Daniel 1 The Voice (VOICE)
1 Now it happened during the third year of King Jehoiakim’s reign over Judah, the armies of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon marched against him and laid siege to Jerusalem, Judah’s capital. 2 The Lord gave Nebuchadnezzar the victory and allowed him to take King Jehoiakim of Judah as his prisoner. At the same time, He permitted the Babylonian king to rob God’s temple of some of its sacred vessels and carry them away to Babylonia (called Shinar), which was the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, to fill the treasury of his own gods, Marduk and Nebo.
3 After the king returned home, he commanded Ashpenaz, chief of the royal eunuchs, to bring some of the Israelites who had been taken captive to the palace. These included members of Judah’s royal family and the nobility. 4 He was looking for potential candidates from the exiles to serve in his court, fit young men with no physical or moral infirmities, handsome, skilled in all wisdom, knowledgeable, discerning, and understanding. Those selected would be taught the language and literature of the Chaldeans, the people who lived in Babylonia. 5 As part of their assimilation into Babylonian court life, the king offered them a daily portion of food and wine from his own table. They were to be educated for three years before serving in the king’s court. 6 From among Judah’s exiles, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were selected. 7 Ashpenaz, chief of the royal eunuchs, gave them Babylonian names to signify their new identities in a foreign place: Daniel he renamed Belteshazzar; Hananiah, Shadrach; Mishael, Meshach; and Azariah, Abed-nego.
Nebuchadnezzar seizes the wisest, strongest, and most powerful people in each land he conquers and deports them to Babylonia. This serves three purposes: it gives the government an unending supply of capable people; it further cripples the conquered nation, rendering them helpless; and it ensures the conquered nation will not want to retaliate because their own loved ones live in the conquering land.
Daniel and his friends are among these deportees. When they arrive in Babylonia, they are expected to assimilate to the Babylonian way of life; this includes changing their names. Nebuchadnezzar renames the deportees to complete their conversion to the Babylonian society and to demonstrate his status as their master.
8 Although the king ate only the finest Babylonian fare, Daniel was determined not to violate God’s law and defile himself by eating the food and drinking the wine that came from the king’s table; so he asked the chief of the royal eunuchs for permission not to eat the food.
Daniel’s concern is the food has been offered up to Marduk and does not meet Israelite dietary laws.
9 Now God had given Daniel special favor and fondness in the eyes of the king’s chief eunuch. 10 Still the eunuch was concerned.
Ashpenaz (to Daniel): Belteshazzar, your request puts me in a difficult position. I am afraid of what my lord the king might do. He has ordered that you are to eat the food and drink the wine prepared for his table. What will happen if he sees you and your friends over time in poorer health than the other young men your own age? I am certain he will have my head.
11 When Ashpenaz refused, Daniel reasoned with the guard whom the chief of the royal eunuchs assigned to watch over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
Daniel (to the guard): 12 Please, do us a favor. Put us, your servants, to the test for the next 10 days. Give us a vegetarian diet and water. 13 When the time is up, you can see for yourself our condition and compare it to the condition of the other young men who are eating from the king’s table. Then, after you have seen what has happened, do whatever you think is best with us, your servants.
Daniel and his companions ask for a diet consistent with God’s instructions to His covenant people: vegetables and grains, without the rich cuts of meat that are normally a staple of those who eat at the king’s table. They also want to exclude any wines or mead because they intend to avoid any unnecessary entanglements with Babylonian culture. Most of those meats and wines have been offered to the Babylonian gods, and Daniel wants no part of that. Daniel and his exiled friends may have to live in Babylon, but they don’t have to be absorbed into the culture. Every bite of every meal reminds them that they are different.
14 So the guard agreed to do as Daniel requested. He tested them on a diet of only vegetables, grains, and water for 10 days. 15 When the 10 days were up, he looked them over and noticed that Daniel and his friends were better off than all the young men eating from the king’s best foods. They looked healthy and well nourished, 16 so the guard continued to hold back their royal rations and replaced them with a strictly vegetarian diet. 17 Through all of this, God conferred upon these 4 young men superior abilities in literature, language, and wisdom. God had given Daniel an additional gift, too: the ability to interpret visions and dreams. 18 When the 3-year period of training and conditioning, as set by the king, was over, the king sent for the candidates; the chief of the royal eunuchs himself escorted them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king interviewed all of them and found that none of the candidates were any better than Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; so they were each assigned an important place in the king’s court. 20 When the king inquired further into their grasp of wisdom and understanding, he discovered that they were better prepared than all the magicians and enchanters in his empire, even 10 times better. 21 This is how Daniel came to serve the royal court, a position he safely held until the first year of King Cyrus when his Persian army conquered Babylonia.
Daniel 1 New International Version (NIV)
Daniel’s Training in Babylon
1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 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 off to the temple of his god in Babylonia[a] and put in the treasure house of his god.
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— 4 young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.[b] 5 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.
6 Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7 The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.
8 But Daniel resolved not to defile 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 and compassion to Daniel, 10 but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your[c] food and drink. 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 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.” 14 So he agreed to this and tested 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. 16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
18 At the end of the time 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. 20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.
21 And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.