Daniel 1:4 Index
"Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans."

"Children" (Isaiah 39:7)

  • The Hebrew word for children designates a wider range of age than does the English word for children. It is worth noticing in this connection that Xenophon, speaking of a later time, says that no young men could enter enter the service of the Persian kings before they had attained their 17th year. (Cyropaedia 1. 2). Daniel, had reached the age of 18 years. (4T 570). (4BC)
  • According to Xenophon, 16 or 17 was the age of adulthood, when princes entered upon the king's service. (TGB 8)

"no blemish"

  • Physical soundness and a handsome form were considered indispensable to officers of high rank among the ancient Orientals, and are considered highly desirable qualities in the modern East. (4BC)
  • In the Assyrian and Babylonian bas-reliefs, the king's attendants are always pictured with fine figures and beautiful features. There is every evidence that the Babylonians placed a high estimate on physical beauty and made it one of the requirements of all who stood in the king's presence and ministered to his needs. That was true in all Oriental kingdoms. Since these young Hebrews were chosen for their physical beauty as well as their abilities, they must have been fine looking young men with graceful forms and handsome features. The Lord made a similar requirement regarding the priests and Levities who were to minister in His temple. The Jews enumerated 400 physical blemishes any one of which disqualified a person from entering the priesthood. (TGB 8)
  • The young men were... eighteen years old, an ideal teachable age. The text discloses several criteria for their selection: family background, physical appearance, intellectual capabilities combined with readiness to learn quickly, and palace manners (etiquette). Physically, they had to be "no blemish." The Bible uses the same language to describe the priests and the sacrifices in the sanctuary (Leviticus 21:17-23; 22:18-25).... "Babylonian diviners were also expected to be 'without blemish in body and limbs' when they approached the gods."(ZS 54)
  • There is also a lesson for us to learn in the demand the king of Babylon made for perfection in the youth who should stand in his courts. They must be without blemish, well favored, skilful in wisdom, cunning in knowledge, and understanding science. If an idolatrous king should demand such excellence in those who were to stand before him, should not those who have a knowledge of the true God reach perfection of character and capability in his service? Those who expect one day to stand before the throne of the God of gods and Lord of kings, should live each day in such a way that the approval of God can rest upon them. They should seek daily to remove the blemishes in character that lead to sin, and bring into their lives the perfection of character that all must reveal who have a part in the kingdom of heaven. (The Youth's Instructor, October 29, 1907)

"skilful in all wisdom"

  • At the very beginning of his exile Daniel was found to be "skilful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning." (Daniel 1:4). Evidently he had already received considerable education as a Jewish student in the kingdom of Judah... Daniel guarded his life by studying the Word of God (Psalm 119:9)... From studying what he did have he knew how to distinguish between the true God of Israel and the false gods of Babylon... When God chose the Israelites to be Hi special witness, He asked Israelite parents to teach His Word diligently to their children. He told them to talk about it "when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise" (Deuteronomy 6:4-7). Later Moses explained: "The things that are revealed belong to us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law" (Deuteronomy 29:29). God wanted children to receive an education that was spiritual and God-centered, so that they would reflect to others the character of their wonderful God. (CMM)
  • Babylonian astronomers had carefully recorded eclipses and knew how to interpret and predict them. They'd introduced the economic concept of bills, promissory notes, receipts, letters of credit, even a system of checks. In fact, they'd already discovered the concept of compound interest, made possible, of course, by their mathematical acumen.... Babylon was also a world leader... in some other kinds of knowledge: magic, pagan mythology, not just astronomy but astrology, divination and sorcery. (DBS 9)
  • The wisdom component of the curriculum consisted of mathematics, astrology, and the interpretation of dreams. Divination and omen interpretation were two types of expertise that "required extensive education in the vast Babylonian omen literature." Royal servicemen included "scribes, advisors, sages, diplomats, provincial governors or attendants to members of the royal household." (ZS 53)
  • God commanded the Hebrews to teach their children His requirements, and to make them acquainted with all His dealings with their people. The home and the school were one. In the place of stranger lips, the loving hearts of the father and mother were to give instruction to their children. Thoughts of God were associated with all the events of daily life in the home dwelling. The mighty works of God in the deliverance of His people were recounted with eloquence and reverential awe. The great truths of God's providence and of the future life were impressed on the young mind. It became acquainted with the true, the good, the beautiful.... By the use of figures and symbols the lessons given were illustrated, and thus more firmly fixed in the memory. Through this animated imagery the child was, almost from infancy, initiated into the mysteries, the wisdom, and the hopes of his fathers, and guided in a way of thinking and feeling and anticipating, that reached beyond things seen and transitory, to the unseen and eternal.... From this education many a youth of Israel came forth vigorous in body and mind, quick to perceive and strong to act, the heart prepared like good ground for the growth of the precious seed, the mind trained to see God in the words of revelation and the scenes of nature. The stars of heaven, the trees and flowers of the field, the lofty mountains, the babbling brooks, all spoke to him, and the voices of the prophets, heard throughout the land, met a response in his heart.... Such was the training of Moses in the lowly cabin home in Goshen; of Samuel, by the faithful Hannah; of David, in the hill-dwelling at Bethlehem; of Daniel, before the scenes of the captivity separated him from the home of his fathers. Such, too, was the early life of Christ, in the humble home at Nazareth; such the training by which the child Timothy learned from the lips of his mother Eunice, and his grandmother Lois, the truths of Holy Writ. (FE 95-96)
  • Now can be seen the results of the home training. Pure food, clean thoughts, and physical exercise placed them on the list of "children in whom was no blemish, but well-favored." But what of their intellectual ability? They had not been educated in the schools of Jerusalem, mush less in those of Babylon. Was there not great danger that they lacked in the sciences or the essential branches? On examination, these four passed as "skilled in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science," and able to learn a difficult foreign language. God had fulfilled His promise in these children of the home schooled. (SNH 23-24)

