Daniel 3





1 Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose

height was three score cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he

set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.”   The

Septuagint Version is full of redundance and interpolation, “In the

eighteenth year King Nebuchadnezzar, who ruled cities and countries, and

all those dwelling (in them)over the earth from India even to Ethiopia,

made a golden image; the height of it was sixty cubits, and the breadth of it

six cubits, and set it up in a plain within the boundary of the province of

Babylon.” The reason for translating Dura “boundary, is natural enough,

for the word. means something approximate to this. Theodotion begins in

the same way, giving the date “the eighteenth year;” the place is ejn pedi>w|

Deeira~| – en pedio Deeira – in the plain of Dura.  As for the rest, it is in agreement

with the text of the Massoretes.  The Peshitta follows a text that must have been

identical with the Massoretic, as also does the Vulgate. The date inserted into the

Greek Version is improbable. At that time, if we take the chronology of II Kings 25:8,

Nebuchadnezzar was engaged in the siege of Jerusalem. Jerusalem was taken in the

nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar, after a two years’ siege. In Jeremiah 52:29 we

are told, however, that Nebuchadnezzar took eight hundred and thirty-two captives

in his eighteenth year, and the difference between Babylonian and Jewish

chronology suggests that the eighteenth year of Jeremiah 52. may be the

nineteenth of II Kings 25.   Against this is the fact that the month of the year

of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar is given (Ibid. v.8), and this implies

the adoption of the Babylonian chronology. It is certainly not to be

expected that Nebuchadnezzar would traverse the long distance that

separated him from his capital merely to erect a statue or obelisk. At the

same time, we are told (Jeremiah 52:29), as we have mentioned above,

that in the eighteenth year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar took eight hundred

and thirty-two persons captive. This may be that he sent these prisoners by

a convoy, for it is clear that a larger number of captives were taken when

Jerusalem was captured than eight hundred and thirty-two. They may have

been taken during the progress of the siege, in sallies, etc. The number of

prisoners taken in the seventh year of Nebuchadnezzar does not suggest

the great numbers that are implied in Ezekiel to be dwelling on the Chebar,

otherwise we might be inclined to regard these differences from the

received chronology as due to a different mode of reckoning. Even though

the date given in Jeremiah 52:29 were the date of the capture of

Jerusalem, it is not at all likely that the capture of an obscure city in the hill

country of Judaea was an event on account of which a special thanksgiving

would be given. The description of the empire of Nebuchadnezzar in the

Septuagint is borrowed from Esther 1:1. In regard to this image, the

statement that it is “golden” does not mean that it was solid gold, any more

than the golden altar (Numbers 4:11) was entirely of gold (Exodus 30:1-3;

37:25-26); that it was an “image” (tzelem) does not necessarily

imply that it was a statue in the form of a human being. In Ezekiel

16:17 there are references to tzalmee zakar, which seem naturally to be

phallus images. Hegel’s opinion (‘AEsthetik’) was that the obelisk was

really a modified phallus image. If that is so, then the proportions of this

tzele are not extravagant for an obelisk. Moreover, these numbers, “sixty”

and “six,” are evidently round numbers, their mnemonic character

maintaining their place. The real numbers might be anything near the

number given; instead of “sixty,” the real number might be not much over

“fifty” cubits, and the “six” cubits the number given as the breadth, might

be, without intentional deception, seven or eight cubits. The proportion, at

all events, in the extreme case of fifty and eight cubits, would not be

extraordinary, even for a statue. It might be a gilded statue on a lofty

column. One other note may be added: 6 and 60, multiplied together, give

360, the number of the days in the Babylonian year. The division of the

circle into 360 degrees is probably due to this Babylonian division of the

year. In the plain of Dura. There are several places in Babylonia which

may be identified with this (Schrader, ‘Keilin-schriften,’ 430). While it may

be outside the wall of the city, this Dura may also have been within it; the

Septuagint rendering favors this — ejn pedi>w| peribo>lou – en pedio

tou peribolou.  It is remarked by Professor Fuller that districts within the city

of Babylon have at times “Dur” as part of the name. Thus, “in Esarhaddon’s

inscriptions, Duru-suanna-ki is that part of Babylon which is elsewhere called

Imgur-Bel, or wall of Babylon.” This would confirm the view — Quatremere’s —

that Duru was within the city wall. Archdeacon Rose (‘Speaker’s

Commentary,’ ad loc.) refers to Oppert as having found near a spot named

Duair the pedestal of a colossal statue, but gives no reference. On the fiat

plains of Mesopotamia, this obelisk of a hundred feet high would be seen

for nearly thirteen miles in every direction, and the gleam from its gilded

top would be visible even further. What was the occasion of this image

being set up? We have no means of even conjecturing. Certainly it was not

merely to seduce the Jews again into idolatry. From the way Marduk

(Merodach) is glorified in the inscriptions of Nebuchadnezzar, the

probability is that it was erected in his honor. Bishop Wordsworth (‘Com.

Daniel’) thinks the statue was of Nebuchadnezzar himself, and quotes

Lenormant (‘Manuel d’Histoire Ancienne,’ 1:237, trans, 1:486).

Lenormaut, in the passage referred to, quotes an inscription in which

Nebuchadnezzar calls himself “the begotten of Marduk” From this

Lenormant comes to the conclusion that, like Caligula in later times,

Nebuchadnezzar demanded worship to be given to himself as a god. But

when we turn back in this same book (‘Manuel d’Histoire Ancienne,’ vol.

1. p. 484, Engl. trans.), we find a number of statements of a similar kind

which invalidate the emphasis which Lenormant would give to this. He

calls Bilit Larpanit, “the mother who bore me;” Sin, “who inspires me with

judgment;” Shamash, “who inspires my body with the sentiment of

justice:” and so on. In saying he was begotten of Marduk, it is not as

claiming the personal possession of the characteristics of divinity that

Nebuchadnezzar made this statement, but as regarding himself to be the

special instrument and favorite of the gods — a posture of mind quite

compatible with the deepest and most real humility. Hippolytus and Jerome

maintain the same view as Lenormant on a priori evidence. There is no

contradiction between Nebuchadnezzar’s ascription of praise to Jehovah as

a God of gods and a Revealer of secrets, in ch.2:47, and his erection of this

image to Merodach.   That Jehovah was a God of gods did

not prevent Merodach being that also, and even greater.


2 “Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together

the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the

treasurers, the counselors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the

provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which

Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.  3  Then the princes, the governors,

and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counselors, the sheriffs,

and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the

dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and

they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.”  The

Septuagint is greatly interpolated, “And Nebuchadnezzar, king of kings and

(kurieu>wn – kurieuon - ruler) (th~v oijkoume>nhv o[lhv – taes oikoumenaes

 holaes - of the whole inhabited earth), sent to gather together all nations, peoples,

and tongues, governors and generals, rulers and overseers, executors and those

in authority, according to their provinces, and all in the whole inhabited earth,

to come to the dedication of the golden image which Nebuchadnezzar the king

had set up.”  The word denoting the “inhabited world” is one used first of the

Greek world (Funeral Oration of Demosthenes, Th~v oijkomenh~v to< plei~ston

me>rov Taes oikoumenaes to pleiston meros, then of the Roman world as distinct

from the barbarian (Polybius, 1:4. 6, To< th~v o[lhv oijkoume>nhv sch~ma

To taes holaes oikoumenaes schaema); in this latter sense it is used in

Luke 2:1. The phrase, “nations. peoples, and tongues,” is one that

occurs with great frequency in Revelation, and also the above phrase, th~v

o[lhv oijkoume>nhv – taes holaes oikoumenaes. This is an indication of the

use made by the Apostle John of this version of Daniel as distinct from the

Massoretic text It may also be observed that the phrase, “all in the whole

inhabited earth,” is placed as equal to “all the rulers of the provinces,” which

makes it at least  possible that a misreading of the original text has occasioned

the exaggeration in this particular clause. In the third verse the order is

different, and to some extent the names of the officials are different also;

satra>pai – satrapai -  is left out, and tu>rannoi – turannoi appears in its stead,

though not in the  same place. Further, there are persons mentioned “great in authority.”

This variation may be due to an uncertainty in the mind of the translator as to

the exact equivalent in Greek for the Aramaic terms. It is to be noted that

the inhabitants of the whole earth” disappear from this repetition. The last

editor of the Greek text may have had two renderings before him, and

drew from the one the second verse, and from the other the third.

Theodotion’s rendering, while in closer agreement with the Massoretic

text, yet differs from it to some extent, appearing to make the latter half of

v. 2 explanatory of the former, which contains the more technical

designations. In v. 3 there is a change in the order of the terms, as to

some extent a change in the terms. In the Peshitta there are evident traces

that the translator had not understood the technical meaning of the terms

here used. The list given is “great men of might — lords, rulers, Agardaei,

Garabdaei, Tarabdaei, Tabathaei, and all the rulers of the province.”

These mysterious names, that seem those of tribes, have no existence

elsewhere. It is singular that these words, if they are in their original shape

— which they seem certainly, to be — and to appearance of Persian origin,

were unintelligible to one writing on the Persian frontier at most three

centuries after the critical date of Daniel. The Parthian Empire retained

much of the Persian character. How was it that words of Persian meaning

had disappeared there, and still remained in use, or at least still continued

to be intelligible, in Palastine? The probability is that the names have

undergone so great change in course of transcription that their original

form can no longer be recognized. The Vulgate does not call for remark.

The names of these different grades of officials are (as we now have them)

some indubitably Persian, as ahashdarpan; others unmistakably Assyrian,

sagan pehah; and there are some that have no recognized etymology, as

tiphtaye: but there are none that are even plausibly derived from Greek.

Yet this class of words is precisely the class where the influence of the

language of the military governing nation would be manifest. The fact that

while the Massoretic text has eight classes of rulers who are summoned,

the Septuagint has only six, throws a suspicion on the whole list. The

Septuagint, however, adds, pa>ntav tou<v kata< th<n oijkoume>nhn –

pantas tous kata tae oikoumenaen -  all those in the whole earth), which

may be the result of misreading of kol shiltoni medeen-atha, or it may be

a rendering of it, referring back to the classes already enumerated (a]rcontav

archontas - being understood, omitting the ray). In  Theodotion and Jerome

there are seven classes. Only in the Peshitta are there the same number of classes

as in the Massoretic. The Peshitta has as this first class rabai heela’, used in the

New Testament, e.g. Luke 22:4, of “chief captains.” It is possible that rabuti,

or some derivative from it, was in the original text here, and this was changed

into the better known satrap. Sagan does not call for remark; as said above

(ch.2:48), it is derived from shakun (Assyrian); the Hebrew equivalent appears in

Jeremiah 51:23 and Ezekiel 23:6, and elsewhere. Pebah is also Assyrian in origin,

also elsewhere used in Scripture. Adargazrayya seems a compound from adar and

gazar, “to divide.” Furst would make this word mean” astrologers of the god Adar.”

Professor Bevan would derive it from endarz-gar, a Persian word meaning

“counselor” — “a word which was still in use under the Sassanians.” That the

word had any connection with this is disproved by the fact that in the Peshitta

it is rendered Agardaei. If the word in question had survived from the

Achaemenids to the Sassanids, its meaning would necessarily be known to the

Peshitta translator, whose date held between the periods of these two Persian

dynasties. A Persian word of the date of the Achsemenids to have survived

to the age of the Sassanids, must have been known in the intervening Parthian

period. A similar difficulty occurs in regard to the next word, gedabrayya — the

Syrian translator has simply transferred it. The simplest interpretation is

that it is a variation on gizbarayya (Ezra 7:21), and means “treasurers,”

which is still in use in the Syriac of the Peshitta, e.g. II Kings 10:22.

The question is complicated by the fact that the word which occupies the

same place in the similar list in v. 27 is had-dabra.  When we turn to the

Peshitta for that verse, there is another word, raur-bona. The Septuagint,

by rendering fi>loiv  – philois, shows that their reading was habereen. All this

proves how utterly futile it is to build anything on the presence of late

words in Daniel. The presence of early words from the nature of the case,

is more significant. Old and unintelligible words would never be inserted in

place of new and intelligible, though the reverse process might readily take

place: aYr"B]t;D] (dethaberayya) is rendered usually “judges,” and is

generally derived from the Pehlevi; but if td" (dath) means a “firman,” a

“command,” or “decree,” in Aramaic, then the addition bar in Persian is

rendered less certain. Here, again, the Peshitta translator was unaware of

the meaning of the word, and renders by the mysterious word tarabdaei.

The last class mentioned is the Tiphtae. This term seems to be omitted in

the three Western versions at least there are only six names of ranks of

rulers given in these versions, and this is a seventh. Of course, it may be

that some name earlier in the list is explanatory and added later than the

time when these versions were made. The Peshitta has the word Tabathaei,

which has all the appearance of a national name. The word Tiphtae

assumes in the K’thib a Syriac form, which, as we before remarked, is an

indication of the original dialect of the book. Notwithstanding what

Professor Bevan has asserted, something may be said for the conjecture

that it is connected with afta, “to advise.” But in the extreme doubt in

which we are in regard to what the text precisely is, it is something like

waste of time to do more than chronicle opinions. This feeling of

uncertainty is increased by the fact that, as above mentioned, the two lists

in the two verses before us do not agree in the three Western versions. The

list in v. 27 purports to be the same as that given here, and differs from it

greatly. All that we may assume is that there were assembled different

classes of the officials of the Babylonian Empire. The reading should not be

medeenatha, “of the provinces;” but medeenta “of the province;” the

officials that were assembled were those merely of the province of

Babylon. We would maintain this, although the versions are against it,

because there would be no difference in the original unpointed text.


4 “Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations,

and languages, 5 That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute,

harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and

worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up.” The

Septuagint rendering is, “And the herald proclaimed to the multitudes, To you

it is announced, peoples and countries, nations and tongues, when ye hear the

sound of the trumpet, the pipe, the harp, the sackbut, and psaltery, of chorus,

and of all kinds of music, that ye fall down and worship the golden image

which King Nebuchadnezzar set up.” It is clear that the Septuagint translator

rendered lyj as “host,” and translated b] as if it were l]. The balanced cadence of

the next clause seems more natural, if due to the Aramaic source than to

the Greek translator. The musical instruments are also arranged in the same

cadenced fashion, broken to some extent by sumfwni>a – sumphonia –

harmonious – (from which we get our word symphony – CY – 2014).

Theodotion is, as usual, in closer agreement with the Massoretic text, but

omits sumfwni>a. The Peshitta in the fourth verse agrees not only word

for word, but we might almost say syllable for syllable, with the Massoretic

text. In the fifth verse it omits pesanterin; instead of sabka, it has kinora,

which is usually regarded as the Hebrew equivalent of kiqa>ra – kithara

harp; instead of sumfwni>a, it has tziphonia, which suggests a different

etymology. It is true Strack (‘Neu Hebraische Sprache’) points out that s has

a tendency to become x before syllables with the d sound or at the end of words,

but this is neither of these; the syllable with x is the first, not the last, and there

is no d or t sound in the word. Jerome is in strict verbal agreement with the

Massoretic text. We shall have to devote a short excursus to the names of the

Musical instruments which occur here. In eagerness to find proofs of the late

Origin of the Book of Daniel — of its origin in the times of the Hellenic

domination, karoza was derived from kh>rux – kaerux – hearald; preacher –

that etymology is universally  abandoned now. O people, nations, and languages.

It ought rather to be peoples. Bishop Wordsworth remarks on the resemblance which

this phrase bears to that used of the mystical Babylon in Revelation (13:7;

17:15), and adds that she also “commands them to fall down and worship

the image which she has set up.” In regard to the following verse, the

sculptures of Nineveh prove the prominence given to music in all important

occasions, as the celebration of a triumph or the dedication of a temple.

The names of the musical instruments are not so generally preserved. It

was most likely when the rays of the morning sun smote the golden tip of

the obelisk, that there came the burst of music which was to serve as a

signal for all the multitudes to fall down and worship. The image was

looked upon as the sign of the god it represented; it received the worship

meant for him.


6 “And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the

same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.”  The only

difference between the Septuagint and the Massoretic text is that instead of

rendering, “shall be cast,” it is put in the plural active, “they shall cast him.”

There may have been a difference of reading — hnewmr]yi instead of

amer]t]yi. It is, perhaps, more probable that it is simply that the translator

preferred this construction to the one which would have resulted from a

more literal translation. Theodotion,the Peshitta, and Vulgate agree with

the Massoretic. In that very hour. It has been suggested by Professor Fuller

that the way the shadow fell would enable them to fix the hour. This,

however, is giving an exact astronomical meaning to what had only a

rhetorical significance. The word shaa is very vague; it means “time” in

general, it means “any short interval of time,” from some days to a

moment. Shall be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. The word

ˆWTa" is of uncertain derivation; it is found in both dialects of Aramaic. It

occurs in the Targum of pseudo-Jonathan, in the story of the death of

Haran and the preservation of Abraham, which seems distinctly imitated

from the events related here. In Smith’s ‘Life of Asshurbanipal,’ we find

this punishment more than once resorted to, e.g. pp. 163, 164. Professor

Bevan maintains, in answer to Lenormant’s appeal to this as a proof of the

author’s accurate knowledge of Babylonian methods of punishment, that

this is derived from Jeremiah 29:22, Zedekiah and Ahab, “whom the

King of Babylon roasted in the fire.” Only the action implied by the verb

hl;q; (qalah) is not complete burning, as that implied in the punishment

before us, but rather the more cruel torture of slowly burning The word is

used of “parched corn” (Leviticus 2:14); it is used also of the heat of fever

(Psalm 38:8). There is no verbal indication that the author of Daniel was at

all influenced by this passage.



The Burning Fiery Furnace (v. 6)




sin in the present instance would have been apparent, viz.


Ø      Jews, who believed in a spiritual God, were invited to idolatry. This is

the substitution of a material for the spiritual as an object of worship. To a

spiritual man all compliance with religious forms in which it appears to him

that material rites take the place of spiritual service, involves the same sin

of idolatry (“God is a Spirit and they that worship Him must worship

Him in spirit and in truth!” John 4:24).


Ø      Jews, who worshipped a holy God, were invited to bow before the

image of an unholy god. The character of the Babylonian divinities was

immoral. To worship one of them was to do honur to immorality. Where

there are morally degrading features of any religion — such as the use of

indulgences and the confessional in the Church of Rome — association

with that religion must endanger our moral character.


Ø      Men who had no faith in a false god were required to worship him. This

would involve deceit. The guilt of an ignorant, believing idolater would be

as nothing beside that of one who bowed before the idol knowing it was a

false god. No lies are worse than lies in religion. The first religious duty is

— “be sincere.”


Ø      Jews, believing in the jealousy of their God, were required to honor a

rival deity. A heathen could worship a strange god, because he could find

room in his pantheon for any number of divinities. To the Jew, the Eternal

is the only God. God demands the sole worship of our hearts. We cannot

give Him divided allegiance (Joshua 24:15; I Kings 18:21; Matthew 6:24).





Ø      It is foolish. Persecution can neither convince the intellect nor secure the

allegiance of the affections. At most it can only secure external obedience

and hypocritical devotion. Moreover, the attempt to determine the

religious worship of men by authority, even if it could succeed, would only

be justified on the assumption of infallibility on the part of the ruler. But

political authorities have no monopoly of truth; therefore, as the persecutor

is as likely to be in error as the persecuted, and as persecution never tends

to secure real conviction, the resort to it is a proof of twofold folly.


Ø      It is also cruel. Nebuchadnezzar’s fury was excited by the opposition of

the three Jews, and he issued a most ferocious order for their destruction.

Their conduct was regarded as doubly offensive — a rebellion against the

king and an insult to his god. Thus religious motives are used to justify the

grossest cruelty.



CONSEQUENCES. The three Jews did not need to avail themselves of

Nebuchadnezzar’s offer of a time for reflection. It is dangerous to parley

with temptation, No allowance for circumstances, no excuses of casuistry,

should confuse our conviction of the duty of fidelity to God. This is simple

and certain. Faith in Providence, however, will strengthen us in the

performance of the duty. The three Jews believed that God could deliver

them (v. 17), and therefore they trusted themselves to His care. God may

require the absolute sacrifice of all we have; yet, in yielding Him

unconditional devotion, we may be assured that He will not forget us, nor

allow us to suffer more than is necessary for the accomplishment of His will

of love.





Ø      When He does not save us from falling into trouble He can prevent the

trouble from really hurting us. God did not intervene to hinder the

execution of the royal decree, but He delivered the three Jews from all

harmful consequences of it. God does not save us from toil and sorrow and

death, but His grace can take the sting and curse out of them. While leaving

us in the world, He can protect us from the evil of it, and though, unlike the

three Jews, we may suffer pain in the furnace of affliction, this may do us

no harm, but rather work our highest good.


Ø      By delivering us in trouble rather than saving us from trouble, God is

most honored and we are most blessed. The issue of this incident was the

declaration of the glory of God (vs. 28-29), and the promotion of His

faithful servants (v. 30). It is better to be first tried and then saved than

never to be in danger or trouble.


7 “Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound

of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of music, all

the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped

the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.” The

Septuagint renders, “And at that time, when all the nations (Gentiles) heard

the sound of the trumpet, the pipe and harp, sackbut and psaltery, and

every sound of music, then all the nations (Gentiles), tribes, and tongues,

fell down and worshipped the golden image which Nebuchadnezzar the

king had set up.” The last words, kate>nantu toutou~ – katenanti touton  -

had set up - evidently belong to  the beginning of the next verse. It is possible

h]cou – aechou – sound -  is due to another reading, but may also have been

the result of a desire for variation. Theodotion does not differ from the Massoretic

text The two Greek versions agree with the Massoretic in omitting sumfwni>a

sumphonia - harmony. The rendering of the Peshitta is, “In the hour when the

nations heard the voice of the horn, and flute, and lyre, (qithra), and harp (kinnor),

and pipe (tziphonia), and all kinds of music, all these peoples, nations, and tongues,

fell down and worshipped the golden image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had

set up” It is to be noted that kinnor, its Shemitic equivalent, here again follows

qithra, and that pesanterin is again omitted. Jerome, in opposition to the

Massoretic and the Greek versions, inserts symphonia. In regard to the

Massoretic text here, as in the fifth verse, we have qathros instead of the

qithros of the K’thib; in this, the K’thib agrees, as generally, with the

Eastern instead of the Western form the word assumes. Professor Bevan

compares the use of ydiK] here with that in the Palmyrene inscriptions

(Vogue 15). Zemara is said by Keil to refer only to song; but Furst,

Gesenius, and Wirier apply the word to instrumental music. It may, as a

matter of fact, be either; if it be a chorus of voices, it is then equivalent to

sumfwni>a. This verse simply chronicles the obedience that was at once

and unquestioningly rendered to the command of Nebuchadnezzar. The

obedience of these Gentiles served to bring out into clearer relief the

steadfastness of these Jews, or, what appears to the king and his courtiers,

their obstinacy. Not impossibly, their resistance to the king was emphasized

by their remaining standing amid the crowd of those prostrate officials.


8 “Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and

accused the Jews.” The Septuagint is in this verse closer to the Massoretic

than is Theodotion. The latter has nothing to represent the hn;d] lbeq’Alk;

(kol-qobayl dnah) of the original, which appears in our versions as

“wherefore.” The Septuagint renders kate>nanti tou>tou -  (see v. 7). The

Peshitta also has omitted “wherefore;” in the next clause it is slavishly accurate,

giving the peculiar turn of the phrase in the original, ‘achalu qartzchun, “to

devour pieces of them.” It occurs in the Syriac of Luke 16:1; it is in the

Targum of Psalm 15:3. The Vulgate presents no points worthy of

notice. It is evident that “Chaldean” is here used in its ethnic sense of the

nation, not in its professional sense as of the alleged class. We must

remember that “Chaldean” is not equivalent to “Babylonian.” As we have

seen, the Chaldeans were intruders in Babylon, and to them

Nebuchadnezzar belonged. It was but natural that native-born Chaldeans,

who reckoned themselves to be of the same kin as the king, objected to

have their rights postponed to a set of Jews. The fact that the three friends

are not named, or in any way designated, but the whole Jewish race is

referred to, shows that the purpose of these Chaldeans involved the whole

Jewish people, and that they singled out Shadrach, Meshach, and

Abednego simply as test cases. Their elevation to positions of such trust

might well have caused jealousy of them.


9 “They spake and said to the King Nebuchadnezzar, O

king, live for ever.  10 Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man

that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery,

and dulcimer, and all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the

golden image:  11 And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he

should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. 12 There are

certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of

Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego; these men, O king,

have not regarded thee; they serve not thy gods, nor worship the

golden image which thou hast set up.”  The differences here between the

Septuagint and the Massoretic are slight. Only, it may be observed, that in

the repetition of the decree to the king, sumfwni>a does not occur. Instead

of saying, “they serve not thy gods,” it renders, “thine idol they do not

serve.” Further, the word td"bi[] (‘abeedath), translated “business,” is

omitted, probably implying the omission in the original text of ˆwOht;y.

Theodotion’s Version is considerably briefer in regard to the ninth verse, as

it omits “answered and said,” and “Nebuchadnezzar;” otherwise it is in

closer agreement with the Massoretic text, only it too omits sumfwni>a. In

the Peshitta we find a variation in the ninth verse; its rendering begins,

“And they said to Nebuchadnezzar the king.” As before mentioned, in the

list of instruments pesanterin is omitted, and kinnor appears; otherwise the

agreement is close with the Massoretic text. The Vulgate agrees with the

Peshitta in its rendering of the ninth verse, but, unlike the Greek Version,

inserts symphonia, and unlike the Peshitta, inserts psalterium. As to the

Aramaic text, the most noticeable thing is the fact that in the K’thib,

instead of ay;n]poM]Ws (sumphonia) there appears ay;n]poysi (siphonia). The

twelfth verse has this peculiarity in it, that it is the only case where ty"A, the

sign of the accusative, so frequent in the Targums, occurs in Biblical

Aramaic. In the inscription on the Hadad Statue at Sindschirli, line 28, we

have htw (v-th-h) as the sign of the acensative; as in the case before us, it

serves for the oblique case of a pronoun. The adulatory address with which

these Chaldeans begin is quite in accordance with Eastern usage. The point

of the accusation against these three officials was that, being officials, they

did not confirm by obedience the solemn decree of the monarch. Further, if

this statue or obelisk were erected to Marduk (Merodach), whom

Nebuchadnezzar specially worshipped, and whom he regarded as his

special protector, the element of treason against the state might be implied

in this refusal to give due obeisance to the tutelary god of the Babylonian

Empire and its sovereign. The politics and warfare of that period

proceeded on the assumption that the gods directly interfered in the affairs

of the nations. Any slight done to the national god would — as it was

believed — be avenged on the nation who had suffered it to pass

unpunished. They summoned deities to leave cities they were besieging,

and tried to persuade the inhabitants that even their god was on the side of

the besieger. Thus Sennacherib (II Kings 19:22) asserts that Jehovah

must be offended with Hezekiah. and Pharaoh-Necho claimed to Josiah

that he went at God’s command to fight against Assyria (II Chronicles

35:21). According to heathen notions generally, Chaldean and Babylonian

included, some very slight inadvertence might vitiate a sacrifice, and

change it from being a propitiation to the gods to an offence to them. If an

inadvertence might thus be maleficent, much more direct disrespect such as

that shown by these Jewish officials. But the accusers lay stress on another

side of the matter. Nebuchadnezzar had set them over the affairs of the

province of Babylon; but he had set up the golden image. There was thus

an element of personal disrespect hinted at, made all the more heinous that

the element of ingratitude was also present. But how is it that Daniel is not

introduced into this narrative? Why was it that he was not attacked rather

than his friends? It may be argued that this is another tradition, and that the

union of Daniel with the three friends is due to that dovetailing of which so

many traces are found — or alleged to be found — in the Pentateuch. But

the editor who did the dovetailing in the present instance, did more than

dovetail — they are introduced at various points in the narrative of the

preceding chapter. Why did he not complete his work, and explain why

Daniel was absent? If it is a work of imagination, it is necessary to account

for the absence of Daniel; even if it is the result of editorial labor, still the

absence of Daniel has to be accounted for or explained away. This would

press heavily on one writing in the days of the Maccabees. On one

chronicling events as they occurred, this might easily be passed over,

because at the time every one in Babylon would be perfectly aware why

Daniel was not there. The absence of all reference to Daniel in this chapter

is an indirect proof of the antiquity and genuineness of the book of which it

forms part. The reasons for Daniel’s absence may easily be imagined. He

might have been sent on official duty to a distant province of the empire,

or, though this is not so likely, his presence at this festival might not be

required A prosaic but possible solution of Daniel’s absence might be

illness. If he were known to be incapacitated by sickness from taking part

in any public function, the Chaldeans would not damage their case by

referring to him.



The Working of Base and Bitter Envy (vs. 8-12)


The men of Chaldea, who plumed themselves with great titles, but

possessed little souls, were not content with rendering servile homage to

the king’s golden image; they must needs turn informers against those who

had the courage of religious conviction. While true religion ennobles a man

every way, superstition dwarfs intellect and soul — emasculates a man. A

gnat may sting to madness a mettled war-horse, and some men who are

impotent to do good are busy with venting malicious spite on nobler

natures than their own.



progeny of a base parentage. Under pretence of solicitude for the king,

they were chiefly anxious to rid themselves of formidable rivals. These

accused persons were foreigners, captives, and had been raised to eminent

offices by virtue of their personal merits. But the little-minded native

aristocrats could not endure this competition for royal honors, and were

willing enough to degrade and injure good men, if only they could promote

their own worldly interest. That is a despicable vice which has selfishness

for its root. The envious man is ashamed to own his real object.


·         ENVY STOOPS TO USE THE MEANEST ARTS. These Chaldeans

invented a new name, a name of opprobrium, by which to designate these

hated rivals. As the foes of Christ invented the name of “Christian” as a

byword and a reproach, so these Chaldean informers used the word “Jew”

as a stigma of disgrace. Further, they sought to flatter the king with all the

arts of sycophancy. They flattered his greatness, his love of power, his

bigotry, his religious zeal, his autocratic will. The best friends of a monarch

are those who speak in his ear at proper times most unpalatable truths, and

seek wisely to abate the growth of imperious tyranny. But these men, with

ingenious skill, sought only to inflame the baser passions of the king. They

reminded him that his royal authority was outraged; that his gods were

dishonored; that his honor, as a truthful monarch, was at stake. No stone

was left unturned by which to gain their nefarious end. Theirs was a busy

zeal, worthy of a nobler object.



