Daniel 1

The Word Made Fresh

1King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon laid siege to Jerusalem in the third year of the reign of King Jehoiakim of Judah. 2The LORD allowed King Jehoiakim to fall into his hands along with some of the vessels in the house of God, and Nebuchadnezzar brought them all to Shinar to the house of his own gods.

3Then Nebuchadnezzar ordered his palace master Ashpenaz to bring some of the young men of the Israelite royal family. This was to include members of the nobility, 4all of them handsome without any physical defects and trained in every branch of wisdom, gifted in knowledge and insight, and able to serve in the king’s palace. They were to be taught the language and the literature of the Chaldeans. 5The king assigned for them a daily portion of the royal dispensation of food and wine. They were to be trained for three years, and at the end of that time they were to be stationed in the king’s court.

6Among them were four young men from the tribe of Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 7The palace master gave them Babylonian names: Daniel was called Belteshazzar. Hananiah was called Shadrach. Mishael was called Meshach. And Azariah was called Abednego. 8But Daniel decided that he would not defile himself with the royal Babylonian food and wine and asked the palace master to be allowed not to partake of it. 9And God allowed the palace master to treat Daniel with favor and compassion.

10The palace master said to Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king. He has assigned you food and drink. If he sees you in worse condition than the other young men of your age you would cause my own head to be in danger with the king.”

11Then Daniel spoke to the guard who had been put in charge of the four of them, and said, 12“Please test your servants for ten days. Let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13Then compare us with the others who eat the royal rations, and deal with us according to what you see.”

14The guard agreed, and tested them for ten days. 15At the end of the ten days it was obvious that they appeared healthier than all the other young men who had been eating the royal rations. 16So, the guard continued to remove their royal rations and wine and gave them vegetables. 17God gave these four young men knowledge and skill in every area of literature and wisdom. Daniel also was skilled in interpreting visions and dreams.

18At the time the king had assigned for them to be brought to him, the palace master brought them into the presence of Nebuchadnezzar. 19Nebuchadnezzar spoke with them. Among all of the young men, none were found to compare with Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, and that is why they were stationed in the king’s court. 20In every area of wisdom and understanding asked of them by the king, they were found to be ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his entire kingdom.

21Daniel continued in the palace until the first year of King Cyrus.


Daniel has to rank as one of the strangest books in the Old Testament. The first six chapters contain seven stories of the Jewish experience as exiles in Babylon, casting these stories around a small cast among whom the young man Daniel is the primary character. The final six chapters comprise an apocalyptic view of the distant future

1-2: There really is no way to explain the dating used in Daniel. The third year of Jehoiakim’s reign would have been 606 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar’s reign didn’t begin until 605 B.C. and the first exile did not take place until 597 B.C.

3-7: Nevertheless, at some point in Nebuchadnezzar’s reign we find four young Israelites being selected to represent the tribe of Judah then in Babylon. They are to undergo three years of training in the ways of the Babylonian court so that they can serve the king. Their names are Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. They are given Babylonian names: Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Curiously, Daniel will remain Daniel throughout the story except for a few references to him by his Babylonian name, while his three companions will forever be known by their Babylonian names while their Israelite names are virtually forgotten.

8-21: Part of their grooming is to acquaint them to the diet of Babylon. Daniel, however, challenges the palace master that he and his companions will be much better off if they simply eat their vegetables. No doubt their mothers had drilled this into them from the time they were little boys. The palace master agrees to the contest, and at the end of the allotted time Daniel et al have outshone the other young men and are admitted into the royal service of the king, a position we are told Daniel was able to keep until Cyrus took the throne in 540 B.C., or what would amount to 66 years according to the dates given in the text.


Parents struggling with their children’s appetites love the book of Daniel. Of course, the book has more to offer than advise on proper dieting. Here we have four young men who have been taken away from their homes to go into exile in Babylon. But God uses them in those circumstances to contribute to the future of God’s people, Israel. Whenever we find ourselves in trying circumstances we should look for ways to serve God; it is always a possibility that where we find ourselves is where God wants us to be.