1:6 Azariah. All four of these chosen men of Judah must also have had godly parents, for they selected names for their sons that expressed their faith in God. Thus Daniel means “God is my Judge;” Hananiah means “The Lord’s Beloved;” Mishael is “Who is as God?” and Azariah is “The Lord is my help.”
1:7 Abed-nego. The prince of the eunuchs evidently thought their names were inappropriate, so renamed them in honor of the gods of Babylon. Thus, Daniel became Belteshazzar (“Favored by Bel”); Hananiah became Shadrach (“Illumined by Rak,” the sun god); Mishael was renamed Meshach (“Belonging to Shak,” the wine goddess); and Azariah was changed to Abednego (“Servant of Nego,” considered to be equivalent to Lucifer). One can imagine that this was deeply resented by these godly young men, who resolved more firmly than ever to stay true to the true God of creation, at all costs.
1:8 defile himself. The king’s gourmet food would have been defiling to godly Jews in at least three ways: (1) it would have contained blood, contrary to Leviticus 17:10-14; (2) it would have included the meat of swine, forbidden in Leviticus 11:7-8; and, most seriously, (3) it would have been consecrated to the pagan gods of Babylon. Nevertheless, Daniel was gracious and respectful in making his request to be excused.
1:16 pulse. The term “pulse” means any seed vegetable.