Daniel Chapter 1 Notes
Background: The Lord gives the northern kingdom, to Assyria in ~722 b.c.
Background: The account of Daniel’s life closely mirrors the account of Joseph.
Background: Daniel and friends are about 14 years old in 605 b.c.
1:1-2 The Lord gives King Jehoiakim (Judah) and temple vessels into King Nebuchadnezzar’s hand (Babylon) in 605 b.c. This is the first of four invasions and deportations by the Babylonian king. The Solomon’s temple is destroyed in 587 b.c. and marks the formal beginning of the Babylonian captivity.
1:3-7 In 605, Nebuchandnezzar chose gifted Israelite (a word rarely used in Daniel and is the name God gave them) captives who were from royalty or nobility. The rest of Judah would not be able to reconstruct their government and rebel against Babylon’s rule over them. The best of these young men were trained for three years and then put into service to help the king rule this people. Their names were changed to the names of Babylonian gods; Bel (Marduk who is the patron god of Babylon), Nebo, Aku (moon god)
Note: Daniel, in writing the book of Daniel, misspells the Babylonian names given to them. It is a small protest and a subtle teaching to the Israelites about how to live in a culture hostile to the faith. These captives did not protest against every pagan influence imposed upon them.
1:8-14 Daniel requests he and his men eat of diet of vegetables, first from the chief eunuch and then to a lesser eunuch, both of whom were their supervisors.
Note: Not sure one way or the other if Daniel and company were made eunuchs.
Note: Why the special diet? Probably a combination of wanting to keep the dietary laws of Leviticus 11 (without giving complicated explanation, all plants are clean foods.) and wanting to avoid foods offered to idols (which might give consent to pagan worship). So he is able to keep the First Commandment and the Dietary Laws of the Israelites.
Note: How does Daniel avoid breaking the Fourth Commandment? First, he asks the chief eunuch for a permanent change in diet. This powerful eunuch does not interpret the request as rebellion against Nebuchandnezzar and does not punish him. It is also written that the Lord gave the eunuch to favor Daniel. But he is also afraid enough of Nebuchandnezzar that he denies the request. Second, Daniel does not stop. He is wise enough to know the authority/responsibility is often divided among people of different ranks. So, he asks a less powerful eunuch for the dietary change. He also adjusts his request. Instead of asking for a permanent change, he asks for a ten day trial and leaves the final decision up to the eunuch. Notice how Daniel trusts the Lord will answer his request.
1:15-17 The eunuch grants the request to all the Judeans. More than Daniel’s request. They also receive “insight” and “knowledge” in their studies. The implied giver of all these gifts is the Lord. Knowledge is more than learned facts but equated with wisdom. Knowledge is the awareness of one’s situation and ability to apply learned facts to faithful living that benefits themselves but also others. Insight has a spiritual quality. It is the ability to follow the Lord according to His Word when a practical situation suggests something different. And Daniel receives the additional gift to understand every vision or dream.
Note: This is the third time in the chapter that says “God gives”. First, Jehoiakim & vessels. Second, favor before the eunuch. Third, intellectual and spiritual ability.
1:18-21 Daniel and friends are “ten times better.” It is a metaphor of completeness not a literal indication of how many more skills the boys had. It signifies the surpassing greatness of their skill and points us to the Lord’s control over the event in Nebuchandnezzar’s court.
Note: Daniel served until the first year of Cyrus, which would make Daniel about eighty years old when he retired from the royal court.
Daniel’s view of the exile: The book of Kings, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Psalm 137 focus on the theme of Judah’s unfaithfulness and their need for repentance and faith, whereas Daniel’s focus is on the Lord’s faithfulness to His promises while not excluding the theme of judgment.