HAVE YOU WONDERED: Daniel’s dormitory dining hall dilemma

Russ Whitten

In the year 605 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, besieged Jerusalem and took some of the brightest young men from Israel back to serve in his palace.

Daniel 1:4-5 tells us, “(Nebuchadnezzar) was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians." The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king's table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king's service.

These young men would, in effect, receive an all-expense paid (including food and lodging), three-year academic scholarship to King’s College University of Babylon.

Russ Whitten

One of these young men was named Daniel. It is estimated that Daniel was about 16 years old at the time of his capture. Here was a young man taken to a foreign, pagan land with an entirely different culture, language and belief system.

The Babylonian religion, historians tell us, came complete with idol worship, wild drunken feasts, and religious celebrations with all the excesses of sexual sin you can imagine.

So, you can see, Daniel was not in Kansas anymore. For this young man, temptation was everywhere around him.

Just try to imagine how overwhelming all this must have been for Daniel and his friends. He had been suddenly catapulted from a small, monotheistic city into this vast, modern, humming, upbeat, impressive city.

Nebuchadnezzar’s plan was to take the finest minds, brightest of the nations that he had conquered — the cream of the crop, and “denationalize them, teach them a new religion, and infiltrate Babylonism into them just at their most impressionable age. They were to be treated as kings. They were to live in the king’s palace, eat the king’s meat and drink the king’s wine. They were to be treated with the best education and even their names were to be changed to fit the new religion they were bound to adopt sooner or later.

We can easily see what Nebuchadnezzar was up to. He was trying to spoil them, brainwash them and assimilate them into the Babylonian culture.

The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.

Nebuchadnezzar’s plan was a good one. He was wise enough to know that he couldn’t brainwash them overnight, so he thought surely three years of being pampered would be long enough to spoil these young men so that they would abandon their old religion.

This plan might have worked, but Nebuchadnezzar overlooked one thing. The king overlooked the fact that Daniel and his three friends had Godly parents. How do we know that? Look at the names their parents gave their sons.

Daniel means in Hebrew  “God is my Judge” 

Hananiah means “Gracious is Yahweh”

Mishael means “Who is like God?”

Azariah means “The Lord Helps”

So, we see by the names their parents gave them, they were Godly people. However, now, mom and dad were not around. Now they were very far from home and everything was different. They were given new names fashioned after Babylonian gods and now it was time to test them if their character had also changed.

Tune in next time, and we will see how Daniel’s dormitory dining hall dilemma turned out. May God bless all the students, teachers and staff as a new school year begins.

Russ Whitten is a local minister, writer and musician. His band, The Bonhoeffers, play every week at The Village Door. His book Have You Ever Wondered? is available on