Daniel 1

1Jehoiakim's captivity. 3By the king of Babylon's order the master of the eunuchs taketh Daniel, Hananiel, Mishael, and Azariah, to instruct them, and changeth their names: 8they refusing to eat of the king's meat thrive upon pulse and water: 17their proficiency in wisdom.

1IN 1the third year of the reign of 2Jehoiakim king of Judah camea3Nebuchadnezzar king of 4Babylon 5unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.

1 Namely, when the third year came to an end, and the fourth did begin, when Jehoiakim wanted to be absolute king, withdrawing himself from the obedience which he had previously promised to Nebuchadnezzar, Jer. 25:1. Other, after the third year. Compare 2 Kings 24:1.

2 This Jehoiakim was the son of Josiah, the brother of Zedekiah, the last king of Judah.

a 2 Kings 24:2, 3; 2 Chron. 36:6.

3 He is called by Josephus and others Nebuchadnezzar the Great, by reason of his great kingdom, and large territory. His father was also called Nebuchadnezzar.

4 See Isa. 13:19.

5 Or, before, or toward Jerusalem, namely, to prepare the siege, doing this in the fourth year what Jeremiah had foretold, Jeremiah 1, etc.

2And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with 6part of the vessels of the house of God: 7which he carried 8into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels 9into the treasure house 10of his god.

6 The rest were by God’s Providence kept in the temple till the carrying away of king Jeconiah, Jer. 27:18, 19, 20; yea, some also continued there still, till the destruction of the city.

7 Namely, the vessels, which he, after the manner of the heathen, first presented unto his idol and afterwards laid them up in the treasure-house, as follows. Compare 2 Chron. 36:7. Otherwise it is true that he also sent away Jehoiakim with many others captive to Babel. See the sequel, and Dan. 2:25.

8 Other, to the land of Shinar, the house of his god. Of Shinar see Gen. 10 on verse 10; Gen. 11:2.

9 Which was within Babylon. See 2 Chron. 36:7.

10 Namely, Bel, the great idol of the Babylonians, Assyrians and Persians. See Isa. 46:1; Dan. 4:8.

3¶And the king spake unto Ashpenaz 11the master of his 12eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and 13of the king's seed, and of the 14princes;

11 Or, his outstanding steward.

12 Or, courtiers, chamberlains, properly, eunuchs. See Gen. 37 on verse 36; 2 Kings 20:18.

13 Hebr. of the seed of the kingdom, that is, of the young men who were born of the royal seed. See Isa. 39:7; Jer. 41:1.

14 Or, nobles, or, rulers. Some among the rabbis are of the opinion that the word parthemim signifies those governors who dwelt and governed about the river Perath, or Phrath. Others among the Jews conceive that this word signifies as much as great princes and rulers.

4Children in whom was 15no blemish, but 16well favoured, and 17skilful in all wisdom, and cunning 18in knowledge, and 19understanding science, and such as had 20ability in them 21to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach 22the learning and the 23tongue of the Chaldeans.

15 Namely, no defect or blemish in the body, but perfect in body and in limbs.

16 Hebr. good to look upon.

17 Or, understanding in all wisdom, not that they were to have just at that time all wisdom, etc., but they were to be of a good condition and understanding to be able to apprehend and learn those things in time.

18 Or, science. Hebr. knowers of knowledge.

19 Hebr. having understanding in knowledge.

20 Hebr. strength, that is, disposition, ability, understanding.

21 That is, to serve. See Deut. 1 on verse 38; 1 Kings 10:8. This was foretold by the prophet Isaiah, Isa. 39:7. To stand before the king may also signify here to bear great offices, or to be advanced to high places in the future. The king caused these young men to be instructed thus to this end, in hopes that he might by them, when they came to be of age, be the better able to keep the Jews in subjection and obedience.

22 The Hebrew word signifies all things wherein anything is written or related as a book, a letter, a register, etc. Before this these young men were instructed by their godly parents and teachers in the book of God’s law; now they were to be instructed in the books of the Chaldeans, which were full of vain arts and idolatrous superstitions. And thus they were brought into great danger both of soul and body.

23 Or, language. Hebr. tongue.

5And the king 24appointed them 25a daily 26provision of the king's meat, and of the wine 27which he drank: so nourishing them 28three years, that at the end thereof they might 29stand before the king.

