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Daniel 1

Daniel 1 introduces us to the character of Daniel and sets the stage for the stories and prophecies of his book. The book of Daniel is a book of the Bible that Jesus mentioned and, as it has much in common with the book of Revelation and events of the last days; it seems we should try to understand it.

As we go through the book of Daniel, we will understand the reasons why Israel was taken captive by Babylon and what was to happen as they came out of captivity. The events recorded as happening to Daniel have important instruction for us. This book also has much to say about end-time events at a time when spiritual Babylon will be playing an active role in the world. We start in Daniel 1 with the captivity of Israel by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.

1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.

Israel was warned many times of the impending captivity by Babylon and reminded that it was because of their apostasy from God. They were warned by God through the prophet Jeremiah:

"In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word from the LORD, saying, ... If ye will not hearken to me, to walk in my law, which I have set before you, To hearken to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I sent unto you, both rising up early, and sending them, but ye have not hearkened; Then will I make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth." (Jer 26:1, 4-6)

Basically, the message was repent or there will be trouble. God could see the direction they were headed and even warned Hezekiah, an earlier king, of what was coming:

"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." (Isa 39:6)

Nebuchadnezzar, the king who took them captive was referred to in some interesting ways:

"And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him." (Jer 27:6)
"I have therefore delivered him (Pharaoh king of Egypt) into the hand of the mighty one of the heathen (Nebuchadnezzar); he shall surely deal with him: I have driven him out for his wickedness." (Eze 31:11)
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.

The Lord "gave" Jehoiakim into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar or, we could say He removed His protection. God is a constant protector to those who trust Him:

"Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him." (Pro 30:5)

However, when people or nations turn from God, He leaves them to the natural result of their choices and sometimes this is even captivity. While not God's first choice for anyone, those bringing about the results are said to be doing God's will. This is better understood with a correct concept of God's character.

There were actually three conflicts before Jerusalem was captured:
  1. 605 BC the temple was raided and Daniel and his three friends were captured
  2. 597 BC 10,000 captives including King Jehoiachin were taken
  3. 588-6 BC the city and the temple were destroyed; king Zedekiah taken captive

Why the invasion?

"And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto me, saith the LORD, to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but hallow the sabbath day, to do no work therein; Then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and this city shall remain for ever." (Jer 17:24-25)

The promise of divine protection included that little word "if" - it was conditional on whether or not they would "diligently hearken." Apparently, they did not.

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;
"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." (2 Kings 20:17-18)

Spoken to Hezekiah in about 713 BC. Daniel captured as a young man about 108 years later. Sons/children can just mean posterity, descendents.

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.

It seems the king selected men in whom was "no blemish" so it seems unlikely he would then make them eunuchs but he may have - the Bible does not give that detail.

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.

They were to be educated for service to the king and his court. The king, naturally, thought he was providing the best of food for their years of education.

6 Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: 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.

Here are the meanings of Daniel's and his friends Hebrew names:

  1. Daniel = "God is my judge" or "God is judge"
  2. Hananiah = "Jehovah is gracious"
  3. Mishael = "Who is he that is God?" or "Who belongs to God?"
  4. Azariah = "Jehovah helps"

"El" can be understood as short for "Elohim" or God. The new names were given to them in an attempt to obliterate the name of Israel's God and to assimilate these young men more into Babylonian culture. The names were related to the heathen gods Bel, Marduk and Nebo.

  1. Daniel was renamed Belteshazzar which means "prince of Bel."
  2. Azariah was renamed Abednego which means servant of Nebo.
  3. Hananiah was renamed Shadrach which is on uncertain meaning.
  4. Mishael was renamed Meshach which is related to the moon god.
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 understood the principle of health expressed in proverbs:

"When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee: And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite. Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat." (Pro 23:1-3)
9 Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.

Daniel gained favor and may have done it, in part, by being up front with and standing up for his beliefs. This shows character, gains respect and respectful treatment. He, no doubt, new the story of Joseph in Egypt and that God was capable of working things out.

