Daniel 1

This chapter introduces Daniel including his lineage, his situation, his character and how he came to be an influential member of Nebuchadnezzar’s administration.



This verse clearly gives the historical setting for the book of Daniel.

The OT records these events 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.

  • Babylonian priest/historian Berosus wrote in 300 BC
  • 1956 a cuneiform tablet was shown to say that after the Carchemish battle in 605 Nebuchadnezzar conquered the whole area of the Hatti-country which included Syria and Israel


After defeating Egypt at Carchemish, Nebuchadnezzar would have moved against Judah and their king Jehoiakim since he was placed on the throne and support by the Egyptian Pharaoh Neco (2 Kings 23:34)


Jeremiah 46:2 says the battle of Carchemish and the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar occurred in Jehoiakim’s 4th year . . . the Babylonian way of counting years of a kings reign.


Daniel 1:1 says this battle and the invasion occurred in Jehoiaki’s 3rd year . . . the Judean way of counting years of a kings reign


Nabopolassar (father and king) died in August of 605 BC according to Babylonian documents.



Nebuchadnezzar worshipped Marduk. Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar’s dad, worshipped Nabu and so called his son Nabu-chadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar’s son was named Amel-Marduk (or, Evil-Merodach in English such as in Jer. 52:31-34 and 2 Kings 25:27-30) which means Man of Marduk. (Evil-Marodach ruled after his father, Nebuchadnezzar, but was assassinated which indicates he may have followed his father’s new found faith in the Jewish God, especially since the Bible indicates he released Jehoichin from prison.)


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” Judan and her king to Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar did not take them.



  • 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). Through out 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 – 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.

But, Daniel is described as having “no blemish” and the meaning of this in Leviticus 21:17 and 21:20 is just this kind of physical     wholeness.

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.

It is possible but highly unlikely Nebuchadnezzar would seek out perfect young men and then give them a major defect.


“Royal Family” is literally Hebrew for “of the seed of the kingdom”

“Nobility” is “partemim” which is a Persian word for “princes” (but, the origin of this word is unknown and may have been used before          Persia)

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.



  1. Without blemish (without physical defect)
  2. Good appearance (handsome)
  3. Skillful in all wisdom (showing aptitude for every kind of learning) – Hebrew literally means “give attention to” and “have insight” and “teach”
  4. Endowed with knowledge (well informed) – Hebrew literally means “be wise” and “understand”. This could refer to them having successfully mastered their previous education in Judea.
  5. Understanding learning (quick to understand) – Hebrew literally means “know”, “acknowledge” and “be skilled”
  6. Competent to stand in the king’s palace (qualified to serve in the king’s palace) – Hebrew literally means “observe”, “discern” and “perceive”



  1. Literature of the Chaldeans
  2. Language of the Chaldeans

The word “Chaldean” (“Babylonians” in the NIV) may refer to the specific class of people educated men among the Babylonians. That is the meaning in Daniel 2:2 where the NIV translates the same word “astrologers”.


The "astrologers" or "Chaldeans" were the guardians of the traditional history and study preserved in Mesopotamia for hundreds of years which included historical chronicles, astronomy, mathematics, medicine, myth and natural history. Much of this information was applied to astrology, magic, religious rituals, etc.


To be a powerful and accurate witness in the Babylonian court Daniel had to have a handle on the presuppositions of his audience.



Daniel did not resist this education for it did not violate Jewish law, but some of the practices and customs did present a problem.



Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah made it through the situation with out 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"


Defiled by two means:

  1. The food violated the law of Moses
  2. The food and wine may have first been dedicated to a god


Israel had been taken into captivity for these very reasons:

            1) Violating the covenant               2) worshipping other gods

Israel's covenant did not reject foreign education or foreign names but it did address food and false gods



The ten day test

Daniel address the steward which is not the same as Ashpenaz – chief of Nebuchadnezzar’s court officials

Daniel had first asked Ashpenaz for a permanent change in diet.

Daniel now asks the steward under Ashpenaz for a ten day trial.

The steward is further from the king and is in a controlled situation. Less risk.

God moves the hearts of men - 1 Kings 8:50; Psalm 106:46



Daniel eats foods that are grown. The Hebrew word is "zeroa" and means "that which grows from sown seed"



The vegetable diet proved to be more healthy than Nebuchadnezzar's.

There is no need for a miracle of God's supernatural intervention here, although it is possible.



"God" has an article indicating "The God" or the true God.

Calvin says that Daniel and his friends were kept from the study of religious superstitions and magic, but this is only something Calvin wants to    believe. Daniel would have had to learn this (like Moses) to function in     their culture at the level he did.



A personal interview with Nebuchadnezzar after the three years of training.

"ten times" better is literally "ten hands" which indicates they were very noticeably better trained and more prepared for their jobs.

This indicates that God's word and God's ways align with natural reality.

Things make more sense. Problems are approached with correct formulas.

Science, history, math along with dreams and the supernatural can be approached from the correct perspective.

Again, Daniel's wisdom and insight does not have to be supernatural or miraculous. Like the food, it simply might be due the fact that God is truth. God is light. God is the author of the reality that we all live in.


MAIN POINT: God's word not only effects us for spiritual success. God's truth effects our physical life and our mental life (our bodies and our souls)