends were noticeably healthier than those who ate the king’s rich foods. Modern science has shown that the best diet for optimal health is a plant–based, high fiber and low cholesterol diet. People who choose these foods tend to live longer, have more energy and be more mentally alert. The key word is “defile,” which in Hebrew means just that, to “pollute, defile.” Thus, for these young men, the issue was not just healthful living or a mere personal preference; it was a moral issue as well.
1:5 And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.
Three years by inclusive reckoning – from the ascension of Nebuchadnezzar to the 2nd year of the king’s reign – see Daniel 1:18 & 2:1.
5. Appointed. Being members of the royal school for courtiers, the youth were given
rations from the royal household. The custom is attested in the later Persian period, for
which time we have more contemporary records than for the Neo–Babylonian period.
Provision of … meat. Hebrew pathbag, a loan word from the Old Persian patibaga,
“portion,” or “delicacies.” For the use of such loan words see on v. 3. Pathbag occurs 6
times in Daniel (1:5, 8, 13, 15, 16; 11:26).
Three years. That is, by inclusive reckoning (see Vol. II, pp. 136, 137), from the
accession year of Nebuchadnezzar, when Daniel was taken captive (see on v. 1), to the 2nd
year of the king’s reign (see on v. 18).
Nebuchadnezzar provided his captives with the very same fare he ate and drank – the very best food known to man, as far as the king was concerned. But the consumption of food was not the only thing expected of the captives. At the end of three years they were required to “stand before the king” and be able to display the wisdom and knowledge they had gained throughout that period such as the “knowledge, and understanding [of] science” and of languages, especially “the tongue of the Chaldeans.” So, it was an oral examination taken while standing on their feet before the king with no notes available to refer to. Evidently, it was the king himself who acted as examiner.
And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank:
On first glance, Nebuchadnezzar’s act of appointing a daily portion of food to the Hebrew captives appears to be a positive development. Imagine what a blessing this would be to the average Babylonian. One of the most laborious tasks of the ancient world was the daily preparation of food. Here we see that the Hebrew captives would not have to spend any time at all worrying about where their next meal would come from as the king himself would provide it to them. And this was not just any kind of meal. The daily portion of food would be from the king’s own menu! The rich delicacies and finest of wines enjoyed daily by the royal monarch of Babylon would be given freely to the Hebrew captives. But as we will see in verse 8, the moral convictions of Daniel and his companions will lead them to reject this “generous” offer. (See Proverbs 23:3.)
So nourishing them three years,
Here we learn the length of their tutelage would be three full years. Because the word “youths” in verse 4 is literally translated as “children” in the Hebrew, many scholars believe that Daniel and his companions were taken at a tender age, perhaps anywhere from age 10–16. Regardless of their specific age at the time of their captivity, it is safe to assume that they would still be in their teenage years (or at most, early 20’s) upon completion of the three–year education.
That at the end thereof they might stand before the king.
Upon the completion, or “termination,” of their three–year education, Daniel and his companions, as well as all of the other Hebrew captives, would be required to “stand before the king.” To “stand” in the presence of the king was a great honor in ancient times that few subjects were ever granted. Most translations render this phrase as “serve in the king’s court.” Based upon the context, and ancient historical precedent, it can be safely assumed that upon completion of their three years of schooling in the literature and language of the Chaldeans, they would become members of the monarch’s council.
And the king appointed them – The purpose was manifestly to train them in the manner in which it was supposed they would be best fitted, in bodily health, in personal beauty, and in intellectual attainments, to appear at court; and it was presumed that the best style of living which the realm furnished would conduce to this end. That the design was not to make them effeminate, is apparent from Daniel 1:15.
A daily provision – Hebrew, “The thing of a day in his day;” that is, he assigned to them each day a portion of what had been prepared for the royal meal. It was not a permanent provision, but one which was made each day. The word rendered “provision” – path – means a bit, “crumb,” “morsel,” Genesis 18:5; Judges 19:5; Psalms 147:17.
Of the king’s meat – The word “meat” here means “food,” as it does uniformly in the Bible, the Old English word having this signification when the translation was made, and not being limited then, as it is now, to animal food. The word in the original – bag – is of Persian origin, meaning “food.”
And of the wine which he drank – Margin, “of his drink.” Such wine as the king was accustomed to drink. It may be presumed that this was the best kind of wine. From anything that appears, this was furnished to them in abundance; and with the leisure which they had, they could hardly be thrown into stronger temptation to excessive indulgence.
So nourishing them three years – As long as was supposed to be necessary in order to develop their physical beauty and strength, and to make them well acquainted with the language and learning of the Chaldeans. The object was to prepare them to give as much dignity and ornament to the court as possible.
That at the end thereof they might stand before the king – See Daniel 1:4.
The accepted “children” were brought up in the religion of their masters; and there were schools in the palace where they received such complete instruction in Turkish learning and science as it was the lot of few others to obtain. Among their accomplishments we find it mentioned, that the greatest pains were taken to teach them to speak the Turkish language (a foreign one to them) with the greatest purity, as spoken at court. Compare this with “Teach them the learning and tongue of the Chaldeans.”
According to the custom of the country, they were taught some mechanical or liberal art. When their education was completed, those who had displayed the most capacity and valor were employed about the person of the king, and the rest given to the service of the treasury, and the other offices of the extensive establishment to which they belonged.
(5–7) In Babylon, the Hebrew youths are groomed for the civil service.
And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat: It was a given that the Babylonian government would provide for these young men in training. Yet, having the same food and wine prepared for the king was intended to be a special honor.
In the ancient world much more than in the modern world there was a huge difference between the food enjoyed by the elite and what common people ate.
So nourishing them three years: The purpose of the food, names, and education was simple. This was an effort at total indoctrination, with the goal of making these young Jewish men leave behind their Hebrew God and culture. Undoubtedly, Nebuchadnezzar wanted to communicate to these young men, “look to me for everything.” Daniel and his friends refused, insisting that they would look to God.
Calvin wrote that Nebuchadnezzar knew that the Jews were a stiff–necked and obstinate people, and that he used the sumptuous food to soften up the captives.
Satan uses a similar strategy against believers today, wanting to indoctrinate us into the world system. Satan wants us to:
• Identify (name) us in reference to the world.
• Feed us what the world offers.
• Educate us in the ways of the world.
1:6 Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:
Daniel – God is my judge – a very common name among Semitic people.
Hananiah – Yahweh is gracious – at least 14 different Old Testament individuals carried this name.
Mishael – Who belongs to God? – borne by several Biblical characters.
Azariah – Yahweh helps – frequent Biblical name.
6. Among these. This expression shows that other young men were selected for
training in addition to the four mentioned by name. These four are doubtless mentioned
because of the uniqueness of their experience. Their unwavering loyalty to God earned
for them great rewards in worldly honor and spiritual blessing (see Daniel 2:49; 3:30; 6:2; 10:11).
Daniel. Meaning, “God is my judge.” In the OT the name appears first as that of one
of David’s sons (1Chronicles 3:1), and then as the name of a priest in the 5th century (Ezra
8:2; Nehemiah 10:6). However, the name was already known in Ugarit (Ras Shamrah) in the
middle of the second millennium BC as that of a legendary, righteous king, whom some
scholars have erroneously identified with the Daniel mentioned by Ezekiel (see Ezekiel
14:14; 28:3). That the name Daniel was very common among Semitic people is evident
from the fact that it is found among the Babylonians, the South Arabic Sabeans, as well
as among the Nabataeans—the successors of the Edomites—and among the Palmyrenes
of northern Arabia.
Hananiah. Meaning, “Yahweh is gracious.” Hananiah was a common Hebrew name
borne by at least 14 different individuals mentioned in the OT. The name is also found in
the Akkadian transliteration, Hananiyama, as that of a Jew living in Nippur in the 5th
century BC. On another cuneiform document from Nippur the name is scratched in clay in
Aramaic characters. It is also found in later Jewish inscriptions, and in the Aramaic
papyri from Elephantine.
Mishael. Meaning probably, “who belongs to God?” The name was borne by several
Biblical characters before and after the Exile (see Exodus 6:22; Nehemiah 8:4).
Azariah. Meaning, “Yahweh helps.” The name appears frequently in the Bible.
Outside of the Bible it is found incised on jar handles excavated in Palestine, and is found
also in cuneiform sources in the form Azriau.
It is in this verse that Daniel’s name first appears in the narrative. He, along with three others, are said to be among those taken from Judah and into Babylonian captivity. We don’t know how many others were taken from Judah. We do know, however, from verse 3 that the ones taken to Nebuchadnezzar’s palace were of Judah’s nobility and royal family.
Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:
In ancient times, a name often carried a special meaning. For this reason, a person’s name in ancient times carried much more importance than it does in modern Western cultures today.
The name Daniel literally means “God is my Judge.” (A combination of “Dan” and “El”)
The name Hananiah means “Jah has favored.” (A combination of “chanan” and “Yahh”)
The name Mishael means “Who is what God is?” (A combination of “Miy” and “El”)
Finally, the name Azariah means “Jah has protected.” (A combination of the words “Azar” and “Yahh”)
Of the children of Judah
This brief phrase alerts the reader to the fact that Daniel, and his three friends, are of the tribe of Judah, the royal bloodline of the coming Messiah.
Now among these were of the children of Judah – That is, these were a part of those who were selected. They are mentioned because they became so prominent in the transactions which are subsequently recorded in this Book, and because they evinced such extraordinary virtue in the development of the principles in which they had been trained, and in the remarkable trials through which they were called to pass. It does not appear that they are mentioned here particularly on account of any distinction of birth or rank, for though they were among the noble and promising youth of the land, yet it is clear that others of the same rank and promise also were selected, (Daniel 1:3). The phrase “the children of Judah” is only another term to denote that they were Hebrews. They belonged to the tribe, or the kingdom of Judah.
Daniel – This name means properly “judge of God;” that is, one who acts as judge in the name of God. Why this name was given to him is not known. We cannot, however, fail to be struck with its appropriateness, as the events of his life showed. Nor is it known whether he belonged to the royal family, or to the nobles of the land, but as the selection was made from that class it is probable. Those who were at first carried into captivity were selected exclusively from the more elevated classes of society, and there is every reason to believe that Daniel belonged to a family of rank and consequence. The Jews say that he was of the royal family, and was descended from Hezekiah, and cite his history in confirmation of the prophecy addressed by Isaiah to that monarch, “Of thy sons which shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon,” Isaiah 39:7.
Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah – Of the rank and early history of these young men nothing is known. They became celebrated for their refusal to worship the golden image set up by Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel 3:12.
(6–7) Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel [the name] of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego.
The words “among these” is the sole reference Daniel made to his fellow captives and we have no idea what happened to them later on. Possibly, they just blended into the background, keeping, as it were, a low silhouette so as to avoid doing any more or any less than what was expected of them. But Daniel and his friends were not satisfied with second best. Quite likely they were responsible for saving the lives of their fellows later on during the tense situation described in the next Chapter.
Although Daniel and his friends were not subjected to physical torture, they did have to withstand a subtle form of brain washing.  Their name changes were intended to gradually transfer their loyalty from God to the Babylonian god.
Note that Daniel’s Hebrew name meant “judge of God.” [11] It was changed to “Belteshazzar” meaning “lord of the straitened treasure.” [12] The Hebrew name of Hananiah meant “God has favored.” [13] It was changed to “Shadrach” meaning “royal or great scribe.” [14] The Hebrew meaning for Mishael was “who is what God is.” [15] It was changed to “Meshach” meaning “guest of a king.” [16] Finally, Azariah, whose name in Hebrew meant “Jehovah has helped” [17] was changed to “Abednego” meaning “servant of Nebo.” [18] “Nebo,” in this case “was a Babylonian deity who presided over learning and letters.” [19]
• [11] This is according to Strong’s concordance word #1840
• [12] According to the Online Computer Lexicon #1095
• [13] According to the Online Computer Lexicon #2608
• [14] According to the Online Computer Lexicon #7714
• [15] According to the Online Computer Lexicon #4332
• [16] According to the Online Computer Lexicon #4335
• [17] According to the Online Computer Lexicon #5838
• [18] According to the Online Computer Lexicon #5664
• [19] According to the Online Computer Lexicon #5015
Note that the name changes were flattering, rather than demeaning and calculated to turn their outward mindset from God inward to self–esteem. It was an obvious attempt to engender pride, self–esteem, self–importance. The technique probably worked with the others, but not these four. As we will see in Chapter 3, it proved powerless to modify their faith.
(6–7) Daniel’s name probably means “My judge is God.” Hananiah means “God has shown grace,” Mishael means “Who is what God is?” and Azariah means “God has helped.” The new names assigned them all included or referred to various Babylonian gods: Bel, Aku, and Nego (a possible variant of Nebo). Belteshazzar means “Bel’s prince,” Shadrach may mean “command of Aku,” and Abednego most likely means “servant of Nebo.”
The practice of changing names was a way to express sovereign control over others. These new names would have also encouraged these youths to think of themselves as part of the culture in which they were living, rather than the culture from which they had come (cf. Genesis 41:45).
The fact that each of their Jewish names included some reference to the Lord probably indicated that they had godly parents. Perhaps their early upbringing by godly parents is one reason they stood for God in Babylon.
1:7 Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel [the name] of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego.
Belteshazzar – Bel protect his (the king’s) life?
Shadrach – a (possible) corruption of Marduk.
Meshach – explanation not known.
Abednego – servant of (the god) Nabu.
7. Gave names. The new names given to the Hebrew youth signified their adoption
into the Babylonian court, a custom that has several parallels in Biblical history. Joseph
received an Egyptian name when entering court life in Egypt (Genesis 41:45), and
Hadassah’s name was changed to Esther (Esther 2:7), probably when she became queen.
This custom is also attested among the Babylonians from ancient sources. The Assyrian
king Tiglathpileser III adopted the name Pulu (Biblical Pul) when he became king of
Babylon (see on 1Chronicles 5:26; see Vol. II, pp. 156, 157), and Shalmaneser V seems to
have borne the name Ululai in the same office.
Belteshazzar. The Hebrew and Aramaic transliteration, representing the later,
Masoretic pronunciation of a Babylonian name. Though scholars have proposed various
identifications with Babylonian forms, none is entirely satisfactory. In view of
Nebuchadnezzar’s remark made many years later, that Daniel’s Babylonian name had
been given “according to the name of my god” (Daniel 4:8), it appears evident that the first
syllable, “Bel,” refers to Bel, the popular name of Babylon’s chief god, Marduk.
The best identification seems to be “Bel protect his [the king’s] life.”
Shadrach. The name is inexplicable in Babylonian. Some scholars have conjectured
that the name is a corruption of Marduk, whereas others have tried to explain it with the
help of Sumerian words. Jensen suggested it was the name of the Elamite god Shutruk,
but it is difficult to explain why an Elamite name should have been given by the
Babylonians.
Meshach. A satisfactory explanation as to the origin of this name has not yet been
found. Like Shadrach, Meshach is not a Babylonian name.
Abed–nego. It is generally agreed that this name stands for ‘Ebed–Nebo, “servant of
[the god] Nabu,” a name that is attested by an Aramaic papyrus found in Egypt.
Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names:
Here we learn that Ashpenaz, the chief of the king’s eunuchs, gives new names to these four Hebrew youths. These new names would bestow honor upon the Babylonian gods instead of the God of the Hebrews. This was likely done in honor both to the Babylonian gods and to King Nebuchadnezzar. These new Babylonian names also served to complete their immersion into the new pagan culture.
For he gave unto Daniel [the name] of Belteshazzar;
Daniel’s name is changed to Belteshazzar meaning: “Prince of Bel” or “Bel protect the king.” Bel is the Babylonian word for Lord and was used to refer to Marduk, the chief god of Babylon.
And to Hananiah, of Shadrach;
Hananiah’s name is changed to Shadrach meaning: “Command of Aku.” Aku was the Babylonian god of the moon.
And to Mishael, of Meshach;
Mishael’s name is changed to Meshach meaning “Who is what Aku is?” Note that the divine name of the Hebrew God within his original name is simply replaced with the name of Aku.
And to Azariah, of Abednego.
Azariah’s name is changed to Abednego meaning “The servant of Nebo.” Nebo, also known as Nabu, was the son of Marduk and was the Babylonian god of wisdom.
Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names – This practice is common in Oriental courts. It is “possible” that this changing of their names may have been designed to make them forget their country, and their religion, and to lead them more entirely to identify themselves with the people in whose service they were now to be employed, though nothing of this is intimated in the history. Such a change, it is easy to conceive, might do much to make them feel that they were identified with the people among whom they were adopted, and to make them forget the customs and opinions of their own country. It is a circumstance which may give some additional probability to this supposition, that it is quite a common thing now at missionary stations to give new names to the children who are taken into the boarding–schools, and especially the names of the Christian benefactors at whose expense they are supported. Compare the same general character, for this change of names may have been, that the name of the true God constituted a part of their own names, and that thus they were constantly reminded of him and his worship. In the new names given them, the appellation of some of the idols worshipped in Babylon was incorporated, and this might serve as remembrancers of the divinities to whose service it was doubtless the intention to win them.
For he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar – The name Belteshazzar is compounded of two words, and means “Bel’s prince;” that is, he whom Bel favors. “Bel” was the principal divinity worshipped at Babylon (Isaiah 46:1), and this name would, therefore, be likely to impress the youthful Daniel with the idea that he was a favorite of this divinity, and to attract him to his service. It was a flattering distinction that he was one of the favorites of the principal god worshipped in Babylon, and this was not improbably designed to turn his attention from the God whose name had been incorporated in his own. The giving of this name seemed to imply, in the apprehension of Nebuchadnezzar, that the spirit of the gods was in him on whom it was conferred. See Daniel 4:8–9.
And to Hananiah, of Shadrach – The name “Hananiah” means, “whom Jehovah has graciously given,” and is the same with Ananias (Greek, Ananias), and would serve to remind its possessor of the name of “Jehovah,” and of his mercy. The name Shadrach (shadrak) means “young friend of the king;” or “rejoicing in the way,”. In either signification it would contribute to a forgetfulness of the interesting significancy of the former name, and tend to obliterate the remembrance of the early training in the service of Jehovah.
And to Mishael, of Meshach – The name “Mishael” means “who is what God is?” – from “who,” “what,” and “God.” It would thus be a remembrancer of the greatness of God; of his supremacy over all his creatures, and of his “incomparable” exaltation over the universe. The signification of the name “Meshach” is less known. The Persian word means a little sheep, but why this name was given we are not informed. Might it have been on account of his beauty, his gentleness, his lamb–like disposition? If so, nothing perhaps would be better fitted to turn away the thoughts from the great God and his service to himself.
And to Azariah, of Abednego – The name “Azaziah” means “whom Jehovah helps,” from “to help,” and “Jah” (a shortened form of Jehovah), This name, therefore, had a striking significancy, and would be a constant remembrancer of the true God, and of the value of his favor and protection. The name Abed–nego means “a servant of Nego,” or perhaps of “Nebo”. This word “Nebo,” among the Chaldeans, probably denoted the planet Mercury. This planet was worshipped by them, and by the Arabs, as the celestial scribe or writer. The Divine worship paid to this planet by the Chaldeans is attested by the many compound proper names of which this name forms a part; as Nebuchadnezzar, Nebushasban, Nabonedus, Nabonassar, Nabonabus, etc.. This change of name, therefore, was designed to denote a consecration to the service of this idol–god, and the change was eminently adapted to make him to whom it was given forget the true God, to whom, in earlier days, he had been devoted. It was only extraordinary grace which could have kept these youths in the paths of their early training, and in the faithful service of that God to whom they had been early consecrated, amidst the temptations by which they were now surrounded in a foreign land, and the influences which were employed to alienate them from the God of their fathers.
No Different Plan Now.–When Daniel was in Babylon, he was beset with temptations of which we have never dreamed, and he realized that he must keep his body under. He purposed in his heart that he would not drink of the king’s wine or eat of his dainties. He knew that in order to come off a victor, he must have clear mental perceptions, that he might discern between right and wrong. While he was working on his part, God worked also, and gave him “knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” This is the way God worked for Daniel; and He does not propose to do any differently now. Man must cooperate with God in carrying out the plan of salvation. (RH April 2, 1889).  [4BC 1166.6]
An Intelligent Decision.–As Daniel and his fellows were brought to the test, they placed themselves fully on the side of righteousness and truth. They did not move capriciously, but intelligently. They decided that as flesh–meat had not composed their diet in the past, it should not come into their diet in the future, and as wine had been prohibited to all who should engage in the service of God, they determined that they would not partake of it. The fate of the sons of Aaron had been presented before them, and they knew that the use of wine would confuse their senses, that the indulgence of appetite would be–cloud their powers of discernment. These particulars were placed on record in the history of the children of Israel as a warning to every youth to avoid all customs and practises and indulgences that would in any way dishonor God.  [4BC 1166.7]
Daniel and his companions knew not what would be the result of their decision; they knew not but that it would cost them their lives; but they determined to keep the straight path of strict temperance even when in the courts of licentious Babylon. (YI Aug. 18, 1898).  [4BC 1167.1]
1:8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
Daniel – a pious Jew – would choose not to eat:
unclean meats
beasts not killed according to Levitical law (Leviticus 17:14–15)
meat where a portion had first been offered as a sacrifice to pagan gods
luxury and unhealthful food/drink – would be contrary to the strict principles of temperance.
and for Daniel and his 3 friends the added desire to avoid:
flesh–food diets – such would interfere with the physical, mental and spiritual development.
