Daniel Chapter 1:Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego taken Captive to Babylon

Nov 27th, 2009 | By | Category: Daniel, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Daniel Chapter 1:Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego taken Captive to Babylon

Dan. 1:1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.

Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, besieged Jerusalem “in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah,” which was 625 BC. The Period of the Kings covered 513 years. To all practical effects, Jehoiakim was next to the last king of Judah because he reigned for 11 years, Jehoiachin (the next king) reigned for only 3 months, and Zedekiah (the last king) reigned for 11 years. Being placed on the throne of Judah by the king of Egypt, Jehoiakim was a puppet king, relatively speaking. To all practical benefits, Josiah was king of Judah prior to Jehoiakim, for as with Jehoiachin, Jehoahaz reigned for only 3 months. Therefore, the chronological order of the last five kings of Judah was Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah.

The king of Egypt removed Jehoahaz from the throne and replaced him with Jehoiakim. And it was Nebuchadnezzar who put Zedekiah on the throne. Even though all of these kings were related to Josiah, they got on the throne only by the grace of the king of Egypt or the king of Babylon.

Nebuchadnezzar came down to Jerusalem three times, the third year of Jehoiakim being the first time. The second time, which occurred eight years later, Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin captive. The third time Nebuchadnezzar came down, he besieged Jerusalem, took Zedekiah captive, and destroyed the city and Solomon’s Temple. Thus there were three entries into Israel by King Nebuchadnezzar and one entry by the king of Egypt.

King Length of Reign Put on Throne by Removed by Date of Removal Josiah 31 years 628 BC

Jehoahaz 3 months King of Egypt King of Egypt 628 BC

Jehoiakim 11 years King of Egypt 617 BC

Jehoiachin 3 months Nebuchadnezzar 617 BC

Zedekiah 11 years Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar 606 BC

In the third year of Jehoiakim, Nebuchadnezzar besieged (that is, circled) Jerusalem, and of course the siege took time. Therefore, depending on what perspective of the siege is being considered, the chronologies of Daniel, Jeremiah, Kings, and Chronicles vary from the third to the fourth year of Jehoiakim. In other words, Nebuchadnezzar came down to Jerusalem and began his siege in the third year, but he did not capture the city until the end of the siege in the fourth year.

Dan. 1:2 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.

It took a little time for the Lord to give Jehoiakim, king of Judah, into Nebuchadnezzar’s hand.

Notice that at this time, the king of Babylon took only part of the vessels from Solomon’s Temple. Thus, with a sufficient number of vessels being left in the Temple, the services could continue.

Notice the wording: “The Lord gave Jehoiakim … into his [Nebuchadnezzar’s] hand, with part of the vessels … which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god.” God allowed these things to happen by giving Nebuchadnezzar the capability. The “land of Shinar” was another name for Babylon, as was Chaldea. The king of Babylon put the vessels in the treasure house (or temple) of his heathen god. The second and third times Nebuchadnezzar went down to Jerusalem—that is, during the reigns of Jehoiachin and Zedekiah—more vessels were taken, until none remained and the Temple was destroyed. During King Belshazzar’s reign, the vessels were taken out of storage and used at his feast. Still later, when Cyrus issued his decree, the Temple vessels were returned to Jerusalem.

Q: Were the Temple vessels taken to demonstrate that the Babylonian god was mightier than the God of the Israelites?

A: Yes. For that reason, the vessels were regarded as trophies of war.

In summary, during the third year of Jehoiakim, Jerusalem was besieged. The city succumbed in the fourth year, and some of the Temple vessels were taken to Babylon.

Dan. 1:3 And the king spake 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;

Dan. 1:4 Children in whom was no blemish, but wellfavoured, 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.

The account is beginning to inform us that Daniel was taken captive at this time, that is, at the first appearance of the king of Babylon at Jerusalem. At the second entry, other Israelites were taken captive, and at the third entry, some more were taken. The Book of Daniel starts by informing us where Daniel was when he began his career.

Comment: The name Daniel means “God is judge,” and he would have been quite young at this time.

Reply: Yes, he was somewhere between the ages of 12 and 16 when he was taken captive.

Ashpenaz was the master (or prince) of King Nebuchadnezzar’s eunuchs. Even the greatest scholars who are familiar with the Hebrew and the Chaldean languages do not know what the name Ashpenaz means. However, in the antitype, he represents the Holy Spirit.

Chapter 1 was written by Daniel in Hebrew. In Chapter 2 and for several chapters, he changed the original writing to Chaldaic, for the Jewish captives, who were with him in Babylon, were schooled in that language. In fact, Daniel, the three Hebrews, and the other captives who were considered intellectuals and men of promise became very learned in the Chaldaic language, especially as they were exalted in office. Those taken captive the third time, when Zedekiah was dethroned, were in Babylon for 70 years. Therefore, Daniel and the three Hebrews were in Babylon for more than 70 years. Incidentally, the 70 years apply to the desolation of the land and the destruction of the Temple and city, and not to the length of the captivity.

