This article is part of a series of Bible passages, which together are mainly about how the Bible says the Jewish race developed and were given laws, how they settled in ancient Israel, and how it says God sometimes punished them for disobeying his commands, which led to them changing their ways.
This is Part 2 (of 3) in Section 12: "The success of some of the Jewish exiles who had been captured in war and taken to Babylon".
Some parts of the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation are very unpleasant. If you become offended by anything, please read An Attempt to Explain Gruesome Bible Passages.
Daniel chapter 1 (NLT)
To recap on the story a little:
1 During the third year of King Jehoiakim's reign in Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it with his armies. 2 The Lord gave him victory over King Jehoiakim of Judah. When Nebuchadnezzar returned to Babylon, he took with him some of the sacred objects from the Temple of God and placed them in the treasure-house of his god in the land of Babylonia.
Daniel chapter 1 (GWT)
3 The king told Ashpenaz, the chief-of-staff, to bring some of the Israelites, the royal family, and the nobility. 4 They were to be young men who were healthy, good-looking, knowledgeable in all subjects, well-informed, intelligent, and able to serve in the king's palace. They were to be taught the language and literature of the Babylonians. 6 Among these young men were some Judeans: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
17 God gave these four men knowledge, wisdom, and the ability to understand all kinds of literature. Daniel could also understand all kinds of visions and dreams. 18 At the end of the three-year training period, the chief-of-staff brought all the young men to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked to them and found no one like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah among all of them.
Daniel chapter 5 (GWT)
1 King Belshazzar threw a large banquet for 1,000 nobles and drank wine with them. 2 As they were tasting the wine, Belshazzar ordered that the gold and silver utensils which his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem be brought to him. He wanted to drink from them with his nobles, his wives, and his concubines. 3 So the servants brought the gold utensils that had been taken from God's temple in Jerusalem. The king, his nobles, wives, and concubines drank from them. 4 They drank the wine and praised their gods made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, or stone.
5 Suddenly, the fingers of a person's hand appeared and wrote on the plaster wall opposite the lamp stand of the royal palace. The king watched as the hand wrote. 6 Then the king turned pale, and his thoughts frightened him. His hip joints became loose, and his knees knocked against each other. 7 The king screamed for the psychics, astrologers, and fortunetellers to be brought to him. He told these wise advisers of Babylon, "Whoever reads this writing and tells me its meaning will be dressed in purple, wear a gold chain on his neck, and become the third-highest ruler in the kingdom." 8 All the king's wise advisers came, but they couldn't read the writing or tell the king its meaning. 9 King Belshazzar was terrified, and his face turned pale. His nobles didn't know what to do.
10 The discussion between the king and his nobles brought the queen herself into the banquet hall. The queen said, "Your Majesty, may you live forever! Don't let your thoughts frighten you, and don't turn pale. 11 There's a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods. In the days of your grandfather, he was found to have insight, good judgment, and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods. Your grandfather, King Nebuchadnezzar, made him head of the magicians, psychics, astrologers, and fortunetellers. 12 This Daniel (who had been renamed Belteshazzar) was found to have knowledge, judgment, and an extraordinary spirit. He has the ability to interpret dreams, solve riddles, and untangle problems. Now, call Daniel, and he will tell [you] what it means."
13 So Daniel was taken to the king. The king asked him, "Are you Daniel, one of the captives that my grandfather brought from Judah? 14 I've heard that you have the spirit of the gods and that you have insight, good judgment, and extraordinary wisdom. 15 The wise advisers and the psychics were brought to me to read this writing and tell me its meaning. But they couldn't tell me its meaning. 16 I have heard that you can interpret such things and untangle problems. If you can read the writing and tell [me] its meaning, you will be dressed in purple, wear a gold chain on your neck, and become the third-highest ruler in the kingdom."
17 Daniel told the king, "Keep your gifts. Give your gifts and awards to someone else. I'll still read the writing for you and tell you its meaning.