More than a desire or a hope for goodness – they willed to do right and to shun evil.
Victory possible only by the right exercise of the will (SC48) and by their faith in God.
8. Not defile himself. There were several reasons why a pious Jew would avoid eating
of the royal food: (1) the Babylonians, like other pagan nations, ate unclean meats (see
CD 30); (2) the beasts had not been properly killed according to Levitical law (Leviticus
17:14, 15); (3) a portion of the animals eaten was first offered as a sacrifice to pagan gods
(see Acts 15:29); (4) the use of luxurious and unhealthful food and drink was contrary to
strict principles of temperance; (5) for Daniel and his friends there was the added desire
to avoid a flesh–food diet (see EGW, Supplementary Material on Daniel 1:8). The Hebrew
youth determined to do nothing that would interfere with physical, mental, and spiritual
development.
By the time Daniel and the others arrived in Babylon, they had traveled (by foot probably) some 1,000 miles over a period of two  months [20]. In view of the special instructions given to Ashpenaz, it seems safe to conclude that they must have been fairly well taken care of. But, compared to the table laden with the “kings’ meat and wine,” their rations, up to this point, must have been quite meager.
• [20] God Cares by Mervyn Maxwell Vol.1, pages 15, 16
Nevertheless, in spite of the sumptuous table spread out before him and a ravenous appetite, the temptation to partake of the king’s dainties must have been enormous. But Daniel ignoring his fleshly desires made up his mind how he would relate to this situation. “Daniel and his companions [had] enjoyed the benefits of correct training and education in early life, but these advantages alone would not have made them what they were. The time came when they must act for themselves . . .” [21] and that “time” was now!  There was no hesitation recorded in the account, and whatever the cost, they were ready to let the consequences be what they may.
• [21] Child Guidance by E.G. White page 167
So, he approached the prince and made a special request “not to defile himself” which sounds rather abrupt especially in the ear of one who thought this the best food available to mankind! But, in spite of the wording here, “they did not move capriciously, but intelligently. They decided that as flesh–meat had not composed their diet in the past, it should not come into their diet in the future, and as wine had been prohibited to all who should engage in the service of God, they determined that they would not partake of it. The fate of the sons of Aaron had been presented before them, and they knew that the use of wine would confuse their senses, that the indulgence of appetite would be–cloud their powers of discernment.” [22]
• [22] Seventh–day Adventist Bible Commentary Vol. 4, page 1166, 1167 (bottom right column to top of left)
It should be remembered, however, that “the Lord’s Passover” was to “be unto [them] a memorial . . . a feast unto the Lord throughout their generations . . . an ordinance for ever.” In that service the Israelites were required to kill a lamb, sprinkle its blood on the doorpost and eat its flesh roasted “with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat of it” (Exodus12:12, 14, 6–8).
Note in Daniel 10:3 that Daniel said “I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth . . . till three whole weeks were fulfilled” implying that he did eat and drink those articles at other times. Needless to say, the meat was prepared in a very special way so that no blood contamination was in it and the “wine” was unfermented unlike that which was found on the king’s table.
(8) Daniel’s decision to be faithful.
That he would not defile himself: The ancient Hebrew word defile carries the thought of polluting or staining (see also Isaiah 59:3, Zephaniah 3:1, and Malachi 1:7). That Daniel requested that he might not defile himself implies that he explained the spiritual basis for his request. He didn’t make it seem that he wanted to avoid the king’s food out of other reasons.
Therefore he requested: Daniel made a big deal over a little thing. The only way to go on with God is to be faithful in little things. We might ask, “Daniel, why bring religion into it?” But Daniel realized that his relationship with God touched every area of his life, including what he ate. Significantly, the root of sin goes back to eating forbidden food.
That he might not defile himself: Daniel and his friends considered the king’s food defiled for at least three reasons. First, it undoubtedly was not kosher. Second, it was probably sacrificed to idols. Third, eating the king’s food implied fellowship with Babylon’s cultural system.
Daniel did not object to the name given to him, because he knew who he was and others could call him what they wanted. Daniel did not object to the Babylonian education, because he knew what he believed. Daniel did object to the food from the king’s table because eating it was direct disobedience to God’s word.
By eastern standards to share a meal was to commit one’s self to friendship; it was of covenant significance.
Nor with the wine which he drank: God did not forbid drinking wine. Nevertheless, in pagan cultures most wine and meat was dedicated to the gods, so Daniel and his friends refused it.
Therefore he requested: Daniel made a remarkably courageous decision, especially when we think of all the reasons why it was a hard decision to make.
The king ordered the menu. Rejecting the menu was rejecting the king, and could result in severe punishment.
Refusing the food might have branded them as being uncooperative, and could have spoiled all chances of advancement (many other Hebrew youths did eat the food).
There was a real threat of punishment. Ancient kings were well known for the severe and often sadistic punishments against those who crossed them. Nebuchadnezzar was capable of great cruelty. He murdered the sons of one king of Judah before the king’s eyes then immediately gouged out the eyes of the king, so his last memory would always be the murder of his sons (Jeremiah 39:6–7). Other rulers of Judah were literally roasted to death over a fire (Jeremiah 29:22).
The food itself was no doubt pretty attractive, and seemed a much better alternative than eating a vegetarian diet and water for three years.
Mere distance made this challenging. Separated from family and home, it was easy to compromise.
It was easy to think that God had let them down by allowing them to be carried away into Babylon. These exiles, kidnapped from Jerusalem, might have said: “Why should we risk our neck for a God who let me down?” Yet they were committed to obedience even if God did not fulfill their expectations.
Daniel purposed in his heart: In this, Daniel illustrated how to conquer a difficult trial and glorify God before others in the midst of testing.
First, the heart must be set. Daniel purposed in his heart, making up his mind beforehand that he would not compromise.
The life must be positive. Daniel found favor with his superiors.
Protest must be courteous. Daniel requested to be excused from the king’s table. He made a polite request, showing discretion. Making a stand for Jesus Christ does not mean we must be obnoxious.
Self–denial must be sought. Daniel and his friends knew this would cost them something, yet they were willing.
The test must be boldly put.
But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not
Despite the new Babylonian identity imposed upon him, Daniel resolves, determines, makes up his mind, and purposes in his heart to stand firm in his spiritual beliefs and deeply–held convictions. Despite the consequences, Daniel refuses to buckle under the heavy weight of the king’s desires. Here we can clearly see Daniel’s fear of the Lord far outweighs his fear of men – even the king of the known world!
This verse is compelling as it demonstrates Daniel’s resolve in the face of great temptation. After all, Daniel and his fellow captives are in a strange new place. It is typical human nature to seek to adapt and fit into our new environment as soon as possible. After being given a new name, Daniel is offered the rich and savory foods and wine directly from the king’s table. This is a chance for Daniel to drown himself in excess. Today, how many people seek refuge and comfort in rich food and in strong drink? Daniel’s strength of character teaches us how to live righteously even in the midst of great spiritual darkness.
Defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank:
Defile” meaning to pollute, desecrate, soil or stain. Daniel is resolute in his decision not to desecrate his God–given body with the delicacies at the king’s table. The Jewish law forbade the eating of unclean foods and meats, including pork, which was undoubtedly served in the king’s palace. While no such prohibition existed in wine in moderation, the king’s food and drink were dedicated to the Babylonian gods before being served, which made it instantly impure, despite its contents or style of preparation. Daniel refused to sanction the idolatrous behavior of his captors.
Nevertheless, we can imagine the temptation that Daniel might have had seeing the sumptuous feasts that Nebuchadnezzar enjoyed on a daily basis. Still, his spiritual eyes recognize the desecration and reject the temptation. Daniel chose “rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.” (Hebrews 11:25)
Therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs
Despite Daniel’s holy resolve, he still respects the authority that has been placed over him. He does not attempt to incite a rebellion or to cause a scene. Instead, he goes directly to the proper place within the chain of command, Ashpenaz, to make his request known.
That he might not defile himself.
Ashpenaz was likely perplexed by Daniel’s unique request. After all, what could Daniel possibly gain by rejecting the delicacies at the king’s table?
(8) Evidently Daniel took the initiative with this decision, and his three friends followed his lead. His decision was not to remain morally pure but to remain ceremonially pure. Ceremonial purity was something that concerned only the most faithful Jews. Jews who were careful to remain ceremonially pure would have been equally careful to preserve their moral and ethical purity. Daniel wanted to please the Lord in every respect, not just in the most important moral aspects of his life (cf. 1Corinthians 10:1-4; 1Corinthians 10:6; 1Corinthians 10:14). Undoubtedly the meat and wine that they refused had been offered to the Babylonian gods (Marduk [or Bel], Nebo, Ishtar, etc.) since it came from the king’s table (cf. 2Kings 25:29). These young men faced a situation common to every modern Christian youth. They could be a part of the crowd and submit to peer pressure to get ahead. Or they could do what they knew would please their God though it might involve persecution and cost them advancement opportunities.
But Daniel purposed in his heart – Evidently in concurrence with the youths who had been selected with him. See Daniel 1:11–13. Daniel, it seems, formed this as a “decided” purpose, and “meant” to carry it into effect, as a matter of principle, though he designed to secure his object, if possible, by making a request that he might be “allowed” to pursue that course Daniel 1:12, and wished not to give offence, or to provoke opposition. What would have been the result if he had not obtained permission we know not; but the probability is, that he would have thrown himself upon the protection of God, as he afterward did Daniel 6, and would have done what he considered to be duty, regardless of consequences. The course which he took saved him from the trial, for the prince of the eunuchs was willing to allow him to make the experiment, Daniel 1:14. It is always better, even where there is decided principle, and a settled purpose in a matter, to obtain an object by a peaceful request, than to attempt to secure it by violence.
That he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat – see Daniel 1:5. The word which is rendered “defile himself” is commonly used in connection with “redemption,” its first and usual meaning being to redeem, to ransom. In later Hebrew, however, it means, to be defiled; to be polluted, to be unclean. The “connection” between these significations of the word is not apparent, unless, as redemption was accomplished with the shedding of blood, rendering the place where it was shed defiled, the idea came to be permanently attached to the word. The defilement here referred to in the case of Daniel probably was, that by partaking of this food he might, in some way, be regarded as countenancing idolatry, or as lending his sanction to a mode of living which was inconsistent with his principles, and which was perilous to his health and morals. The Syriac renders this simply, “that he would not eat,” without implying that there would be defilement.
Nor with the wine which he drank – As being contrary to his principles, and perilous to his morals and happiness.
Therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself – That he might be permitted to abstain from the luxuries set before him. It would seem from this, that he represented to the prince of the eunuchs the real danger which he apprehended, or the real cause why he wished to abstain – that he would regard the use of these viands as contrary to the habits which he had formed, as a violation of the principles of his religion; and as, in his circumstances, wrong as well as perilous. This he presented as a “request.” He asked it, therefore, as a favor, preferring to use mild and gentle means for securing the object, rather than to put himself in the attitude of open resistance to the wishes of the monarch. What “reasons” influenced him to choose this course, and to ask to be permitted to live on a more temperate and abstemious diet, we are not informed. Assuming, however, what is apparent from the whole narrative, that he had been educated in the doctrines of the true religion, and in the principles of temperance, it is not difficult to conceive what reasons “would” influence a virtuous youth in such circumstances, and we cannot be in much danger of error in suggesting the following:
• (1) It is not improbable that the food which was offered him had been, in some way, connected with idolatry, and that his participation in it would be construed as countenancing the worship of idols. It is known that a part of the animals offered in sacrifice was sold in the market; and known, also, that splendid entertainments were often made in honor of particular idols, and on the sacrifices which had been offered to them. Compare 1Corinthians 8:1–13. Doubtless, also, a considerable part of the food which was served up at the royal table consisted of articles which, by the Jewish law, were prohibited as unclean. It was represented by the prophets, as one part of the evils of a captivity in a foreign land, that the people would be under a necessity of eating what was regarded as unclean. Thus, in Ezekiel 4:13 : “And the Lord said, Even thus shall the children of Israel eat their defiled bread among the Gentiles, whither I will drive them.” Hosea 9:3 : “they shall not dwell in the Lord’s land, but Ephraim shall return to Egypt; and shall eat unclean things in Assyria.” “It was customary among the ancients to bring a portion of what was eaten and drank as an offering to the gods, as a sign of thankful recognition that all which men enjoy is their gift. Among the Romans these gifts were called “libamina,” so that with each meal there was connected an act of offering. Hence Daniel and his friends regarded what was brought from the royal table as food which had been offered to the gods, and therefore as impure.”
• (2) Daniel and his friends were, doubtless, restrained from partaking of the food and drink offered to them by a regard to the principles of temperance in which they had been educated, and by a fear of the consequences which would follow from indulgence. They had evidently been trained in the ways of strict temperance. But now new scenes opened to them, and new temptations were before them. They were among strangers. They were noticed and flattered. They had an opportunity of indulging in the pleasures of the table, such as captive youth rarely enjoyed. This opportunity, there can be no doubt, they regarded as a temptation to their virtue, and as in the highest degree perilous to their principles, and they, therefore, sought to resist the temptation. They were captives – exiles from their country – in circumstances of great depression and humiliation, and they did not wish to forget that circumstance. Their land was in ruins; the temple where they and their fathers had worshipped had been desecrated and plundered; their kindred and countrymen were pining in exile; everything called them to a mode of life which would be in accordance with these melancholy facts, and they, doubtless, felt that it would be in every way inappropriate for them to indulge in luxurious living, and revel in the pleasures of a banquet.
But they were also, doubtless, restrained from these indulgences by a reference to the dangers which would follow. It required not great penetration or experience, indeed, to perceive, that in their circumstances – young men as they were, suddenly noticed and honored – compliance would be perilous to their virtue; but it did require uncommon strength of principle to meet the temptation. Rare has been the stern virtue among young men which could resist so strong allurements; seldom, comparatively, have those who have been unexpectedly thrown, in the course of events, into the temptations of a great city in a foreign land, and flattered by the attention of those in the higher walks of life, been sufficiently firm in principle to assert the early principles of temperance and virtue in which they may have been trained. Rare has it been that a youth in such circumstances would form the steady purpose not to “defile himself” by the tempting allurements set before him, and that, at all hazards, he would adhere to the principles in which he had been educated.
Verse 8 is obviously a key verse for anyone facing pressure from the ways of Babylon. Daniel resolved, or as the KJV says ‘Daniel purposed in his heart‘, not to defile himself. They could change his name but they couldn’t change his heart! He was not swayed by the lure of Babylon even though he lived right in it’s midst. So think about the affect that the world has on your life? Is there a difference between the desires of your life and of those who don’t know the Lord? Because it is fair to say that non–Christians watch you a lot more than you think. And they watch and are interested in your actions more than your words. So watch what you’re doing!
Proverbs 25:26 states: “A righteous man falling down before the wicked [is as] a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring.
If Daniel had given up his convictions and just become like the other Babylonians (as they wanted) then the Bible says he would have become like a muddied spring or a polluted well. That is, he would have become someone that once had the ability to give life and sustain the thirsty… but now was useless for that which it had been created! But thankfully, Daniel had a greater resolve than that! And strengthen by his faith, he wasn’t someone who was going to buckle… and nor should we.
Friends and fellowship
Having spoken about Daniel’s resolve to stay true to God’s word in these trying conditions, it is also useful to note that he didn’t do this totally alone. God allowed his three friends to be there with him in this test. What do we take from this? It is important to have godly friends around you that can support you. It is important to maintain fellowship with like minded believers. God helps us in our trials but one of the methods He uses is support from fellow believers. Don’t be an island all unto yourself. We are bombarded in this world with ‘Babylonian’ systems and beliefs. Fellowship with God is crucial but fellowship with godly friends comes next. A key element in the Christian life is the community of believers.
So we read above that Daniel and his friends decided to only eat “pulse” – vegetables – instead of defiling himself with the King’s food and wine. [23] But notice that they still acted wisely in this graciously asking permission of the chief official. They didn’t demand anything, get snarky or go on a hunger strike. We need to remember that the chief official was putting his life on the line here as well as he states. King Nebuchadnezzar could be highly unpredictable and wouldn’t want sickly looking servants coming into his presence! But Daniel, in his wisdom [24], opposes a 10 day test. So would God honor such commitment or would Daniel and his friends be headed for the chop?
• [23] A useful comment on this from the Bible Knowledge Commentary concerning ‘defilement’.
• [24] Proverbs 9:1 says that Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars. James possibly picks up on this and lists 7 attributes of wisdom saying ‘The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. (James 3:17)’ In Daniel’s wise, gentle, reasonable, gracious response to this situation we see these characteristics in play.
‘Nebuchadnezzar had made abundant provision for the captives. Theirs was a life of luxury, not deprivation, for they were given a portion of food and wine daily from the king’s own table. However, this food did not conform to the requirements of the Mosaic Law. The fact that it was prepared by Gentiles rendered it unclean. Also no doubt many things forbidden by the Law were served on the king’s table, so to partake of such food would defile the Jewish youths. Further, without doubt this royal food had been sacrificed and offered to pagan gods before it was offered to the king. To partake of such food would be contrary to Exodus 34:15, where the Jews were forbidden to eat flesh sacrificed to pagan gods. Similar problems would arise in drinking the wine… Daniel’s desire was to please God in all he did. So he resolved that even though he was not in his own land but in a culture that did not follow God’s laws, he would consider himself under the Law. He therefore asked the chief court official to be excused from eating and drinking the food and wine generously supplied by the king. Daniel was courageous, determined, and obedient to God.’
Good Behavior Gained Favor.–This officer saw in Daniel good traits of character. He saw that he was striving to be kind and helpful, that his words were respectful and courteous, and his manner possessed the grace of modesty and meekness. It was the good behavior of the youth that gained for him the favor and love of the prince. (YI Nov. 12, 1907).  [4BC 1167.2]
1:9 Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.
God works with those who cooperate with him – Divine power + human effort. (PK482)
God acted but Daniel’s character was doubtless one of gentleness, courtesy and fidelity to win the favour of his superiors.
9. Into favour. Compare the experience of Joseph (Genesis 39:4, 21), of Ezra (Ezra
7:28), and of Nehemiah (Neh. 2:8). It was doubtless the gentleness, courtesy, and fidelity
displayed by these men that won for them the favor of their superiors (see PP 217; CD
31). At the same time they attributed their success to the blessing of God. God works
with those who cooperate with Him. See p. 750.
The request must have stunned Ashpenaz. Never in his life had he been confronted with anything like this. To think that anybody would consider themselves polluted by eating the king’s food would be ludicrous if not downright rude! But, Daniel “… did not fly into a passion, neither did he express a determination to eat and drink as he pleased. Without speaking one word of defiance, he took the matter to God… With true courage and Christian courtesy, Daniel presented the case to the officer who had them in charge . . .” [25]
• [25] Testimonies to Ministers by E.G. White page 263
But, “Christian courtesy” nor diplomacy would be enough in such circumstance. Here we see that God worked a miracle on the heart of this heathen man who bent over backwards  to accommodate this strange request.
The results of Daniel’s courageous decision.
(9) God gave Daniel favor and goodwill with the authorities.
God had brought Daniel into favour: God did not abandon those who stood for Him. Daniel entrusted himself to God and God came through – though it was no doubt a stretching experience for Daniel and his friends.
Into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs: God moved upon the authorities so they regarded Daniel with goodwill; but God also worked through the wise actions of Daniel to cultivate this goodwill.
Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love
God has a great purpose for Daniel’s life, which will require favor within the Babylonian courts. Note that God is the source of this favor (Hebrew: checed) and compassion (Hebrew: racham) towards Daniel. “Racham” implies a tender love or tender mercies and can even be translated as “womb”, such as in Ezekiel 20:26.
With the prince of the eunuchs.
God steers the mind and heart of Ashpenaz, the chief of the eunuchs, to demonstrate favor, compassion, and mercy towards Daniel. This God–given compassion opens the heart of Ashpenaz to Daniel’s unusual request.
Now God had brought Daniel into favor – Compare Genesis 39:21; Proverbs 16:7. By what means this had been done is not mentioned. It may be presumed, however, that it was by the attractiveness of his person and manners, and by the evidence of promising talent which he had evinced. Whatever were the means, however, two things are worthy of notice:
• (1) The effect of this on the subsequent fortunes of Daniel. It was to him a great advantage, that by the friendship of this man he was enabled to carry out the purposes of temperance and religion which he had formed, without coming in conflict with those who were in power.
