Daniel’s life and ministry bridge the entire seventy-year period of Babylonian captivity. Deported to Babylon at the age of sixteen, and handpicked for government service, Daniel became God’s prophetic mouthpiece tot he Gentile and Jewish world declaring God’s present eternal purpose. The name Daniel means “God Is My Judge.” Daniel is one of the few well-known Bible characters about whom nothing negative is ever written. His life was characterized by faith, prayer, courage, consistency, and lack of compromise.
The Deportation of Daniel To Babylon
Verse 1 – In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.
Verse 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.
Nebuchadnezzar invaded Jerusalem, took vessels from the temple of the Lord and some of the inhabitants, including Daniel and his three friends. King Nebuchadnezzar put these vessels into his temple of Mardok, 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).
Verse 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,
Verse 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.
The academic program that they would be taught would include, mathematics, astronomy, history, science, and magic. These young men not only demonstrated aptitude, but also discipline.
Verse 5 – 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 the time they might serve before the king.
It’s obvious that those who were chosen were already well-educated. Nebuchadnezzar was so concerned about their well-being, that ordinary food would not be a part of their diet.
Verse 6 – Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
Verse 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.
These boy’s names were changed to pagan names: Daniel which meant “God is my judge”, was changed to Belteshazzar, meaning, “keeper of the hide treasure of Bel.” Hananiah, “Yahweh is God,” changed to Shadrach meaning, “Inspiration of the sun” (worship of the sun). Mishael, “Who belongs to God,” changed to Meshach, meaning “Of the goddess Shaca” (worship of Venus). Azariah, “Yahweh helps,” changed to Abed-Nego, meaning “Servant of the shinning fire.”
This was their custom to change their names to influence them into the idolatrous religion and practice of the Babylonians.
Verse 8 – But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuch that he might not defile himself.
Its easier to resist temptation if you have thought through your convictions well before the temptation arrives. Daniel and his friends had already decided where to draw the line. This first test, was the test of appetite. Appetite has a direct link to our spiritual life. Look what happened in the garden with Adam and Eve when a forbidden fruit was eaten. This appetite temptation does not always mean food; it can be for clothes, cars, houses, drink, and etc.
We can assume that the food and wine was unfit according to the laws of health (Leviticus 11; Proverbs 20:1), wine is a mocker and those who drink it, is not wise.
Verse 9 – Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and good will of the chief of the eunuchs. Daniel and his friends would not compromise, but stood fast to the principles of God, so they were shown favor by the chief eunuch. They stood fast because they had already committed their ways unto the Lord. When we are obedient to the Lord, He can show us favor even with our enemies.
Verse 10 – 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 face looking worse than the young men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king.”
Anything short of obedience meant execution fro the officials who served Nebuchadnezzar. He had a right to be scared.
Verse 11 – So Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,
Verse 12 – “Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink.
Daniel chose to negotiate rather than rebel. Without compromising, Daniel thought of a practical, creative, solution that saved his life and the lives of his companions.
Verse 13 – “Then let our countenances be examined before you, and the countenances of the young men who eat the portion of the king’s delicacies; as you see fit, so deal with your servants.”
Daniel knew that because they had just traveled a long journey from Jerusalem, their bodies would need to recover. Food that is highly nutritious, light, and easily digested and that would keep their mind clear, was the best choice for them.
Verse 14 – So he consented with them in this matter, and tested them ten days.
Verse 15 – And at the end of ten days their countenance appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies.
Verse 16 – Thus the steward took away their portion of delicacies and the wine that they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.
This only eating of vegetables is not an endorsement to become a vegetarian. God was the One who made them strong. They trusted in the All Mighty and again were shown favor.
Verse 17 – 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.
Verse 18 – 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.
Verse 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.
Verse 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.
Verse 21 – Thus Daniel continued until the first year of King Cyrus.
Daniel and his friends were put on the king’s staff which included “Magicians and enchanters.” These were astrologers who claimed to tell the future through occult practices. Daniel was one of the first captives taken to Babylon, and lived to see the first exiles return to Jerusalem in 538 B.C. Babylon was a wicked nation, but would have been much worse without Daniel’s influence.