The king told Ashpenaz to bring “certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes … [to Babylon and] teach [them] the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.”

Based on the phrase “of the king’s seed, and of the princes,” a logical thought is that Daniel was of the royal line. In order to understand and use the talents of the Hebrew captives, the king wisely required them to speak the language of the Babylonians. The United States government today should follow such a policy and require immigrants to learn and speak the English language.

“Children in whom was no blemish.” In Hebrew, the word “children” is “youths.” The Hebrew youths were “wellfavoured, 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.” The king selectively took as captives the cream of the crop, particularly from royalty. He wisely took those who had promise, feeling their talents could be used to build up Babylon. Of the four universal empires, Babylon, the “head of gold,” was the greatest (Dan. 2:37,38).

Comment: If Daniel was only 12 years old, or 16 at the most, he must have been an outstanding young man for all these qualities to be already recognizable in him. We are reminded of Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem at age 12.

Reply: Yes, and Daniel may have been “wellfavoured” both ways: in appearance and in intellect.

The captives had the “ability in them to stand in the king’s palace.” In other words, they had a background of nobility, for their stature, behavior, and dress were above average. The king would not be ashamed to have these individuals as his counselors even from the standpoint of appearance. Being young and having such talents made them extraordinary indeed. From a natural standpoint, Daniel was a prodigy. Genetically speaking, the Lord had overruled so that he was the right person at the right time. Now he would have other kinds of wisdom added to his natural wisdom.

Daniel was “cunning in knowledge”; that is, he was savvy. He knew how to deal with complicated questions, and thus the king looked to him for advice when perplexing decisions had to be made. The king chose such individuals for his cabinet.

Nebuchadnezzar was a unique personage from a human standpoint, even though he had a short and violent temper. Among other things, he was a cunning administrator, an artist, and an architect (the Hanging Gardens of Babylon are one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World). Even his policy for selecting captives to be brought to Babylon was wise, for it made sure that only the most capable were spared, that is, those who could contribute the most to the strength and upbuilding of Babylon. Truly Nebuchadnezzar was a most unusual person. In Scripture, this worldly, heathen individual is favorably called God’s messenger and “servant,” and he is unfavorably called a “lion” (Jer. 4:7; 25:9). Unfortunately, his accomplishments led to pride, for he gloried in his accomplishments.

Comment: In 2 Kings 20:16-18, Isaiah prophesied about the future Babylonian captivity and destruction of the Temple. “And Isaiah said unto Hezekiah, Hear the word of the LORD.

Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the LORD. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”

Q: What was the significance of having a house of eunuchs?

A: One reason is that kings usually had a harem with multiple wives. Men who served in the king’s court and household were selected for their appearance, talents, and abilities. Through their duties, they had familiarity and frequent contact with the king’s family, and of course the king did not want any of his wives or concubines to be seduced. There is a faint possibility that Daniel and the three Hebrew children were made eunuchs, although the account does not so state. However, whether or not they were eunuchs is really immaterial. The point is that training in the house of eunuchs meant dedication of purpose. They were servants of the king, and their future depended upon their becoming real Babylonians.

The same verses—Ezekiel 14:14,20—that are used to prove Daniel was emasculated are also cited to prove he was not. “Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness.” This text can be understood two different ways. Both Noah and Job had children, but the Scriptures are silent about Daniel, so we do not know whether or not he had children. The point was that in regard to God’s judgment, even if these three men—or any other three—were on the scene, only they themselves would be delivered and none of their progeny. The text is not necessarily saying that all three had children and that those children would not be delivered except on the basis of pure righteousness. Thus Ezekiel 14:14,20 is not conclusive proof one way or the other. However, since Ashpenaz was the “master of the eunuchs,” many captives were treated in that way.

Q: How would Ashpenaz and Daniel have communicated before Daniel learned the language of the Chaldeans?

A: Chaldaic, the basic language of the Babylonian court, was in some respects akin to Hebrew, although the pronunciation was strong, harsh, and guttural. Therefore, communication would have been possible. For instance, an educated Jew can understand Arabic to some degree because of the Semitic similarity of the two languages.

Another text that, at first glance, might seem to prove Daniel was a eunuch is Isaiah 39:5-7, which reads, “Then said Isaiah to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the LORD of hosts: Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the LORD. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” However, Isaiah’s statement to Hezekiah applied in a relatively limited sense, whereas Daniel and the three Hebrews were taken captive to Babylon more than a century later in the third or fourth year of Jehoiakim. Therefore, what happened to Hezekiah’s seed does not necessarily apply to all of the other seed because Jeconiah is mentioned in the lineage of Messiah (Matt. 1:11,12).

