Daniel 1:12 Index
Prove they servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.

"Prove thy servants... ten days"

  • This seems a short period of time in which to produce any appreciable change in appearance and physical vigor. But habits of strict temperance had already provided Daniel and his companions with fundamentally sound constitutions (PK 482) that responded to the benefits of proper diet. Their recuperation from the rigors of the long march from Judea was, without doubt, more pronounced than that of other captives who had not already formed abstemious habits. Now, in the case of Daniel and his three companions, divine power was united with human effort, and the result was truly remarkable (PP 214). The blessing of God attended the noble resolution of the youths not to defile themselves with the king's dainties. They knew that indulgence in stimulating foods and drinks would prevent them from securing the highest physical and mental development. (That) Melzar felt certain that "an abstemious diet would render these youth pale and sickly in appearance..., while the luxurious food from the king's table would make them ruddy and beautiful, and would impart superior physical activity" (CD 31), and he was surprised when the results were quite the opposite. (4BC)
  • God honored these young men because of their unswerving purpose to do what was right. The approbation of God was dearer to them than the favor of the most powerful earthly potentate, dearer even than life itself (CD 31). Nor had the firm resolution been born under the pressure of immediate circumstances. From childhood these young men had been trained in strict habits of temperance. They knew of the degenerating effects of a stimulating diet, and had long ago determined not to enfeeble their physical and mental powers by indulgence in appetite. The end of the period found them superior in physical appearance, physical activity, and mental vigor. (4BC)
  • Daniel did not refuse the viands of the king in order to be singular. Many might reason that under the circumstances there was plausible excuse for departing from strict adherence to principle and that consequently Daniel was narrow, bigoted, and too particular. Daniel sought to live at peace with all and to cooperate to the fullest extent possible with his superiors as long s such cooperation did not require him to sacrifice principle. When fealty to Jehovah was involved, he was willing to sacrifice worldly honor, wealth, position, yea, even life itself. (4BC)
  • A ten days' trial of this diet resulting favorable, Daniel and his companions were permitted to continue it during the whole course of their training for the duties of the palace. - (US)
  • In taking this step, Daniel did not act rashly. He knew that by the time he was called to appear before the king, the advantage of healthful living would be apparent. Cause would be followed by effect. Daniel said to Melzar, who had been given charge of him and his companions: “Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat and water to drink.” Daniel knew that ten days would be time enough to prove the benefit of abstemiousness.... Having done this, Daniel and his companions did still more. They did not choose as companions those who were agents of the prince of darkness. They did not go with a multitude to do evil. They secured Melzar as their friend, and there was no friction between him and them. They went to him for advice, and at the same time enlightened him by the wisdom of their deportment. (4BC 1167)
  • What is needed by our youth is an education like that which Daniel and his three companions gained. These faithful Hebrews were in important positions. They were placed where they must be careful to observe every principle of righteousness in order to bring others to an understanding of the principles of righteousness. It would not do for them to be lax. They could not afford to indulge appetite. They were to stand where they could, by their example, give proof of the importance of strict adherence to the principles of right living. To do this they were willing to place themselves under test and trial. Ten days was sufficient to prove that the diet they chose was a wholesome one, and that in adopting it they had made no mistake. The evidence which this experience gave to the authorities led them to have a higher opinion of these youth than of all the other students under their care. (Review & Herald article "A Lesson in Health Reform," February 10, 1920)
