Wesley's Notes on the Bible
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.
And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.
1:2 With part of the vessels - In this expedition Nebuchadnezzar carried away some captives, among whom were Daniel and his friends. His god - Baal, or Bell, and Nebo, which words they put into the names of their kings and favourites.
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;
1:3 Of the eunuchs - These were chief among the king's servants; and they are called eunuchs, because many of them were such. And of the princes - Here was fulfilled what the prophet Isaiah had foretold, Isa 39:7.
Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.
1:4 The learning and the tongue - The Chaldeans were skilled above any other nation, in natural philosophy. Their tongue differed from the Hebrew in dialect and in pronunciation, which they learned that they might be the more acceptable to the king, and court.
And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.
1:5 The king's meat - Such as he had at his own table.
Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:
1:6 And Azariah - Probably all of the royal lineage of Judah.
Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego.
1:7 Gave names - That is, other names, relating to the idol - gods. Belteshazzar - So Daniel had the name of Belteshazzar, from the great Babylonian idol Baal or Bell. This was by the king's command, and herein he put forth an act: of his sovereignty.
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.
1:8 But Daniel purposed - There may be several weighty reasons assigned why Daniel did this. Because many of those meats provided for the king's table, were forbidden by the Jewish law. Daniel knew these delicates would too much gratify the flesh. He did not dare to eat and drink things consecrated to idols. He was sensible, how unsuitable delicate fare would be to the afflicted state of God's people. Therefore he was herein a rare pattern of avoiding all the occasions of evil.
Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.
And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath 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 ye make me endanger my head to the king.
Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,
Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.
Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king's meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.
So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.
And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat.
1:15 Fairer and fatter - The blessing of God upon homely fare, affords often more health and strength, than more costly fare to them that eat the fat, and drink the sweet.
Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.
As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar.
And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king.
1:19 Before - Both in the presence chamber, and in the council chamber, to try their proficiency; this shews the king's ability and judgment, how else could he discern their fitness, and their excellency above others.
And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.
1:20 The king enquired - This is a farther confirmation of the king's noble endowments, and of his great care whom he chose to be in offices of trust, namely persons excellently qualified to serve him in the great affairs of the kingdom. And thus did God pour contempt upon the pride of the Chaldeans, and put honour on the low estate of his people.
And Daniel continued even unto the first year of king Cyrus.
1:21 Continued - in the court of Babylon until Cyrus, and then he was in the Persian court, and he lived in honour and high employment all that time, yea, after Cyrus began to reign. For chap.10:1, he had visions and revelations in the third year of Cyrus.