24 Or, ordained, ordered, constituted.

25 Hebr. the word or the thing of the day upon his day, as Exod. 5:13.

26Pieces, parcels, messes, or residue.

27 Hebr. of his drinks or drinkings, that is, of such wines or drinks as he drank himself.

28 In which time it may be they might be able to learn the Chaldean language, religion and laws of the Chaldeans.

29 That is, serve. See Deut. 10:8; 1 Kings 17:1, the 2nd annotation.

6Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:

7Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs 30gave 31names: for he gave unto 32Daniel the name of 33Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abed-nego.

30 Namely, by the king’s order and appointment, as appears in Dan. 5:12. Hebr. appointed.

31 Thus Pharaoh changed also Joseph’s name, Gen. 41:45, and Pharaoh-nechoh that of Eliakim, 2 Kings 23:34; 24:17. It appears that this was performed as a sign of dominion over such persons. Here it seems also to have happened to Daniel and his companions out of hatred of the names of the true God, which were in the names of these young men, namely, El and Jah. And in order that they might the sooner forget the true God, and might make the names of the idols common and familiar to themselves, therefore they had the name of idols given them instead of the names of the true God. For, (according to the opinion of some) Daniel signifies as much as God is my Judge; Hananiah: God hath been gracious unto me; Mishael signifies as much as one that taketh hold of the Lord; Azariah: the help of the Lord, or he whom God helpeth; but Belteshazzar signifies one that layeth up and keepeth Bel’s treasurers; Shadrach, one that getteth influences from the king of the planets, that is, from the sun; Meshach, one that belongeth to the goddess Sacha; Abed-nego signifies a minister of Nego, the idol of the fire. Doubtless, it has grieved these godly young men very much that they were compelled to bear the names of idols instead of the comfortable names of the true God, whom their godly parents had given them.

32 Hebr. he appointed for Daniel, and so in the sequel. Daniel is named first, as being of the royal stock, or, because he excelled his companions in wisdom and understanding; or, because he is chiefly spoken of in this book.

33 After the name of the idol Bel; see Dan. 4:8. There is but the difference of one letter in the Hebrew language between this name of Daniel and the name of the king of Babel: Daniel was called Belteshazzar, and the king Belshazzar, Dan. 5:1.

834But Daniel 35purposed in his heart that he would not 36defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine 37which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.

34 But what Daniel did, we must understand that his companions did the same likewise, as appears in verses 11 and 12.

35 Hebr. set, or laid upon his heart.

36 That is, to defile his conscience by eating unclean meat. For, the Chaldeans did eat of different kinds of meats, as of swine, hares, etc., and of sundry sorts of fishes and fowls, which were forbidden by God unto the children of Israel, Leviticus 11; Deuteronomy 14. And they also polluted the lawful meats by their idolatrous ceremonies, and the invocation of the gods, Dan. 5:4; 1 Cor. 10:17. At least Daniel could not do it without giving offence to his neighbor. See Mat. 18:7.

37 Namely, the king’s drink, that is, the wine whereof the king drank himself, but in the Hebrew the plural number is used, of his drinks, from which may be gathered (according to the opinion of some) that the king drank different kinds of wines, which were also set before Daniel and his companions.

9Now God 38had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.

38 Hebr. appointed Daniel for kindness and for mercies. See similar manner of speech, and of the like mercy of God, 1 Kings 8 on verse 50; Psalm 106:46. See also Neh. 1 on verse 11. The sense is: God so ordered it that neither Daniel nor his companions were compelled to eat of the king’s meat; but Ashpenaz overlooked it, when the butler or steward gave them pottage or food from the court to eat.

10And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, 39I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: 40for why should he see your faces worse likingb than the children 41which are of your sort? 42then shall ye make me 43endanger 44my head to the king.

39 He intimates in these words, and in the rest that follow, that he would willingly yield to the request of Daniel and his companions, but that he feared to come in danger of his life if the king would perceive that their countenances were fallen, and by searching would find out the cause thereof.

40 As if he said: Why would I be the cause of it that the king would see that your faces look more sad, more thin, more pale, more lean or more sorrowful? Compare Gen. 40:6, and the annotation there.

b worse liking: worse condition

41 Namely, of three years, that is, who must also, like unto you, be thus three years long nourished and brought up. Others understand it thus: that are like unto you or equal with you in age. Hebr. according to your likeness, or according to your gladness, which would be, who are of a glad countenance as ye are at present, and not of a sad countenance.

