This first chapter introduces the young courtier Daniel, his companions in exile, and the difficulties they will face as Jews
in the foreign court.
Third year of the reign of King Jehoiakim is 606 BCE (see 2 Chr 36.5–7
). Jehoiakim's son, Jehoiachin, ruled when Jerusalem was attacked in 597. Nebuchadnezzar reigned 605–562 BCE (see Isa 46.1; Jer 24.1; 25.1,9
), but did not invadeIsrael until after 605. The difficulties of the dating cannot be resolved; such chronological problems
are, rather, typical of folktales (see Jdt 1.1
Shinar, an ancient (Gen 14.1,9; Isa 11.11; Zech 5.11
) term for Babylon, is the site of the tower of Babel (Gen 11.2
); both tower and Babylon fall through the sin of pride. His gods, Marduk, Babylon's tutelary god, and Nabu, the king's personal deity; cf. Isa 46.1n
. Vessels, noted in 2 Chr 36.7,10
, foreshadow Belshazzar's feast (Dan 5
Palace master (lit. “chief eunuch”). Nobility from conquered kingdoms were typically brought into exile (see 2 Kings 24.14–16
); educating their youth was thought to increase acceptance of foreign rule and minimize attempts at revolt.
Without physical defect may suggest priests (Lev 21.17–23
) as well as sacrificial animals (Lev 22.19–22
), or may simply indicate attractive men (Absalom in 2 Sam 14.25; Song 4.7
). Versed in every branch of wisdom also describes the heroes of the author's generation (
). Chaldeans can refer either to Aramaic‐speaking Neo‐Babylonian people (Jer 24.5; Ezek 1.3; Dan 5.30; 9.1; Ezra 5.12
) or, more specifically, to magicians and astrologers (Dan 2.2–5,10; 4.7; 5.7,11
Three years are cited by Persian texts as the time required for gaining knowledge of religious concerns.
The names contain “el,” meaning (the Jewish) “God.” All four names occur in the book of Nehemiah (
) though referring to different individuals. The new names refer to the Babylonian gods Bel (Marduk; see 1.2n.
) and Nabu. Changing names was a well‐known practice of kings (Gen 41.45; 2 Kings 24.17
). Fidelity is marked when those whose names are changed preserve their ethnic and religious identity (such as Joseph, Daniel).
Defile himself by eating non‐kosher food (see Lev 11
); in the postexilic period, diet was a major indication of Jewish identity (Tob 1.10–11; 1 Macc 1.62–63; Jdt 10.5; 12.1–4; 2 Macc 6–7; Esth 14.17
). Leviticus does not forbid wine; perhaps Daniel's refusal of food and wine symbolizes a refusal to feast when Israel is in exile. However, Hos 9.3–4
(also Ezek 4.13
) suggests Gentile food is impure.
The palace master, Ashpenaz (
) is one of several sympathetic court functionaries (Gen 41.9–13; Esth 2.15
; Achior of the book of Judith).
Test your servants suggests trial by ordeal, a stock folktale motif. Vegetables … and water are also food of the poor.
God grants the youths what Nebuchadnezzar had sought to teach them (
). Visions and dreams associates Daniel with Joseph, another handsome youth who faces temptation and danger in a foreign land (Gen 39–50
), as well as Mordecai of the Greek Additions to Esther.
Magicians appear in the sagas of Joseph (Gen 41.8,24
) and Moses and Aaron (Ex 7.11,22; 8.3,14–15; 9.11
). Enchanters are priests who make incantations (Dan 2.2; 4.7; 5.7
First year of King Cyrus is 539 BCE.
Your access is brought to you by: