God favors Daniel (Dan 1:9-1:9)

“Now God

Allowed Daniel

To receive favor

As well as compassion

From the palace master.”

Instead of a big deal, Ashpenaz said okay. God allowed Daniel to receive compassion and a favor from this palace master.

The concern of Daniel about food defilement (Dan 1:8-1:8)

“But Daniel resolved

That he would not

Defile himself

With the royal rations

Of food,

Or wine.

Thus,

He asked

The palace master

To allow him

Not to defile himself.”

Daniel resolved that he would not eat the royal food or wine, since that would make him unclean. He then asked Ashpenaz, the chief of the palace not to eat this royal food. The food restrictions became a major issue in the 2nd century BCE, when Antiochus IV Epiphanes (174-164 BCE) was the Greek Seleucid king who persecuted the Jews of Samaria and Judah. King Antiochus sided with the Hellenized Jews that led to the Maccabean revolt over the issue of who was a true Jewish person. The answer could be found by observing the food that they ate.

The names of the Israelite students (Dan 1:6-1:7)

“Among those chosen were

Daniel,

Hananiah,

Mishael,

Azariah,

From the tribe of Judah.

The palace master

Gave them other names.

Daniel,

He called Belteshazzar.

Hananiah,

He called Shadrach.

Mishael,

He called Meshach.

Azariah

He called Abednego.”

The names of the 4 Israelite students from the tribe of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Obviously, the emphasis will be on Daniel, the name of this book. However, Ashpenaz, the chief of the palace, gave them other names that were more Babylonian, Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. There was an American song written about the 3 young men with Daniel, called “Shadrach,” and later recorded by Louis Armstrong and Brook Benton.  This was another common practice to help integrate them into the Chaldean Babylonian culture.

The Babylonian king requests young Israelite students (Dan 1:3-1:4)

“Then the king commanded

His palace master,

Ashpenaz,

To bring

Some of the Israelites

Of the royal family

Or Of the nobility.

These should be

Young men

Without physical defect,

As well as handsome.

These should be

Versed in every branch

Of wisdom,

Endowed

With knowledge,

As well as insight.

These young men

Should be competent

To serve

In the king’s palace.

They were to be taught

The literature,

As well as the language,

Of the Chaldeans.”

King Nebuchadnezzar wanted to have some well-bred Israelites students. He had his palace chief, Ashpenaz, find these young men if they met certain conditions. These young men would have to be in good physical shape, as well as good looking. They had to be from the Israelite royal family or the Israelite nobility. Thus, these young men would not be run of the mill students. On top of that, they had to show some wisdom, knowledge, and insight. They were not going to waste their time on people who did not want to learn. Thus, they would be competent to serve in the king’s palace like a page. They also had to learn the Chaldean or Babylonian culture with its literature and language. This seemed like a good use of smart young men.