18 "Your Majesty, the Most High God gave your grandfather Nebuchadnezzar a kingdom, might, honor, and glory. 19 People from every province, nation, and language trembled and were terrified by him, because God gave him power. Nebuchadnezzar killed whomever he wanted to kill, and he kept alive whomever he wanted to keep alive. He promoted whomever he wanted to promote, and he demoted whomever he wanted to demote. 20 But when he became so arrogant and conceited that he became overconfident, he was removed from the royal throne. His honor was taken away from him. 21 He was chased away from people, and his mind was changed into an animal's mind. He lived with wild donkeys, ate grass like cattle, and his body became wet with dew from the sky. This happened until he realized that the Most High God has power over human kingdoms. God puts whomever he wishes in charge of them.
22 "Belshazzar, you are one of Nebuchadnezzar's successors. You didn't remain humble, even though you knew all this. 23 But you made yourself greater than the Lord of heaven. You had the utensils from his temple brought to you. You, your nobles, wives, and concubines drank wine from them. You praised your gods made of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, or stone. These gods can't see, hear, or know anything. You didn't honor God, who has power over your life and everything you do. 24 So he sent the hand to write this inscription. 25 This is what has been written: Numbered, Numbered, Weighed, and Divided.
26 This is its meaning:
Numbered--God has numbered the days of your kingdom and will bring it to an end.
27 Weighed--you have been weighed on a scale and found to be too light.
28 Divided--your kingdom will be divided and given to the Medes and Persians."
29 Then Belshazzar ordered that Daniel be dressed in purple and wear a gold chain on his neck. He made Daniel the third-highest ruler in the kingdom.
30 That night King Belshazzar of Babylon was killed. 31 Darius the Mede took over the kingdom. He was 62 years old.
Isaiah chapter 45 (NLT)
11 This is what the LORD, the Creator and Holy One of Israel, says:
Isaiah chapter 47 (NLT)
1 "Come, Babylon, unconquered one, sit in the dust. For your days of glory, pomp, and honor have ended. 6 For I was angry with my chosen people and began their punishment by letting them fall into your hands. But you, Babylon, showed them no mercy. You have forced even the elderly to carry heavy burdens.
7 You thought, 'I will reign forever as queen of the world!' You did not care at all about my people or think about the consequences of your actions. 8 "You are a pleasure-crazy kingdom, living at ease and feeling secure, bragging as if you were the greatest in the world! You say, 'I'm self-sufficient and not accountable to anyone! I will never be a widow or lose my children.' 9 Well, those two things will come upon you in a moment: widowhood and the loss of your children. Yes, these calamities will come upon you, despite all your witchcraft and magic. 10 "You felt secure in all your wickedness. 'No one sees me,' you said. Your 'wisdom' and 'knowledge' have caused you to turn away from me and claim, 'I am self-sufficient and not accountable to anyone!' 11 So disaster will overtake you suddenly, and you won't be able to charm it away. Calamity will fall upon you, and you won't be able to buy your way out. A catastrophe will arise so fast that you won't know what hit you.
12 "Call out the demon hordes you have worshiped all these years. Ask them to help you strike terror into the hearts of people once again. 13 You have more than enough advisers, astrologers, and stargazers. Let them stand up and save you from what the future holds. 14 But they are as useless as dried grass burning in a fire. They cannot even save themselves! You will get no help from them at all. Their hearth is not a place to sit for warmth. 15 And all your friends, those with whom you have done business since childhood, will slip away and disappear, unable to help.
Isaiah chapter 46 (NLT)
1 The idols of Babylon, Bel and Nebo, are being hauled away on ox carts. But look! The beasts are staggering under the weight! 2 Both the idols and the ones carrying them are bowed down. The gods cannot protect the people, and the people cannot protect the gods. They go off into captivity together.
