Daniel Fast

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Vegetables in a supermarket in the United States

The Daniel Fast is a religious partial fast that is popular among Evangelical Protestants in the United States in which meat, wine, and other rich foods are avoided in favor of vegetables and water for typically three weeks in order to draw the believer closer to God.[1][2][3] The fast is based on the lifelong kosher diet of the Jewish hero Daniel in the Biblical Book of Daniel and the three-week mourning fast in which Daniel abstained from all meat and wine. A similar observance can be seen with the 40-day season of Lent that is observed by Orthodox, Catholic, and Mainline Protestant Christians,[4] though the Daniel Fast can be as short as 10 days. The passage in Chapter 1 refers to a 10-day test wherein Daniel and others with him were permitted to eat vegetables and water to avoid the Babylonian king's food and wine. After remaining healthy at the end of the 10-day period, they continued the vegetable diet for the three years of their education. The passage in Chapter 10 refers to a three-week fast of no meat, wine, or rich food.[5]

Description[edit]

According to those who encourage this form of fasting, the aim is to refrain from eating what are described in Daniel as "royal foods" including meats and wine. Instead, the diet consists only of vegetables and water. "Pulses" is used instead of "vegetables" in some translations.[5] "Pulses" in this context is often taken as "food grown from seed", including fruit, vegetables or lentils.

Scriptural basis[edit]

Daniel refusing to eat at the king's table, early 1900s Bible illustration

Nebuchadnezzar II became king of the Chaldean Empire in 605 BCE. He invaded the Israelite Kingdom of Judah in 604 BCE, the fifth year of the reign of King Jehoiakim of Judah. After Jehoiakim's son Jeconiah became king, Nebuchadnezzar attacked the Israelite capital of Jerusalem in 597 BCE. In the biblical narrative of the first chapter of the Book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar's siege of Jerusalem happened in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, whose successor Jeconiah is not mentioned.[6] Elsewhere in the Bible, Jehoiakim was already dead at the time of the siege of Jerusalem.[7][8] The first chapter of the Book of Daniel was most likely composed as early as 450 BCE and as late as the 2nd century BCE.[9] In the narrative, the God of the Israelites, Elohim, let King Jehoiakim fall to Nebuchadnezzar.[10] Daniel, three friends, and fellow captives have been brought to the Chaldean capital, the newly rebuilt Babylon, to learn the literature of the Chaldeans. Nebuchadnezzar offered them royal food and wine for the three years of their education. Daniel decided not to defile himself with the royal rations, which included meat that may not have been drained of blood, as required by Jewish law,[11] or that was likely often used as ritual offering to the Babylonian god Marduk and his divine son Nabu.[12][13] Daniel refused to eat foods forbidden by Elohim and instead asked for vegetables and water. The guard charged with their care expressed concern for their health, so Daniel requested a short test of the diet. For 10 days, they were permitted to eat just vegetables, and at the end, the guard was surprised at their good personal appearance and physical and mental health, compared to those who had accepted the royal foods. Therefore, Daniel and his friends were permitted to eat vegetables for the duration of their training.

And the king appointed for them a daily portion of the king’s dainties,[NB 1] and of the wine which he drank, and that they should be nourished three years; that at the end thereof they should stand before the king. Now among these were, of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah...

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the king’s dainties, nor with the wine which he drank...Then said Daniel to the steward whom the prince of the eunuchs had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse[NB 2] to eat, and water to drink...

So he hearkened unto them in this matter, and proved them ten days. And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer, and they were fatter in flesh, than all the youths that did eat of the king’s dainties. So the steward took away their dainties, and the wine that they should drink, and gave them pulse.

— Book of Daniel, ASV, chapter 1, verses 5-16

After continuing with the diet during three years of training, they are judged by the king to be mentally superior to all of his own councilors.[5]

Bust of the anti-Semitic King Antiochus IV at the Altes Museum in Berlin.

