This Week's Story

A Babylonian king attempts to brain-wash Daniel and his friends.

This Week’s Story relives American history and the Bible through brief inspiring stories presented on mp3 audio recordings and text for reading.

Daniel: Rules of Engagement, part one

“Examine the prisoners of war. Some are young men from the Israeli royal family and upper class. Select the ones who are intelligent, well-educated, and good-looking. They must be strong.”

This will be an interesting project! Ashpenaz thought, The Israelis’ religious views are supposed to be the core of their being. They won’t be easy to manipulate.  He looked curiously at King Nebuchadnezzar. He hasn’t been king for long, but he has an agenda.

Nebuchadnezzar continued. “The young men you choose will be in a training program for three years.  Then I will choose which ones will become advisers in the royal court.”

Ashpenaz was shocked. Why is the king going to use foreigners as advisers?

Nebuchadnezzar announced, “I want these teens to adopt the Babylonian culture. Now they have an Israeli mind-set. Their loyalties must change!

“They will have the advantages of our schools, which are the cultural centers of the nation.”

Ashpenaz smiled humbly and said, “I will see, Your Highness, that they study our achievements. They will learn our laws, counting methods, and advanced writing system. They will explore our advances in metallurgy, medical surgery, engineering, and agriculture. They will conclude that to be Babylonian is to be infinitely superior to all other nationalities.

After the young men were chosen, each was given a Babylonian name.  Their intended brain-washing had begun. New names would help erase their former identities. One student’s Hebrew name, Daniel, meant God is my judge. His new name, Belteshazzar, meant protector of Bel, a Babylonian idol. Daniel was revolted with his new name. He thought, How will God judge me? He is the only true God.

The king ordered that the best food and wine from the royal kitchen be given to the young men. Daniel was horrified. The food violated dietary laws of the Hebrews. He would be disobeying sacred practices of the Hebrews. He decided, “I will not eat the king’s food.”

He went to Ashpenaz, who was director of all the palace staff, and asked, “May I eat other foods?”

The official respected Daniel, but Daniel’s proposal was dangerous. “Belteshazzar, I am following the king’s orders. If you should become thin and pale, the king might have me beheaded.”

Daniel went to the attendant whom Ashpenaz had appointed to care for Daniel and three of his friends. “Would you allow my friends and me to be on a vegetarian diet and water for ten days? Then please judge if we look worse than the other students.”

The decision was risky, but the attendant agreed. At the end of ten days, the four looked healthier than the other students. So Daniel and his friends continued eating the food they had requested instead of the king’s rich foods.

God gave the four young men an extraordinary aptitude for their studies. He also gave to Daniel the ability to interpret visions and dreams. It was no surprise that at the end of three years the king appointed Daniel and his three friends to his staff of advisers. “Ashpenaz,” Nebuchadnezzar declared, “I have talked to these students. They have superb wisdom and impress me more than any of the others!”

Ashpenaz thought, Yes, they are superb, and they have obeyed many of our rules; but they have not adopted our beliefs.

Soon Daniel was to receive a challenge for which he had no Babylonian training. A report on it will come soon. This is Barbara Steiner inviting you to check out thisweeksstory.com.

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