"as had the ability in them to stand in the king's palace"

  • These captives were to "stand in the king's palace." The prophet Isaiah said they would be "eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon." (2 Kings 20:18; Isaiah 39:7). All the officers about the king's palace were called eunuchs whether they were literally so or not.... These youth had already demonstrated that they were capable of scientific and literary accomplishments. Being princes they had received the best education that the Judean court could give them, and they had been reared in a king's court and were acquainted with its customs and manners. (TGB 7, 8)

"whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans"

  • This term designates the members of the Aramaean tribe whose early settlement was in Lower Mesopotamia and who had taken over the rulership of Babylonia when Nabopolassar founded the Neo-Babylonian dynasty.
  • The term applies also to a class of scholars at the Babylonian court who were the foremost astronomers of their day . These scholars were equally proficient in other exact sciences such as mathematics, although they included magic and astrology in their activities.
  • All known scientific writings of that time were inscribed on clay tablets in cuneiform script in the Babylonian language. It must therefore be concluded that the "learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans" included a thorough training in the classical language and script of the country - that is, in the Babylonian language and in cuneiform writing - in addition to colloquial Aramaic.
  • Since proficiency in the cuneiform script, with its hundreds of characters, was not easy to acquire, a good educational background, a natural ability to learn easily, and the gift of picking up a new language readily would be deemed desirable prerequisites for acceptance into the royal school for future courtiers (PK 480). (4BC)
  • At that time Nebuchadrezzar conquered the whole area of the Hatti-country [Hamath]. For twenty-one years Habopolassar had been king of Babylon. On the 8th of the month of Ab [August] he died; in the month of Elul [September] Nebuchadrezzar returned to Babylon and on the first day of the month Elul he sat on the royal throne in Babylon.... Nebuchadnezzar, the crown prince who commanded the Babylonia army, left the captives in the hands of his generals and hurried back to Babylon, taking the shortcut across the desert.... The regular trade route to Babylon taken by the captives went north of Jerusalem toward the cities or Riblah and Hamath. It then followed the river Euphrates southeastward, a trip totaling more than 800 miles. (ZS)
  • The language component of the curriculum most likely included Akkadian, which was a Semitic language. Akkadian was written in wedge-shaped characters on clay tablets that were either dried in the sun of baked in a kiln to harden them. The curriculum also included Sumerian. the traditional language of religion in Babylon. And most importantly, the Hebrews would learn Aramaic, the international language of commerce and diplomacy. (ZS 53)
  • In view of Daniel's elevation to high government leadership, we may assume that he became more or less acquainted with all these techniques and subjects. The Bible specifically mentions that he became proficient in the "learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans." The "language" included (1) Akkadian, the national language of Babylon, (2) Sumerian, the language of traditional religion, and (3) Aramaic, the language of international commerce and diplomacy.... The reference to "letters" reminds us of the way these languages were written. As a child in Judah, Daniel had already learned to write Aramaic and also Hebrew, which was related to it. Both languages employed an alphabet and could be written with a pen or brush. The two languages to which he was introduced in Babylon, however, employed around 625 cuneiform characters and were usually written on clay tablets. (CMM)
  • The young men immediately entered the best Chaldean schools. It involved much more than merely a technical initiation to Babylonian literature and script. It required a minimum of three languages to function as a scribe: Sumerian, the traditional sacred tongue written in cuneiform signs; Babylonian (or Akkadian), the national dialect of Semitic origin, also in cuneiform; and finally, Aramaic, the international language of business and diplomacy, written much like the letter forms that we encounter in modern Hebrew Bibles. The magical techniques of the Chaldeans were also an important part of the curriculum. Already the word "Chaldean" renders this function. Derived from the Babylonian root "kaldu" (or kashdu), it alludes to "the art of constructing astronomical maps," a specialty of the Chaldeans. The Babylonians were masters in astronomy. Ancient documents relate observations and even predictions of eclipses with remarkable precision (such as one in 747 B.C.). But this science had another goal than the mere determination of astronomical movement. Ultimately, what such celestial scanning sought was to be able to predict the future. The Chaldean astronomer was above all an astrologer. Today's horoscope tradition traces back to Babylonian times. It was the Babylonian's belief, not unlike that of many of our contemporaries, that astral movement determined human destiny. The curriculum of the scribal apprentices thus essentially had a religious nature and was designed to turn the Hebrews into genuine Chaldean priests, experts in the science of divination. (JBD 16-17)
