Daniel in Babylon - Josephus, Complete Works  5:1, 2



1. BUT now Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, took some of the most noble of the Jews that were children, and the kinsmen Zedikiah their king, such as were remarkable for the beauty of their bodies and the comeliness of their countenances, and delivered them into the hands of tutors, and to the improvement to be made by them. He also made some of them to be eunuchs; which course he took also with those of other nations whom he bad taken in the flower of their age, and afforded them their diet from his own table, and had them instructed in the institutes of the country, and taught the learning of the Chaldeans; and they had now exercised themselves sufficiently in that wisdom which he had ordered they should apply themselves to. Now among these there were four of the family of Zedekiah of most excellent dispositions; the one of whom was called another Ananias, another Misael, and the fourth, Azarias: and the king of Babylon changed their names and commanded that they should make use of other names. Daniel he called Baltasar; Ananias, Shadrach; Misael, Mesbach; and Aza­rias, Abednego. These the king had in esteem, and continued to love, because of the very ex­cellent temper they were of, and because of their application to learning, and the progress they made in wisdom.

2. Now Daniel and his kinsmen had resolved to use a severe diet, and to abstain from those kinds of food which came from the king’s table, and entirely to forbear to eat of all living creatures: so he came to Ashpenaz who was that eunuch to whom the care of them was committed and desired him to take and spend what was brought for them from the king; but to give them pulse and dates for their food, and anything else, besides the flesh of living creatures, that he pleased, for that their inclinations were to that sort of food, and that they despised the other. He replied, that he was ready to serve them in what they desired, but he suspected that they would be discovered by the king, from their meager bodies, and the alteration of their countenances; because it could not be avoided but their bodies and colours must be changed with their diet, especially while they would be clearly discovered by the finer appearance of the other children, who would fare better, and thus they should bring him into danger, and occasion him to be punished: yet did they persuade Arioch, who was thus fearful to give them what food they desired for ten days, by way of trial; and in case the habit of their bodies were not altered, to go on in the same way, as expecting that they should not be hurt thereby afterwards; but if he saw them look meager, and worse than the rest, he should reduce them to their former diet. Now when it appeared that they were so far from becoming worse by the use of this food, that they grew plumper and fuller in body than the rest, insomuch, that he thought those who fed on what came from the king’s table seemed less plum and full, while those that were with Daniel looked as if they had lived in plenty, and in all sorts of luxury, Arioch, from that time, securely took himself what the king sent every day from his supper, according to custom, to the children, but gave them the fore­mentioned diet, while they had their souls in some measure more pure, and less burdened, and so fitter for learning, and had their bodies in better tune for hard labour; for they neither had the former oppressed and heavy with variety of meats, nor were the other effeminate on the same account; so they readily understood all the learning that was among the Hebrews, and among the Chaldeans, as especially did Daniel, who, being already skilled in wisdom, was very busy about the interpretation of dreams: and God manifest himself to him.

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