• (2) God was the author of the favor which was thus shown to Daniel. It was by a controlling influence which he exerted, that this result had been secured, and Daniel traced it directly to him. We may hence learn that the favor of others toward us is to be traced to the hand of God, and if we are prospered in the world, and are permitted to enjoy the friendship of those who have it in their power to benefit us, though it may be on account of our personal qualifications, we should learn to attribute it all to God. There would have been great reason to apprehend beforehand, that the refusal of Daniel and his companions to partake of the food prepared for them would have been construed as an affront offered to the king, especially if it was understood to be on the ground that they regarded it as “defilement” or “pollution” to partake of it; but God overruled it all so as to secure the favor of those in power.
(9–13) Daniel established a good relationship with the officials in direct authority over him, especially the overseer (steward, Daniel 1:11). He received a favorable response (Hebrew hesed, loyal love, and rahamim, compassion) when he proposed a ten-day dietary test. But it was God who moved the overseer’s heart (cf. 1Kings 8:50; Psalms 106:46), another indication of God’s sovereignty. Notice that Daniel did not rebel against the restrictions that his elders placed upon him. Instead he courteously requested permission to abstain, and then, having received an encouraging response, he offered a positive alternative course of action.
Daniel proposed a vegan diet. Daniel was relying on God to cause him and his friends to look better at the end of the test period-miraculously.
1:10 And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which [are] of your sort? then shall ye make [me] endanger my head to the king.
10. Endanger my head. The sentence reads literally, “Ye make my head punishable
with the king.” The expression does not imply capital penalty, but, as James A.
Montgomery has shown, simply means that the chief eunuch would be held responsible if
those who had been committed to him deteriorated physically.
Probably the farthest thing in the mind of the king while he was giving orders to Ashpenaz in verses 3 to 5 was that he be expected to heed the wishes of his captives!  Neither did the prince have any allusions about the results of Daniel’s refusing to eat what the king provided. His head would come off, not Daniel’s! So it was really quite miraculous that he did not immediately brush off Daniel’s request. So, although he may have been ready to listen, he was hesitant.
And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel,
Ashpenaz will now respond to Daniel’s request with a God–given compassion and favor.
I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink:
The fact that Ashpenaz’s heart has been softened to the plight of Daniel and his friends is clearly seen by the transparency he expresses to Daniel in this statement. As one of the king’s most trusted advisors, Ashpenaz feels – and openly expresses – a sincere reverence and moral duty to keep the commands of Nebuchadnezzar, who has “assigned” (meaning to appoint or allot, in an official sense.) Ashpenaz admits openly the moral conflict he is feeling between being faithful to his king and to honor the request of Daniel, towards whom he suddenly feels a God–inspired sense of compassion and favor.
For why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which [are] of your sort?
Daniel’s request to be given only vegetables to eat and water to drink likely perplexed Ashpenaz. In a land of plenty, why would Daniel and his friends desire such a restricted diet? He feared that such a strict diet would cause the youths to become emaciated and pitiful in appearance as compared to their peers.
Then shall ye make [me] endanger my head to the king.
Finally, Ashpenaz confesses his deepest fear regarding Daniel’s request. It is doubtful that Ashpenaz’s fears were unfounded as openly disobeying the king’s orders would likely carry a stiff penalty, including beheading. Hidden within Ashpenaz’s fearful statement is a deep question aimed at Daniel: “Why would you endanger my life over this matter? Is it really that important to you?” Ashpenaz wants Daniel to fully comprehend the weightiness of his request, along with the possible repercussions. Considering the cost to Ashpenaz, the fact that he would even entertain the idea of violating the king’s commands in order to honor Daniel’s wishes, which would risk his position – and likely his life, is proof of God’s intervention into the man’s mind and heart.
And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king – He was apprehensive that if Daniel appeared less healthful, or cheerful, or beautiful, than it was supposed he would under the prescribed mode of life, it would be construed as disobedience of the commands of the king on his part, and that it would be inferred that the wan and emaciated appearance of Daniel was caused by the fact that the food which had been ordered had not been furnished, but had been embezzled by the officer who had it in charge. We have only to remember the strict and arbitrary nature of Oriental monarchies to see that there were just grounds for the apprehensions here expressed.
For why should he see your faces worse liking – Margin, “sadder.” The Hebrew word means properly, angry; and then morose, gloomy, sad. The primary idea seems to be, that of “any” painful, or unpleasant emotion of the mind which depicts itself on the countenance – whether anger, sorrow, envy, lowness of spirits, etc. – stern, gloomy, sad, Matthew 6:16; Luke 24:17. Here the reference is not to the expression of angry feelings in the countenance, but to the countenance as fallen away by fasting, or poor living. “Than the children.” The youths, or young men. The same word is here used which occurs in Daniel 1:4.
Which [are] of your sort? – Margin, “term,” or “continuance.” The Hebrew word here used means, properly, a circle, or circuit; hence an age, and then the men of an age, a generation. The word is not used, however, in the Scriptures elsewhere in this sense. Elsewhere it is rendered “joy,” or “rejoicing,” Job 3:22; Psalms 43:4; Psalms 45:15; Psalms 65:12; Proverbs 23:24; Isaiah 16:10; Isaiah 35:2; Isaiah 65:18; Jeremiah 48:33; Hosea 9:1; Joel 1:16. This meaning it has from the usual sense of the verb “to exult,” or “rejoice.” The verb properly means, to move in a circle; then to “dance” in a circle; and then to exult or rejoice. The word “circle,” as often used now to denote those of a certain class, rank, or character, would accurately express the sense here. Thus we speak of those in the “religious” circles, in the social circles, etc.. The reference here is to those of the same class with Daniel; to wit, in the arrangements made for presenting them before the king. Greek – of your age.
Then shall ye make [me] endanger my head to the king – As if he had disregarded the orders given him, or had embezzled what had been provided for these youths, and had furnished them with inferior fare. In the arbitrary courts of the East, nothing would be more natural than that such an apparent failure in the performance of what was enjoined would peril his life. The word used here, and rendered “make [me] endanger” – occurs nowhere else in the Bible. It means to make guilty; to cause to forfeit. Greek – you will condemn, or cause me to be condemned.
(10–13) Daniel suggests a plan.
Prove thy servants: Daniel saw the situation through the steward’s eyes and addressed his legitimate concerns. He wouldn’t let the chief of the eunuchs pay the price for Daniel’s conscience. In it all, Daniel was willing to put himself and his faith in God to the test.
There was something so reasonable about Daniel’s approach. He could have gone on a hunger strike or made some other kind of protest. Instead he made a polite request, he made it to the right person and said, “Put us to the test.”
In this sense we might say that Daniel made a godly and wise compromise with the chief of the eunuchs. He certainly did not compromise in an ungodly way, but he showed the wisdom James 3:17  speaks of: But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, [and] easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
Martyrs by proxy, who have such strong convictions that they think it somebody else’s duty to run risk for them, are by no means unknown.
“It is of no use for a man to say, ‘I have made up my mind upon certain things,’ and to keep doggedly fighting over those matters, while, at the same time, the whole of his life is unkind, ungenerous, and unlovable. Yes, by all manner of means be a martyr if you like; but do not martyr everybody else.”
Pulse to eat, and water to drink: Vegetables refers to all kinds of grains and plants, not strictly vegetables. Basically, this was a vegetarian diet, chosen because the meat at the king’s table was not prepared in a kosher manner or it was sacrificed to idols.
Daniel was not presumptuous and he did not wrongly test God in this situation, because he had both a command to obey and a promise to trust. Exodus 23:25 says, And ye shall serve the LORD your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water.
1:11 Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,
Melzar – guardian or warden (akkadian) – actual name of the immediate tutor is not known.
11. Melzar. Hebrew word which, according to recently recovered Babylonian
cuneiform records, was obviously derived from the Akkadian word which means
“guardian,” or “warden.” The presence of “the” in the Hebrew is further indication that a
proper name was not intended. Hence, the name of the lower official who acted as
immediate tutor of the Hebrew apprentices is not known. Although Ashpenaz had been
friendly and sympathetic to Daniel’s request, he nevertheless hesitated to help the young
captive. Hence, Daniel went to the official who was the immediate tutor and placed
before him a specific request.
Then said Daniel to Melzar,
The KJV translates this word “steward” as Melzar, which is more literal translation of the Hebrew word, “meltsar,” which is a Babylonian title meaning a “butler” or an “overseer.”
Whom the prince of the eunuchs had set
It is interesting that once Ashpenaz demonstrates a great reluctance to Daniel’s request, Daniel immediately takes his request to an overseer appointed by Ashpenaz. As evidence of his wisdom, even at a tender age, Daniel escalates his sincere request to the highest level of power first. Daniel foresaw the potential danger that would await those who looked to King Nebuchadnezzar for their daily bread. Daniel and his friends were apparently committed to a spartan lifestyle that allowed them to remain spiritually alert. But don’t miss the danger present within this message. It may not have the same intensity as Daniel’s night in the lion’s den, but the concern that Daniel and his friends felt was no doubt very real. Remember, verse 8 told us that “Daniel resolved,” once again meaning that he had “determined,” “made up his mind,” and had already “purposed in his heart” that he would allow the demonically–infiltrated and utterly wicked kingdom of Babylon to break him. To turn back now would be to violate his very own deeply–held convictions, while simultaneously shaming himself, as well as the power of his God, before the pagan officials within the Babylonian court.
Wisdom Key: Treasure your testimony and protect it at all costs. When your testimony is on the line, “make up your mind” and “purpose in your heart” to defend it.
Over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,
The conversation that Daniel is preparing to have with this overseer will not just impact him, but his three friends as well. Apparently, Daniel’s friends trusted him to speak on their behalf.
Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel … – Margin, or, the “steward.” It is not easy to determine whether the word here used is to be regarded as a proper name, or the name of an office. It occurs nowhere else, except in Daniel 1:16, applied to the same person. Gesenius regards it as denoting the name of an office in the Babylonian court – master of the wine, chief butler. Others regard it as meaning a treasurer. The word is still in use in Persia. The Vulgate renders it as a proper name – Malasar; and so the Syriac – Meshitzar; and so the Greek – Amelsad. The use of the article in the word would seem to imply that it denoted the name of an “office,” and nothing would be more probable than that the actual furnishing of the daily portion of food would be entrusted to a steward, or to some incumbent of an office inferior to that sustained by Ashpenaz, Daniel 1:3.
(11–13) Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.
So, what happened to Ashpenaz? Here we see Daniel proposing his plan to Melzar [26] whom Ashpenaz had placed over them.  Consequently, in view of Ashpenaz’s hesitancy, we can assume he left the final decision to his underling, likely to distance himself from the situation and be able to cast the blame on Melzar in case things did not turn out well. It would be Melzar’s head not his!
• [26] “Melzar . . . according to recently recovered Babylonian cuneiform records . . . means ‘guardian,’ or ‘warden.’  . . . indication that a proper name was not intended. Hence, the name of the lower official who acted as immediate tutor of the Hebrew apprentices is not known. Although Ashpenaz had been friendly and sympathetic to Daniel’s request, he nevertheless hesitated to help . . .” (Seventh–day Adventist Bible Commentary Vol.4 page 760 top right column)
Daniel, of course, was aware of and fully sympathetic with Ashpenaz’s plight. He knew why he was now speaking to Melzar and understood that God was giving him an opening for the realization of his request. But he did not take advantage of the situation by demanding his diet be changed “from now on!” He made it easy for Melzar and asked only for a “ten days” trial and then decide based on what he saw. His suggestion contained the basic elements of what  we could call “the scientific method.” The other captives could be thought of as “controls,” Daniel’s plan could be the “hypothesis,” and the results confirmed or failed by observation.
The “pulse” Daniel requested are ordinary vegetables [27]. The liquid he requested, just water.
• [27] “pulse” from: “zeroa” vegetables “as sown” (Strong’s #2235) or “’food derived from plants,’ such as cereals and vegetables. According to Jewish tradition, berries and dates were also comprehended in the term. Since dates are a part of the staple food of Mesopotamia, they seem likely to have been included here.” (Seventh–day Adventist Bible Commentary page 761 left column, 2nd paragraph)
1:12 Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.
12. Ten days. This seems a short period of time in which to produce any appreciable
change in appearance and physical vigor. But habits of strict temperance had already
provided Daniel and his companions with fundamentally sound constitutions (see PK
482) that responded to the benefits of a proper diet. Their recuperation from the rigors of
the long march from Judea was, without doubt, more pronounced than that of other
captives who had not already formed abstemious habits. Now, in the case of Daniel and
his three companions, divine power was united with human effort, and the result was
truly remarkable (cf. PP 214). The blessing of God attended the noble resolution of the
youths not to defile themselves with the king’s dainties. They knew that indulgence in
stimulating foods and drinks would prevent them from securing the highest physical and
mental development. The Melzar felt certain that “an abstemious diet would render these
youth pale and sickly in appearance …, while the luxurious food from the king’s table
would make them ruddy and beautiful, and would impart superior physical activity” (CD
31), and he was surprised when the results were quite the opposite.
God honored these young men because of their unswerving purpose to do what was
right. The approbation of God was dearer to them than the favor of the most powerful
earthly potentate, dearer even than life itself (see CD 31). Nor had the firm resolution
been born under the pressure of immediate circumstances. From childhood these young
men had been trained in strict habits of temperance. They knew of the degenerating
effects of a stimulating diet, and had long ago determined not to enfeeble their physical
and mental powers by indulgence in appetite. The end of the period found them superior
in physical appearance, physical activity, and mental vigor.
Daniel did not refuse the viands of the king in order to be singular. Many might
reason that under the circumstances there was plausible excuse for departing from strict
adherence to principle and that consequently Daniel was narrow, bigoted, and too
particular. Daniel sought to live at peace with all and to cooperate to the fullest extent
possible with his superiors as long as such cooperation did not require him to sacrifice
principle. When fealty to Jehovah was involved, he was willing to sacrifice worldly
honor, wealth, position, yea, even life itself.
Pulse. Hebrew zero‘im, “food derived from plants,” such as cereals and vegetables.
According to Jewish tradition, berries and dates were also comprehended in the term.
Since dates are a part of the staple food of Mesopotamia, they seem likely to have been
included here. See on v. 8.
Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days;
The number ten and the concept of being “tested” are uniquely associated throughout scripture. For example, consider 1) the Ten Commandments, 2) the concept of the tithe, being a tenth, as a “test” of our faith, 3) the ten plagues sent upon Pharaoh’s Egypt, and 4) the ten days of testing for the saints described in Revelation 2:10. Therefore, it is not surprising that Daniel challenges the overseer to “test” or “prove” he and his friends for a period of ten days.
And let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.
The original word for “vegetables” here is “zeroa`”, which is derived from the Hebrew word “zera”, meaning “seed.” The word construction implies that Daniel’s request is to eat only something that has been “sown.” This includes vegetables, along with any other foods that originate from a seed; pulse. Pulse meaning beans, peas, lentils, etc. These are the types of foods that Daniel and his friends requested, as opposed to the sumptuous and rich meals that the king had assigned to them, which likely included a variety of meats and starches. To replace the wine and other available beverages, Daniel and his friends requested only water.
Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days – A period which would indicate the probable result of the entire experiment. If during that period there were no indications of diminished health, beauty, or vigour, it would not be unfair to presume that the experiment in behalf of temperance would be successful, and it would not be improper then to ask that it might be continued longer.
And let them give us pulse to eat – Margin, “of pulse that we may eat.” Hebrew, “Let them give us of pulse, and we will eat.” The word “pulse” with us means leguminous plants with thin seeds; that is, plants with a pericarp, or seed–vessel, of two valves, having the seeds fixed to one suture only. In popular language the “legume” is called a “pod;” as a “pea–pod,” or “bean–pod,” and the word is commonly applied to peas or beans. The Hebrew word would properly have reference to seeds of any kind – from to disperse, to scatter seed, to sow. Then it would refer to plants that bear seed, of all kinds, and would be by no means limited to pulse – as pease or beans. It is rendered as “seed–herbs, greens, vegetables; i.e., vegetable food, such as was eaten in half–fast, opposed to meats and the more delicate kinds of food.” The word occurs only here and in Daniel 1:16. It is rendered in the Vulgate, “legumina;” and in the Greek – “from seeds.” It is not a proper construction to limit this to “pulse,” or to suppose that Daniel desired to live solely on pease or beans; but the fair interpretation is to apply it to what grows up from “seeds” – such, probably, as would be sown in a garden, or, as we would now express it, “vegetable diet.” It was designed as an experiment – and was a very interesting one – to show the legitimate effect of such a diet in promoting beauty and health, and the result is worthy of special notice as contrasted with a more luxurious mode of life.
And water to drink – This, also, was a most interesting and important experiment, to show that wine was not necessary to produce healthfulness of appearance, or manly strength and beauty. It was an experiment to illustrate the effect of “cold water” as a beverage, made by an interesting group of young men, when surrounded by great temptations, and is, therefore, worthy of particular attention.
1:13 Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.
From childhood, these young men had been trained in strict habits of temperance. They knew of the degenerating effects of a stimulating diet, and had long ago determined not to enfeeble their physical and mental powers by indulgence in appetite.
Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat:
After Daniel appeals to the overseer to permit him and his friends to consume only vegetables and other natural foods along with only water to drink instead of the food and wine portions assigned by the king, he tells the overseer to compare their appearance with the others. This is a wise move as the primary concern of Ashpenaz and the overseer regarding Daniel’s request is that the king will notice the “appearance” of the youths due to their strict diet.
And as thou seest, deal with thy servants.
By requesting this strict diet on a ten–day trial basis, Daniel has wisely provided the overseer a way out. While his first inclination may be to deny Daniel’s request, the overseer realizes that he is only consenting for a brief period with the option of terminating the experiment after just ten days. The methods employed by Daniel in approaching his captors regarding this very important request displays his wisdom. And the fact that his captors agree to Daniel’s request shows God’s obvious divine intervention in the matter.
Then let our countenances be looked upon – One of the “objects” to be secured by this whole trial was to promote their personal beauty, and their healthful appearance Daniel 1:4–5, and Daniel was willing that the trial should be made with reference to that, and that a judgment should be formed from the observed effect of their temperate mode of life. The Hebrew word rendered countenance is not limited to the “face,” as the word countenance is with us. It refers to the whole appearance, the form, the “looks;” and the expression here is equivalent to, “Then look on us, and see what the result has been, and deal with us accordingly” The Greek is – our appearance.
Of the children – Youths; young men. Notes, Daniel 1:4. The reference is, probably, to the Chaldean youths who were trained up amidst the luxuries of the court. It is possible, however, that the reference is to Hebrew youths who were less scrupulous than Daniel and his companions.
And as thou seest, deal with thy servants – As the result shall be. That is, let us be presented at court, and promoted or not, as the result of our mode of living shall be. What the effect would have been if there had been a failure, we are not informed. Whether it would have endangered their lives, or whether it would have been merely a forfeiture of the proffered honors and advantages, we have no means of determining. It is evident that Daniel had no apprehension as to the issue.
So Daniel lives on only vegetables and water… God looks after Him, just as He promised in Psalm 33, because Daniel fears the Lord and puts God first. And after the 10 days he even ends up fatter on vegetables than those eating the King’s choice food. Now that is a miracle! What can we take from this?
Daniel encourages our faith
We need a simple, uncomplicated faith. A faith that says God watches and God cares, and God acts. The Christians that really know God seem to be blessed by what I would call a ‘divine simplicity’. They know the character of God and this makes all the difference. It is also worth pointing out the spiritual lesson provided here with this food. The choice ‘food’ of Babylonian may seem attractive and nice but it won’t sustain you like that which God gives. All too many feed exclusively on what the world offers and ultimately find it to be ‘junk food’. It tastes good initially but only leads to further problems, emptiness and discontentment. Stick with what the Lord offers!
1:14 So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.
Ten days – not a long time to see a visible change.
So, to Melzar, there was nothing to lose. A period of “ten days” would be unlikely to produce a profound change in appearance.
Pulse” must have looked pretty bland and unappetizing to the others who were indulging themselves of the king’s meat and wine with great enthusiasm.  Daniel and his friends likely bore the brunt of many jokes as their companions judged the humble fare granted the four faithful men.  As it is, we have no way of judging what kind of background the others came from, but, at least, some must have come from circumstances similar to Daniel’s and his three companions. While the others were also “children of . . . of the king’s seed, and of the princes” (verse 3); many of them may have favored Jehoiakim and his pro–Egyptian policies and looked askance at Jeremiah’s warnings to cooperate with their captors. At this point, being held captive by a foreign nation, it was an easy matter to rationalize abandoning any dietary restriction they may have held in the past, for now it had become a matter of survival to cooperate with the king. Certainly, God would not hold them accountable—so they thought. So, “situation ethics” is not new. Most are more than willing to adjust their theology to coincide with the perceived needs of the moment.
So he consented to them in this matter,
After hearing Daniel’s request, the overseer “consented to them.” The Hebrew word for this phrase is shama` meaning “to hear intelligently,” “to carefully consider,” or “to consent.” This word shama` is derived from the same word used for “hear” in the familiar Hebrew phrase, “Hear, O Israel: THE LORD OUR GOD [IS] ONE LORD:” (Deuteronomy 6:4)
And proved them ten days.
