Bible Study: Daniel 1 – Seeking God in Captivity

The book of Daniel is one of the most prophetic books in the old testament. It has been sealed until the time of the end. Undoubtedly, now is the time of the end. Therefore, let us not be hypocrites without discerning this time and let us unseal the book of Daniel.

(Dan 12:4) “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”

(Luke 12:56) “Hypocrites! You can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how [is it] you do not discern this time?

The first chapter of Daniel is an introduction to who Daniel is and a quick overview of the situation he is in. It is indeed a tough situation.

Captivity

(Dan 1:1-2) IN the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the articles into the treasure house of his god.

Jehoiakim, king of Judah reigned from 608 to 598 BC. The third year of his reign is 605 BC when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it after defeating the Egyptian army in the Battle of Carchemish. The battle of Carchemish is mentioned in the below passage of the Bible as well.

(2Chr 35:20-24) After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Carchemish by the Euphrates; and Josiah went out against him. But he sent messengers to him, saying, “What have I to do with you, king of Judah? I have not come against you this day, but against the house with which I have war; for God commanded me to make haste. Refrain from meddling with God, who is with me, lest He destroy you.” Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself so that he might fight with him, and did not heed the words of Necho from the mouth of God. So he came to fight in the Valley of Megiddo. And the archers shot King Josiah; and the king said to his servants, “Take me away, for I am severely wounded.” His servants therefore took him out of that chariot and put him in the second chariot that he had, and they brought him to Jerusalem. So he died, and was buried in one of the tombs of his fathers. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.

At this time, which is 605 BC, Jehoiakim was made as a vassal to the Babylonians.

Daniel and his friends

(Dan 1:3-7) Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king’s descendants and some of the nobles, young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans. And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king. Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego.

There were a 5 qualities required to service the king.
  1. No blemish
  2. Good-looking
  3. Gifted in all wisdom
  4. Possessing knowledge
  5. Quick to understand
It is interesting to see how the king is looking for certain things that are only found in the one true God.

(Prov 2:6) For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;

Sons of Judah: The chief of eunuchs gave pagan names based on Babylonian gods to the sons of Judah.

Original Name Original Meaning Babylonian Name Babylonian Name Meaning
Daniel God is my judge Belteshazzar Bel protects his life
Hananiah YHWH  is gracious Shadrach command of Aku
Mishael who is like God Meshach who is what Aku is?
Azariah YHWH has helped Abed-Nego servant of Nebo

Daniel’s Veggies

(Dan 1:8-17) But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs. And the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking worse than the young men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king.” So Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. “Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king’s delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants.” So he consented with them in this matter, and tested them ten days. And at the end of ten days their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies. Thus the steward took away their portion of delicacies and the wine that they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.

Daniel doesn’t want to defile with the kings delicacies. The above verses by no way advocates a vegetarian lifestyle. It is infact wrong to say Daniel was a vegetarian because, he must have ate lamb for Passover before his captivity. Daniel doesn’t want to be defiled by kings delicacies. This means, either the king’s food may contain meat that are unclean to consume according to Mosaic law or the meat may be sacrificed or presented to idols before consumption.

God’s Wisdom and Understanding

(Dan 1:18-20) Now at the end of the days, when the king had said that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. Then the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm.

Wisdom and Understanding is from God.

(Eccl 2:26) For God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man who is good in His sight; but to the sinner He gives the work of gathering and collecting, that he may give to him who is good before God. This also is vanity and grasping for the wind.

He gives wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man who is good in His sight. Daniel and his companions were good in His sight by not defiling themselves with the king’s delicacies and God gave wisdom and knowledge to them, though they were only of youth, they excelled all the others more than 10 times.

Retirement of Daniel

(Dan 1:21) Thus Daniel continued until the first year of King Cyrus.

Daniel continued to work until the first year of King Cyrus. From historical records, we know the first year of king Cyrus as king of Babylon is from 539 BC. If Daniel had come in his youth around ~15 years old as a captive, then he should be ~80 years or above during the first year of king Cyrus.