Cyrus the Great captured Babylon in 539 BCE, fifty-eight years after the fall of Jerusalem. In the narrative of the tenth chapter of the Book of Daniel, in the third year of the reign of Cyrus, Daniel went into a mourning fast for the first three weeks of the year, including Passover. During the fast, he had no meat, wine, or rich foods. The tenth chapter, and possibly the whole of the Book of Daniel, was composed between 167 and 164 BCE, during the persecution of Jewish people carried out by the Hellenistic King Antiochus IV Epiphanes.[14][15]

In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three whole weeks. I ate no pleasant bread,[NB 3] neither came flesh nor wine into my mouth...

— Book of Daniel, ASV, chapter 10, verses 2-3

Modern practice[edit]

The Daniel Fast became popular as a religious weight-loss diet in the 21st century New Year's resolutions of Evangelical Protestants in the United States and limits food choices to whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and, seeds. The Daniel Fast prescribes the vegan diet in that it excludes the consumption of animal products. The diet also excludes processed foods, additives, preservatives, flavorings, sweeteners, caffeine, alcohol, oils, and products made with white flours.[5] Ellen G. White states that the example of Daniel demonstrates that "a strict compliance with the requirements of God is beneficial to the health of body and mind."[16] In January 2019 Time Magazine reported that Chris Pratt gave it new popularity recently by posting an Instagram story about adopting it as his latest diet."[17]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "royal rations of food" or "food from the royal table" in modern translations
  2. ^ "vegetables" in modern translations
  3. ^ "rich food" or "savory food" in modern translations

