Study Notes on Daniel 1
A Constant Witness to God Through Personal and National Tragedy

A) A Time of Enormous Turmoil

Daniel was:

  • A statesman first, but one gifted as a prophet (Mt 24:15)
  • He lived through the exile of God’s people (1:3, 21)
  • Where was God at this time? How did he compare to other gods?
  • Could / would he fulfil His plans for His people?

Judah’s King Josiah had been defeated by Pharaoh Necho II

  • Pharaoh had been moving north through Israel to reinforce the remnants of the Assyrian army at Haran who were being attacked by the Babylonians
  • Josiah intercepted Pharaoh Necho II and was defeated in the Battle of Megiddo in 609 BC

The turmoil in Judah’s leadership

  • The people of Judah made Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim’s younger brother king
  • Pharaoh Necho II then deposed Jehoahaz and made Jehoiakim king
  • Nebuchadnezzar defeated Pharaoh Necho II the second at the battle of Carchemich in 605 BC, and then he advanced against Judah
  • Jehoiakim paid tribute from the treasury in Jerusalem, from the some temple artefacts, and also handed over some of the royal family and nobility as hostages

A time of personal tragedy

  • Youths taken from privileged homes and exiled in a distant place

“And some of your own sons, who will come from you, whom you will father, shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” Isaiah 39:7

  • Isaiah’s warning to King Hezekiah – possibly fulfilled in Daniel (1:3,4,8)

B) A Difficult Trial (1:1 – 7)

New knowledge – the temptation to forget God’s ways (v4,5)

  • The aim was to produce royal advisors well versed in Babylonian ways

New food – the temptation of defilement (v5)

  • The kings food – not only contrary to the Levitical diet laws, but also likely offered to idols as  well

New names – the temptation to disown the true God (v7)

  • Daniel (“God is my judge”) became Belteshazzar (possibly “Bel protect his life”), Bel was the name of a Babylonian god
  • Hananiah (“Jehovah is gracious”) became Shadrach (possibly “the command of the moon god”)
  • Mishael (“Who is like God?”) became Meshach (possibly “who is like Aku,” one of the Babylonian gods)
  • Azariah (“Jehovah is my helper”) became Abed-nego (possibly “the servant of Nego,” another heathen god)

C) A Daring Test (1:8 – 16)

Strength of purpose (v8)

“The Babylonians could change Daniel’s home, textbooks, menu, and name, but they could not change his heart. He and his friends purposed in their hearts that they would obey God’s Word; they refused to become conformed to the world.” Warren Weirsbe

Wise, gracious leadership (v11 – 13)

“At this point as throughout his life, Daniel exhibits himself as a true gentleman. He never yields in devotion to principle, but he does not let devotion to principle to serve as a cloak for rudeness or fanaticism. He was a true hero of the Faith.” E. J. Young

God begins to work in Babylon (v15,16)

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

D) A Divine Triumph (1:17 – 21)

The power to stay the course (v5, 18)

“A test for ten days is one thing, but what about the three-year course at the University of Babylon?” Warren Weirsbe

“That educational program probably included a study of agriculture, architecture, astrology, astronomy, law, mathematics, and the difficult Akkadian language” Bible Knowledge Commentary

“Satan must have said to Daniel, “You had better follow the crowd if you want to stay around here.” But Daniel obeyed the Lord–and he “stayed around” longer than anyone else.” Warren Weirsbe

  • Discernment was needed know the Babylonian worldview – and to then NOT be influenced by it

A constant witness for God (1:3, 21)

  • God gave Daniel a particular ability, “Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.”. God said he would speak through dreams Numbers 12:1-8

“Daniel, during his tenure in the royal court in Babylon, fulfilled that function as God’s spokesman to the Gentiles.” Bible Knowledge Commentary