Online Bible Commentary
The Lord Gave Them Over
Daniel 1:1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the articles into the treasure house of his god. 3 Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king's descendants and some of the nobles, 4 young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans. 5 And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king's delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king. 6 Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 7 To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego. (NKJV)
The book of Daniel is classified as a historical narrative that includes apocalyptic visions. The book contains twelve chapters with the first six covering history and the last six covering prophecy. The book was written in Hebrew (1:1-2:3), then Aramaic (2:4-7:28), and then back to Hebrew (8:1-12:13). The main theme of the book is the sovereignty of God.
The writer of the Book of Daniel is not stated in the text. It could have been written by Daniel about 530 B.C. He would have been about ninety years old. It also may have been written as late as the fourth or fifth century B.C. Jesus confirmed the divinity of the book, and also referred to Daniel as a prophet (Mt. 24:15, Mk. 13:14).
Daniel was a teenager when he was first exiled to Babylon, about 605 B.C during the first siege of Judah by the Babylonians. There were two additional sieges to put down rebellions, in 597 and 586 B.C. During the last siege much of Jerusalem was destroyed, including the temple. In about 535 B.C. the Israelites were freed, after their seventy year captivity in Babylon. Some returned to Judah but others did not.
The book begins with the capture of Judah and its king, Jehoiakim (vv. 1-2a). The Babylonians stole the gold from the temple in order to take it home and offer it to their “god” (v. 2b). The head of the royal officials, called “eunuchs”, was ordered “to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king's descendants and some of the nobles” (v. 3) to Babylon to serve the king as royal officials.
The term “eunuchs” was a common Oriental term to denote officials of the king. Initially they were actual eunuchs, so as not to be a threat to the king because they would not have any offspring who might have aspirations to replace him. Later, this term became a general term used of officials that were not necessarily eunuchs. The Israelites brought into the king’s service were not eunuchs, because they had “no blemish” (v. 4).
These Israelites, of whom Daniel was one, were described as “in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans” (v. 4).
So, Daniel and the other new officials were to be indoctrinated into the Babylonian way of life, their culture. This indoctrination would occur over a period of “three years” (v. 5b). Part of that culture was their language (v. 4), their literature (v. 4), and their “delicacies” (v. 5a), meaning the Babylonian food, and wine.
Daniel, whose name in the Hebrew meant “God judges” or “God’s judge”, was also given a new name by his captors. This was also part of the indoctrination process. Daniel’s new name was “Belteshazzar” (v. 7a) which meant “Bel protect him”, honoring a Babylonian god. New names were also given to Daniel’s friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego (v. 7b). Their new names were also changed from honoring God to honoring Babylonian gods.
This passage reminds us of how a nation can go from being blessed by God to complete destruction. By the hand of God, David fought for the Israelite nation and their country was secured. Then, by the hand of God, Solomon built Judah into a great and prosperous nation. They were the greatest nation in the world because they were a Godly nation. But then over time they fell away from the Lord, and finally the Lord gave them over to the Babylonians.
The same thing could very well happen to the United States. We have grown to be a great nation because of our faithfulness to God. But we are now becoming unfaithful. We have forgotten about God. We have turned our backs on Him. We have become a secular nation. We abort His children, and sexual immorality has become the law of the land. We must turn back to God before it is too late. We must pray for our nation, that it would turn back to God and that He would bring us Godly leaders. If we do not, the Lord may also give us over to our enemies who worship a different god.