After carefully considering their request, and no doubt with the full support of Ashpenaz, his supervisor, the overseer consents to Daniel’s request, allowing him to be tested with a restrictive diet for ten days. It is likely that Daniel and his friends felt a tremendous sense of relief that their request was accepted. Why? Based on Daniel’s strength of character and unwavering devotion to his God, Daniel’s resolve to not eat the king’s food would have led to immediate conflict. As we will see in later chapters, Daniel refuses to submit to any and all requests that violate God’s laws. (As does his friends, as we will see in Chapter 3.) But because God gave Daniel “favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs” (verse 9), Daniel and his friends are spared from the king’s wrath.
In our age of constant spiritual compromise, Daniel’s courageous allegiance to God, even when it could endanger his life, serves as a wonderful example. This same boldness is later encapsulated in the bold declaration “We ought to obey God rather than men.” by the Apostle Peter when he and the other Apostles are ordered by the Sanhedrin to stop preaching the Good News of Christ. (Acts 5:29)
So he consented to them in this matter – Hebrew, “he heard them in this thing.” The experiment was such, since it was to be for so short a time, that he ran little risk in the matter, as at the end of the ten days he supposed that it would be easy to change their mode of diet if the trial was unsuccessful.
(14–16) Daniel and his companions are blessed for their faithfulness.
So he consented to them in this matter: This was the hand of God at work. The chief of the eunuchs had all the power in this situation. Daniel and his friends seemed to be completely at his mercy. Yet God moved upon this man, and he consented with them in this matter.
Their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh: This was the hand of God at work. There was no biological reason why a vegetarian diet should make them appear better and fatter. Perhaps their diet would make them appear the same as the other Jewish young men who ate the king’s food, but not better and fatter.
(14–16) God gave the young men better (fatter, i.e., healthier) appearances by natural or by supernatural means. The result of the test encouraged their supervisor to continue feeding them a diet of things grown in the ground. This is the meaning of the rare Hebrew word translated “pulse” or “vegetables”. God blessed these three young men because they followed His will, not because they ate “pulse” instead of meat.
Daniel’s Tempters.–In taking this step, Daniel did not act rashly. He knew that by the time he was called to appear before the king, the advantage of healthful living would be apparent. Cause would be followed by effect. Daniel said to Melzar, who had been given charge of him and his companions: “Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat and water to drink.” Daniel knew that ten days would be time enough to prove the benefit of abstemiousness. . . .  [4BC 1167.3]
Having done this, Daniel and his companions did still more. They did not choose as companions those who were agents of the prince of darkness. They did not go with a multitude to do evil. They secured Melzar as their friend, and there was no friction between him and them. They went to him for advice, and at the same time enlightened him by the wisdom of their deportment. (YI Sept. 6, 1900).  [4BC 1167.4]
1:15 And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.
In view of what appears to be a low calorie diet, at least in comparison to the high fat diet of their peers  the result of this experiment is truly remarkable. But, “fatter” from the Hebrew word “bariy” can also be understood to mean “firm” [28] or even strong.
• [28] For example Psalms 73:4  “but their strength [is] firm.”
And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer
After the 10–day trial diet of only natural foods and water, the Bible declares that Daniel and his friends “better in appearance.” The Hebrew word “towb” is the word translated as “better” in this verse. Its particular construct literally means “beautiful to the sight.”
And fatter in flesh
The Hebrew word “Bari” is translated as “fatter” in this verse. It carries the meaning of “fat” “plentiful” or “plump.” This is an important statement as Ashpenaz’ primary concern was that the strict diet of Daniel and his friends would leave them with an emaciated appearance.
Than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.
The text leaves us to assume that “all” (Hebrew: “kol,” meaning “the whole, all”) of the other young captives, taken along with Daniel and his friends, compromised God’s law under the weight of Babylon. Remember that Judah had become a terribly wicked place the final generations leading up to the Babylonian captivity. This wickedness pervaded the royal family and the nobility. So, it is a fair assumption that “all the youths” referred to were quick to embrace their new home. While they were still captives, they ate from the king’s table, drank strong wine (Babylonian wine was undiluted, unlike in Judah), and had potentially bright futures awaiting them in the Babylonian courts. The text is clear; only Daniel and his friends display the courage needed to resist the temptations of abandoning the laws of their God and surrendering their Hebrew identities while in Babylon.
And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer – Hebrew, “good;” that is, they appeared more beautiful and healthful. The experiment was successful. There was no diminution of beauty, of vigour, or of the usual indications of health. One of the results of a course of temperance appears in the countenance, and it is among the wise appointments of God that it should be so. He has so made us, that while the other parts of the body may be protected from the gaze of men, it is necessary that the “face” should be exposed. Hence, he has made the countenance the principal scat of expression, for the chief muscles which indicate expression have their location there. Hence, there are certain marks of guilt and vice which always are indicated in the countenance. God has so made us that the drunkard and the glutton must proclaim their own guilt and shame.
The bloated face, the haggard aspect, the look of folly, the “heaviness of the eye, the disposition to squint, and to see double, and a forcible elevation of the eyebrow to counteract the dropping of the upper eyelid, and preserve the eyes from closing,” are all marks which God has appointed to betray and expose the life of indulgence. God meant that if man “would” be intemperate he should himself proclaim it to the world, and that his fellow–men should be apprised of his guilt. This was intended to be one of the safeguards of virtue. The young man who will be intemperate “knows” what the result must be. He is apprised of it in the loathsome aspect of every drunkard whom he meets. He knows that if he yields himself to indulgence in intoxicating drink, he must soon proclaim it himself to the wide world.
No matter how beautiful, or fresh, or blooming, or healthful, he may now be; no matter how bright the eye, or ruddy the cheek, or eloquent the tongue; the eye, and the cheek, and the tongue will soon become indices of his manner of life, and the loathsomeness and offensiveness of the once beautiful and blooming countenance must pay the penalty of his folly. And in like manner, and for the same reason, the countenance is an indication of temperance and purity. The bright and steady eye, the blooming cheek, the lips that eloquently or gracefully utter the sentiments of virtue, proclaim the purity of the life, and are the natural indices to our fellow–men that we live in accordance with the great and benevolent laws of our nature, and are among the rewards of temperance and virtue.
The God who watches…
Does God watch and act for those who fear Him and put Him first? We know from scripture that he does watch and He certainly does act when it is required [29]. Psalm 33:13–19 for it is very clear on this point.
• [29] God watches, He notes and He acts. God is well able to look after His own. Whether it is Daniel in Babylon, Joseph in Egypt, Moses in the backside of the desert or even you! We are not called to totally separate ourselves from this world mind you. We are called to be in it, like Jesus was, but not of it (and yes, like Jesus again!)
1:16 Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.
Pulse – food derived from plants, such as cereals and vegetables. As per Jewish tradition, berries and dates would have probably been included; dates being a part of the staple food of Mesopotamia.
Melzar, who probably understood that Daniel was a real favorite of Ashpenaz (see verse 9) and that he would have to accept the blame for an unfavorable outcome, tacitly understood he was not to consult Ashpenaz. The responsibility was his. But, having seen the result, he felt very comfortable allowing this unusual exception. Also, being willing to take responsibility, he probably curried favor for himself with Ashpenaz.
In the meantime, Daniel and his companions must have been made laughing stocks. But, they were patient. Obviously, it did not affect their appetites. They probably laughed along with the rest and took it all in good spirit.  Did the other captives note the discrepancy in their appearance compared with Daniel and his friends? A ten–fold difference would be difficult to ignore. Ashpenaz and the butler certainly observed it, and made the arrangement permanent.
As it was, the “joke” was on the other captives; and while the jocularity may have been silenced, we have no information as to whether any of the others might have decided to adopt Daniel’s dietary commitment to see if they too would realize its health benefits.
As old fashioned as it may seem even in our day, recent scientific investigation has shown that a plant based diet, first introduced to our parents in the garden of Eden when “God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat” (Genesis 1:19), is still best and would protect us from most of the degenerative diseases that have been afflicting us such as cancer and heart disease. So, Daniel’s stand has not gone out of date; rather it was way ahead of his time!
Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink;
Here we see God’s faithfulness to Daniel’s refusal to bow to the will of Babylon. The food and wine that had been designated for them were taken away from their midst. While Daniel and his friends may be in Babylon, they had no desire to allow Babylon to be in them. Therefore, they made no room within themselves for the dainties provided by the king.
When God’s people are confronted by the spirit of Babylon, it often comes in the disguise of external things, such as “food and wine.” While the actions may seem innocent, they carry with them the adoption of a Babylonian lifestyle. In wisdom, Daniel knew that gaining his daily sustenance from the king’s table was no ordinary action. Not only was it a clear violation of God’s dietary laws, but it would likely dull his spiritual senses and potentially cause him to take ease in embracing of a Babylonian lifestyle. Daniel’s spiritual sobriety was one of the only defenses that remained for him to battle the spirit of Babylon that had infiltrated his land and his people.
And gave them pulse.
Note that it is the Babylonian overseer gives Daniel and his friends “vegetables” (Hebrew: “zeroa`”). Daniel’s obedience to God and his refusal to break His commandments, even in such a tumultuous time is admirable. When we are faced with overwhelming circumstances, or even extreme cultural pressures, it can be tempting to condone small violations of God’s commands in order to prevent persecution. But Daniel’s example clearly shows that when our faith, hope, and trust remains fixed in God, He will provide what we need. And, as in Daniel’s case, God can even use the hands of our mortal enemies to deliver our needs! Nothing is too difficult for our God.
Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat … – Doubtless permanently. The experiment had been satisfactory, and it was inferred that if the course of temperance could be practiced for ten days without unhappy results, there would be safety in suffering it to be continued.
That the experiment was a most important one, not only for the object then immediately in view, but for furnishing lessons of permanent instruction adapted to future times. It was worth one such trial, and it was desirable to have one such illustration of the effect of temperance recorded.
It was especially desirable that the experiment should be made of the effect of strict abstinence from the use of “wine.” Distilled liquors were indeed then unknown; but alcohol, the intoxicating principle in all ardent spirits, then existed, as it does now, in wine, and was then, as it is now, of the same nature as when found in other substances. It was in the use of wine that the principal danger of intemperance then lay; and it may be added, that in reference to a very large class of persons of both sexes, it is in the use of wine that the principal danger always lies. A trial could scarcely have been made under better circumstances than in the case before us. There was every inducement to indulgence which is ever likely to occur; there was as much to make it a mere matter of “principle” to abstain from it as can be found now in any circumstances, and the experiment was as triumphant and satisfactory as could be desired.
The result of the experiment:
It was complete and satisfactory. “More” was accomplished in the matter of the trial by abstinence than by indulgence. Those who abstained were more healthful, more beautiful, more vigorous than the others. And there was nothing miraculous – nothing that occurred in that case which does not occur in similar cases.
The experiment has often been made, and with equal success, in modern times, and especially since the commencement of the temperance reformation, and an opportunity has been given of furnishing the most decisive proofs of the effects of temperance in contrast with indulgence in the use of wine and of other intoxicating drinks. This experiment has been made on a wide scale, and with the same result. It is demonstrated, as in the case of Daniel, that “more” will be secured of what men are so anxious usually to obtain, and of what it is desirable to obtain, than can be by indulgence.
• (1) There will be “more” beauty of personal appearance. Indulgence in intoxicating drinks leaves its traces on the countenance – the skin, the eye, the nose, the whole expression – as God “meant” it should. See the notes at Daniel 1:15. No one can hope to retain beauty of complexion or countenance who indulges freely in the use of intoxicating drinks.
• (2) “More” clearness of mind and intellectual vigour can be secured by abstinence than by indulgence. It is true that stimulating drinks may excite the mind to brilliant temporary efforts; but the effect soon ceases, and the mind makes a compensation for its over–worked powers by sinking down below its proper level as it had been excited above. It will demand a penalty in the exhausted energies, and in the incapacity for even its usual efforts, and unless the exhausting stimulus be again applied, it cannot rise even to its usual level, and when often applied the mind is divested of “all” its elasticity and vigour; the physical frame loses its power to endure the excitement; and the light of genius is put out, and the body sinks to the grave. He who wishes to make the most of his mind “in the long run,” whatever genius he may be endowed with, will be a temperate man. His powers will be retained uniformly at a higher elevation, and they will maintain their balance and their vigour longer.
• (3) the same is true in regard to everything which requires vigour of body. The Roman soldier, who carried his eagle around the world, and who braved the dangers of every clime – equally bold and vigorous, and hardy, and daring amidst polar snows, and the burning sands of the equator – was a stranger to intoxicating drinks. He was allowed only vinegar and water, and his extraordinary vigour was the result of the most abstemious fare.
• (4) the full force of these remarks about temperance in general, applies to the use of “wine.” It was in respect to “wine” that the experiment before us was made, and it is this which gives it, in a great degree, its value and importance. Distilled spirits were then unknown, but it was of importance that a fair experiment should be made of the effect of abstinence from wine. The great danger of intemperance, taking the world at large, has been, and is still, from the use of wine. Every “principle” which applies to the temperance cause at all, applies to the use of wine; and every consideration derived from health, beauty, vigour, length of days, reputation, property, or salvation, which should induce a young man to abstain from ardent spirits at all should induce him to abstain, as Daniel did, from the use of wine.
God’s Blessing No Substitute for Effort.–When the four Hebrew youth were receiving an education for the king’s court in Babylon, they did not feel that the blessing of the Lord was a substitute for the taxing effort required of them. They were diligent in study; for they discerned that through the grace of God their destiny depended upon their own will and action. They were to bring all their ability to the work; and by close, severe taxation of their powers, they were to make the most of their opportunities for study and labor.  [4BC 1167.5]
While these youth were working out their own salvation, God was working in them to will and to do of His good pleasure. Here are revealed the conditions of success. To make God’s grace our own, we must act our part. The Lord does not propose to perform for us either the willing or the doing. His grace is given to work in us to will and to do, but never as a substitute for our effort. Our souls are to be aroused to cooperate. The Holy Spirit works in us, that we may work out our own salvation. This is the practical lesson the Holy Spirit is striving to teach us. (YI Aug. 20, 1903).  [4BC 1167.6]
Because Daniel and his friends were faithful God blessed them with superior wisdom and intelligence.
Honor Without Exaltation.–Daniel and his three companions had a special work to do. Although greatly honored in this work, they did not become in any way exalted. They were scholars, being skilled in secular as well as religious knowledge; but they had studied science without being corrupted. They were well–balanced because they had yielded themselves to the control of the Holy Spirit. These youth gave to God all the glory of their secular, scientific, and religious endowments. Their learning did not come by chance; they obtained knowledge by the faithful use of their powers; and God gave them skill and understanding.  [4BC 1167.7]
True science and Bible religion are in perfect harmony. Let the students in our schools learn all they possibly can. But, as a rule, let them be educated in our own institutions. Be careful how you advise them to go to other schools, where error is taught, in order to complete their education. Do not give them the impression that greater educational advantages are to be obtained by mingling with those who do not seek wisdom from God. The great men of Babylon were willing to be benefited by the instruction that God gave through Daniel, to help the king out of his difficulty by the interpretation of his dream. But they were anxious to mix in their heathen religion with that of the Hebrews. Had Daniel and his fellows consented to such a compromise, they would, in the view of the Babylonians, have been complete as statesmen, fit to be entrusted with the affairs of the kingdom. But the four Hebrews entered into no such arrangement. They were true to God, and God upheld them and honored them. The lesson is for us. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”. (Letter 57, 1896).  [4BC 1167.8]
1:17 As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
The 4 young men learned the skills and sciences of the Chaldeans without adopting the intermingled heathen elements.
Daniel – chosen by God as the special messenger to interpret the dreams in Chaldean format.
17. These four children. See on v. 4.
Knowledge and skill. The instruction that Daniel and his three friends received was
for them also a test of faith. The wisdom of the Chaldeans was allied with idolatry and
pagan practices, and mixed sorcery with science, and learning with superstition. From
these things the Hebrew learners kept themselves aloof. How they avoided conflicts we
are not told, but despite the corrupting influences they held fast to the faith of their
fathers, as later tests of loyalty clearly show. The four young men learned the skills and
sciences of the Chaldeans without adopting the heathen elements mingled with them.
Among the reasons why these Hebrews preserved their faith unsullied may be noted
the following: (1) Their firm resolution to remain true to God. They had more than a
desire or a hope for goodness. They willed to do right and to shun evil. Victory is
possible only by the right exercise of the will (see SC 48). (2) Their dependence on the
power of God. Though they valued human capabilities and recognized the necessity of
human effort, they knew that these things of themselves would not guarantee success.
They recognized that in addition to this there must be humble dependence and full
reliance on God’s power (see CD 154). (3) Their refusal to blunt their spiritual and moral
natures by indulgence in appetite. They realized that a single departure from principle
would have weakened their sense of right and wrong, which in turn would probably have
led to other wrong acts, and in the end to complete apostasy (see CD 155). (4) Their
consistent prayer life. Daniel and his youthful companions realized that prayer was a
necessity, especially because of the atmosphere of evil that constantly surrounded them (see SL 20).
Visions and dreams. While Daniel’s three friends were, like him, endowed with
exceptional mental qualities, and equaled him in loyalty to their God, he was chosen as
God’s special messenger. Some modern scholars who deny that there is a genuine gift of
prophecy have advanced the notion that this verse indicates that Daniel had a special gift
for learning the Chaldean way of interpreting dreams and visions, and that in school
contests on this subject he excelled his fellow students. Daniel did not belong to this type
of dream interpreters. His prophetic gift was not the product of a successful training in
the school of the royal soothsayers, sorcerers, and magicians. He was called of God to do
a special work, and became the recipient of some of the most important prophecies of all
time (see Chapters 7–12).
But, the success noted at the end of the ten–day trial period, did not end there. As their three year training period progressed, God’s blessings were very evident. But “they did not feel that the blessing of the Lord was a substitute for the taxing effort required of them. They were diligent in study; for they discerned that through the grace of God their destiny depended upon their own will and action. They were to bring all their ability to the work; and by close, severe taxation of their powers, they were to make the most of their opportunities for study and labor.” [30]
• [30] Seventh–day Adventist Bible Commentary Vol. 4, page 1167
And there was much for them to study because the Babylonians were “scholars in the true sense. . . . Their astronomical knowledge had attained to a surprisingly high degree of development . . . [their] Astronomers were able to predict both lunar and solar eclipses by computation. Their mathematical skill was highly developed. They employed formulas whose discovery is erroneously but generally attributed to Greek mathematicians. Furthermore, they were good architects, builders, and acceptable physicians, who had found by empirical means the cure for many ailments.” [31] Therefore Babylonian civilization was far less backward then we might think and the demands placed on the ability of Daniel and peers must have been awesome even by today’s standards!
• [31] Seventh–day Adventist Bible Commentary Vol. 4, page 763
As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom:
Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are given divine knowledge and intelligence to comprehend the vast amounts of Babylonian literature and wisdom that they must absorb over the following three years. This “literature and wisdom” included a variety of sciences, mathematics, and ancient writings. The Babylonians had a different approach to the sciences and mathematics, which would have been new to the Hebrew captives. The difficulty in absorbing ancient Babylonian literature, which included works like the Epic of Gilgamesh, is best summed up in an old Sumerian proverb: “He who would excel in the school of the scribes must rise with the dawn.” Larges amounts of ancient Babylonian literature was regurgitated from the stories hand–carved into much earlier Sumerian clay tablets. But God eased the task of learning all of this new material for Daniel and his friends because He had great plans for their future. They were to shine as God’s light in the Babylonian darkness. In order to gain influence over the king, and to be taken seriously within their newfound culture, these four young men would need supernatural wisdom, which God provides.
God’s pattern of exploiting worldly learning and wisdom for His own purposes has a precedent in the life of Moses who “was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.” (Acts 7:22)
And Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
While all four youths had been blessed with supernatural understanding to successfully digest their intense training by the Babylonians, the Bible singles out Daniel alone as being gifted with an “understanding in all visions and dreams.” The Hebrew word for understanding in this verse is “biyn”, meaning “to separate mentally” or “to distinguish.” Put simply, Daniel had supernatural discernment in all dreams (Hebrew: “chalowm”) and visions (Hebrew: “chazown”).
Chalowm” is almost always translated as “dream(s)” throughout the Old Testament. It is used of normal dreams in sleep, and of dreams of divine origin revealing hidden truths.
Chazown” is used 35 times throughout the Old Testament, but never before the Book of 1Samuel. It appears most often within the prophetic books and is usually translated as “vision(s)”. It carries the idea of divine revelation.
The ancient Babylonian culture greatly prized the ability to interpret dreams and visions. Political leaders, like King Nebuchadnezzar, surrounded themselves with soothsayers, diviners, and magicians for their supposed ability to foretell the future and to issue divine warnings of future calamity. The fact that God endows Daniel with this supernatural discernment of dreams and visions in the midst of a culture that highly valued such giftings helped him rise to great power within the Babylonian court in short order. Daniel was living proof of Proverbs 18:16 where it says, “A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.
