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Mhy Commentary On the Book Of Daniel

This Section - Chapter 1

ch.1:1-21

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This commentary is based on the New International Version of the Bible, 1994 edition.  Chapter titles in this commentary are the same as those found in the NIV Bible, making for easy comparisons.

 

Introduction.

 

The Book of Daniel is a prophetic and historical book that is found in the Old Testament.  Originally, most of the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, the language of the Jews.  During the first century while Jesus was on earth, and in subsequent years, Jews for the most part did not read the Hebrew version of the Old Testament.  They read what is known as the Septuagint, which is a Greek translation from the Hebrew text translated between 285 and 270 B. C..

   

In 606 B. C. Nebuchadnezzar, a general in the Babylonian Empire army attacked the southern kingdom of Israel known as Judah. Judahís capital city was Jerusalem.  Nebuchadnezzar was coming back from the Battle of Carchemish in Egypt when he attacked Judah.  He became king of Babylon soon after he returned home because his father who was the king died.  The Babylonians headed by King Nebuchadnezzar took the spoils and all of the important and valuable possessions of Judah back to Babylon, including young men who had potential in the kingís service.  Daniel was one of these young men that were transported from Judah to Babylon as a teenager.  You will see that he greatly impressed the king and became important in the empire.  

 

This captivity of the Jews is known as the 70 years of judgement by God on Judah for not obeying the Sabbaths as required by the Law of Moses.  Some scholars suggest that 70 years represents every seventh year Sabbath that the Jews refused to keep.  Every seventh year Israel was to grow nothing in their fields.  This was a Sabbath rest for their fields.   

 

It is interesting to me that Daniel lived to be very old, maybe 100 years old, and only twelve chapters are written in his book.  Did he have more prophecies than what appears in this book?  We donít know, but it might just well be that the prophecies that were recorded were all that he received from God.  The interesting point to me is that Daniel spent most of his life in captivity, had a few, albeit very important prophecies, and is known as a great prophet for all of eternity.  It goes to show that greatness in Godís eyes is not necessarily great in manís eyes.  It might just be possible that a man would live a whole life and do one great thing for the Lord, and that might be Godís will for him.    

 

We should note that the first six chapters of Daniel are historical, while the last six are prophetic.  We also note that the book was written in Hebrew except from chapter 2 verse 4 to the end of chapter 7.  These chapters tend to deal with the Gentile world and thus were written in the Chaldean language, the language of Babylon.       

 

Danielís Training In Babylon (ch. 1:1-21)

 

In verse 1 we see Judah mentioned.  Earlier in Jewish history Israel, in 922 B. C., Israel split in two.  The southern kingdom was called Judah and its capital city was Jerusalem.   King Jehoiakim was king of Judah.  The northern kingdom was often called Ephraim, since Ephraim was the largest and most dominant tribe. 

 

Nebuchadnezzar was a young and ferocious king of the Babylonian Empire.  He attacked Judah in 606 B. C. as a general in the Babylonian army and took the spoils home with him.  Like many other warring nations in those days, the winner would keep what was valuable for themselves, unlike the Roman Empire that came later who simply torched everything and destroyed things completely. 

 

In verse 2 we note that it was ďthe Lord who delivered Jehoiakim into Nebuchadnezzarís hands.  God Himself was behind the captivity and exile of Judah which lasted seventy years.  This was Godís judgement because Judah refused to obey the Sabbaths.

 

We need to understand that God judged Israel.  We also need to understand that we see God judging Gentile nations in the Old Testament as well.  The other thing we really need to understand is that this is not an Old Testament thing God used to do.  He still judges nations, and He still causes nations to both rise and fall.  He is behind the nations of the world more than we can ever know. 

 

When Babylon conquered the southern kingdom of Israel, most Israelis would not have seen this as God's judgment, like most westerners today don't see God's judgment at work in their nations either.  Israelis were so far removed from God's will that they could not see the hand of God in their midst.       

 

We also note that Nebuchadnezzar took the valuable articles from the Jewish temple back to Babylon where they were used in pagan Babylonian worship that was associated with astrology.   How often is this the case, even in modern times.  The church falls prey to the world and the world takes over that which was important to the church.  Music is one prime example.  Music was once predominately a tool of the church over the centuries but we've allowed the world to just take it over from us. 