In the antitype, Christians can be eunuchs for Christ. Paul forwent the liberty of having a wife to be a spiritual eunuch, for he wanted to be free of all encumbrances in order to serve the Lord full-time.

Comment: Being a spiritual eunuch is the ideal condition for a Christian.

Reply: Yes, although that position is not the best for everyone. It is better not to make such a vow than to make it and fail to keep it.

Who serves the Lord best full-time? The Holy Spirit does. Eliezer, the oldest servant of Abraham, is a picture of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, which is 100 percent God’s spirit, will, temperament, and power, is older than Jesus.

Dan. 1:5 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.

Dan. 1:6 Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:

Daniel and the three Hebrews are now brought into the narrative for the first time. Not only were they to be educated, but they would be nourished and given the best food, drink, and provisions. To a certain extent, the philosophy may be true that the better the health, the better the mind. It was felt that in three years, the Hebrew captives would be adept and learned in the native tongue and cuneiform writing of Babylon. Today when we look at cuneiform tablets, we can appreciate the difficulty of mastering that language, which consists of a lot of wedges, strokes, and scratches on clay. In fact, cuneiform was as dead a language as the hieroglyphs of Egypt until Rawlinson, an envoy to Persia, deciphered them.

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were not only Hebrew names but also religious names.

According to Young’s Analytical Concordance, Hananiah means “Jehovah is gracious”; the “iah” (or Jah) is an abbreviation of Jehovah’s name. Mishael, which is synonymous with Michael, signifies “one who as God.” (Because the various books of the Bible were assigned to different scholars with different backgrounds, the same person sometimes has several names. For example, Zedekiah is also called Mattaniah, and Jehoiachin is Jeconiah and Coniah.) Azariah means “Jehovah is noble” or “Jehovah is helper.”

Dan. 1:7 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 Abed-nego.

Daniel and the three Hebrew children were given new Babylonian names by the prince of the eunuchs according to characteristics he saw in them. In addition, the Babylonian custom was to give names related to their gods. “Bel” pertains to the god Bel, Baal, etc. (Originally the name “Baal” meant “Lord” in a favorable sense, but it became corrupted.) In other words, different nations worshipped more or less the same heathen god under different names. This was also true with Grecian and Roman gods and goddesses. The titles pertain to Satan’s gods, and the Trinity concept is involved. Therefore, names that look quite different for different nationalities can be identified with the same mythical personage.

Hebrew Name- Babylonian Name -Definition

Daniel -Belteshazzar -Prince of Bel

Hananiah -Shadrach -Friend of the king

Mishael -Meshach -Anointed one

Azariah -Abed-nego -Servant of Nebo

“Zar,” the last syllable of Belteshazzar, compares with “sar” in other languages and means “prince.” Examples are Caesar and Kaiser. The Russian form is “czar.”

Comment: Belshazzar has the same meaning as Belteshazzar: “prince of Bel.”

With Abed-nego, the “g” is sometimes confused with “b” and should be Abed-nebo, “Nebo” being one of the gods. Hence the anglicized Nebuchadnezzar is really Nebochadnezzar.

Dan. 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.

Verse 4 showed that certain criteria were applied to the captives who were selected to be educated in the Babylonian court and language. They were to have “no blemish, but [be] wellfavoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science,” and they were to have the ability “to stand in the king’s palace.” Thus Daniel and the three Hebrews were notable in appearance and bearing and had no physical imperfection, so the king would not be ashamed to have them stand in his immediate presence. True, they needed some pruning, education, and refinement in the Babylonian customs and language, but they had acute, eager minds and seemed to be very promising students.

One problem with the Hebrews’ eating the king’s food was that even if clean meats were served, they had to be prepared kosher style with the blood being drained. And wine was characteristically used to toast and praise heathen gods. Being very perceptive for a young man, Daniel purposed in his heart not to defile himself with the king’s food or drink. He could see that if he once got inveigled into this practice, it would be difficult for him to keep his vows as a Jew, and he would unnecessarily embarrass the king and the princes.

Dan. 1:9 Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.

Notice that God brought Daniel into favor and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs. How remarkable that Ashpenaz took an immediate liking to Daniel as being a most unusual young man! Just as Moses was fair to look upon and later became learned in all the wisdom of Egypt, so Daniel was pleasing in appearance and became skilled in Babylonian learning. Both Joseph and Daniel were ultimately raised to the high position of being second in the court of a heathen king. At any rate, with God’s overruling, Daniel must have been startlingly outstanding even prior to his Babylonian training so that his appearance, characteristics, and acts would appeal to Ashpenaz, who would see Daniel as a most promising student or protégé.