Isaiah chapter 45 (NLT)
20 "Gather together and come, you fugitives from surrounding nations. What fools they are who carry around their wooden idols and pray to gods that cannot save! 21 Consult together, argue your case, and state your proofs that idol worship pays. Who made these things known long ago? What idol ever told you they would happen? Was it not I, the LORD? For there is no other God but me - a just God and a Savior - no, not one! 22 Let all the world look to me for salvation! For I am God; there is no other. 23 I have sworn by my own name, and I will never go back on my word: Every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will confess allegiance to my name." 24 The people will declare, "The LORD is the source of all my righteousness and strength." And all who were angry with him will come to him and be ashamed.
Zechariah chapter 2 (TEV)
6 The Lord said to his people, "I scattered you in all directions. But now, you exiles, escape from Babylonia and return to Jerusalem. 8 Anyone who strikes you strikes what is most precious to me."
So the Lord Almighty sent me with this message for the nations that had plundered his people: 9 "The Lord himself will fight against you, and you will be plundered by the people who were once your servants."
Daniel chapter 6 (CEV)
1 Darius divided his kingdom into a hundred and twenty states and placed a governor in charge of each one. 2 In order to make sure that his government was run properly, Darius put three other officials in charge of the governors. One of these officials was Daniel. 3 And he did his work so much better than the other governors and officials that the king decided to let him govern the whole kingdom.
4 The other men tried to find something wrong with the way Daniel did his work for the king. But they could not accuse him of anything wrong, because he was honest and faithful and did everything he was supposed to do. 5 Finally, they said to one another, " We will never be able to bring any charge against Daniel, unless it has to do with his religion."
6 They all went to the king and said: Your Majesty, we hope you live forever! 7 All of your officials, leaders, advisors, and governors agree that you should make a law forbidding anyone to pray to any god or human except you for the next thirty days. Everyone who disobeys this law must be thrown into a pit of lions. 8 Order this to be written and then sign it, so it cannot be changed, just as no written law of the Medes and Persians can be changed."
9 So King Darius made the law and had it written down.
10 Daniel heard about the law, but when he returned home, he went upstairs and prayed in front of the window that faced Jerusalem. In the same way that he had always done, he knelt down in prayer three times a day, giving thanks to God.
11 The men who had spoken to the king watched Daniel and saw him praying to his God for help. 12 They went back to the king and said, " Didn't you make a law that forbids anyone to pray to any god or human except you for the next thirty days? And doesn't the law say that everyone who disobeys it will be thrown into a pit of lions?"
"Yes, that's the law I made," the king agreed. " And just like all written laws of the Medes and Persians, it cannot be changed."
13 The men then told the king, " That Jew named Daniel, who was brought here as a captive, refuses to obey you or the law that you ordered to be written. And he still prays to his god three times a day."
14 The king was really upset to hear about this, and for the rest of the day he tried to think how he could save Daniel. 15 At sunset the men returned and said, " Your Majesty, remember that no written law of the Medes and Persians can be changed, not even by the king."
16 So Darius ordered Daniel to be brought out and thrown into a pit of lions. But he said to Daniel, " You have been faithful to your God, and I pray that he will rescue you."
17 A stone was rolled over the pit, and it was sealed. Then Darius and his officials stamped the seal to show that no one should let Daniel out.
18 All night long the king could not sleep. He did not eat anything, and he would not let anyone come in to entertain him. 19 At daybreak the king got up and ran to the pit. 20 He was anxious and shouted, "Daniel, you were faithful and served your God. Was he able to save you from the lions?"
21 Daniel answered, " Your Majesty, I hope you live forever! 22 My God knew that I was innocent, and he sent an angel to keep the lions from eating me.
Your Majesty, I have never done anything to hurt you."
23 The king was relieved to hear Daniel's voice, and he gave orders for him to be taken out of the pit. Daniel's faith in his God had kept him from being harmed.
24 And the king ordered the men who had brought charges against Daniel to be thrown into the pit, together with their wives and children. But before they even reached the bottom, the lions ripped them to pieces.
25 King Darius then sent this message to all people of every nation and race in the world:
" Greetings to all of you!
