Daniel: Life in Babylon, Part 2

Can you imagine the trauma of a teenage boy being kidnapped from his wealthy home and transported to a foreign country?

This would be a traumatizing experience for any person — but as a teenager, it would have significant negative effects for the rest of his life.  

Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem and besieged it. Daniel 1:1 

The timestamp is 605BC. The location is Jerusalem of Judah. The scene is the upscale home of a Jewish family living in wealth and nobility. The education of their son was of high importance to the parents of Daniel. He had the nation’s best mentors, scholars, and priests attend to his education from a very early age. His studies were deep with a broad range of critical subjects including philosophy, mathematics, reason, rhetoric, and the sciences. But the foundation of all his learning was grounded in the Torah; the first five books of Moses.  

The details of the kidnapping are uncertain. Perhaps Daniel, fifteen to eighteen years old, was studying the Torah or the sciences or mathematics, etc. when the sanctuary of his home was invaded by Babylonian soldiers. I’m not sure what happened to his parents and family, but this young man, Daniel, was captured and taken to a foreign land.  


What would become of this victim of such tragic circumstances? 

Nebuchadnezzar was a shred king. He had developed a system of conquering foreign countries and importing the critical assets of the defeated countries spoil into his good use. Yes, I’m sure he imported livestock, gold, precious metals, and other hard goods. But the king also understood the value of choice human capital. 

The king ordered … to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the nobles, youths in whom was no defect, who were good-looking, showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge, and who had ability for serving in the king’s court; and he ordered him to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. Daniel 1;3,4. 

Nebuchadnezzar’s simple strategy was to capitalize on the education of these young men, hoping that they would become loyal to the crown and then lead the masses of common Jews to live peaceable within the boundaries of exile in Babylon. The king would continue their education (minus the Torah) and systematically brainwash them into the Babylonian culture. The intended outcome was for the youth to be loyal to Nebuchadnezzar and then use their leadership skills to effectively integrate the imported Jews into usefulness in Babylon. 

Daniel and the other noble youth were to be pawns for Nebuchadnezzar use. But first, he must undo their devotion to the Torah and the God of Israel and engage their loyalty toward him. 

The youth were pawns, but his plan was to brainwash them by treating them like princes. 

The king appointed for them a daily ration from the king’s choice food and from the wine which he drank, and appointed that they should educated three years, at the end of which they were to enter the king’s personal service. Daniel 1:5 

So, that’s the plan; Rich food and fine wine. Some things never change. Give a (young) man good food and a good buzz from fine wine and his heart will follow his benefactor like the water of a babbling brook flowing down a hillside into the valley. The youth are kidnapped and fear for their lives during a grueling transport from the comforts of their home to a strange and foreign country. They prepare themselves for the worst but instead find themselves in the palace of the king, fresh new clothes, given new names and placed before a banquet hall of the finest food and wine. The harsh treatment of the Babylonian soldiers has passed and the boys are now interacting with the wise men and nobles of the king. What a strange turn of events.

These nobles seem to care about them??? They are treating them well??? They give them gifts??? What is happening??? They asked, ‘are we prisoners or are we princes in this new land?’ 


What would you do? 

Daniel processes his current situation, taking in all the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of this head-turning scenario. The capture, the journey, the new home, new clothes, new mentors, new food, and wine … he processes it all in his well-educated mind, recalling especially the eternal principles and laws of scripture embedded and memorized in his mind; and then he makes a decision.  

This decision determines life and death and ultimately the course of his entire life. What did he do? More next time. 


Dear heavenly Father, this story of Daniel’s early life reminds us that we live in a foreign land where the rules and the customs of this country do not align with our rules and customs, as Christians. It sometimes feels that we have been kidnapped and placed into a land where morality is disdained, hatred for God is lived out in our media, our entertainment and social engagements, and the murdering of unborn children is an acceptable daily event. Just like Daniel, we live in Babylon. Grant us the wisdom and resolve of Daniel that we might also rise up and shine as Your light in this dark and foreign land. As you prepared Daniel by nourishing on the law of God, nourish us also with Your Word that we might live out scripture daily. Amen!