Serving your enemy King is like a traitor’s action. Why didn’t Daniel & his friends refused to serve King Nebuchadnezzar? They could have chose to die in war with honour rather than to submit.

So my question is did Daniel & his friends submit to King Nebuchadnezzar because of Jeremiah prophecy in Jer 27? They were simply following God’s instruction.

"To Zedekiah king of Judah I spoke in like manner; Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him and his people and live" Jeremiah ch27 v12, RSV


3 Answers 3


Jeremiah's advice to submit to the King of Babylon must indeed have seemed like traitorous advice to many patriotic Judeans, something like a contemporary prophet telling Americans they should submit to China or Russia because their nation had lost God's blessing. But it turns out that Jeremiah was right. The nation did need to submit to Babylon.

In Jeremiah 27 we read:

12 To Zedeki′ah king of Judah I spoke in like manner: “Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him and his people, and live. 13 Why will you and your people die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, as the Lord has spoken concerning any nation which will not serve the king of Babylon? 14 Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are saying to you, ‘You shall not serve the king of Babylon,’ for it is a lie which they are prophesying to you.

It is certainly possible that Daniel and his friends knew of Jeremiah's prophecy and heeded it. However the prophecy was directed to the current King of Judah during the time when he was still in Jerusalem. In terms of influencing Daniel, a better candidate than this prophecy is the letter sent by Jeremiah to the actual exiles in Babylon, preserved in Jer. 29:

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

We may also wish to consider the theory that the story of Daniel derives from a later time (the period of the Maccabean Revolt), in which case the question may be moot. But presuming the Book of Daniel is historically accurate, it is more likely that Daniel and his friends would have been influenced by the letter of Jer. 29 than the prophecy of Jer. 27.

  • We should note also that the practical alternative to submission to Babylon was not genuine independence but submission to Egypt. The true modern analogy is the choice facing post-war Europeans; the American alliance or the Russian alliance. Commented Mar 27, 2023 at 16:21
  • +1. Excellent answer. I was about to write something almost identical but then saw you good answer.
    – Dottard
    Commented Mar 27, 2023 at 18:52
  • 1
    @StephenDisraeli what you say may be practically true but the prophets who disagreed with Jeremiah did not put it in those terms. In a particularly well documented case the prophet Hanani′ah the son of Azzur (Jer 28) declared that the LORD had broken the yoke of Babylon. No mention of Egypt, so his hearers probably did not see it as a choice between Egypt and the Babylon but between faith in the Lord vs cowardly submission to Babylon. This might make a good question incidentally. How DID the people see their choices? Commented Mar 27, 2023 at 19:06
  • @Dan Fefferman Presumably in that passage Hananiah was expecting the Lord to work through an Egyptian army, just as he actually did work later through the army of Cyrus. "Within two years" is the clue. Looking forward to another Egyptian summer campaign There are plenty of signs that the effective foreign policy was "Egypt will save us from Babylon", e.g Ezekiel ch17 v15 et. seq., to which the answer of Jeremiah and Ezekiel is "Egypt is useless as well as idolatrous". Commented Mar 27, 2023 at 19:25
  • I agree it can be presumed that Hananiah was thinking of Egypt. I was thinking more in terms of the OP's choice "They could have chose to die in war with honour rather than to submit." Commented Mar 28, 2023 at 5:13

According to Daniel chapter 1

1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, > Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god.

Daniel tells us that God gave Judah to Nebuchadnezzar.

God put Judah under the control of Nebuchadnezzar.
If Daniel had rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar he would have been rebelling against the authority God had placed over Judah and therefore rebelling against God's authority and standing against God's will.

Daniel never served Nebuchadnezzar. He always served God first. How to serve God in a pagan world is one of the major themes of Daniel.

As Paul said in Romans 13:1-7:

1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 1 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Since Scripture does not say Daniel read Jeremiah we cannot assume that he did.


Serving the enemy doesn't seem to have a moral issue in early civilisation. A typical example is seen when David Among the Philistines (1 Samuel ch27-29).

It is more important to note who was Daniel and his friends serving, God or king Nebuchadnezzar. From their refusal to take the food from the king's table, they had proved their devotion to God.

Neither the letter in Jeremiah 27 to king Zedekiah nor the letter in Jeremiah 29 to the surviving Jews in Babylon had influence to Daniel and his friends, for they were captive as early as 605BC, much earlier then these two letters issued. A better understanding may be due to their submission to God, they did what exactly Jeremiah prophesized afterwards.

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