Daniel
1-2 The Deportation to Babylon 3-4 Education 5 Eating and Drinking 6-7 Other Names 8-9 A Resolution of Heart 10 Objections 11-13 A Trial Period 14-17 After the Trial Period 18-20 Before Nebuchadnezzar 21 Duration of the Stay in Babel
The Deportation to Babylon

1In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God; and he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god.

What is described here is foretold by the prophet Isaiah: “‘Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house and all that your fathers have laid up in store to this day will be carried to Babylon; nothing will be left,’ says the LORD” (Isa 39:66‘Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house and all that your fathers have laid up in store to this day will be carried to Babylon; nothing will be left,’ says the LORD.). This prophecy is the judgment of what Hezekiah has done with the treasures of the LORD’s house. He showed them all to the delegation from Babylon: “There was nothing in his house nor in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them” (Isa 39:22Hezekiah was pleased, and showed them [all] his treasure house, the silver and the gold and the spices and the precious oil and his whole armory and all that was found in his treasuries. There was nothing in his house nor in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them.). That delegation visited him because of his illness and miraculous healing and also because of the miracle of the going back of the sun’s shadow (Isa 38:88Behold, I will cause the shadow on the stairway, which has gone down with the sun on the stairway of Ahaz, to go back ten steps.” So the sun’s [shadow] went back ten steps on the stairway on which it had gone down.; 39:11At that time Merodach-baladan son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that he had been sick and had recovered.; 2Chr 32:31a31Even [in the matter of] the envoys of the rulers of Babylon, who sent to him to inquire of the wonder that had happened in the land, God left him [alone only] to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart.).

Jehoiakim is a son of king Josiah. Josiah gave him the name Eliakim, but Pharaoh Neco “changed his name to Jehoiakim” (2Kgs 23:3434Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the place of Josiah his father, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. But he took Jehoahaz away and brought [him] to Egypt, and he died there.). Pharaoh has the power to do so because Israel has been conquered by him. He makes Jehoiakim king. Jehoiakim is twenty-five years old then “and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem” (2Kgs 23:3636Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name [was] Zebidah the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah.).

During his reign, in its third year, Nebuchadnezzar besieges Jerusalem. There is no way to escape from his grip, because the LORD is behind this siege. This is not because Nebuchadnezzar is so strong, but because “the Lord”, Adonai, the souverain Ruler over all things, stands behind this siege. He must give His people into the hand of the enemy, because all the previous means to make His people repent didn’t have any effect.

The third year of reign of Jehoiakim is the year 606 BC. In that year the transport of a number of nobles, including Daniel and his friends, takes place (verses 3-4,63Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of his officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the nobles,4youths in whom was no defect, who were good-looking, showing intelligence in every [branch of] wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge, and who had ability for serving in the king’s court; and [he ordered him] to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans.6Now among them from the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.).

After this there are three more deportations of the population. The first of these takes place in the days of Jehoiachin, a grandson of Josiah, who came to the throne after Jehoiakim’s death (2Kgs 24:6-176So Jehoiakim slept with his fathers, and Jehoiachin his son became king in his place.7The king of Egypt did not come out of his land again, for the king of Babylon had taken all that belonged to the king of Egypt from the brook of Egypt to the river Euphrates.8Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name [was] Nehushta the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem.9He did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father had done.10At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon went up to Jerusalem, and the city came under siege.11And Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon came to the city, while his servants were besieging it.12Jehoiachin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he and his mother and his servants and his captains and his officials. So the king of Babylon took him captive in the eighth year of his reign.13He carried out from there all the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king’s house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the LORD, just as the LORD had said.14Then he led away into exile all Jerusalem and all the captains and all the mighty men of valor, ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and the smiths. None remained except the poorest people of the land.15So he led Jehoiachin away into exile to Babylon; also the king’s mother and the king’s wives and his officials and the leading men of the land, he led away into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.16All the men of valor, seven thousand, and the craftsmen and the smiths, one thousand, all strong and fit for war, and these the king of Babylon brought into exile to Babylon.17Then the king of Babylon made his uncle Mattaniah king in his place, and changed his name to Zedekiah.; 2Chr 36:9-109Jehoiachin was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem, and he did evil in the sight of the LORD.10At the turn of the year King Nebuchadnezzar sent and brought him to Babylon with the valuable articles of the house of the LORD, and he made his kinsman Zedekiah king over Judah and Jerusalem.). When Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem in 597 BC, Jehoiachin and a number of others went out of the city to the king of Babylon, who took them prisoner (2Kgs 24:1212Jehoiachin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he and his mother and his servants and his captains and his officials. So the king of Babylon took him captive in the eighth year of his reign.). Ezekiel is part of this deportation (2Kgs 24:14-1614Then he led away into exile all Jerusalem and all the captains and all the mighty men of valor, ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and the smiths. None remained except the poorest people of the land.15So he led Jehoiachin away into exile to Babylon; also the king’s mother and the king’s wives and his officials and the leading men of the land, he led away into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.16All the men of valor, seven thousand, and the craftsmen and the smiths, one thousand, all strong and fit for war, and these the king of Babylon brought into exile to Babylon.; Eze 1:1-21Now it came about in the thirtieth year, on the fifth [day] of the fourth month, while I was by the river Chebar among the exiles, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.2(On the fifth of the month in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s exile,), who is then twenty-five years old.

Nebuchadnezzar makes Zedekiah, a third son of Josiah, king in place of Jehoiachin. Zedekiah is the last king of Judah (2Kgs 24:17-2017Then the king of Babylon made his uncle Mattaniah king in his place, and changed his name to Zedekiah.18Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.19He did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that Jehoiakim had done.20For through the anger of the LORD [this] came about in Jerusalem and Judah until He cast them out from His presence. And Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.; 25:1-71Now in the ninth year of his reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he and all his army, against Jerusalem, camped against it and built a siege wall all around it.2So the city was under siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.3On the ninth day of the [fourth] month the famine was so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land.4Then the city was broken into, and all the men of war [fled] by night by way of the gate between the two walls beside the king’s garden, though the Chaldeans were all around the city. And they went by way of the Arabah.5But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king and overtook him in the plains of Jericho and all his army was scattered from him.6Then they captured the king and brought him to the king of Babylon at Riblah, and he passed sentence on him.7They slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, then put out the eyes of Zedekiah and bound him with bronze fetters and brought him to Babylon.; 2Chr 36:10-1410At the turn of the year King Nebuchadnezzar sent and brought him to Babylon with the valuable articles of the house of the LORD, and he made his kinsman Zedekiah king over Judah and Jerusalem.11Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem.12He did evil in the sight of the LORD his God; he did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet who spoke for the LORD.13He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar who had made him swear [allegiance] by God. But he stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the LORD God of Israel.14Furthermore, all the officials of the priests and the people were very unfaithful [following] all the abominations of the nations; and they defiled the house of the LORD which He had sanctified in Jerusalem.), he reigns from 597-587 BC. He comes to his end because he rebels against Nebuchadnezzar, who goes up against Jerusalem and destroys the city in 586 BC. Nebuchadnezzar then again leads some of the population into exile (2Kgs 25:1111Then the rest of the people who were left in the city and the deserters who had deserted to the king of Babylon and the rest of the people, Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away into exile.).

Finally, around 582 BC, the last deportation takes place (Jer 52:3030in the twenty-third year of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried into exile 745 Jewish people; there were 4,600 persons in all.).

Nebuchadnezzar brings the captured temple vessels “to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god”. Shinar is the area where the cities of the Babylonian empire are located, with Babel as the capital. Nimrod is the founder of that empire (Gen 10:8-108Now Cush became the father of Nimrod; he became a mighty one on the earth.9He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the LORD.”10The beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.). The name of the city and its origin can be found in the confusion of speech (Gen 11:1-91Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words.2It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.3They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn [them] thoroughly.” And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar.4They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top [will reach] into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”5The LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built.6The LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them.7Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.”8So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city.9Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.). Babel means ‘confusion’ or ‘scattering’.

Twice it is said that Nebuchadnezzar brings the objects of the house of God into the house “of his god”. This shows how great the unfaithfulness and apostasy of the people of God are towards the LORD. They never thought this would happen. They thought they could count on the eternal presence of the LORD in their midst in the temple. The temple is their national pride. They have boast in it (Jer 7:44Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’). But such pride must be punished by the LORD with humiliation. He leaves His people and surrenders His temple to the nations.


Education

3Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of his officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the nobles, 4youths in whom was no defect, who were good-looking, showing intelligence in every [branch of] wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge, and who had ability for serving in the king’s court; and [he ordered him] to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans.

Nebuchadnezzar wants to train a number of young Judean men to serve at his court and to give them an important position in his country’s government. He acts according to the principle ‘he who has the youth, has the future’. In verses 3-43Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of his officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the nobles,4youths in whom was no defect, who were good-looking, showing intelligence in every [branch of] wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge, and who had ability for serving in the king’s court; and [he ordered him] to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans., a profile of these young men is given. Among them are Daniel and his three friends.

