CHAPTER 1 | Verses 1-8

The name Daniel means ‘God is my judge’. This is the first principle we can learn in Daniel. God is our judge. He sees everything we do and hears everything we say, and we will be held accountable for these things (Matthew 12:36-37). If we live our lives constantly aware that God is watching us we are going to make wise decisions, live faithfully for Him, and will be prepared for the establishment of His Kingdom. God does not judge the words/works of believers as to where they will spend eternity. Instead, believers are going to receive a reward, or are going to suffer loss, for what they have or have not done (see 1 Corinthians 3:10-15). We are not saved by our behaviour. However, being saved by God’s grace, our behaviour should demonstrate a
commitment to righteousness and holiness. We should reflect the character of our Saviour,
Messiah Yeshua.

The Tanakh is divided into three sections. “The Torah” or laws, the “Nevi’im” or prophets and the “Ketuvim”, the writings or wisdom literature. Although the sages of Judaism recognize that Daniel is full of prophecy it has not been placed in the section with all the prophetic literature. Instead, it falls under the section titled “Ketuvim”. Daniel is seen as a sage, just as much as he is seen as a prophet. The principles and prophecies that we learn throughout Daniel help us to be faithful, and to ready ourselves for Messiah’s return to earth. One of the most important events in Jewish history was the Babylonian captivity. Through it the Jewish community realized that, although they are the people of God (by that covenant that God established with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), God is a faithful judge. He rewards those who are obedient and punishes those who are not. The Babylonian captivity testified of His judgement.

Daniel is written in both Hebrew and Aramaic


VERSE 1: “In the third year of the kingdom of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, came Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, to Jerusalem; and he laid siege against it.”

Jehoiakim: Jehoiakim was not a good king (2 Chronicles 36:5-8).
Nebuchadnezzar: The king of Babylon. He went, with a mighty army, to conquer Jerusalem in the 3rd year of Jehoiakim’s reign. Habakkuk 1:6-11 tells us that G-d raised up the Babylonians in order to be his vessel of punishment. Jeremiah 27:6 calls Nebuchadnezzar ‘G-d’s servant’.

This does not mean that God was pleased with Nebuchadnezzar, or that he was a righteous man who did this out of obedience to God. However, God used him, even though he was not a Godly man, or a servant of God, from a confessional standpoint. At this stage of the battle, he did not recognize the G-d of Israel. Nevertheless, G-d used him in order to accomplish His purpose, to punish, or bring His judgement, upon the Judeans – that Southern kingdom. The Northern kingdom, the other tribes that had separated from Judah, had already gone into captivity. Laid siege: Lacking faith, the armies of Judah did not go out to fight. They knew that they could not, in their own power, defeat Nebuchadnezzar. Living within the besieged city would have been a horrendous experience. No one could leave Jerusalem, and no one could go into it. This would have affected supplies, and the people would have run out of food and things that they needed. The situation within the walls of Jerusalem would have been disastrous, chaotic and a time of great suffering. 

Note: The Babylonian captivity did not take place in just a few days, weeks, or months. Nebuchadnezzar had gained control over the people of Judea and made them his servants. They had to pay tribute/taxes. After Jehoiakim, his son (very briefly) and his brother, Zedekiah reigned as king (2 Chronicles 36:8-14) It was during Zedekiah’s administration that the actual captivity took place (2 Chronicles 36:15-21). It was a period of approximately eighteen years from the time that Nebuchadnezzar arrived in Judea until the temple was destroyed and that final captivity took place.


VERSE 2: “And the Lord gave into his hand Jehoiakim, the king of Judah, as well as some of the vessels of the house of God. And he (Nebuchadnezzar) brought them to the land of Shinar, into the house of his god.”

Note: Jehoiakim, as well as some of the holy vessels/furniture from the temple of G-d, were captured by Nebuchadnezzar and taken to the land of Shinar, Babylon (2 Chronicles 36:6-7). Those captured vessels were no longer able to fulfil their purpose in the temple in Jerusalem, but were taken into exile and placed in the house of a pagan god.


VERSE 3: “The king said to Ashpenaz, the captain of the eunuchs, to bring to him some of the sons of Israel from the seed of the kings and from the noblemen.”

Ashpenaz, the captain of the eunuchs: Many of the eunuchs, at that time, would willing make themselves eunuchs. They had no family, no children, no other responsibilities and were not seeking women. Therefore, they could be totally dedicated to the purpose of serving in a governmental capacity. They could rise up faster within a government and were more likely to hold important positions. Ashpenaz was the captain over the eunuchs in the Babylonian captivity.

The seed of the kings: Royal children.

Note: Some of the most influential individuals, who had the best upbringing (royalty or noblemen) were taken into captivity earlier in order that they might serve the king. 


VERSE 4: “They were young and there was not in them any defect. They were good in appearance, and had intelligence in all types of wisdom. They knew knowledge, and there was power in them to stand in the palace of the kingdom. They were taught education and the language of the Chaldeans.”

