The king told Ashpenaz, head of the palace staff, to get some Israelites from the royal family and nobility
- young men who were healthy and handsome, intelligent and well-educated, good prospects for leadership positions in the government, perfect specimens! - and indoctrinate them in the Babylonian language and the lore of magic and fortunetelling.
The king then ordered that they be served from the same menu as the royal table - the best food, the finest wine. After three years of training they would be given positions in the king's court.
Four young men from Judah - Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah - were among those selected.
The head of the palace staff gave them Babylonian names: Daniel was named Belteshazzar, Hananiah was named Shadrach, Mishael was named Meshach, Azariah was named Abednego.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)