When Nebuchadnezzar took the princes of Judah to Babylon, he put a court official named Ashpenaz in charge of them. Nebuchadnezzar told Ashpenaz to find the healthiest and the smartest young boys among them. These young boys would be trained for three years. The training would prepare them to be important officials in Babylon. The boys had to learn to read, write, and speak the Akkadian language of Babylon. They were also expected to eat the same kind of food that the king and his court ate. Four of these boys were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Ashpenaz gave them new Babylonian names: Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Would this education cause them to stop serving Jehovah?
These four boys were determined to obey Jehovah. They knew that they should not eat the king’s food because Jehovah’s Law said that some of it was unclean. So they said to Ashpenaz: ‘Please do not make us eat the king’s food.’ Ashpenaz told them: ‘If you don’t eat and the king sees you looking sick, he will kill me!’
Daniel had an idea. He said to their guardian: ‘Please give us only vegetables and water for ten days. Then compare us with the boys who eat the king’s food.’ The guardian agreed.
After the ten-day test, Daniel and his three friends looked healthier than all the other boys. Jehovah was pleased that they had obeyed him. He even gave Daniel the wisdom to understand visions and dreams.
When the training was finished, Ashpenaz brought the boys to Nebuchadnezzar. The king spoke with them and saw that Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were more intelligent and alert than all the other boys. He chose these four to work in his royal court. The king would often ask them for advice on important matters. Jehovah had made them wiser than all the king’s wise men and magicians.
Even though they were in a foreign land, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah did not forget that they were Jehovah’s people. Will you too always remember Jehovah, even when your parents are not with you?
“Never let anyone look down on your youth. Instead, become an example to the faithful ones in speaking, in conduct, in love, in faith, in chasteness.”—1 Timothy 4:12