Daniel Chapter 1
The chapter begins with Nebuchadnezzar coming against Jerusalem in 605 B.C., taking Jehoiakim the king captive, and taking the sacred gold vessels in the temple back to the temple of Babylon’s idol god, Bel. The capture of Jehoiakim was itself a fulfillment of prophecy, as Jeremiah had written of this very thing in Jeremiah 22:24-25, 30, as his dynasty would come to an end.
"As I live," declares the LORD, "even though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were a signet [ring] on My right hand, yet I would pull you off; and I shall give you over into the hand of those who are seeking your life, yes, into the hand of those whom you dread, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans…."Thus says the LORD, 'Write this man down childless, A man who will not prosper in his days; For no man of his descendants will prosper Sitting on the throne of David Or ruling again in Judah.'"…"Thus says the LORD, 'Write this man down childless, A man who will not prosper in his days; For no man of his descendants will prosper Sitting on the throne of David Or ruling again in Judah.'"
Pay special attention to the last statement of Jeremiah 22:30. Christ is listed in the genealogical record of Jesus Christ in Matthew 1:11. If no one of Jeconiah's lineage would ever sit on David’s throne and rule in Judah, that means that the idea that Christ will return and rule from Jerusalem for 1,000 years is a false doctrine. Coniah was also known as Jehoiachin and Jeconiah.
Jehoiakim continued to rule in Jerusalem, but as a vassal under Nebuchadnezzar. He rebelled after three years, and the remaining eight years of his reign were miserable, as Jerusalem was invaded by Chaldeans, Syrians, Moabites, and Ammonites. From II Chronicles 36:5-6, it is likely that his reign was terminated by a second invasion of Nebuchadnezzar, who carried him captive to Babylon.
“Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem; and he did evil in the sight of the LORD his God. Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against him and bound him with bronze [chains] to take him to Babylon.”
Jehoiakim was the son of Josiah, who had become king at age 8 upon the death of his wicked father, Amon (II Kings 22:1). Josiah was one of the best kings in the nation’s history.
Evidently, Nebuchadnezzar wanted to assimilate the captives into his society, and thus some outstanding young men were sought to be enrolled in the service of the king. His servant Ashpenaz found four young men who were outstanding in many respects, not only in physical appearance, but in intelligence — Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
The young men were each given new names to reflect their assimilation into Babylonian society. “Then the commander of the officials assigned new names to them; and to Daniel, he assigned the name Belteshazzar, to Hananiah Shadrach, to Mishael Meshach, and to Azariah Abed-nego” (Daniel 1:7). In our familiarity with the story, Daniel keeps his birth name, while the others we call by their new names.
Names often have meanings, and this was especially so in ancient times. Consider their Hebrew names: Daniel (God is my Judge), Hananiah (Jehovah is Gracious), Mishael (Who is what God is?), and Azariah (Jehovah hath helped). Their Babylonian names honor at least two of the Babylonian gods: Belteshazzar (Bel protect his life), and Abed-nego (which may honor Nego, probably denoting the planet Mercury, which was worshipped by the Chaldeans).
The “commander of the officials” in Daniel 1:7 is referred to as “the prince of eunuchs” in other translations. “The Greek term translated eunuch is literally one in charge of a bed, a reference to the practice of using eunuchs as keepers of harems” [Holman Bible Dictionary].
“And let the king appoint overseers in all the provinces of his kingdom that they may gather every beautiful young virgin to Susa the capital, to the harem, into the custody of Hegai, the king's eunuch, who was in charge of the women; and let their cosmetics be given [them]” (Esther 2:3).
In order to prepare them for presentation to the king, Daniel speaks up requesting to refrain from partaking in the new diet. This says something about Daniel’s character. He was very likely a teenager at this time, but already has his values firmly set. We are not told just what was wrong with what was being offered, but it is quite possible that they were being offered food that was unclean and thus forbidden to Jews, such as pork, as defined in Leviticus 11:7.
The official told Daniel that he could lose his life if he did not follow the king’s orders, but agreed to allow the request for ten days.
Evidently, the behavior and character of these young men were so impressive that their request was granted. At the end of the ten days, the good health of the four was obviously better than the local young men who ate what the king ordered They then prospered through their three years of training, which would have included learning the new language.
These young men were of great character, health, and intelligence, but God was also blessing them greatly, and Daniel was given the gift of interpreting dreams, which would come into great use later on.
The “magicians” in Daniel 1:20 would be those who read horoscopes, and the “conjurors” would be those who practice enchantment, a conjurer, or an astrologer.
Thus Daniel served for some 66 years, 605-539, which is a great testimony to his character.