II Kin. 24:1-4; II Chron. 36:6, 7; Dan. 1:1-21
As Jehoiakim had formed an alliance with Egypt and had agreed to financial terms with Pharaoh, he had essentially placed Judah in submission to the Egyptians. However, that alliance had failed to endure against Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon and Jehoiakim became a vassal of Nebuchadnezzar. After three years, Jehoiakim rebelled against the Babylonian king—BIG MISTAKE! The Lord’s punishment that had been prophesied by various prophets for many years was beginning to take shape. Bands of Babylonians/Chaldeans, Syrians, Moabites and Ammonites raided Judah to remove them from His sight. Jehoiakim was carried off to Babylon in bronze fetters. Some of the articles from the house of God were placed in Nebuchadnezzar’s temple. However, the complete siege would take place years later.
Along with Jehoiakim, some of the youngest, brightest and handsomest young men of Judean royalty were taken to serve the king of Babylon. They were to be fed the choicest food and trained in the language and literature of the Chaldeans. At the end of three years of training, they would be brought before the king and examined for his service.
Four of those young men were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. As a show of Babylonian authority, their Hebrew names were changed to Babylonian names—Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego. Their Hebrew names had honored God, but the new names honored Babylonian gods. Unlike many of their fellow Judeans, those young men feared God and refused to defile themselves by eating of the king’s delicacies. They asked for vegetables and instead of wine, they requested water to drink. After a ten-day trial of vegetables and water, God’s providence allowed them to appear, “better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies.” Following the three years of training, they were selected to serve the king because of their superior wisdom and understanding.
“Thus, Daniel continued until the first year of King Cyrus.” (A period of about seventy years)