Updated: Oct 3
Jeremiah 52:4-5 ESV
Daniel 1:1-2 ESV
2 Kings 17:11-13 ESV
2 Kings 24:1-2 ESV
Daniel 1:3-4 ESV
Daniel 1:5-7 ESV
Daniel 1:8-16 (The Diet)
Daniel 1:17-21 (God Gave a Great Gift)
The year was 589 B.C.
The month was January when King Nebuchadnezzer’s army marched toward the Dead Sea. Babylon lay northwest of the Persian Gulf and they marched.
They marched on Judah and Jerusalem was their target.
See, Nebuchadnezzer was determined to ‘own’ the region but many refused to pay taxes to the Babylonian King. Nebuchadnezzar had already marched on Egypt because they refused to pay the tax. Surprisingly, the Babylonian army sustained heavy losses in Egypt. That was unexpected and Nebuchadnezzer probably hadn’t anticipated such heavy losses from his campaign in Egypt.
King Jehoiakim of Judah had followed the lead of Egypt and also refused to pay taxes to Neduchadnezzer. That probably made Judah a target for Nebuchadnezzer II of Babylon. King Jehoiakim of Judah had been on the throne for three years when the siege and massacre took place in Jerusalem.
We are told in Jeremiah 52:4-5, “in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came with all his army against Jerusalem, and laid siege to it. And they built siegeworks all around it. So the city was besieged till the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.”
In Daniel 1:1-2 we learn, “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god.”
Before we get too far, we need to take into account a warnings God previously gave to Judah.
God had warned Israel before. In 2 Kings 17:11-13 we learn, “they made offerings on all the high places, as the nations did whom the Lord carried away before them. And they did wicked things, provoking the Lord to anger, and they served idols, of which the Lord had said to them, “You shall not do this.” Yet the Lord warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the Law that I commanded your fathers, and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.”
Then we learn from 2 Kings 24:1-2, “In his days, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant for three years. Then he turned and rebelled against him. And the Lord sent against him bands of the Chaldeans and bands of the Syrians and bands of the Moabites and bands of the Ammonites, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by his servants the prophets.“
When Jerusalem in Judah fell we are told in Daniel 1:3-4, “Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king's palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans.”
When Jerusalem fell, King Nebuchadnezzer robbed Israel of their most prized possessions. They captured the royal families and nobility. They seized Israel’s youths without blemish.
They took the brightest and best young men who were skilled in wisdom and knowledge. They captured those who understood learning who had good appearance.
Four young men around the age of 14 years taken were Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
They represented Israel’s brightest and best.
King Nebuchadnezzer was a smart man and he knew there was something different about these four young men.
In Daniel 1:5-7, The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego.”
In Daniel 1:8-16 we read that Daniel decided he did not want to eat the King’s rich food and drink his wine, so he made a deal with Nebuchadnezzer’s chief eunuch. He challenged the diet of the king and asked for vegetables and water for himself, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He asked to eat his diet for ten days. At the end of ten days the chief eunuch checked and he found that the four Hebrew boys were healthier than the boys who ate the kings rich food and wine.
They were allowed to remain on vegetables and water.
In Daniel 1:17-21 we are told in addition to being physically healthier, God gave four Hebrew fellows a great gift of learning and skill in wisdom and literature. Daniel also had the ability to understand visions and dreams. When they were quizzed by King Nebuchadnezzer they exhibited great wisdom and understanding (even ten times better than the King’s magicians and sorcerers).
Was it the diet of rich foods and wine the magicians ate? Was the Daniel diet of vegetables and water that helped Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego?
We do not know from scripture but even today fasting and praying have been known to aid in heightened spiritual awareness. Many have fund it to be a beneficial practice.
Spiritual Practice: Fasting
Fast on the Daniel diet of vegetables and water and spend time in prayer. See what you discover.
In God, Deborah