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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
Daniel 1

 

 

Verse 1-2

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

Daniel 1:1 — "In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem" - Comments- King Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah, took the kingship of Judah around 608 B.C. after the death of his father Josiah and after the three-month reign of his brother Jehoahaz. Because of the wickedness of Jehoahaz, God moved upon Pharaoh-necho to replace him with his brother Eliakim as a vassal king. The Pharaoh changed his name from Eliakim ( אליקים) (H 471), meaning "whom God hath set" (Gesenius), to Jehoiakim ( יהויקים) (H 3079), meaning, "whom Jehovah has set up" (Gesenius), or "Jehovah has established" (PTW) ( 2 Kings 23:34). King Jehoiakim reigned over Jerusalem for eleven years (608-598 B.C.), serving Pharaoh during his initial years by taxing the Jews and giving him silver and gold; thus, committed much evil in God's eyes. His reign was also plagued by raiding bands from neighbouring countries as a form of divine judgment. He oppressed Jeremiah the prophet, who continually warned him of impending judgment and his eventual death at the hands of Babylon. Josephus tells us that Nebuchadnezzar came to power in Babylon during the fourth year of Jehoiakim's reign (Antiquities 1061), 44] which is confirmed by Jeremiah ( Jeremiah 46:2). He came to Jerusalem during the eighth year of Jehoiakim's reign in order to put Judah under tribute, having taken Syria in the preceding years. Jehoiakim accepted to Babylonian dominion, but after three years he rebelled ( 2 Kings 24:1), resulting in a second visit by Nebuchadnezzar to Jerusalem that is described in Daniel 1:1-2. Josephus records that Jehoiakim opened the gates of Jerusalem to receive this king a second time, during the eleventh year of his reign, expecting to have a peaceful resolution to his recent refusal to pay tribute to Babylon. Instead, Nebuchadnezzar entered the city and killed many noble people in the city, including Jehoiakim, and threw these bodies outside the city walls. Jeremiah prophesied that this king would be killed and his body thrown outside the city gates ( Jeremiah 22:18-19), which event Josephus confirmed (Antiquities 1062-3). The death of Jehoiakim would have ended his eleven year reign in Jerusalem, bringing his son Jehoiachin to power. King Jehoiakim's reign is recorded in 2 Kings 23:34 to 2 Kings 24:6 and 2 Chronicles 36:5-8.

44] Josephus says, "Now in the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim, one whose name was Nebuchadnezzar took the government over the Babylonians, who at the same time went up with a great army to the city Carchemish, which was at Euphrates, upon a resolution he had taken to fight with Neco, king of Egypt, under whom all Syria then was. (Antiquities 1061)

2 Kings 23:34, "And Pharaohnechoh made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the room of Josiah his father, and turned his name to Jehoiakim, and took Jehoahaz away: and he came to Egypt, and died there."

Jeremiah 22:18-19, "Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah; They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah my brother! or, Ah sister! they shall not lament for him, saying, Ah lord! or, Ah his glory! He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem."

T. R. Hobbs tells us that the Babylonian Chronicle supports the possibility of multiple invasions by Nebuchadnezzar into Palestine during Jehoiakim's reign. Therefore, he does not take 2 Chronicles 36:6-7 as a "complete parallel" passage. He dates Jehoiakim's initial subjection to Babylon in 604/603 B.C, and rebellion about three years later (601to 598 B.C.). This is earlier than Josephus' date of subjection in the eighth year of his reign (601/600 B.C.), and rebellion in his eleventh year. 45]

45] Hobbs refers to Wiseman, Chronicles, 43-77, and Grayson, Texts from Cuneiform Sources . See T. R. Hobbs, 2 Kings , in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD-Rom, vol 13, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), 348.

However, many scholars believe the siege described in 2 Kings 24:1 and 2 Chronicles 36:6 refers to the same event, arguing that the sacred and royal vessels could only have been taken away one time, and that there was only one siege on Jerusalem during Jehoiakim's reign. Those who take this view date Nebuchadnezzar's invasion of Judah in 605 B.C, during the third year of Jehoiakim's reign ( Daniel 1:1-2). However, a contradiction must now be addressed; for Jeremiah dates the year of the Babylonian king's invasion into this region and his battle against Egypt as the fourth year of Jehoiakim's reign ( Jeremiah 25:1; Jeremiah 25:9; Jeremiah 46:2). A number of resolutions have been proposed. (1) Some scholars attempt to resolve these conflicting dates by saying the Babylonians followed a different dating system from Judah for the reign of kings, which called the first year of reign the accession year and the following year as the first year of reign. However, in Judah the first year of a king's reign was counted as his first year. Thus, Jeremiah's date of the fourth year of Jehoiakim's reign would be equivalent to Daniel's description of the event taking place during his third year of reign, since Daniel would be following the Babylonian method of counting, and Jeremiah the Jewish method. (2) A second resolution is to suggest that Nebuchadrezzar first seized Jerusalem in Jehoiakim's third year, and fought with the Egyptians during his fourth year of rule. (3) Keil and Delizsch disagree with both suggestions, saying that in the first option no such reckoning system is recorded in Scripture, and in the second option that Nebuchadrezzar could not have passed to Jerusalem without luring Egypt out in a battle to protect Judah as their vassal. They suggest a third alternative by interpreting Daniel 1:1 to say that Nebuchadrezzar began to "march towards Jerusalem" in the third year of Jehoiakim's reign. This allows the battle of Carchemish to take place first as a part of this march towards Judah. 46]

46] C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, The Book of Daniel , in Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1996), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM]. Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000, notes on Daniel 1:1-2.

