Daniel 1, Psalm 78
In seminary and academic circles, there is a fancy word for locating the meaning of the Biblical texts and that word is “exegesis”. This word derives from the Greek word for interpretation, and the main job of exegesis is to do the hard work of determining an author’s meaning and intentions. Daniel 1 has a history of being interpreted in ways that fail in this fundamental task. For example, many people have made a big deal out of the diet of Daniel and his friends (Daniel 1:8-16). Though we should not be surprised that modern food science supports Daniel’s diet as very healthy, that is not what the author is trying to do in Daniel 1. This chapter is written to show the favor God’s faithful servants in exile have when true to God, even when going against the Babylonian King’s commands. Pre-exilic Israel had been mostly an unmitigated disaster save a few loyal prophets, priests, and Kings. Now in exile, we see the way God sustains Daniel and those who will trust in YHWH alone in the worst of times. In fact, Daniel and his friends are a microcosm of what Israel should have been all along, that is a blessing to the nations. So, in celebrating Daniel’s diet, let us decide to make Daniel’s main direction the focus of our readings.