26 I command everyone
in my kingdom
to worship and honor
the God of Daniel.
He is the living God,
the one who lives forever.
His power and his kingdom
will never end.
27 He rescues people
and sets them free
by working great miracles.
Daniel's God has rescued him
from the power of the lions."
28 All went well for Daniel while Darius was king, and even when Cyrus the Persian ruled.
Esther chapter 1 (TEV)
1 From his royal throne in Persia's capital city of Susa, King Xerxes ruled 127 provinces, all the way from India to Ethiopia. 3 In the third year of his reign he gave a banquet for all his officials and administrators. The armies of Persia and Media were present, as well as the governors and noblemen of the provinces. 4 For six whole months he made a show of the riches of the imperial court with all its splendor and majesty. 5 After that, the king gave a banquet for all the people in the capital city of Susa, rich and poor alike. It lasted a whole week and was held in the gardens of the royal palace. 6 ... Couches made of gold and silver had been placed in the courtyard, which was paved with white marble, red feldspar, shining mother-of-pearl, and blue turquoise. 7 Drinks were served in gold cups, no two of them alike, and the king was generous with the royal wine. 8 There were no limits on the drinks; the king had given orders to the palace servants that everyone could have as much as they wanted. 9 Meanwhile, inside the royal palace Queen Vashti was giving a banquet for the women.
10 On the seventh day of his banquet the king was drinking and feeling happy, so he called in the seven eunuchs who were his personal servants. ... 11 He ordered them to bring in Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown. The queen was a beautiful woman, and the king wanted to show off her beauty to the officials and all his guests. 12 But when the servants told Queen Vashti of the king's command, she refused to come. This made the king furious.
13 Now it was the king's custom to ask for expert opinion on questions of law and order, so he called for his advisers, who would know what should be done. 14 Those he most often turned to for advice were Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan-seven officials of Persia and Media who held the highest offices in the kingdom. 15 He said to these men, "I, King Xerxes, sent my servants to Queen Vashti with a command, and she refused to obey it! What does the law say that we should do with her?"
16 Then Memucan declared to the king and his officials: "Queen Vashti has insulted not only the king but also his officials-in fact, every man in the empire! 17 Every woman in the empire will start looking down on her husband as soon as she hears what the queen has done. They'll say, "King Xerxes commanded Queen Vashti to come to him, and she refused.' 18 When the wives of the royal officials of Persia and Media hear about the queen's behavior, they will be telling their husbands about it before the day is out. Wives everywhere will have no respect for their husbands, and husbands will be angry with their wives. 19 If it please Your Majesty, issue a royal proclamation that Vashti may never again appear before the king. Have it written into the laws of Persia and Media, so that it can never be changed. Then give her place as queen to some better woman. 20 When your proclamation is made known all over this huge empire, every woman will treat her husband with proper respect, whether he's rich or poor."
21 The king and his officials liked this idea, and the king did what Memucan suggested. 22 To each of the royal provinces he sent a message in the language and the system of writing of that province, saying that every husband should be the master of his home and speak with final authority.
Esther chapter 2 (NLT)
1 But after Xerxes' anger had cooled, he began thinking about Vashti and what she had done and the decree he had made. 2 So his attendants suggested, "Let us search the empire to find beautiful young virgins for the king. 3 Let the king appoint agents in each province to bring these beautiful young women into the royal harem at Susa. Hegai, the eunuch in charge, will see that they are all given beauty treatments. 4 After that, the young woman who pleases you most will be made queen instead of Vashti."
This advice was very appealing to the king, so he put the plan into effect immediately.
5 Now at the fortress of Susa there was a certain Jew named Mordecai son of Jair. He was from the tribe of Benjamin and was a descendant of Kish and Shimei. 6 His family had been exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar, along with King Jehoiachin of Judah and many others.
Esther chapter 2 (TEV)
7 He had a cousin, Esther, whose Hebrew name was Hadassah; she was a beautiful young woman, and had a good figure. At the death of her parents, Mordecai had adopted her and brought her up as his own daughter. 8 When the king had issued his new proclamation and many young women were being brought to Susa, Esther was among them. She too was put in the royal palace in the care of Hegai, who had charge of the harem. 9 Hegai liked Esther, and she won his favor. He lost no time in beginning her beauty treatment of massage and special diet. He gave her the best place in the harem and assigned seven young women specially chosen from the royal palace to serve her.
10 Now, on the advice of Mordecai, Esther had kept it secret that she was Jewish. 11 Every day Mordecai would walk back and forth in front of the courtyard of the harem, in order to find out how she was getting along and what was going to happen to her.
12 The regular beauty treatment for the women lasted a year-massages with oil of myrrh for six months and with oil of balsam for six more. After that, each woman would be taken in turn to King Xerxes. 13 When she went from the harem to the palace, she could wear whatever she wanted. 14 She would go there in the evening, and the next morning she would be taken to another harem and put in the care of Shaashgaz, the eunuch in charge of the king's concubines. She would not go to the king again unless he liked her enough to ask for her by name.
15 The time came for Esther to go to the king. Esther-the daughter of Abihail and the cousin of Mordecai, who had adopted her as his daughter; Esther-admired by everyone who saw her. When her turn came, she wore just what Hegai, the eunuch in charge of the harem, advised her to wear. 16 So in Xerxes' seventh year as king, in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, Esther was brought to King Xerxes in the royal palace. 17 The king liked her more than any of the other women, and more than any of the others she won his favor and affection. He placed the royal crown on her head and made her queen in place of Vashti. 18 Then the king gave a great banquet in Esther's honor and invited all his officials and administrators. He proclaimed a holiday for the whole empire and distributed gifts worthy of a king.
19 Meanwhile Mordecai had been appointed by the king to an administrative position. 20 As for Esther, she had still not let it be known that she was Jewish. Mordecai had told her not to tell anyone, and she obeyed him in this, just as she had obeyed him when she was a little girl under his care.
Esther chapter 2 (NLT)
21 One day as Mordecai was on duty at the palace, two of the king's eunuchs, Bigthana and Teresh - who were guards at the door of the king's private quarters - became angry at King Xerxes and plotted to assassinate him. 22 But Mordecai heard about the plot and passed the information on to Queen Esther. She then told the king about it and gave Mordecai credit for the report. 23 When an investigation was made and Mordecai's story was found to be true, the two men were hanged on a gallows. This was all duly recorded in The Book of the History of King Xerxes' Reign.
Esther chapter 3 (TEV)
1 Some time later King Xerxes promoted a man named Haman to the position of prime minister. Haman was the son of Hammedatha, a descendant of Agag. 2 The king ordered all the officials in his service to show their respect for Haman by kneeling and bowing to him. They all did so, except for Mordecai, who refused to do it. 3 The other officials in the royal service asked him why he was disobeying the king's command; 4 day after day they urged him to give in, but he would not listen to them. "I am a Jew," he explained, "and I cannot bow to Haman." So they told Haman about this, wondering if he would tolerate Mordecai's conduct. 5 Haman was furious when he realized that Mordecai was not going to kneel and bow to him, 6 and when he learned that Mordecai was a Jew, he decided to do more than punish Mordecai alone. He made plans to kill every Jew in the whole Persian Empire.
Esther chapter 3 (NLT)
7 So in the month of April, during the twelfth year of King Xerxes' reign, lots were cast (the lots were called purim) to determine the best day and month to take action. And the day selected was March 7, nearly a year later.
The next file in this section (Part 3), is entitled: "More Of The Bible Story Of Daniel; And The Story Of The Rise To Royalty Of The Jewish Young Woman Esther".
If you have found parts of the Old Testament or the Book of Revelation offensive, please read An Attempt to Explain Gruesome Bible Passages.
The selections of Bible quotations have been put together by Diana Holbourn.
Throughout this series, wherever the initials TEV appear, they stand for Today's English Version (The Good News Bible).Other initials: