1:1 In the a third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.
The Argument - The great providence of God, and his singular mercy towards his Church are set forth here most vividly, who never leaves his own destitute, but now in their greatest miseries and afflictions gives them Prophets, such as Ezekiel and Daniel, whom he adorned with special graces of his Holy Spirit. And Daniel above all others had most special revelations of such things as would come to the Church, even from the time that they were in captivity, to the last end of the world, and to the general resurrection, as of the four Monarchies and empires of all the world, that is, of the Babylonians, Persians, Grecians, and Romans. Also of the certain number of the times even until Christ, when all ceremonies and sacrifices would cease, because he would be the accomplishment of them: moreover he shows Christs office and the reason of his death, which was by his sacrifice to take away sins, and to bring everlasting life. And as from the beginning God always exercised his people under the cross, so he teaches here, that after Christ is offered, he will still leave this exercise to his Church, until the dead rise again, and Christ gathers his own into his kingdom in the heavens. 1:2 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 b Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.
(a) Read ( 2 Kings 24:1 ; Jeremiah 25:1 ).
(b) Which was a plain by Babylon, where the temple of their great god was, and is here taken for Babylon. 1:3 And the king spake unto c Ashpenaz the master of his d eunuchs, that he should bring [certain] of the children of Israel, and of the e kings seed, and of the princes;
(c) Who was as master of the guards. 1:4 Children in whom [was] no blemish, but well f favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as [had] ability in them to stand in the kings palace, and whom they might teach the g learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.
(d) He calls them "eunuchs" whom the King nourished and brought up to be rulers of other countries afterwards.
(e) His purpose was to keep them as hostages, and so that he might show himself victorious, and also by their good entreaty and learning of his religion, they might favour him rather than the Jews, and so to be able to serve him as governors in their land. Moreover by this means the Jews might be better kept in subjection, fearing otherwise to bring hurt upon these noble men.
(f) The King required three things: that they should be of noble birth, that they should be intelligent and learned, and that they should be of a strong and handsome nature, so that they might do him better service. This he did for his own benefit, therefore it is not to praise his liberality: yet in this he is worthy of praise, that he esteemed learning, and knew that it was a necessary means to govern by. 1:5 And the king appointed them a h daily provision of the kings meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them i three years, that at the end thereof they might stand k before the king.
(g) That they might forget their own religion and country fashions to serve him the better to his purpose: yet it is not to be thought that Daniel learned any knowledge that was not godly. In all points he refused the abuse of things and superstition, insomuch that he would not eat the meat which the King appointed him, but was content to learn the knowledge of natural things.
(h) That by their good entertainment they might learn to forget the mediocrity of their own people. 1:7 Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs l 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.
(i) With the intent that in this time they might learn both the manners of the Chaldeans, and also their language.
(k) As well as to serve at the table as in other offices.
(l) That they might altogether forget their religion: for the Jews gave their children names which might always put them in remembrance of some point of religion. Therefore this was a great temptation and a sign of servitude, which they were not able to resist. 1:8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not m defile himself with the portion of the kings meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
(m) Not that he thought any religion to be in the meat or drink (for afterwards he did eat), but because the king should not entice him by this sweet poison to forget his religion and accustomed sobriety, and that in his meat and drink he might daily remember of what people he was from. And Daniel brings this in to show how God from the beginning assisted him with his Spirit, and at length called him to be a Prophet. 1:10 And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, n 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.
(n) He supposed they did this for their religion, which was contrary to the Babylonians, and therefore in this he represents those who are of no religion: for neither would he condemn theirs, nor maintain his own. 1:12 Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, o ten days; and let them give us p pulse to eat, and water to drink.
(o) Meaning that within this space he might have the test, and that no man would be able to know about it: and thus he spoke, being moved by the Spirit of God. 1:15 And at the end of ten days their q countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the kings meat.
(p) Not that it was a thing abominable to eat dainty meats, and to drink wine, as both before and after they did, but if they would have by this been won to the King, and had refused their own religion, that meat and drink would have been accursed.
(q) This bare feeding and that also of Moses, when he fled from the court of Egypt, declares that we must live in such sobriety as God calls us to, seeing that he will make it more profitable to us than all dainties: for his blessing alone suffices. 1:17 As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning r and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all s visions and dreams.
1:18 Now at the t 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.
(r) Meaning in the liberal sciences, and natural knowledge, and not in the magical areas which are forbidden; ( Deuteronomy 18:11 ).
(s) So that he alone was a Prophet, and none of the others: for by dreams and visions God appeared to his Prophets; ( Numbers 12:6 )
1:21 And Daniel continued [even] unto u the first year of king Cyrus.
(t) Of the three years mentioned above as in ( Daniel 1:5 ).
(u) That is, he was esteemed in Babylon as a Prophet as long as that commonwealth stood.