Ashpenaz the Chief Eunuch (Daniel 1), 2019

In chapter 16 (“A Flock of Eunuchs”) of OtherWise Christian: A Guidebook for Transgender Liberation, I mention Ashpenaz in passing as I describe the variety of eunuchs mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. Ashpenaz was the chief eunuch of the court in Baylon and took (the prophet) Daniel (of the lion’s den) under wing, along with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (of the fiery furnace).

Peterson Toscano and Liam Hooper dig deeper into what we know about Ashpenaz in the 4th episode of their Bible Bash Podcast. While the Book of Daniel focuses a lot on Daniel, Peterson and Liam take the time to listen more carefully for what we might understand about Ashpenaz, rather than skimming right on past him as most do.

Peterson’s reading of Ashpenaz is a wonderful example of how a text can come alive, when the reader puts their heart into it. Peterson applies his experience as an actor, together with well-developed empathy, to imagine the feelings of these children of Judah, as well as Ashpenaz, as they meet one another in Babylon.

Listen for yourself at Bible Bash, Episode 4!

We know that Ashpenaz, the caregiver/caretaker, was a eunuch. Some scholars also assume that Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, as captured slaves and foreigners, would have also been castrated (becoming eunuchs). That is also the position that I take in OtherWise Christian.

Like so many OtherWise folk, these characters are negotiating their places within the confines empire, while managing their own trauma and building personal relationships of integrity. Ashpenaz becomes a parental figure to these young, traumatized children, who have been stolen from their families.

This episode also mentions Deuteronomy 22:5 and Isaiah 56, as well as both of the Ethiopian Eunuchs (Jeremiah 38:1–13 and Acts 8:26–40).

Compiled by Mx. Chris Paige on June 29, 2019.

Note: This blog is intended to be an on-going work in progress. Please contact us if you have corrections or are able to contribute further context or reflections.

4 thoughts on “Ashpenaz the Chief Eunuch (Daniel 1), 2019

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