Daniel 1

A Faithful Remnant: Moral Prerequisites for Divine Revelation
Daniel 1

Introduction (1:1-2)

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. 2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, and a part of the vessels of the house of God; and he carried them into the land of Shinar [‘wholly cast off’], to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure-house of his god. vv.1-2 The setting for the chapter is very bleak. We find that the Hebrew children, not yet introduced, were living in a place and time where the claims of the true God were denied, and when God’s testimony in the world had been ruined through man’s failure, and where God’s people were under His governmental judgment. The land of Shinar was characterized by confusion (Babel), idolatry, and as the name Shinar indicates, the casting off of all restraint. The king of Judah and some of the holy vessels of the temple were taken by Nebuchadnezzar back to Babylon, and placed “into the treasure-house of his god”. Nebuchadnezzar means ‘servant of Nebo’, who was one of the Babylonian deities. The Babylonian gods mentioned in the Bible are:
  • Marduk (Merodach) was the sun-god, the head of the Babylonian pantheon (Jer. 50:2).
  • Bel, which is a general name but usually refers to Marduk (Isa 46:1; Jer. 50:2; 51:44)
  • Nebo was the god of literacy, science, and art (Jer. 50:2)
We will find that each of the four Hebrew children were given Chaldean names that were connected with these false gods.

The Jews Brought into Favor with the King of Babylon (1:3-7)

The Character of the Faithful. There are three things that characterize these Hebrew children in the court of Babylon. Those things are: (1) faith in God, (2) obedience to the Word, and (3) separation from defilement.
3 And the king spoke unto Ashpenaz the chief of his eunuchs, that he should bring of the children of Israel, both of the royal seed and of the nobles, 4 youths in whom was no blemish, and of goodly countenance, and skilful in all wisdom, and acquainted with 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 language of the Chaldeans. vv.3-4 The capture of the royal seed of Judah was a governmental consequence for Hezekiah’s carelessness with the Babylonian embassage; “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” (Isa 39:7).
5 And the king appointed unto them a daily provision of the king’s delicate food, and of the wine that he drank, to nourish them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king. 
6 Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. v.6 In spite of the low conditions, we find that God always maintains a witness. This first chapter gives us the preparation of the witnesses. There was no natural reason for these four young men not to settle down in Babylon and forget where they came from. 
7 And the prince of the eunuchs gave them names: to Daniel he gave the name Belteshazzar, and to Hananiah, Shadrach, and to Mishael, Meshach, and to Azariah, Abed-nego. v.7 We find that the Babylonians desired to change the names of the four young men. Each of the Jewish names was connected with Jehovah… they had the Lord’s name on them. The God of this world is seeking to redefine the faithful, and to re-identify them with the world and its gods. The believer has the Lord’s name on them through baptism, but Satan is trying to make us servants of false gods.
Hebrew Name Hebrew Meaning Chaldean Name Chaldean Meaning
Daniel “God is my judge” Belteshazzar “Bel’s prince”
Hananiah “The Lord has graciously given” Shadrach “Command of god”1
Mishael “Who is like God?” Meshach “Who is god?”2
Azariah “Helped of Jehovah” Abed-nego “The slave of Nebo”


The Faithful Remnant is Tempted with Defiling Association with Babylon (1:8-17)

8 And Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not pollute himself with the king’s delicate food, nor with the wine which he drank; and he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not have to pollute himself. v.8 It would seem that Daniel was a leader, but his purpose of heart had an effect on others. Daniel purposed in his heart when he was young. It is easy to let our convictions wane. But we see in Daniel’s life a steadiness all the way through. In Dan. 5:17 we find that many years later, Daniel was still not willing to take the gifts of the king of Babylon.
9 And God granted Daniel favour and mercy before the prince of the eunuchs. 
10 And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king who hath appointed your food and your drink; for why should he see your faces worse liking than the youths who are of your age? and ye would endanger my head with the king. v.10 Daniel’s request didn’t make sense to the prince of the eunuchs, nor will the believer’s desire to be separate from worldly defilement make sense to the world.
11 And Daniel said to the steward, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink; 13 then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the youths that eat of the king’s delicate food: and as thou shalt see, deal with thy servants. 14 And he hearkened unto them in this matter, and proved them ten days. 15 And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and were fatter in flesh than all the youths that ate of the king’s delicate food. 16 So the steward took away their delicate food, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse. 17 As for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. v.17 It was in the place of separation that the mind of God was given to them. We cannot expect God to commune with us if we are unwilling to obey His Word.

Through Obedience the Faithful Remnant Becomes God’s Witness (1:18-21)

18 And at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19 And the king spoke with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: and they stood before the king. 20 And in all matters of judicious wisdom, as to which the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the scribes and magicians that were in all his realm. 21 And Daniel continued unto the first year of king Cyrus. 
  1. Probably the sun or moon god.
  2. Probably the sun or moon god.