Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Daniel Risks His Life in Captivity

Daniel Taken to Babylon

Daniel 1

1During the third year that Jehoiakim was king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar
king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and surrounded it with his army. 2The Lord
allowed Nebuchadnezzar to capture Jehoiakim king of Judah. Nebuchadnezzar
also took some of the things from the Temple of God, which he carried to
Babylonia and put in the temple of his gods.

3Then King Nebuchadnezzar ordered Ashpenaz, his chief officer, to bring
some of the Israelite men into his palace. He wanted them to be from important
families, including the family of the king of Judah. 4King Nebuchadnezzar
wanted only young Israelite men who had nothing wrong with them. They were
to be handsome and well educated, capable of learning and understanding, and
able to serve in his palace. Ashpenaz was to teach them the language and
writings of the Babylonians. 5The king gave the young men a certain amount of
food and wine every day, just like the food he ate. The young men were to be
trained for three years, and then they would become servants of the king of
Babylon. 6Among those young men were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and
Azariah from the people of Judah.

7Ashpenaz, the chief officer, gave them Babylonian names. Daniel’s new
name was Belteshazzar, Hananiah’s was Shadrach, Mishael’s was Meshach, and
Azariah’s was Abednego.

8Daniel decided not to eat the king’s food or drink his wine because that
would make him unclean. So he asked Ashpenaz for permission not to make
himself unclean in this way.

9God made Ashpenaz, the chief officer, want to be kind and merciful to
Daniel, 10but Ashpenaz said to Daniel, “I am afraid of my master, the king. He
ordered me to give you this food and drink. If you begin to look worse than other
young men your age, the king will see this. Then he will cut off my head because
of you.”

11Ashpenaz had ordered a guard to watch Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and
Azariah. 12Daniel said to the guard, “Please give us this test for ten days: Don’t
give us anything but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13After ten days
compare how we look with how the other young men look who eat the king’s
food. See for yourself and then decide how you want to treat us, your servants.”

14So the guard agreed to test them for ten days. 15After ten days they looked
healthier and better fed than all the young men who ate the king’s food. 16So the
guard took away the king’s special food and wine, feeding them vegetables

17God gave these four young men wisdom and the ability to learn many
things that people had written and studied. Daniel could also understand visions
and dreams.

18At the end of the time set for them by the king, Ashpenaz brought all the
young men to King Nebuchadnezzar. 19The king talked to them and found that
none of the young men were as good as Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
So those four young men became the king’s servants. 20Every time the king asked
them about something important, they showed much wisdom and understanding.
They were ten times better than all the fortune-tellers and magicians in his
kingdom! 21So Daniel continued to be the king’s servant until the first year Cyrus
was king.

The Holy Bible, New Century Version

DANIEL, BOOK OF High hopes and great expectations highlight the Book
of Daniel. It provides the highest example of Old Testament ethics and the
climax of Old Testament teaching about the future of God’s people. It also
provides Bible students some of the most perplexing questions they ever seek to
answer. Too often so much ink is used talking about the problems that little
information about the book itself can be learned. Thus this article will look at the
facts and teachings of the book before investigating a few of the problems.

Literary Features Daniel combines characteristics of prophecy, wisdom, and
apocalyptic writing into a unique type of literature. Matthew identified Daniel as
a prophet (Matt. 24:15). The book addresses a current situation with a call for
moral uprightness, as did the prophets. It also points to hope for the future rising
out of God’s words and promises. It focuses on the nations as well as Israel, as
did the other prophets. It does not, however, use the literary forms of the
prophets, particularly the standard formulas such as, “Thus says the Lord”; nor
does it represent a collection of prophetic sermons.

As did the wisdom writers, Daniel served in a royal court counseling a ruler.
He was highly-educated. The book seeks to instill moral wisdom in young
persons. Yet it does not string proverbs or wisdom poetry together nor delve into
the problems Job or Ecclesiastes tackled. It is wisdom literature and more.

Apocalyptic literature best describes Daniel for most Bible students.
Apocalyptic writings originate from times of national, communal, or personal
tribulations. They make profuse use of symbols, numbers, figures of speech, and signs to interpret history and events during dreadful persecution and personal danger. They present visions of God and His future acts, describing in figurative language the future of peace and victory rising out of current troubles. Often a messianic figure stands in the center. Angels and demons are prominent. Generally, apocalyptic writings bear the name of ancient heroes such as Adam, Enoch, or Baruch, who demonstrated in their time the type of character needed in the current situation of the writer.

The visions and angelic figures of Daniel along with its strongly figurative,
symbolic language tie it closely to the apocalyptic. Its opening stories serve as
the tie to times of persecution and call for moral living. The letters to the
churches serve a similar function in Revelation.

Daniel uses two languages—Aramaic (2:4b-7:28) and Hebrew (1:2-2:4a; 8:1-
12:13)—plus words from Persian and Greek to write the complex work of
prophecy, wisdom, and apocalyptic writing. This is apparently a combination of
the language of worship (Hebrew) and the language of daily life (Aramaic). The
two languages combine to form two distinctly separate sections of the book (1-6;
7-12), the first told in narrative form about Daniel and his friends with a
historical conclusion (6:28) and the second told in form of Daniel’s visions.

Canon and Authority The basic twelve chapters of Daniel appear in the
Hebrew Bible between Esther and Ezra in the last section called the Writings
rather than in the Law or the Prophets. The Greek translation called the
Septuagint introduced Daniel into the prophets and also introduced additional
materials: the prayer of Azariah, the song of the three children, story of Susanna,
Bel and the Dragon. The Christian church has followed the Septuagint in placing Daniel among the prophets, but Protestant Christianity has not accepted the additions, whereas the Catholic tradition has. All agree the basic Book of Daniel is God’s authoritative Word for His people. Questions rise in interpretation not in the book’s authority.

Unity Many things appear to separate Daniel into unrelated parts. The
position of the person Daniel differs in various portions of the book. He is more
central in chapters 1-2 and 4-7 than in the rest of the book. In chapters 1-6 Daniel
is spoken of in the third person in the form of a biography. In chapters 7-12,
however, Daniel speaks in the first person in the form of autobiography (except

In chapters 1-6 the dreams or phenomena come to heathen kings, but in
chapters 7-12 Daniel has the visions. In chapters 1-6 Daniel is the one who
interprets the dreams, but in 7-12 “someone” else interprets the dreams and
visions to Daniel. Chapters 1-6 have simplicity, whereas chapters 7-12 are

The Book of Daniel acts as a unit despite these differences in languages used
and types of literature employed. Each of the twelve chapters contributes to this
unity. The unifying theme is that God expects His followers to maintain fidelity
in face of threats, wars, legal pronouncements, or changing customs. God judges
mankind constantly, and He also provides His presence and strength. God
continuously judges.

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