 

Babylon is a very important ancient Kingdom and some of its importance affects us today.  Astrology was greatly developed in Babylonian society.   We have 60 seconds in a minute and 60 minutes in hour and 24 hours in a day.  This came from Babylon.  Angular degrees such as 180 or 360 degrees came from Babylon.  

 

You note in the KJV the name "Shinar".  Babylon once was Shiner and the area around Babylon in this time was also known as Shiner.  The NIV does not use the word Shinar , but Babylon instead.   

 

Other important verses to read concerning Babylon are found in Isaiah 13 14, Jeremiah 50 51 and Revelation 17 and 18.  Of course there are many other verses about Babylon because Babylon is the second most mentioned city in the Bible, that is, next to Jerusalem.  Babylon represents the city of man because it grew out of the event at the Tower of Babel.   Jerusalem is the city of God and is important to Biblical prophetic history.     

 

In verses 3 to 6 we see that Nebuchadnezzar ordered his chief official to find the best young men of Jewish nobility and bring them to be trained in the ways of the Babylonians so they could be used in the service of the king.  These young men had to be strong, good looking, and intelligent.    Daniel was one of these young men.  So, right away we learn something about Daniel, right down to his good looks.

 

In verses 6 and 7 we see that three other notable young men were chosen along with Daniel.  Their Jewish names all had God in their meaning.  Hananiah (Jewish for "Jehovah has favored") was renamed Shadrach.  Mishael (Jewish for "who is what God is") was renamed Meshach.  Azariah (Jewish for "who Jehovah helps") was renamed Abednego. The renaming of the names of these men show you to what extent Nebuchadnezzar went to using what was valuable to the Jews for himself.  He even used the good men and called them by Babylonian names.

 

We also note that the name "Daniel" means "God is judge", or "Godís judges".  How appropriate, since Daniel is all about God's judgment, both on Israel and the nations of the world.

 

In verse 8 we see that Daniel decided not to defile himself by eating the food that was made in the kingís kitchen.  One Babylonian religious ritual was to throw a little bit of the food and wine one would drink and eat on the ground as an offering to the gods.  Daniel would have viewed this participation in a pagan food ritual as idolatry.  Daniel stood for Godly truth.  He would not participate in idol worship, no matter the cost, something we should incorporate into our own lives.  We have many idols in our modern society.  We can't give ourselves to them.    

 

In verse 9 we see Godís involvement in Danielís life.  The text says that God was behind the kingís official decree granting Daniel his request, even though he did so with great reluctance.  The official was afraid of the king.  If Daniel did not eat properly and looked sickly to the king that meant the official was not doing his job and he would be executed on the spot.  Nebuchadnezzar was noted for roasting men at the stake.

 

Daniel and the guard, the chief official put in charge of the Jewish men, made a deal.  Daniel would eat what he wanted for ten days and if he looked sickly he would eat the kingís food but if he didnít, heíd eat kosher food.   The official agreed to Danielís plan and after 10 days Daniel looked better than everyone else.   This shows Daniel's trust in His God.  He believed that if He obeyed God, God would make him healthy.  I'm not promoting Hyper Faith here or the Prosperity Gospel because I do not believe in either.  I'm promoting trust in God.   

 

We see in verse 17, with the use of the pronoun "them", that at least the other aforementioned three men were in agreement with Daniel and did not eat the kingís food either.  This suggests to me that Daniel was a leader among the Jewish men.  

 

In verses 18 to 21 we note that after the three year period of training was over the chief official brought the four Hebrew young men into the presence of the king who was greatly impressed.  They had more wisdom and understanding than the kingís own magicians.  Thus God granted these men favour in the eyes of this fairly wicked king, yet it was not for their safely sake alone.  God had plans for these men to be a witness of Him to the worldly king.  God would use these men to accomplish His will among the nations of the world.

 

We should note here that the four Jewish men were being trained to be wise men, magi, or magicians.  I make this point because Babylonian tradition is that that these men would be castrated in the hopes that their sexual drive would not interfere with the wisdom they were to possess.  The problem is that castration does not really limit ones ex drive.    

 

Verse 21 tells us that Daniel stayed in the courts of the king until, or at least into the rule of King Cyrus.  King Cyrus was the Persian king who had attacked and defeated the Babylonian king at the time, thus Babylon fell to the Persians.       

 

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