1During the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, attacked Jerusalem and surrounded it.
2The Lord allowed him to defeat King Jehoiakim, and also to remove some of the objects used in the Temple of God. He took them back to Babylon, to the house of his god, placing them in the treasury of his god.
3Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to take charge of some of the captured Israelites from the royal and noble families,
4“They are to be young men without any physical defect who are good-looking,” he said. “They must be well-educated, quick to learn, have good insight, and be well able to serve in the king's palace and be taught the literature and language of Babylon.”
5The king also provided them with a daily allowance of the same kind of rich food and wine he was served. At the end of their three years of education they would enter the king's service.
6Among those chosen were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, from the tribe of Judah.
7The chief eunuch gave them new names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego.
8However, Daniel made up his mind not to make himself impure by eating the king's rich food and wine. He asked the chief eunuch to allow him not to make himself impure.
9God had helped Daniel to be viewed with kindness and sympathy by the chief eunuch.
10But the chief eunuch told Daniel, “I'm afraid of what my lord the king would do to me. He's the one who decided what you should eat and drink. What if he were to see you looking pale and sickly compared to the other young men of your age. Because of you the king would have my head!”
11Daniel then spoke with the guard that the chief eunuch had put in charge of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
12“Please put us, your servants, to the test and just give us vegetables to eat and water to drink for ten days,” Daniel told him.
13“After that, compare us with those young men who ate the king's rich food. Then decide on the basis of what you see.”
14The guard agreed to the proposal they made and tested them for ten days.
15When the ten days were up they looked healthier and better fed than all the young men who had eaten the king's rich food.
16After that the guard didn't give them the rich food and wine, just vegetables.
17God gave these four young men the ability to learn and understand in all areas of literature and knowledge, while Daniel was also given the gift of interpreting all kinds of visions and dreams.
18When their time of education ordered by the king was over, the chief eunuch brought all the young men before King Nebuchadnezzar.
19The king talked with them and none could compare with Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. So they entered the king's service.
20Whatever subject the king asked them about, everything that required wisdom of understanding, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.
21Daniel remained in this position until the first year of King Cyrus' reign.