Is Daniel 1:15 intended as a miracle or a testimony to the superiority of the divine diet?:

Dan 1:15 At the end of ten days their appearance was better and their faces were well-nourished compared to the young men who ate the king's rich food. Dan 1:16 So the guard took away their rich food and wine, giving them vegetables.

See the context here:


See also:

Exo_15:26 And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.

Related post:

Why would the royal food and wine have defiled Daniel and his companions?

  • before consumption food and especially the wine was offered to idols........
    – Enoch
    Aug 30, 2016 at 17:24
  • @user12422 Would that have affected their health?
    – user10231
    Aug 30, 2016 at 19:49
  • What do you think?
    – Enoch
    Aug 30, 2016 at 20:38
  • No, why would it? My thinking is that the passage is either about a miracle or a superior diet. What do you think?
    – user10231
    Sep 3, 2016 at 1:10

1 Answer 1


[In advance, I will say that this is a bit tongue in cheek, but I think the facts and arguments are valid.]

I think you are expecting answers to indicate that it is one or the other, but I think the answer to the literal question is "No" - it is neither intended as a miracle, nor is it a testimony to the superiority of some divine diet.


First, the Hebrew term translated by the NET version as "the king's rich food" literally means "the king's rations" or the "king's portion". The JPS Tanakh translates the phrase "of the king's food". The Septuagint reads "the royal provisions" (τὸ βασιλικὸν δεῖπνον). Even though there is nothing in the proto-texts to imply that the king's food was somehow more nutritious than what Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah ate, some translators assume that it must somehow be the case.

Second, the Hebrew word translated by the NET and other modern versions as "vegetable" represents seeds that are used for food - i.e. legumes - specifically. This is reflected in the choice of the King James translators in using the word "pulse" - an archaic word for "legumes". In the Greek Septuagint, the underlying Hebrew was translated as ὄσπριον - also meaning "legumes".

The foregoing considered, the following translation is more accurate:

At the end of ten days their appearance was better and their faces were well-nourished they looked better and healthier compared to the young men who ate the king's rich food.

So the guard took away their rich the king's food and wine, giving them vegetables legumes.

A Miracle?

The Concise Oxford Dictionary provides two definitions for the word "miracle":

  1. An extraordinary and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws, attributed to a divine agency.

  2. An amazing product or achievement, or an outstanding example of something

The event being judged is the Daniel's, Hananiah's, Mishael's and Azariah's being better and healthier - after eating only legumes and drinking only water for ten days - than those who ate of the king's provisions and drank wine.

Taking the first definition of "miracle" to be the relevant, to argue that this event was a miracle would require proving that there is no way that it could be explained by natural or scientific laws.

But that clearly is not the case here. It is possible, for example, that those who ate of the king's food ate too much and appeared bloated or drank too much wine and had bloodshot eyes. In either case, they would not have appeared "better" or "healthier" than the Hebrews youth's.

Testimony to the superiority of the divine diet?

The argument here is that a diet of water and legumes ("the divine diet") is superior to a diet based on the king's provisions and wine.

Again, Scripture does not tell us how much of the king's food they ate or how much wine they drank. If, in fact, the other youth's were immoderate, it is completely possible that the Hebrew youths would have appeared even better and healthier if they followed the same diet in moderation. Similarly, it is also possible that they would not have appeared better or healthier than the other youth's had they eaten and/or drank more and/or less.

Furthermore, even if we accounted for quantity and assumed that each set of youths ate and drank in moderation, there is no way to guarantee that a diet that seemed to be more effective for four particular Hebrew youths would be equally effective for all of mankind.

  • So would you say that the story is without a point?
    – user10231
    Aug 27, 2016 at 22:50
  • Not at all. If anything, the story suggests that some forms of asceticism are helpful and attainable to all.
    – user15733
    Aug 27, 2016 at 22:55
  • Actually, that's a rather weak point ...
    – user15733
    Aug 27, 2016 at 23:00
  • I think the stronger point is that even though it seems impractical at times to follow God's will, it is perhaps easier than we might imagine ...
    – user15733
    Aug 27, 2016 at 23:01
  • Daniel and the other youth's did not eat pulse and drink water because they wanted to practice asceticism, but rather because they did not want to defile themselves by eating a meal prepared by Gentiles. The passage shows us that it was easier than others might have thought.
    – user15733
    Aug 27, 2016 at 23:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.