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1:1-6:28 STORIES ABOUT DANIEL AND HIS FRIENDS
Training for Nebuchadnezzar’s court (1:1-21)
Babylon’s first attack on Jerusalem came in 605 BC, during the reign of the Judean king Jehoiakim. In keeping with the usual practice among conquerors in ancient times, the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar plundered the temple of the conquered people, carried off its sacred objects and placed them in his own temple. In this way Nebuchadnezzar demonstrated his belief that Babylon’s gods were superior to the God of the Jews (1:1-2).
Nebuchadnezzar also took back to Babylon a number of Jewish young men chosen from the upper class families of Jerusalem, his purpose being to prepare them for high positions in his royal court (see ‘Background’ above). He chose men whose good looks would add to the grace of his palace and whose intelligence would enable them to learn Babylonian ways quickly. He wanted them to be skilled in Babylonian law and wisdom, particularly Chaldean wisdom (3-4). (The Chaldeans were the dominant race among the Babylonian people, and the one to which Nebuchadnezzar belonged. Their wise men were famous for their skill in astrology, magic and ancient languages.)
The Babylonians put strong pressure on the young Jewish captives to break with their old religion and culture. To begin with they gave them Babylonian names (containing names of Babylonian gods) to replace their Hebrew names (which contained the name of the Hebrews’ God). Also they gave them a share of the same food served to the Babylonian king (5-7).
Four of the Jewish youths, led by Daniel, asked to be excused from eating the king’s food. They considered it unclean, either because it was of a kind forbidden by Jewish law, or because it represented fellowship with a heathen king and his idols (8). The official in charge of the court trainees refused their request. He feared that the simpler food the youths requested would have a bad effect on their appearance, and that he would be blamed for it (9-10). But Daniel and his friends made a secret arrangement with their personal dining attendant, so that they were served only the simpler food that they desired (11-16).
God rewarded the young men’s faithfulness to him and their diligence in study. He gave them the attractive appearance that the king wanted and an understanding that in all spheres of learning was better than that of their fellows. He gave them also the ability to recognize the difference between the true and the false in Babylonian wisdom, and to Daniel he gave the extraordinary ability to understand visions and dreams (17-20). History shows that Daniel so enjoyed God’s favour that he was still a person of importance even after the Babylonian Empire had fallen (21; cf. 10:1).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Daniel 1". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany