In verses 6 - 7 we see the first step in the Chaldean brainwashing technique. They changed the names of the Jewish captives to Chaldean names.
VS 6 - Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:
Now among these - This means among all of the captives taken from Judah.
Were of the children of Judah - This means that all of these captives were from the royal line.
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah - These four young men are mentioned as being children of Judah and they were included among the captives. Only the names of these four captives from Judah will be mentioned, no other names are given. Lack of Biblical knowledge, plus the corrupting influences of Babylon were probably too much for the others, therefore, they became useless as far as God's plan was concerned.
The names of these four Jewish young men indicates their relationship to the God of Israel. Also, in the custom of that time, it implies spiritual parents.
Daniel - Means "God is judge" or "God is discerning."
Hananiah - Means "The Lord is gracious."
Mishael - Means "Who is what God is?" Or "Who and what is the Lord?"
Azariah - Means "The Lord helps," or "The Lord is my help."
This possibly explains why these young men, in contrast to the others, are found to be true to God. They possibly had godly homes in their earlier years. Even in the days of Israel's apostasy and negative volition to the Word of God, there were a few parents who took the time to teach their children the things of God and helped prepare them for the trials of life. EXPANDED TRANSLATION VERSE 6: "Now among those taken captive from the children of Judah were Daniel (whose name means 'God is judge'), Hananiah (meaning 'The Lord is gracious'), Mishael (meaning 'Who is what God is?'), and Azariah (meaning 'The Lord is my help')."
VS 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 Azariah, of Abednego.
All four of these young men are now given new names as was the custom of that time. The heathen names given to Daniel and his companions were given to ascribe praise to the heathen gods of Babylon for the Chaldean victory over Israel and also to further separate these young men from their Hebrew background.
Unto whom the prince of the eunucks - This refers to Ashpenaz of verse 3. The prince of the eunuchs is not a eunuch himself, but he is over the eunuchs in authority. The prince of the eunuchs is actually one of the palace adminstrators.EXPANDED TRANSLATION VERSE 7: "And to them Ashpenaz, the prince of the eunuchs assigned new names: and he assigned to Daniel, Belteshazzar, and to Hananiah, Shadrach, and to Mishael, Meshach, and Azariah, Abednego."
Literally, "And to them Ashpenaz, the prince of the eunuchs."
Gave names - Literally, "Assigned names." In other words, he gave them new names.
For he gave unto Daniel - Literally, "And he assigned to Daniel."
The name of Beltshazzar - This name means "whom Bel favors," or "Bel's prince." Bel was the great Akkadian god Belu, but the Chaldeans simply called him Bel. This same god is called Zeus by the Greeks, Jupiter by the Romans, and Baal by the Canaanites. He was the chief god in the pantheon. So Daniel was given the top name among the captives.
And to Hananiah, of Shadrach - Shadrach was the sun god and this name means "illuminated by the sun god."
And to Mishael, of Meshach - Meshach was the goddes of love for the Chaldeans and this name actually means "who is like Venus?"
And to Azariah, of Abednego - Abednego means "servent of Nego." Nego comes from the word Nabu who was the Akkadian god of wisdom and education.
Therefore, with the changing of the names we have the beginning of the brainwashing system. The fact that these Hebrew youths were given heathen names does not indicate they ever departed from the Hebrew faith any more than in the case of Joseph, whose name was changed to Zaphnathpaaneah. (Genesis 41:45).
VS 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 and his companions were confronted with a problem of compromise in the matter of eating the food provided by the king. No doubt, the provision of the king's food was intended to be generous and indicated the favor of the king.
But Daniel purposed in his heart - This means that "Daniel made a decision" based on the information he had in his heart.EXPANDED TRANSLATION VERSE 8: "But Daniel made a decision based on Bible doctrine in his soul that he would not defile himself by eating the royal food and drinking the royal wine. Therefore, he requested from Ashpenaz, the prince of the eunuchs, that he might not deflie himself by violating the dietary laws of the Mosaic Law."(4)
At the time of this incident, Daniel was possibly between the ages of 14 and 18. So we see a teenager using his head and thinking. This is very unusual. The only reason Daniel "purposed" in his heart was because of the Biblical knowledge he possessed in his soul, which gave him a fantastic frame of reference and he used it. So when it says that "Daniel purposed in his heart," it means:A. - That he was thinking divine viewpoint.Literally, "But Daniel made a decision."
B - That divine viewpoint comes from the frame of reference in the soul.
C - That his frame of reference came from Bible doctrine stored in his human spirit.
D - Bible doctrine stored in his human spirit came from his mind.
E - Bible doctrine in his mind came from him studying it and learning it consistently.
That - This introduces a purpose clause. Literally, "For the purpose that ."
He would not defile himself - Daniel's decison was based in part on Deut 32:31-38. (3)
Heathenism had a system of sacrifice and libation. The wine was poured out in part and the rest of it was drunk. They offered part of the animal in sacrifice and they ate the best part themselves.
Nebuchadnezzar had food that was served to idols brought to all the students in all his schools. This was why Daniel refused to eat the food in the palace of the king. But it would take someone like Daniel to know that abstaining from "food offered to idols" was in the Word of God.
Therefore, when Daniel inquired about the excellent food being served, he was told that this was special food because it had been offered to the gods. So when Daniel received that information, he refused to eat. He would rather starve than compromise with religion. If he had eaten that food he would have been associating himself with a heathen religion, so he refused to eat and remained separated from religion.
Daniel preferred to operate on the basis Deuteronomy 8:3, ".....man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of the Lord does man live." The Word of God must be first and everything else a detail. If we put the Word of God first, God will provide the details.
In essence Daniel said something like this: "The Word of God is eternal. It was here before me and it will be here after I am gone. Physical food is only temporary. Therefore, the Word of God is for me and whether I have food to eat or not is the Lord's problem."
Literally, "But Daniel made a decision that he would not defile himself."
With the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank - This refers to the food that had been offered to idols. This meat, as well as the wine had been dedicated to idols as was customary in Babylon at that time. To eat this food would be to recognize the idols as deities or true gods, and Daniel refused to do that.
Literally,"But Daniel made a decision that he would not defile himself by eating the royal food and the royal wine."
Therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs - I want you to notice that Daniel "requested," he did not demand like some Christians do today. Before anyone can demand anything they must be in a position of authority. Daniel was a slave and he was in no position to demand anything and he knew it.
Of the prince of the eunuchs - This is Ashpenaz, who we saw in verse 3 and verse 7.
That - This introduces a purpose clause. Literally, "For the purpose that."
He might not defile himself - Daniel is saying that by eating this royal food that was offered to idols, that he would violate the dietary laws of Codex #3 of the Mosaic Law. These laws are specified in Leviticus 7:22-27, and 11:22. In other words, Daniel takes a doctrinal stand and puts the consequences in the Lord's hands.
So Daniel says, "The Word of God is for me and everything else is the Lord's problem."
VS 9 - Now God had brought Daniel into favor and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.
It is very clear that God intervened on Daniel's behalf in preparing the way for his request to be answered in the positive.
Tender love - The Hebrew word here means "deep appreciation." The prince of the eunuchs appreciated every facet of Daniel's life. Daniel's life was stable, consistent and he had a relaxed mental attitude, all because of Bible doctrine in his soul.EXPANDED TRANSLATION VERSE 9: "Now God brought Daniel into a position of favor and appreciation with Ashpenaz, the prince of the eunuchs."
So the prince of the eunuchs actually appreciated Daniel's consistency, loyalty and his attention to detail in everything he did. Proverbs 16:7 says, "When a man's ways are pleasing to the Lord he makes even his enemies to live at peace with him." (NIV). Daniel is a young man but he is spiritually mature. This is one of the rare cases on record where the spiritual life is ahead of the physical life.
The prince of the eunuchs - This again refers to Ashpenaz of verse 3, 7 and 8.
VS 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.
And the prince of the eunuchs - This refers to Asphenaz.
Said unto Daniel - This was Asphenaz's reply to Daniel's request.
I fear my lord the king - This was not an overstatement for if he did not do his duty will he could lose his head. Life was very cheap in Babylon at that time and subject to the whims of the king. Therefore, Asphenaz did not want to get caught changing the king's orders in regard to the diet of the captives.
Ashpenaz only answered to one man, Nebuchadnezzar, and he feared for his life. While Daniel is actually a slave, the lowest man in rank yet he isn't afraid of anything. The Word of God through grace triumphs again.
The Word of God not only strengthens our spiritual life, but:Literally, "And Ashpenaz, the prince of the eunuchs said to Daniel, 'I am afraid of my lord the king."
It gives us courage when we are afraid.
It gives us endurance in suffering.
It gives us comfort in heartache.
It gives us companionship in loneliness.
It gives us direction when we don't know which way to go.
It gives us peace and tranquility in pressure.
It gives us happiness and joy in times of sorrow.
The Word of God can do all that and much more.
who hath appointed your meat and your drink - In other words, the king made sure that the best food was provided for these captives.
Literally, "Who has assigned your food and drink."
For why should he see your faces worse liking - This means "poor in comparison."
Than the children which were of your sort - This refers to the other Jews who were taken captive along with Daniel.
Then shall ye made me endanger my head to the king - In other words, Ashpenaz would lose his head if he did not satisfy Nebuchadnezzar. EXPANDED TRANSLATION VERSE 10: "And Ashpenaz, the prince of the eunuchs said to Daniel, 'I am afraid of my lord the king, for if he should see your faces less healthy in comparison to the other young men that are Hebrews also, then you shall cause me to endanger my head to the king."
So Ashpenaz told Daniel, "If I let you stop eating the food sent by the king and you begin to look unhealthy because you lack proper nourishment, I will lose my head."
VS 11 - Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
Daniel doesn't give up. He tries again and his next step was to appeal to the steward who had immediate charge of Daniel and his friends.
Then said Daniel to Melzar - This is not a proper name, but a word referring to one who was in charge of the dining room. You could call him the "mess sergeant." He is "the steward, or chief attendant."EXPANDED TRANSLATION VERSE 11: "Then Daniel said to the chief steward, the one whom Asphpenaz, the prince of the eunuchs had appointed to take care of the daily provisions of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah."
Literally, "Then Daniel said to the chief steward."
Whom the prince of the eunuchs - This again refers to Ashpenaz.
Had set over over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah - In other words, Asphenaz appointed the "chief steward" to take care of these four young Jewish men. He was to make sure that they stayed on their diet that was prescribed by the king.
VS 12 - Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. Having been refused permission for a permanent change in diet, Daniel naturally took the next course of action, that of requesting a brief trial period in the change of their diet. The chief steward, not being in a position that placed him directly under the king could afford to take a chance if he desired to.
Prove thy servants - The Hebrew word for "prove" means "to test, to prove." The word "servants" refers to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah only.EXPANDED TRANSLATION VERSE 12: "Please test your servants now for ten days and let them give to us some vegetables to eat and water to drink."
I beseech thee - This is the Hebrew particle of entreaty meaning "to beseech, to ask, to pray." It carries the connotation of courtesy. Literally, "Please test your servants for ten days." In other words, Daniels is saying, "Please give us a chance to prove our point."
It should be noted here that the number ten in the Bible refers to "testing or proving something."
And let them give us pulse to eat and water to drink - The Hebrew word for "pulse" means "vegetables."
This proposal by Daniel for a ten day trial period was a resonable length of time to test a diet and yet not so long so that it would bring wrath from the king.
Again we see Daniel always thinking and not afraid to bring up new ideas in his attempt to follow the Word of God.
Daniel being a righteous person did not want the prince of the eunuchs to get into trouble and cause him to lose his head, so he arranged this test with the chief steward.
VS 13 - Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king's meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.
Then let our countenances - This refers to their appeances.
Be looked upon before thee - In other words, he is asking the chief steward to make the examination.
Literally, "Then let our appearances be looked upon before you."
And the countenance Literally, "the appearances."
Of the children that eat of the portion of the king's table - This refers to the other Jews, the other captives, the compromisers.
And as thou seest - In other words, you be the judge and you make your decision on what you see.
Deal with thy servants - In other words, deal with us as you see fit. This means, after ten days are passed, you compare our appearances with the Jews who ate the king's food and you make your judgment concerning us based on what you see. EXPANDED TRANSLATION VERSE 13: "Then let us stand before you and you compare our appearances with the appearances of the young men who are eating the king's food, and as you see it, make the decision concerning us, who are your servants."
VS 14 - So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days. This simply says that the chief steward went along with this and tested them ten days.
VS 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.
In verses 15 & 16 we see the victory of faith.
And at the end of ten days - This was their testing period.EXPANDED TRANSLATION VERSE 15: "Then at the end of the ten day trial period, their appearances looked healthier and their flesh appeared to have better color and firmness than all the other young men who were eating the king's food."
Their countenances - Literally, "their appearances."
Appeared fairer - The Hebrew word means "well, good, beautiful." This refers to "appearing healthier."
