When King Nebuchadnezzar and his soldiers attacked Jerusalem, they captured many Israelites and took them to Babylon. The king gave his chief officer an important job—to pick out the smartest and healthiest of the Israelite children, bring them to the palace, and teach them the language and learning of the scholars there.
Four of the children were Daniel and his friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Living in the palace was very different from living at home. In the palace, they were given Babylonian names: Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.
And they were fed special foods. The king himself ate these foods, but Daniel knew that they were not good for him. He asked the chief officer to not make him eat them nor drink the wine.
The chief officer said that Daniel must eat them or he would be less healthy—and the king might have him (the chief officer) killed.
Because he did not want the chief officer to be killed, Daniel asked that he and his friends be given pulse (vegetables) and water for ten days. Then, after being compared to the other children, if the four friends were less healthy, they would eat the king’s food.
The chief officer agreed. At the end of the ten days, Daniel and his friends were strong and full of energy. They looked healthier than the other children. And they were much wiser than even the king’s own counselors!