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gallop, J. D. (January 25, 2013). "Churches try 'Daniel Fast' for spiritual renewal". USA Today. Florida Today. Retrieved December 30, 2018. They are words taken to heart by Destouche, who has been ushering in the new year with the Daniel Fast -- a growing national trend in evangelical Christian circles.
  2. ^ Khazan, Olga (November 26, 2013). "The Diet From God". The Atlantic. Retrieved December 30, 2018. Motivated by both faith and fitness, today many protestant Christians around the country are, like Daniel, occasionally limiting themselves to fruits and vegetables for 21-day increments.
  3. ^ Hellmich, Nanci (December 2, 2013). "Rick Warren shares the good news about weight-loss plan". USA Today. Retrieved December 30, 2018. Now, in his new book, Warren, 59, founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California, is trying to help people heal their health. The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life (Zondervan, out Tuesday), written with doctors Mark Hyman and Daniel Amen, details a lifestyle program that helped Warren lose 65 pounds in 2011 and propelled members of his congregation to get healthier by dropping more than 250,000 pounds collectively that year.
  4. ^ "Lent: Daniel Fast Gains Popularity". HuffPost. Religion News Service. February 7, 2013. Retrieved December 30, 2018. Forgoing meat, dairy and sweeteners for a season makes the Daniel Fast resemble Orthodox Lent, which restricts consumption of meat, dairy, and oils in the run-up to Easter.
  5. ^ a b c d Bloomer, Richard J; Mohammad M Kabir; Robert E Canale; John F Trepanowski; Kate E Marshall; Tyler M Farney; Kelley G Hammond (2010). "Effect of a 21 day Daniel Fast on metabolic and cardiovascular disease risk factors in men and women" (PDF). Lipids in Health and Disease. 9: 94. doi:10.1186/1476-511X-9-94. PMC 2941756. PMID 20815907.
  6. ^ Coogan, Michael D., ed. (2010). The New Oxford Annotated Bible, New Revised Standard Version, With The Apocrypha (4 ed.). New York, New York: Oxford University Press. p. 1234. ISBN 978-0-19-528960-2. The third year of the reign of King Jehoiakim is 606 BCE (see 2 Chr 36.5-7). Nebuchadnezzar reigned in 605-562 BCE (see 2 Kings 24-25; 1 Chr 6; 2 Chr 36; Jer 27-29), and invaded Israel in 604, but did not attack Jerusalem until 597, when Jehoiakim's son Jehoiachin was king. The difficulties of the dating cannot be resolved; such chronological inaccuracy is typical of folktales (cf. Jdt 1.1).
  7. ^ The New American Bible, Revised Edition (Compact ed.). New York, New York: Oxford University Press. 2011. p. 996. ISBN 978-0-19-529803-1. According to 2 Kgs 24, the siege of Jerusalem took place after the death of Jehoiakim, but 2 Chr 36:5-8 says that Jehoiakim was taken to Babylon.
  8. ^ Coogan, Michael D., ed. (2010). The New Oxford Annotated Bible, New Revised Standard Version, With The Apocrypha (4 ed.). New York, New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 571–572. ISBN 978-0-19-528960-2. So Jehoiakim slept with his ancestors; then his son Jehoiachin succeeded him...At that time the servants of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came up to Jerusalem, and the city was besieged.
  9. ^ Coogan, Michael D., ed. (2010). The New Oxford Annotated Bible, New Revised Standard Version, With The Apocrypha (4 ed.). New York, New York: Oxford University Press. p. 1233. ISBN 978-0-19-528960-2. Even though the court tales in Daniel are set in the time of the Babylonian exile and immediately following the fall of Babylon (in 539 BCE), they were most likely composed either in the late Persian (450-333 BCE) or early Hellenistic (333-170 BCE) periods, possibly in the eastern Diaspora.
  10. ^ Groves, J. Alan, ed. (October 2006). Daniel 1:2 (in Biblical Hebrew) (The Westminster Leningrad Codex ed.). Westminster Hebrew Institute. Retrieved December 31, 2018. וַיִּתֵּן אֲדֹנָי בְּיָדֹו אֶת־יְהֹויָקִים מֶֽלֶךְ־יְהוּדָה וּמִקְצָת כְּלֵי בֵית־הָֽאֱלֹהִיםCS1 maint: Unrecognized language (link)
  11. ^ The New American Bible, Revised Edition (Compact ed.). New York, New York: Oxford University Press. 2011. p. 996. ISBN 978-0-19-529803-1. ...the meat may not have been drained of blood, as Jewish dietary law requires.
  12. ^ Coogan, Michael D., ed. (2010). The New Oxford Annotated Bible, New Revised Standard Version, With The Apocrypha (4 ed.). New York, New York: Oxford University Press. p. 1234. ISBN 978-0-19-528960-2. His gods, Marduk, Babylon's national god, and Nabu, the king's personal deity.
  13. ^ Coogan, Michael D., ed. (2010). The New Oxford Annotated Bible, New Revised Standard Version, With The Apocrypha (4 ed.). New York, New York: Oxford University Press. p. 1235. ISBN 978-0-19-528960-2. Defile himself by eating the royal rations, which likely contained meat that had been sacrificed and wine that had been poured out as a libation to Babylon's gods.
  14. ^ The New American Bible, Revised Edition (Compact ed.). New York, New York: Oxford University Press. 2011. p. 980. ISBN 978-0-19-529803-1. This work was composed during the bitter persecution carried on by Antiochus IV Epiphanes (167-164 B.C.) and was written to strengthen and comfort the Jewish people in their ordeal.
  15. ^ Coogan, Michael D., ed. (2010). The New Oxford Annotated Bible, New Revised Standard Version, With The Apocrypha (4 ed.). New York, New York: Oxford University Press. p. 1233. ISBN 978-0-19-528960-2. The increasingly detailed descriptions of the period following the division of Alexander's empire to the rule of Antiochus suggest that the apocalyptic sections were composed between 167 and 164 BCE during the Maccabean revolt against the Hellenizing policies of Antiochus and his allies in Jerusalem's priestly circles (see 1 Macc 1).
  16. ^ White, Ellen G (1938). Counsels on Diet and Foods (PDF). ePub for The Ellen G. White Estate[dead link]. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2014-05-02.
  17. ^ Chris Pratt Is Doing the Daniel Fast Diet, but Is It Healthy? http://time.com/5503754/what-is-the-daniel-fast/

External links[edit]