The Daniel fast is mentioned in Daniel 10:2,3: “In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.”
There were two kinds of fasting among the Jews; either a total abstinence from all types of food for at least a whole day, which David observed at the funeral of Abner, 2 Samuel 3:35; or a partial abstinence from the pleasurable kinds of foods that lasted for a considerable time, which Daniel here is speaking of.
In this fast, Daniel practiced an abstinence that was earlier adopted by him and his friends during their initial training when they came to Babylon. We read about that first fast in Daniel 1:8-14,
“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself… So Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink.”
In the above verse the word “vegetables” Heb. zero‘im, means “food derived from plants,” such as grains and vegetables. And according to Jewish tradition, berries and dates were also comprehended in the term. So, Daniel and his friends fast was eating only grains, vegetables, and fruits for a certain amount of time.
The Daniel fast of chapter 10 mentioned abstaining from pleasant foods (sweets), meats, and wine (we know from chapter 1 that Daniel didn’t drink fermented wine). So, this fast consisted of eating vegetables, fruits and plain bread. This bread could have been unfermented bread or crackers as mentioned in De. 16:3 “unleavened bread, even the bread of affliction.”
Also, in this fast, the prophet Daniel did not anoint himself with oil as usual after the eastern manner (2 Samuel 12:20; Matthew 6:17); for the Jews never anointed themselves in times of mourning and humiliation.
Today, people that are working and desire to fast, but are unable to practice total abstinence from food, can certainly reap great benefits by practicing the Daniel fast.
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