  • Daniel might have found a plausible excuse to depart from his strictly temperate habits; but the approbation of God was dearer to him than the favor of the most powerful earthly potentate,—dearer even than life itself. Having by his courteous conduct obtained favor with Melzar, the officer in charge of the Hebrew youth, Daniel made a request that they might not eat of the king's meat, or drink of his wine. Melzar feared that should he comply with this request, he might incur the displeasure of the king, and thus endanger his own life. Like many at the present day, he thought that an abstemious diet would render these youth pale and sickly in appearance and deficient in muscular strength, while the luxurious food from the king's table would make them ruddy and beautiful, and would impart superior physical activity.... Daniel requested that the matter be decided by a ten-days’ trial,—the Hebrew youth during this brief period being permitted to eat of simple food, while their companions partook of the king's dainties. The request was finally granted, and then Daniel felt assured that he had gained his case. Although but a youth, he had seen the injurious effects of wine and luxurious living upon physical and mental health.... At the end of the ten days the result was found to be quite the opposite of Melzar's expectations. Not only in personal appearance, but in physical activity and mental vigor, those who had been temperate in their habits exhibited a marked superiority over their companions who had indulged appetite. As a result of this trial, Daniel and his associates were permitted to continue their simple diet during the whole course of their training for the duties of the kingdom. (Review & Herald article "The Life of Daniel an Illustration of True Sanctification, January 25, 1881)
  • Daniel then appealed to Melzar, the officer in special charge of the Hebrew youth, requesting that they might be excused from eating the king's meat and drinking his wine. He asked that the matter be tested by a ten days’ trial, the Hebrew youth during this time being supplied with simple food, while their companions ate of the king's dainties.... Melzar, though fearful that by complying with this request he would incur the displeasure of the king, nevertheless consented; and Daniel knew that his case was won. At the end of the ten days’ trial the result was found to be the opposite of the prince's fears. “Their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat.” In personal appearance the Hebrew youth showed a marked superiority over their companions. As a result, Daniel and his associates were permitted to continue their simple diet during their entire course of training. (PK 483-484)
  • Besides a portion of his wine, the food apportioned them “from the king's table,” would include swine's flesh and other meats pronounced unclean by the law of Moses, and which the Jews were forbidden to eat. The Hebrew captives requested the officer who had them in charge, to grant them more simple fare. The officer demurred, fearing that such rigid abstinence as the young captives proposed would unfavorably affect their personal appearance, and thus bring himself into disfavor with the king. Daniel pleaded for a ten-day's trial. This was granted, and those youth were found at the expiration of that time to present a far more healthy appearance than those who had indulged in the king's dainties. Hence the simple “pulse and water” which they at first requested was thereafter supplied to Daniel and his companions. (Signs of the Times article "Daniel a Temperance Reformer," March 2, 1882)
  • With true courage and Christian courtesy, Daniel said to the officers who had charge over them: "Prove they servants..." It was no experiment with them; for they foresaw the result.... The officer hesitated. He feared that the rigid abstinence they proposed would have an unfavorable effect upon their personal appearance, and that, in consequence, they would lose favor with the king. The Hebrew children explained to the officer the effect of food upon the body; that overeating and the use of rich foods benumbs the sensibilities, unfitting mind and body for hard, stern labor. They urged most earnestly that they be allowed the simple diet, and begged that they be given ten-days' trial, that they might demonstrate by their own physical appearance at the end of that time the advantages of plain, nutritious food. The request was granted: for they had obtained favor with God and with men. It was an act of faith; there was no feeling of envy toward those who were eating of the king's meat. The minds of the four were filled with thoughts of love and peace, and they actually grew during those ten days. (SNH)
  • This record contains much of importance on the subject of health reform. In the experience of the four Hebrew children a lesson is given regarding the need of abstaining from all spirituous liquors, and from indulgence of perverted appetite. The position taken by these Hebrew youth was vindicated, and at the end of ten days they were found fairer in flesh and better in knowledge than all the rest whom the king was proving.... In this our day, the Lord would be pleased to have those who are preparing for the future, immortal life follow the example of Daniel and his companions in seeking to maintain strength of body and clearness of mind. The more careful we learn to be in treating our bodies, the more readily shall we be able to escape the evils that are in the world through lust.... There