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The Beginning of Gentile Dominion


“In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the House of the Lord: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god..” Daniel 1:1-2.

Jeremiah (25:8-11) places this captivity in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, Daniel in the third. This seeming discrepancy is explained by the fact that Nebuchadnezzar set out on his expedition near the close of the third year of Jehoiakim, from which point Daniel reckons, but did not accomplish the subjugation of Jerusalem till about the ninth month of the following year, and from this Jeremiah reckons.

After the “Confusion of Tongues,” and the scattering of the descendants of Noah at Babel. the nations of the earth were held in an unseen leash by God, and no one was permitted to conquer and subdue all the rest. It was God’s purpose to make the descendants of Abraham, the Hebrew Nation, the leading nation of the world, but their disobedience and idolatry prevented this. In B. C. 721, the “Ten Tribes” were carried into captivity to Assyria by King Sargon, and in B. C. 606, 115 years later, began the “Seventy Years Captivity” in Babylon, as foretold by the Prophet Jeremiah (J er. 25:11), of the remaining two Tribes, known as Judah.

While God had not, up to this time, permitted any one nation to be a world conqueror, yet there were certain great powers that were ambitious for that honor and were warring for supremacy. Among these nations was Babylon, that had already swallowed up Assyria. In B. C. 605, Pharaoh-necho, king of Egypt, marched against Babylon, and was overwhelmingly defeated by Nebuchadnezzar at the Battle of Carchemish on the west bank of the river Euphrates, as had been foretold by the Prophet Jeremiah. Jer. 46:1-26. The defeat of Pharaoh-necho by Nebuchadnezzar made Babylon the mistress of the world.

Nebuchadnezzar pursued Pharaoh-necho to Egypt, and having completely conquered Egypt, he marched against Jerusalem, and in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim (B. C. 605) he besieged it. All resistance was speedily overcome, the city was taken, King Jehoiakim was loaded with fetters and ready to be carried a prisoner to Babylon (2 Chron. 36:5-8), when Nebuchadnezzar, hearing of the death of his father, released King Jehoiakim and restored him to his throne, and hastened home to Babylon to claim his father’s throne. But he did not return empty handed. He plundered the Temple, and took away some of its golden vessels, and ordered Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to select from among the princes of royal and noble blood the most comely and intellectual of the Hebrew youths, and convey them to Babylon, that they might be instructed in the language and tongue of the Chaldeans.

Three years later Jehoiakim rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar, and the Lord sent neighboring bands of Chaldees, Syrians, Moabites and Ammonites to destroy Judah. 2 Kings 24:1-4. This continued for five years, when Jehoiakim died a disgraceful death (Jer. 22:17-19) and his son Jehoiachin reigned in his stead. But he only reigned three months, during which he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, when Nebuchadnezzar in B. C. 598 came the second time and besieged the city of Jerusalem and took it, and carried away Jehoiachin, and the princes, and all the mighty men of valor, even 10,000 .captives, and 1000 craftsmen and smiths, leaving only the poorest sort of people behind. 2 Kings 24:8-16. This is commonly called-“The Captivity,” because of the number and character of those carried away, but the “Seventy Years Captivity” began in B. C. 606, because it ran out at the “Fall of Babylon,” and the commencement of the reign of Cyrus, who issued the edict for the Jews to return to Jerusalem in B. C. 536.

Before departing with his captives, Nebuchadnezzar made the uncle of Jehoiachin king, and changed his name to Zedekiah. But he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, and rebelled against the king of Babylon, and in the ninth year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar again besieged Jerusalem, and after two years took it (B. C. 587) and destroyed the Temple and the city, and from that time the Jewish Nation ceased to exist. 2 Kings 24:17-20; 25:1-21. This is called “The Desolations,” because of the desolate condition in which it left the city and the land for seventy years, as foretold by Jeremiah. Jer. 25:11. When Nebuchadnezzar became king in B. C. 606, the “Times of the Gentiles” began. His Kingdom was the first “Worldwide Empire” the world had ever seen.


“And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes; children in whom was no blemish, but well favored, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans .... Now among these were of the Children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah. Mishael, and Azariah: unto whom the ‘Prince of the Eunuchs’ gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of ‘Belteshazzar;’ and to Hananiah, of ‘Shadrach;’ and to Mishael, of ‘Meshach;’ and to Azariah, of ‘Abed-nego.’” Dan. 1:3-4, 6-7.

The Prophet Isaiah said to King Hezekiah –

“Hear the word of the Lord of Hosts: behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away: and they shall be EUNUCHS in the palace of the King of Babylon.” Isa. 39:5-7.

We see from this Scripture that the four Hebrew captives, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, as they were of royal blood, were descendants of the good king Hezekiah, and that they were made EUNUCHS. This is confirmed by the fact that they were turned over to the “Prince of the Eunuchs,” who changed their names, and who had supervision over them for three years. The name of Daniel (God is my Judge) was changed to “Belteshazzar” (Whom Bel favors); Hananiah (Beloved of the Lord) to “Shadrach” (Illumined by the Sun-God); Mishael (Who is as God) to “Meshach” (Who is like Venus); and Azariah (the Lord is my help) to “Abed-nego” (The servant of Nego). The purpose in changing their names was to wean them away from their land and religion, and get them to adopt the religion and habits of the heathen nation where their future was to be spent.

