Chuck Smith Through the Bible Commentary - Daniel 1:1 - 1:21

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Chuck Smith Through the Bible Commentary - Daniel 1:1 - 1:21

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There are men who spend their lifetimes seeking to prove that the Bible is not all that it purports to be. Their whole premise for their doctorates are trying to take some aspect of the Bible and show that it isn't all that it claims to be. One of the favorite tactics of these men are to take the various books of the Bible and to try to prove that they are not written by those authors that they claim to be written by. And the book of Daniel has come under this cloak of what they call "higher criticism," as there have been many who have tried to prove that the book of Daniel was not really written by Daniel. And one of the basic premises for their proof is that it would be impossible to describe with such accuracy events that had not yet taken place. Therefore, it was written by some man a couple of centuries later, after the fact, and that he put the name of Daniel to it.

And they, of course, take the fact that there are about three Greek words in the book of Daniel and there are some Persian words in the book of Daniel. And it is written partially in Hebrew and partially in the Aramaic, the ancient language of Syria, which is like the Chaldaic language. And they used this as their basis of proof that Daniel was not really the author. But to me, the fact that he uses some Greek words, Persian words, and both Hebrew and Aramaic only go to prove that Daniel indeed was the author and was all that the book purports him to be; that is a wise man, a counselor, and in the court of the king, where he would have met Greeks, he would have met Persians, he would have met people from all over the world in his capacity as an officer in the Babylonian kingdom.

And I think that these endeavors by these people to bring doubt upon the Word of God has no value at all. They have written their doctorates and many expositions on it, but it's a waste of time and energy to consider their arguments, just to say that with each argument they present there is a very powerful argument to refute what they presented. And when you look at the whole thing, it turns out that indeed Daniel was the author, and they have not proved anything but their own foolishness. So I don't like to get all involved in those areas of reproving that which is already true. Truth doesn't need to be defended. And so we aren't going to go into the arguments of the authorship of the book. We'll just assume that it is all that is purports to be, that Daniel indeed was the author, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and we will leave the critics and those men who love to tamper and dabble in those things to their on follies.

One of the tragic things about a seminary education is that you learn all of these arguments. In fact, you'll spend a whole semester in seeking to determine the authorship of Daniel, and you'll study all of the papers that have been written by the various people and the arguments pro and con on the authorship of Daniel and you can use a whole semester the study of Daniel. And the whole semester would be involved in trying to determine authorship, and you'll never really get into what it says. And that, to me, is a waste of time. What does God have to say to me? That's what's important.

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim the king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it ( Dan_1:1 ).

So this would be the year 607 B.C., the first siege of Jerusalem when it fell to Nebuchadnezzar.

And the Lord gave to Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with the part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar into the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god. And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king's seed, and of the princes ( Dan_1:2-3 );

Now this in itself is a fulfillment of a prophecy in Isaiah, chapter 39, versus 6 and 7, where Isaiah was speaking about how that Judah was going to fall to Babylon. And he declares, "Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house," he's talking to the king, Hezekiah, "and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, they shall take away. And they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon."

Now this was hundred years earlier, actually, 105 years, in 712 B.C. Hezekiah had been sick and he prayed to God and he recovered from his sickness. And there came certain emissaries from Babylon with messages with congratulations that you're well again. And Hezekiah showed these men from Babylon all of the treasures there in the house of God. And so Isaiah came to Hezekiah and he said, "Who were these men that where here?" And he said, "They're emissaries from a country that's far away, place called Babylon." And he said, "What did they want?" And he said, "Well, they just wanted to tell me that they were glad that I recovered from my illness." And he said, "What did you show them?" And he said, "I showed them all of the treasures in the house of God." And Isaiah became angry and he prophesied that these Babylons would come back and they would carry away all of that treasure to Babylon and they'll take the young men and the princes and carry them away captives. A hundred and five years later it happened.

Nebuchadnezzar came and, as the scripture here records, he carried away the treasures from the house of God to put in the house of his god in Babylon. And then he ordered that they bring some of these fine young men and the princes and all from Israel in order that they might groom them to stand in the Babylonian court. And so they were, they had chosen,

Children in whom was no blemish, but well-favored [good looking], skillful in all wisdom, cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such has had ability in them to stand in the king's palace, whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans ( Dan_1:4 ).

So they took the cream of the young men. They took those who were skillful in science and understanding, good looking, strong. And they carried them away to Babylon to teach them the Chaldean language in order that they might stand in the court of Nebuchadnezzar as an advisor and as a counselor to Nebuchadnezzar.

So the king appointed unto them the daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank: so he nourished them for three years, then at the end thereof he might bring them before the king ( Dan_1:5 ).

