“The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing you couldest reveal this secret. 48 Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon.”
Daniel Chapter 1
Daniel 1:1-2 “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. 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.”
Jehoiakim reigned from 609-598 B.C. and “did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord” 2 Chronicles 36:5. It was in his 3rd year, 606 B.C., that Nebuchadnezzar came and besieged Jerusalem, in which time Nebuchadnezzar took some of the vessels of the temple of the Lord and some of the inhabitants, Daniel and his three friends included.
It would be interesting to note that during this time king Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar’s father, died leaving the throne naked. Nebuchadnezzar receiving word endeavoured to return to Babylon, in the land of Shinar (Genesis 10:10) to claim it before another did. He rode approximately 700 km’s, across the Syrian Desert, over 22-23 days and claimed the throne and kingship.
King Nebuchadnezzar put the vessels from the temple of God into the temple of Marduk (formally named Bel) the god of the Babylonians, Jeremiah 50:2.
All of this came to pass according to the word of the Lord through Isaiah the prophet. (2 Kings 20:16-17)
Note: Jerusalem was besieged 2 more times, once under the reign of Jehoiachin 597 B.C. and secondly under the reign of Zedekiah in 586 B.C. in the which, Jerusalem’s walls were pulled down also the temple, and the city was burned only leaving husbandmen to tend to crops. (2 Kings 24 & 25; 2 Chronicles 36)
Daniel 1:3-5 “And the king spoke 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; 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. 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.”
Isaiah prophesied of the fact that king Hezekiah’s sons, or the kings seed, would be taken captive by the Babylonians, and made eunuchs (in a physical sense of the word), in the palace of the king of Babylon. (Isaiah 39:7)
Nebuchadnezzar told Ashpenaz, the master of the eunuchs, to choose out children of the kings seed (which can be read as youth as Daniel was 18 years of age), that had no blemish, or physical defects, (Leviticus 24:19-20) but well-favoured or good looking in appearance. Skilful in all wisdom, cunning in knowledge, understanding science, and have the ability to be able to stand or hold a position in the king’s palace. Those that were chosen had to be able to be taught in the schools and tongue of the Chaldeans.
It is obvious that those who were chosen were well educated, which is another reason why they were not just children. What should make the reader sit back and look at what has just been read is this; an idolatrous king demanded perfection in those who were chosen. And he was so concerned in their well being, that he would not allow ordinary food to be fed to them. Nebuchadnezzar wanted them to be fed with what he regarded as the best, which is the food from his own table. If this is expected by an idolatrous king, how much more is expected by the King of kings, Jesus Christ.
The question must be asked, why did Nebuchadnezzar not wipe out the opposing kings seed, but wish to educate them in the affairs of his kingdom so that they could stand in his palace? The answer is rather a simple one. Nebuchadnezzar was a very wise king, and by doing this he would guarantee, more fully, the loyalty of the captive nation to his own kingdom.
At the end of three years they were to stand before the king, obviously to be tested by him to see how they have faired, verses 18-20.
Daniel 1:6-7 “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.”
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were a part of the captivity. The prince of the eunuchs gave them new names as listed below;
The Pagan name change
|Daniel; God is my judge -||Belteshazzar; Keeper of the hide treasures of Bel|
|Hananiah; Yahweh is God -||Shadrach; Inspiration of the sun (worship of Sun)|
|Mishael; Who belongs to God -||Meshach; Of the goddess Shaca (worship of Venus)|
|Azariah; Yahweh helps -||Abednego; Servant of the shining fire|
The change of names was customary of this time, but why to names of pagan deities? This was to encourage them, or influence them, to compromise, (conform to), and take up the idolatrous religion and practices that encompassed them in the Babylonian nation.
Daniel 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.”
The first test that these young men were faced with was the test of appetite. This seems to be rather an insignificant matter. But if we look to history we find that Adam and Eve’s first test was upon appetite. (Genesis 3:1-3) Christ’s first test in the wilderness, in reclaiming what man had lost, was appetite. (Matthew 4:3) This should be a warning sign to us today that appetite has a direct link to our spiritual life, for it shows that when the appetite is ruling sin is lying at the door. And when it is not ruling but under the control of reason, it is harder for sin to take hold upon us. So what we eat and drink can either hinder or promote our relationship with God.
