Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Religion


Theological Seminary


Religion, MA

First Advisor

Richard Davidson

Second Advisor

Jiri Moskala



The first chapter of Daniel contains a well-known story of Daniel and his three friends' refusal to eat the king's food and wine. To the casual reader, this story may not solicit any probing questions as to the rationale for their decision. However, commentators of the book of Daniel have long been puzzled over this. The purpose of this study is to raise this question and propose a rationale for Daniel and his three friends' refusal of the king's food and wine.


This study will encompass the entire first chapter of Daniel. Although the entire chapter will be considered, greater attention will be paid to specific verses and words. Verbal links between Daniel 1 and the creation account in Genesis 1 and 2 will be explored. The chiastic structure of the book of Daniel and, in particular, the first chapter, will be studied. A study of the religion of the Mesopotamians will enlighten the background of the place food and drink has in the cult of their belief system.


The first chapter of the book of Daniel orients the entire book. Studies of the chiastic structure reveals that the center of the first chapter apexes around the 8th verse. The concept of defilement and the resistance of it is shown as the ultimate theme of the book. In the first chapter, scholars have attempted to link the resistance of Daniel and his three friends around three primary points: (1) loyalty to the king, (2) unclean foods, and (3) food offered to the Mesopotamian gods. Faults within each of these arguments limit any of these answers as satisfactory. This study shows that the rationale is found in the creation account. A study of the verbal connection to the creation account, provides the strongest argument. Finally, the theme of the book of Daniel can be seen in the theme of the first chapter. Studies in the Mesopotamian cultic system reveals that a prebend system was in operation at the time of Daniel and his three friends' exile. Studies in this system reveal that all the food, drink and items of everyday comfort were offered to the gods of Mesopotamia. These were then redistributed to the king as his portion. The temple officials and courtiers were also apportioned accordingly. The Mesopotamian belief system is revealed in their religious text or stories. Such stories add to the understanding of the story of the first chapter of Daniel.


Although previous attempts by commentators of the book of Daniel have tried to find the rationale of Daniel and his three friends’ refusal in the Levitical dietary laws, this study will propose that the ultimate rationale is found in the creation account.

Subject Area

Bible. Daniel 1--Criticism, interpretation, etc; Food--Religious aspects--Judaism

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