The idea was, of course, three years of training, learning the Chaldean language, learning the customs of the court and all in order that they might stand in the court of the king. Now, the king's meat was meat that no doubt was sacrificed to his pagan gods. In those days a person, whenever they butchered a lamb or a cow or whatever, they would usually offer it as a sacrifice to their gods and then they would go ahead and eat it themselves. In other words, you sort of roast it and you roast... you take the fat and burn it unto the gods, but it was offered as an oblation or a sacrifice to the gods and then you ate it.

The butchering was sort of a religious ritual and this, of course, carried on far beyond the Babylonian period on into the New Testament. It was a common practice among the Greeks and all to have the same type of a religious ritual in the butchering of any animal. So you would butcher it and offer the blood and all as an oblation unto your god, and then they would take the meat and serve it in the restaurants or they would sell it in the butcher shops and all. And it was a real problem for a Christian who wanted to eat meat. You know, you wouldn't want to eat meat that had been offered as a sacrifice to some pagan god. And so it was a real problem, because it was hard to buy meat that wasn't killed in a ritualistic way.

So Paul the apostle, in order to help the Corinthians, said, "Hey look, when you go into the butcher shop to buy a steak, don't ask the butcher, 'Was this offered to a god?' You should just buy it, don't ask any questions, you know. And for your conscience's sake, buy it and take it home and enjoy it. And if you go out to eat dinner at somebody's house, don't say, 'Was this offered to a god as a sacrifice?'" He said, "Just eat what is set before you asking no questions." And that's where that comes from, it was... it's when you are visiting someone and they offer you roast beef or something, just eat what is set before you asking no questions, for conscience's sake. Because, he said, "We realize that it really doesn't make any difference. You know we receive everything with thanksgiving and all, and all things are to be received."

But Daniel did not want to have any part of eating meat that had been sacrificed to pagan deities, and so he requested that he be freed from this particular portion that the king offered in a few moments. But that's to give you the reason why Daniel did not want to eat the king's meat.

Now from the children of Judah there was Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah ( Dan_1:6 ):

In the Hebrew these are actually beautiful names. All of them relate to God. Daniel means God is Judge. Hananiah is beloved of the Lord. What a beautiful name, Hananiah. Some of you young parents wondering what you might name your next son. It's really a beautiful name, beloved of the Lord. I love that name. Mishael, who is as God? And Azariah, the Lord is my help. And so they had beautiful names all relating in some way to the Lord.

But the prince of the eunuchs gave them [Babylonian] names [that all related to the Babylonian deities]: and so to Daniel he gave the name of Belteshazzar ( Dan_1:7 );

Which means Baal's prince. Baal was one of the gods of the Babylonians.

to Hananiah [he gave the name] of Shadrach ( Dan_1:7 );

And Shadrach means illumined by the sun god.

to Mishael, [he gave the name] of Meshach ( Dan_1:7 );

Which means who is like Shak? Shak was another one of the Babylonian deities.

and to Azariah, [he gave the name] Abednego ( Dan_1:7 ).

Which means the servant of Nego, which was another one of the Babylonian deities. So Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-Nego, Belteshazzar, these are all the profane names that were given to them by the eunuch in Babylon as they took away from them their Hebrew names which related to God.

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself ( Dan_1:8 ).

Daniel did not want to defile himself with this meat offered to pagan deities with the wine. And so he requested that he not have to eat it.

Now God had brought Daniel into favor and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs. And the prince of the eunuchs said unto to Daniel, I fear the lord the king, who has appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall you make me endanger of my head before the king ( Dan_1:9-10 ).

Now look, Daniel, I am fearful of the king. I respect him. And he gave me the command to feed you this stuff, and if you don't eat this and you guys get thin and skinny, and then my head is in danger because I'm the one in charge of making sure that you're strong and healthy when you come to stand before him.

Then said Daniel to Melzar, who was [the chief or] the prince of the eunuchs ( Dan_1:11 )

And he said, "Let's just have a testing period for ten days."

let them give us pulse [which is a grain cereal] to eat, and water to drink. Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat the portion of the king's meat: and as you see, deal with your servants. So he consented to this matter, and for ten days. And at the end of the ten days their countenances [that is, Daniel and his friends] appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all of the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat. So Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and they were able to eat the grains [the vegetables. Thus Melzar] and for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all of the learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. Now at the end of the days [that is, the three years that they were in this training period] the king had said that they should bring them in, and then the prince of the eunuchs brought them before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king communed with them; and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah: that stood before the king ( Dan_1:12-19 ).

And therefore they were brought to stand before him.

And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all of his magicians and astrologers that were in all of his realm. And Daniel continued [through the entire reign of Nebuchadnezzar and his grandson, Belshazzar] and even into the first year of king Cyrus ( Dan_1:20-21 ).

So on through the reign of Darius and King Cyrus.