Daniel 1

DateVersionReading Plan
@October 10, 2023ESV (2016)ESV Prophets Plan 2023


  • Daniel Taken to Babylon
  • Daniel’s Faithfulness


The Book of Daniel is named after the prophet Daniel, a name which means “God is Judge”. It is a story of a young man taken to Babylon following the conquest of his nation by the Babylonian Empire. The prophet was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar in 605 BC, during the first deportation recorded in 2 Kings 24:8-17. Daniel continued to minister through the reign of King Cyrus, under whom the iIsraelites began to return to Israel (Ezra 1:1-4; 2 Chron. 36:22-23).

The first chapter opens with the date of Nebuchadnezzar’s coming to Jerusalem to besiege it. Although Daniel recorded these events as taking place “in the third year of … Jehoiakim” (Dan. 1:1), Jeremiah wrote that it was in the fourth year (Jer. 25:1, Jer. 25:9; Jer. 46:1). Daniel probably used the Babylonian system which did not count a king’s year of accession, while Jeremiah used the Israelite system of counting, which did include the accession year. The events took place during the accession year of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, probably when he was still co-regent with his father and just after the battle of Carchemish (605 BC). Nebuchadnezzar brought the king of Judah and the people “to the land of Shinar” (Dan. 1:2), which is the ancient Hebrew name for Babylon.

In Dan. 1:3-7, some of the Israelites were selected the learn the literature and language of the Chaldeans. The selection were some of the royal family, nobility, youths without blemish, those of good appearance, skillful in all wisdom, etc. (Dan. 1:3-4). Nebuchadnezzar provided for them a daily portion of food and wine “that the king ate” (Dan. 1:5). Among those selected were “Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah” (Dan. 1:6). Daniel and his friends, whose original names honored the God of Israel, were given other names intended to honor the false gods of Babylon. Daniel (“God is My Judge”) became Belteshazzar (“Bel Protect Him”); Hananiah (“God Has Been Gracious”) became Shadrach (“The Command of Akku”); Mishael (“Who Is What God Is?”) became Meshach (“Who Is What Aku Is?”); Azariah (“The Lord Has Helped”) became Abednego (“Servant of Nebo”).

Dan. 1:8-16 describes Daniel’s refusal to eat the food provided by the king of Babylon and its resulting effects. The refusal may have been because the king’s food and drink was unclean due to the type of food type, improper preparation, contact with dead or other impure objects, or because it was sacrificed or poured out to idols. The youths go to extreme measures to protect themselves from defilement. Their activities also show their resistance to assimilating into Babylonian culture. The chief eunuch expressed fear that their refusal to eat the king’s food would lead to degraded health and that it would be seen by the king (Dan. 1:10). Daniel then proposed that he and the other three be given vegetables to eat for ten days and then their health be compared to those who at the king’s food (Dan. 1:12-13). The eunuch agreed with the proposal, which in itself represented a work of God’s Spirit that he would disobey the king for ten days. The result was that Daniel and the three were “better in appearance and fatter in flesh” (Dan. 1:16) and so the rest were given vegetables to eat as well rather than the king’s food.

The closing verses (Dan. 1:17-21) describe how God gave Daniel and the three “learning and skill in all literature and wisdom” and specially blessed Daniel with “understanding in all visions and dreams” (Dan. 1:17). They were “ten times better” than the Babylonian magicians and enchanters in “every matter of wisdom” that were in all Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom (Dan. 1:19-20). Daniel stayed in Babylonian exile until “the first year of King Cyrus” (Dan. 1:21)


The Israelites were taken into Babylonian exile by Nebuchadnezzar and some were chosen to learn the native Chaldean culture. Among them were Daniel and his faithful compatriots. They were given the king’s food and wine but refused to eat and drink. Instead, they proposed to be given vegetables and that their health be compared to the others after ten days. Their health was found to be more robust, leading to the rest of the selected Israelites being given vegetables as well. God blessed Daniel and the three with “learning and skill in all literature and wisdom”, far surpassing the abilities of the Babylonian magicians and enchanters.

The aspects that seemed to emerge from today’s reading was God’s work in allowing the selected Israelites to honor God in what they ate and in keeping them healthy while in exile. Bridging this into our context, we as believers in Christ are sojourners and exiles in a foreign land but we rest in the assured understanding that God will sustain us through our visitational stay. He not only gives us the bare minimum to make it through, but so moves in our lives that we can remain strengthened by His promises and faithful to Him while we are here. It was so good to see God’s hand of abundant provision demonstrated in this chapter.

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