From what appears in the narrative, there was no occasion for these

Chaldean magnates to make any accusation against the Hebrews. It was no

part of their office to become public prosecutors. The idolatry of that age

was extremely tolerant. Every nation and people were allowed to worship

their own gods. If these Chaldean satraps had cherished a spark of

generosity in their breasts, they would have argued thus: “These Hebrews

have a religious faith of their own. Let them worship what and how they

please.” But it is very probable that these officious governors had

themselves instigated the king to make this cruel decree, and had narrowly

watched its effect upon the conduct of the Hebrew youths. Now they think

they have caught them in a deadly snare. Now they will exaggerate their

offence before the king. Now they will accuse them, not only of

withholding homage from the new idol, but with dishonor to all Chaldea’s

gods — with utter contempt of the king himself.



men proceeded upon the principle that they foresaw and foreordered the

course of events. Clearly it seemed to them, the series of events was as

certain as the links in a chain. The king would be incensed. These Hebrew

youths would be destroyed. Themselves would be promoted to honor.

But though the first step was successful, and their whole plan seemed

about to bear its expected fruit, lo! miscarriage and disappointment! If

they could succeed in circumventing and slaughtering these innocent men,

they would have proceeded to accuse Daniel also. But the executors of

the royal mandate were the only persons slain. The Hebrew youths enjoyed

in the furnace the presence of A HEAVENLY COMPANION and GUEST!

The God of the Hebrews received royal homage and public regard. The

Envious satraps were put to silence and to shame.



it can gain its paltry end, it cares not how much suffering of body and of

mind it inflicts on others. They knew that the penalty decreed for

noncompliance with the idolatrous practice was arbitrary and cruel; but

what cared they? They might have foreseen that if these three Hebrew

notables should suffer death, it would be the beginning of fiery persecution

against the whole nation of Israel; but what cared they? Their pride and

ambition were wounded by the elevation to office of these young Hebrews,

and if they could only bring about their rivals’ downfall, they were

unscrupulous what amount of suffering would befall the Hebrews. Envy

has ever been a deadly foe to brotherly love.  (Envy shoots at others but

wounds herself.  English Proverb)


13 “Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to

bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Ahed-nego. Then they brought these

men before the king.”  The Septuagint differs from the Massoretic in

translating am;j] (hama) as a verb, and therefore rendering, qumwqei<v

ojrgh~|– thumotheis orgae - infuriated with rage. Theodotion is in close

agreement with the Massoretic, as also the Peshitta, with this difference, that

the Syriac repeats the preposition, in which it is followed by Jerome. The word

translated. “brought” presents some grammatical difficulty: the word is

Wyt"yhe (haythayoo). The form seems active, but the meaning is passive.

Professor Bevan suggests a difference of vocalization. The accusation of

those who desired to devour these Jewish councilors was successful in its

immediate aim. Nebuchadnezzar is filled with rage and fury against those

who, having been the creatures of his favor, had yet dared to do despite

to his authority. It might even be that their unheard-of want of courtesy to

the monarch would also be regarded as discourtesy still more flagrant to

the god to whose honor the statue or pillar had been erected, and this

dedicative feast instituted. He commands the criminals to be brought to

him. Fierce and furious as Nebuchadnezzar is, fanatic as he is for the

religion of his fathers, he is yet just. These officials, however

disrespectfully they have acted, have yet a right to be heard in their own

defense. They are sent for by the monarch, and in due course they come. It

is not impossible that Nebuchadnezzar, with all his rage and fury, was yet

shrewd enough to see envy behind the accusation; it is because these men

are Jews, and have been highly advanced, that the Chaldeans are ready to

bring accusations of impiety against them.


14 “Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said unto them, Is it true, O

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor

worship the golden image which I have set up?”  The Septuagint

rendering here is, “Whom when he saw, Nebuchadnezzar the king said to

them, Wherefore, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do ye not worship

my gods, nod before the golden image which I have set up do ye not

prostrate yourselves?” There seems to have been a difference of reading

here. The first words must have been read as ˆwhyl[ ˆwhb (behon

aleehon), and the mysterious word aD;x]h" (hatzeda) had occupied a

position before, not after rma. The word ad;x] in the aphel in Syriac

means “to look steadily.” This interpretation of the word shows that the

translator had before him a document in which Syriac meanings might be

expected. Theodotion renders the last clause, (eij ajlhqw~v – ei alaethos -

if truly) Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, my gods ye do not worship,

and  before the golden image which I have set up ye do not prostrate

yourselves?” — a construction that shows a slavish following of the

Aramaic. The sense here is really the same as that of the Authorized

Version. The Peshitta renders the opening word of this latter portion of the

verse, “in truth” — a rendering with which Jerome agrees. Professor Bevan

suggests another reading, aD;z]a"h", followed by Behrmann. Unfortunately,

the meaning of aD;z]a" is very doubtful. The common rendering is “of set

purpose.” So Furst, Gesenius, Winer, among lexicographers, and

Bertholdt, Ewald, Aben Ezra, Wordsworth, among commentators; Keil,

Kliefoth, Kra-nichfeld, hold it to mean “with evil intent.” It is suggested

also that it may mean “in mockery.” The reading suggested by Professor

Bevan and supported by Behrmann is not to be thought of; they appeal to

Theodotion, but when this word occurs in the previous chapter (v. 5),

Theodotion translates ajpe>sth - apestae, which makes it evident that

adza (azda) did not mean “truth” to him. More may be said for the Peshitta,

only that,  though azda does seem to mean “truth,” the translation is not the

same in Daniel 2:5 and the present verse. If there is to be a change of reading,

that indicated by the Septuagint translation is preferable. The Septuagint

translator has had adx before him, and there is no evidence that

Theodotion had not. The change in the arrangement of the words is a

simpler variation than any other, and it retains the word in its Syriac

meaning; otherwise we should be inclined to follow the lexicographers, and

translate “of set purpose.” If we take the view of this word indicated

above, then we may imagine Nebuchadnezzar looking steadfastly on those

youths who had dared to oppose him, hoping, it may be, to see them shrink

from his gaze, as he had seen so many of the kings he had conquered do. If

this is correct, it gives a point to what the youths begin their answer with in

v. 16. If we take the more common rendering, we see the generosity of

the king. Full of rage and fury as he is, he will give them an opening to say

that it was of inadvertence that they failed to obey his decree. This is fully

borne out by the next verse. If Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury at the

crime against the gods, he yet was careful that the envy of the Chaldeans

should not hinder him from giving the Jews who had been accused to him a

chance to defend themselves. This mental fairness it was which, despite his

outbursts of capricious rage, drew the affection of those about him to



15 “Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of

the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds

of music, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made;

well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be east the same hour into the

midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall

deliver you out of my hands?” The differences between the Septuagint

and the Massoretic text are not great. The last clause is rendered,” but if

not, know.” It inserts the epithet “golden” after “image.” The insertion of

“know ye” makes the sentence run more easily, but it is not to be accepted.

