Daniel Chapter 1
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.
Jehoiakim - he whom Jehovah has set up, the second son of Josiah, and eighteenth king of Judah, which he ruled over for eleven years (B.C. 610-599). His original name was Eliakim.
On the death of his father his younger brother Jehoahaz who favoured the Chaldeans against the Egyptians, was made king by the people; but the king of Egypt, Pharaoh-necho, invaded the land and deposed Jehoahaz (cf2 Kings 23:33-34), setting Eliakim on the throne in his stead, and changing his name to Jehoiakim.
Weep not for the dead, nor bemoan him;
Weep bitterly for him who goes away,
For he shall return no more,
Nor see his native country.
11 For thus says the LORD concerning Shallum the son of Josiah, king of Judah, who reigned instead of Josiah his father, who went from this place: “He shall not return here anymore, 12 but he shall die in the place where they have led him captive, and shall see this land no more.
After this, the king of Egypt took no part in Jewish politics, having been defeated by the Chaldeans at Carchemish (cf2 Kings 24:7). Palestine was now invaded and conquered by Nebuchadnezzar. Jehoiakim was taken prisoner and carried captive to Babylon. It was at this time that Daniel also and his three companions were taken captive to Babylon.
2 Chronicles 36: 5-7
Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD his God. 6 Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against him, and bound him in bronze fetters to carry him off to Babylon. 7 Nebuchadnezzar also carried off some of the articles from the house of the LORD to Babylon, and put them in his temple at Babylon.
Nebuchadnezzar reinstated Jehoiakim on his throne, but treated him as a vassal king. In the year after this, Jeremiah caused his prophecies to be read by Baruch in the court of the temple. Jehoiakim, hearing of this, had them also read in the royal palace before himself. The words displeased him, and taking the roll from the hands of Baruch he cut it in pieces and threw it into the fire. During his disastrous reign there was a return to the old idolatry and corruption of the days of Manasseh.
And it happened, when Jehudi had read three or four columns, that the king cut it with the scribe’s knife and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the scroll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth.
After three years of subjection to Babylon, Jehoiakim withheld his tribute and threw off the yoke (cf2 Kings 24:1), hoping to make himself independent. Nebuchadnezzar sent bands of Chaldeans, Syrians, and Ammonites (cf2 Kings 24:2) to chastise his rebellious vassal. They cruelly harassed the whole country. The king came to a violent death, and his body having been thrown over the wall of Jerusalem, to convince the beseieging army that he was dead, after having been dragged away, was buried beyond the gates of Jerusalem “with the burial of an ass,” B.C. 599. Nebuchadnezzar placed his son Jehoiachin on the throne, wishing still to retain the kingdom of Judah as tributary to him.
Therefore thus says the LORD concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah:
“They shall not lament for him,
Saying, ‘Alas, my brother!’ or ‘Alas, my sister!’
They shall not lament for him,
Saying, ‘Alas, master!’ or ‘Alas, his glory!’
19 He shall be buried with the burial of a donkey,
Dragged and cast out beyond the gates of Jerusalem.
2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the articles into the treasure house of his god.
Although Nebuchadnezzar took the vessels from the house of God, he did not defile them with pagan use. Later his grandson and successor Belshazzar would defile the gold and silver vessels which his grandfather had taken from the temple in Jerusalem (cf 2 Chronicles 36:7).
3 Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king’s descendants and some of the nobles, 4 young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans.
‘And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’”
Not all, if any of these children would be considered as future eunuchs by castration, but rather they would be trained in the upper-echelon duties in the King’s palace. The best and brightest were taken from Jerusalem and brainwashed into the Babylonian culture.
And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king.
This would be a big problem for those who were truly loyal to their God as the food prepared for the king would have been sacrificed to idols, not to mention that some of the food would be considered unclean and was forbidden by Jewish law.
The Hebrew children would be mandated three years of training in Babylonian culture. This continues the thought from verse four.
6 Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 7 To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego.
Another phase of the brainwashing process was to change their names. It wasn’t so much the name change as it was that the new names redirected their identity from their God to the Babylonian gods. Let’s look at the significant name changes.
Meanings of their Hebrew names:
- Daniel means “God is my judge.”
- Hananiah is a Hebrew name that means “God who is gracious.”
- Misha’el means “Who is like God?” and it also means “to feed” or “to provide” as in how a husband provides for his family.
- Azariah appropriately means “God has helped.”
Origins of their Babylonian names:
- Belteshazzar means “Bel Protect the King.” The title Bel signifies “lord” or “master”.
- Shadrach possibly is derived from Shudur Aku “Command of the moon god.”
- Meshach is probably a variation of Mi•sha•aku “Who is what Aku is”, an interesting twist from the Hebrew name Mishael “Who is like Yahweh?”
- Abednego is either a corrupted or deliberate use of Abednebo, “servant of Nebo/Nabu,” or Abednergo, a variation of Abednergal, “servant of the god Nergal.”
8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. 9 Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs.
Daniel was absolutely dedicated to his God and he was one of God’s best! He would not defile himself with food sacrificed to idols, but his method of refusal was to show respect in his request to abstain from the king’s food. You might say he demonstrated the love of God by the gentle manor in-which Daniel handled this potentially explosive situation. We shall see that this is a common theme in Daniel’s life.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
And the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking worse than the young men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king.”
The chief of the eunuchs had a very legitimate concern! What Daniel was asking would most certainly cost him his life, and probably Daniel’s as well! Surly God was fully in control of the situation!
In our own lives we may forget that God is fully in control. The sovereignty of God should never be questioned, but it is often forgotten, or at the very least overlooked. I find myself asking; what if I had the faith of Daniel and the blind trust of the chief of the eunuchs, would my life continue to be filled with the same consequences I find myself in when I simply will not trust God’s favor?
11 So Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king’s delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants.” 14 So he consented with them in this matter, and tested them ten days.
With the nervous approval of the chief, Daniel submits his menu. It appears that Daniel and his three friends are vegans! Vegetables and water for ten days? Why can’t I stick to a diet like that? All joking aside, I love Daniels consistent, dedicated faithfulness! He absolutely knows what is best for him and his friends on both their physical health as well as their spiritual health. He knows that after just ten days that they will have made their case.
15 And at the end of ten days their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies. 16 Thus the steward took away their portion of delicacies and the wine that they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.
They did it! After just ten days they appeared…fatter in flesh? Oh my! That does not sound like the image we are all seeking for ourselves today. Actually, “fatter in flesh” refers to their very healthy appearance. Indeed, We are striving for that look today, but I’d bet that even with all of our health supplements and trends on the market today that Daniel will have us beat, hands down!
As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
They came through this difficult test with flying colors! God has a plan for these young men during this time of captivity. Although Israel is under a sever consequence for their disobedience regarding the Sabbath of the land over the past 490 years, God will use these young men to bring great glory unto Himself.
Now at the end of the days, when the king had said that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19 Then the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king. 20 And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm.
When God is for us, who can be against us? The question Paul asks in Romans 8:32 is a great question indeed! From the beginning of time, God has shown us that apart from Him we can do nothing (from john 15:5), but He also teaches us that we can do all things through Christ, Jesus Who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). I think it is clear that God is fully for these four young men and their faithfulness and dedication to Him will certainly reap rewards for them!
King Nebuchadnezzar interviews them and finds them ten times better than all of his magicians and astrologers only because God is with them, not the pagans serving the king of Babylon.
Thus Daniel continued until the first year of King Cyrus.
Daniel is about fifteen years old at this time. For seventy years of captivity Daniel will serve other kings as he remains loyal to his God!
As we serve our employers, or others placed in authority over us, let us remain loyal to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We have only one God to serve and only one life to live for Him.
1 Corinthians 10:31-33
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.