The introduction of Daniel in Daniel chapter one includes his lineage, his situation, his character and how he came to be an influential member of Nebuchadnezzar’s administration.
Daniel 1:1 gives the historical setting for the book of Daniel which aligns with the events recorded in
2 Kings 24:1-2 and 2 Chronicles 36:5-7. The 70 years of captivity prophesied by Jeremiah’s had begun (Jeremiah 34:12-22)
Babylonian texts say it was late spring or early summer (May/June) of 605 BC when Nebuchadnezzar moved through the land of Israel after the defeat of Egypt/Assyria at the battle of Carchemish. A cuneiform tablet found in 1956 says that after the Carchemish battle in 605 Nebuchadnezzar conquered the whole area of the Hatti-country which included Syria and Israel. (Details)
Then Nabopolassar (Nebuchadnezzar's father and Babylonian king) died in August of 605 BC according to Babylonian documents. The death of Nebuchadnezzar's father forced Nebuchadnezzar to retreat back to Babylon in order to secure his place on his father's throne. But, before his quick departure from "Hatti-country" (Syria and Israel), Nebuchadnezzar arranged for some of the young men of the royal families to be sent after him back to Babylon.
The name of Daniel’s God is “adonai” in the Hebrew and translated “Lord” indicating he is the “owner, ruler and sovereign lord” of this event. Yahweh, or the LORD, is the sovereign Lord.
“Delivered” is the translation of the Hebrew word natan which literally means “gave” indicating Daniel’s God “gave” Judah and her king to Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar did not take them.
“articles from the temple of God” -
- these had been seen by the Babylonians visiting Hezekiah in Isaiah 39:2-4 who was told they would end up in Babylon
- only some were taken in 605. The rest would be taken in 586
- In 539, 66 years later Belshazzar would take these vessels from the temple out of storage for his last drunken party.
“the God” vs. “his god” (Nebuchadnezzar’s god Marduk). Throughout the book of Daniel Yahweh is referred to as “the God” in the Hebrew. In the Hebrew there is always an article in front of “elohim”. Nebuchadnezzar worshipped one of his gods from the Babylonian Pantheon. But, Yahweh is “the God,” or the God over all the gods.
Ashpenaz is the chief of Nebuchadnezzar’s court officials The Hebrew word saris means “court officer” and “castrate.” Isaiah 39:7 prophecies to Hezekiah that:
“Some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”
Josephus assumes that Daniel was made a eunuch that was physically altered or castrated. The word saris in Isaiah 56:3 means eunuch as in “a dry tree.” The word "saris" in Genesis 37:36 describes Potiphar who was a "court officer" of Pharoah and married.
“Royal Family” is literally Hebrew for “of the seed of the kingdom”. “Nobility” is partemim which is a Persian word for “princes.” Josephus says Daniel and his three friends "were four of the family of Zedekiah (the last king of Judah and a son of Josiah)
These royal Jewish hostages could be used later for helping administer the Jewish situation later.
Being of royal Jewish blood these young Israelites had already received some training in Jerusalem. It was enough to know the Law of God because Josiah had been their king and possibly a mentor as he and Jeremiah had tried to bring revival to the land.
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah made it through the situation without collapsing to Babylonian corruption. Many other Jews of royal birth must have. No other names are mentioned.
Daniel - "My judge is God" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Belteshazzar - "Bel's prince"
Hananniah - "Yahweh has shown grace" . . . . Shadrach - "Command of Aku"
Mishael - "Who is what God is?" . . . . . . . . . . . Meshach -"Who is what Aku is?"
Azariah - "Yahweh has helped" . . . . . . . . . . . . Abednego - "Servant of Nebo"