Daniel belongs to the Judean nobility. He was brought to Babel at the first transportation. The prophet Isaiah prophesied the deportation of these men to Babylon: And [some] of your sons who will issue from you, whom you will beget, will be taken away, and they will become officials in the palace of the king of Babylon” (Isa 39:77‘And [some] of your sons who will issue from you, whom you will beget, will be taken away, and they will become officials in the palace of the king of Babylon.’”). These men are chosen to increase the glory of Nebuchadnezzar. But God uses these young men from Judah to have a testimony for Himself in Babylon with the most powerful man on earth.

In order to free them completely from their own way of thinking and to introduce them into Babel’s way of thinking, a program with three main points must be followed. In order to do good service, the first point is “to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans”. This part of the program focuses on their mind, what they should take in their mind and how they should pass on their knowledge in words to others.

This is in contrast to being taught in “the sacred writings” (2Tim 3:1515and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.) and speaking “the things which are fitting for sound doctrine” (Tit 2:11But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.). As a current application we can look at the Bible translation we use. Is it a reliable translation? We can also think of the songs we sing. The use of these means form our spirit and our language. Therefore it is good to ask ourselves what we read and sing.


Eating and Drinking

5The king appointed for them a daily ration from the king’s choice food and from the wine which he drank, and [appointed] that they should be educated three years, at the end of which they were to enter the king’s personal service.

The second point of the program concerns food. The deported princes and nobles get other food. They should eat from the royal table. The spiritual meaning is that they must find the strength for their service in the products of Babel or the methods of Babel. What is offered to them is attractive for their natural taste. But the trick behind it is that the Babylonian food will transform them into Babylonian people with Babylonian behavior.

The food they eat speaks of what they absorb in their minds. The result will be that their whole behavior, their whole attitude, will radiate what appeals to man without God. In the application we can say that they are trained in sales techniques and management that is intended to promote Babel and keep it big. Drinking the king’s wine means that they must find their joy in the things in which he finds his joy. The result will be that their spiritual discernment will disappear.


Other Names

6Now among them from the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7Then 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.

Here the names of four of the deported young men are mentioned. God’s Spirit puts the spotlight on them, because in them the characteristics of the faithful remnant are clearly visible. Nowhere it seems that they share in the judgment God had to bring over His people because of their personal crimes. But there is also no evidence that they have opposed this judgment for that reason. We just see them bowing under the judgment that affects the whole people, including themselves.

At the same time we see how they remain faithful to the LORD and his statutes, from Whom and from them they have not departed. Their upbringing in Israel – Daniel is, it is estimated, currently between fourteen and eighteen years old, a teenager – is not denied by them in the land of their exile.

The third point of the program of the re-education concerns their names. Of these four young men are mentioned both their old, Hebrew, names and the new, Babylonian, names they receive.

1. Daniel means: God is my judge,
2. Hananiah: Yahweh is Grace,
3. Mishael: Who is like God?
4. Azariah: Yahweh is help or Yahweh helps.

The new names are related to the gods of Babel. The meaning of these names is not always clear.

1. Belteshazzar: (possible meaning) ‘prince of Bel’, the god of Babel,
2. Shadrach: possibly derived from ‘Rach’, a sun god,
3. Meshach: (possible meaning) ‘he who belongs to the goddess Seshach’,
4. Abed-nego: ‘slave of Nego’ also a god of Babel.

They have to accept this name change and they did. They do not defend themselves against it.

In the change of their names we can see a process of ‘brainwashing’. In their Hebrew names the name of God or of the LORD appears in each of them. This can be seen from the syllable el or yah. El means ‘God’ and Yah is ‘Yahweh’ which is translated with ‘LORD’. Any reminder of their origin must make way for their new status. If this is done consistently long enough, they will have forgotten their origin over time and fully adopted Babel’s way of living and thinking.


A Resolution of Heart

8But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought [permission] from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself. 9Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials,

They have not refused to change their names, but they do not take the food that is given to them. Daniel intends not to defile himself with this. The LORD hath said ahead that His people will defile themselves with the food of the nations when He has had them taken away (Hos 9:33They will not remain in the LORD’S land,
But Ephraim will return to Egypt,
And in Assyria they will eat unclean [food].
).

Daniel will have known that prophecy. But he does not use that reason to adapt. He doesn’t say, just to apply it to ourselves: ‘You have to go with your time.’ Or: ‘The Bible is time-bound.’ He also does not seek excuses in the circumstances. For him, the Word of God is also the norm in Babylon, when he is far from home, and he submits to its authority.

