The Historical Division. Chapter 1-4 inclusive.
Jehoiakim’s Captivity. Chapter 1:1, 2.
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim came Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon unto Jerusalem and besieged it. The Lord gave the king into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God, which were carried into the land of Shinar and placed in the house of the god of the conquerors, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Chapter 1:3.
Ashpenaz, a master of the eunuchs, receives orders to present to the king a select number of the children of Israel fit to stand in the king’s palace. These were to be instructed in the learning and in the tongue of the Chaldeans. They were to be nourished three years with choice foods that at the end of this period of training they might enter upon the career of active service, as men in robust health. Among those selected were the four persons whose names are given above. Daniel was given the name of Belteshazzar; Hananiah, the name of Shadrach; Mishael, of Maeshash; Azariah, of Abednego.
Daniel resolves not to defile himself with the king’s meat, he makes known (his resolve to the prince of the eunuchs. The latter, fearing that his charges might not fare well on the menu of their own choosing, at first refused to yield. Daniel asked that he and (his three friends be placed on a trial menu for ten days. Food he wished for himself was pulse and water. If their countenance showed that the simpler food was not conducive to their health if as compared with the others they appeared under-nourished after the trial, they would hold their peace and eat whatever they must. He in charge consented to prove them ten days. At the end of the trial they appeared to be in better health than the others and were permitted to continue on the simpler fare.
The Lord shows these four Israelites favor for their loyalty to Him. He gave them learning, skill, knowledge, wisdom. To Daniel he gave understanding in all visions and dreams. These four Hebrews were presented to the king. An examination brought out that they were men of rare ability. There was none like them. As they stood before the king in the capacity of counselors, it appeared that they in the words of Scripture were ten times better than all the other magicians and astrologers of the realm. Daniel continued unto the first year of king Cyrus.
Chapter 2:1-13.—In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar’s spirit was greatly vexed by a dream he was unable to recall. Those supposedly having understanding of dreams, magicians etc., were summoned into the presence of the king and requested by him to reproduce what he had forgotten. The magicians are greatly troubled. They insist that they must hear the dream before they can show the interpretation. The king, however, is not to be moved. They shall do as requested; if not, they shall be cut in pieces and their houses reduced to a dung-hill. If, on the other hand, they can function as requested, great riches and honor will be theirs. The magicians continued to remonstrate with the king, repeating their plea. The king now charges them with practicing deceit. They would gain time because they see that the thing, that is, the decree, is gone from him. They have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before the king till the time be changed. Let them therefore tell the king his dream, then he shall know that they can show him the interpretation of it.
The Chaldeans reply that there is not a man on earth able to do the king’s request, that never before has a king asked a thing so utterly unreasonable from a magician. Only the gods can show it and they dwell not with flesh. The king was furious, and commanded that the wise men, all of them, be destroyed. Steps were immediately taken to execute the decree. Also Daniel and his fellows are sought for to be slain.
Daniel intimates to the captain of the king’s guard charged with the slaying of the wise men, that he can tell the king his dream. Daniel is sent for. If the king would give him time, he would tell him both the dream with! its interpretation. His request is granted. He and his three friends at his request earnestly petition God for the needed revelation. These (prayers were heard. The dream was revealed to Daniel in a night vision and he blessed God.
Again in the presence of the king, Daniel, in response to his lord’s question whether he was able to make known to him his dream, answered that the secret was revealed to him via the Revealer of secrets, namely God in heaven. He takes pains to assure the king that the secret was not revealed to him because of his superior wisdom, but solely because the king had to know.
Daniel tells the king what he (the king) saw in his dream: a great image with a terrible form,—an image with a head of fine gold, with breasts and arms of silver, with belly and thighs of brass, with legs of iron and with feet partly of iron and clay. The king was now told what he next saw; namely, a stone cut out without hands, that smote and break the image to pieces so that it became like chaff, carried away by the wind and found no more. But the stone filled the earth. Then Daniel reveals the interpretation. The golden head of the image was representative of the king with his power, strength and glory. After him shall arise an inferior kingdom. And thereupon a kingdom of brass and finally a fourth, a kingdom as strong as iron shall break in pieces and destroy. But the kingdom is of iron and clay and will therefore fall apart as clay and iron do not cleave together. In that day God shall set up a kingdom indestructible, eternal, end destructive of all the earthly kingdoms.
When Daniel had done with, speaking, the astonished king prostrates himself before Daniel’s feet and worshiped him, acknowledging his God as the God of Gods. He raises Daniel to the highest possible position of glory in his realm and heaped upon him gifts. At Daniel’s request, the three friends are also set by the king in high, places.