Jeremiah 25:1, "The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that was the first year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon;"

Jeremiah 25:9, "Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith the LORD, and Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual desolations."

Jeremiah 46:2, "Against Egypt, against the army of Pharaohnecho king of Egypt, which was by the river Euphrates in Carchemish, which Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon smote in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah."

"Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon" - Zöckler says the name Nebuchadnezzar ( נְבּכַדְנֶאצַּר) (H 5019) is derived from "Nebo" ( Isaiah 46:1), a chief Chaldean god, equivalent to the god "Mercury," and "kadr" (might), and "zar" (prince). 47] Gesenius suggests the meaning of "the prince of the god Mercury; or Nebo is the prince of gods." Strong says it means, "may Nebo protect the crown" (Strong). T. R. Hobbs says it means, "may Nebo protect my boundary stone" [from the Akkadian name "Nabu-kudduriusur"], 48] and "may [the god] Nabu guard my boundary stones" (PTW). This Babylonian name has at least four other alternate spellings in the Old Testament Scriptures ( נְבוּכַדְנֶצַּר, נְבוּכַדְנֶצֹּור, נְבוּכַדְרֶאצַּר, נְבוּכַדְרֶאצֹּור) 49] These five spellings are translated into English in the KJV as "Nebuchadrezzar" 31times, and "Nebuchadnezzar" 29 times. 50] Hobbs prefers "Nebuchadrezzar," which is used in Jeremiah and Ezekiel. 51] Zöckler also tells us that "Nebuchadrezzar" more exactly matches the "rendering Nabukudurr-usur, as found in the Babylonian cuneiform inscriptions, and also to the nearly identical Persian form Nabukhadraqara, which occurs at Behistun."

47] Zckler refers us to Jules Oppert in Journal Asiatique, 1851, p 416; Expedit. en Mesopotamie, ii 257 ss. See Otto Zckler, The Book of the Prophet Daniel , in Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, trans. James Strong (New York: Charles Scriber's Sons, 1876), 56.

48] T. R. Hobbs, 2 Kings , in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD-Rom, vol 13, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), 349.

49] James Strong, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible: Showing Every Word of the Text of the Common English Version of the Canonical Books, and Every Occurrence of Each Word in Regular Order. electronic ed. (Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1996), S. H 5019.

50] James Strong, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible: Showing Every Word of the Text of the Common English Version of the Canonical Books, and Every Occurrence of Each Word in Regular Order. electronic ed. (Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1996), S. H 5019

51] T. R. Hobbs, 2 Kings , in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD-Rom, vol 13, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), 349.

Isaiah 46:1, "Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth, their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: your carriages were heavy loaden; they are a burden to the weary beast."

"and besieged it" - Word Study on "besiege" - Strong says the Hebrew word ( צוּר) (H 6696) is a primitive root word literally meaning, "to cramp, i.e. confine." He notes how the Scriptures use this word "in many applications, literally and figuratively, formative or hostile: adversary, assault, beset, besiege, bind (up), cast, distress, fashion, fortify, inclose, lay siege, put up in bags." The Enhanced Strong says this word is used 38 times in the Old Testament, being translated, "besiege 21, lay siege 3, distress 3, bind 2, adversaries 1, assault 1, bags 1, beset 1, cast 1, fashioned 1, fortify 1, inclose 1, bind up 1."

Daniel 1:1Comments - The times of the Gentiles ( Luke 21:24) was ushered into world history through the prophecies of Jeremiah , when he prophesied of the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon and the seventy-year captivity in Jeremiah 25:8-14; Jeremiah 29:8-10. The fall of Jerusalem ushered in a time when Israel's dominance subsided and the Gentile nations of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greek, and Roman empires would rise. This time began with the fall of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. Daniel 1:1 is the last biblical event in redemption history that is dated by the calendars of the kings of the nation of Israel. At this point forward, all redemptive events recorded in the Holy Scriptures will be dated around Gentile rules ( Daniel 2:1; Daniel 7:1; Daniel 8:1; Daniel 9:1; Daniel 10:1; Daniel 11:1, Ezra 1:1; Ezra 6:3; Ezra 7:1, Nehemiah 2:1, Esther 1:1-3, Luke 2:1-2; Luke 3:1-2). Even the book of Ezekiel seems to blend the Jewish calendar with the fall of Israel by the Babylonians in his collection of prophecies.

