“In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.” (Daniel 1:20)
Daniel was born in the kingdom of Judah during a time of tension and instability due to the emergence of the Babylonian kingdom on the world stage as a super-power in the region. Daniel was only a boy, probably around 15-17 years of age, when he was uprooted from everything he was familiar with—his homeland of Judah, his family, his friends, his home, his synagogue, and his community. In 605 B.C., King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had invaded and captured Jerusalem, the Capital City of Judah. During this invasion, he took 10,000 captives to Babylon, including Daniel.
In exile, away from home and separated from his family, Daniel resolved to remain committed to the values of his family. The education at the University of Babylon was meant to fully immerse the Hebrew teenagers in the pagan ways and customs of an unbelieving nation and change them for life, but Daniel, because of his training and value-based education, stood firm and passed the test. He excelled academically and passed with high marks. Nebuchadnezzar found Daniel and his fellow Hebrew boys to be “10 times better” than all other royal students in the whole kingdom.
Maybe, the most important part of this story is what is not written—what happened behind the scenes. There could be unsung heroes in this story–Daniel’s devout parents, his teachers in the synagogue, and obviously his community. In the Eastern Culture, it is believed that it takes a village to raise a child. Charity begins at home, as others would say. Daniel and his friends did not excel in Babylon by accident. There were early years of training and education that started at home from birth, and were later reinforced in the synagogue at the age of 12. Of the 10,000 young Hebrews taken into captivity in Babylon, we only read about Daniel and his three companions. Probably their early training is the reason.
This indeed is an inspiring story. A value-based education starts at birth; the first school is a Christian home, and the first teachers are devout parents. An institution of faith reinforces the values taught at home. These values stand as the secret behind the success of Daniel. This is what made a difference. A strong character like the one of Daniel is not an accident. It takes a good family, a good church, and a good community. We all have to pull together to prepare the next generation of “Daniels.”
Note: Article written and posted in English