Daniel Taken to Babylon
1Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and surrounded it with his army. This happened during the third year that Jehoiakim was king of Judah. 2The Lord allowed Nebuchadnezzar to capture Jehoiakim king of Judah. Nebuchadnezzar also took some of the things from the Temple of God. He carried them to Babylonia and put them in the temple of his gods.
3Then King Nebuchadnezzar gave an order to Ashpenaz, his chief officer. He told Ashpenaz to bring some of the men from Judah into his house. He wanted them to be from important families. And he wanted those who were from the family of the king of Judah. 4King Nebuchadnezzar wanted only healthy, young, Israelite men. These men were not to have anything wrong with their bodies. They were to be handsome and well educated. They were to be able to learn and understand things. He wanted those who were able to serve in his palace. Ashpenaz was to teach them the language and writings of the Babylonians. 5The king gave the young men a certain amount of food and wine every day. That was the same kind of food that the king ate. They were to be trained for three years. Then the young men would become servants of the king of Babylon. 6Among those young men were some from the people of Judah. These were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.
7Then Ashpenaz, the chief officer, gave them Babylonian names. Daniel’s new name was Belteshazzar. Hananiah’s was Shadrach. Mishael’s was Meshach. And Azariah’s new name was Abednego.
8Daniel decided not to eat the king’s food and wine because that would make him unclean. So he asked Ashpenaz for permission not to make himself unclean in this way.
9God made Ashpenaz want to be kind and merciful to Daniel. 10But Ashpenaz said to Daniel, “I am afraid of my master, the king. He ordered me to give you this food and drink. If you don’t eat this food, you will begin to look worse than other young men your age. The king will see this. And he will cut off my head because of you.”
11Ashpenaz had ordered a guard to watch Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 12Daniel said to the guard, “Please give us this test for ten days: Don’t give us anything but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13Then after ten days compare us with the other young men who eat the king’s food. See for yourself who looks healthier. Then you judge for yourself how you want to treat us, your servants.”
14So the guard agreed to test them for ten days. 15After ten days they looked very healthy. They looked better than all of the young men who ate the king’s food. 16So the guard took away the king’s special food and wine. He gave Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah vegetables instead.
17God gave these four men wisdom and the ability to learn. They learned many kinds of things people had written and studied. Daniel could also understand all kinds of visions and dreams.
18The end of the three years came. And Ashpenaz brought all of the young men to King Nebuchadnezzar. 19The king talked to them. He found that none of the young men were as good as Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. So those four young men became the king’s servants. 20Every time the king asked them about something important, they showed much wisdom and understanding. He found they were ten times better than all the fortune-tellers and magicians in his kingdom. 21So Daniel continued to be the king’s servant until the first year Cyrus was king.