BOOK OF DANIEL – The Four Scholars

Posted by on Apr 6, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on BOOK OF DANIEL – The Four Scholars

The Four Scholars

The opening portion of our next passage of Scripture is the beginning of the three year period in which Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah are to undertake their studies. Daniel 1:17-21 tells us, “As for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom; Daniel even understood all kinds of visions and dreams. Then at the end of the days which the king had specified for presenting them, the commander of the officials presented them before Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with them, and out of them all not one was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s personal service. As for every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king consulted them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and conjurers who were in all his realm. And Daniel continued until the first year of Cyrus the king.” (NASB)

You could say these four young men were the summa cum laude of their class. Again, this was not of their own doing but, as the Scripture says, God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom. It appears Daniel was given an extra portion of God’s blessing in that he was able to understand all kinds of visions and dreams. It is important to understand that God had earmarked Daniel for special service. His calling to do the work of God is not dissimilar to that of young Samuel. They were both very young when God marked them for His service. It should also be noted that Daniel’s unique ability amongst all of his peers did not mean he had the ability, at that time, to interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream which we read about in chapter two. It will be noted that only after earnestly praying to God did God and not Daniel interpret the dream. This should be a word of caution for all of us that whatever gifts God graciously provides us with, the source is Him and not us. As a result, we should not boast but give God the recognition and glory at all times.

 

From verse seventeen to verse eighteen we traverse the course of three years. It is likely that Daniel and his three friends are now approximately the age of twenty. The anxiety of Ashpenaz [the commander] in presenting his charges should not be lost. Nebuchadnezzar was expecting young men who were well versed to be placed in various positions in his kingdom. Anything short of success could have meant instant death. Like a student waiting to pass that final exam, the trepidation is somewhat increased when viewed by this Scripture. They were about to be grilled by the king. One can imagine the flurry of activity by Ashpenaz and his overseers amongst all of the young men days before this event, ensuring that everything go as planned.

The comment in the Scripture that “out of them all not one was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah” indicates that their intellect could not be matched. In fact, Nebuchadnezzar found that all four of them were “ten times better” than all of the magicians and conjurers who were in his realm. The phrase “ten times better” is more likely a reference to how the Bible references the number ten. In the Bible ten is signified by completeness or fullness. In this passage, it simply means that the young men’s accomplishments stood head and shoulders above anyone else. They had diligently studied everything and that resulted in a superior knowledge which, clearly, God had ordained. As a result, Nebuchadnezzar ordered them to enter into his service. What roles they specifically were assigned is not mentioned but, no doubt, their appointments saw them hold important offices.

 

Some may think Daniel chapter one has an unusual ending as it mentions Daniel continuing his service in the court of Nebuchadnezzar until the first year of Cyrus, the king, whom we will identify later in our study. There is nothing strange in this statement, for all it is doing is presenting a time stamp of Daniel’s life in captivity that extended to the full duration of Babylon’s reign as the then world power. Daniel was one of the first to be led away into captivity and he saw the first of many Jews returning to Jerusalem, as predicted by prophecy.