And fatter in flesh - The Hebrew word means "firm, clean, bright and pure." This actually refers to a "cleaner and purer" appearance.
Than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat - This of course refers to the other Jewish captives.
VS 16 - Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.
Then Melzar - This is not a name, it is a title. This refers to the chief steward of these four young Hebrew men.
Took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink - The initial request by Daniel was back in verse 8 and after a series of requests with a couple different men, Daniel's request to not eat the meat nor drink the wine offered to idols finally comes true.
Literally, "Then the chief steward took away the portion of food and the wine that they were to drink."
And gave them pulse - This again refers to vegetables. EXPANDED TRANSLATION VERSE 16: "Then the chief steward removed the food and the wine that they were to drink and gave them vegetables."
Daniel wouldn't give up, because he knew he was right and his persistence was rewarded. There are many people who think they are right, but if their thinking is not based on something absolute, then what they think is not right. Proverbs 14:12 tells us, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death."
Proverbs 26:12 says, "Do you see a man wise (right) in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him."
VS 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.
In verses 17 - 20 we see the results of this victory and we see the end of the three years of hard work and the result of God's blessing upon these four faithful young men.
As for these four children - Literally, "As for these young men." This of course refers to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.EXPANDED TRANSLATION VERSE 17: "And as for these four young men, God gave them the ability to take in knowledge and develop the skills in all learning and wisdom, and Daniel had skill and understanding in all visions and dreams."
God gave - This is grace.
Them knowledge and skill in all knowledge and wisdom - This does not mean that God opened up their minds and poured in wisdom and knowledge and skill, but it does mean that He helped them to learn and understand. Because of the fact that these young men put the Word of God first, knowledge, skills and wisdom were mere details of life. God simply honored their priorities. He honored their set of values. So they put the Lord first, and God honored them by helping them learn the things and ways of the Chaldeans. They passed with high honors.
Literally, "And as for these four young men, God gave them the ability to take in knowledge and develop the skills in all learning and wisdom."
And Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams - In other words, Daniel had the gift of prophecy, although he did not hold the office of a prophet.
VS 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.
Now at the end of the days - This refers to the end of their three year training period spoken of in verse five.
That the king had said - Literally, "That the king has specified."
He should bring them in - "He" refers to Asphenaz, the prince of the eunuchs.
Literally, "Now at the end of the three year training period that the king had specified, the prince of the eunuchs, Asphenaz, brought them in."
Before Nebuchadnezzar - At the end of their training all of the young men were tested by the king. EXPANDED TRANSLATION VERSE 18: "Now at the end of the three year training period that the king had specified, the prince of the eunuchs, Asphenaz, brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar the king."
VS 19 - And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Danlel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king.
And the king communed with them - the word "commune" is from the Hebrew word meaning "to speak, to talk, to tell, to declare." This means that the king was "questioning them," "declaring and explaining things to them." This was a part of their final exam after completing three years of training.
And among them all - This refers to all who were in the training course, Jews and Chaldeans alike.
Was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah - In other words, none could be found to compare with these four young men. They came out at the top of their class.
Therefore stood they before the king - this refers to standing in a position of leadership and responsibility in the government of Nebuchadnezzar. So upon their graduation they were promoted to high places in the king's administration. EXPANDED TRANSLATION VERSE 19: "And the king gave them an intense examination and among all of those in the training course, there was none found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, therefore they were given positions in the Chaldean government."
VS 20 - And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.
And in all matters of wisdom and understanding that the king inquired of them - In other words, this means that no matter what question was brought up to them concerning the knowledge and wisdom of their positions of authority, they knew the answer.
He found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm - The Hebrew word for "magician" refers to men involved in mathematics, witchcraft and sorcery. The word for "astrologers" refers to men who were advisors and adminstrators. But they would advise based upon the study of the stars and planets. EXPANDED TRANSLATION VERSE 20: "And in all matters of wisdom and understanding that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all of the magicians and astrologers that were in his entire realm."
I want you to notice that Daniel and his friends were tested for ten days concerning the type of food they were to eat. Now we see Daniel and his friends ten times better than all of their fellow workers.
VS 21 - And Daniel continued even unto the first year of king Cyrus.
The important point here is that Daniel's ministry spanned the entire Babylonian Empire, and he was still alive when Cyrus came on the scene. This passage does not say nor does it imply that Daniel did not continue after the first year of Cyrus, which, as a matter of fact, he did.(5)
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