He “sets upon his heart” (which is the literal translation) or “purposed in his heart” (Darby translation) not to defile himself. The heart is the center of life. There all decisions are made: “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it [flow] the springs of life” (Pro 4:2323Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it [flow] the springs of life.
). God can use Daniel because he purposes this in his heart.

He cannot refuse to undergo his forming, but he can ask if he does not have to defile himself as a Jew. He is honest about what he is. He does not protest, but submits a request. He did not protest against the name change, but eating what defiles is another matter. Then one must “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:2929But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.). However, he does not demand, but asks.

When young people come in another environment, for example to study, it becomes clear what their upbringing has done to them. What matters in such a situation is the intention of the heart. Daniel “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself”. This principle is of great importance to every young person who knows the Lord Jesus. It is not about a Christian behavior, the appearance, but about what is in the heart.

Daniel never let himself be dominated by the science of Babylon, because he directed his heart to God. He was willing to obey the LORD in all things, even in the smallest things. It is about what we feed ourselves with, what we spiritually take in, for that is what forms us. This also determines the answer to the question of whether a person adapts to the circumstances or whether he is guided by his dealings with the Lord.

By the way, Babel does not so much represent the wicked world, but the Christianity which is led by worldly principles. For us, to remain standing in Babel means to remain standing in Christian confusion – Babel means, as I said, ‘confusion’ – before the principles of God. If we remain with the Lord with a resolution of the heart (Acts 11:2323Then when he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and [began] to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain [true] to the Lord;), we will not follow the trend of easy Christianity based on a light-footed gospel.

There are in connection with Babel some lessons for us. We read about the departure of a remnant from Babylon that returns to Jerusalem (Ezra 1:2-3,52“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.3Whoever there is among you of all His people, may his God be with him! Let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah and rebuild the house of the LORD, the God of Israel; He is the God who is in Jerusalem.5Then the heads of fathers’ [households] of Judah and Benjamin and the priests and the Levites arose, even everyone whose spirit God had stirred to go up and rebuild the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem.). This presents the aspect of separation within Christianity. We need to withdraw from the confusion and look for the place where the Lord Jesus is in the midst, where He is now bringing the church to meet. Another aspect is that at the same time we are also in Babel, because we cannot leave Christianity. If we look at ourselves in that aspect of Babel, the lesson is that we have to show a sure and decided attitude. We see that attitude in Daniel.

We are part of Christianity. Another thing is that we must not allow ourselves to be influenced by the principles that prevail there. These principles are attractive to the flesh. We are, like Daniel, of royal blood, we are “a royal priesthood” (1Pet 2:99But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for [God’s] own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;). Christianity addresses us thereon, often in flattering language. But the program she has ready for us is aimed at forgetting our origins and the purpose of our lives, and to commit ourselves to forming a power on earth. Certainly, we have earthly responsibilities, but we should look at them in the light of our citizenship that is in heaven (Phil 3:2020For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;).

Daniel addresses himself correctly to the commander of the officials. He approaches him with due respect, aware of his submissive position. God blesses Daniel’s intention and attitude and gives him “favor and compassion” in the sight of the commander. He works in the heart of the commander of the officials that he listens to Daniel.


Objections

10and the commander of the officials said to Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has appointed your food and your drink; for why should he see your faces looking more haggard than the youths who are your own age? Then you would make me forfeit my head to the king.”

The commander of the officials does not understand what Daniel says and is also afraid of his position. According to him, what Daniel proposes can never be better than what he wants them to eat. After all, that is of the best possible quality, isn’t it? Thus the man of the world understands nothing of what the Christian is concerned with, what he feeds himself with.

The world feeds on what is destined for God. Man without God uses his time and strength for himself and is busy with what has been sacrificed to the idols. He believes that this also gives the best result. But what is food for the world cannot be food for the believer.


A Trial Period

11But Daniel said to the overseer whom the commander of the officials had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12“Please test your servants for ten days, and let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13Then let our appearance be observed in your presence and the appearance of the youths who are eating the king’s choice food; and deal with your servants according to what you see.”

Daniel declares the case. He proposes a ten-day trial period. Ten is the number of responsibility; we see this, among other things, in the ten commandments. Young people are always put to the test when they come to stand alone. You can, just like Daniel does here, ask that you be put to the test to show who you live for. You can also dare to go into it and think you will succeed.

Daniel dares nothing, but acts in faith, from a relationship with God. He doesn’t choose wine, which is good in itself (Jdg 9:1313But the vine said to them, ‘Shall I leave my new wine, which cheers God and men, and go to wave over the trees?’; Psa 104:15a15And wine which makes man’s heart glad,
So that he may make [his] face glisten with oil,
And food which sustains man’s heart.
), but water. For us the choice is: wine, that is to say the earthly joys, or water, that is to say the living water.

