What does Daniel 1:8 mean?
ESV: But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.
NIV: But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.
NASB: But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself.
CSB: Daniel determined that he would not defile himself with the king's food or with the wine he drank. So he asked permission from the chief eunuch not to defile himself.
NLT: But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods.
KJV: But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
NKJV: But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
Verse Commentary:
Daniel's concern about being "defiled" by the king's food (Daniel 1:5) might have been a matter of ceremonial cleanliness, or idolatry, or both. The pagan peoples of Babylon would have eaten unclean animals prohibited by the law given to Israel by Moses (Leviticus 11; Deuteronomy 14). Even when the animals were clean, Gentiles would not have removed fat and blood according to Jewish requirements (Leviticus 3:16–17; 17:10–14). Historians suggest Israelites were used to heavily diluted wine while Babylonians preferred theirs at full strength. Daniel may have wanted to avoid drunkenness (Proverbs 20:1; 31:4) as well as ceremonial uncleanness. Other commentators suggest Daniel was mostly troubled by the king's food being dedicated to Babylonian idols.

Daniel's Babylonian manager will be concerned about different food affecting the health of the four captive Israelites (Daniel 1:6–7, 10). So, Daniel proposes a brief test, indicating whether they can maintain their condition while abstaining from the king's food (Daniel 1:11–13). Scripture does not indicate what would have happened if Ashpenaz (Daniel 1:3) had refused to accommodate Daniel. However, other recorded incidents prove both Daniel and the three other named captives were willing to die rather than compromise their faith (Daniel 3; 6).
Verse Context:
Daniel 1:8–16 explains one of the ways Daniel and three other captured Hebrew boys (Daniel 1:1–7) resisted being corrupted by the pagan culture of Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar assigned the Hebrew youths the same kind of food and wine that he ate and drank. These would have been unclean, for various reasons, under the Law of Moses. Daniel received permission from his supervising steward to eat only vegetables and water for a ten-day test. When the Hebrew youths were healthier than those who ate the king's food, they were allowed to continue their special diet.
Chapter Summary:
When Daniel was young, Babylon conquered Jerusalem and took many of its treasures and people back to their land. Daniel was chosen to become an advisor due to his good looks and bright mind. Along with other boys, he was educated and given a Babylonian name. Daniel and several friends demonstrate faithfulness to God by avoiding foods that might be unclean. They also excel in their roles. This leads Daniel to become an important advisor regarding dreams and visions, as described starting in chapter 2.
Chapter Context:
Daniel was taken captive when Babylon conquered the nation of Israel. The first chapter of the book establishes his history, his level of natural talent, and the depth of his faith. This is followed by a series of prophetic interpretations tied to Gentile nations in chapters 2—7. Chapters 8—12 focus on prophecies more closely related to the nation of Israel. Many of these details are restated or expanded in the book of Revelation.
Book Summary:
The book of Daniel contains famous Old Testament stories and prophecies. Daniel was taken from the Israelite people and made an advisor for a conquering empire. He demonstrates faithfulness and wisdom during many years serving in this role. Though Daniel does not deliver a public message, Jesus refers to him as a "prophet" (Matthew 24:15). The first portion of the book mostly describes Daniel's interpretations of dreams and other events. The second portion looks ahead to the end times. Daniel is classified in English Bibles as a "major" prophet, meaning the book is relatively long and the content has broad implications. The book of Revelation echoes and expands on many of the same themes.
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