The Choice Young Men
1 In the third year of the reign of [a]Jehoiakim king of Judah, [b]Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles of the house of God; and he brought them into the land of [c]Shinar, to the house of his god, and brought the articles into the treasury of his god.(A)
3 And the [Babylonian] king told Ashpenaz, the chief of his [d]officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some from the royal family and from the nobles,(B) 4 young men without blemish and handsome in appearance, skillful in all wisdom, endowed with intelligence and discernment, and quick to understand, competent to stand [in the presence of the king] and able to serve in the king’s palace. He also ordered Ashpenaz to teach them the literature and language of the [e]Chaldeans. 5 The king assigned a daily ration for them from his finest food and from the wine which he drank. They were to be educated and nourished this way for three years so that at the end of that time they were [prepared] to enter the king’s service. 6 Among them from the sons of Judah were: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 7 The commander of the officials gave them [Babylonian] names: Daniel he named Belteshazzar, Hananiah he named Shadrach, Mishael he named Meshach, and Azariah he named Abed-nego.
8 But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile (taint, dishonor) himself with the [f]king’s finest food or with the wine which the king drank; so he asked the commander of the officials that he might [be excused so that he would] not defile himself.(C) 9 Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials, 10 and the commander of the officials said to Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has prearranged your food and your drink; for why should he see your faces looking more haggard than the young men who are your own age? Then you would make me forfeit my head to the king.” 11 But Daniel said to the overseer whom the commander of the officials had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 “Please, test your servants for ten days, and let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then let our appearance and the appearance of the young men who eat the king’s finest food be observed and compared by you, and deal with your servants in accordance with what you see.”
14 So the man listened to them in this matter and tested them for ten days. 15 At the end of ten days it seemed that they were looking better and [g]healthier than all the young men who ate the king’s finest food. 16 So the overseer continued to withhold their fine food and the wine they were to drink, and kept giving them vegetables.
17 As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all kinds of literature and wisdom; Daniel also understood all kinds of visions and dreams.(D)
18 At the end of the time set by the king to bring all the young men in [before him], the commander of the officials presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king spoke with them, and among them all not one was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; so they were [selected and] assigned to stand before the king and enter his personal service. 20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king consulted them, he found them ten times better than all the [learned] magicians and enchanters (Magi) in his whole realm. 21 And Daniel remained there until the [h]first year of [the reign of] King Cyrus [over Babylon; now this was at the end of the seventy-year exile of Judah (the Southern Kingdom) in Babylonia, as foretold by Jeremiah].(E)
- Daniel 1:1 Pharaoh Neco had killed Josiah king of Judah and installed Eliakim (Josiah’s son) as a vassal ruler. Neco changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim and he ruled for eleven years (2 Chr 36:4, 5).
- Daniel 1:1 Nebuchadnezzar II of the Chaldean Dynasty, more commonly known as Nebuchadnezzar the Great, ruled Babylon from 605-562 b.c. He conquered Jerusalem in 597 b.c.
- Daniel 1:2 I.e. southern Babylonia.
- Daniel 1:3 Or eunuchs, and so throughout.
- Daniel 1:4 The Chaldeans dominated and ruled Babylonia from 625 b.c. until their empire fell in 539 b.c., but they were known as early as 1000 b.c. as an aggressive, tribal people in the southern region of Babylonia. They were highly skilled in both the science of astronomy and the pseudo-science of astrology. They kept meticulous records of celestial motion and correctly calculated the length of a year to within just a few minutes. Babylon, their capital city, was the center of trade and learning in the western part of Asia. The classical literature of the Chaldeans was written in cuneiform, but the common language, both written and spoken in Babylon, was Akkadian increasingly influenced by Aramaic.
- Daniel 1:8 The first portions of the food and wine would have been presented to idols before being served at the table.
- Daniel 1:15 Lit fat of flesh.
- Daniel 1:21 Cyrus the Great, founder of the Persian Empire, ruled from 559-529 b.c. He conquered the Median (549 b.c.), the Lydian (546 b.c.), and the Neo-Babylonian (539 b.c.) kingdoms and formed the greatest empire the world had ever known. He returned a remnant of the Jewish population from Babylon to Jerusalem along with an edict to rebuild the temple.
New International Version
Daniel’s Training in Babylon
1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim(A) king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar(B) king of Babylon(C) came to Jerusalem and besieged it.(D) 2 And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried(E) off to the temple of his god in Babylonia[a] and put in the treasure house of his god.(F)
3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility(G)— 4 young men without any physical defect, handsome,(H) showing aptitude for every kind of learning,(I) well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language(J) and literature of the Babylonians.[b] 5 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine(K) from the king’s table.(L) They were to be trained for three years,(M) and after that they were to enter the king’s service.(N)
6 Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel,(O) Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.(P) 7 The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar;(Q) to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.(R)
8 But Daniel resolved not to defile(S) himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. 9 Now God had caused the official to show favor(T) and compassion(U) to Daniel, 10 but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your[c] food and drink.(V) Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”
11 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 “Please test(W) your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.”(X) 14 So he agreed to this and tested(Y) them for ten days.
15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.(Z) 16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.(AA)
18 At the end of the time(AE) set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service.(AF) 20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians(AG) and enchanters in his whole kingdom.(AH)
21 And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.(AI)