Daniel does not speak in pride, but with the certainty of faith. He trusts the outcome, that it will be governed by God. After the trial period, the test must be taken.


After the Trial Period

14So he listened to them in this matter and tested them for ten days. 15At the end of ten days their appearance seemed better and they were fatter than all the youths who had been eating the king’s choice food. 16So the overseer continued to withhold their choice food and the wine they were to drink, and kept giving them vegetables. 17As for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every [branch of] literature and wisdom; Daniel even understood all [kinds of] visions and dreams.

That the overseer wants to try it for ten days is the result of God’s work in him. After the ten-day test, the effect of the food that Daniel and his friends have eaten appears. They looked better and fatter or healthier than any other young man. Sincere trust in God will always be rewarded by Him. God gives the four friends knowledge, intelligence and wisdom – and to Daniel also insight into all kinds of visions and dreams.

It will become clear to the world with which we feed ourselves. That cannot remain hidden. That is already the case now. It is also true when the time comes that man from the world will have to acknowledge that what has occupied the believers has real value, while what has occupied them will turn out to be worthless.

Because the test is positive, the young men receive vegetables instead of the food from the king’s table. God takes care of the men because they have remained faithful to Him. He blesses the teaching they follow at the ‘university’ in Babel. In reality they are not taught by the scholars of Babylon, but by God, for He gives them insight.

If anyone follows a study and submits to the Lord in it, he may trust that the Lord will make clear to him what he needs to know. If the heart is focused on the Lord, he remains with Him. Much of what he must learn is not true because it goes against the Scriptures, but the Lord will make sure that he does not become entangled in it.


Before Nebuchadnezzar

18Then at the end of the days which the king had specified for presenting them, the commander of the officials presented them before Nebuchadnezzar. 19The king talked with them, and out of them all not one was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s personal service. 20As for every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king consulted them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians [and] conjurers who [were] in all his realm.

After three years the young men come to Nebuchadnezzar. They can answer him to all his questions because they are taught by God. Not only are they a little better than the other magicians in the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar, but they rise above them head and shoulders. They are “ten times better” than all the magicians of Babylon. This is because they have kept God’s Word (Psa 119:98-10098Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies,
For they are ever mine.
99I have more insight than all my teachers,
For Your testimonies are my meditation.
100I understand more than the aged,
Because I have observed Your precepts.
). They have experienced that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom (Pro 1:7a7The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
; 9:10a10The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
), while the wisdom of the world is folly.

Their wisdom, knowledge and insight do not make them proud, but subservient. There is no need for intelligent young people, but for servant-minded young people, as there is for the elderly. God controls everything in such a way that the men come into service for the king. Solomon said: “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men” (Pro 22:2929Do you see a man skilled in his work?
He will stand before kings;
He will not stand before obscure men.
). The friends have experienced that. We also see here the fulfilment of what the LORD says to Eli: “Those who honor Me I will honor” (1Sam 2:3030Therefore the LORD God of Israel declares, ‘I did indeed say that your house and the house of your father should walk before Me forever’; but now the LORD declares, ‘Far be it from Me—for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me will be lightly esteemed.).

They get this high position because they have resolved in their hearts to obey the Word. In that position they have shown that they trust the LORD and have not polluted themselves with the destruction that prevails around them. This has given the LORD the space to fill them with the knowledge of His thoughts and to use them as His witnesses in the very environment where Him is not taken into account.


Duration of the Stay in Babel

21And Daniel continued until the first year of Cyrus the king.

Daniel has experienced the entire history of the New Babylonian Empire. In “first year the of Cyrus the king” he is about ninety years old. He is then more than seventy years in Babel. This mention at the end of this chapter indicates that Daniel has shown the same faithfulness to God that we see in this chapter all the time he spent in Babylon. He is an example of the word: “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Pro 22:66Train up a child in the way he should go,
Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
).

Also “the first year of Cyrus the king” refers to the end of the exile in Babylon and the liberation of the people of God from it (Ezra 1:11Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also [put it] in writing, saying:; 2Chr 36:2222Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia—in order to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah—the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout his kingdom, and also [put it] in writing, saying,; Ezra 6:33In the first year of King Cyrus, Cyrus the king issued a decree: ‘[Concerning] the house of God at Jerusalem, let the temple, the place where sacrifices are offered, be rebuilt and let its foundations be retained, its height being 60 cubits and its width 60 cubits;).


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