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The Daniel Diet: Understanding Why

Updated: Feb 3

July 11, 2021- A few years ago and even recently, there seemed to be a trend in the Christian World, called the Daniel Diet or the Daniel Fast. I am not one for trends, especially when it comes to diet, but this caught my eye. It seemed that more information was being given on what Daniel ate during the Babylonian capture of the Israelites rather than why. This article primarily focuses on why Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariahate, ate what they ate.

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, (modern day Iraq), seized Jerusalem and Judah, where he reigned for 70 years. In the book of Jeremiah, we are told that this was due to the Israelites transgressions, wickedness, and disregarding of God's word. Those that kept God's word, were captured by the Chaldeans. Those that did not, were slain by the Chaldeans. As far as Daniel goes, Nebuchadnezzar gave a commandment to Asphenaz who was "the master of his eunuchs." (Daniel 1:2).

This commandment was to bring good-looking people that were "gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans." (Daniel 1:3 NKJV). The king had appointed them a daily portion of the "king's meat, and wine" (KJV). Among the appointed were the four men of the Judah tribe, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariahate.

However, Daniel felt in his heart not to defile himself with the king's meat, and the wine. He requested to Ashpenaz not to defile himself, but Asphenaz feared his king and was worried that they would look worse than the rest, when the king had appointed their food and drink. So Daniel asks to test them, and give them only "vegetables to eat, and water to drink" (Daniel 1:12) for ten days.

Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash

Now you understand a portion of why. The second portion of the why gets more involved. Why did he feel that eating the king's meat would defile him? Leviticus 11 is specific when it comes to clean and unclean foods. Something to note is that often times, meat, grains, and wine are given as a sacrifice to gods or idols. Animal sacrifices happen even today. Eating food that has been sacrificed to gods or idols is forbidden. It could have been that the king's meat was consecrated to their god or idol.

The Babylonian empire had tens of thousands of sheep, between 625-520 BC, and the "Eanna's [temple] regular animal sacrifices consumed 3,000-4,000 male lambs annually" (2006 University of Ohio Dissertation by Michael Kozuth). King Nebuchadnezzar had seized Judah and Jerusalem in 597 BC. His capture of Judah and Jerusalem occurred during the time frame when thousands of male lambs were sacrificed annually.

(This is not to say that meats and grains are bad, but it is to say that anything consecrated to a deity is an abomination to God. God gave mankind these things for our nourishment.)

What Happened after their Test?

After the ten days had passed, the Bible says that, "their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat" (Daniel 1:15 KJV). From that day, on the king's meat and wine were taken away from the four men of Judah, and they were given vegetables to eat from then on (probably not the ones in the photo above). In addition, these men were given "knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams" (Daniel 1:17 NKJV).

In Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom, none were found to be like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. The Bible says that, "in all matters of wisdom, and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm." (Daniel 1:20 NKJV).

Should I do the Daniel Diet?

If you want go on the "Daniel Diet" or the "Daniel Fast" you must first do so with wisdom, blessing, and direction from God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Pray to Him about it. Make no move until you hear from Him.

At the same time, I encourage you to read Leviticus 11, the book of Daniel, and Genesis 1. In various parts of Genesis 1, you will see "And God saw that it was good." If God made things and saw that it was good, should we be questioning it? Should we deny it, or change it?

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