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Daniel chapter 1

English Standard Version

New International Version

New American Standard Bible

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New Living Translation

King James Version

What does Daniel chapter 1 mean?

The first chapter of this book introduces Daniel and explains how he became a renowned advisor under several pagan rulers. It also mentions three other Hebrew boys, who would become part of a famous story of bravery and faith. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were boys of royal families taken for reeducation in Babylon. As part of this, they would be immersed in Babylonian religion, culture, language, and literature. To represent the effort to change the youths' identities, the man in charge of their training renames them as Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 1:1–7).

Most of the captured youths were probably integrated easily into Babylonian culture. The four named in this chapter, however, remained committed to their faith. Though captives, they wanted to continue to obey God and His laws, including in matters of food. Daniel asked the man responsible for his training, the chief eunuch, to allow him to abstain from the king's food. The king's food would have been excellent—but also would have included unclean animals and not been prepared according to the Law of Moses. Despite his great respect for Daniel, the chief eunuch hesitated to allow anyone to skip part of their reeducation regimen. Daniel proposes a test, and in ten days proves he and his fellow Hebrews can thrive on vegetables and water (Daniel 1:8–16).

God honors Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah with extraordinary wisdom and intellect. The use of their Hebrew names, rather than their new Babylonian titles, expresses how God's providence brought them to their new roles. Daniel is also blessed with insight into dreams and visions. These skills will make all four important figures in Babylon—and will force several conflicts between faithfulness and self-preservation (Daniel 3; 6). Daniel will live on as a brilliant advisor through several regime changes, surviving until the rule of Cyrus the Great (Daniel 1:17–21).
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