Daniel Chapter 1

Daniel Chapter 1 - The Brainwash Scandel
Class Notes
February 17, 2013

We get more information in this first chapter as to Daniel’s young life, his education and origins, than we have of any other prophet in the Old Testament. The Books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, began immediately with recounts of divine visions; but Daniel began his book with the study of human learning, and was afterwards honored with divine visions from G_d.

Daniel 1
[1] In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.
[2] And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.

In the opening verses we catch a glimpse of the history that we recounted in the previous study and our introduction to Daniel. It states here emphatically that The Lord gave the King of Judah into Nebuchadnezzar’s hand, as He had promised to do through the prophets from days gone by. G_d’s word is sure and His judgments are sound. What He says He will do—He will do what He says.

When I approach the traffic light in the mornings at the junction of Highway 11 and 43 North, and it begins to turn yellow as I approach, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt the next color I see will be red. The light is designed to work as such, programmed and created for an operation of that manner. It will not stay yellow past its time, and it will not revert to green. My only option is to stop. The same is true with warnings from G_d. We can hope for an otherwise situation, but once His judgment has been pronounced the proverbial light has turned yellow, and we have no recourse but to be ready for a ‘stop’ in our actions and behaviors. To ignore the warning (yellow light) and instead proceed ahead is to invite disaster. We must stop (red light) and heed the warning that has been given us.

[3] And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king's seed, and of the princes;

By Daniel serving under Ashpenaz the master of Nebuchadnezzar’s eunuchs, it is highly likely that Daniel was forced to become a eunuch.

[4] Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.

Ashpenaz was to select the choice children from among the Hebrew slaves for work in the king’s palace. These young men were to be the cream of the crop; good looks, strong minds, and the ability to be free thinkers. We could compare them to ‘All American Children’ in our culture today. The plan of the king revolved around brainwashing these selected youths and assimilating them into the Babylonian culture.

The first part of this process involved mixing these captives in with Babylonian students in the schools; teaching them the knowledge and the language of the Babylonians. It would be normal for these teenagers to make and become friends with the others in their classes and happens that way even in our times. The influence of peer pressure was no doubt just as powerful then as it is today.

[5] And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.

The second part of the brainwashing scheme was to change their diet. The laws of G_d forbade the eating of certain foods as unclean. Also, Babylonian food in the king’s palace had been offered to the gods beforehand; a practice that was defined as an abomination by Jehovah. Also note the offering of wine to teenagers here. There is a reason for a ‘drinking age limit’ in our culture today.

[6] Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:
[7] Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abed-nego.

Finally, their names are changed in an effort to make them forget who they were and where they came from. Daniel’s Hebrew name means ‘G_d is my judge’, Hananiah meant ‘G_d is gracious’, Mishael meant ‘Who is like unto G_d?’ and Azariah means ‘G_d keeps him’.

Their names were changed: Daniel was assigned the name ‘Belteshazzar’ which means ‘Whom Bel favors’ or ‘Bel’s prince’. Bel was known by the Akkadians as the god Belu, but the Babylonians simply called him Bel. This same god was known as Zeus in Greek mythology, Jupiter by the Romans, and the familiar Baal of the Phoenicians and Philistines. Supposedly, he was the chief god in the heavens, thus Daniel was given the top god-name among the Hebrew teenagers.

Hananiah was assigned the name Shadrach, and Shadrach was a reference to the sun god. The name Shadrach literally means "Illuminated by the Sun god."

Mishael was assigned the name Meshach, which refers to the Babylonian goddess of love. His new name is translated as ‘Who is like venus’.

Azariah was assigned the name Abed-nego. His new name meant ‘Servant of Nego’ and Nego is a derivative of the Akkadian god Nebu. Nebu was the god of wisdom and higher learning.

These three brainwashing techniques are nothing new. Satan has been seeking to employ them in our lives from the very beginning of time itself. If he can only get us to hang out with the wrong crowd, or put something ahead of G_d, or make us forget who we really are—he will have succeeded in every sense of the word. We should take care of the bodies G_d has given us. We should seek out friendships with other Christians and never neglect the opportunities we have to come together and worship at the House of G_d. Most of all, we should never forget that we are children of the King, and we should act as such.

[8] But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.

It is important to note here where Daniel drew the proverbial line in the sand. G_d’s law said nothing about name changes. Even Joseph had his named changed while he was a captive in Egypt, from Joeseph to Zaphnath-paaneah. (Genesis 41:45) There was nothing in the law against gaining knowledge. But the law was deliberate in the areas of foods that were clean and unclean, and specific in the areas of things that had been previously offered to idols.

