25 Oct. Daniel 1:1-17

25 Oct. Daniel is trained in the royal court of Babylon

“During the third year that Jehoiakim was king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and surrounded it with his army. The LORD allowed Nebuchadnezzar to capture Jehoiakim king of Judah. Nebuchadnezzar also took some of the things from the Temple of God, which he carried to Babylonia and put in the temple of his gods.”

“Then King Nebuchadnezzar ordered Ashpenaz, his chief officer, to bring some of the Israelite men into his palace. He wanted them to be from important families, including the family of the king of Judah… They were to be handsome and well educated, capable of learning and understanding and able to serve in his palace. Ashpenaz was to teach them the language and writing of the Babylonians.”

“The king gave the young men a certain amount of food and wine every day, just like the food he ate. The young men were to be trained for three years, and then they would become servants of the king of Babylon. Among those young men were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah from the people of Judah. Ashpenaz, the chief officer, gave them Babylonian names. Daniel’s new name was Belteshazzar, Hananiah’s was Shadrach, Mishael’s was Meshach and Azariah’s was Abednego.”

“Daniel decided not to eat the king’s food or drink his wine because that would make him [ritually] unclean. So he asked Ashpenaz for permission not to make himself unclean in this way. God made Ashpenaz, the chief officer, want to be kind and merciful to Daniel, but Ashpenaz said to Daniel, ‘I am afraid of my master, the king. He ordered me to give you this food and drink. If you begin to look worse than other young men your age, the king will see this. Then he will cut off my head because of you.’…”

“Daniel said to the guard, ‘Please give us this test for ten days: don’t give us anything but vegetables to eat and water to drink. After ten days compare how we look with how the other young men look who eat the king’s food...’ So the guard agreed to test them for ten days.”

“After ten days they looked healthier and better fed than all the young men who ate the king’s food. So the guard took away the king’s special food and wine, feeding them vegetables instead.”

“God gave these four young men wisdom and the ability to learn many things that people had written and studied. Daniel could also understand visions and dreams.”

          (Daniel 1:1-17)



Today’s reading tells us how Daniel and other noble young men from the Jewish ruling classes were exiled to Babylon with King Jehoiachin in 598BC. Daniel (whose Babylonian name was Belteshazzar) was chosen for training in the royal court at Babylon. He remained there until King Cyrus of Persia conquered Babylon in 539BC (see Daniel 10:1).

The Babylonian court had many customs and traditions that were different from those in Judah. One of these involved the diet of rich meats and wine served to the young men in training. Daniel persuaded the guard to give him and his friends a simpler diet of vegetables and water, which accorded to Jewish ritual food laws, and this turned out to be a healthier option.

Various historical accounts in the Old Testament tell us about the time of the exile and the return of the people of Judah from Babylonia:

The stories in the Book of Daniel are set between 598 and 539BC during the exile in Babylon. They tell of the persecution of Daniel and his fellow Jewish exiles, then recount a series of visions in which the pagan empires are overthrown and God’s people are victorious.

The Book of Esther is set during the latter part of the exile. Esther became Queen to the Emperor of Persia and helped to save the Jewish exiles from extermination. Her story explains the background to the Jewish festival of Purim.

The Book of Ezekiel is set during the early years of exile (598-586BC). Ezekiel was exiled to Babylon with King Jehoiachin of Judah in 598BC. From Babylon he prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem and the eventual return of the Jewish exiles (the ‘Golah’).

The Book of Jeremiah was also written at this time. In 2 Kings 25:22-27, King Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem in 587BC. Gedeliah, the Babylonian governor of Judah, was assassinated at Mizpah by a group of Judaean rebels under Ishmael in 586BC. In Jeremiah Chapters 40-44, Jeremiah was forced to accompany the remaining Israelites to Egypt. He spent the rest of his life in Egypt.

The Book of Ezra records the return of the Jewish exiles from Babylonia and the restoration of everyday life and worship in Jerusalem.

The Book of Nehemiah records some of the events during the return of the exiles, especially the re-building of the walls of Jerusalem under the leadership of Nehemiah and the re-establishment of the Mosaic religious Law by Ezra.

The photo (by Hahaha) shows a reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate of Babylon at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.

You can read more about Babylon @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/34-exile-in-babylonia-amp-the-journey-back-to-jerusalem/the-middle-years-of-exile-586539bc/

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