Bible Reading (Daniel 1:1-6,8-20)

(The king found none to equal Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.)

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah,

Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon

marched on Jerusalem and besieged it.

The Lord delivered Jehoiakim

king of Judah into his hands,

with some of the furnishings

of the Temple of God.

He took them away to the land of Shinar,

and stored the sacred vessels

in the treasury of his own gods.

The king ordered Ashpenaz,

his chief eunuch,

to select from the Israelites

a certain number of boys

of either royal or noble descent;

they had to be without any physical defect,

of good appearance,

trained in every kind of wisdom,

well-informed,

quick at learning,

suitable for service in the palace of the king.

Ashpenaz himself

was to teach them the language

and literature of the Chaldaeans.

The king assigned them a daily allowance of food

and wine from his own royal table.

They were to receive an education

lasting for three years,

after which they were expected

to be fit for the king’s society.

Among them were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah,

who were Judaeans.

Daniel, who was most anxious

not to defile himself with the food

and wine from the royal table,

begged the chief eunuch

to spare him this defilement;

and by the grace of God

Daniel met goodwill

and sympathy on the part of the chief eunuch.

But he warned Daniel,

“I am afraid of my lord the king:

he has assigned you food and drink,

and if he sees you looking thinner

in the face than the other boys of your age,

my head will be in danger

with the king because of you.”

At this Daniel turned to the guard

whom the chief eunuch had assigned to

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.

He said,

“Please allow your servants a ten days’ trial,

during which we are given

only vegetables to eat

and water to drink.

You can then compare our looks

with those of the boys who eat the king’s food;

go by what you see,

and treat your servants accordingly.”

The man agreed to do what they asked

and put them on ten day’s trial.

When the ten days were over

they looked and were in better health

than any of the boys

who had eaten their allowance

from the royal table;

so the guard withdrew their allowance of food

and the wine they were to drink,

and gave them vegetables.

And God favoured these four boys with knowledge and intelligence

in everything connected with literature,

and in wisdom;

while Daniel had the gift

of interpreting every kind of vision and dream.

When the period stipulated by the king for the boys’

training was over,

the chief eunuch presented them

to Nebuchadnezzar.

The king conversed with them,

and among all the boys found none to equal

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.

So they became members of the king’s court,

and on whatever point of wisdom

or information he might question them,

he found them ten times better

than all  the magicians

and enchanters

in his entire kingdom.

The word of the Lord.

R.) Thanks be to God.

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