Luke 21:24, "And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."

Daniel 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.

Daniel 1:2 — "And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand" - Comments- The literal Hebrew phrase "into his hand" means "into his power" (Zöckler) 52] or "under his authority."

52] Otto Zckler, The Book of the Prophet Daniel , in Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, trans. James Strong (New York: Charles Scriber's Sons, 1876), 57.

"with part of the vessels of the house of God" - Comments - Albert Barnes suggests that part of the vessels were removed at the time of this first siege (604-605 B.C.), rather than all of them, with the intent of making Jerusalem a vassal. Had the Babylonians intended on destroying the city, they would have taken them all. 53] Additional vessels were taken away during the second siege under King Jehoiachin ( 2 Kings 24:8-16) in 597 B.C. Jeremiah prophesied that the remaining royal and sacred vessels would be taken in the third and final siege of 586 B.C. ( Jeremiah 27:19-22), in which the Temple and city of Jerusalem were destroyed.

53] Albert Barnes, Notes, Critical, Illustrative, and Practical, on the Book of Daniel (New York: Leavitt and Allen, 1853), 87.

"which he carried" - Comments- Zöckler discusses the arguments on the particular antecedents of the phrase "which he carried," whether it refers to the temple vessels only, or to King Jehoiakim and/or other captives? He notes that the Hebrew text literally reads "and he caused them to be brought away," ( וַיְבִיאֵם). 54] The Hebrew verb ( בֹּוא) (H 935) used in this verse is the hiphil (causal active), meaning Nebuchadnezzar "caused them to be carried back" to Babylon. The immediate antecedent in this sentence is the temple vessels; however, some scholars wish to include the king and/or other captives. The grammatical structure supports both antecedents; but the immediate context best supports the vessels only; for the rest of this verse states that "they" were placed in the house of his god. In addition, 2 Chronicles 36:5 tells us Jehoiakim reigned in Jerusalem for eleven years, so that he could not have been carried off to Babylon during his third year of reign over Jerusalem. Also, history does not support the view that King Jehoiakim was actually deported to Babylon, but rather killed and his body thrown outside the city gates.

54] Otto Zckler, The Book of the Prophet Daniel , in Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, trans. James Strong (New York: Charles Scriber's Sons, 1876), 57.

"into the land of Shinar" - Comments- The Hebrew word "Shin`ar" ( שִׁנְעָר) (H 8152) is used 8 times in the Old Testament, referring to "the land of Shinar" five times ( Genesis 10:10; Genesis 11:2, Isaiah 11:11, Daniel 1:2, Zechariah 5:11), "the king of Shinar" two times ( Genesis 14:1; Genesis 14:9), and it is used as "Babylonish" garment one time ( Joshua 7:21). The land of Shinar included the cities of "Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh" ( Genesis 10:10), which made up the ancient kingdom of Nimrod. Zöckler notes that the word Shinar is used outside the book of Genesis only in the "elevated language of the prophets." (i.e, Isaiah ,, Daniel , Zechariah) 55] This statement suggests to me that the prophets were fond of building their prophecies upon the ancient names given in the Table of Nations, as recorded in Genesis 10:1-32. John Goldingay suggests the use of the name Shinar in Daniel 1:2 reflects "a place of false religion, self-will, and self-aggrandizement." 56]

55] Otto Zckler, The Book of the Prophet Daniel , in Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, trans. James Strong (New York: Charles Scriber's Sons, 1876), 57.

56] John E. Goldingay, Daniel , in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD- Romans , vol 30, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), comments on Daniel 1:1-2.

"to the house of his god" - Comments- While the English renders this phrase "to the house of his god," the Hebrew text can be rendered, "to the house of his gods" ( בֵּית אֱלֹהָיו), thus referring to the numerous Babylonian gods, since the ancient world was largely polytheistic. 57] However, this plural reading is followed by only a few modern English translations, such as Rotherham, while the majority of translations maintain the singular "god."

57] Otto Zckler, The Book of the Prophet Daniel , in Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, trans. James Strong (New York: Charles Scriber's Sons, 1876), 56.

Rotherham, "and the Lord gave into his hand Jehoiakim king of Judah, and a part of the vessels of the house of God, and he brought them into the land of Shinar, into the house of his gods, and, the vessels, brought he into the treasure-house of his gods."

"and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god" - Comments - Apparently, it was an ancient custom for kings to store their spoils in the temples of their gods, thus gathering a royal treasure in these buildings ( 2 Samuel 8:11, 1 Kings 15:15, 2 Kings 12:4; 2 Kings 12:18). Since these sacred temples were often located in the most fortified areas of major cities, they made an ideal place to store valuable treasures. For example, the Greek historian Herodotus (5th century B.C.) describes a great pagan temple located within the heart of the ancient city of Babylon, in which were shrines dedicated to the gods Jupiter Belus (which scholars equate with Bel or Baal) and Zeus. 58] Goldingay believes that Nebuchadnezzar would have most likely dedicated these spoils to either Marduk, or Bel and the Dragon , since most of his ancient inscriptions refer to these two gods, with Nabu being the god his father served. 59] The confiscation of these sacred vessels of Israel and their dedication to a pagan god is an act of declaring one god's victory over the other. 60]

58] Herodotus I, Books I-II, trans. A. D. Godley, in The Loeb Classical Library, (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1975), 225-229 (chpts 181-83).