As for these four children – On the word “children,” see Daniel 1:4. Compare Daniel 1:6.
God gave them knowledge and skill – See Daniel 1:9. There is no reason to suppose that in the “knowledge and skill” here referred to, it is meant to be implied that there was anything miraculous, or that there was any direct inspiration. Inspiration was evidently confined to Daniel, and pertained to what is spoken of under the head of “visions and dreams“. The fact that “all” this was to be attributed to God as his gift, is in accordance with the common method of speaking in the Scriptures; and it is also in accordance with “fact,” that “all” knowledge is to be traced to God. See Exodus 31:2–3. God formed the intellect; he preserves the exercise of reason; he furnishes us instructors; he gives us clearness of perception; he enables us to take advantage of bright thoughts and happy suggestions which occur in our own minds, as much as he sends rain, and dew, and sunshine on the fields of the farmer, and endows him with skill. Compare Isaiah 28:26, “For his God doth instruct him to discretion, [and] doth teach him.” The knowledge and skill which we may acquire, therefore, should be as much attributed to God as the success of the farmer should. Compare Job 32:8, “But [there is] a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” In the case before us, there is no reason to doubt that the natural powers of these young men had been diligently applied during the three years of their trial Daniel 1:5, and under the advantages of a strict course of temperance; and that the knowledge here spoken of was the result of such an application to their studies. On the meaning of the words “knowledge” and “skill“, see Daniel 1:4.
In all learning and wisdom – See Daniel 1:4.
And Daniel had understanding – Showing that in that respect there was a special endowment in his case; a kind of knowledge imparted which could be communicated only by special inspiration. The margin is, “he made Daniel understand.” The margin is in accordance with the Hebrew, but the sense is the same.
In all visions – On the word rendered “visions” – it is a term frequently employed in reference to prophecy, and designates the usual method by which future events were made known. The prophet was permitted to see those events “as if” they were made to pass before the eye, and to describe them “as if” they were objects of sight. Here the word seems to be used to denote all supernatural appearances; all that God permitted him to see that in any way shadowed forth the future. It would seem that men who were not inspired were permitted occasionally to behold such supernatural appearances, though they were not able to interpret them. Thus their attention would be particularly called to them, and they would be prepared to admit the truth of what the interpreter communicated to them. Compare Daniel 4; Daniel 5:5–6; Genesis 40:5; Genesis 41:1–7. Daniel was so endowed that he could interpret the meaning of these mysterious appearances, and thus convey important messages to men. The same endowment had been conferred on Joseph when in Egypt. See the passages referred to in Genesis.
And dreams – One of the ways by which the will of God was anciently communicated to men. Daniel, like Joseph before him, was supernaturally endowed to explain these messages which God sent to men, or to unfold these pre-intimations of coming events. This was a kind of knowledge which the Chaldeans particularly sought, and on which they especially prided themselves; and it was important, in order to “stain the pride of all human glory,” and to make “the wisdom of the wise” in Babylon to be seen to be comparative “folly,” to endow one man from the land of the prophets in the most ample manner with this knowledge, as it was important to do the same thing at the court of Pharaoh by the superior endowments of Joseph Genesis 41:8.
(17–21) Daniel and his companions are blessed and promoted.
God gave them knowledge and skill: The special intellectual ability of Daniel and his companions was not due to their diet, but to the special intervention of the LORD.
Some think their diet had a direct effect on their knowledge.
These young Jewish men gave themselves to the LORD in a remarkable way and God blessed them in a remarkable way.
Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams: This shows that purity of heart and faithfulness to God come before enlightenment in divine mysteries. Daniel would later receive great revelation, but now he simply showed himself a dedicated follower of God.
And among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:: These young men from Jerusalem were immersed in the study of Babylonian culture, literature, and religion; yet they remained faithful to God. The work of the prophets like Jeremiah, Zephaniah and Habakkuk was not in vain. They were in Babylon, but not of Babylon.
And Daniel continued [even] unto the first year of king Cyrus: Daniel had a long, successful career in the worst of circumstances. He worked for tyrants who thought nothing of killing their staff and advisors, much less of firing them. His employer suffered the worst kind of hostile takeover when the Medo–Persian Empire conquered the Babylonian Empire. The seeds of his great success are evident in the very first chapter of the Book of Daniel.
Daniel and his friends show us that inner conviction can overcome any outer pressure, and that God–honoring convictions yield God–given rewards.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. James 1:17
(17) In addition to favor with their overseers, God gave Daniel and his three friends the ability to master the subjects they studied and wisdom in these matters (cf. James 1:5). Nebuchadnezzar had not designed their curriculum, but God. Like Moses and Paul, Daniel had an excellent educational background and an unusually brilliant mind (cf. Acts 7:22; Philippians 3:4). God also gave Daniel the supernatural ability to understand visions and dreams (Daniel 1:17). Visions and dreams were the primary means God used to communicate His revelations to prophets in the Old Testament (Numbers 12:6). Daniel qualified for the blessing of receiving this special gift by choosing to remain loyal to God’s will. Daniel’s similarity to Joseph is again apparent.
In Hebrew usage the wisdom terms of this verse [Daniel 1:4] had ethical religious overtones, for without wholehearted commitment to the Lord and obedience to His will there could be no wisdom (Job 28:28).
The abilities and gifts of these four ‘teenagers’ were God given. Their knowledge, their understanding and their wisdom was all from God. The Bible speaks about the beginning of wisdom and knowledge. [32]
• [32] Please read Proverbs 2:1–11 about knowledge, wisdom and understanding. It is a very interesting passage. What is God looking for from us?
Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of knowledge: [but] fools despise wisdom and instruction.
So these young Jewish boys were 10 times better than any in the whole Babylonian kingdom. That’s God! Is He in the right place in your life? Are you being conformed to the world’s image or being transformed into the Lord’s image? Do you have that divine simplicity of faith that trusts the Lord in trying times? Daniel and his friends may be ‘Stranded in Babylon’, but though in the world, they are not of the world. May we be the same.
1:18 Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar.
Not after 36 months but after the allotted time – by inclusive reckoning covered: Nebuchadnezzar’s
ascension year.
His 1st calendar year, beginning at the next New Year’s Day after his ascension his 2nd regnal year.
18. At the end of the days. Some expositors have thought that when the king required
his wise men to interpret his dream in his 2nd year (Daniel 2:1), Daniel was not called to the
meeting because his schooling was not yet completed, and that he and his friends were
condemned to share the fate of the wise men because they belonged to the profession,
although they were not yet full–fledged members of it. This view cannot be regarded as
correct. The young apprentices were to be trained three years in order to “stand before the
king” (Daniel 1:5); and it was “at the end of the days” specified that they were brought
before the king for examination. Then “stood they before the king” (see on v. 19). This
statement indicates that the three–year training period ended before the king examined
them and “found” that Daniel and his three friends were better than all the other
candidates. This could hardly have taken place after one of them, Daniel, had already
received high honors and had been promoted to the rule of the province and supervision
over all the wise men, and after the other three had been given high office (Daniel 2:46–49).
The logical sequence, as well as the narrative order, requires that Daniel’s three–year
course end before Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in his 2nd year.
All this leads to the conclusion that this was not a period of 36 months; that these
three years must be counted inclusively; they represent (1) Nebuchadnezzar’s accession
year (see on v. 2), in which the Hebrew captives arrived in Babylon and entered their
training; (2) Nebuchadnezzar’s year 1, which was the calendar year beginning at the next
New Year’s Day after his accession; and (3) Nebuchadnezzar’s year 2, in which Daniel
graduated and stood “before the king,” and the year in which he interpreted the dream
(see Daniel 2:1; also PK 491).
By applying the commonly used ancient method of inclusive reckoning, which is
attested in numerous cases as the usual way of counting time (see Vol. II, pp. 136, 137),
there is no need to assert, as modern commentators have done, that Chapter 1 stands
chronologically in contradiction to Chapter 2, or to take recourse in the fanciful or forced
explanations that are found in many commentaries. For example, Jerome declared that the
2nd year of Daniel 2:1 refers to the 2nd year after the conquest of Egypt; and the Jewish scholar
Ibn Ezra thought that it was the 2nd year after the destruction of Jerusalem. Later some
conjectured that Nebuchadnezzar reigned with his father two years (see Vol. III, p. 91).
So, the “prince of the eunuchs” is obviously Ashpenaz. The “end of the days” is not the end of the “ten days,” but of the “three years” mentioned in verse 5. We can imagine that Ashpenaz was the head tutor all through that time and the better his pupils performed, the better it was for him.
Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in,
Earlier, in verse 5, we learned that the Hebrews were “to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king.” This verse moves us forward to the end of this three year training period appointed for the Hebrew captives by King Nebuchadnezzar. Imagine the anxiety many of these youths must have felt to finally stand before the world’s most powerful king to have their newfound knowledge tested.
Then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar.
As ordered, Ashpenaz presents the Hebrew youths before the king.
Now at the end of the days … – After three years. See Daniel 1:5.
The prince of the eunuchs brought them in – Daniel, his three friends, and the others who had been selected and trained for the same purpose.
(18–20) At the end of their three-year curriculum, the four faithful friends received a final examination that included an oral testing by the king himself (cf. Proverbs 22:29). They passed at the head of their class (cf. 1Samuel 2:30). They were around 20 years old at this time. Nebuchadnezzar proceeded to give them positions of significant government responsibility, for which their education had equipped them. In these positions they proved far superior to any of the other officials. “Ten times better” (Daniel 1:20) probably is a hyperbolic idiom meaning many times better (cf. Genesis 31:7; Genesis 31:41; Numbers 14:22; Nehemiah 4:12; Job 19:3).
Daniel also received insight into the future from the Lord (Daniel 1:17), so he would have had better knowledge of the future than the Chaldean astrologers. Chapters 2, 4, 5, and 7-12 validate this claim. There we read of no pagan divining but straightforward prophetic revelation, some in direct answer to prayer. Daniel could write this of himself without boasting, because he credited God with giving him his abilities.
1:19 And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king.
Examination conducted personally by Nebuchadnezzar.
In physical strength and beauty, in mental vigour and literary attainment, they stood unrivalled. (PK485).
The questions asked may have required the explanation of riddles – a favoured sport in the court life of the Oriental countries. Babylonians also masters in the solving of mathematical and astronomical problems. Also, the reading and writing of the difficult cuneiform (wedge–shaped) script. (The hundreds of characters of the old Hittite, Babylonian, Assyrian and Persian writing were impressed by the wedge–shaped facets of a stylus.)
19. Communed with them. When, at the end of the training period, the chief eunuch
presented his graduates to the king, an examination conducted personally by
Nebuchadnezzar proved the four young Hebrews to be superior to all the others. “In
physical strength and beauty, in mental vigor and literary attainment, they stood
unrivaled” (PK 485). The manner of examination is not indicated. From a later
description of Daniel’s abilities given by Belshazzar’s mother, who was probably a
daughter of Nebuchadnezzar, we learn that Daniel was known to her as a man able to
“explain riddles, and solve problems” (Daniel 5:12, RSV). The questions asked may have
required the explanation of riddles, which has always been a favored sport in the court
life of Oriental countries. The examination also may have included the solving of
mathematical and astronomical problems, in which the Babylonians were masters, as
their documents reveal, or a demonstration of ability to read and write the difficult
cuneiform script.
The superior wisdom of Daniel and his youthful companions was not the result of
chance or destiny, or even of a miracle, as that word is usually understood. The young
men applied themselves diligently and conscientiously to their studies, and God blessed
their endeavors. True success in any undertaking is assured when divine and human effort
are combined. Human effort alone avails nothing; likewise divine power does not render
human cooperation unnecessary (see PK 486, 487; cf. PP 214).
Among them all. This may refer to the other Israelite youths (v. 3) brought to
Babylon along with Daniel and his friends, but doubtless also to the young noble captives
from other lands who had received the same training as the Hebrews.
Stood they before the king. Compare v. 5 with Daniel 2:2. That is, they entered the royal
service. For similar usage of the words “stand before,” see Genesis 41:46; 1Samuel 16:21, 22;
2Chronicles 9:7; 10:6, 8; (cf. Numbers 16:9; 27:21; Deuteronomy 10:8; 2Chronicles 29:11).
And the king communed with them;
After three years of intense education through immersion into the Babylonian culture, King Nebuchadnezzar speaks directly with all of the Hebrew youths as they stand before him. Nebuchadnezzar’s goal is clear: To thoroughly test their overall knowledge and to identify the most promising youths within the group.
And among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king.
The divine wisdom and learning abilities given to Daniel and his friends emerge as the king interviews the entire group of Hebrew youths.
And the king communed with them – Hebrew, “spake with them.” Probably he conversed with them on the points which had constituted the principal subjects of their studies; or he “examined” them. It is easy to imagine that this must have been to these young men a severe ordeal.
And among them all was found none like Daniel … – Daniel and his three friends had pursued a course of strict temperance; they had come to their daily task with clear heads and pure hearts – free from the oppression and lethargy of surfeit, and the excitement of wine; they had prosecuted their studies in the enjoyment of fine health, and with the elasticity of spirit produced by temperance, and they now showed the result of such a course of training. Young men of temperance, other things being equal, will greatly surpass others in their preparation for the duties of life in any profession or calling.
Therefore stood they before the king – It is not said, indeed, that the others were not permitted also to stand before the monarch, but the object of the historian is to trace the means by which “these youths” rose to such eminence and virtue. It is clear, however, that whatever may have been the result on the others, the historian means to say that these young men rose to higher eminence than they did, and were permitted to stand nearer the throne. The phrase “stood before the king,” is one which denotes elevated rank. They were employed in honorable offices at the court, and received peculiar marks of the royal favor.
(19–20) And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king. And in all matters of wisdom [and] understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians [and] astrologers that [were] in all his realm.
Here we see the king himself as the examiner. This exercise took a lot of time from his busy schedule, evidence of a keen, inquiring mind and above average intelligence. It is especially intriguing that he would bother to trouble himself with this matter since his interviewees were all from a foreign country. Perhaps troubling thoughts about the quality of his cabinet had already been creeping through his mind and he was grasping at any means whereby he could draw on the talents of the nations he had conquered and thereby solidify his kingdom.
He found “Daniel, Hannaniah, Mishael, and Azariah . . . ten times better than all” the others in his kingdom. Nevertheless, as we shall see in the next chapter, he seems to have forgotten about them for a while.
Spirituality and Intellect Grow Together.–As in the case of Daniel, in exact proportion as the spiritual character is developed, the intellectual capabilities are increased. (RH March 22, 1898).  [4BC 1168.1]
1:20 And in all matters of wisdom [and] understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians [and] astrologers that [were] in all his realm.
20. Wisdom and understanding. Literally, “wisdom of understanding.” Along with
most other translations the KJV follows the ancient versions, which have an “and”
between the words “wisdom” and “understanding.” Certain commentators have explained
the Hebrew construction to be the result of a desire on the part of the author to express
the highest form of understanding or science, or to convey to his readers the thought that
wisdom determined, or regulated, by understanding is meant; hence there was no magical
knowledge or supernatural science. This would suggest that Daniel and his friends
excelled the men of their profession in matters of exact science, such as astronomy and
mathematics, and in matters of linguistic studies. They had mastered cuneiform writing,
the Babylonian and Aramaic languages, and the Aramaic square script.
Magicians. The Hebrew word occurs only in the Pentateuch (Genesis 41:8,
24; Exodus 7:11, 22; 8:7, 18) and in Daniel (here and in Daniel 2:2). It is borrowed from the
Egyptian cheri–dem, in which cheri means “chief,” or “outstanding man,” and dem, “to
mention a name in magic.” Hence a cheri–dem is a “chief of magic,” or “chief magician.”
According to our present knowledge this word was not used in Babylonia, and is nowhere
found in cuneiform sources. Obviously Daniel had become acquainted with the term from
his reading of the Pentateuch, and need not necessarily have been conversant with
Egyptian technical terms. Daniel was well acquainted with the Books of Moses and was a
keen student of the sacred writings of his people (see Daniel 9:2). The use of this Hebrew
loan word from the Egyptian is an illustration of how his style and choice of words were
influenced by the vocabulary of the portion of the Bible then available.
Astrologers. Hebrew ’ashshaphim, a loan word from the Akkadian ashipu, “exorciser.”
Divination, magic, exorcism, and astrology were widespread among the ancient
peoples, but in some countries, like Babylonia, they were practiced by the men of
science. Future events were divined by looking for signs in the entrails of sacrificed
animals or in the flight of birds. Divination was especially practiced by inspecting the
livers of sacrificed animals (hepatoscopy), and comparing them with inscribed “model”
livers of clay. These models, like a modern manual of palmistry, contained detailed
explanations of all form differences and directions for interpretation. Numerous clay liver
models have come to light in the excavations of Mesopotamian sites. Ancient diviners
had many methods. Sometimes they sought advice by pouring oil on water and
interpreting the form of the spreading oil (lecanomancy), or by shaking arrows in the
quiver and looking for the direction in which the first one falls (belomancy). See Ezekiel 21:21.
The diviner also interpreted dreams, worked out incantation formulas by which evil
spirits or sicknesses allegedly could be banished, and asked advice from the supposed
spirits of the dead (necromancy). Every Oriental potentate had many diviners and
magicians in his service. They were at hand on every occasion, and followed their king
on military campaigns, hunting expeditions, and state visits. Their counsel was sought for
various decisions, such as the route to be followed, or the date for an attack on the enemy.
The life of the king was largely regulated and ruled by these men.
It is a mistake to assume that the wise men of Babylon were only diviners and
magicians. Though skilled in these arts, they were also scholars in the true sense. As in
the Middle Ages alchemy was practiced by men of true scholarly education and astrology
was frequently practiced by otherwise scientifically working astronomers, so the
exorcisers and diviners of ancient times engaged also in strictly scientific studies. Their
astronomical knowledge had attained to a surprisingly high degree of development,
although the peak of Babylonian astronomy came after the Persian conquest.
Astronomers were able to predict both lunar and solar eclipses by computation. Their
mathematical skill was highly developed. They employed formulas whose discovery is
erroneously but generally attributed to Greek mathematicians. Furthermore, they were
good architects, builders, and acceptable physicians, who had found by empirical means
the cure for many ailments. It must have been in these branches of knowledge and skill
that Daniel and his three friends exceeded the Babylonian magicians, astrologers, and
scholars.
It couldn’t have been an easy decision for Daniel and his three friends to refuse the generous hospitality of the king of the world empire of Babylon and ask for a plant–based diet. But Daniel and his friends were willing to sacrifice worldly honor, wealth, position, power ––even life itself––for the God who they loved more than all else.
Why were Daniel and his friends so successful in their academic examinations, scoring ten times higher than the next runner–up? Their achievement wasn’t chance. It certainly wasn’t luck, and it wasn’t even a miracle. Here’s their secret:
1. They firmly resolved to remain true to God, and by His strength, carried out their resolution.
2. They exercised complete dependence on the power of God. These young people asked God to help them, and they believed that He would. Then they studied, to bring God glory through their diligence.
3. They were really careful what they chose to eat and drink. They refused to take a bite or sip of anything destructive to their health.
This message is not just for long ago and far away. It can also be your experience if you trust and obey God, like Daniel did. You and I are motivated in our choice to be completely loyal to God by the nail prints in His hands.
And in all matters of wisdom [and] understanding, that the king enquired of them,
King Nebuchadnezzar inquired, or “searched,” the “wisdom” and “understanding” of these four Hebrew youths likely through an intense round of questions.
He found them ten times better than all the magicians [and] astrologers that [were] in all his realm.
The king finds the answers given by these four Hebrews “ten times better” than the answers he had been receiving from his current spiritual advisors. Nebuchadnezzar, however, did not know that Daniel and his friends served the Lord of lords and the King of kings. He simply considered them more greatly blessed by the “gods” with wisdom and understanding than any of his other wise men.
Note the wisdom possessed by Daniel and his friends is described by the king as being “ten” times greater than that given by his other counselors after they are “tested.” The number “ten” and the concept of “testing” are directly connected both in this Chapter (see verse 12) and throughout much of the Bible. (See Daniel 1:12)
Finally, King Nebuchadnezzar’s praise of Daniel and his friends likely engendered jealousy within the ranks of the existing spiritual advisors within the court. However, this is mere speculation as the text remains silent on the matter. However, Daniel’s peers will manifest their jealousy against him in Chapter 6.
And in all matters of wisdom and understanding – Margin, “of.” The Hebrew is, “Everything of wisdom of understanding.” The Greek, “In all things of wisdom “and” knowledge.” The meaning is, in everything which required peculiar wisdom to understand and explain it. The points submitted were such as would appropriately come before the minds of the sages and magicians who were employed as counselors at court.
He found them ten times better – Better counselors, better informed. Hebrew, “ten “hands” above the magicians;” that is, ten “times,” or “many” times. In this sense the word “ten” is used in Genesis 31:7, Genesis 31:41; Numbers 14:22; Nehemiah 4:12; Job 19:3. They greatly surpassed them.
