Daniel Finds Favor in Babylon
1In the third year of the reign of King Jehoiakim of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon advanced against Jerusalem and laid it under siege. 2Now the Lord delivered King Jehoiakim of Judah into his power, along with some of the vessels of the temple of God. He brought them to the land of Babylonia to the temple of his god and put the vessels in the treasury of his god.
3The king commanded Ashpenaz, who was in charge of his court officials, to choose some of the Israelites who were of royal and noble descent – 4young men in whom there was no physical defect and who were handsome, well versed in all kinds of wisdom, well educated and having keen insight, and who were capable of entering the king’s royal service – and to teach them the literature and language of the Babylonians. 5So the king assigned them a daily ration from his royal delicacies and from the wine he himself drank. They were to be trained for the next three years. At the end of that time they were to enter the king’s service. 6As it turned out, among these young men were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 7But the overseer of the court officials renamed them. He gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar, Hananiah he named Shadrach, Mishael he named Meshach, and Azariah he named Abednego.
8But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the royal delicacies or the royal wine. He therefore asked the overseer of the court officials for permission not to defile himself. 9Then God made the overseer of the court officials sympathetic to Daniel. 10But he responded to Daniel, “I fear my master the king. He is the one who has decided your food and drink. What would happen if he saw that you looked malnourished in comparison to the other young men your age? If that happened, you would endanger my life with the king!” 11Daniel then spoke to the warden whom the overseer of the court officials had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: 12“Please test your servants for ten days by providing us with some vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who are eating the royal delicacies; deal with us in light of what you see.” 14So the warden agreed to their proposal and tested them for ten days.
15At the end of the ten days their appearance was better and their bodies were healthier than all the young men who had been eating the royal delicacies. 16So the warden removed the delicacies and the wine from their diet and gave them a diet of vegetables instead. 17Now as for these four young men, God endowed them with knowledge and skill in all sorts of literature and wisdom – and Daniel had insight into all kinds of visions and dreams.
18When the time appointed by the king arrived, the overseer of the court officials brought them into Nebuchadnezzar’s presence. 19When the king spoke with them, he did not find among the entire group anyone like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, or Azariah. So they entered the king’s service. 20In every matter of wisdom and insight the king asked them about, he found them to be ten times better than any of the magicians and astrologers that were in his entire empire. 21Now Daniel lived on until the first year of Cyrus the king.