"But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison." (Gen 39:21)
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. 11 Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,

Did the prince of the eunuchs go along with the request? It seems likely not but he had set another by the name of Melzar over them. It was to Melzar, not the prince of the eunuchs, that Daniel proposed a simple test.

12 Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. 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.

Who were the "children" Daniel referred to? Likely, it was others of the Israelite captives who were willing to eat whatever was set before them.

We might ask why Daniel was being so picky, so stubborn about his food? Satan tries to influence (ultimately, control) the mind through the body and cause it to lose the ability to think properly and make right decisions. God tries to influence (to benefit) the body through the mind, educating and prompting it to make right and free-will choices.

14 So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days. 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.

This sounds like the ten days of inspection during the Feast of Trumpets before the judgment on the Day of Atonement which was the most solemn day of the year for an Israelite.

16 Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.

Pulse is the Hebrew word "zeroa" (H2235) which is related to the word "zera" (H2233) meaning "seed" and used in Genesis in reference to food:

"And 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." (Gen 1:29)

This would have included grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts - plants that yield seeds. The word "pulse" is now commonly used for the edible seeds of leguminous plants such as peas, beans and lentils. Of course, the first test in the Garden of Eden involved diet also.

Daniel recognized that the food set before him was not the best, but wanted to eat the best he could because he wanted:

  1. to do well in NBU (Nebuchadnezzar's Babylonian University)
  2. to represent God well to non-believers around him
  3. to be in health so that he could be of the best service to God
  4. to do well in NBU (Nebuchadnezzar's Babylonian University)

So he proposed a test diet which produced good results in only ten days thus allowing him and his friends to follow the same good diet for the duration of their education. We will soon see that the end result was positive.

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.

That this dietary test could show results in only ten days is a testament to the benefits of a correct diet and lifestyle. You can learn more of the importance of a good diet at my other website.

It seems that Daniel and his friends made some good choices as far as diet and they got good results. The verse says: "...God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom.."

Here is a question:

  1. a.) Did God say something like "they obeyed me, so now I will reward them by making them smart, I'll given their IQs a 20-point boost."?
  2. or
  3. b.) Did God say "I'm glad they obeyed me because now, as a result, they will have sharper minds and do better and better represent me."

I understand that the blessing is built into the obedience. You reap what you sow. The sowing is the doing, the reaping is the natural consequences that follow.

Does God ask us to represent Him?

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matt 5:16)
"That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;" (Phil 2:15)

It takes some brain power to understand the deep topics of the book of Daniel and perhaps that is why this story is there right at the beginning to encourage us to make right health choices so that we can comprehend it.

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. 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. 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.

This was their final test before the king himself. They graduated with honors from NBU.

The Babylonians were actually quite advanced in many areas of knowledge:

  1. Architecture - Babylon is famous for its hanging gardens and massive walls and gates.
  2. Astronomy - they could predict lunar and solar eclipses.
  3. Mathematics - many important formulas were mistakenly attributed to the Greeks
  4. Medicine - they introduced the concepts of diagnosis, prognosis, physical examination, and prescriptions.

Perhaps the interest in astronomy originated with Hezekiah's sundial incident which could have been observed world wide.

"And Isaiah the prophet cried unto the LORD: and he brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz." (2 Kings 20:11)

Daniel makes reference to this when he interprets Nebuchadnezzar's dream in chapter 2.

"And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:" (Dan 2:21)

There is an interesting connection here to celestial events of the past. Read about the significance of Daniel's statement "He changes times and seasons" and its implications for us in the not-far-off future.

There is also a possible connection with the wise men/Chaldeans that came from the east (Babylon) at the time of Jesus' birth. They were students of astronomy and knew of the sign in the heavens to look for.

21 And Daniel continued even unto the first year of king Cyrus.
Not that he died then but some special event may have happened. It could even have been the decree of 537 BC regarding the end of the 70 years captivity.  

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The Greek has multiple words for forgiveness? God forgives (charizomai) whether we ask or not. Receiving forgiveness (apheimi) is by our choice.
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