Here, as before, “midst” is omitted. Theodotion is very close to the

Massoretic, but agrees with the Septuagint in its omission of “midst” and

its insertion of “golden.” The Peshitta is in yet closer agreement with the

Massoretic text, save in regard to the musical instruments — psanterin, as

in the other cases, being omitted. It seems clear from this that the festival

of the dedication of this new idol of the Babylonian king occupied several

days. Nebuchadnezzar, willing to save those Jews, is ready to condone

their first failure to obey his command if, probably at the sunrise of the

following day, they were willing when they heard the sound of the musical

instruments to fall down and worship this golden image which he had set

up to the honor of his god. The latter clause does not seem in perfect

harmony with the tone of the earlier part of the verse. There has been no

reference in the conversation as reported to any other god to explain

Nebuchadnezzar’s demand, “Who is that God that shall deliver you out of

my hands?” Moreover, there is in the beginning a desire apparent to give

these Jewish officials a way of escape, but in the last clause there is

contempt as well as anger expressed. The fact is that while the simple

structure of Shemitic lends itself to direct narration, the reader is not to

suppose that, though speeches are reported in the oratio recta, they any

more record or claim to record the ipsissima verba than if the speeches had

been recorded in the oratio obliqua of more Western tongues. The

presumption is that merely the main heads of the conversation are

recorded. These very jolts and leaps are in themselves indirect evidences of

the truth of the document with which we have to do. It would have been

easy to insert a question and answer to bridge over the hiatus. Only one

recording facts would be regardless of this. The attitude of mind expressed

by these last words of Nebuchadnezzar are natural to a heathen, and

especially to monarchs of the Assyrian type. Sennacherib’s words of

defiance (IIKings 18:33) are quite in the same line, “Hath any of the

gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the King of

Assyria?” The capture of Jerusalem by his arms was regarded by

Nebuchadnezzar as a demonstration that the God of Israel was inferior to

the gods of Babylonia. To Nebuchadnezzar this belief would not in the

slightest degree contradict his previous declaration (ch. 2:47), that

this same God was “a God of gods, and a Lord of kings.” He might be

great as a Revealer of secrets, but not in might to deliver — in that he was

clearly inferior to the gods of Babylon, as the events of recent campaigns

had abundantly proved. It is this declaration, with the idea behind it of the

]imitation of Jehovah, that gives the event narrated in this chapter its importance.


16 “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, answered and

said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee

in this matter.  17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us

from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine

hand, O king.  18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will

not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set Up.”

The Septuagint Version differs in several slight points from the

Massoretic. “And Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to

the King Nebuchadnezzar, O king, we have no need to answer thee in

regard to this command, for our God in the heavens is one Lord, whom we

fear, who is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and will

deliver us out of thy hands, and then it shall be manifest to thee that we

neither serve thy gods, nor the golden image which thou hast set up do we

worship.” In this version we see the sixteenth verse agrees with the

Massoretic: in the next verses there are considerable differences. The

Septuagint translator seems to have read some part of ltd (dehal) instead

of ˆyjlp (paleheen). We cannot be certain that Ku>riov - kurios – sir; master –

represents hwhy, here, from the fact that the mannerism of the translator

expresses itself in a   preference for rendering μyhla by Ku>riov. The Septuagint

has tw~n ceirw~n – ton cheiron thy hands - instead of th~v ceiro>v – taes cheiros.

Not improbably the original was dual, but the dual had practically disappeared from

Hellenistic Greek. There seems a reference to the creed of the Jew (Deuteronomy 6:4)

and to Psalm 115:3; speaking of God as “God of heaven” occurs in the previous

chapter, v. 18, and in v. 28 Daniel speaks of his God as “in the heaven.”

However suitable, the first portion is yet to be put aside as an addition. The

second portion of this differing clause occurs in Theodotion, and of it we

shall shortly speak. There are several other less important differences over

which we need not delay. Theodotion has, like the Septuagint, ejn

oujranoi~v – en ouranois – in the heavens, and like the Septuagint has the enclitic

connection ga<r – gar – for, instead of the somewhat abrupt connection of the

Massoretic, although the phrase, “in the heavens,” has thus the support of the two.

The Peshitta Version has to some extent resulted from the abrupt beginning to the

seventeenth verse as it appears in the Massoretic. The Peshitta renders the opening

clause, “our Lord is merciful.” As in the Septuagint, so in the Peshitta, the word

μg"t]pi (pithgam) is taken as meaning “decree;” but miltha precedes it,

which must be rendered, “matter of the decree.” Otherwise there is nothing

worthy of notice in the Peshitta Version of these verses. Jerome begins the

seventeenth verse with “ecce entre,” which is not so much a difference of

reading from the Massoretic as a difference of rendering from the

Authorized. It is clear that the Massoretic punctuation implies something

wanting. ˆhe in Biblical Aramaic means “if,” and ytya “it is,” that is, “if it

be.” One feels inclined to think that, suppressed, there was some statement

equivalent to “if it be his good pleasure,” thus manifesting a readiness to

submit to God’s will. According to the Massoretic, what follows asserts

merely the ability of Jehovah, “our God whom we worship,” to deliver his

servants from the burning fiery furnace, and even from the hand of the

great king himself; but there is no assertion that He will deliver them. The

Septuagint Version presents a different aspect, as also Theodotion and the

Peshitta. The mental attitude of the Massoretic is very different from the

mood of later times. The versions, save Jerome, declare that God will

deliver them out of the hand of Nebuchadnezzar. If they had received this

assurance from God, there was in a sense less of witness-bearing to God

than if they had not. The text of the Massoretic is here to be preferred. It is

implied also in the meaning of the following verse. Even if God did not

deliver them, still their determination is fixed — they will not worship the

gods of the king, nor will they worship the golden image he has set up. It

sometimes seems as if, even in our own day, we should be the better for

the advent of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. There is still a demand

that the people of God worship the golden image in the shape of wealth.

The ministers of God are, we are told, not to denounce the wrongs of the

world, lest the rich be offended. Wealth is not the only form of the golden

image which men may be called upon to worship; the breath of popular

applause may call them to denounce employers of labor unjustly on

penalty of being dismissed or held up to reprobation. It is not the side that

is important, but the motive; the cause of the poor may be pleaded as

unjustly as that of the rich.



Brave Carelessness (v. 16)


The three Jews set an example of unhesitating decision and fearless

promptness, which may afford a wholesome lesson to us who live in the

midst of the quibbling cauistry and timid expediency of a less simple age.




question as to their duty, nor any wish to reconsider their decision. It was

clear and final.


Ø      Doubt and mystery are more concerned with the problems of merely

intellectual interest. As we come to the region of morality, we find clearer

light and firmer ground. God has given us a revelation which is plain as

regards our duty, though it may be obscure on speculative points

(Psalm 119:105).


Ø      The most important duties are the most clear. Sophistry may find some

excuse for its perplexity among the intricacies of minor morality; but the

nearer we approach the fundamental duties, the less room is there for

uncertainty. The duty of fidelity to God is the greatest of all duties, and

it is the duty about which there can be least question.


Ø      When doubt invades the vital centers of morality, this may generally be

taken as a sign that the conscience is not in a healthy state. Such doubt is

like color-blindness or inability to discriminate between the most

elementary musical sounds. It argues a defective organ, because it is

contrary to the general testimony of healthy experience. Therefore, while

intellectual doubt may be blameless, moral doubt on questions of

fundamental duty is a sign of mural depravity.



Knowing their duty, the three Jews had no wish to delay the execution

of it.


Ø      There is nothing which tends to obscure the simple conviction of duty so

much as hesitation in putting it into practice. Such hesitation affords an

opportunity for a false casuistry; it allows time for questions to arise which

should never be thought of; it reacts on the conscience, and through the

feeling of uncertainty in action tempts the mind to uncertainty in thought.


Ø      Every moment of delay in executing the decision of conscience weakens

the force of that decision. The impulse of conscience is never so strong as

when it is first clearly recognized. A neglected duty seems to admit of

indefinite postponement, and thus the vigor of conscience is demoralized

and dissipated.


Ø      When once we know our duty, it is wrong to delay the execution of it,

even if we are sure we shall ultimately perform it. Tardy obedience is

a sign of indifference. Earnest fidelity implies prompt action.



WE ARE ON THE PATH OF DUTY. The three Jews were uncertain of

the issue of their momentous decision. But the danger and mystery of the

future did not daunt them. They had good grounds of assurance.


Ø      God will deliver His faithful servants from the greatest danger if it is

consistent with right and the highest ends of goodness to do so.


Ø      Though His faithful servants may suffer for a time, God will assuredly

see that in the end they suffer no real harm (Psalm 34:19; Matthew

19:29; Romans 8:28).


Ø      At the worst it is better to do right and suffer than to do wrong and be

at ease. Righteousness is better than happiness.




Jews thought it useless or needless to enter upon any defense of their

conduct. They confessed their duty without hesitation, but they felt no

need to prepare an answer to their enemies’ accusation. There are times

when a defense of our conduct is useless:


Ø      Because it would not be understood; because our motives of conduct

may be unintelligible to those in whose power we are.


Ø      Because an adverse decision is clearly decided on, and will not be

affected by any contrary reasons. These two considerations, no doubt,

prompted our Lord to silence at His trial (Matthew 27:14).


Ø      It sometimes injures our cause to defend it. An apology often suggests

questions that were not previously thought of. It is often wisest simply to

live down calumny by quiet persistence in what we believe to be right, Our

first duty is to please God, not men.



Principle Illuminated by Fire (vs. 14-18)




Ø      Principle. What is it?  A principle is literally a first thing; a beginning;

a cause. The spring on the mountain-side, whence the mighty river.

The root of the tree. Newton’s ‘Principia.’ The principle of the universe,

the First, is God.


Ø      Religious principle. The essential idea in the word. “religion” is that of

binding. (See the etymology.) Religion distinguishes that which BINDS

MAN TO GOD;  it names the link that binds earth to heaven. Principle

in religion is that at the root of man’s being; that beginning of things

in the soul which determines the outer life — word, deed, demeanor,

habit, conduct.


Ø      The two kinds. Strictly speaking, the beginnings of religion may be in

two entirely different spheres. They may be objective or subjective.

There are beginnings with God, and beginnings in man.


o       The objective principles of religion constitute the external

REVELATION OF GOD!   That revelation is the expression

of His love. Strictly regarded, this is the spring and root of all

beside. From this point of view, the first principle of religion

is indeed none other than GOD HIMSELF!


o       The subjective principles of religion. These are the effect of the

objective. They are beginnings in man; from whence all that is

distinctly moral and spiritual proceeds.


§         Truth in the mind. Fashion to decry the importance of

truth; but it cannot be legitimately denied, IT IS VITAL!

§         Feeling answering to the truth.

§         Direction from the conscience according to truth and

responding to emotion.

§         Volition obedient to the royal authority of conscience.


o       The present form. Religious principle with us will take on

evangelical forms. Our position is different from that of the

three. They in twilight; we in blaze of midday. TRUTH

COMES FROM GOD  for them through Moses and

the prophets; for us, BY JESUS CHRIST!   They started

from Sinai, we from Calvary. We begin with trust in

A PERSONAL CHRISTthat is our first subjective

principle — then follow truth, emotion, the moral imperative,


o       Moment of principle. Impossible to exaggerate its importance.

What a man is in principle, that the man is all through.




Ø      The temptation to abandon principle. Note what they were required to

do. To bend the knee to an image of the world-power, perhaps of Bel,

possibly of the king himself. All Sinai protested against it. But see

temptations. Read their force in the light of our own nature.


o       To bend the knee was a little thing. The moral meaning of little

things; e.g. to sign another’s name is forgery. To allow the

Persians to pass Thermopylae!

o       All the world would do it.

o       Gratitude moved to compliance. (ch.2:48-49.)

o       Hope. More favor in the future.

o       Fear. The furnace hot; the doom certain.

o       Sight likely to be more dominant than faith. Faith sees as

through mist.


Ø      The decision.


o       Slowly built up. Perhaps the decision was instantly taken; but

it was gradually built up in solidity and strength. The image

not reared in a day.

§         Gold to be collected.

§         Plans. Estimates.

§         Laborers got.

§         The actual work.

§         Time to consult with friends, above all,

§         Time to consult with the heavenly Friend.

This would all take time.


o       The moral victory was earlier than the event. Long before

first note of the music the decision had been reached, and

the victory won. The pomp of the day had by meditation

become familiar. All moral victory is secret and anticipative.

(For instance, concerning drugs, sex, or any other type of

temptation, one should have his or her mind made up before

the situation occurs!  “There hath no temptation taken you

but such as is common to man:  but God is faithful, who will

not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will

with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may

be able to bear it!”  I Corinthians 10:13 – CY – 2014)


o       The decision was irreversible, once taken.


Ø      The act. The moral majesty of the three among millions. Alone.

Yet not alone.


o       Daniel.

o       Sympathizers.

o       Angels.

o       God.


All there with them!


Ø      Their dependence. These saints militant entrenched themselves behind

two lines.


o       God. He was:


§         Existent.

§         their own God: “Our God.”

§         the object of their service.

§         able and righteousness to deliver.


But if all this were not so, then:


o       Eternal Righteousness.  Ineffable grandeur of this moral

position.  Right is right for ever and ever. Our vision of

God may be obscured; our sense of right scarcely ever.

This is clear:


§         If there be a God, it cannot be right to bend down to a


§         If there be not, man is man, and still may not bow to a thing

like this.  Amid all life’s temptations, bear in mind THERE

IS A GOD and there is a soul; and in the soul a concept of

absolute, unconditioned, eternal righteousness.


Ø      The result of the decision.


o       As to themselves.


§         Freedom from anxiety. “We are not careful.”

§         Silence. No noise. No apology. No elaborate defense.

§         Salvation. In the fire, yet out of the fire; for THE



o       As to others. Who can estimate?


§         On the Jews.

§         On the heathen.

§         On the universal Church, whenever and wherever

the history of this heroism is told.


19 “Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his

visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego:

therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace

one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.” The text of the

Septuagint is practically the same as the Massoretic, with only this exception,

that “one” is omitted as unsuited to the Greek idiom. Theodotion differs

more from the Massoretic — “the furnace” was to be heated “sevenfold,

till it was perfectly heated (e[wv ouj eijv te>lov ejkkah~ - hoes ou eis telos

ekkaae – more than it was usually heated).” The Peshitta,  retaining the “one,”

translates, “one in seven times” — a rendering which seems to have little

sense, as the Syriac idiom is the same as that before us.  The change of countenance,

from that of gratification at seeing a favorite, to that of rage, is a perfectly natural

phenomenon, but one possibly even more marked among these races then dominant

over the East than among ourselves. It was certainly not unnatural that, heathen as he

was, filled with the belief in the mysterious power for good or ill that might be

exercised over the empire were any of the gods offended, Nebuchadnezzar should

be enraged. The result is that the calmness with which he had previously

spoken with the three deserts him, and the form of his face changes, his

visage becomes distorted with rage. It may be noted, in passing, that the

word here used, ishtanni (yNiT"v]ai), is the only case where the ethpael

occurs in Daniel; in all other cases the form is hithpael, with the h instead

of the a. Since this is so, one is inclined to credit the peculiarity to scribal

change. There is a difference here between the Q’ri and K’thib, the latter

reading ishlannu, which agrees by attraction with anapolu, “face,” which,

as in Hebrew, is plural. In order to express his wrath, he orders that the

furnace be heated sevenfold hotter than ever before. The word here

translated “wont to be” is really part of the verb hz;j] (hezuh), “to see.”

Behrmann renders it, “Siebenmal so stark zu heizen als man ihn heizen

gesehen hatte” — “commanded it to be heated seven times as hot as ever

one had seen it heated.” We cannot suppose the Babylonians had any

means of measuring heat of that amount; it is simply a round number,

Hitzig remarks on the recurrence of “seven,” as if it helped to raise a

presumption against the authenticity of the book. The fact that the

Babylonians recognized seven planets, and seven gods of the planets, one

for each, might as readily be taken as a proof of its authenticity. The

probability is that vaguely many times more fuel was placed in the furnace

than had ever been done before.


