Words in italic type have been added for clarity. They are not found in the original Hebrew or Aramaic.
- A common historical practice for a conqueror, upon conquering a nation, would leave the conquered king in power forcing him to pay an astronomical “homage” and take an oath not to rebel against him. To make sure the puppet king kept his oath, the conqueror would take hostages from the royal family, with the danger of being murdered if the puppet king should break his oath and rebel. During this time an assimilation process takes place of differing cultures.
- Such is the background of Nebuchadnezzar taking Daniel and his friends as well as others as hostages.
- Never before had Judah been conquered. It must have been inconceivable for the inhabitants to believe they could be conquered, even though the prophet Jeremiah begged and pleaded and endured every inhumane treatment from the leaders of Judah, to get them to believe God’s unalterable prophecies.
- Leading up to Daniel’s captivity, Daniel would have been born under King Josiah’s rule when the nation prospered. Everything changed when Josiah met Pharaoh Necco and his armies from Egypt to stop them from helping the Assyrians fighting against Babylon.
- No one knows why Josiah would have interfered, however, it cost him his life and put Judah under the reign of Egypt. When Babylon conquered the Pharaoh, the field was open to lay siege to Judah.
- Jehoiakim is the son of King Josiah. Jehoiakim is now a puppet king of Judah under Babylon.
Daniel and His Friends Obey God
(Daniel chapter one was originally written in Hebrew.)
Daniel 1:1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.
|Year||Jerusalem’s King Jehoiakim||Babylon Approach of determining years of reigning.||Event|
|605 BC||Jehoiakim||3rd Year||Jerusalem besieged. Daniel is taken hostage.|
- ►Timeline: 605 BC: Fourth year of Jehoiakim by Jewish reckoning but the 3rd year by Babylonian reckoning. The Babylonian approach would call this his third year.
- This is Nebuchadnezzar’s accession year.
- ►History: As General Nebuchadnezzar left Jerusalem with the Jewish hostages he received word of his father’s (Nabopolassar’s) death.
According to Jewish Chronology of the World in the “Seder Olam Rabbah”, Nebuchadnezzar reigned for 67 years after he came to power. When his father died, Nebuchadnezzar, in the process of taking Daniel and his friends to Babylon into captivity, upon hearing the news of his father’s death, took off across the desert with a small envoy in order to secure the throne, leaving others to take the captives the rest of the way to Babylon.
- When the hostages arrived in Babylon Nebuchadnezzar was king.
- ► Name: “Babylon”: Located in modern day Iraq, the name Babylon is derived from the biblical “Tower of Babel”. The modern day English word “Babble” comes from the bible when God divided the languages of men at the Tower of Babel. Gen 11:1-9
- ►Jehoiakim King of Judah
- Jehoiakim was one of the sons of King Josiah, Josiah was one of the rare kings of Judah God called a “good” king. However, Josiah’s sons refused the wisdom of God and the prophets.
Note: black arrows show the progression of power. The last four were puppet kings at the end of Judah.
- ► Royalty
- When Daniel was born in 620 BC, Josiah had reigned for 21 years. Daniel’s family was related to Mattanyahu (His royal name, Zedekiah) one of King Josiah’s sons.
- After Zedekiah was captured, Nebuchadnezzar killed Zedekiah’s immediate family in front of Zedekiah’s eyes as well as family members of his royal household.
- Had Daniel not been taken as a hostage and gained favor with King Nebuchadnezzar, he and his friends may well have been killed at Zedekiah’s capture.
- Daniel’s family was probably victims of the 3rd and final siege.
- Ezekiel 14:14 Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it (Jerusalem), they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness,” says the Lord God.
Daniel 1:2 And the Lord (‘ăḏōnāy) gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his (Nebuchadnezzar’s) hand, with some of the articles of the house of God (‘ĕlōhîm) (the temple), 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.
- ►Note: “His god” accentuates Babylon’s idolatry.
- ►Note: Nebuchadnezzar also brought certain hostages to Shinar (Babylon). This was customary to ensure that the puppet king, Jehoiakim, did not rebel – or the hostages would be killed. For this reason the hostages came from the king’s family. Scripture does not reveal how they were related. Daniel and his friends were among these hostages.
- ►Note: Later on, in the second and third siege of Jerusalem the Jews were no longer hostages, but captives.
Daniel 1:3 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,
►Types of hostages
1) Some were children of Israel
2) Some were the king’s descendants
3) Some were nobles
Daniel 1:4 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 (Lit. writing or book) of the Chaldeans.
- ►Chaldea was a country that existed between the late 10th or early 9th and mid-6th centuries BC, after which the country and its people were absorbed and assimilated into Babylonia.
Daniel 1:5 And the king appointed for them (the children of Israel) 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 that time they might serve before the king.
