I had a great time going through Daniel 11 and recently tied things up with the 19th part that I posted here. In fact, I liked it so much that I thought I’d go back and start at the beginning and dissect each chapter of Daniel until we get through Daniel 12. Once done, I’d like to publish a separate book focusing on each chapter of Daniel. That means that all the individual articles I just published for Daniel 11 will go into one book and all articles for each successive chapter of Daniel will go into their own book. Of course, all articles will be published here first, but for those who want to have actual books, they’ll be available later.
Daniel is a phenomenal character for any number of reasons and someone who can help motivate us to go beyond ourselves to see where we should be. Though Daniel is long dead, his words live on because his work – inspired by the same Holy Spirit who inspired all other Bible authors – lives on and teaches us some very valuable lessons about God and our relationship with Him.
As we did when we focused on Daniel 11, we are going to break things down in Daniel 1 by verse or small sections. It’s more expositional that way and keeps things in context. Let’s start right at the beginning with Daniel 1:1-2.
“In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God; and he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god.” NASB
Right off the bat, we have a timeline and we can identify the major players. We note the names Jehoiakim of Judah and Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar came just after his father, Nabopolassar and led the Babylonian Empire, which immediately succeeded and absorbed the Assyrian Empire (and parts of Egypt).
“In 605 B.C., Prince Nebuchadnezzar led the Babylonian army of his father Nabopolassar against the allied forces of Assyria and Egypt. He defeated them at Carchemish near the top of the Fertile Crescent. This victory gave Babylon supremacy in the ancient Near East. With Babylon’s victory, Egypt’s vassals, including Judah, passed under Babylonian control. Shortly thereafter that same year Nabopolassar died, and Nebuchadnezzar succeeded him as king. Nebuchadnezzar then moved south and invaded Judah, also in 605 B.C. He took some royal and noble captives to Babylon (Dan. 1:1-3), including Daniel, plus some of the vessels from Solomon’s temple (2 Chron. 36:7). This was the first of Judah’s three deportations in which the Babylonians took groups of Judahites to Babylon. The king of Judah at that time was Jehoiakim (2 Kings 24:1-4).” 
The above information is confirmed from the facts of history as drawn from the biblical record. Because Nebuchadnezzar’s father, Nabopolassar gained the victory over Assyria and Egypt, Babylon became the supreme empire in that area of the world. This victory also put both Egypt and Judah under Babylonian control.
The verses above note that after gaining the throne, Nebuchadnezzar took what his father had done and extended his rule over Egypt and Judah and we learn that he went directly to Jerusalem in Judah and “besieged it.” Nebuchadnezzar went to Jerusalem a total of three times (as the text notes), each time taking either captives, treasures, or both. This is how Daniel (along with his friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego) wound up in the capitol of Babylon’s Empire, Babylonia (Babylon).
The area known as the “land of Shinar” is normally identified with part of Babylon and has its roots all the way back to Nimrod of Genesis 10 and 11. Notice also that the biblical text clearly states, “The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God…”
Why did God allow this? Simply because of Jehoiakim’s (and Judah’s) constant rebellion. While the area known as Judah lasted longer than the northern part known as Israel (though Judah is technically part of Israel), it still came to an end because of the corruption and rebellion of those who ruled. There were no good kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel after the nation split into two sections and only a few good kings of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Jehoiakim was not one of the good kings.
God was going to shake up Judah and purge its people. The underlying reason for this was directly due to the fact that the people had ignored God’s instructions concerning the Sabbath Year cycle. Every seven years, the Land was to lie fallow, the people were to forgive financial debts, and slaves were to be set free. These requirements were ignored 70 times. But since the Sabbath year comes only once every seven years, it turns out that Israel ignored 70 Sabbath year cycles over a period total of 490 years. It is within this context that Daniel 9 must be understood, where the word “weeks” is wrongly used instead of “sevens” to describe the length of God’s judgment. We will cover that in detail when we get to that chapter. For now, we’ll continue to focus on Daniel 1.
Here is the text for Daniel 1:3-4.
“Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of his officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the nobles, youths in whom was no defect, who were good-looking, showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge, and who had ability for serving in the king’s court; and he ordered him to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans.”
The king noted here is of course, Nebuchadnezzar. Captives had been taken from Jerusalem and brought back to Babylon. From there, Nebuchadnezzar decided that he didn’t simply want to keep prisoners. He wanted to put them to work, to see what they could accomplish for him and his kingdom. To that end, Nebuchadnezzar directs the chief of all of his officials to look through all the captives and choose the best ones. He was to find the most intelligent, most handsome individuals who were teachable, with leadership abilities, and find a place for them in Nebuchadnezzar’s court.
Note also that the king determined that these captives should be taught the language and literature of the Chaldeans. We can conclude from this that though it was God who gave the captives into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, it was Satan who wanted to get them as far away from Judaism as possible. Because of that, a new language and culture was to be forced on the captives. In reality, this was also likely something that God wanted because it provided Daniel with far greater understanding and allowed him to converse with the king directly later on.
It is fascinating though how one of the big aims of Satan has always seemed to be to get the Jews out of Israel and Judaism out of the Jewish people. It doesn’t seem to matter who the dictator or king is at the time either. The goal always seems to be the same. Make the Jewish people forget about their God and Judaism itself.
Interestingly enough, without realizing it, Daniel would soon find himself faced with the very first test that would force him to choose between the God of Israel and the king of Babylon. We’ll cover that next time.
 Dr. Thomas Constable’s Notes on Daniel (2015 edition), p. 1