59] John E. Goldingay, Daniel , in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD- Romans , vol 30, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), 5.

60] John E. Goldingay, Daniel , in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD- Romans , vol 30, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), comments on Daniel 1:1-2.

2 Samuel 8:11, "Which also king David did dedicate unto the LORD, with the silver and gold that he had dedicated of all nations which he subdued;"

1 Kings 15:15, "And he brought in the things which his father had dedicated, and the things which himself had dedicated, into the house of the LORD, silver, and gold, and vessels."

2 Kings 12:4, "And Jehoash said to the priests, All the money of the dedicated things that is brought into the house of the LORD, even the money of every one that passeth the account, the money that every man is set at, and all the money that cometh into any man"s heart to bring into the house of the LORD,"

2 Kings 12:18, "And Jehoash king of Judah took all the hallowed things that Jehoshaphat, and Jehoram, and Ahaziah, his fathers, kings of Judah, had dedicated, and his own hallowed things, and all the gold that was found in the treasures of the house of the LORD, and in the king"s house, and sent it to Hazael king of Syria: and he went away from Jerusalem."

Daniel 1:2Comments - The Vessels of the Temple in Jerusalem- The vessels from the Temple in Jerusalem were made during the construction of Solomon's temple in the tenth century B.C. These vessels remained in the Temple until they were removed by the Babylonians in 605-604 B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar put the vessels of the Jewish Temple into his pagan temple ( Daniel 1:2). His grandson Belshazzar later took them out and used these holy vessels for pagan celebrations ( Daniel 5:2-4), at which time he was judged by God and killed during the overthrow of Babylon by Darius the Mede ( Daniel 5:30-31). King Cyrus of Persia would later restore these sacred vessels to the Jews during their return from Babylonian Captivity ( Ezra 1:7-8). Thus, the vessels of the Temple in Jerusalem were kept in Babylon during the seventy years of Babylonian Captivity.

Daniel 5:2-4, "Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein. Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone."

Ezra 1:7-8, "Also Cyrus the king brought forth the vessels of the house of the LORD, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, and had put them in the house of his gods; Even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and numbered them unto Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah."

Ezra 1:9-11 gives an itemized list of the vessels taken and later restored to the Temple in Jerusalem.

Ezra 1:9-11, "And this is the number of them: thirty chargers of gold, a thousand chargers of silver, nine and twenty knives, Thirty basons of gold, silver basons of a second sort four hundred and ten, and other vessels a thousand. All the vessels of gold and of silver were five thousand and four hundred. All these did Sheshbazzar bring up with them of the captivity that were brought up from Babylon unto Jerusalem."

Comments - The Temple of Bel and the Dragon -Marduk in Babylon - The pagan temple dedicated to Bel and the Dragon -Marduk 61] in the ancient city of Babylon was one of the most magnificent structures in the Babylonian Empire. Citing the ancient Babylonian historian Berosus, Josephus tells us that Nebuchadnezzar decorated this sacred temple with the riches he gathered from the nations that the Empire subdued, saying, "but then he adorned the temple of Belus, and the rest of the temples, in a magnificent manner, with the spoils he had taken in the war." (Antiquities 10111)

61] The Babylonian deity Bel and the Dragon -Marduk is mentioned in Jeremiah 50:2 as Bel and Merdoach. See Jeremiah 50:2, "Declare ye among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard; publish, and conceal not: say, Babylon is taken, Bel is confounded, Merodach is broken in pieces; her idols are confounded, her images are broken in pieces."

Daniel 1:1-2Comments- Parallel Passages- We read a parallel accounts to Daniel 1:1-2 in 2 Chronicles 36:6-7 and Jeremiah 46:1-2 where Nebuchadnezzar assaulted Jerusalem and carried King Jehoiakim and the vessels of the temple to Babylon.

2 Chronicles 36:5-7, "Jehoiakim was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem: and he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD his God. Against him came up Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and bound him in fetters, to carry him to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar also carried of the vessels of the house of the LORD to Babylon, and put them in his temple at Babylon."

Jeremiah 46:1-2, "The word of the LORD which came to Jeremiah the prophet against the Gentiles; Against Egypt, against the army of Pharaohnecho king of Egypt, which was by the river Euphrates in Carchemish, which Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon smote in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah."

