1:1 In the third 1 year of the reign of King Jehoiakim of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar 2 of Babylon advanced against Jerusalem 3 and laid it under siege. 4 1:2 Now the Lord 5 delivered 6 King Jehoiakim of Judah into his power, 7 along with some of the vessels 8 of the temple of God. 9 He brought them to the land of Babylonia 10 to the temple of his god 11 and put 12 the vessels in the treasury of his god.
1:3 The king commanded 13 Ashpenaz, 14 who was in charge of his court officials, 15 to choose 16 some of the Israelites who were of royal and noble descent 17 – 1:4 young men in whom there was no physical defect and who were handsome, 18 well versed in all kinds of wisdom, well educated 19 and having keen insight, 20 and who were capable 21 of entering the king’s royal service 22 – and to teach them the literature and language 23 of the Babylonians. 24 1:5 So the king assigned them a daily ration 25 from his royal delicacies 26 and from the wine he himself drank. They were to be trained 27 for the next three years. At the end of that time they were to enter the king’s service. 28 1:6 As it turned out, 29 among these young men 30 were some from Judah: 31 Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 32 1:7 But the overseer of the court officials renamed them. He gave 33 Daniel the name Belteshazzar, Hananiah he named Shadrach, Mishael he named Meshach, and Azariah he named Abednego. 34
1:8 But Daniel made up his mind 35 that he would not defile 36 himself with the royal delicacies or the royal wine. 37 He therefore asked the overseer of the court officials for permission not to defile himself. 1:9 Then God made the overseer of the court officials sympathetic to Daniel. 38 1:10 But he 39 responded to Daniel, “I fear my master the king. He is the one who has decided 40 your food and drink. What would happen if he saw that you looked malnourished in comparison to the other young men your age? 41 If that happened, 42 you would endanger my life 43 with the king!” 1:11 Daniel then spoke to the warden 44 whom the overseer of the court officials had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: 1:12 “Please test your servants for ten days by providing us with some vegetables to eat and water to drink. 1:13 Then compare our appearance 45 with that of 46 the young men who are eating the royal delicacies; 47 deal with us 48 in light of what you see.” 1:14 So the warden 49 agreed to their proposal 50 and tested them for ten 51 days.
1:15 At the end of the ten days their appearance was better and their bodies were healthier 52 than all the young men who had been eating the royal delicacies. 1:16 So the warden removed the delicacies and the wine 53 from their diet 54 and gave them a diet of vegetables instead. 1:17 Now as for these four young men, God endowed them with knowledge and skill in all sorts of literature and wisdom – and Daniel had insight into all kinds of visions and dreams.
1:18 When the time appointed by the king arrived, 55 the overseer of the court officials brought them into Nebuchadnezzar’s presence. 1:19 When the king spoke with them, he did not find among the entire group 56 anyone like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, or Azariah. So they entered the king’s service. 57 1:20 In every matter of wisdom and 58 insight the king asked them about, he found them to be ten times 59 better than any of the magicians and astrologers that were in his entire empire. 1:21 Now Daniel lived on until the first 60 year of Cyrus the king.
1 sn The third year of the reign of Jehoiakim would be ca. 605
2 sn King Nebuchadnezzar ruled Babylon from ca. 605-562
4 sn This attack culminated in the first of three major deportations of Jews to Babylon. The second one occurred in 597
5 tn The Hebrew term translated “Lord” here is אֲדֹנָי (’adonay).
6 tn Heb “gave.”
7 tn Heb “hand,” which is often used idiomatically for one’s power and authority. See BDB 390 s.v. יָד 2.
8 tn Or “utensils”; or “articles.”
9 tn Heb “house of God.”
11 tn Or “gods” (NCV, NRSV, TEV; also later in this verse). The Hebrew term can be used as a numerical plural for many gods or as a plural of majesty for one particular god. Since Nebuchadnezzar was a polytheist, it is not clear if the reference here is to many gods or one particular deity. The plural of majesty, while normally used for Israel’s God, is occasionally used of foreign gods (cf. BDB 43 s.v. אֱלֹהִים 1, 2). See Judg 11:24 (of the Moabite god Chemosh); 1 Sam 5:7 (of the Philistine god Dagon); 1 Kgs 11:33 (of the Canaanite goddess Astarte, the Moabite god Chemosh, and the Ammonite god Milcom); 2 Kgs 19:37 (of the Assyrian god Nisroch). Since gods normally had their own individual temples, Dan 1:2 probably refers to a particular deity, perhaps Marduk, the supreme god of Babylon, or Marduk’s son Nabu, after whom Nebuchadnezzar was named. The name Nebuchadnezzar means “Nabu has protected the son who will inherit” (HALOT 660 s.v. נְבוּכַדְרֶאצַּר). For a discussion of how temples functioned in Babylonian religion see H. Ringgren, Religions of the Ancient Near East, 77-81.
