1:3 The king commanded 1 Ashpenaz, 2 who was in charge of his court officials, 3 to choose 4 some of the Israelites who were of royal and noble descent 5 – 1:4 young men in whom there was no physical defect and who were handsome, 6 well versed in all kinds of wisdom, well educated 7 and having keen insight, 8 and who were capable 9 of entering the king’s royal service 10 – and to teach them the literature and language 11 of the Babylonians. 12 1:5 So the king assigned them a daily ration 13 from his royal delicacies 14 and from the wine he himself drank. They were to be trained 15 for the next three years. At the end of that time they were to enter the king’s service. 16 1:6 As it turned out, 17 among these young men 18 were some from Judah: 19 Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 20 1:7 But the overseer of the court officials renamed them. He gave 21 Daniel the name Belteshazzar, Hananiah he named Shadrach, Mishael he named Meshach, and Azariah he named Abednego. 22
1:8 But Daniel made up his mind 23 that he would not defile 24 himself with the royal delicacies or the royal wine. 25 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. 26 1:10 But he 27 responded to Daniel, “I fear my master the king. He is the one who has decided 28 your food and drink. What would happen if he saw that you looked malnourished in comparison to the other young men your age? 29 If that happened, 30 you would endanger my life 31 with the king!” 1:11 Daniel then spoke to the warden 32 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 33 with that of 34 the young men who are eating the royal delicacies; 35 deal with us 36 in light of what you see.” 1:14 So the warden 37 agreed to their proposal 38 and tested them for ten 39 days.
1:15 At the end of the ten days their appearance was better and their bodies were healthier 40 than all the young men who had been eating the royal delicacies. 1:16 So the warden removed the delicacies and the wine 41 from their diet 42 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, 43 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 44 anyone like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, or Azariah. So they entered the king’s service. 45 1:20 In every matter of wisdom and 46 insight the king asked them about, he found them to be ten times 47 better than any of the magicians and astrologers that were in his entire empire. 1:21 Now Daniel lived on until the first 48 year of Cyrus the king.
1 tn Or “gave orders to.” Heb “said to.”
2 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.
3 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.
4 tn Heb “bring.”
5 tn Heb “and from the seed of royalty and from the nobles.”
6 tn Heb “good of appearance.”
7 tn Heb “knowers of knowledge.”
8 tn Heb “understanders of knowledge.”
9 tn Heb “who had strength.”
11 sn The language of the Chaldeans referred to here is Akkadian, an East Semitic cuneiform language.
12 tn Heb “Chaldeans” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NRSV). This is an ancient name for the Babylonians.
13 tn Heb “a thing of a day in its day.”
14 tn Heb “from the delicacies of the king.”
15 tn Or “educated.” See HALOT 179 s.v. I גדל.
16 tn Heb “stand before the king.”
17 tn Heb “and it happened that.”
18 tn Heb “among them”; the referent (the young men taken captive from Judah) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
19 tn Heb “the sons of Judah.”
20 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.”
21 tc The LXX and Vulgate lack the verb here.
22 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.
23 tn Heb “placed on his heart.”
24 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.
25 tn Heb “with the delicacies of the king and with the wine of his drinking.”
26 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.
27 tn Heb “The overseer of the court officials.” The subject has been specified in the translation for the sake of clarity.
29 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.
30 tn The words “if that happened” are not in the Hebrew text but have been added in the translation for clarity.
31 tn Heb “my head.” Presumably this is an implicit reference to capital punishment (cf. NCV, TEV, CEV, NLT), although this is not entirely clear.
32 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.
33 tn Heb “let our appearance be seen before you.”
34 tn Heb “the appearance of.”
36 tn Heb “your servants.”
38 tn Heb “listened to them with regard to this matter.”
40 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).
41 tn Heb “the wine of their drinking.”
42 tn The words “from their diet” are not in the Hebrew text but have been added in the translation for clarity.
43 tn Heb “at the end of the days which the king said to bring them.”
44 tn Heb “from all of them.”
45 tn Heb “stood before the king.”
46 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.
47 tn Heb “hands.”
48 sn The Persian king Cyrus’ first year in control of Babylon was 539