Than all the magicians – The Greek word means, “those singing to;” then those who propose to heal the sick by singing; then those who practice magical arts or incantations – particularly with the idea of charming with songs; and then those who accomplish anything surpassing human power by mysterious and supernatural means. The Hebrew word occurs only in the following places in the Scriptures, in all of which it is rendered “magicians:” – Genesis 41:8, Genesis 41:24; Exodus 7:11, Exodus 7:22; Exodus 8:7 (3), 18 (14), 19 (15); Exodus 9:11; Daniel 1:20; Daniel 2:2. From this it appears that it applied only to the magicians in Egypt and in Babylon, and doubtless substantially the same class of persons is referred to. It is found only in the plural number, “perhaps” implying that they formed companies, or that they were always associated together, so that different persons performed different parts in their incantations.
The word “Mag” or “Mog” (from the magoi of the Greeks, and the “magi” of the Romans) means, properly, a “priest;” and at a very early period the names “Chaldeans” and “Magi” were interchangeable, and both were regarded as of the same class. They were doubtless, at first, a class of priests among the Medes and Persians, who were employed, among other things, in the search for wisdom; who were connected with pagan oracles; who claimed acquaintance with the will of the gods, and who professed to have the power, therefore, of making known future events, by explaining dreams, visions, preternatural appearances, etc.. The Magi formed one of the six tribes into which the Medes were formerly divided, but on the downfall of the Median empire they continued to retain at the court of the conqueror a great degree of power and authority. “The learning of the Magi was connected with astrology and enchantment, in which they were so celebrated that their name was applied to all orders of magicians and enchanters.”
The name “magi,” or “magician,” was so extended as to embrace “all” who made pretensions to the kind of knowledge for which the magi were distinguished, and hence, came also to be synonymous with the “Chaldeans,” who were also celebrated for this. See Daniel 2:2. In the passage before us it cannot be determined with certainty, that the persons were of “Magian” origin, though it is possible, as in Daniel 2:2, they are distinguished from the Chaldeans. All that is certainly meant is, that they were persons who laid claim to the power of diving into future events; of explaining mysteries; of interpreting dreams; of working by enchantments, etc..
[and] astrologers – This word is rendered by the Septuagint, magous, “magians.” So also in the Vulgate, “magos.” The English word “astrologer” denotes “one who professes to foretell future events by the aspects and situation of the stars.” The Hebrew word means “enchanters, magicians.” It is derived, probably, from the obsolete root “to cover,” “to conceal,” and refers to those who were devoted to the practice of occult arts, and to the cultivation of recondite and cabalistic sciences. The word is found only in Daniel, Daniel 1:20; Daniel 2:2, Daniel 2:10, Daniel 2:27; Daniel 4:7; Daniel 5:7, Daniel 5:11, Daniel 5:15, in every instance rendered “astrologer” and “astrologers.” There is no evidence, however, that the science of astrology enters into the meaning of the word, or that the persons referred to attempted to practise divination by the aid of the stars. It is to be regretted that the term “astrologer” should have been employed in our translation, as it conveys an intimation which is not found in the original. It is, indeed, in the highest degree probable, that a part of their pretended wisdom consisted in their ability to cast the fates of men by the conjunctions and opposition of the stars, but this is not necessarily implied in the word. Prof. Stuart renders it “enchanters.”
In all his realm – Not only in the capital, but throughout the kingdom. These arts were doubtless practiced extensively elsewhere, but it is probable that the most skillful in them would be assembled at the capital.
1:21 And Daniel continued even unto the first year of king Cyrus.
Some 70 years later after the events described in verse 1.
Daniel lived on, but informs the reader that he went into captivity and lived to participate in the end of the Exile which lasted 70 years.
21. Unto the first year. Some commentators have held that there is an apparent
contradiction between this verse and the statement of Daniel 10:1 that Daniel received a
vision in the 3rd year of Cyrus. But the text does not necessarily imply that Daniel’s life
did not extend beyond the 1st year of Cyrus. Daniel may have referred to that date
because of some special event that took place during that year. Some have suggested the
event to be the decree of the first year of King Cyrus that marked the end of the
Babylonian exile (2Chronicles 36:22, 23; Ezra 1:1–4; 6:3). That decree brought the
fulfillment of an important prophecy that Daniel had carefully studied, namely, the
prophecy of Jeremiah that the Exile would last 70 years (Jeremiah 29:10; Daniel 9:2). Daniel
lived throughout the Exile from the first captivity, in 605 BC to the time when the decree
was given by Cyrus, probably as late as the summer of 537 BC.
Daniel may have desired to inform his readers that though he had been carried away in
the first captivity, he was still alive at the time the Exile ended about 70 years later. Also,
the conclusion seems warranted that Chapter 1 and perhaps also some of the other chapters
were not written until the 1st year of Cyrus. Such a date explains the use of loan words
from the Persian. Daniel again occupied an official position, under the Persian rule, shortly
after the fall of Babylon (Daniel 6:1, 2), and from his contact with Persian officials doubtless
added to his vocabulary some of the Persian words he used in the composition of his Book.
Perhaps this verse should be written that “Daniel continued even unto the first year[s] of king Cyrus” because chapter 10, says “in the third year of Cyrus” a “thing” was revealed to him. Obviously, Daniel himself wrote these words during his final years, or it could have been added by an assistant after his death. Whatever the case, it is to be noted that the “first year of king Cyrus” also marked the last year of Babylonian exile [33].
• [33] see Seventh–day Adventist Bible Commentary Vol. 4 page 764 (left column) referencing 2Chronicles 36:22, 23; Ezra 1:1–4;  6:3.
And Daniel continued even unto the first year of king Cyrus.
Daniel was one of the first Hebrews taken into captivity in Babylon. He lives to see the end of the 70 years of captivity when the Medes and Persians, under the leadership of King Cyrus, conquered Babylon in 539 BC.
And, as we will see in Daniel 10:1, Daniel is still alive in the third year of the reign of King Cyrus.
(21) Daniel excelled quantitatively as well as qualitatively. The kings under which he served recognized and continued to employ his divinely bestowed talents for many years. Cyrus’ first year as king of Babylon was 538 BC. This was the year in which Cyrus issued his decree permitting the Jews to return to their land. The first return took place the next year, in 537 BC. Thus Daniel’s ministry as a government official spanned approximately 65 years. Daniel 10:1 clarifies that Daniel continued to receive revelations from the Lord even after his career as a government official ended.
Two dates bracket this first Chapter, the year that Daniel went to Babylon as a captive (605 BC) and the year that his government career ended (538 BC). The content of this Chapter focuses on the key to Daniel’s remarkable career. He purposed to remain faithful to God’s will even in a relatively minor matter. God blessed that commitment and gave this already gifted and diligent young man additional talents and opportunities with which to serve Him.
And Daniel continued even unto the first year of king Cyrus – When the proclamation was issued by him to rebuild the temple at Jerusalem, Ezra 1:1. That is, he continued in influence and authority at different times during that period, and, of course, during the whole of the seventy years captivity. It is not necessarily implied that he did not “live” longer, or even that he ceased then to have influence and authority at court, but the object of the writer is to show that, during that long and eventful period, he occupied a station of influence until the captivity was accomplished, and the royal order was issued for rebuilding the temple. He was among the first of the captives that were taken to Babylon, and he lived to see the end of the captivity – “the joyful day of Jewish freedom.” It is commonly believed that, when the captives returned, he remained in Chaldea, probably detained by his high employments in the Persian empire, and that he died either at Babylon or at Shushan.
Spirit of Prophecy on Daniel 1
Great beams of light were brought to DANIEL, opening to him the great future that was to come upon this world. We have the benefit of this light and, having all this light, ought to do much better than they. We know how DANIEL stood in the midst of that crooked and perverse generation. We know he took his position on the right side because it was right. He did not eat at the king’s table, because he had had an education from his childhood that the brain must not be beclouded with improper DIET. He was the precious light in that crooked and perverse nation, and they saw that light in DANIEL. {Ms83–1886}
Resolve to reach a high and holy standard; make your mark high; act with earnest purpose as did DANIEL, steadily, perseveringly; and nothing that the enemy can do will hinder your daily improvement. Notwithstanding inconveniences, changes, perplexities, you may constantly advance in mental vigor and moral power. None need to be ignorant unless they choose to be thus. Knowledge is to be constantly acquired, it is the FOOD for the mind. With us who look for Christ’s coming should be the resolve: you will not live this life constantly on the losing side of the question, but in understanding, in spiritual attainments. Be men of God, on the gaining side. Knowledge is within the reach of all who desire it. God designs the mind shall become strong, thinking deeper, fuller, clearer. Walk with God as did Enoch; make God your counselor, and you cannot but make improvement. {Lt26d–1887}
Now, they ask for ten days to prove their plain DIET, and ten days prove to the prince of the eunuchs that their DIET was better than the king’s DIET. Their simple DIET, free from wine, and highly flavored meats agreed with these captives, as their countenances proved. It gave them a clear brain and active mind that they might acquire knowledge, and reach a high standard in knowledge. “As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and DANIEL had understanding in all visions and dreams.” {Ms9–1893}
Of DANIEL and his fellows the Scripture states: “As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in learning and wisdom: and DANIEL had understanding in all visions and dreams.” In what manner are you fitting yourselves to co–operate with God? “Draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you.” “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Let the DIET be carefully studied; it is not healthful. The various little dishes concocted for desserts are injurious instead of helpful and healthful and from the light given me, there should be a decided change in the preparation of FOOD. There should be a skillful, thorough cook, that will give ample supplies of substantial dishes to the hungry students. {Ms51–1893}
DANIEL understood this, and he brought himself to a plain, simple, nutritious DIET and refused the luxuries of the king’s table. The desserts which take so much time to prepare are, many of them, detrimental to health. Solid FOODS requiring mastication will be far better than mush or liquid FOODS. I dwell upon this as essential. I send my warning to the college at Battle Creek, to go from there to all our institutions of learning. Study up on these subjects, and let the students obtain proper education in [the] preparation of wholesome, appetizing, solid FOODS that nourish the system. They do not [have], and have not had, the right kind of training and education as to the most healthful FOOD to make healthful sinews and muscles and give nourishment to the brain and nerve powers. {Ms51–1893}
Those who have this experience will not condescend to engage in the amusements that have been so absorbing and so misleading in their influence, revealing that the soul has not been eating and drinking the words of eternal life. The departure from the simplicity of true godliness on the part of the students was having an influence to weaken character and lessen mental vigor. Their advancement in the sciences was retarded, while if they were like DANIEL, hearers and doers of the Word of God, they would advance as he did in all branches of learning they entered upon. Being pure minded, they would become strong minded. Every intellectual faculty would be sharpened. Let the Bible be received as the only FOOD for the soul, as it is the very best and most effectual for the purifying and strengthening of the intellect. {Lt67–1894}
This attention, which implied special honor, DANIEL and his companions could not accept. The meat served on the kings table was often portions of the sacrifices offered in heathen temples, and the wine too was dedicated to the gods, a portion being poured out as a libation before the beginning of each meal. All who partook of the yields thus dedicated to the gods, were regarded as connected with the heathen worship. Moreover, many articles of FOOD, such as swine’s flesh and things of an abominable character, were by the law given to Israel forbidden as unfit for FOOD. These Hebrew youth could not conscientiously partake of that which God had forbidden, and which they knew would weaken physical, mental, and moral power. They would do nothing that would in any way stimulate or confuse the brain and impair the faculties that god had given them for His service. They preferred the favor of God and the approval of conscience above all the honor that could come from the greatest monarch of his time. {Ms2b–1895}
DANIEL and his companions saw their danger, and determined that they would not eat of the king’s meat, or drink of his wine. By his brave yet courteous presentation of the matter to the prince who had them in charge, DANIEL secured the privilege of a ten day’s trial of the simple pulse and water they had chosen for FOOD. The results—when at the end of ten days their countenance appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than the than the faces of children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat, decided the matter. DANIEL and his fellows were permitted to carry out their principles. {Ms2b–1895}
The FOOD placed in the stomach, DANIEL had under his own control; therefore he could co–operate with God in keeping his stomach in a healthful condition by not benumbing his sensibilities by over eating or by the use of wine and flesh meats, which are not healthful or necessary for physical strength. A proper regard for the articles of FOOD eaten would keep a healthful current of blood flowing through his veins, and his mind and body would be in a condition for hard, stern labor, for mind and body would not oppressed with a variety of flesh meats. {Lt141a–1896}
DANIEL understood that he himself was to be first attended to. His DIET must be regulated by the knowledge God had given to his instructors for his benefit. He was temperate in eating. He governed his appetite, not following impulse but sound reasoning from the standpoint of Christian temperance. He had proffered to him wine and meat and luxuries from the king’s table. The explanation DANIEL gave was, the mind must not be clogged with these articles, which would be difficult of digestion, and even in articles of healthful FOOD there must be a restriction of the quantity. The FOOD placed in the stomach he had under his own control. He could co–operate with God in keeping his stomach in a healthful condition by not surfeiting himself with overeating or the use of wine or flesh meats, which are not healthful or necessary for physical strength. Proper regard for the articles of FOOD eaten would keep a healthful current of blood flowing through his veins. His mind and body would be in a condition for hard, stern labor, for mind and body were not oppressed with a variety of flesh meats, or meat of any kind. {Lt141–1896}
When DANIEL was required to partake of the luxuries of the king’s table, he did not fly into a passion, neither did he express a determination to eat and drink as he pleased. Without speaking one word of defiance, he took the matter to God. He and his companions sought wisdom from the Lord, and when they came forth from earnest prayer, their decision was made. With true courage, and Christian courtesy, DANIEL presented the case to the officer who had them in charge, asking that they might be granted a simple DIET. These youth felt that their religious principles were at stake, and they relied upon God, whom they loved and served. Their request was granted, for they had obtained favor with God and with men. {Ms14–1896}
We want very much the means that are being expended needlessly, because there are so many selfish wants that absorb the Lord’s goods. [There are] letters coming in constantly from different places where there are one, two, and again whole families and neighborhoods converted by reading Great Controversy, or. They have not seen the face of an Adventist. They beg for help to be sent them. DANIEL and the Revelation They begin to cry, Give us FOOD and not husks to nourish our spiritual strength. {Lt82a–1897}
Notwithstanding all the light shining forth from the Scriptures on this subject; notwithstanding the lessons given in the history of DANIEL, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego; notwithstanding the result of plain healthful DIET, there is little regard for the lessons penned by men inspired by God. The DIETETIC habits of the people generally are neglected; there is an increase of tobacco using, liquor drinking, and subsisting on flesh meats. . . . Physical and moral ruin is seen everywhere. {Ms49–1897}
A second consideration of these youthful captives was that the king always asked a blessing before his meals, and addressed his idols as Deity. He set apart a portion of his FOOD to be presented to the idol gods whom he worshipped, and also a portion of the wine. This act, according to their religious instruction, consecrated the whole to the heathen god. To sit at the table where such idolatry was practiced, DANIEL and his three brethren deemed, would be a dishonor to the God of heaven. These four children decided that they could not sit at the king’s table, to eat of the FOOD placed there, or to partake of the wine, all of which had been dedicated to an idol god. This would indeed implicate them with heathenism, and dishonor the principles of their national religion and their God. {Ms122–1897}
The youth have an example in DANIEL, and if they are true to principle and to duty they will be instructed as DANIEL was. As the wisdom of the world viewed the matter, he and his three companions had every advantage secured to them. But here their first test was to come. Their principles must come into collision with the regulations and appointments of the king. They were to eat of the FOOD placed upon his table and drink of his wine. Three years was this DIET to last before their examination should take place, and then they were to be brought in before the king. {Ms51–1898}
But DANIEL and his companions did not take the position that because their FOOD and drink was of the king’s appointment it was their duty to partake of it. They prayed over the matter, and studied the Scriptures. Their education had been of such a character that they felt even in their captivity that God was their dependence. After careful consideration from cause to effect, we read that DANIEL “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank. Therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” {Ms51–1898}
This request was not preferred in a defiant spirit, but was solicited as a great favor. The appearance of DANIEL and his companions was just like that which every youth’s should be. They were courteous, kind, respectful, possessing the grace of meekness and modesty. And now as DANIEL and his fellows were brought to the test, they placed themselves fully on the side of righteousness and truth. They did not move capriciously, but intelligently. They decided that as flesh meats had not composed their DIET in the past, neither should it come into their DIET in the future. And as the use of wine had been prohibited to all those who should engage in the service of God, they determined that they would not partake of it. The fate of the sons of Aaron had been presented before them, and they knew that the use of wine would confuse their senses, that the indulgence of appetite would place them where their powers of discernment would become beclouded. Nadab and Abihu disobeyed the requirements of God and used the common fire in the place of the sacred. {Ms51–1898}
God has spoken in His Word. In the case of DANIEL and his three companions there are sermons upon health reform. He has spoken in the history of the children of Israel, when for their good God refused to give them a flesh DIET. He fed them with bread from heaven. “Man did eat ANGEL’S FOOD”; but their earthly appetites were encouraged. They did just as the people in our time have done; [they] hankered after the flesh pots of Egypt. The more they centered their thoughts upon the flesh meats of Egypt, the more they hated the FOOD God gave them to keep them in health, physically, mentally, and morally. {Ms103–1898}
This education in physical lines would save many men in high positions from premature death. Intemperance in eating and drinking has cut short millions of lives. Many influential men have sacrificed health and life itself by their indulgence at feasts and dinners and late suppers, by indulging in wine and liquor drinking. The history of DANIEL and his fellows is written for our instruction. These youth practiced total abstinence from all intoxicating drinks. We should abstain from everything that is hurtful, and we should be temperate in our use of that class of FOOD which, if taken in proper quantities and at proper times, will build up the human structure, keep the brain clear, the breath pure, the stomach strong to do its appointed work. Do not crowd the hours for eating too closely together. Give the stomach periods of entire rest, and the FOOD that is placed in the mouth, do not bolt it down without masticating it, thus leaving to the digestive organs the work which the teeth should do. As a rule men in official positions eat FOOD at all times and on all occasions, and this is the cause of so much disease and suffering. Gout, apoplexy, paralysis, and death are the result. {Ms93–1899}
God helps those who place themselves where they can best be qualified for His service. Divine power unites with earnest seeker for truth, giving him the fitness he needs for God’s work. DANIEL placed himself in right relation to God and to his outward circumstances and opportunities. He was taken as a captive to Babylon, and with others was placed under training, to be prepared for a place in the king’s court. His FOOD and drink were appointed him, but we read that he determined that he would not defile himself with the king’s meat nor with the wine which he drank. {Lt34–1900}
Intemperance is seen on every side. What are you doing to overcome it? What are you doing to baffle the efforts of the enemy? Are you standing for the right as did DANIEL in the courts of Babylon? He was tempted, but he would not swerve from the principles of right. He refused to partake of the FOOD and wine from the king’s table, and requested that he and his companions be allowed a simpler DIET. His request was granted, and ten days’ trial revealed that the Hebrew youth possessed health and fairness of countenance which were not possessed by those who had eaten of the FOOD from the king’s table. Let us be DANIELS in this world of temptation and trial, standing steadfastly for the right because it is right. {Ms31–1901}
Because the Jewish people did not let the light which God had given them shine to others, they were scattered in different countries. DANIEL and three other youth were taken to Babylon, and the king determined to have them educated to be statesmen in his court. They were given the FOOD and wine from the king’s table as their DIET. But DANIEL and his companions knew that if they ate the FOOD and drank the wine which the king had provided, their brains would be confused. They would be unable to distinguish between right and wrong, between the sacred and the common. They determined to be true to principle, to eat and drink to God’s glory. God honored their loyalty. He gave them wisdom and understanding, and when at the end of the term of years allotted to study, the king examined them, he found them to be “ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.” {Ms65–1901}
The history of DANIEL and his fellows is an illustration of what all youth may become in the service of God. Improve the opportunity that is now yours to obtain the very best idea of what constitutes a Christian character. Place yourselves where you can pray to God as DANIEL and his fellows prayed to Him. They presented themselves to God as needy and dependent, and God gave them strength. But do you think that DANIEL would have been helped as he was if he had yielded to appetite? Had he eaten the king’s FOOD and drunk his wine, he would have been unable to obtain the education necessary to make him a successful Christian statesman. He would not have appreciated the knowledge God had to give. His mind would have been confused. He knew this; for before he came to Babylon, he had received that training which every child before me should receive in the home. {Ms65–1901}
DANIEL’S history is of the highest value. By a ten–day trial DANIEL and his fellows demonstrated the advantages of temperance in eating and of strict abstinence from fermented wines. The results of his adherence to the principles of health reform were most telling. In his experience, while gaining an education, he proved the advantage of an abstemious DIET over the rich FOOD and the wines he would have had at the king’s table. {Ms123–1901}
When these youth were selected to be educated in the “learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans,” that they might “stand in the king’s palace,” there was appointed them a daily allowance from the king’s table, both of FOOD and wine. “But DANIEL purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank.” DANIEL’S companions, also, resolutely denied selfish desires, and put away hurtful gratifications. {Ms132–1901}