12 tn Heb “brought.” Though the Hebrew verb “brought” is repeated in this verse, the translation uses “brought…put” for stylistic variation.
13 tn Or “gave orders to.” Heb “said to.”
14 sn It is possible that the word Ashpenaz is not a proper name at all, but a general term for “innkeeper.” See J. J. Collins, Daniel (Hermeneia), 127, n. 9. However, the ancient versions understand the term to be a name, and the present translation (along with most English versions) understands the word in this way.
15 sn The word court official (Hebrew saris) need not mean “eunuch” in a technical sense (see Gen 37:36, where the term refers to Potiphar, who had a wife), although in the case of the book of Daniel there was in Jewish literature a common tradition to that effect. On the OT usage of this word see HALOT 769-70 s.v. סָרֹיס.
16 tn Heb “bring.”
17 tn Heb “and from the seed of royalty and from the nobles.”
18 tn Heb “good of appearance.”
19 tn Heb “knowers of knowledge.”
20 tn Heb “understanders of knowledge.”
21 tn Heb “who had strength.”
23 sn The language of the Chaldeans referred to here is Akkadian, an East Semitic cuneiform language.
24 tn Heb “Chaldeans” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NRSV). This is an ancient name for the Babylonians.
25 tn Heb “a thing of a day in its day.”
26 tn Heb “from the delicacies of the king.”
27 tn Or “educated.” See HALOT 179 s.v. I גדל.
28 tn Heb “stand before the king.”
29 tn Heb “and it happened that.”
30 tn Heb “among them”; the referent (the young men taken captive from Judah) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
31 tn Heb “the sons of Judah.”
32 sn The names reflect a Jewish heritage. In Hebrew Daniel means “God is my judge”; Hananiah means “the Lord is gracious”; Mishael means “who is what God is?”; Azariah means “the Lord has helped.”
33 tc The LXX and Vulgate lack the verb here.
34 sn The meanings of the Babylonian names are more conjectural than is the case with the Hebrew names. The probable etymologies are as follows: Belteshazzar means “protect his life,” although the MT vocalization may suggest “Belti, protect the king” (cf. Dan 4:8); Shadrach perhaps means “command of Aku”; Meshach is of uncertain meaning; Abednego means “servant of Nego.” Assigning Babylonian names to the Hebrew youths may have been an attempt to erase from their memory their Israelite heritage.
35 tn Heb “placed on his heart.”
36 tn Or “would not make himself ceremonially unclean”; TEV “become ritually unclean.”
sn Various reasons have been suggested as to why such food would defile Daniel. Perhaps it had to do with violations of Mosaic law with regard to unclean foods, or perhaps it had to do with such food having been offered to idols. Daniel’s practice in this regard is strikingly different from that of Esther, who was able successfully to conceal her Jewish identity.
37 tn Heb “with the delicacies of the king and with the wine of his drinking.”
38 tn Heb “Then God granted Daniel loyal love and compassion before the overseer of the court officials.” The expression “loyal love and compassion” is a hendiadys; the two words combine to express one idea.
39 tn Heb “The overseer of the court officials.” The subject has been specified in the translation for the sake of clarity.
41 tn Heb “Why should he see your faces thin from the young men who are according to your age?” The term translated “thin” occurs only here and in Gen 40:6, where it appears to refer to a dejected facial expression. The word is related to an Arabic root meaning “be weak.” See HALOT 277 s.v. II זעף.
42 tn The words “if that happened” are not in the Hebrew text but have been added in the translation for clarity.
43 tn Heb “my head.” Presumably this is an implicit reference to capital punishment (cf. NCV, TEV, CEV, NLT), although this is not entirely clear.
44 sn Having failed to convince the overseer, Daniel sought the favor of the warden whom the overseer had appointed to care for the young men.
45 tn Heb “let our appearance be seen before you.”
46 tn Heb “the appearance of.”
48 tn Heb “your servants.”
50 tn Heb “listened to them with regard to this matter.”
52 tn Heb “fat of flesh”; KJV, ASV “fatter in flesh”; NASB, NRSV “fatter” (although this is no longer a sign of health in Western culture).
53 tn Heb “the wine of their drinking.”
54 tn The words “from their diet” are not in the Hebrew text but have been added in the translation for clarity.
55 tn Heb “at the end of the days which the king said to bring them.”
56 tn Heb “from all of them.”
57 tn Heb “stood before the king.”
58 tc The MT lacks the conjunction, reading the first word in the phrase as a construct (“wisdom of insight”). While this reading is not impossible, it seems better to follow Theodotion, the Syriac, the Vulgate, and the Sahidic Coptic, all of which have the conjunction.
59 tn Heb “hands.”
60 sn The Persian king Cyrus’ first year in control of Babylon was 539