Young: Children

Defect: This is not talking about a physical defect (the next phrase speaks about that when it says that they were of good appearance). This speaks to the fact that there was nothing lacking in them mentally. They were individuals that had great potential, both intellectually and socially. They knew knowledge: They had understanding in the sciences. Power in them: They had an authority. They were capable and had ability from every aspect -how they looked, how they thought, their knowledge, etc. They would be valuable servants in the palace of the king.

Education and the language of the Chaldeans: They learnt things that the Chaldeans should know i.e. they were put through their educational process. They had to learn the language so that they would be equipped to be an asset to the leadership of the Babylonians.

VERSE 5:  “And the king appointed to them that each day they would be given from the kings delicacies, and from the wine that he drank, in order that they would be grown for three years in this lifestyle. At the end of this time, they would stand before the face of the king.”

Appointed: This was an order.

Delicacies: The king’s fine foods. They ate the finest food, drank the king’s wine, and studied the Babylonian literature and sciences.

Grown: Raised up

Three years: Three is for the purpose of revealing and for testing. They had to go through the process of education and testing for three years.

At the end of this time: If they showed themselves worthy, after the three years, they would be able to stand before the king.
Stand before the face of the king: An idiom meaning that they would stand in the king’s service.

Note 1: When these sons of Israel (from good stock and with great potential) were taken to Babylon, many went into this three-year process of being assimilated. They ate and drank fine foods and wine; and they learnt the culture and the language of the Babylonians.

Note 2: Food and drink play a very large role in culture. The king wanted to give these Israelites his food and drink in order to bring about a change in them.

VERSE 6: “And it came about that among them from the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. “

And it came about: The word used here (י ִ֥ הְיַו (tells us that there is a transition, or a change, in the story.

Sons of Judah: We see another change. In Daniel 1:3 we read that Ashpenaz received from ‘the sons of Israel’. Now, within that original group, there is a subcategory of people referred to as ‘the sons of Judah’. Every time we see a change in the Biblical text there is a purpose behind it. Judah, in its original form, means to throw something. It is not the normal word for throwing, but is a word that has to do with giving (throwing) praise to God. The text is alluding to the fact that these individuals wanted to praise, honour, and glorify God. The battle was this: the Babylonians wanted to change this about them.


VERSE 7: “The captain of the eunuchs placed upon them names: He gave to Daniel (the name) Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, Shadrach; and to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego.”

Note: Daniel 1:6 told us what their Hebrew names were and then, almost immediately, we find that they were given new names. Their Hebrew names all had significance, Biblically. Their new names did not. According to the scholars, these new names referenced pagan or false gods. All of this indicates a spiritual battle that these men were facing.

Daniel: Means ‘God is my judge’.

Hananiah: Means ‘God is gracious’.

Mishael: It is a word for ‘Who will ask?’ Many say it is a reference to praying, asking, or beseeching God.

Azariah: Meaning ‘God helps’.


VERSE 8: “But Daniel put upon his heart that he would not defile himself with the delicacies of the king, nor with the wine which he drank; so, he sought from the chief of the eunuchs that he would not be defiled.”

But: Shows a contrast. Daniel did something in contrast to what he was expected to do in order for assimilation to take place.
Put upon his heart: Purposed, set/made up his mind (in his heart/thoughts – Proverbs 23:7). The rabbinical sages tell us that this means to choose to pay attention to one thing at the expense of something else.

Not defile: This word is written in the reflexive. It literally means that Daniel decided not to redeem himself. Redemption is something that has to be done for us, done on our behalf. When Daniel said he was not going to redeem himself what he was saying was that he was NOT going to take matters into his own hands in order to save himself. He did not want to conform to the
food, drink and lifestyle that was being forced upon them. Daniel’s recognition, that he had to depend upon G-d, caused him not to be defiled. He understood that Redemption is not initiated by oneself, but it is a gift, from G-d, that needs to be received. Daniel wanted to put himself in a location where GOd would move in his life. Daniel decided that he would not try to save himself by utilizing the tools of man, but rather that the would remain faithful to G-d in a very unfaithful location.

Note: Daniel was one of the children of Judah, but he was not in Judea. He used to worship in the temple, but now there was no temple. Everything that Daniel had held sacred had been taken away, and he was in a foreign country in a very ungodly situation. Many people would think “When in Rome do as the Romans do”. That is what the vast majority of the children of Judah did. They made the most of their circumstances and assimilated. They began to live just like the Babylonians.

He sought: He requested permission to not defile himself by eating unkosher food. 

Note: We do not know how Daniel would have reacted if permission had not been granted. Would he have been willing to sacrifice his life in order not to obey pagan principles? Some people will say that God has empowered every government, and therefore He wants us, under every circumstance, to obey it. This is a false statement and a wrong understanding of Romans Romans 13:1-7 speaks about a government that bears a sword for good. A government that punishes those who do evil, and rewards those who do good. If we live under a government where our faith and the government do not collide, we should be good citizens. However, in those places where the laws of God and the laws of the government are in opposition to each other our first priority is to obey God, whatever consequence, or punishment we have to go through – even if it leads to death.


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