There are many wonderful stories narrated in Scriptures about the experiences of the Navi Daniel. Many of these stories are found in Sefer Daniel, while others are found in the Talmud and Midrash.
In the third year of the reign of Yehoyakim, king of Yehuda, Nevuchadnezzar, king of Bavel lay siege to Yerushalayim and conquered it. He took many treasures from the Beis HaMikdash back to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god.
He then ordered his courtiers to round up the wisest children of Yehuda, who would be trained as advisors, for these children were known for their erudition and for their worldly knowledge.
Among the children taken were four outstanding young geniuses: Daniel, Chananyah, Mishael and Azariah.
Provides Meats For The Children
The king commanded Ashpenaz, the chief of his courtiers, to provide the children with the best of meat and wine so that they should be healthy in body and in mind when they appeared before him.
Daniel and his companions, however, would not defile themselves with the king’s meat and wine and requested instead that they be supplied with vegetables.
Ashpenaz was afraid to comply with this wish. “I fear to disobey my lord the King, who has ordered me to give you his meat and wine. For, if he sees you looking worse than the other children of your country who are eating the meat, he will have me killed.”
“Fear not,” replied Daniel. “Experiment by giving us only vegetables and water for the next 10 days and then compare us with the other children who will eat the king’s meat. You will then see who looks healthier.”
He agreed, and for the next 10 days he served them vegetables and water. And lo and behold, at the end of that time their countenance appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children who ate meat. From that day onward, Daniel and his companions only ate vegetables.
G-d gave Daniel and his companions, knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom, and to Daniel, especially, he gave understanding of all visions and dreams.
After three years of study, they appeared before the king and the king found none that in all matters of wisdom and understanding, they were 10 times better than all the magicians and astrologers in his realm. He appointed them to be his personal advisors.
The King’s Dream
In the second year of the reign of Nevuchadnezzar, the king had a dream. He awoke in the morning with a start. It was a terrible dream and it bothered him because he forgot what he had dreamed about. All he knew was that it had been scary.
The king called all of his magicians, astrologers, sorcerers and the Chaldeans to appear before him. When they arrived, the king told them that he had a terrible dream and asked them to interpret it for him.
“O King, live forever,” said the Chaldeans. “Tell the servants your dream and we will then offer you its interpretation.”
“I cannot remember the dream,” replied the king. “It is gone from me. If you will not make known to me the dream with its interpretation I shall cut you to pieces and destroy your homes. But if you tell me what I dreamt and its interpretation I shall reward you handsomely and I will give you great honor.”
The Chaldeans replied, “There is no man on earth who can fulfill your request and there had never been a king who has asked such an unfair request.”
Death To The Wise
The king became very angry and commanded the guards to destroy all the wise men of Bavel. Among the wise men to be destroyed was Daniel, who had not attended the sessions of the Chaldeans. When he was made aware of this decree, he sought out Arioch, the king’s captain, and advised him that he would tell the king his dream and its interpretation the following morning. The captain made arrangements for Daniel to appear before the king the following morning.
That night Daniel visited Chananya, Mishael and Azariah and urged them to pray to G-d to help him so that he they would not perish with the rest of the wise men of Bavel. G-d heard their pleas and He revealed the secret to Daniel in a night vision.