Children in whom was no blemish, but well favored, and skillful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science…
They were to be taught "the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans." The name "Chaldeans" is used by the Old Testament writers in a double sense. Sometimes it is used instead of "Babylonian," and applies to the whole nation of which indeed it was the ancient name. Sometimes it refers to a certain order or sect within the nation, the "wise men of Babylon," as they are called throughout the Book of Daniel. To speak of the Chaldean order as a "priestly caste" would be misleading. They were not a caste, since foreigners might be numbered among them, as Daniel afterwards was. Neither were they priestly, in the sense of their functions being confined solely to religion, and their studies to mythology. (Niebuhr compares them to the Brahmins). The Chaldeans were the most influential class in the nation, and derived their power from a remote antiquity. They had a monopoly of the national learning, secular and sacred, and members of their order took a leading part in the affairs of state. Their president stood next to the king; in the event of an interregnum, the government devolved on him; as, for example, after the death of Nabopolassar, when the throne was kept vacant for his son. The wise men of Babylon formed a class which is without precise analogy in the history of any other nation. Religion, politics, science, education — all were in their hands. It would be hard to over-estimate the importance of such an order in an empire like the Babylonian, founded on military conquest, and made up of a congeries of different races. They were the civilisers of the empire; they gave continually to the national life, and conserved the national traditions; to them it was owing that mental progress in any measure kept pace with the material.
(P. H. Hunter.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.
WEB: youths in whom was no blemish, but well-favored, and skillful in all wisdom, and endowed with knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability to stand in the king's palace; and that he should teach them the learning and the language of the Chaldeans.