Article #6 of Daniel Series
And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes;
As we have just noted in our previous article #5, this also is fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah to Hezekiah. Two observations that we can make here are that Daniel may have been of the royal line “of the king’s (David) seed” and secondly, he would probably have been made a eunuch once in Babylon. This was a common practice because a conquering king would not want to have fertile chief advisers around the palace, for if they produced offspring they may conspire against the king and attempt to establish their own ‘royal’ line. It also meant that they were less likely to get distracted from their tasks by the king’s harem!
JIV NOTE: An inscription was found on a monument that is now in the Berlin, Germany museum confirming the person of Ashpenaz; the inscription reads: “Ashpenaz, master of the king’s eunuchs” – so once again confirming the historical accuracy of Daniel.
Children in whom was no blemish, but well favored, and skillful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.
The practice of carrying away the best and brightest of a conquered nation was a good strategic move. First, it meant that the losing kingdom or nation is robbed of its future leaders as Russian or Germany did to the Poles in WWII. Second, it would help to keep the conquered nation in subjection, knowing that its favorite sons were ‘hostages’ under the ruling regime. The ancient cultures knew that a wealth of a nation is not only its silver and gold but its youth; if the next generation were to be destroyed the empire would crumble. What a contrast to today where our youth are being systematically destroyed by the eroding of morals and a sense of accountability. Today we send our young people to the “humanist training camps” we call universities where morals and the fear of God are sucked out of them. Then we commission research agencies to try to discover why suicide among young people is so high, why teenage pregnancy is out of control, why violent crime is on the increase etc. etc.
Can we really be surprised when Evolution underpins almost all further education, teaching young people that we are here by chance, we are nothing more than animals and that there are no absolutes? Evolution is anti-God and anti-science. The Bible tells us that “the fool has said in his heart, ‘there is no God’” (Ps 14:1) and that “the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Rom 1:20) In other words, by the study of things that are made, i.e. science, we can clearly see that there is a God. This is what our young people need.
We read in Ecclesiastes 10:2 “The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left.” We teach – You decide.
And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.
They wanted these boys to be fit and healthy to serve the king as his advisors, so a three-year intensive preparation program was put in place. A three year training program had to include language studies. These boys spoke Hebrew, not Chaldean.
6 Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:
7 Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abed-nebo
Part of this training program was subtle indoctrination. By changing their names they would begin to dissolve the ties with their homeland and the remembrance of their God. With Babylonian names they would better fit into Babylonian culture and eventually this would become ‘home’. SIGNIFICAN NOTE: This merging into the culture and forgetting one’s past was a successful tactic for the Babylonians as can be seen in the fact that after the exile, only 59,000 Jews returned home; the rest had taken root in Babylon. They remained “scattered.” Those who return home are the Judean Jews who became the Judeans of Jesus’ time (N.T. accounts are of these we now collectively call Jews).
Daniel, whose name meant ‘my God is Judge’ became ‘may Bell protect you’. Hananiah meant ‘God is gracious’, he became ‘Alumin by Rah’; i.e. commanded or enlightened by Aku.
Mishael was ‘Who is like the Lord’, he became ‘Who is like Aku’. Azariah’s name was changed from ‘The Lord is my help/salvation to ‘The servant of Nebo’. Odd but true, we remember many movie stars by their character names, not the given names. Even they change their birth names to Hollywood names BEFORE they also become characters in a TV series.
How much this change of names influenced Daniel’s thinking can be seen in the fact that only once does Daniel call himself by this new name, and it only appears ten times in total in the book – including this occurrence. He uses His Hebrew name 75 times.
Our next verse tells us of Daniel’s resistance to change away from his Hebrew:
But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not [neither] defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself
What an incredible statement by a young teenage boy. And even more remarkable when one tries to picture the following:
A 14-16 year old Daniel and his friends leave Jerusalem and travel for weeks across desert terrain. Suddenly they see a city in the distance. As they get closer the scale becomes clear. This is a city that is 15 miles per side, walls that are 330ft high and 80ft thick – wide enough for the Babylonians to have chariot races around the walls – six a breast! 250 towers are around the walls; 80ft brass gates reflecting the sun and shining for miles around, and the infamous hanging gardens that were one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The Euphrates River ran through the city under the walls. Babylon had orchards and vineyards inside the city as well as grazing for the herds; all kinds of trees and foliage – in the middle of a desert! It was completely self-sustaining. A siege of Babylon could not succeed.
There were over 200 open alters throughout the city, 153 different temples including one that had an 8 mile perimeter. Another had a perimeter of 3 miles. One table from the temple of Marduch was 40ft long and 6ft wide made from pure gold. The city was about 225 square miles inside, which is about 4-5 times the size of London today.
Into all of this come these four young Hebrew boys. One can hear the taunts: ‘Don’t tell us about your God – He’s the one whose temple we have just ransacked in Jerusalem, and we’ve brought all of His golden cups and bowls and shields to put them in the temple of our gods – you better start worshipping our gods, they’re the ones with real power!’ ‘You don’t want to keep those Hebrew names either, people will make fun of you – being named after that God. You need new names that people here will respect. Daniel, what’s the use of being called ‘my God is Judge’ from now on you should be called ‘may Bell protect you’. Hananiah, there’s no point being called ‘God is gracious’, if He was, you wouldn’t be here would you! ‘You can be ‘Illuminated by Rah’. Mishael, people will laugh if they hear you being called ‘Who is like the Lord’, so why not be ‘Who is like Aku’ one of our gods. And Azariah, you need to rethink your name ‘The Lord is my help/salvation; after all you are not in Jerusalem but Babylon. You should be called ‘The servant of Nebo’. Now what would be the problem with eating a bacon sandwich? Or maybe an Oyster? After all Daniel was now a long way away from those who would disapprove, what harm would it do and who cared in Babylon anyway, everyone else would be doing it and no one would think less of him?
WHO IS LIKE THE LORD?
JIV: BUT…put these four names together as a statement we get: “Who is like the Lord. The Lord is my salvation. I am a servant of God. God is my judge.” Consider this as a personal statement and hidden message via names; something to remember daily.
This was the temptation facing these young teenage boys, yet we read: “He purposed in his heart ” This was not a spur of the moment decision but a way of life that Daniel was not
prepared to compromise for anyone or anything. As Joseph in Egypt had rejected the lust of the flesh for the sake of his God, so did Daniel. Purity was the key; but it is so easy to give in, one only needs to do it once and there’s no going back. May we too purpose in our hearts not to remember the meanings of these four teenagers names.
“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” (Romans 13:11-14)
“Who is like the God? God is my salvation. I am a servant of God. God is my judge.”
Now God had brought Daniel into favor and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs. “When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7)
Next week we pick it up at verse 10.