The king leaves the food for Bel (Dan 14:14-14:15)

“After they had gone out,

The king set out

The food for Bel.

Then Daniel ordered

His servants

To bring ashes.

They scattered them

Throughout the whole temple,

In the presence

Of the king alone.

Then they went out.

He shut the door.

He sealed it

With the king’s signet.

Then they departed.

During the night,

The priests came,

As usual,

With their wives,

With their children.

They ate everything.

They drank everything.”

After the priests of the Bel temple had left, the king put out the food for the idol god Bel. Then Daniel ordered that the king’s servants scatter ashes throughout the whole temple, in the presence of the king alone. Then, they went out, shut the door, and then sealed it with the king’s insignia. After that, they left. During the night, as usual, the Bel priests came with their wives and children. They entered through the secret entrance to the temple, so that they were able to eat and drink everything in there.

Advertisements

Bel eats and drinks (Dan 14:6-14:7)

“The king said to Daniel.

‘Do you not think

That Bel

Is a living God?

Do you not see

How much he eats,

How much he drinks,

Every day?’

Then Daniel laughed.

He said.

‘Do not be deceived!

O king!

This thing is

Only clay inside,

With bronze,

On the outside.

It never ate

Or drank anything.’”

King Cyrus got into a conversation with Daniel about Bel and his living God. The king maintained that Bel was also a living god, since he was able to eat and drink every day. Then Daniel laughed at him. He told the king not to be deceived. Bel was only made of clay and bronze, so that it was not capable of eating or drinking.

The response of Daniel (Dan 1:11-1:13)

“Then Daniel

Asked the guard,

That the palace master

Had appointed over

Daniel,

Hananiah,

Mishael,

Azariah.

‘Please test your servants

For ten days!

Let us be given vegetables

To eat

As well as water

To drink!

You can then compare

Our appearance

With the appearance

Of the young men

Who eat the royal rations.

Deal with your servants

According to

What you observe!’”

Daniel had a plan. He was going to ask the guard that the palace master had assigned over him and his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah for a favor. He wanted to have a 10-day test. They would only eat vegetables and water. Then after 10 days, the guard could compare their appearance to the others who were eating the royal food. At that point, Daniel would leave it up to the guard to decide what was best for the four of them.

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 life and curriculum of the young students (Dan 1:5-1:5)

“The king

Assigned them

A daily portion

Of the royal rations

Of food,

As well as wine.

They were to be educated

For three years.

At the end

Of that time,

They could be stationed

In the king’s court.”

This was the common near eastern practice to give young men 3 years to learn how to be a court page. While they were learning, they were able to eat and drink what the royal family was having. Thus, they would become accustomed to the royal habits.

The feast of Passover (Ezek 45:21-45:22)

“In the first month,

On the fourteenth day

Of the month,

You shall celebrate

The festival

Of the Passover.

For seven days

Unleavened bread

Shall be eaten.

On that day

The prince shall provide

For himself,

As well as for all the people

Of the land,

A young bull

For a sin offering.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, reiterated the time of Passover celebration, the 14th day of the 1st month. During 7 days, they would eat only unleavened bread, the traditional Passover celebration food. On the day of Passover itself, the prince would offer a young bull for a sin offering for himself and all the people of the land.

The food habits of the priests (Ezek 44:29-44:31)

“They shall eat

The grain offering,

The sin offering,

The guilt offering.

Every devoted thing

In Israel

Shall be theirs.

The first of all

The first fruits

Of all kinds

Shall belong

To the priests.

Every offering

Of all kinds,

From all your offerings,

Shall belong

To the priests.

You shall also give

To the priests

The first of your dough.

Thus,

A blessing may rest

On your house.

The priests shall not eat

Of anything,

Whether bird

Or animal,

That died of itself

Or was torn by animals.”

The Zadok Levitical priests had strict dietary habits that were very favorable to them. They were to eat all the various offerings that the people of Israel presented, the grain offerings, the sin offerings, the guilt offerings, or any devoted thing in Israel. They would also get the first fruits of all kinds, including the cooked dough. All these food items belonged to the priests. Giving them to the priests meant that your house would have a blessing. However, these priests were not allowed to eat any bird or animal that had died by itself or was mangled by another animal.