“Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were four of the young men chosen, all from the tribe of Judah. The chief of staff renamed them with these Babylonian names: Daniel was called Belteshazzar. Hananiah was called Shadrach. Mishael was called Meshach. Azariah was called Abednego.” Daniel 1:6-7
It was an honor to be trained as officers in the king’s palace, but it was also a trial; for these dedicated Jewish boys would have to adapt themselves to the ways and the thinking of the Babylonians. The purpose of the “course” was to transform Jews into Babylonians, and this meant not only a new land, but also new names, new customs, new ideas, and a new language. For three years, their Babylonian teachers would attempt to “brainwash” the four Jewish young men and teach them how to think and live like Babylonians. The name Daniel means “God is my judge,” but it was changed to Belteshazzar or “Bel protect his life.” Hananiah means “the Lord shows grace,” but his new name, Shadrach, means “command of Aku” (the moon-god). Mishael means “Who is like God?” and the new name, Meshach, means “Who is as Aku is?” Azariah means “The Lord is my help,” but “Abednego” means “Servant of Nebo (Nego).” The name of the true and living God was replaced by the names of the false gods of Babylon; but would we expect unbelievers to do anything else? These young men were raised by parents that were believers. They instilled in these young men a love and commitment for God. Even with all the trials these young men had to endure, they never once strayed from their commitment to the one true God.