At this trial of their loyalty, they considered their position, with its dangers and difficulties, and then in the fear of God made their decision. Even at the risk of the king’s displeasure, they would be true to the religion of their fathers. This purpose was not formed without due reflection and earnest prayer. When DANIEL was required to partake of the luxuries of the king’s table, he did not fly into a passion, neither did he express a determination to eat and drink as he pleased. Without speaking one word of defiance, he took the matter to God. He and his companions sought wisdom from the Lord, and when they came forth from earnest prayer, their decision was made. There was much involved in this decision. They were regarded as slaves, but were particularly favored because of their apparent intelligence and comeliness of person. But they decided that any pretense, even to sit at the table of the king and eat of the FOOD or accept of the wine, even if they did not drink it, would be a denial of their religious faith. There was no presumption with these youth, but a firm love for truth and righteousness. They did not choose to be singular, but they must be, else they would corrupt their ways in the courts of Babylon and be exposed to every kind of temptation in eating and drinking. The corrupting influences would remove their safeguard, and they would dishonor God and ruin their own characters. {Ms132–1901}
With true courage and Christian courtesy, they requested the officer who had them in charge to give them a more simple fare; but he hesitated, fearing that such rigid abstinence as they proposed would affect their personal appearance unfavorably and bring him into disfavor with the king. The explanation DANIEL gave was that the mind must not be clouded with these articles, which, if he should eat, would be difficult of digestion. Even in articles of healthful FOOD there must be a restriction in the quantity taken. The FOOD placed in the stomach DANIEL had under his own control; therefore he could co–operate with God in keeping his stomach in a healthful condition by not benumbing his sensibilities by overeating or by the use of wine and fleshmeats, which are not healthful or necessary for physical strength. A proper regard for the articles of FOOD eaten would keep a healthful current of blood flowing through his veins, and his mind and body would be in a condition for hard, stern labor; for mind and body would not be oppressed with a variety of fleshmeats. {Ms132–1901}
These youth urged most earnestly that the one who had charge of their FOOD should not compel them to partake of the king’s luxuries, or drink of his wine. They begged him to try them ten days only, and then examine them, and decide by their physical appearance whether their abstemious DIET would be to their advantage. Their request was granted, for they had obtained favor with God and with men. {Ms132–1901}
Why did DANIEL and his companions refuse to eat at the king’s table? Why did they refuse his meats and wines? Because they had been taught that this class of FOOD would not keep the mind or the physical structure in the very best condition of health to do God’s service. They sought to acquire knowledge for a purpose—to honor and glorify God. They must perfect a Christian character and have a clear intellect in order to stand as the representatives of the true religion amid the false religions of heathenism. To them the will of God was the supreme law of life. They practiced temperance in eating and drinking, that they might not enfeeble brain or muscle. The FOOD appointed them would include meats pronounced unclean by the law of Moses. Those four Hebrew youth chose to have their mental powers clear and undimmed, and their physical health was to them a matter of the highest consideration. They would not imperil the physical and moral powers for the indulgence of appetite. They saw that perils were on every side and that, if they resisted temptation, they must make most decided efforts on their part and then trust the rest with God. {Ms132–1901}
No one is to be indifferent in this matter. Life, eternal life, is presented to them as a gift of God, if they will receive it. Will they show wisdom, as did DANIEL and his fellows to refuse the meats and the wines which, if used, would injure the Lord’s wonderful and beautiful machinery? Will they reason from cause to effect? They need—yes, the supposed wealthy men need—wisdom how to conduct themselves so as to preserve their powers of mind and body. They are ignorant in regard to the effect of their eating and drinking, and do not know what a temperate DIET will do for them. {Ms180–1901}
We want to be like DANIEL and his fellows, and they who were brought right into the king’s court, placed at the king’s tables, with the wine and all the luxuries, but they just begged that they might have the privilege of eating the simple FOOD. They did not make any excuse, “We have got to do it in order that we may please them.” No, they did not do thatn. They did not go storming about it at all. But it was in such a way that they gained the confidence of the ones that had the power in their hands to control the matter, that they would give them a ten–days’ test. Well, now, we ought to know and reason from this that that ten–days’ test was a success. They were fairer and fatter in flesh than all that had eaten at the king’s table; and the one that had charge of the matter give them their request. How did it succeed? {Ms191–1903}
Well, now, you are here in the shadow of the sanitarium, teaching the children how to live and how conduct themselves properly, that they may preserve themselves in health. How was it with DANIEL and his fellows? Well, when they had their years of trial, and when they were brought up to be tried, they were far ahead, ten times ahead—of all these that had the whole advantage—with their simple DIET, with their fear of God, with their love of God, with their service to God in cheerfulness, having a clean conscience, having a bright countenance, always. What is the reason? God gave them knowledge. God gave them skill in all this learning. Now that was a cooperation of man with God, in getting this education so that they could be fitted for usefulness and duty. {Ms191–1903}
The care of the throat and lungs is an important matter which needs your special attention. Your stomach also should receive careful treatment. You are doing your vital organs an injustice. You need to be careful if you would be a perfect man as were DANIEL and his companions. You are to guard your brain power, and in order to do this, you must understand how to care properly for the stomach. Do not misuse the stomach. Do not put upon this faithful servant more work than it can properly perform. Do not overtax the digestive organs by placing in the stomach too great a variety of FOOD, or by eating at irregular times, as you feel inclined. Your usefulness and your health depend upon the treatment that you give your stomach. If you eat three meals a day, be sure that these meals are taken at regular hours. {Lt310–1904}
“The prince of the eunuchs said unto DANIEL, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? Then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king. {Ms110–1904}
Ten days is a short time, yet DANIEL had faith to believe that the Lord would work for them, if they should be given opportunity to partake of simple FOOD even for this length of time. {Ms110–1904}
“So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.” {Ms110–1904}
Lessons From the First Chapter of DANIEL
Sermon delivered by Mrs. E. G. White, Sabbath, August 27, 1909, Council Grove, Kansas, camp–meeting. {Ms73–1909}
The first chapter of DANIEL teaches the lesson that what we eat and drink has an influence upon the powers of the mind, and that if we would have healthful bodies and clear minds, we must be careful of our DIET. If we are careless in this matter, and eat simply to gratify taste, the digestive organs are impaired, and the brain is confused, and neither can act their part as fully as God intended they should. {Ms73–1909}
“DANIEL purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat and with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. {Ms73–1909}
“Now God had brought DANIEL into favor and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs. And the prince of the eunuchs said unto DANIEL, I fear my Lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? so shall ye make me endanger my head to the king. {Ms73–1909}
“Then said DANIEL to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over DANIEL, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenances of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat; and as thou seest, deal with thy servants. So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days. And at the end of the ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat. Thus Melzar took away their portion of meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.” {Ms73–1909}
DANIEL and his companions determined to banish from their DIETARY everything that would defile, and a power from above worked in harmony with their efforts. As a result they had the privilege of following their own course in the obtaining of their education. And the education they gained was better than that gained by any of the magicians, astrologers, or wise men in all the king’s realm. {Ms73–1909}
Those who desire to come into right relation to God need to study DANIEL’S plan. That was a sum proved; you may take the sum and prove it also. There are many who think that those who adopt health reform suffer a loss of physical strength; but if these would test the matter for themselves, they would change their minds on this point. I have tested the value of health reform for thirty years, living just as simply as possible, and my physical ability at the age of 82 has been a surprise to many. In this journey I have taken, entailing five months of constant labor in the desk and out of the desk, my strength has been sustained. In my experience, health reform has given me a wonderful victory. {Ms73–1909}
The Lord does not want us to have irritable tempers and disturbed and confused minds. He wants us to do for ourselves just what these Hebrew youth did for themselves. We are to let alone the wine that excites and intoxicates. We see all around us too much of the results of its use. {Ms73–1909}
How earnestly should we plead for the benefits of the truth in this age of the world’s history. How greatly are its principles needed! Consider the city of San Francisco. What was it that brought the judgments of God upon that city? We read the answer in the revelations that have been made of corruption in those who stood in high office. Corruption and drunkenness and robbery are discovered on every hand. And this condition of wickedness is not in San Francisco alone. We who have the truth understand the meaning of these conditions and events. We are living in the last evening of this earth’s history. Is it not time that every soul place himself in right relation to God to act an individual part for the upbuilding of the kingdom of Christ? Is it not time that fathers and mothers do a special work in the family? Let there be no harsh words, no scoldings. This does not reform. Take your children apart when they do wrong, and show them the result of a wrong course of action. Pray with them. That prayer may make such an impression on their minds that they will see that you are not unreasonable. And if the children see that you are not unreasonable, you have gained a great victory. This is the work that is to be carried on in our family circles in these last days. Our children are a sacred responsibility. God requires that they be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. {Ms73–1909}
This lesson also teaches the effect of a simple DIET upon the physical powers. Students attending school should have provided for them FOOD that will not cause disturbances in the human organism. If you do not know how to provide such FOOD, I ask you to learn how. We are fighting for a kingdom; we are to be laborers together with God, and we must learn to subdue our passions, lest we be shut out of the courts of heaven. If we do not perfect Christian characters here, we cannot enjoy the pleasures of eternal life. {Ms73–1909}
DANIEL stood in a very responsible position in the kingdom of Babylon. There will always be those who will occupy positions of lesser responsibility; but whatever our work, our example may be such that it will lead others into right paths. We need to humble ourselves before God and pray to Him and trust in Him. We do not pray half enough in our families and alone with God. There is a world to be saved, and every talent should be used in the service of God. You may not be able to go outside your family, but you can still do a work for God; and by your own course of action you can encourage those who have missionary work to perform. We cannot afford to miss any opportunity for perfecting a Christian character. Whatever experience may come to others, remember that you, in your lot and place, will be tested by God. There will be times when you will be placed in unfavorable positions; but at such times plead with God, trust in Him, and walk in simple faith before the Lord. Then angels of heaven will impress your minds. Let not your minds be filled with self and self–interests. {Ms73–1909}
The Lord is looking upon us in mercy and love today. Who will follow out the will of the Lord? Who will study to overcome the hasty temper, remembering that the words they speak are spoken in the hearing of heavenly angels. These heavenly agencies are continually ministering to us; and they will speak through us and by us if we will walk humbly with God. They open for us opportunities to make known a knowledge of the God of heaven to others. Let us acknowledge God as the highest power. Let us cherish our Redeemer’s spirit of meekness and humility of mind. Let us study our lifework, that it may bear the test of the judgment. We shall then stand on vantage ground with DANIEL and his companions, overcoming by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. {Ms73–1909}
In the third chapter of DANIEL, we can read the record of God’s mighty work in behalf of the youth who would not bow to the image that the king had set up; and we may know that the same God is near to us as we stand in His power to honor His name in our experience. The form of the Fourth walked beside the Hebrews in the midst of the fiery furnace, because they refused to bow down to the image and to worship the work of men’s hands. {Ms73–1909}
“Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto him, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and”—the king’s countenance turns pale as he continues—”the form of the Fourth is like the Son of God.” {Ms73–1909}
Going to the mouth of the furnace, Nebuchadnezzar calls the youth to come forth. “Ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither,” he says. “And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire and no power, nor was any hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them. Then Nebuchadnezzar spake and said, Blessed by the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent His angel, and delivered His servants that trusted in Him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no God that can deliver after this sort.” {Ms73–1909}
The God of the Hebrews is our God. Let us seek to stand in right relation to Him. We have souls to save or to lose, and it depends upon our individual selves whether we save or lose. If we lose, we carry others with us to destruction. All heaven is looking upon us to see what course we will pursue—whether we will overcome by the blood of the Lamb or be careless and indifferent, going on as we please, filling our days with the pleasures of the world and our minds with the foolish novel, while God’s work is neglected and His Word cast aside. {Ms73–1909}
I ask you to consider these things as you have never yet considered them. I present before you Christ as your only hope. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” I present Christ’s character before you. Study it carefully. There is no higher education to be gained than that which you gather from the Word of God. Those who will may gain from it an intelligence and an understanding that is as enduring and as reliable as that which DANIEL had, and which preserved him and carried him safely through test and trial. Christ will give judgment to the student of His Word today, as He gave the Hebrew youth judgment. These young men were found to have more wisdom than all the wise men in all the realm of Babylon. {Ms73–1909}
When the heart is in right condition before God, we shall deny self. Did not God give Jesus, His only begotten Son?—He who was equal with the Father in the making of man. What are you doing to make yourself acceptable before God? Are you cultivating your reasoning powers? Are you preserving your physical powers by a wise and careful DIET? Let the wine alone, and everything of the kind. We need to adopt a simple DIET if we would have a clear understanding of our duty. Let us remember that we are living in review before God, that we shall have tests to bear, and that our faith in God is to be so cultivated that we can reach up to Heaven in full confidence for sanctification of body, soul, and spirit. {Ms73–1909}
We need that living faith that will take hold of God; and we can have this if we will study the will of the Lord in all things. In times of poverty and sickness and suffering, it is our privilege to go to the Saviour and tell Him our necessities and ask Him for His help. And if we will rely upon the Word of God, we shall see the fulfillment of His promises. Every day we are meeting temptation and trial in one form or another; but if we walk humbly with God and do our best, seeking daily to come into close relation to Him, He will work in our behalf. {Ms73–1909}
Study the record of the life and activities of Christ. The Saviour knew that He could do little if He remained in one place. Therefore he moved from city to city and village to village, the crowds often following Him in great multitudes. He gave these followers instruction, teaching them of Himself from the words of the Old Testament Scriptures. As he would present old truths in a new light before them, the people would listen as to something they had never before heard of. {Ms73–1909}
On one occasion the people gathered about the Saviour until there were 5,000 men, besides women and children. All day they had listened to the great Teacher; and now as evening drew on, the Master said to His disciples, These must be weary; they should have rest and FOOD. But the inquiry arose, Where shall we find FOOD for so great a company? The Saviour asked, How much have you? The disciples replied, Five barley loaves, and a few small fishes. Bid them sit down on the ground, the Saviour commanded. Then breaking the bread, He gave to His disciples and the disciples to the multitudes. {Ms73–1909}
When the people were satisfied, the Saviour gave the command to his disciples, “Gather up the fragments, that nothing be lost.” Here Christ taught a precious lesson, one that was to come clear down through the ages to our time. There is an economy that Christ wants each to weave into our experience. There are wants and necessities on every hand to be supplied; there are needy and suffering ones to help. When we stand in right relation to God, we will stand in right relation to the principles of economy. We will know by experience what it means to deny self. We will be willing to sacrifice for the sake of others. {Ms73–1909}
“God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Christ accepted the office laid upon Him. Seeing the needs of men, He laid aside His royal robe and crown and came to earth to minister to mankind. And day by day in His life on earth, He was preparing for greater tests to come with stronger power. {Ms73–1909}
Just before His crucifixion He took His disciples apart that they might pray with Him, that He and they might receive strength to endure. It was here in His agony in the garden of Gethsemane that the cup trembled in His hand. Should He drink it, and thus be separated from God? Should He take the sins of the world upon Him? The woes of a lost race rose up before Him, and He said, Father, if this cup may not pass from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done.” Then a mighty angel from glory came to His side and strengthened Him to go through the awful trial. {Ms73–1909}
He was laid in the tomb, and a great stone was rolled up before the door of the tomb. But when the day of His release came, a mighty angel from heaven came and rolled back the stone as it had been a pebble. And Jesus came forth, and proclaimed over the rent sepulcher of Joseph, “I am the resurrection and the life.” He revealed Himself to Mary and to His disciples, bringing rejoicing to their hearts. {Ms73–1909}
God sent His Son into the world that He might learn by actual experience the needs of humanity. Through humanity combined with divinity He must reach man and enable him to lay hold upon the divine nature. {Ms73–1909}
Let us not turn from the representation because we cannot be one with the world and at the same time be one with Christ. We do not deserve heaven if we come to Christ in that way. Let us make an entire surrender to God. God wants us to withdraw from association with those who would lead us to withdraw from Him. He wants His people to lay hold with strong determination to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. He wants them to make a covenant with God by sacrifice, to consecrate themselves to God, to bear the suffering part of religion as well as to share its joys. If they cannot do this, the cannot enter the gates of the city of God and have right to the tree of life. {Ms73–1909}
Let us ever remember that eternal life has been secured for us at the cost of God’s only begotten Son. Considering this, should we not study to know what sacrifices we can make for His cause, what part we can act in advancing the glory of God for the great hereafter? Humanity can grasp the divinity of Christ. This is for us if we will lay hold of it by an intelligent faith. Let us learn what it means to deny self as Christ denied self. He laid aside all that He had with the Father and, clothing His divinity with humanity, came to earth that He might teach men and women how they might overcome. We are living in a time of test. Shall we not decide to stand on the side of Christ in this matter. {Ms73–1909}
Do you not want the gates of the city of God to be opened freely to you, and you be welcomed in with your children? Do you not want the crown of glory placed upon your brow? Do you not want that life that measures with the life of God? If we enjoy these eternal blessings, we have sacrifices to make in this life. We must reveal that we possess a faith that lays hold upon the living God and a righteousness that overcomes sin. May God bless us here today. How much are we willing to sacrifice in order to co–operate with Jesus Christ in our individual salvation? What are we willing to do that we may be enlightened and may enlighten others? Satan is working with all deceivableness of unrighteousness to set in operation means by which to bring suffering upon God’s people. Let us cultivate the simplicity of true godliness. Let us in our human nature take hold of the divine, that that nature may mold our life, our character, our words and works. Then we shall go straight forward in the name of Jesus Christ. {Ms73–1909}
There are souls to be saved from their sin. We must lay hold of them by living faith and give them every chance to overcome. I ask you, will you not accept the truth I have presented before you today? Will you not seek to come into harmony with the spirit of this work, that you may have a part in it? Will you not make the effort to put away folly and indulgence and do all in your power to save the souls that are perishing? {Ms73–1909}
We need help for the work to be done in different parts of the great missionary field. In Portland, Maine, where the truth was preached with power in 1842–44, our brethren and sisters have need of a little meetinghouse. Very little labor has been given to the city of Portland. There are a few Sabbathkeepers there, but they have no house of worship. We do not hesitate to ask you to help in the erection of this house of worship by giving us of your means; for by so doing you will be laying up in the heavens a treasure that faileth not. We want you to have a part in carrying the message of mercy to the world. {Ms73–1909}
We hope to have a large company of believers in Portland, Maine. The power of God was felt at the camp–meeting held there recently; and we hope that many souls will be revived as a result of its work, and that many more will lay hold of the truth of the gospel. Now, if you want to help, do so, and the Lord will let His blessing rest upon you. {Ms73–1909}
And there are other places in similar need. It is represented to me that there are hundreds of places needing our help. The work of God is a work of self–sacrifice. Who among us is willing to unite in labor for the saving of souls? Those who will here determine to do this, rise to your feet. {Ms73–1909}
(Congregation rises.) (Praying): My heavenly Father, I have tried to present in my weakness those things that Thou hast presented before me again and again to congregations that I have not seen assembled; and this is one of them. I ask Thee now to make the impression upon the human mind. Thou canst do it; for Thou art God, and beside Thee there is none else. Thou hast given Thine only begotten Son to make plain the way constantly beset with temptations by the enemy. I ask Thee, Lord, to bless this people here today. Sweep back every mist and cloud of darkness, and let the sunlight of Thy glory in. Work by Thy Holy Spirit upon the minds of parents and children, that all may labor together for the spread of the knowledge of the truth. {Ms73–1909}
God, the living God, souls are perishing, and Satan is working to call the attention of the people to nothingness and folly. Wilt Thou not go with this people, as they leave this meeting, and teach them daily to lay hold of the merits of the precious Redeemer. Thou hast given so much for these souls; help them to make a covenant with Thee by sacrifice, that they may have a part in that life that measures with the life of God. We want them to have the crown of glory and to strike the harp of gold. Lord, take this people; baptize them with Thy Holy Spirit. Let them see light in Thy light and rejoice in Thy truth. There is a heaven for them to win, a hell for them to shun. Grant that they may be crowned in the kingdom of glory, never again to go out into a sin–cursed world, where all is renewed by Thy sacrifice, our blessed Redeemer. {Ms73–1909}
Take these souls into Thy keeping. Make the impression upon their minds that heaven must be won by them, that they must withstand the tests of Satan. Bless them this day. Thou hast blessed them. Bless mind, and soul, and body, and help each to arouse to earnest labor for others. Make them laborers together with God in the work of salvation, and Thy blessed name shall have all the glory. {Ms73–1909}
Daniel 1:1–21. Now, you see, it makes a difference how we proceed with ourselves. You see, these youths had been educated to strict temperance in all things, and the education that had been given them was for their present and future good. Their intelligence depended upon what they ate and drank. If they used wine and the high FOODS that the king had appointed them, they would step right out from the course that they had laid out for themselves as students that they should pursue, that they might stand high in clear intellect, in clear presentation of the matters that would bring them to have a knowledge of God and the truth. Well, these were the very things that God wanted to have brought before that very king and before the associates of these young men. And we see how successful they were. I have read it to you. {Ms71–1910}
