5. And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.
5. Et constituit illis rex demensum diei in die suo ex frusto cibi regis, et ex vino potus ejus. Et ut educarentur annis tribus et a fine illorum starent coram rege.
In this verse, Daniel shews that the king had ordered some youths to be brought to him from Judea, and to be so nourished as to be intoxicated with delicacies, and thus rendered forgetful of their own nation. For we know that wherever there is any cunning in the world, it reigns especially in kings palaces! So Nebuchadnezzar, when he perceived he was dealing with an obstinate people, (and we know the Jews to have been of a hard and unsubdued spirit,) wished to acquire servants spontaneously obedient, aid thus endeavored to soften them with luxuries. This was the reason why he provided for them an allotment of his own meat and drink; as at present it is the greatest honor at princes' tables to be served with a bon-bouche, as they say. Nebuchadnezzar wished this Daniel and his companions, though but captives and exiles, to be brought up not only splendidly but royally, if of the royal race. Through his right of conquest he, had drawn them away violently from their country, as we said yesterday. Hence he does not act thus from any feeling of liberality, and his feeding those miserable exiles from his own table should not be esteemed a virtuous action; but, as we have said, he cleverly reconciles the minds of the boys to be reckoned Chaldeans rather than Jews, and thus to deny their own race. This, then, was the king's intention; but we shall see how God governed Daniel and his companions by His Spirit, and how they became aware of these snares of the devil, and abstained from the royal diet, lest they should become polluted by it. This point will hereafter be treated in its place -- we are now only commenting on the craftiness of the king. He, commanded a daily portion of diet to be distributed to them, not that the spirit of parsimony dictated this daily portion, but the king wished their food should be exactly the same as his own and that of the chiefs.
He adds, that they should be educated for three years; meaning, until they were thoroughly skilled in both the language and knowledge of the Chaldeans. Three years were sufficient for both these objects, since he had selected youths of sufficient talent to learn with ease both languages and sciences. As they were endued with such capacity, it is not surprising that the space of three years had been prescribed by the king. At length, he says, at the end of them, meaning of the three years. We have shown how this ought not to be referred to the boys, as if the king afterwards selected some of them, for we shall see in its own place that a distinct time was fixed beforehand; hence no long refutation is needed. It is certain, then, that the Prophet speaks of the close of the three years. It had been said just before, that they with stand in the palace; but this ought also to be understood of the time of which mention has been made. They did not stand before the king immediately, but were reserved for this purpose. Since the king commanded them to be brought up for the purpose of using their services afterwards Daniel twice repeats -- they were splendidly educated -- seeing the king wished them to become his servants at table and in other duties.