Throughout the Book of DANIEL, we see Daniel’s name change from Daniel, to Belteshazzar, and then back to Daniel. It’s important to note the change, so that we can then go back and uncover the reason for the change – Daniel’s faith in God.
1. Daniel has his name changed by others to Belteshazzar
At the beginning of the Book of DANIEL, we learn that Ashpenaz, king Nebuchadnezzar’s chief eunuch, has taken the best youths of the people of Israel to feed them, teach them, and rename them.
Daniel is now renamed to Belteshazzar, by the very people he is being held captive by. These people are seeking to define who Daniel is. They want him to eat like they eat, think like they think, and worship like they worship.
But Daniel won’t have any part of it. He seeks to honor God first in everything he says and does. He doesn’t eat the food that would defile him, and God grants him favor and compassion in the king’s court. He doesn’t pray to the king, but prays to The King.
Indeed, he is so bound up in his devotion to God, that the only way the people could find a way to imprison Daniel was if it was in connection to his faith.
Before we get to that part of the story, Daniel is first summoned into the presence of king Nebuchadnezzar to interpret his dream.
“Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste and said thus to him: ‘I have found among the exiles of Judah a man who will make known to the king the interpretation.’ The king declared to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar…” -Daniel 2:25-26
At this point in the story, Daniel’s name in the kings court is still referred to as Belteshazzar, his given Babylonian name. This is the name the Babylonian people want to know him by.
In the presence of the king, Daniel has the opportunity to be a glory stealer and a credit taker, but instead, Daniel gives credit to his God for the interpretation of the dream.
“Daniel answered the king and said, ‘No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers can show to the king the mystery that the king as asked, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known…'” -Daniel 2:27-28
Daniel ensures that the King of Kings gets the glory for the wonder performed.
King Nebuchadnezzar then gives gifts and honor to Daniel for his service rendered. As time goes by, Daniel continued to gain favor and blessing from the king, and he is asked to interpret a second dream. This time however…
2. We start to see a shift in Daniel’s name from being called Belteshazzar to Daniel.
In chapter 4 of the Book of Daniel, it actually reads as if King Nebuchadnezzar himself was the author. After he has just summoned all the wise men to interpret a second dream, we read in verse 8-9 …
“At last Daniel came in before me – he who was named Belteshazzar after the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods – and I told him the dream, saying, ‘O Belteshazzar…'” -Daniel 4:8:9
As the events unfolded in real-time, the king referred to Daniel as Belteshazzar (verse 9,18,19), but as the king gives us his account after the fact (what we are reading in Chapter 4), he refers to Daniel as Daniel.
This is significant, because now people are starting to see Daniel for his connection to his God, and letting that relationship define him, rather than the false god and false name they tried to pin on him (Belteshazzar).
3. Belteshazzar has his name changed by others back to Daniel
Daniel has now gained quite a reputation for himself as a man who can interpret dreams, and because he refuses to take the credit for himself, he has also gained a reputation as a servant of the Most High.
In chapter 5 we read that Nebuchadnezzar’s son, Belshazzar (not Belteshazzar), goes off and does some very foolish things – drink wine from stolen vessels from the house of the LORD, and praise the gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.
Enter the cryptic human hand.
It appears and writes a prophetic word of doom for the young king that no one is able to read. If only they knew someone who could interpret dreams…
Oh wait… they do! And you know who they asked for? Daniel, not Belteshazzar, Daniel. They needed someone with a connection to the Most High to understand these prophetic words. The queen offered up the best known person for the job…
“There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the spirit of the holy gods. …light and understanding and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him, and… an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation.” – Daniel 5:11-12
Now let Daniel be called, she said, because this was now the primary name that he was known for. From this moment on in the Book of DANIEL, whenever he is mentioned, it is only by his given name.
4. Daniel’s faith in a holy God is what truly defines him.
The Babylonians tried to give him a different name, convert him to their ways, their thinking, their ideas, and their gods, but the reverse happened. Now they were defining Daniel for his connection to The Name, and they were seeking after his thoughts, his ways, and his God!
Indeed, Daniel’s connection to his God was so strong, that he is referred to as a man of light, with an excellent spirit within him. He was actually such a godly man, that Daniel’s jealous, pagan counterpart wise men, couldn’t find any fault in him to remove him from the office they craved.
“Then these men said, ‘We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.'” -Daniel 6:5
Daniel is so unlike these people, that the only way they can find fault in him is to design a law that would prohibit him from following the law of God.
Imagine if that could be said of us – that we are so bound up in our love for God and His law, that our faith becomes the very thing that others define us by!
I’ve got work to do.