The prophecy of Daniel commences with a description of how certain captive princes of Israel were brought to Babylon in order to be taught “the learning and tongue of the Chaldeans” (Dan. 1:4).  They were granted the privilege of being granted to eat the same food and drink as the king himself:

“… And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank, so nourishing them three years that at the end thereof they might stand before the king” (Dan. 1:5).

Daniel, however, refused to eat the king’s meat, or drink the king’s wine:

“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” (Dan. 1:8).

The question arises therefore, Why did Daniel consider the king’s food and drink to be defiling, and to be abstained from?  An explanation is often advanced, that the meat would be sacrificed and offered to Idols, and that therefore he could not in all good conscience partake of it.  That may well have been the case (cp. Hos. 9:3, Ezek. 4:13), but the Daniel record does not make that point.   And the old English word “meat” does not just signify animal flesh as in our day, but food of any sort, which would not necessarily be offered to idols like animals would.  Moreover, it was not just the king’s food that they were offered, but his wine also: “ … the wine which he drank” which also would not have been part of a sacrifice to idols.  There would therefore appear to be more involved than simply the meat being offered to Idols.

The point that is made in the record is that Nebuchadnezzar “appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank” (Dan. 1:5).  This expression “the king’s meat” seems to be important, as it is used 4 times in this chapter (vs. 5, 8, 13, 15).  The emphasis of Scripture therefore, is that the food and drink was that food which the king himself partook of.  We would suggest that this is the reason why Daniel, a captive prince of Israel refused to partake of it.

Proverbs 22 describes a situation pertaining to the royal dainties of the king’s court:

“when thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee: And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite.  Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat.” (Prov. 22:1-3).

Daniel was not desirous of the Babylonian ruler’s dainties, and refused to partake of them.  Again, Psalm 141 continues in the same vein:

“Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties” (Psa. 141:4).

Again, we are reminded of how Daniel would not eat of the dainties of the Babylonian king who worked iniquity in his idolatrous worship and immoral practices.  He did not desire the pleasures of Babylon, and would not partake of it’s royal food and drink.

Hebrews chapter 11 speaks of Moses who would not “enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Heb. 11:25), and it would appear that this was the spirit of Daniel.   Again, Nehemiah did not “of the bread of the governor,” choosing rather to identify himself with his people, the returning exiles.  It would seem that this again was the spirit of Daniel: – when his people were eating the bread and drinking the water of affliction (Isa. 30:20), he could not bring himself to eat the food from the king’s table.

The book of Revelation again brings our attention to the wine and food of Babylon.  Revelation 17 describes how men became intoxicated by the Babylonish wine.  So the Angel said to John:

“Come hither; I will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication” (Rev. 17:1-2).

Again, chapter 18 describes how that the nations delighted in the culinary dainties of Babylon:

“For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies” (Rev. 18:3).

The wine and meat of Babylon then, is something to be avoided at all costs.  We do not wish to become intoxicated with the errors of the apostasy, or be led astray by the delights of her delicacies.  Like Daniel therefore, we must eschew the riches and pleasures of the Babylonian system, and identify ourselves with those who were afflicted by her: the faithful minority.  By refusing to eat of the Babylonian king’s meat and drink, we will not be made drunk by her teachings, or be filled with her falsehoods.  The example of Daniel therefore is something for us to emulate, so that we, like he, will remain faithful to Yahweh in a day of adversity.

Christopher Maddocks