Nebuchadnezzar wanted to make Babylonians out of the Jews. He could have learned an important lesson from Moses. Pharoah’s daughter plucked him out of the Nile, adopted him as her own, gave him an Egyptian name, raised him in Pharoah’s household, educated him in the best courts and schools of Egypt, and gave him a place of great honor in the country. But he was not assimilated into the Egyptian culture. He chose instead to identify with the people of God. But notice that Moses was the exception. Most of the Israelites wanted to return to Egypt once hardships began. They couldn’t get over the “leeks and melons” of Egypt. All but two of Moses’ generation died in the wilderness longing for Egypt. I can’t help but wonder if Nebuchadnezzar knew Moses’ story. He tried to change the worldview of the Israelite youth also. Daniel 1:3-4 says, “Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans.”

There are a lot of strange names to our ears in the Old Testament. The book of Daniel has more than its share. One of those names is “Ashpenaz.” He was the “Chief official over Nebuchadnezzar’s school for training the bureaucrats who administered the Babylonian Empire, who was responsible for the training and instruction of Daniel and his companions.”[1] He would change Daniel’s name as well as the names of others who went to his school. He was charged with teaching them the Babylonian culture and history. Smith says, “By putting them in another place, and filling their minds with another learning, and calling them by another name, he was attempting to erode the roots of their distinctive faith in God so that at the end of three years in the royal college, they would emerge with flying colors and a thoroughly Babylonian worldview. They would still be Jews, of course, but they would think, act, behave, and respond exactly like Babylonians.”[2]

Ashpenaz is in America today! The secular education system in America has followed that path and is using the tactics of Nebuchadnezzar. It took a while to get here, but here we are. Most education in early America was private. The exception to this was the public schools in New England. However, even these were run by the local community. They were founded by Christians, and teachers prayed in class and used the Bible for instruction. But today in our much larger public school system, prayer and religious instruction are not allowed. So what happened? Local schools came under increased state control in the mid-1800s and were proclaimed to be religiously “neutral.” But in reality, Christian education had been replaced with agnosticism, and the schools would be thoroughly secularized within 100 years. The Supreme Court put the final nail in the coffin in the 1960s by federally banning prayer and the Bible in schools.[3]  Many parents learned during the pandemic that the main curriculum at public schools was not reading, writing, and, arithmetic. It was the woke culture of the liberal left. It was the gender blender agenda of the gay community. It was the rewriting of American History to suit the demands of minority groups. It was the pervasive focus on sex education at the earliest possible point in children’s lives. “The strategy is very simple. Intoxicate the people of God with the sheer fascination and splendor of this world. Spread the assumption that what they believe could not be true. Gradually erode their distinctive practices and values, and it will not be long before they are so assimilated into the culture that their distinctive calling to live for the glory of God will simply be overwhelmed.” There may be some heroes like Daniel who can resist the draw of the world, but they will be the exception, not the rule.” Most will be unable to resist the seductions of Babylon.[4]

[1] Richards, Larry. 1999. Every Man in the Bible. Nashville: T. Nelson.

[2] Smith, Colin S. 2002. Unlocking the Bible Story. Vol. 2. Chicago, IL: Moody Press.


[4] Smith, Colin S. 2002. Unlocking the Bible Story. Vol. 2. Chicago, IL: Moody Press.