  • Not only the power, but the wisdom also of Nebuchadnezzar was exceedingly great. The king favored education, and during his reign Babylon was the educational center of the world. Every art and science was taught in the schools of Babylon. The wisdom of the ancients was made known to the students who sat at the feet of her magicians and wise men. They reveled in the study of astronomy and the higher mathematics. There were linguists who cold teach the languages of every nation. (SNH 32)
  • In acquiring the wisdom of the Babylonians, Daniel and his companions were far more successful than their fellow students; but their learning did not come by chance. They obtained their knowledge by the faithful use of their powers, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. They placed themselves in connection with the Source of all wisdom, making the knowledge of God the foundation of their education. In faith they prayed for wisdom, and they lived their prayers. They placed themselves where God could bless them. They avoided that which would weaken their powers, and improved every opportunity to become intelligent in all lines of learning. They followed the rules of life that could not fail to give them strength of intellect. They sought to acquire knowledge for one purpose—that they might honor God. They realized that in order to stand as representatives of true religion amid the false religions of heathenism they must have clearness of intellect and must perfect a Christian character. And God Himself was their teacher. Constantly praying, conscientiously studying, keeping in touch with the Unseen, they walked with God as did Enoch.... True success in any line of work is not the result of chance or accident or destiny. It is the outworking of God's providence, the reward of faith and discretion, of virtue and perseverance. Fine mental qualities and a high moral tone are not the result of accident. God gives opportunities; success depends upon the use made of them.... While God was working in Daniel and his companions “to will and to do of His good pleasure,” they were working out their own salvation. (Philippians 2:13). Herein is revealed the outworking of the divine principle of cooperation, without which no true success can be attained. Human effort avails nothing without divine power; and without human endeavor, divine effort is with many of no avail. To make God's grace our own, we must act our part. His grace is given to work in us to will and to do, but never as a substitute for our effort. (PK 486-487)
  • There is need of each one in every school and in every institution, being, as was Daniel, in such close connection with the Source of all wisdom, that his prayers will enable him to reach the highest standard of his duties in every line, that he may be able to fulfill his scholastic requirements not only under able teachers, but also under the supervision of heavenly intelligences, knowing that the All-seeing, the Ever-sleepless Eye was upon him. The love and fear of God was before Daniel, and he educated and trained all his powers to respond as far as possible to the loving care of the Great Teacher, conscious of his amenability to God. The four Hebrew children would not allow selfish motives and love of amusements to occupy the golden moments of this life. They worked with a willing heart and ready mind. This is no higher standard than every Christian may attain. God requires of every Christian scholar more than has been given him. Ye are “a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.” (1 Corinthians 4:9). (FE 230)
  • When the people of Israel, their king, nobles, and priests were carried into captivity, four of their number were selected to serve in the court of the king of Babylon. One of these was Daniel, who early gave promise of the remarkable ability developed in later years. These youth were all of princely birth, and are described as “children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them” (Daniel 1:4). Perceiving the superior talents of these youthful captives, King Nebuchadnezzar determined to prepare them to fill important positions in his kingdom. That they might be fully qualified for their life at court, according to Oriental custom, they were to be taught the language of the Chaldeans, and to be subjected for three years to a thorough course of physical and intellectual discipline. (SL 18)
