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The Oxford Bible Commentary Line-by-line commentary for the New Revised Standard Version Bible.

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Commentary on Daniel

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Setting the Scene ( 1:1–21 )

( 1:1–7 )

The ‘third year of the reign of Jehoiakim’ is hard to reconcile with 2 Kings 24:1–6, Jer 25:1 , and the Babylonian Chronicle, and may be based on a misunderstanding of other biblical texts. But the point here is to note the vessels taken (ch. 5 ), the Babylonian names of the four youths (ch. 3 ), and their introduction to the court, thus anticipating key elements of the stories, as well as Daniel's knowledge of Aramaic. Note also how the theme of ‘the Lord’ (Heb. ᾽ădōnāy: ‘YHWH’ is used in Daniel only in ch. 9 ) giving kings into the power of other kings is introduced immediately.

( 1:8–21 )

Many scholars think that the issue here is the observance of Jewish dietary laws, but no Jewish laws prescribe vegetarian diet. Either meat (and wine) are avoided for fear that it has been offered to Babylonian gods (thus implicating the youths in idolatry) or as a demonstration that the youths do not need the favours of the king, for they serve another heavenly king. Note how, although they have been educated in the Babylonian school (v. 5 ), they are said to have learned from God (v. 17 ), and in the case of Daniel, specifically the understanding of ‘visions and dreams’. Thus, the theme of conflict between earthly and divine kingship and wisdom is neatly brought out, and the chapter has served its purpose as an introduction either to the whole book of Daniel or at least to a cycle of Daniel stories that may have once existed independently.

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