Comment: Proverbs 16:7 says, “When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

Reply: Being in the court, Daniel must have had remarkable tact in responding to certain situations. In a debate, a person sometimes has such an outstanding manner or capability that even the one who strongly differs with him has to admit his opponent is very gracious and not at all mean-spirited. Even an enemy would observe the courtesy of one human addressing another human.

Dan. 1:10 And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath 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 ye make me endanger my head to the king.

Daniel had confided his reservations to the prince of the eunuchs—that his religious conscience was involved—and he did not want to violate the worship of his God. The very fact the prince condescended to even consider the matter indicates he was impressed with Daniel. However, the prince felt that granting Daniel’s request would jeopardize his own career and perhaps even his life.

Comment: Of the Jews who were there, only Daniel had the courage and strength of conviction to speak up.

Dan. 1:11 Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,

Dan. 1:12 Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.

Melzar, a subordinate of Ashpenaz, was given the immediate charge over Daniel and the three Hebrew children. Seeing that the meat and the wine would be dangerous, Daniel proposed a ten-day test during which the four would eat only “pulse” (vegetables such as lentils, peas, and beans) instead of meat and would drink water in lieu of wine. The ten days would be just long enough to show some signs. If the results were favorable, the policy would presumably continue for the duration of the three-year education period. If the results were unfavorable, the test was short enough that the four could recover, and the head of Ashpenaz would not be

on the chopping block. Of course the number “ten” (ten days) is symbolic, being a form of completion.

Dan. 1:13 Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.

Dan. 1:14 So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.

Dan. 1:15 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.

For such a remarkable and miraculous change to occur in only ten days (“their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat”), this was the Lord’s doing! The four Jews who ate the plain diet stood out as being noticeably healthier and fairer than the others. Daniel’s faith was justified. He had used wisdom and then trusted the Lord to help him in his commitment. The help came in a remarkable way in just ten days.

Of course some time had elapsed up to this point from the days when Daniel and the three Hebrews were taken captive back in Israel in the third or fourth year of Jehoiakim. It took time for them to travel on foot to Babylon (about three months), and additional time passed before they were presented to the prince of the eunuchs for their education.

Those who are emasculated tend to put on weight rather quickly, and they generally get stronger. In addition, their voices are usually affected. No doubt many who were in this training and education program were made eunuchs, but since Daniel was so exceptional, he may have escaped that inhuman, abnormal treatment.

Dan. 1:16 Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.

Dan. 1:17 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.

Not only was Daniel unusual, but so were the three Hebrew children, who subsequently steadfastly refused to bow to the god Bel and were thrown into the fiery furnace. As soon as Daniel made a suggestion, the other three were wholeheartedly in sympathy and agreement.

All four had noble, strong characters.

God gave the four “knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom,” but Daniel superseded the others by also having the ability to understand “all visions and dreams.”

Dan. 1:18 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.

Dan. 1:19 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.

Dan. 1:20 And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.

King Nebuchadnezzar did not necessarily know the answers to the questions in advance.

Remember, this king was very shrewd. How could he know Daniel and the three Hebrews were “ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers”? The implication is that the king had a list of ten questions, and on every question, Daniel and the three Hebrews gave a better answer than the others. With answers that were judicious, wise, and observant, they passed the exam perfectly in a superior fashion. Moreover, for their answers to surpass those of “all the magicians and astrologers” who were in the entire realm means that the questions covered a range of subjects including science and astronomy. The excellence of these foreigners had to arouse jealousy in the others, especially in the old-timers.

Dan. 1:21 And Daniel continued even unto the first year of king Cyrus.

Since Daniel lived beyond the “first year of king Cyrus” and on into the days of the empire of Media-Persia, the thought here is simply that he continued to the end of the Babylonian power.

As said earlier, this first chapter was written in Hebrew, not Chaldaic. One proof is that Hebrew names are used for Daniel and the three Hebrew children. Part of Chapter 2 was also written in Hebrew, namely, verses 1-3 and the first half of verse 4, which reads, “Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriac.” Much of the rest of the Book of Daniel was written in Chaldaic, which is a form of Aramaic. Later the book reverts back to the Hebrew language. One reason for the change of language is that the events were recorded as they occurred. Daniel was taken captive in Nebuchadnezzar’s first siege, which was the third or fourth year of Jehoiakim, that is, 625 or 624 BC.

Various nations have dialects. For example, in this country, there are Texas and Brooklyn accents, but basically the same English language is spoken. At this time, the Chaldaic Aramaic was the court language. The term “Aramaic” is too broad.

Comment: In confirmation, Scofield says, “It is noteworthy that the Aramaic section is precisely that part of Daniel which most concerned the peoples amongst whom he lived and to whom the prophecy written in Hebrew would have been unintelligible. The language returns to Hebrew in the predictive portions that have to do with the future of Israel.”

Reply: Yes, the Hebrew resumes around Chapter 7.


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