Daniel ‘purposed’ in his heart. This might just be the key to the entire book as recorded in this very thought. Daniel didn’t wait until the last minute to make a decision—he purposed in his heart that he would do what pleased G_d and nothing else. His stand was probably based on the following scriptures as recorded by Moses:

Deuteronomy 32
[31] For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges.
[32] For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter:
[33] Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps.
[34] Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures?
[35] To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.
[36] For the LORD shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left.
[37] And he shall say, Where are their gods, their rock in whom they trusted,
[38] Which did eat the fat of their sacrifices, and drank the wine of their drink offerings? let them rise up and help you, and be your protection.

The Akkadians and Babylonians had a system of sacrifice that involved drinking wine during the ceremony. The wine was poured out in part as an acknowledgment to the gods and the rest of it was consumed by the attendees. They then offered a portion of a sacrificial animal as homage to the gods, but they saved the best part of the meat for themselves. Nebuchadnezzar had food that was served to idols brought in for all of the students in all of his schools. This was probably the reason why Daniel refused to eat the food in the palace of the king. But it would also take someone like Daniel to know that abstaining from "food offered to idols" was recorded within the Word of God.

Now we see him going to the prince of the eunuchs (Ashpenaz) and making his request for a deferral known:

Daniel 1
[9] Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.
[10] And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king.

We see in verse 9 that G_d had blessed Daniel with favor from Ashpenaz. Daniel here proves the truth of G_d’s Word as recorded in Proverbs:

Proverbs 16
[7] When a man's ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.

Ashpenaz answered only to the king and no one else. But it was a rocky relationship as life had very little value in Nebuchadnezzar’s court and was subject to the king’s whims. What made it worse was those whims were subject to change on a moment’s notice. There is proof of this in chapters 2 and 3 of this book. For this reason, Ashpenaz tells Daniel that he is sorry, but that he did not want to put his head on the chopping block for Daniel’s culinary deferral.

Daniel 1
[11] Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,

If at first you don’t succeed… Note that Daniel doesn’t go up the chain of command, but down it. Melzar had been put in place by Ashpenaz to watch over Daniel and his three friends.

[12] Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.
[13] Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king's meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.

Notice that Daniel does not demand that his wishes be granted. He knows he is a slave and is not in a position to do so. He simply asks Melzar to ‘prove’ himself and what he believes with a ten-day trial run.

The food requested by Daniel is referred to as ‘pulse’ which is nothing more than vegetables. This is not an affirmation from G_d’s Word for vegetarianism; the meat was disavowed by Daniel only because it had been previously offered to idols. He also asked for water in place of the wine, which had also been offered to the gods beforehand.

[14] So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.

Melzar answered only to Ashpenaz and not to the king in person. Hence he had a lot less to lose than Ashpenaz, and so he consented to Daniel’s proposal. Maybe it was simply curiosity, or perhaps he saw something in Daniel’s every day life that caused him to consider the request. In either case, permission was granted.

[15] And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat.

Again, not an endorsement for the virtues of a vegetarian diet as G_d was simply moving in the lives of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.

[16] Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.

By Daniel’s trust in G_d and through it, the test period was a success and Daniel and his friends were not forced to eat meat and drink wine that had been offered to idols.

[17] As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.

When we take a strong stand for G_d against all that is thrown against us, we can be sure that we will in turn be blessed by G_d. He rewards Daniel and his friends for the stand they took in refusing to defile themselves. It would have been easy for them to give in and do what the other captives were most likely doing. Mom and dad were not around to guide them, the preacher was nowhere to be found, and peer pressure from the others was probably astronomical. But they stuck to their guns, made their vows to Jehovah by ‘purposing in their hearts’, and then they kept those vows. In the end they were rewarded and their story is included in G_d’s Word as an example to us.

[18] Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar.
[19] And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king.
[20] And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.
[21] And Daniel continued even unto the first year of king Cyrus.

Daniel’s favor from G_d didn’t just extend through Ashpenaz and Melzar. We see here that Daniel and his friends also gained favor (however short lived) with an evil, pagan king called Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel’s story would extend throughout over seventy years of the Babylonian empire and even into the later reign of the Medes and Persians.

Mayger Minute Verse:

2 Chronicles 34
[2] And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left.

No comments:

Post a Comment