Obviously a portion of the food and wine was unfit to eat and drink according to the laws of health. (Leviticus 11; Proverbs 20:1) Why Daniel and his friends purposed/determined in their hearts not to eat or drink of the king’s food is because the “law of his God was in their hearts” Psalms 37:31, so “they inclined in their hearts to perform God’s statutes always” Psalms 119:112, and to “not do any evil thing” Psalms 141:4, in “defiling the temple of God” 1 Corinthians 3:16-7. So Daniel requested of Melzar that he might not defile himself.
Their parents did a good job in instructing them as children in the way that they should go, Proverbs 22:6. What about us? How are we guiding and instructing them?
Daniel 1:9-10 “Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs. 10 And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who has 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 you make me endanger my head to the king.”
Why was Daniel brought into favour with the prince of the eunuchs? Because Daniel and his friends would not compromise but stood fast to the principles of God. And why did they stand fast? Because they had committed their ways unto the Lord; and also trusted in Him to bring it to pass. (Psalms 37:5) Their obedience to Gods ways pleased the Lord and God could make their enemies to be at peace with them, Proverbs 16:7. So God can bless faithfulness to him.
But the prince of the eunuchs feared the king, for it was the king himself that had appointed their meat and drink, and if the king should see them looking worse than the other Jews he would endanger his head. So he went to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had placed in charge of them, and requested of him the same thing. Daniel was persistent. This shows 2 points; 1) That the king and those under him honestly thought that this type of diet was the best for building muscle and mind. 2) Not all the Jews stood to the principles of God but compromised. So Melzar feared the result but Daniel knew better as we will find out.
Daniel 1:11-14 “Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 Prove your servants, I beseech you, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. 13 Then let our countenances be looked upon before you, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king's meat: and as you seest, deal with your servants. 14 So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.”
Daniel set his face like a flint and believed that the Lord would help him (Isaiah 50:7) and asked Melzar to go against the kings orders. This is a lesson for us in trusting the promises of the Lord, for Daniel had an incredible amount of trust in God in saying “prove us 10 days...then compare us with the others.” But he had a good reason to and so do we. See Psalms 56:11; 125:1.
What is pulse and why 10 days? There are varying answers to what pulse is, but the most sensible is this; a diet of a variety of vegetables, dates, and berries.
Daniel was very wise in choosing 10 days, because he knew that they had only just marched from Jerusalem, which would take its toll on the health and vitality of the body. So the best food is needed to help the body recover; food that is highly nutritious to aid the body to quickly repair itself, light and easily digested by the stomach, and food that would keep the mind clear and sharp to be able to discern the guiding of the Lord and not effect their spiritual perception. But most importantly food that the Lord could bless and strengthen them with, (as ultimately it was the Lord that blessed them with the result that was gained, because Daniel’s faith was a faith that had corresponding works out of his love for God, James 2:17-20, Galatians 5:6), unlike the food from the kings table.
So Melzar agreed to ten days.
Daniel 1:15-17 “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. 16 Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse. 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 results were remarkably in favour of Daniel and his friends, for the Lord blessed them with fairer and fatter countenances. So the portion of the king’s food was taken away completely and they were feed pulse and water. Blessed is the man that trusteth in Him. (Psalms 34:8)
God blessed them with wisdom and knowledge in learning, as He is the author of these. (Proverbs 2:6, James 1:5) Also to Daniel, He gave the understanding in visions and dreams as we will see in future chapters.
This shows to us that the Lord is willing to bless those that put their faith and trust in Him, but that also we need to not just sit back and wait for the Lord to bless. As Daniel made every effort to have their diet changed, having faith in God to open the door of opportunity, so too are we to move forward by faith.
Daniel 1:18-21 “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. 21 And Daniel continued even unto the first year of king Cyrus.”
At the end of 3 years the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before king Nebuchadnezzar. The king questioned them and found that none were of the capabilities of Daniel and his friends, for they were 10 times wiser. This shows that the king must have been a very wise man himself to be able to question them in such matters. Why were they wiser? Because the Lord blessed them with wisdom and this wisdom was a reward for their faithfulness/obedience to God. (Proverbs 2:7; 10:31)
Daniel continued until the 1st year of Cyrus the Persian king.
Friends, they stood the test of appetite. They didn’t compromise when everyone else was. They stood true to God come what may and because of this God could bless them. The question is, can the same be said about us today? Are we indulging appetite? And are we compromising the truths of God? Are we standing true to God come what may, and teaching and instructing our children to do the same? For if we aren’t, God cannot bless us like he did Daniel and his friends. May we be inspired by this chapter to make a more earnest effort to serve the Lord so we too can have the peace and blessings of God bestowed upon us.