Collection of court legends.
probably circulated as independent stories before being collected and edited together (see introduction). Chs 2, 4, and 5
demonstrate that Daniel is superior to the king's other courtiers, while chs 3 and 6
dramatically depict the persecution and vindication of the Jewish protagonists at the hands of the other courtiers. Ch 1
serves as an introduction to this collection. The positive resolution of the narrative in chs 1–6
and the sometimes humorous tone indicate that the tension did not result from the national crisis of the Maccabean revolt,
but rather from the more general conflict of loyalties that existed for Jews living in the Diaspora in the centuries preceding
Daniel and his three companions are introduced and tested. This chapter introduces the main Jewish characters—Daniel and his three friends—as well as Nebuchadnezzar and also the Temple
vessels, which will figure in ch 5
. In addition, though God's great power is emphasized, it is power that is exercised at a distance and through intermediaries,
a theme that will be developed in terms of God's role in the court of the great foreign kings in chs 1–6
and in world history in chs 7–12
The fall of Judah and the beginnings of exile are introduced quickly. To establish the pedigree of the hero, the book of Daniel
does not dwell here on Nebuchadnezzar as the archvillain of ancient Jewish history, or on the exile as tragedy. The Lord still controls human events, even the successes of foreign kings over Judah. The dating of events is not accurate: The third
year of King Jehoiakim was 606 BCE, but Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem in 597 BCE. Vessels, Ezra 1.7–8
. Shinar, Babylonia.
The “history” of the exile quickly turns to the fortunes of the four Jewish protagonists at the court of Nebuchadnezzar. They
are heroic and aristocratic in bearing. Compare the treatment of the fallen king Jehoiachin in 2 Kings 25.27–30, Jer. 52.31–34
Chaldeans: A name for a region and language of Babylonia, it was also associated with the wisdom and learning of Eastern courtiers.
In some passages in Daniel it refers to the ethnic group, in others it means courtiers. The language of the Chaldeans was Akkadian.
The training of courtiers in languages, court protocol, and international relations was common in the ancient world.
Prominent Jews sometimes took Babylonian names, and at Gen. 41.45
Joseph is given an Egyptian name. Although Daniel and his friends refuse the king's food, presumably because it violated the food laws in Lev. ch 11 and Deut. ch 14
, there appears to be no objection to receiving Babylonian court names. The names Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed‐nego have not been satisfactorily explained. This v. also offers the only biblical indication of the later rabbinic law that Jews
should not drink pagan wine.
In the Diaspora there arose a stronger emphasis on dietary laws as a way of living a pious life without (or away from) the
Temple, reflected here and in many works in the Apocrypha (Tobit 1.10–11; Judith 10.5; 1 Macc. 1.62–63, 2 Macc. 5.27
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