Question: "Was Daniel made a eunuch in Babylon?"

Answer: The Bible does not say whether Daniel was made a eunuch. However, Daniel served as a slave in Babylon during a time in which many slaves were castrated and made eunuchs. Therefore, some have suggested Daniel was castrated as well. There is no biblical evidence either way, which leaves this issue uncertain.

There are certain indicators from Scripture to support the view Daniel was made a eunuch. First, he was never married. Second, as mentioned, he was a slave in a time and place where castration of slaves was common. Third, 2 Kings 20:18 indicates that some of Hezekiah’s descendants would one day be taken from Israel to serve in the palace of the king of Babylon as eunuchs: “And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood that will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” Daniel 1:3 indicates Daniel and his friends were under the authority of the “chief eunuch” (ESV), a man named Ashpenaz. This same verse indicates that these young men were specifically taken in order to serve the king in his palace.

Why would a king have his slaves castrated? Castration was often performed to ensure a king’s advisors did not have children or romantic interests that might tempt them towards betrayal. This procedure was intended to make the subject asexual, disinterested in sex, lacking sexual urges, and unable to produce children.

Of course, it is possible Daniel was not castrated and made a eunuch. First, the reference in 2 Kings 20:18 does not mention Daniel and may not have applied to him. Second, there is no verse that specifically states Daniel was castrated. Third, just because Daniel was single did not necessitate him being made a eunuch. In Matthew 19:12 Jesus says, “For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” God calls some people to remain single for the purpose of serving Him more fully.

While we may wish the Bible were more clear on this issue, it remains uncertain whether Daniel was a eunuch or not. In either case, Daniel’s life stands as a positive example for other followers of God. He remained faithful to the Lord in a pagan culture, served his leaders and nation well, and impacted the lives of many through his faith and through the revelation of many prophecies that have yet to be fulfilled.