42 The meaning is: So doing ye will make that the king will take away my life; otherwise, as if he said, I would willingly grant your request.

43 Hebr. burden with guilt, that is, bring my life into danger.

44 That is, my life.

1145Then said Daniel 46to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs 47had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,

45 Namely, when he perceived that the chief of the chamberlains was willing to wink at it, if he might be without danger and blame.

46 Other, unto the steward, dispenser, provider, or server.

47 Namely, to provide meat and drink for them, and to take care of their education.

1248Prove 49thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us 50pulse to 51eat, and water to drink.

48 Other, Try it I beseech thee with thy servants.

49 That is, us, me Daniel and my companions.

50 Hebr. of the seed, that is, of that which proceeds from the seed of the earth which is sown, as all manner of herbs, also barley, peas, beans, rice, millet, etc. Flesh and wine are naturally more nourishing than pulse and water; it may be that Daniel and his companions had an eye to that which is written in Deut. 8:3: “… that man doth not live by bread only, but …”

51 Hebr. and we shall eat, etc.

13Then 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 52as thou seest, deal with thy servants.

52 That is, according to the nature of things, according as thou shalt think good, when thou shalt have made trial of us.

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

15And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared 53fairer and fatter in flesh 54than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat.

53 Hebr. good, or, better, that is, livelier, of a better color, fairer.

54 That is, than the young men who had eaten of the best and most nourishing meat. It is not the delicate meat or drink, but the blessing of God which makes fair and fat. Compare Judges 13:4. See hereof the promise of God, Exod. 23:25, and compare further Psalm 104:13, 14, 15; 145:15, 16; Mat. 4:4; Heb. 11:37, 38.

16Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and 55the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.c

55 That is, which they would drink. See verse 8.

c vegetables, beans

17¶As for these four children, God gave them 56knowledge and skill in all 57learning and wisdom: and 58Daniel had understanding in all 59visions and dreams.

56 Namely, in the liberal arts and sciences, in political matters, and in natural things; but not in magic or the black art, forbidden by God, Deut. 18:11.

57 See verse 4.

58 Therefore did God give Daniel some particular gifts above his companions, thereby to bring him into esteem and repute, for He intended to use him in eminent matters above his companions.

59 Of visions see Gen. 15 on verse 1; Gen. 46 on verse 2; Num. 12:6. And of dreams Gen. 20 on verse 3. But sometimes visions and dreams are taken for one and the same, as Job 33:15.

18Now at the end 60of the days that the king had said 61he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar.

60 Namely, of those three years, of which is spoken in verse 5.

61 Or, that one should, namely, the chief of the chamberlains would bring them in, namely, into the palace.

1962And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood 63they before the king.

62 Or, When the king spake with them, there was than none, etc.

63 That is, when the king heard the wisdom which was in them, he judged them worthy to be admitted into the number of his officers, and to minister unto him in great and weighty affairs. See verse 4.

20And in all matters 64of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them 65ten times 66better than all the 67magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.

64 Hebr. of wisdom of the understanding.

65 Or, many times. Hebr. ten hands. See Gen. 43 on verse 34. See also 2 Sam. 19:43.

66 That is, more excellent, more wise than all the magicians.

67 See Gen. 41 on verse 8; Exod. 7:11.

21And 68Daniel 69continued even 70unto 71the first year of king Cyrus.

68 Daniel is named here alone, and not his companions, because in this book there will be continually mention made of that which God wrought and foretold by him.

69 Hebr. was. Although not always in equal high repute and estimation at court, as appears Dan. 5:13, 16.

70 The particle unto does not always exclude the time to come, so that the meaning here is not that he continued not in that condition in king Cyrus’ time. We read in Dan. 10:1 that great things were yet revealed unto him by God in the third year of this king’s reign. In such signification must the particle unto, or until be taken in 2 Sam. 6:23; Psalm 110:1; Mat. 1:25.

71 Daniel lived above 77 years in the court of the kings of Babel; first under Nebuchadnezzar the Great, then under Evil-merodach, his son, and under Belshazzar. In the first year of Cyrus (who, being king of Persia, came also to be king of Babel) the Jews were delivered from their 70 years’ captivity. So long, and yet some time after did God let Daniel live that he might defend, instruct and comfort His people all the time of their captivity; an evidence of God’s singular care for His people.