3 The king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of his court officials,[d] to bring some of the Israelite s from the royal family and from the nobility— 4 young men without any physical defect, good-looking, suitable for instruction in all wisdom, knowledgeable, perceptive, and capable of serving in the king’s palace—and to teach them the Chaldean language and literature. 5 The king assigned them daily provisions from the royal food and from the wine that he drank. They were to be trained for three years, and at the end of that time they were to serve in the king’s court.[e] 6 Among them, from the descendants of Judah, were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 7 The chief official gave them other names: he gave the name Belteshazzar to Daniel, Shadrach to Hananiah, Meshach to Mishael, and Abednego to Azariah.
What better way to keep control over people than to bring in the young ones and train them to be what you want them to be. Find the best of them and treat them well, convince them that they are far better off in the hands of their new rulers than they ever were under the previous leaders and rules. They only wanted the best of the best though, the seconds would be left behind. They would train them and convert them to the way of thinking of the Babylonians. It would be a complete training. All of there ways of thinking needed to be changed.
This also did one other thing. If you have the children of the leaders of the people you have concurred those left behind will behave themselves. When you take the best of the best, they tend to come from the upper class people there. These are the ones who were well educated.
To make sure that he had both their hearts and minds the king would feed them only the best foods and wine, and let them stay in only the best places. His goal was to change them mentally, spiritually, and physically. The training would go on for three years. Everything they saw for three complete years was to be nothing but the ways of the people of Babylon.
They were even assigned new names. King Nebuchadnezzar wanted to make sure nothing from their old ways were left. However what he could not take away from them was the fact that they were dedicated to God, not just in spirit, but also in the names they were given from birth.
Daniel meant- God is my Judge.
Hananiah – Yahweh is gracious.
Mishael- Who is like God?
Azariah- Yahweh is my helper.
The changing of their names could have been taken as a way to help them assimilate into the culture of their new people. In reality it was to subtly pull them away from the God that they were named to serve.
Daniel was changed to Belteshazzar this means keeper of the hidden treasures of Bel. This was one of the god's of the Babylonians.
Hanaaniah was changed to Shadrach, This means “command of Aku” this was the god of the sun. for the Babylonians.
Mishael was changed to Meshach. This name stood for “under the goddess Shach” the predecessor to Venus.
Azariah was changed to Abednego this would be translated as “the servant of fire” The Babylonians also worshiped fire as a god.
Nebuchadnezzar wanted nothing from their old life to exist after the training period was over.