are many who believe that in order to be fitted for acceptable service, they must go through a long course of study under learned teachers in some school of the world. This they must do, it is true, if they desire to secure what the world calls essential knowledge. But we do not say to our youth, You must study, study, keeping your mind all the time on books. Nor do we say to them, You must spend all the time in acquiring the so-called higher education. Let us ask, What is the object of true higher education? Is it not that we may stand in right relation to God? The test of all education should be, Is it fitting us to keep our minds fixed upon the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus?... What is needed by our youth is an education like that which Daniel and his three companions gained. These faithful Hebrews were in important positions. They were placed where they must be careful to observe every principle of righteousness in order to bring others to an understanding of the principles of righteousness. It would not do for them to be lax. They could not afford to indulge appetite. They were to stand where they could, by their example, give proof of the importance of strict adherence to the principles of right living. To do this they were willing to place themselves under test and trial. (The Review and Herald article 'A Lesson in Health Reform' by Ellen G. White, February 10, 1910)
  • It is amazing to see again in the text the absence of any sort of pressure in Daniel's dealing with the royal officer. The ten-day period of testing Daniel proposed was short enough not to arouse suspicion yet long enough to reveal the effects of the new diet. (ZS 65-66)

"give us pulse to eat"

  • or food derived from plants. such as cereals and vegetables. According to Jewish tradition, berries and dates were also comprehended in the term. Since dates are a part of the staple food of Mesopotamia, they seem likely to have been included here. (4BC)
  • It is interesting to note what was included in Daniel's request for his diet. The Hebrew word, zeroim, here translated "pulse," is built on the same root word "seed" in the record of creation, where it mentions "every herb seeding seed," and again , the fruit of a tree seeding seed." (Genesis 1:29). This makes it clear enough that Daniel's request included grains, legumes, and fruits. Then, too, if we understand Genesis 9:3 correctly, the "green herb" itself must have been included in the diet requested. In other words, the menu for which Daniel asked and which he received was made up of cereals, legumes, fruits, nuts, and vegetables - a vegetarian diet of good variety, together with the universal drink for man and beast, clear water.... The "Cambridge Bible" has this note on zeroim: "vegetable food in general; there is no reason for restricting the Hebrew word used to leguminous fruits, such as beans and peas, which is what the term 'pulse' properly denotes." Genius gives this definition: "Seed-herbs, greens, vegetables, i.e., vegetable food, such as was eaten in a half fast, opposed to meats and the more delicate kinds of food." A ten days' trial of this diet resulting favorably, Daniel and his companions were permitted to continue it during the whole course of their training for the duties of the palace.(US)
  • It is interesting to note what was included in Daniel's request for his diet. The Hebrew word "zeroim" here translated "pulse,' is built on the same root as the word "seed" in the record of creation, where it mentions "every herb seeding seed," and again, the "fruit of a tree seeding see." (Genesis 1:29). This makes it clear enough that Daniel's request included grains, legumes, and fruits. Then, too, if we understand Genesis 9:3 correctly, the "green herb" itself must have been included in the diet requested. In other words, the menu for which Daniel asked and which he received was made up of cereals, legumes, fruits, nuts, and vegetables - a vegetarian diet of good variety, together with the universal drink for man and beast, clear water. - (US)
  • Most commentators point out that what Daniel requested was a diet of from from "things sown".... In other words Daniel requested a vegetarian diet that included vegetables, cereals, legumes, and also berries and dates. - (CMM)
  • Daniel is affirming that his God is the Creator and not the king. Thus his motivation is the same as the one implied in the Levitical laws of kosher: his faith in the Creator. Indeed, the dietary laws of clean and unclean meats also appear in the book of Leviticus in a way intended to remind the reader of the event of Creation in Genesis 1. Because Daniel cannot control the food sources, he wisely then chooses to be vegetarian, the safest way to keep kosher and also the most explicit testimony of his faith in the God of Creation. By doing so, Daniel speaks a more universal language designed to each the Gentiles who observe him at the table: his God is the God of Creation and therefore also their God. - (JBD 19)