KING Neb·u·chad·nezʹzar takes all the best educated Israelites away to Babylon. Afterward the king chooses from among them the most handsome and smartest young men. Four of these are the boys you see here. One is Daniel, and the other three the Babylonians call Shaʹdrach, Meʹshach and A·bedʹne·go.
Neb·u·chad·nezʹzar plans to train the young men to serve in his palace. After three years of training he will choose only the smartest ones to help him to solve problems. The king wants the boys to be strong and healthy while they are being trained. So he gives orders that his servants should give all of them the same rich food and wine that he and his family receive.
Look at young Daniel. Do you know what he is saying to Neb·u·chad·nezʹzar’s chief servant Ashʹpe·naz? Daniel is telling him that he does not want to eat the rich things from the king’s table. But Ashʹpe·naz is worried. ‘The king has decided what you are to eat and drink,’ he says. ‘And if you don’t look as healthy as the other young men, he may kill me.’
So Daniel goes to the guardian that Ashʹpe·naz has put in charge of him and his three friends. ‘Please put us to the test for 10 days,’ he says. ‘Give us some vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare us with the other young men who are eating the king’s food, and see who looks better.’
The guardian agrees to do this. And when the 10 days are up, Daniel and his three friends look healthier than all the other young men. So the guardian lets them continue to eat vegetables instead of what the king provides.
At the end of three years all the young men are taken to Neb·u·chad·nezʹzar. After talking to them all, the king finds Daniel and his three friends to be the smartest ones. So he keeps them to help him in the palace. And whenever the king asks Daniel, Shaʹdrach, Meʹshach and A·bedʹne·go questions or gives them hard problems, they know 10 times as much as any of his priests or wise men.