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 favoured, 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.
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.
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 Abednego. ~~ Daniel 1:3-7
The conquering king took things, of course, but he also took people. Look at the people he chose:
- Children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes;
- Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured,
- Skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science,
- Such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace,
- Whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.
First, he took the children of the king and the royal families. In doing so, he took those who were admired and respected by the general populace.
Second, he wanted perfect physical specimens – no blemish – and those who were beautiful and handsome – well favored. They would be strong and attractive. They would be examples of what these conquered people could become in this new kingdom.
Third, they had to be wise and smart and curious. These are the kind of people who seem to be trainable, malleable to knew ideas. Their acceptance of the new culture would provide an impetus for the rest of the people to follow.
Fourth, they needed to be polite and courteous, familiar with royal protocol.
Fifth, they needed to be able to learn the new language and mores of the kingdom. The new language is key, here. Words have power. They can hurt or heal, discourage or encourage. They change meanings as their usage changes. Acceptance of the new words can expedite acceptance of new social behaviors.
Our own nation has been under a similar siege. Words have changed meaning; politically correct has become the yardstick; tolerance of anything and everything (except a concept of right and wrong) is now required. We need a Daniel attitude, because we are also captive in a foreign land. Although he acquiesced to all the changes – including even a change of his name – he maintained his fidelity to God and his prayer life.
Help us to maintain and deepen our fidelity to You despite the influences around us. Grant us the stamina to maintain our relationship with You and our witness for You in this world. Give us the grace to see others with Your loving eyes.
In Jesus’ most precious name.