“And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king.” 6 Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 7 To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego.”
And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and of the wine which he drank,
Nebuchadnezzar provided for the aristocratic young men from Judah the highest form of generosity. He gave consideration to their noble birth and training in Judah. There was no choice in what food they ate.
and three years of training for them,
The king allocated to these young men three years of education.
so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king
The rapid expansion of Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom needed more and better leadership. The king needed people of great capacity to fill administrative positions and governmental posts throughout his empire.
Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
Daniel does not reveal how many young men were inducted into the service of Nebuchadnezzar, but he does point out four.
To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego.
The meanings of the Hebrew names are clear, but the meanings of the Babylonian names are more conjectural.
“Daniel” means God is my judge. The name “Belteshazzar” included the name of the Babylonian god “Bel.” This was the name for the god Marduk or Nabu. Belteshazzar means Bel, protect the king.
“Hananiah” means Jehovah has been gracious. “Shadrach” is an Akkadian term meaning I am fearful, command of Aku. Aku is another Babylonian god.
“Mishael” means Who is what God is? The captors gave him the name Meshach, which means Who is what Aku is? I am despised, contemptible (from the Akkadian).
“Azariah” means Jehovah has helped. He was given the name “Abed-Nego,” which means the servant of Nebo (the god Nebo, who was the son of Bel). Nebo was the god of vegetation.
By giving these four young men these names, Ashpenaz hoped to eradicate Hebrew culture and inculcate Chaldean culture into their thinking. The names indicate that they were subject to the Chaldean gods. This was simply a brainwashing technique.
Inculcation of the Word of God will give the believer stability against false philosophy.
Studies in Chaldean culture did not daunt the convictions of the four Judean believers. The content of Chaldean culture contradicted those convictions, but they were able to stand on their beliefs.
These young men were able to study the Chaldean culture with academic excellence. Other godly men did the same: Moses learned the wisdom of Egypt (Ac 7:22), and Paul spoke before the Supreme Court of Athens (the Areopagus), even quoting from their own poets.
There is a great difference between God’s viewpoint on life and the viewpoint of the world. The viewpoint of God transcends the viewpoint of the world because the source is from eternity rather than time, from all-knowledge rather than specialized knowledge.