In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim1 king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar2 king of Babylon3 came to Jerusalem and besieged it.4
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And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried5 off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god.6
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Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility7--
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young men without any physical defect, handsome,8 showing aptitude for every kind of learning,9 well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king's palace. He was to teach them the language10 and literature of the Babylonians.
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The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine11 from the king's table.12 They were to be trained for three years,13 and after that they were to enter the king's service.14
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Among these were some from Judah: Daniel,15 Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.16
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The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar;17 to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.18
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But Daniel resolved not to defile19 himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.
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Now God had caused the official to show favor20 and sympathy21 to Daniel,
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but the official told Daniel, "I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink.22 Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you."
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Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah,
"Please test23 your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink.
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Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see."24
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So he agreed to this and tested25 them for ten days.
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At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.26
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So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.27
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To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding28 of all kinds of literature and learning.29 And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.30
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At the end of the time31 set by the king to bring them in, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar.
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The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king's service.32
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In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians33 and enchanters in his whole kingdom.34
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And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.35
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