But changing a man’s name does not change his character, and these young men had been too deeply rooted in the religion and faith of their own nation to adopt the practices of a heathen nation. There is a striking similarity between the experience of Joseph in Egypt and of Daniel in Babylon. Both were Hebrews. Both were prisoners in a strange and heathen land. Both were dreamers, and revealers of dreams. The moral character of each was severely tested. That of Joseph in the house of Potiphar (Gen. 39:1-23), and that of Daniel in the king’s palace. These tests were especially severe on account of their age at the time. They were both about twenty. But both stood firm. Both were a great blessing to the homes where they dwelt, and both were raised to positions of great honor. The secret was their loyalty to their God.

The testing for Daniel and his companions was along the line of their religion. They were commanded to he fed with royal dainties and wine from the King’s table.

“And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.” Vs.5.

Now such fare, and from such a source, would be very attractive and appetizing for youths of a carnal nature, and they could have congratulated themselves that they had been selected for such an honor, and that they were to spend their lives in the midst of the comforts, luxuries, and pleasures of Babylon. There were many excuses they might have made to each other, such as that they were captives and must obey, or that they must comply with the customs of the country, for to disobey would cost them the favor of the king, and interfere with their advancement, and might even cost them their lives, which danger three of them actually did face when they were cast into the “Burning Fiery Furnace.” They knew to refuse the food would make them appear singular, and expose them to criticism and ridicule, but they felt that for them there could be no compromise. For they knew that the meat from the King’s table would at times be of a kind forbidden by the Law of their God. as swine’s flesh (see Lev. 11:1-47) ; or it might be meat from which the blood had not been drawn (Lev. 17:10-14); or it might be meat that had first been offered to an idol, and to eat of which might be looked upon as approving the religious customs of Babylon (1 Cor. 8:1-13), and cause them to be ceremonially defiled. There was therefore but one course to pursue, and in it Daniel was supported by his three companions, and so we read –

“But Daniel purposed in his HEART that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the ‘Prince of the Eunuchs’ that he might not defile himself.” Vs. 8.

Daniel knew that he could only be defiled by his own act. Therefore he purposed in his heart not to defile himself. It was the crisis in his life, which was safely passed, otherwise we probably would never have heard of him again. We next read that God honored his loyalty by preparing in advance a way of deliverance.

“Now God had brought Daniel into favor and tender love with the Prince of the Eunuchs. And the Prince of the Eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king.” Vs. 9-10.

To this Daniel had a courteous reply. He did not assume a sanctimonious air, nor make a blatant display of his religious views. He made no assault on the Chaldean religion and the worship of idols, but in a frank and courteous manner made his request –

“Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the Prince of the Eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenances of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.” Vs. 11-13.

This was a fair test. Daniel did not want to get the “Prince of the Eunuchs” into trouble and cause him to lose his head, and so he arranged the matter in this way satisfactorily with Melzar the Steward. Ten days was sufficient time to prove whether “pulse and water” would keep them in good condition.

“So he (Melzar the Steward) consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days. And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat. Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.” Vs. 14-16.

What was the outcome of the test?

“As for these four children, GOD gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” Vs. 17.

Like Joseph and Moses, Daniel and his companions received their training in the palace of a king. They were chosen from among others to learn the language and literature of the Chaldeans, so as to act as wise men and councillors at court. There was nothing wrong in that. There is nothing in the Christian religion that forbids the acquisition of knowledge, or the study of the sciences, although it is a pathway beset with temptations that may lead to a loss of faith in God and His Word, but in Daniel’s case there were no bad results. The fact that Daniel and his companions underwent a three-year course of instruction implies that there was a “Palace School” or “National University” for the instruction and training of youth of noble descent, and that such were fed from the King’s table, and therefore the school could not have been far away from the Palace, and that the special subject of study was the literature and language of a certain people called Chaldeans. Now we know from the clay libraries of Nineveh and Babylon that the Chaldeans were a learned people. They had made great advances in grammar, mathematics, astronomy, and the sciences. We must not forget that Babylon was located on the site of Babel, and that the people of Babel inherited all the skill and wisdom of the Antediluvians, who were the inventors of musical instruments, and skilled workers in iron. (Gen. 4:20-22.)

“Now at the end of the days (three years) that the king had said he should bring them in, then the Prince of the Eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them TEN TIMES better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.” Vs. 18-20.

There is a beautiful lesson for us in all this. Daniel and his companions had no hope of returning to their native land, at least not for seventy years, and they had every reason for falling in with the customs of the land. They did not act as they did because they foresaw that the end would be prosperity, they had every reason to expect the reverse, yet the outcome was that Daniel was made the “Chief of the Governors” over all the wise men of Babylon (Dan. 2:48), and the counsellor of Belshazzar, and “Prime Minister” under Darius. Let us like Daniel live


As Christians we find ourselves captives in the Babylonian life of worldliness and pleasure that surrounds us, and many of us instead of being transformed are conformed to this world. We have fallen in with the spirit of this “Present Evil Age,” and are living a life of “Compromise,” the outcome of which is a life of powerlessness and spiritual barrenness, the result of which is we have no “dreams” or “visions” of the things that God is waiting to reveal to us out of His Holy Word. Let us dare to be a Daniel in these days of Babylonian worldliness.


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