1…In the third year of the reign of Yehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it (the name Nebuchadnezzar is “Nabu-chaduri-usur” meaning “confusion, the Lord’s treasure.” This event is also discussed in 2 Kings 24.1 and 2 Chr 36.6).
v 2…And the Lord (Yehovah) gave Yehoiakim king of Judah into his hands (we would’ve expected Nebuchadnezzar to destroy the city, but in this, we see Yehovah’s personal supervision over him so that he didn’t do at this time), along with some of the vessels of the house of God; and he brought them (the vessels and some of the people-some remained behind-Jer 27.19-20) to the land of Shinar (another name for Babylon; it means “that they are shaken out” and was called that because it was a low-lying area and the dead bodies from the flood were deposited there), to the house of his god (to give thanks and to show his god was victorious over the Hebrew God Yehovah), and he brought the vessels into his treasure-house of his god (the usual storage place for things of value).
v 3…Then the king ordered Ashpenaz (I will make prominent the sprinkled), the chief (rabsaris) of his officials (of the court), to bring some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal seed (family), and from the nobles (literally “fruit without blemish”),
v 4…youths in whom was no defect, who were good looking, showing intelligence (skillful) in wisdom, discriminating knowledge (daat), and perceptive in learning and who had ability for serving in the king’s court; and to teach them the literature (script) and language of the Chaldeans.
v 5…And the king appointed for them (those selected) a daily ration from the king’s choice food (from his own table) and from the wine which he drank, and that they should be educated three years (for them to develop), at the end of which they were to enter the king’s personal service (stand before the king).
v 6…Now among them from the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.
v 7…Then the chief officer assigned names to them; and to Daniel he assigned (the name) Belteshazzar (Bel protects his life), to Hananiah Shadrach (command of the moon god); to Mishael Meshach (who is Aku); and to Azaariah Abed-nego (servant of Nebo-to assign new names shows subjection to the king).
v 8…But Daniel made up his mind (purposed in his heart) that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank (it was unkosher and offered to their pagan gods); so he sought permission from the commander (chief officer) that he might not defile himself (in obedience to the Torah definition of defilement).
v 9…Now God granted Daniel favor (chessed) and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials (even though this request indicated a refusal of Nebuchadnezzar’s authority, the official displayed favor towards Daniel).
v 10…And the commander of the officials said to Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has appointed your food and your drink (by direct order); for why should he see your faces looking more haggard than the youths who are your own age? Then you would make me forfeit my head to the king (by trespassing his command, my life is at stake).”
v 11…But Daniel said to the overseer (steward) whom the commander of the officials had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (Daniel is going to make a proposal),
v 12…”Please test your servants for ten days (to see if eating different had any adverse effects-ten is the numb er of judgment), and let us be given some vegetables (“pulse” such as beans, rice, fruits, peas, etc) to eat and water to drink.
v 13…Then let our appearance be observed in your presence, and the appearance of the youths who are eating the king’s choice food; and deal with your servants according to what you see (if there is any difference).”
v 14…So he listened (because it was a reasonable request) to them in this matter and tested them for ten days (tried the experiment).
v 15…And at the end of ten days their appearance seemed better and they were fatter than all the youths who had been eating the king’s choice food (they all appeared at the same time).
v 16…So the overseer continued to withhold their choice food and the wine they were to drink, and kept giving them vegetables (pulse).
v 17…And as for those four youths, God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every literature and wisdom; Daniel even understood all visions and dreams (a gift from God for a special purpose that we will see later).
v 18…Then at the end of the days (three years) which the king had specified for presenting them, the commander of the officials presented them before Nebuchadnezzar (for examination).
v 19…And the king talked with them, and out of them all not one was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s personal service (important positions in the royal court).
v 20…And as for every matter (Hebrew “devar” or word) of wisdom and understanding about which the king consulted them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and conjurers who were in all his realm (they gave better advice, counsel and answers to his questions than everyone else).
v 21…And Daniel continued (in the Babylonian court with Nebuchadnezzar and his successors) until the first year of Cyrus the king (who took Babylon after the 70-year captivity was over).