The fall of Jerusalem and the carrying away of the Jewish people as well as the Temple articles was prophesied by Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 20:4-5, "For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will make thee a terror to thyself, and to all thy friends: and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies, and thine eyes shall behold it: and I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall carry them captive into Babylon, and shall slay them with the sword. Moreover I will deliver all the strength of this city, and all the labours thereof, and all the precious things thereof, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah will I give into the hand of their enemies, which shall spoil them, and take them, and carry them to Babylon."


Verses 1-21

Introduction: Daniel and the Babylonian Captivity (605-604 B.C) - The opening chapter of the book of Daniel introduces the reader to Daniel's public ministry that will extend throughout the Jewish seventy-year Babylonian Captivity. Daniel 1:1-21 clearly serves as an introduction to the rest of the book. Barnes tells us the purpose of this historical passage in the book is to explain how Daniel was raised up to a place of distinction among the Babylonians. 43] From a redemptive perspective, this opening chapter reveals to the original Jewish readers that Daniel's ministry begins and ends with the Babylonian Captivity, which began at Daniel's captivity and lasted until the first year of King Cyrus the Great, covering a span of approximately seventy years as prophesied by Jeremiah. Thus, the prophet Daniel was raised up by God to minister to the Jews as well as the Gentiles for this chosen period of time. The fact that this first chapter is written in Hebrew, while the following five chapters of narrative material are written in the Aramaic language, suggests that it is addressed directly to the Jews to tell them that the God of Israel was watching over His people throughout their entire captivity. This opening Hebrew text has also let scholars to suggest that the first chapter was probably added by the Jews as a later addition to the historical section of chapters 2-6 during the compilation of the book of Daniel. The redemptive message to Israel in this passage of Scripture is that God was bringing about Israel's redemption despite the tragic circumstances they were experiencing. The book of Daniel reveals that God would restore Israel to their land after seventy years, but also that their full redemption would not take place until "seventy weeks" of years. The Lord would use this period designated at the Times of the Gentiles to bring in the Church age and graft the Gentiles into the vine of Israel.

43] Albert Barnes, Notes, Critical, Illustrative, and Practical, on the Book of Daniel (New York: Leavitt and Allen, 1853), 85.

Historical Setting- The opening chapter of the book of Daniel gives us the historical setting for the life and ministry of the Jewish prophet Daniel. In 605 B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar made his first of three major campaigns into Palestine and besieged the city of Jerusalem under King Jehoiakim, the last stronghold of the nation of Judah. Many scholars believe 2 Kings 24:1 is a brief reference to this same event in the opening verses of Daniel. At that time this Babylonian king took captive many of the children of the Jewish nobles as well as the sacred articles of the Temple. In this group of captives was a young man named Daniel and his three friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. We read about the second captivity of the Jews in 597 B.C. under King Jehoiachin, the son of Jehoiakim, in 2 Kings 24:10-14. The third campaign of Nebuchadnezzar against Jerusalem in 587 B.C. ended in its total destruction.

2 Kings 24:1, "In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years: then he turned and rebelled against him."

2 Kings 24:10-14, "At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against Jerusalem, and the city was besieged. And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came against the city, and his servants did besiege it. And Jehoiachin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, Hebrews , and his mother, and his servants, and his princes, and his officers: and the king of Babylon took him in the eighth year of his reign. And he carried out thence all the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king"s house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the LORD, as the LORD had said. And he carried away all Jerusalem, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valour, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths: none remained, save the poorest sort of the people of the land."

In Babylon Daniel and his three friends were subjected to a three-year training period in which they forced to change their names, their language, and their food. Daniel ministered to the kings of the Babylonian Empire until its fall in 539 B.C. when Belshazzar was slain and Darius the Median took control as viceroy over Babylon under Cyrus, who was then king over Persia and Media. Daniel ministered until the first year of King Cyrus' reign over all the nations, dated 536 B.C. Thus, Daniel's ministry spanned the seventy-year period of the Jew's Babylon Captivity as prophesied by Jeremiah the prophet.

Jeremiah 29:10, "For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place."

Babylon's Efforts to Consolidate His Kingdom- Why would the king of Babylon want to bring Hebrews to his court and train them? Perhaps he felt that it would be advantageous for some bright young Hebrew men, some that were young enough to be submissive and teachable, and incorporate them into the Babylonian government. They would serve to advise the king on matter concerning the Jewish people, who would have the tendency to be rebellious and subversive. The fact that King Nebuchadnezzar did not destroy the city of Jerusalem in his first two sieges against it reveals his original intent to bring this nation into submission and use its resources for financial gain. Finally, he had to severely punish them by destroying their capital and central place of worship. These Hebrews in the king's court would hear the needs of their people and be able to advise the king accordingly, as we read in the first chapter of the book of Nehemiah. For certain Hebrews came from Jerusalem to visit Nehemiah and told him of their sad state of affairs. Nehemiah's appeal to the king brought him an opportunity to do something to help his people. Thus, the Babylonian king appears to be making every effort to consolidate his kingdom and bring stability in the opening chapter of Daniel.


