Daniel Chapter 1
Who was Daniel? Daniel was a Jew from Judah, who became a captive to the Babylonia King Nebuchadnezzar, among the first group of captives taken from Jerusalem around 605BC. The third and last group taken happened in 586BC. He was about 13 or 14 years old when taken, and of royal or noble blood (1:3–4). Handsome, brave, educated, God chose him to bear witness to him in the heather court of King Nebuchadnezzar. Babylon was probably the most magnificent city of the ancient world. It had been build around the tower of Babel (Gen 11:9). Isaiah’s prophesy about it becoming a desolate place came true by NT times. (Isaiah 13:20–22).
Daniel was counted with righteous men like Noah and Job by the prophet Ezekiel (Ez 14:14). He is also one of the five major prophets in the bible along with Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the writer of Lamentations. There are also twelve minor prophets.
Daniel was the writer of the bible book of Daniel. His prophecies which have come to pass were so accurate to his predictions, some liberal scholars claim the book had to have been written by someone else who lived at a time after those prophesies came to pass.
The most widely held understanding of Daniel is that chapters 1–6 are generally considered historical and chapters 7–12 are generally considered prophetic. However, many prophesies we find in the bible actually have a historic occurrence but also a future occurrence. The earlier event foreshadowing what is to come. We will see this in our study. The theme of the book is the sovereignty of God. No matter who rules on earth, God has the final say. Some things in the book are sealed, and we will not fully understand them until the end of the age. Daniel’s main focus is the Jewish people, not particularly the church.
Daniel Chapter 1.
1:1 In the third year of the reign of King Jehoiakim of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon advanced against Jerusalem and laid it under siege. 1:2 Now the Lord delivered King Jehoiakim of Judah into his power, along with some of the vessels of the temple of God. He brought them to the land of Babylonia to the temple of his god and put the vessels in the treasury of his god.
1:3 The king commanded Ashpenaz, who was in charge of his court officials, to choose some of the Israelites who were of royal and noble descent — 1:4 young men in whom there was no physical defect and who were handsome, well versed in all kinds of wisdom, well educated and having keen insight, and who were capable of entering the king’s royal service — and to teach them the literature and language of the Babylonians. 1:5 So the king assigned them a daily ration from his royal delicacies and from the wine he himself drank. They were to be trained for the next three years. At the end of that time they were to enter the king’s service. 1:6 As it turned out, among these young men were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 1:7 But the overseer of the court officials renamed them. He gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar, Hananiah he named Shadrach, Mishael he named Meshach, and Azariah he named Abednego.
King Jehoakim’s reign is recorded in 2 Kings chapter 23. God had been patient for hundreds of years with Israel and Judah but they did not turn from their idolatry. Finally God used the Assyrians in 722BC to conquer Israel, and after Judah, where the Temple was, still didn’t turn back to God, the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar s conquered Judah, destroying the Temple and the city of Jerusalem. He removed the Jewish people and took them to Babylon (the exile) in 3 waves completing it in 586BC. Among the most promising young men taken were Daniel, Hannah, Mishael, and Azariah whom we common know as Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego. They were given over to an overseer who was to indoctrinate them, teach them the Babylonian ways and language so they could serve in the King’s Palace. He even changed their names to Babylonian names. They were also to eat what the Babylonians ate, which most like would have been meat that was sacrificed to pagan gods, which was unlawful for a Jew to eat. Imagine for a moment what this whole ordeal would have been like for teenage boys. Taken from their home, their family, by brutal soldiers to a place far away, a place they would have been told stories years earlier about how evil the Babylonians were. Then they are told they would be given new names, a new diet, will be schooled by pagans, with probably no hope of ever returning home or seeing their families. Indeed Jeremiah had prophesied this would last 70 years before the Jewish people could return to Jerusalem, and it did. These boys had some choices to make. They could go along with their capturers so they would stay out of danger, or they could serve the God of their ancestors, the one true God. Who would know? Their family wasn’t there to encourage and help protect them. The tough decision would be to, no matter what the cost, continue to serve the God their parents had taught them about since very young. We will see how they chose, but this brings up the importance of teaching our children about God and they seeing us living faithfully ourselves to the God we are teaching them about. There are parents in our country now who say they will let their children decide even things like if they are a boy or a girl! If the parent doesn’t know if their child is a boy or a girl, they certainly won’t be teaching them about a sovereign God. Kids need to hear about Jesus, and they need to see our faith in Jesus.
1:8 But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the royal delicacies or the royal wine. He therefore asked the overseer of the court officials for permission not to defile himself. 1:9 Then God made the overseer of the court officials sympathetic to Daniel. 1:10 But he responded to Daniel, “I fear my master the king. He is the one who has decided your food and drink. What would happen if he saw that you looked malnourished in comparison to the other young men your age? If that happened, you would endanger my life with the king!” 1:11 Daniel then spoke to the warden whom the overseer of the court officials had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: 1:12 “Please test your servants for ten days by providing us with some vegetables to eat and water to drink. 1:13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who are eating the royal delicacies; deal with us in light of what you see.” 1:14 So the warden agreed to their proposal and tested them for ten days.
The temptation that Eve faced in Eden was based on food. The first temptation Jesus faced in the wilderness was based on food. And the same for Daniel and his friends. They determined to be faithful and God made a way for them. We see here God’s influence with the overseer on behalf of these boys. We also see Daniel’s meekness. He didn’t rant and rave and stomp his feet, he calmly proposed a solution. And we see his faithfulness to God. He was willing to live in a foreign land, serve a pagan king, change his name, but unwilling to eat what was forbidden for him to eat according to the scriptures. Obeying God was more important to him than obeying man.
1:15 At the end of the ten days their appearance was better and their bodies were healthier than all the young men who had been eating the royal delicacies. 1:16 So the warden removed the delicacies and the wine from their diet and gave them a diet of vegetables instead. 1:17 Now as for these four young men, God endowed them with knowledge and skill in all sorts of literature and wisdom — and Daniel had insight into all kinds of visions and dreams.
It turned out well. The boys looked great, so the overseer made the requested diet permanent. Did the veggies make them smarter, healthier and have more wisdom? Nope, that was God. And Daniel was also given understanding in visions and dreams.
1:18 When the time appointed by the king arrived, the overseer of the court officials brought them into Nebuchadnezzar’s presence. 1:19 When the king spoke with them, he did not find among the entire group anyone like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, or Azariah. So they entered the king’s service. 1:20 In every matter of wisdom and insight the king asked them about, he found them to be ten times better than any of the magicians and astrologers that were in his entire empire. 1:21 Now Daniel lived on until the first year of Cyrus the king.
Three years of training, and the time came for them to go before the King. You can image this being an anxious time for the boys. How many people have had to stand before the most powerful man in the world? When God blesses, he blesses. They weren’t just better than the others, they were 10 times better! Daniel lived on until the first year of King Cyrus. This put Daniel’s lifespan at around 90 years.
Babylon attacked Jerusalem, captured the royal family and seized the Temple treasures.
Daniel and his friends were healthy, intelligent, educated and good-looking boys, which landed them in the King’s court.
Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the King’s food.
Daniel suggested an alternative diet and he and his friends were given veggies and water for 10 days, and found to be 10 times better than the others.
God rewarded Daniel and his friends with superior knowledge and understanding, and gave Daniel the ability to understand visions and dreams.
We see right away in this first chapter the character of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego. They were faithful to God in a foreign land, as captives without their own free will to do or go as they please.
Trusting God. Daniel gives us an amazing example of trusting God, regardless of what we might fear. And we see the importance of teaching others about our God. We’ll see more faithfulness and God’s blessing in the coming chapters.