We want now to consider what is our future, and we want to be wide–awake in the matter. We do not want to be loaded down with that which we eat, and no one will feel at liberty to come and tell you that you are overeating. I have not heard a word from anyone here on this subject. But I want to say we can help ourselves more than you anticipate by not loading the stomach down, but by giving it a chance and taking wholesome FOOD into it. Now, you can study this out for yourselves. You can study the experience of DANIEL and his companions, and you can see what places they were brought into, exalted to the highest station. And then they had another experience, and what was that? {Ms71–1910}
“DANIEL purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat.” He well knew what effect the FOOD served on the royal tables would have on his physical and mental powers, if he were to partake of it. And so he purposed in his heart not to do it. Herein he revealed his loyalty to right principles. How many there are today who would say: “It would be a wise policy for us to forego our personal ideas, and try to come into harmony with the customs of the country into which we have been brought through no choice of our own”? {Ms85–1910}
How many there are who would think best to try to live as nearly as possible like the other students with whom they were to be associated in school life! But not so with DANIEL and his three companions. They determined to be true to the God of their fathers, even while living in a strange land and surrounded with all the seductive influences of court life in the palace of the king. {Ms85–1910}
The record of the experiences of DANIEL and his faithful associates reveals the outcome of their determination to be true to God. “God had brought DANIEL into favor and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs,” and the request was granted for a simple DIET for ten days, as a test; and at the end the time appointed “their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat. Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.” {Ms85–1910}
DANIEL valued his human capabilities, but he did not trust in them. His trust was in that strength which God has promised to all who will come to him in humble dependence, relying wholly upon his power. {CTBH 22.3}
He purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank; for he knew that such a DIET would not strengthen his physical powers or increase his mental capability. He would not use wine, nor any other unnatural stimulant; he would do nothing to becloud his mind; and God gave him “knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom,” and also “understanding in all visions and dreams.” [Daniel 1:17.] {CTBH 22.4}
The experience of DANIEL and his youthful companions illustrates the benefits that may result from an abstemious DIET, and shows what God will do for those who will cooperate with him in the purifying and uplifting of the soul. They were an honor to God, and a bright and shining light in the court of Babylon. {CTBH 23.3}
The FOOD appointed them would include meats pronounced unclean by the law of Moses. They requested the officer who had them in charge to give them a more simple fare; but he hesitated, fearing that such rigid abstinence as they proposed would affect their personal appearance unfavorably, and bring himself into disfavor with the king. DANIEL pleaded for a ten days’ trial. This was granted; and at the expiration of that time these youth were found to be far more healthy in appearance than were those who had partaken of the king’s dainties. Hence the simple “pulse and water” which they at first requested, was thereafter the FOOD of DANIEL and his companions. {CTBH 26.2}
To DANIEL and his companions, at the very outset of their career, there came a decisive test. The direction that their FOOD should be supplied from the royal table was an expression both of the king’s favor and of his solicitude for their welfare. But a portion having been offered to idols, the FOOD from the king’s table was consecrated to idolatry; and in partaking of the king’s bounty these youth would be regarded as uniting in his homage to false gods. In such homage loyalty to Jehovah forbade them to participate. Nor dared they risk the enervating effect of luxury and dissipation on physical, mental, and spiritual development. {Ed 54.3}
Of DANIEL and his fellows the Scripture states: “As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and DANIEL had understanding in all visions and dreams.” In what manner are you fitting yourselves to co–operate with God? “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you” “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Let the DIET be carefully studied; it is not healthful. The various little dishes concocted for desserts are injurious instead of helpful and healthful, and from the light given me, there should be a decided change in the preparation of FOOD. There should be a skilful, thorough cook, that will give ample supplies of substantial dishes to the hungry students. {SpTEd 187.1a}
The education in this line of table supplies is not correct, healthful, or satisfying, and a decided reform is essential. These students are God’s inheritance, and the most sound and healthful principles are to be brought into the boarding–school in regard to DIET. The dishes of soft FOODS, the soups and liquid FOODS, or the free use of meat, are not the best to give healthful muscles, sound digestive organs, or clear brains. O, how slow we are to learn! And of all institutions in our world the school is the most important! Here the DIET question is to be studied; no one person’s appetite, or tastes, or fancy, or notion is to be followed; but there is need of great reform; for lifelong injury will surely be the result of the present manner of cooking. Of all the positions of importance in that college, the first is that of the one who is employed to direct in the preparation of the dishes to be placed before the hungry students; for if this work is neglected, the mind will not be prepared to do its work, because the stomach has been treated unwisely and cannot do its work properly. Strong minds are needed. The human intellect must gain expansion and vigor and acuteness and activity. It must be taxed to do hard work, or it will become weak and inefficient. Brain power is required to think most earnestly; it must be put to the stretch to solve hard problems and master them, else the mind decreases in power and aptitude to think. The mind must invent, work, and wrestle, in order to give hardness and vigor to the intellect; and if the physical organs are not kept in the most healthful condition by substantial, nourishing FOOD, the brain does not receive its portion of nutrition to work. DANIEL understood this, and he brought himself to a plain, simple, nutritious DIET, and refused the luxuries of the king’s table. The desserts which take so much time to prepare, are, many of them, detrimental to health. Solid FOODS requiring mastication will be far better than mush or liquid FOODS. I dwell upon this as essential. {SpTEd 187.1}
Our habits of eating and drinking show whether we are of the world or among the number whom the Lord by His mighty cleaver of truth has separated from the world. These are His peculiar people, zealous of good works. God has spoken in His word. In the case of DANIEL and his three companions there are sermons upon health reform. God has spoken in the history of the children of Israel, from whom for their good He sought to withhold a flesh DIET. He fed them with bread from heaven; “man did eat angel’s FOOD.” But they encouraged their earthly appetite; and the more they centered their thoughts upon the fleshpots of Egypt, the more they hated the FOOD which God gave them to keep them in health physically, mentally, and morally. They longed for the fleshpots, and in this they did just as many in our own time have done. {6T 372.2}
There are many who feel that they cannot get along without flesh FOOD; but if these would place themselves on the Lord’s side, resolutely resolved to walk in the way of His guidance, they would receive strength and wisdom as did DANIEL and his fellows. They would find that the Lord would give them sound judgment. Many would be surprised to see how much could be saved for the cause of God by acts of self–denial. The small sums saved by deeds of sacrifice will do more for the upbuilding of the cause of God than larger gifts will accomplish that have not called for denial of self. {9T 157.4}
What is needed by our youth is an education like that which DANIEL and his three companions gained. These faithful Hebrews were in important positions. They were placed where they must be careful to observe every principle of righteousness in order to bring others to an understanding of the principles of righteousness. It would not do for them to be lax. They could not afford to indulge appetite. They were to stand where they could, by their example, give proof of the importance of strict adherence to the principles of right living. To do this they were willing to place themselves under test and trial. Ten days was sufficient to prove that the DIET they chose was a wholesome one, and that in adopting it they had made no mistake. The evidence which this experience gave to the authorities led them to have a higher opinion of these youth than of all the other students under their care. {GCB, May 30, 1909 par. 10}
DANIEL might have found a plausible excuse to depart from his strictly temperate habits; but the approbation of God was dearer to him than the favor of the most powerful earthly potentate,––dearer even than life itself. Having by his courteous conduct obtained favor with Melzar, the officer in charge of the Hebrew youth, DANIEL made a request that they might not eat of the king’s meat, or drink of his wine. Melzar feared that should he comply with this request, he might incur the displeasure of the king, and thus endanger his own life. Like many at the present day, he thought that an abstemious DIET would render these youth pale and sickly in appearance and deficient in muscular strength, while the luxurious FOOD from the king’s table would make them ruddy and beautiful, and would impart superior physical activity. {RH, January 25, 1881 par. 11}
DANIEL requested that the matter be decided by a ten–days’ trial,––the Hebrew youth during this brief period being permitted to eat of simple FOOD, while their companions partook of the king’s dainties. The request was finally granted, and then DANIEL felt assured that he had gained his case. Although but a youth, he had seen the injurious effects of wine and luxurious living upon physical and mental health. {RH, January 25, 1881 par. 12}
At the end of the ten days the result was found to be quite the opposite of Melzar’s expectations. Not only in personal appearance, but in physical activity and mental vigor, those who had been temperate in their habits exhibited a marked superiority over their companions who had indulged appetite. As a result of this trial, DANIEL and his associates were permitted to continue their simple DIET during the whole course of their training for the duties of the kingdom. {RH, January 25, 1881 par. 13}
The Bible is the only safe guide to the path of peace and happiness. It is God’s directory, and the true Christian will make it the study of his life. As he connects himself with God, adhering firmly to principle, refusing to follow inclination or to be led into the deceiving customs and practices of the world, he will really occupy a similar position to that of DANIEL. While in the courts of Babylon, temptations surrounded him, but he turned neither to the right nor the left to indulge self. He and his companions purposed in their hearts that they would not eat of the luxuries of the king’s table, neither drink of his wine. They chose to eat simple FOOD, that they might preserve their bodies in a healthful condition, and thus have clearness of mind. They did what they could to obtain knowledge, and then God worked for them, and “gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom.” These young men honored God, and God honored them. The pen of inspiration presents their cases before us, that we may follow their example. {RH, December 1, 1885 par. 6}
The habits and understanding of the youth who were not instructed by God were in accord with the knowledge that comes from idolatrous practises, and leaves God out of the reckoning. DANIEL and his companions, from the first of their experience in the king’s court, were gaining a clearer comprehension and sounder, more accurate judgment, than all the wise men in the kingdom of Babylon. They placed themselves where God could bless them. They ate only that FOOD which would not becloud their minds. They followed rules of life which would help to give them strength of intellect, that they might gain the greatest possible benefit from their study of God’s Word. {RH, November 10, 1904 par. 9}
Besides a portion of his wine, the FOOD apportioned them “from the king’s table,” would include swine’s flesh and other meats pronounced unclean by the law of Moses, and which the Jews were forbidden to eat. The Hebrew captives requested the officer who had them in charge, to grant them more simple fare. The officer demurred, fearing that such rigid abstinence as the young captives proposed would unfavorably affect their personal appearance, and thus bring himself into disfavor with the king. DANIEL pleaded for a ten–day’s trial. This was granted, and those youth were found at the expiration of that time to present a far more healthy appearance than those who had indulged in the king’s dainties. Hence the simple “pulse and water” which they at first requested was thereafter supplied to DANIEL and his companions. {ST, March 2, 1882 par. 3}
Luther at Wittenberg hears of the exciting scenes transpiring in the DIET. Soon he receives a note of the articles which he will be required to retract. But, like DANIEL of old, he purposes in his heart that he will maintain his fidelity to God. He writes to Spalatin: “Never fear that I will retract a single syllable, since the only argument they have to urge against me is that my writings are at variance with the observances of what they call the Church. If our Emperor Charles sends for me only to retract, my answer shall be that I will remain here, and it will be all the same as though I had been at Worms, and returned again. But if the emperor chooses then to send for me, to put me to death as an enemy to the empire, I shall be ready to obey his summons; for, by Christ’s help, I will never abandon his word in the hour of battle. I know that these blood–thirsty men will never rest until they have taken my life. God grant that my death may be laid to the charge of the papists alone!” {ST, August 16, 1883 par. 1}
Not only did these young men decline to drink the king’s wine, but they refrained from the luxuries of his table. The FOOD apportioned to them “from the king’s table” would include swine’s flesh and other meats pronounced unclean by the law of Moses, and which the Jews were forbidden to eat. They requested the officer who had them in charge to grant them more simple fare; but he hesitated, fearing that such rigid abstinence as they proposed would affect their personal appearance unfavorably, and bring himself into disfavor with the king. DANIEL pleaded for a ten days’ trial. This was granted; and at the expiration of that time, these youth were found to be far more healthy in appearance than were those who had partaken of the king’s dainties. Hence the simple “pulse and water” which they at first requested was thereafter the FOOD of DANIEL and his companions. {ST, February 11, 1886 par. 2}
DANIEL refused to eat at the king’s table, or to drink of the king’s wine. Why did he do this? Because he knew that indulgence in wine–drinking and luxurious FOOD would enfeeble the powers of mind and body. He desired to keep his mind in a condition to appreciate the inspired word of God. Those who indulge in forbidden things work directly against their own interests and hopes. Selfish motives lead to self–indulgence, and animal appetites and passions bear sway, and dominate over mind and soul. Those who are thus controlled cannot comprehend the truth of divine origin, or appreciate the value of heavenly things. They are ruled by appetite, and the brain power is benumbed. The very foundation of the physical being is undermined. We have no right to destroy the habitation that God has given us. We have been purchased at an infinite cost. {ST, July 29, 1889 par. 8}
It is a most grievous thing to let children grow up without the knowledge of God. The knowledge of God did not unfit DANIEL to be one of the greatest statesmen in the proud court of Babylon. The God of heaven recognized him as his child. He would not defile himself with strong drink and with the rich FOOD from the king’s table. And God gave him wisdom. But would God have given him wisdom if he had not walked in his counsel? Satan does not give true wisdom to men. When DANIEL and his fellows were examined by the king, they were found to be ten times better than all the astrologers that were in the king’s court. The record declares: “As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom; and DANIEL had understanding in all visions and dreams. . . . And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.” {ST, April 23, 1894 par. 5}
DANIEL and his three companions did not take the position that because their FOOD and drink were of the king’s appointment, it was their duty to partake of it. They prayed over the matter, and studied the Scriptures. Their education had been of such a character that they felt even in their captivity that God was their dependence; and after carefully reasoning from cause to effect, “DANIEL purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” {YI, August 18, 1898 par. 8}
This request they did not prefer in a defiant spirit, but as if soliciting a great favor. The appearance of DANIEL and his companions was like what every youth’s should be. They were courteous, kind, respectful, possessing the grace of meekness and modesty. And the good behavior of these youth obtained favor for them. Of DANIEL we read, “God had brought DANIEL into favor and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.” And now as DANIEL and his fellows were brought to the test, they placed themselves fully on the side of righteousness and truth. They did not move capriciously, but intelligently. They decided that as flesh–meat had not composed their DIET in the past, it should not come into their DIET in the future, and as wine had been prohibited to all who should engage in the service of God, they determined that they would not partake of it. The fate of the sons of Aaron had been presented before them, and they knew that the use of wine would confuse their senses, that the indulgence of appetite would becloud their powers of discernment. These particulars were placed on record in the history of the children of Israel as a warning to every youth to avoid all customs and practises and indulgences that would in any way dishonor God. {YI, August 18, 1898 par. 9}
And as DANIEL and his fellows were brought to the test, they placed themselves fully on the side of righteousness and truth. They did not move capriciously, but intelligently. They decided that as flesh–meat had not composed their DIET in the past, it should not come into their DIET in the future; and as wine had been prohibited to all who should engage in the service of God, they determined that they would not partake of it. The fate of the sons of Aaron had been presented before them, and they knew that the use of wine would confuse their senses, that the indulgence of appetite would becloud their powers of discernment. These particulars were placed on record in the history of the children of Israel as a warning to every youth to avoid all customs and practises and indulgences that would in anyway dishonor God. {YI, September 15, 1898 par. 10}
The history of DANIEL and his companions is an illustration of what all youth may become in the service of God. The king determined to have them trained as statesmen, and with other youth they were given FOOD and wine from his table. But they knew that if they ate of the king’s FOOD, and drank his wine, their power to distinguish between right and wrong would be dulled. They would be unable to obtain the education necessary to make them successful Christian statesmen. They would not appreciate the knowledge God had to give. They determined to be true to principle, to eat and drink to God’s glory. {YI, January 1, 1903 par. 3}
In the FOOD provided for the king’s table were swine’s flesh and other meats which were pronounced unclean by the law given through Moses, and which the Hebrews had been expressly forbidden to eat. Here DANIEL was brought to a severe test. Should he adhere to the divine teaching, offend the king, and probably lose not only his position but his life? or should he disregard the commandment of the Lord, and retain the favor of the king, thus securing great intellectual advantages and the most flattering worldly prospects? {YI, June 4, 1903 par. 3}
DANIEL could have argued that, dependent as he was on the king’s favor, and subject to his power, there was no other course for him to pursue than to eat of the king’s meat and to drink of his wine. But DANIEL and his fellows counseled together. They considered how their physical and mental powers would be affected by the use of wine. The wine, they decided, was a snare. They were acquainted with the history of Nadab and Abihu, the record of whose intemperance had been preserved in the parchments of the Pentateuch. They knew that by the constant use of wine these men had become addicted to the liquor habit, and that they had confused their senses by drinking just before engaging in the sacred service of the sanctuary. In their brain–benumbed state, not being able to discern the difference between the sacred and the common, they had put common fire upon their censers, instead of the sacred fire of the Lord’s kindling, and for this sin they had been struck dead. {YI, June 4, 1903 par. 4}
In purposing that he would not eat the FOOD that the king had provided, DANIEL did not desire to be singular; but he was determined to be true to God. As a true Hebrew, he could not eat the meat nor drink the wine. In the FOOD provided for the king’s table, were swine’s flesh and other FOODS which were proclaimed unclean by the law given to Moses. Again, a portion of the FOOD, and also of the wine, was set apart as an offering to the false gods of Babylon. According to the religious ideas of the day, this act consecrated the whole to the heathen gods. DANIEL and his three brethren thought that if they should not actually partake of the king’s bounty, a mere pretense of eating the FOOD and drinking the wine, where such idolatry was practised, would be a denial of their faith. To do this would be to implicate themselves with heathenism, and to dishonor the law of God. {YI, October 29, 1907 par. 7}
DANIEL and his companions might have taken the position that because their FOOD and drink was of the king’s appointment, it was their duty to partake of it. But they did not do this. As they were brought to the test, they placed themselves fully on the side of truth and righteousness. By earnest prayer and study of the Scriptures, they were prepared to act intelligently in the matter. Flesh meat had not composed their DIET in the past, and they determined that it should not come into their DIET in the future. From the fate of the sons of Aaron, they knew that the use of wine would confuse their senses, that the indulgence of appetite would becloud their powers of discernment; and as wine had been prohibited to all who should engage in the service of God, they resolved that they would not partake of it. They would not defile themselves with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank. {YI, October 29, 1907 par. 8}
To carry out his purpose not to defile himself with the king’s FOOD, DANIEL made request of the prince of the eunuchs for a simpler DIET. “Now God had brought DANIEL into favor and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.” This officer saw in DANIEL good traits of character. He saw that he was striving to be kind and helpful, that his words were respectful and courteous, and his manner possessed the grace of modesty and meekness. It was the good behavior of the youth that gained for him the favor and love of the prince. {YI, November 12, 1907 par. 1}
But the prince of the eunuchs hesitated to grant the request of DANIEL, fearing that such rigid abstinence as he proposed would cause the Hebrews to become less ruddy in health than those who ate of the king’s dainties. He said to DANIEL, “I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king.” {YI, November 12, 1907 par. 2}
But it was not the luxuries of the king that would give to these youth a clear countenance and bright eye. It was the consciousness of having the approval of God. And DANIEL knew that if he and his companions were permitted to adopt a simple DIET, by the time they were called to appear before the king, the advantages of health reform would be apparent in their physical health. {YI, November 12, 1907 par. 3}
DANIEL pleaded for a ten days’ trial. “Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days,” he said; “and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants. So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.” {YI, November 12, 1907 par. 4}
When they preferred their request, the Hebrew youth knew the seriousness of their position, and by earnest prayer they braced themselves for duty and for trial. Severe criticism was passed upon them by their companions; they had to meet ridicule and abuse; but sneers could not weaken their piety. With watchfulness and prayer they guarded every avenue of temptation. They had learned the principles of true service. They were captives, lonely, and in peril; but they were in possession of a treasure of priceless worth,–– unbending integrity. They feared to do wrong. {YI, November 12, 1907 par. 5}
“And at the end of the ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat. Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and of the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.” The simple pulse and water, which they at first requested, was thereafter the FOOD of DANIEL and his companions. {YI, November 12, 1907 par. 6}
The Lord would have us learn a lesson also from the experience of DANIEL. There are many who might become mighty men, if, like this faithful Hebrew, they would depend upon God for grace to be overcomers, and for strength and efficiency in their labors. DANIEL manifested the most perfect courtesy, both toward his elders and toward the youth. He stood as a witness for God, and sought to take such a course that he might not be ashamed for Heaven to hear his word or to behold his works. When DANIEL was required to partake of the luxuries of the king’s table, he did not fly into a passion, neither did he express a determination to eat and drink as he pleased. Without speaking one word of defiance, he took the matter to God. He and his companions sought wisdom from the Lord, and when they came forth from earnest prayer, their decision was made. With true courage and Christian courtesy, DANIEL presented the case to the officer who had them in charge, asking that they might be granted a simple DIET. These youth felt that their religious principles were at stake, and they relied upon God whom they loved and served.