Verse 3-4

Daniel 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;

Daniel 1:3Word Study on "Ashpenaz" - The name Ashpenaz ( אַשְׁפְּנַז) (H 828) is used only one time in the Old Testament ( Daniel 1:3). There is uncertain on the meaning of this foreign name. Gesenius says the name means, "horse's nose." This individual was the chief eunuch in King Nebuchadnezzar's court (Gesenius, Strong), and possibly his prime minister. 62]

62] John Gill, Daniel , in John Gill's Expositor, in e-Sword, v 777 [CD-ROM] (Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005), comments on Daniel 1:3.

Daniel 1:4 Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all Wisdom of Solomon , 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.

Daniel 1:4 — "Children in whom was no blemish" - Comments- Barnes notes that the word "blemish" refers to physical "imperfections," and quotes 2 Samuel 14:25 as an example of Absalom's unblemished features. 63]

63] Albert Barnes, Notes, Critical, Illustrative, and Practical, on the Book of Daniel (New York: Leavitt and Allen, 1853), 89.

Daniel 1:4 — "but well favoured" - Comments- The phrase "well favoured" literally means, "a good appearance" in the Hebrew.

Daniel 1:4 — "and skilful in all Wisdom of Solomon , 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" - Comments- In addition to their physical appearance, young men were sought of superior intellectual abilities. Scholars suggest that Daniel and his three friends were most likely of royal descent of the tribe of Judah because from Daniel 1:3 the group taken captive were skilful and well educated and of royal lineage.

2 Samuel 14:25, "But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him."

Daniel 1:4Comments- John Gill and Zöckler refer to a number of ancient sources and modern scholars to support the view that kings of antiquity often chose the strongest, comeliest, and tallest of youth to serve in their courts. 64]

64] Otto Zckler, The Book of the Prophet Daniel , in Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, trans. James Strong (New York: Charles Scriber's Sons, 1876), 59; and John Gill, "Introduction," in Daniel, in John Gill's Expositor, in OnLine Bible, v 20 [CD-ROM] (Nederland: Online Bible Foundation, 1992-2005), notes on Daniel 1:4.

Daniel 1:3-4Comments - The Children of Israel- Daniel 1:3-4 tells us of the carrying away of Daniel and his three friends to Babylon. The event of the carrying away of the sons of Israel into the kingdom of Babylon was prophesied by Isaiah to King Hezekiah one hundred years earlier (c 700 B.C.) (see 2 Kings 20:16-18, Isaiah 39:5-7). Moses spoke of this event in more general terms when listing the curses that God will bring upon His people Israel as a form of divine judgment ( Deuteronomy 28:32-33).

2 Kings 20:16-18, "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."

Isaiah 39:5-7, "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."

Deuteronomy 28:32-33, "Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people, and thine eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day long: and there shall be no might in thine hand. The fruit of thy land, and all thy labours, shall a nation which thou knowest not eat up; and thou shalt be only oppressed and crushed alway:"

Young men were more teachable than older men. The old men had their cities and families destroyed and would have been rebellious, and women took a more passive role in the Oriental societies. These young men were to be shaped and molded as a group of ethnic leaders representing the nations under Babylon that could communicate with their people about the issues regarding Babylonian rule. The king could present them as mediators in disputes and offer a friendly face to represent the Empire before its subject nations, hopefully enhancing peaceful relationships.

Barnes tells us that it was a common oriental practice, ancient and modern, to place eunuchs in the royal courts and in the homes of the wealthy. 65] Therefore, it is believed that Daniel and his three friends were made eunuchs at the time of their deportation to Babylon. The popular belief that Daniel and his friends were made eunuchs in the king's court, suggested since the time of Josephus (Antiquities 10101), is based upon Daniel 1:3 and Isaiah 39:5-7. However, Zckler does not believe there is enough evidence to justify this commonly held view, since the text does not directly make this statement. 66]

65] Albert Barnes, Notes, Critical, Illustrative, and Practical, on the Book of Daniel (New York: Leavitt and Allen, 1853), 88.

66] Otto Zckler, The Book of the Prophet Daniel , in Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, trans. James Strong (New York: Charles Scriber's Sons, 1876), 58.


Verse 5-6

Daniel 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.

Daniel 1:5 — "And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king"s meat, and of the wine which he drank" - Comments- We read in Daniel 1:8 that Daniel and his three friends chose to abstain from the king's provision and rather ate vegetables and drank water. This is because Daniel and the Jews understood a biblical diet. The king's diet consisted of rich, fatty foods, such as the meat referred to in this verse. Such foods are not healthy when eaten on a regular basis. We can compare this rich diet to our modern day culture. One medical doctor described rich foods as those foods that are traditionally eaten on festive occasions. For example, on Easter Americans eat eggs, on Halloween candy, on Thanksgiving turkey, and at Christmas ham. These are rich, processed foods that are in a class called delicacies. This is the type of foods that the king would have eaten and offered those in his court. But Daniel chose more healthy foods, which we know today to be vegetables and other natural, non-processed foods. In addition, it is interesting to note that Daniel lived to be a very old man. Perhaps his healthy diet played a large role in this fact.

Daniel 1:5 — "so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king" - Comments- Zöckler quotes two ancient sources that would explain how youth were trained for a three year period, ages fourteen to seventeen, in preparation to serve before the king. He refers to Plato's comments that Persian youth began training at the age of fourteen (Alcibiades 1121.E), 67] and to Xenophon's statement that no youth could serve the king before the age of seventeen (Cyropaedia 28-9). 68] He finds this coincidence too remarkable to leave unnoticed. 69]

67] Plato writes, "When the boys are seven years old they are given horses and have riding lessons, and they begin to follow the chase. And when the boy reaches fourteen years he is taken over by the royal tutors, as they call them there: these are four men chosen as the most highly esteemed among the Persians of mature age, namely, the wisest one, the justest one, the most temperate one, and the bravest one." See Plato, Plato: Charmides, Alcibiades I & II, Hipparchus, The Lovers, Theages, Minos, Epinomis, trans. W. R. M. Lamb, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, W. H. D. Rouse, L. A. Post, and E. H. Warmington (London: William Heinemann Ltd, c 1927, 1964), 167.

68] Xenophon writes, "These exercises the boys practise till they are sixteen or seventeen years of age, when they enter the class of young men." See Xenophon, The Cyropaedia, or Institutes of Cyprus, and the Hellenics, or Greacian History, trans. J. S. Watson and Henry Dale (London: George Bell and Sons, 1880), 6.

69] Otto Zckler, The Book of the Prophet Daniel , in Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures trans. James Strong (New York: Charles Scriber's Sons, 1876), 59.

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

Daniel 1:6Word Study on "children" - The Hebrew word for "children" ( בֵּן) (H 1121) used in Daniel 1:4; Daniel 1:6 properly denotes someone during the age of childhood up to manhood, and is also used in the broadest sense throughout the Old Testament to refer to members of a particular group. The Enhanced Strong says it is found 4906 times in the Scriptures, being translated in the KJV as " Song of Solomon 2978, children 1568, old 135, first 51, Prayer of Manasseh 20, young 18, young + 0124117, child 10, stranger 10, people 5, misc 92." It may be properly translated "boys, lads or youth." As mentioned above in the introduction, 70] comments made by some of the early Church fathers lead us to believe these four "children of Judah" were teenagers.

70] See above Introduction: The Life of the Prophet Daniel , by Gary Everett.

Word Study on "Daniel" - The name Daniel ( דָּנִאֵל) (H 1840) means, "God's Judges ," i.e, "one who delivers judgment in the name of God" (Gesenius), "God is judging," or "judge of God" (Strong), "God is my judge" (PTW). Strong says this name is derived from "Dan" ( דָּן) (H 1835), meaning " Judges ," and ( אֵל) (H 410), a contraction of ( אֱלֹהִים) (H 430), meaning "God." Thus, it is possible that this name reflects the theme of the book of Daniel.

Word Study on "Hananiah" - The name Hananiah ( חֲנַנְיָה) (H 2608) means, "whom Jehovah gave" (Gesenius), "God has favored" (Strong), "Jehovah is gracious," (PTW). Strong says this name is derived from ( חָנַן) (H 2603), meaning "gracious," and ( יָהּ) (H 3050), a contraction of ( יְהוִה) (H 3050), meaning "YHWH."

Word Study on "Mishael" - The name Mishael ( מִישָׁאֵל) (H 4332) means, "God is strong," or "who (is) that which God is" (Gesenius), "who is what God is" (Strong, PTW). Strong says this name is derived from ( מִי) (H 4310), meaning "who," ( שֶׁ), a contraction of ( אֲשֶׁר) (834), meaning "which," and ( אֵל) (H 410), a contraction of ( אֱלֹהִים) (H 430), meaning "God."

Word Study on "and Azariah" - The name Azariah ( עֲזַרְיָה) (H 5838) means, "whom Jehovah aids" (Gesenius), "YHWH has helped" (Strong, PTW). This name is derived from ( עָזַר) (H 5826), meaning "to help," and ( יָהּ) (H 3050), a contraction of ( יְהוִה) (H 3050), meaning "YHWH."


Verses 7-12

Daniel 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 Prayer of Azariah , of Abednego.

Daniel 1:7Word Study on "Belteshazzar" - The name Belteshazzar ( בֵּלְטְשַׁאצַּר) (H 1095) means, "prince whom Bel favors" (Gesenius), "lord of the straitened's treasure" (BDB), or "protect his life" (PTW).

Word Study on "Shadrach" - The name Shadrach ( שַׁדְרַךְ) (H 7714) means, "little friend of the king; and rejoicing in the way" (Gesenius), "royal," or "the great scribe" (BDB), or "servant of (the god) Sin" (PTW).

