Daniel 1:8-14
Daniel 1:8
But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
Even though Daniel was garnering favor with the Babylonian officials, he knew that he was still under the dietary laws set forth in the Law of God.  The word purposed carries with it the meaning of “setting his heart upon or determining.”  Daniel was determined not to set his heart on these foods, some which may have been considered unclean according to the Law of God.  Daniel also determined that he would not defile his body with the wine the King drank.  Daniel knew that wine would impair his judgment and could be a door to sin against God.  Ashpenaz was asked by Daniel if he would not allow himself to be defiled with the food the King supplied.  Notice that Daniel did not demand but showed courtesy and respect.  This was a pagan society and some of the food may have been offered to Marduk, the Babylonian chief deity. Now Daniel was far from home and no one would have known if he indulged himself with the King’s provision but even though Daniel was in a foreign land he chose to be faithful to God and obey His law.  It is a good lesson for all Christians that a change of location does not mean we forget our Christian obedience to God.
Daniel 1:9
Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.
Here we read that God had specifically intervened on Daniel’s behalf giving him favor with Ashpenaz.  Daniel chose to be obedient to God’s law and in turn God gave him favor in the eyes of Ashpenaz.  This is another great lesson for Christians.  If we choose to be obedient in tough situations, then God will make a way for us to endure or go through those situations.  The term “tender love” can also be understood as Ashpenaz having compassion on Daniel.  He knew that Daniel was now in a new culture and Ashpenaz was treating him like family.
Daniel 1:10
And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king.
Here Ashpenaz shares with Daniel his concerns for his own well-being.  The King had allotted Daniel’s portion of food which meant that Daniel could have consumed every bit of it and he would have looked very full like the others who ate the King’s portion.  Now that Daniel stated that he did not want the King’s portion, Ashpenaz was worried that Daniel and his companions would look much thinner or even gaunt.  This meant that Ashpenaz would be brought before the King and it could have cost him his life.  So Ashpenaz rejected Daniel’s request at this point so he would not be in danger of execution.
Daniel 1:11
Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,
Ashpenaz was probably concerned that he would be in trouble with the King at this point so he appointed “Melzar” to be overseer of the four men.  The term “Melzar” is not a proper name for a certain individual but it is a title which means “overseer, guardian, or steward.”  This man had direct oversight of these four individuals.  Daniel did not argue with Melzar but he stood firm in his commitment.
Daniel 1:12
Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.
Daniel then gave a challenge to Melzar which would prove a solution to the problem at hand.  Daniel had asked him to prove his servants.  The word “prove” carries with it the idea of testing or trying them for the term of ten days.  They were to be fed “pulse and water” instead of meat and wine.  Pulse is vegetables but of the highest quality available.  The length of time called “ten days” in the Bible also has a sense of a time of testing.
Revelation 2:10 (KJV)   Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
In Revelation 2:10 we see that the term “ten days” was a time of tribulation for the believers.  It does not necessarily mean an exact ten days but carries with it the essence of completion of whatever is in view.  Here the believers are tried for ten days and if they are found faithful, they will be given a crown of life.  Daniel was also asking for ten days of testing to show that God can keep us through times of testing until they are completed.  However, in Daniel’s case, the ten days were a literal ten days but nevertheless, it was still a period of testing even though it was a literal time period.
Daniel 1:13
Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king's meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.
Then Daniel said to Melzar that when the ten days, the time of testing is over, that he should inspect their faces and then compare them to the faces of those who ate the King’s portion.  Then according to his findings, he can then deal with the four in any manner he chooses.  The word “countenance” means “face” but in this case they were to be looked at completely, that is, their bodies were to be compared to the others who ate the King’s portion.  In other words, it was to be a total inspection.
Daniel 1:14
So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.
So Melzar probably thought that this was fair as he listened intently to their challenge and he gave approval and tried them for ten days and then would come the time of inspection.  In this case, it was a literal ten days and not an extended period of time because they had to be ready to stand before the King.