Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Daniel, Chapter 1: Jewish Integration Courses

King Nebuchadnezzar, whom you will remember from every book since 2 Kings as the guy who sacked Jerusalem, orders his chief eunuch to find the best and brightest of his new Jewish captives and bring them to the palace so they can learn all about Babylon and hopefully convince their people to stop whinging on about being conquered and taken from their homelands. Good luck.

Our story focuses on 4 of them: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, all of whom are given Babylonian names: unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego (v. 7). Oddly none of these except Daniel is currently in widespread use, except perhaps in certain Israeli sects.

Daniel, of course, being a prophet, decides not to join the cause and refuses to eat the king's meat or drink his wine. Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs (v. 9) which you can interpret as you will. I personally will go with Hoyay!. But the eunuch is still worried that the king will see a bunch of ugly, starving people, and won't be happy. Daniel proposes a test: give him and his friends beans and water to drink for 10 days and see who looks healthier at the end.

Somehow the vegans end up looking fairer and fatter (v. 15) despite how they normally look skinny and self-righteous and so they're allowed to continue their annoying lifestyle. Daniel is soon visited with hunger hallucinations visions and dreams and when King Neb finally calls on him, he finds him ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm (v. 20) though of course we are given no indication of how.

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