In 605 BC Daniel and his friends begin their 3 year training program probably ending in 603 BC, which would be the same year Daniel interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a statue made of various medals.
Daniel 1:6 Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
Daniel 1:7 To them the chief of the eunuchs (Ashpenaz) gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego.
- ►This tells us that Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were young, good-looking, fast learners and gifted. They were the sons of Judah, (Jewish, or literally from the lineage of Judah, the son of Jacob) Furthermore, they were from the royal family of Josiah.
- “The king ordered . . . to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility…Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah,” Dan 1:3,6
|Attributes of DANIEL, HANANIAH, MISHAEL, AZARIAH|
|* Physical Attributes|
|Tribe of Judah|
|Family line of Josiah|
|* Spiritual Attributes|
|Rejected the Kings Delicacies|
|Three Friends: Refused to Bow Down to the Statue|
|Three Friends: Put in a Furnace without Being Burnt|
|Daniel: Put in a Lion’s Den|
|Daniel: Supernaturally deciphered the kings’ dreams|
|Daniel: Prayed Three Times a Day|
Daniel 1:8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs (Ashpenaz) that he might not defile himself.
- Why would the king’s delicacies defile Daniel? Probably due to the fact that the king’s food would not be kosher.
Daniel 1:9 Now God (‘ĕlōhîm) had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill (kindness) of the chief of the eunuchs (Ashpenaz).
- ►It is believed Daniel was made a eunuch based on the following scripture:
- 2 Kings 20:18 And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’ ”
- ►What is a eunuch?
- A eunuch is defined as someone (usually a man) whose testes (and sometimes also penis and scrotum) have been destroyed or removed. This leads to sterility and (depending on the stage of life at which it is done) to various degrees of impotence and loss of libido.
- Pre-pu-bertal castration causes a “eunuchoid” build (tall, with broad hips, narrow shoulders and breasts like that of a woman), impotence, absence of libido and secondary sexual characteristics (small genitals, lack of beard and unbroken voice).
- Castration after puberty does not lead to degeneration of secondary sexual characteristics; the build remains un-changed, and reduction of sexual activity is unpredictable. Although sterile, the castrate may remain potent for a year or longer, and some even retain libido throughout their lives. There is a reduction in aggression, but abnormalities of the psyche usually represent a psychological reaction to forced castration and the accompanying humiliation and rejection by the community, in addition to the effects of hormonal deprivation (Grey 1974:579-85)
- According to Penzer three varieties of eunuchs were recognized in antiquity: 1) castrati, clean-cut, both penis and testicles were removed; 2) spadones, testicles only were removed; and 3) thlibiae, testicles were bruised and/or crushed.
- Daniel was ~15 years of age when he was taken hostage.
- Most boys begin puberty between the ages of 9 and 14.
Daniel 1:10 And the chief of the eunuchs (Ashpenaz) said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking worse than the young men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king.”
- ►Did Ashpenaz have reason to fear the disposition of Nebuchadnezzar? See Daniel 2:12-13
- Daniel 2:12 For this reason the king was angry and very furious, and gave the command to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. 13 So the decree went out, and they began killing the wise men; and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them.
Daniel 1:11 So Daniel said to the steward (Or: Melzar, a title) whom the chief of the eunuchs (Ashpenaz) had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,
Daniel 1:12 “Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink.
- ► This would leave the reader to believe that Daniel and his friends might be vegetarians.
Daniel 1:13 Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king’s delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants.”
Daniel 1:14 So he consented with them in this matter, and tested them ten days.
Daniel 1:15 And at the end of ten days their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies.
Daniel 1:16 Thus the steward (Or: Melzar) took away their portion of delicacies and the wine that they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.
Daniel 1:17 As for these four young men (of stability), God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
- ►Note: God was the source of their knowledge, skills, and wisdom.
►Daniel, specifically, had understanding in visions and dreams
Daniel 1:18 Now at the end of the (ten) days, when the king had said that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs (Ashpenaz) brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar.
Daniel 1:19 Then the king interviewed them (Lit. talked with them), and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king.
- To serve before the king is the highest of stations.
Daniel 1:20 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 (conquered territories).
- ►Magicians and astrologers were considered to be wise men, originating from Chaldeans. They are also known as the Magi in the New Testament who came to worship the newborn Jesus when they saw His star in the sky.
Daniel 1:21 Thus Daniel continued (serving in the palace) until the first year of King Cyrus (when the Persians defeated Belshazzar, king of Babylon) (70 YEARS ACCORDING TO THE PROPHECY OF JEREMIAH).
- ►The Story of the defeat of the Babylonians. See Daniel chapter five for the account of Babylon’s demise.
NOTE: For a timeline on these events see: TIMELINE BC which tracks all historical events according to the genealogies in the bible from Adam to Masada; it also includes schoolbook history. Scroll to 605 BC.