In order to get background on the book of Daniel, would suggest the readers go through the historic background on the book of Daniel.
The great man Daniel in all probability would know the prophecy of Isaiah foretold approximately 110 years ago to King Hezekiah.
17 The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your predecessors have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the LORD.
18 And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” – 2nd Kings 20:17,18
Verse 18 specifically proclaims Daniel’s present condition in Babylon. The pride of his forefathers combined with their disobedience against God and unreasonable war with Neco II by his king Josiah accelerated his exile to Babylon.
Daniel also knew the prophecy of Jeremiah (Dan 9:1,2). This is the prophecy of Jeremiah:
12 ‘But when the seventy years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians, for their guilt,’ declares the LORD, ‘and will make it desolate forever. – Jeremiah 25:12.
Neco II conquered Judah in the year BC 608. If we add 70 years to it, it will be BC 539 (including BC 608). In BC 539 the army of Cyrus conquered Babylon and Chaldean empire came to end. Nobody would have expected great Babylon would fall apart within 25 years after the death of Nebuchadnezzar. The Jews were offered freedom to go back to Jerusalem in BC 538 under Persian rule. Daniel probably was the old man by then. But he was alive to see the post-exilic period and there was no record of Daniel going back to Jerusalem in the bible.
Journey to Babylon:
The travel from Jerusalem to Babylon should have been tough for Daniel and his friends, which is approximately 1,200 km if the Babylonian army would have taken a straight path in North-East direction and try to cut across the deserts of modern-day Jordon, and Iraq. This is highly improbable considering the extreme weather condition and limited water supply for the entire army. The other option is going back to Carchemish (Modern day Karkamis in Turkey) by going north and then take the south-east direction towards Babylon. This route will have better water and food supply compare to previous one. But this will be approximately 2,000 KMs, which is 800 Kms more than the previous option.
Option 1 : Jerusalem to Babylon - Direct Route
Option 2 : Jerusalem to Babylon via Carchemish (Modern Day - Karkamis, Turkey)
Nebuchadnezzar stored the articles of the temple carried from Jerusalem in the temple of Babylonian God. Babylonians worshiped Marduk.
Selected for King’s work
In BC 605 (same year Nebuchadnezzar conquered Israel) the king of Babylon and father of Nebuchadnezzar, Nabopolassar died. After Nebuchadnezzar was back in Babylon from his conquest he was appointed as the King of Babylonian empire.
Now Nebuchadnezzar wanted to add talented men from Israel into his royal service (Dan 1:3). His intention was to add some fresh blood on top of the list of wise men he already inherited from his father. He came up with the seven qualification criteria for his selection. 1. From the royal family, 2. Young men without defect 3. Handsome 4. Showing aptitude 5. Well informed 6. Quick to Understand 7.Qualified to serve in King’s palace. Once selected candidates should go through three years of training.
We need to keep in mind, Chaldean's were known for their skills in writing, math and astronomical science. They calculated the span of the year to the accuracy of minutes without any advanced equipment. Daniel and his friends once selected will have access to the wealth of knowledge Chaldean's have generated over the time and meticulously documented. But first, they must learn Aramaic language, which is the official language during those days.
The idea behind assigning the portion of food in King's table, teaching them local language and changing their name is to transform them from Judeans as Babylonians. Once Daniel and his friends were selected based on the criteria set by Nebuchadnezzar their names were changed. Daniel, God is my Judge was changed to Belteshazzar. Bel or Marduk is the Babylonian God. Daniel’s name was changed according to the Babylonian God. Nebuchadnezzar confirms it - He is called Belteshazzar, after the name of my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him. Dan 4:8.
Hananiah means The Lord shows grace. His new name Shadrak means Command of Aku (local God). Mishael means Who is what God is? His new name Meshach means Who is what Aku is? Azariah means the Lord helps. His new name Abednego means servant of Nego.
Babylonians made all attempts to change the identity, language, culture and food habits of Daniel and his friends to make sure they become loyal to Babylonian royal court.
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