  • I would not in any case counsel restriction of the education to which God has set no limit. Our education does not end with the advantages that this world can give. Through all eternity the chosen of God will be learners. But I would advise restriction in following those methods of education which imperil the soul and defeat the purpose for which time and money are spent. Education is a grand life work; but to obtain true education, it is necessary to possess that wisdom that cometh alone from God. The Lord God should be represented in every phase of education; but it is a mistake to devote a period of years to the study of one line of book-knowledge. After a period of time has been devoted to study, let no one advise students to enter again upon a line of study, but, rather, advise them to enter upon the work for which they have been studying. Let them be advised to put into practice the theories they have gained. Daniel pursued this course in Babylon. He put into practical use that which he had learned under tutors. Let students seek heavenly direction much more than they have done hitherto, and let them make no move, even though it be advised by their teachers, unless they have most humbly sought wisdom from God, and have received His guidance and counsel. (FE 351)
  • They were in the courts of Babylon to be educated. The king was desirous that their talents should be developed. These captives were placed on test for responsible positions in the courts of Babylon. They opened their minds to be taught of God, and closed their minds and hearts to every temptation and influence that would becloud the mind and corrupt the morals. And “God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams... And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.” (Daniel 1:17, 20). The God of Israel is a mighty working agent, and He works in behalf of every one who seeks to know and do his will. There is light always coming from heaven to those who seek for light and knowledge. We may get out of the channel of light if we choose, and place ourselves under influences that will separate us from righteousness, and thus meet with a terrible loss. But those that place themselves where they can catch the rays of divine light as they come from heaven, from the throne of God, will have light. God will never deny Himself. (The Bible Echo January 15, 1893)
  • Among those who maintained their allegiance to God were Daniel and his three companions—illustrious examples of what men may become who unite with the God of wisdom and power. From the comparative simplicity of their Jewish home, these youth of royal line were taken to the most magnificent of cities and into the court of the world's greatest monarch. Nebuchadnezzar “spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king's seed, and of the princes; children in whom was no blemish, but well favored, and skillful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace....Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.” (Daniel 1:3-6). Seeing in these youth the promise of remarkable ability, Nebuchadnezzar determined that they should be trained to fill important positions in his kingdom. That they might be fully qualified for their lifework, he arranged for them to learn the language of the Chaldeans and for three years to be granted the unusual educational advantages afforded princes of the realm. (PK 480)
  • If you would be strong, if you would have the integrity and wisdom of a Joseph or a Daniel, study the Scriptures. Parents, if you would teach your children to serve God and do good in the world, make the Bible your textbook. It exposes the wiles of Satan. It is the great elevator of the race, the reprover and corrector of moral evils, enabling us to distinguish between the true and the false. There is a rich mine of truth in this holy Book. (ST March 21, 1906)
  • International intrigues and rebellions were well known to young Daniel. When he and his royal companions were taken as hostages and made eunuchs in the service of the king of Babylon, it was no surprise but rather a fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy uttered a hundred years earlier. Habakkuk, a decade or more earlier, had expressed his deep concern that the Lord seemed to be doing nothing to thwart the rising power of the Chaldeans. He reminded the Lord that spoiling and violence occurred everywhere and that wicked armies compassed the righteous. (Habakkuk 1:2,3). But the Lord said to him: "Behold... I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you. For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breath of the land, to possess the dwelling places that are not their's." (Habakkuk 1:5,6). The prophet could not understand this. He wondered why it was permitted. But the Lord said He had "ordained them for judgment" and "established them for correction." (Habakkuk 1:12).... Habakkuk was shown that what was to happen was in the purpose of an all-wise God. He doubtless passed on this message to the young people in his classes; when Nebuchadnezzar arrived at the gates of Jerusalem, young Prince Daniel understood why. How greatly he prized the words of Isaiah, Micah, Habakkuk, Jeremiah, and the other prophets. If he did not actually have the writings, he knew the content of the prophets' message.(RAA 18)
  • In choosing the young men, the king asked for the three things the world considers most important: good looks, intelligence and great social graces. But God places spiritual characteristics above these three, Daniel and his friends had all four. (KC 25)
  • Nebuchadnezzar's Brainwashing Techniques 2 of 6: Second, teach them the language and literature of the Chaldeans would help them forget the heritage and beliefs they had been taught as children. These were young men who were still impressionable and now was the time to make the change. A good daily dose of paganism could wipe out the past. (KC 26)