1In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched onJerusalem and besieged it. 2The Lord let Jehoiakim king of Judah fal into his power, as well as some of the vessels belonging to theTemple of God. These he took away to Shinar, putting the vessels into the treasury of his own gods. 3From the Israelites, the king ordered Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring a certain number of boys ofroyal or noble descent; 4they had to be without any physical defect, of good appearance, versed in every branch of wisdom,wel -informed, discerning, suitable for service at the royal court. Ashpenaz was to teach them to speak and writethe language of the Chaldaeans. 5The king assigned them a daily allowance of food and wine from the royal table. They were to receive an education lasting for three years, after which they would enter the royal service. 6Among them were the Judaeans Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7The chief eunuch gave them other names, cal ing Daniel Belteshazzar, Hananiah Shadrach, MishaelMeshach, and Azariah Abed-Nego. 8Daniel, who was determined not to incur pol ution by food and wine from the royal table, begged thechief eunuch to spare him this defilement. 9God al owed Daniel to receive faithful love and sympathy from the chief eunuch. 10But the eunuch warned Daniel, 'I am afraid of my lord the king: he has assigned you food and drink,and if he sees you looking thinner in the face than the other boys of your age, my head wil be in danger with theking because of you.' 11To the guard assigned to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah by the chief eunuch, Daniel thensaid, 12'Please al ow your servants a ten days' trial, during which we are given only vegetables to eat andwater to drink. 13You can then compare our looks with those of the boys who eat the king's food; go by what you see,and treat your servants accordingly.' 14The man agreed to do what they asked and put them on ten days' trial. 15When the ten days were over, they looked better and fatter than any of the boys who had eaten theiral owance from the royal table; 16so the guard withdrew their al owance of food and the wine they were to drink, and gave themvegetables. 17To these four boys God gave knowledge and skil in every aspect of literature and learning; Danielalso had the gift of interpreting every kind of vision and dream. 18When the time stipulated by the king for the boys to be presented to him came round, the chiefeunuch presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19The king conversed with them, and among all the boys found none to equal Daniel, Hananiah, Mishaeland Azariah. So they became members of the king's court, 20and on whatever point of wisdom or understanding he might question them, he found them ten timesbetter than all the magicians and soothsayers in his entire kingdom. Daniel remained there until the first year ofKing Cyrus.
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