But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank…
The whole tendency of the Chaldean education must have been to alienate the young captives from their own people and religion. The intellectual training which they received from the Chaldean sages was of necessity in the highest degree perilous to a continued belief in the God of their fathers. A harsher treatment might have driven their thoughts homeward, and made them cling with secret tenacity to their ancestral faith. But the captives' lot was made soft and pleasant to them; they experienced nothing save kindness at the court of Nebuchadnezzar. At an early and susceptible age, they found themselves removed from all the influences of pure religion, and surrounded by those of idolatry. It was not only that the superstitions of Babylon were interwoven with the secular instruction they received, though in that there was danger enough. But there was a danger beyond this. The wisdom of the Chaldees was the most varied and profound possessed by any nation then existing. Day by day new vistas of knowledge were opened before the Hebrew neophytes, who, it must be remembered, were all youths of singular mental capacity — had been chosen on that very account. Everyone knows what is the effect of an elaborate secular training dissociated from religion. The young Hebrews might well have been carried away by the pride of intellect, and have lost their grasp on the old faith, even though they did not embrace the superstitious of their masters. It happened thus, as may be inferred from the narrative, with the majority of those who had been taken as hostages from Judea. The influences brought to bear on them produced their natural result. Only one possessing more than ordinary strength of character could have withstood the tendency of such an education, and continued at that heathen court Jewish in thought, sympathy, and religion. Daniel continued, despite all temptation, what he had ever been — pious, consistent, and pure; and from his example his kinsmen gained the firmness of purpose to do as he did, and to face all risks in his companionship.
(P. H. Hunter.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
WEB: But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the king's dainties, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.