Word Study on "Meshach" - The name Meshach ( מֵישַׁךְ) (H 4335) means "guest of a king" (Gesenius, BDB), or "the shadow of the prince, who is this?" (PTW).

Word Study on "Abednego" - The name Abednego ( עֲבֵד נְגֹו) (H 5664) means "servant of Nebo" (BDB), or "servant of Nego; servant of Ishtar" (PTW).

Comments- It becomes obvious that these four men's Hebrew names reflected their God, YHWH, while their Babylonian names are given to honor their heathen gods. Nebuchadnezzar states this fact in Daniel 4:8, "But at the last Daniel came in before me, whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods: and before him I told the dream, saying,"

Daniel 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.

Daniel 1:8Comments- Keep in mind that in pagan cultures partaking of festive foods meant partaking of the idol worship that was associated with such feasts. It is very likely that the food offered to Daniel and his three friends had gone through an idolatrous ritual with the gods of the Babylonians. These young Jewish men had been taught and disciplined in their Hebrew faith to eat only clean foods. Such heathen foods would be considered ceremonially unclean or defiled, and these foods may have been unhygienic as well. Therefore, Daniel's request was for the purpose of remaining undefiled as well as healthy.

Daniel 1:8Comments- Partaking of the king's food can be a type of partaking of worldly living. The king wanted to renew their minds ( Daniel 1:4), but because of their stance, God Himself gave them wisdom ( Daniel 1:17, Romans 12).

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

Daniel 1:9"Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love" - Comments - Daniel was a man with a pure heart and he walked in love and kindness towards others. Proverbs 3:3-4 tell us that such a man will reap the reward of obtaining favor with both God and man.

Proverbs 3:3-4, "Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man."

"with the prince of the eunuchs" - Comments- The fact that Daniel was under the care of the prince of the eunuchs suggests to many Bible scholars that Daniel was made to be a eunuch.

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

Daniel 1:11Word Study on "Melzar" - PTW says the name "Melzar" means, "The overseer."

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

Daniel 1:12Word Study on "pulse" - Holladay says this word means, "vegetables." Webster says that pulse is "leguminous plants, or their seeds, as beans, pease, etc."

Daniel 1:12Comments- Later in Daniel's life he will go on a three-week fast and abstain from meats and wines again.

Daniel 10:3, "I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled."


Verses 13-21

Daniel 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.

Daniel 1:15Comments - The fair countenances of the Jewish children after ten days may have been a miracle in such a short period of time, but it is certainly true that abstinence from rich, fatty foods and partaking of healthy fruits and vegetables helps clear the skin.

Daniel 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.

Daniel 1:17Scripture References- Note:

Proverbs 14:35, "The king"s favour is toward a wise servant: but his wrath is against him that causeth shame."

Daniel 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.

Daniel 1:18Comments- According to Daniel 1:5 these young men were trained for three years before standing before the king.

Daniel 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.

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

Daniel 1:20 — "he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm" - Comments- Daniel 1:20 describes Daniel and his three friends "ten times better in wisdom and understanding than the king's magicians and astrologers. Although the literal translation Isaiah , "ten times," some scholars translate this phrase as an idiom to mean a rounded number, which is equivalent to "time after time," thus "numerous times." This is how the NAB translates this phrase.

NAB, "yet your father cheated me and changed my wages time after time. God, however, did not let him do me any harm."

We can see this same phrase used as an idiom in other passages in the Scriptures:

Numbers 14:22, "Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice;"

Nehemiah 4:12, "And it came to pass, that when the Jews which dwelt by them came, they said unto us ten times, From all places whence ye shall return unto us they will be upon you."

The number ten represents a counting system that is based on ten units. Thus, the number ten can also represent the numerical system, as well as the concept of many times.

Illustration: Jesus told Peter that we are to forgive seventy seven times.

Matthew 18:22, "Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven."

In this passage, Jesus did not literally mean that we were to forgive only seventy seven times, but that we were to forgive as often as was necessary to forgive, which is many times.

Illustration: A children"s book on the characters in the Sesame Street children"s program had a photo with these actors and puppets standing in a group. Mixed with this crowd were the letters of the alphabet and one number. It was interesting to note that the number 10 was chosen to be used in this photo in order to represent all of the numbers used in the Sesame Street program because of the same reasons listed above.

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

Daniel 1:21Comments- Daniel 1:21 says that he continued until the first year of King Cyrus. The importance of this date is that it was the official end of Israel's Babylonian Captivity; for in the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, the proclamation went forth that officially ended the seventy-year period of the Babylonian Captivity (See 2 Chronicles 36:22-23). Daniel would have been in his 80's or 90's at this time, having been a teenager when carried into captivity. Note that Daniel continued to have visions after this time, because a great vision was revealed to Daniel in the third year of King Cyrus ( Daniel 10:1). Thus, this date seems to be a reference to the end of his public ministry to the Gentiles.

2 Chronicles 36:22-23, "Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up."

 


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Daniel 1:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/daniel-1.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, November 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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