20 “And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his

army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, and to cast them

into the burning fiery furnace.” The first clause might more correctly be

rendered, “He commanded warriors, warriors of might, in his army.” The

Greek versions assume that the repetition of gubereen is equivalent to the

superlative; hence the Septuagint renders it a]ndrav ijscurota>touv – andras

ischurotatous – mighty men – and Theodotion, a]ndrav ijscurou>v ijscu>i`

andras ischurous ischui – certain mighty men. The Peshitta omits the first  

gubreen. On the other hand, Theodotiun omits the clause, “that were in his

army.” The action of Nebuchadnezzar in this reveals one of the

contradictions so often manifested by polytheism. He might be ready to

admit that no accumulation of human power could equal Divine power, yet

it is obvious that these men of might were chosen for this purpose, in order

that, despite Divine power, the royal sentence might be carried out. Such

self-contradiction is not peculiar to Nebuchadnezzar nor to Babylon. Many

men, professing to be Christians and acknowledging that God sees and

knows all things, and that the wrath of God is an infinitely more serious

mattter than the contempt or “ill will” of men, yet commit sin secretly — as

if to hide it from God. Hitzig indicates that he thinks these not to have been the

ordinary body-guard of the king, but really the best troops in the province

where the festival was taking place. It is evident that the troops referred to

are not those tabbaheen of whom Arioch was the commander, otherwise

we might have expected them to be mentioned. We know that there were

different classes of soldiers in the Assyrian army, with differing kinds of

arms and armor. In all probability something similar prevailed in the

Babylonian army. It is not impossible that one corps might be specialized

as the men of greatest physical strength. These men are employed to bind

these three Jews to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.


21 “Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen,

and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst

of the burning fiery furnace.”  The Septuagint omits the complexity of

garments, and translates, “Thus these men were bound, having their

sandals, and their hats upon their heads, with their other garments, and

were cast into the burning fiery furnace.” It would seem that karbelatheon

was either not in the text before the translator or was omitted by him. The

latter hypothesis seems a hazardous one to adopt without good ground.

We have no reason to accuse the Septuagint translator of this practice.

Theodotion also presents signs of omission. ˆylib;r]s" is not translated, but

simply transliterated, saraba>roiv - sarabarois. Under this word Schleusner says,

“Vestis Medica sou Babylonica ad genus pertingens.” Aquila, it may be

not,d, also transliterates, sara>balla - saraballa. Theodotion’s rendering is, “Then

those men were bound in their coats (?), and hats, and hosen, and were

cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.” The Peshitta does as

Theodotion, and transliterates with the change of a shin fur a samech, in

regard to the first word, and instead of leboosheen, “garments,” has

qoobeeen, which is rendered by Castelli pileus, or g,lea, a “military cap,”

or a “helmet.” He wrongly says that qoobo is used to translate

karbelathElon; the word used for that is nihtho. We need not go into a

discussion of the various garments named here. It is to be observed that, by

the time of the Septuagint and the original of the version edited and revised

by Theodotion, the meaning of the terms was lost — a thing hardly

possible on the critical supposition that the date of Daniel is B.C. 168, if, as

seems necessary to suppose from the Greek prologue to Ecclesiasticus, it

was already translated into Greek by, at latest, B.C. 130. The point brought

out by these garments being mentioned is in order to show the power of

God manifested on them. They were all of an inflammable material,

therefore emphasis was given to the miracle by this. But, further, it shows

they were taken as they were, without opportunity of putting on any

specially medicated robes.


22 “Therefore because the king’s commandment was

urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those

men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  23 And these

three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into

the midst of the burning fiery furnace.” The rendering of the Greek

versions seems to have suffered from the interpolation of the Song of the

Three Holy Children — the verses before us have been altered to prepare

for the introduction of the song. The Septuagint translates as follows: “Since the

king’s command was urgent, and the furnace heated sevenfold more than it

had previously been, the men who had been appointed, when they had

bound them and brought them forward to the furnace, cast them in. Then

the flame which blazed in the furnace came forth and slew the men who

had bound those about Azarias, but they themselves were preserved.”

Theodotion renders, “Since the word of the king was urgent, and the

furnace was excessively heated, and these three men fell down bound into

the burning fiery furnace, and they fell into the midst of the furnace. and

walked about, singing praises to God, blessing the Lord.” There is nothing

here, it may be noted, about those that bound the three friends being slain;

there is also to be noted the addition, “walking about and singing praises to

God and blessing the Lord.” The Peshitta also suffers, though to a less

degree. The rendering with it is, “Therefore the king’s commandment was

urgent, and the furnace blazed exceedingly, and slew the men who accused

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach,

Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the midst of the furnace of great

fire.” Here a marvel is added, not those that threw the Hebrews into the

fire were burnt, but their accusers. We must discuss separately the Song of

the Three Holy Children. The furnace implied is one filled from above, but

having a doorway at the side. The witnesses for the truth of monotheism

and of the supreme Godhead of Jehovah were carried to the top of this

furnace, and cast in amongst the fuel. We have nothing to do with how the

miracle of their preservation was accomplished, we have only to do with

the narrative as given. The fact that those who carried them and threw

them in were killed gives proof positive of the fierceness of the heat. The

fact stated in the twenty-third verse, that they fell into the midst of the

furnace, excludes any supposition that they escaped by being sheltered

from the fierceness of the heat. Separating the two portions of the

apocryphal addition to this chapter, the song of Azarias from the united

song of the three, we have a statement that “the angel of the Lord came

down into the oven together with Azarias and his fellows, and smote the

flame of the fire out of the oven, and made the midst as it had been a moist

whistling wind; so that the fire touched them not at all, neither hurt nor

troubled them.” This abundance of detail as to the method by which the

miracle was wrought is evidence of a later time. We shall, however, leave

the discussion of the date of this addition till later.


24 “Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up

in haste, and spake, and said unto his counselors, Did not we cast

three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said

unto the king, True, O king.”  The Greek versions suffer in this verse also

from the interpolation of the song. The Septuagint renders thus: “And it was

when the king heard them singing praises, and stood and saw them living,

then was Nebuchadnezzar the king astonished and rose up hastily and said

to his friends, Did we not cast three men into the fire bound? and thev said

to the king, Truly, O king.” Theodotion does not seriously differ from this,

“And Nebuchadnezzar heard them singing praises, and marveled, and rose

up in haste, and said to his lords, Did we not cast three men into the midst

of the fire bound? and they answered, Truly, O king.” The Peshitta

rendering is, “Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up

trembling, and answered and said to his princes, Were there not three men

which we cast into the midst of the furnace of fierce fire and bound? and

they answered the king, It is true, O king.” As will be seen, the Peshitta

varies less from the Massoretic than do the Greek versions. The Vulgate

does not merit remark. The action of the king is introduced abruptly in the

Massoretic text. This abruptness was probably the occasion of the

interpolations made at this point. It may be observed that the interpolations

— not-withstanding the efforts of redactors to soften the transition — all

add to the difficulty. Theodotion has them immediately walking and

praising God. The Septuagint translator, though he omits the walking,

implies the praising. We are to understand the circumstances as of the

nature of an auto-da-fe which Nebuchadnezzar was gracing with his

presence, much as Philip II. attended the burning of the heretics in Madrid.

The refusal of worship to the god to whom he had erected the golden

image was an act not only of heresy, but also of treason of the blackest

kind. The word haddabereen, translated “councelors,” is derived by some

from the Persian hamdaver (Behrmann and V. Bohlen). Gesenius would

derive it from rbd, “to do,” hence “leaders;” he explains the first syllable

of the Hebrew article. The first interpretation is impossible, as is well

shown by Bevan (in loco). The supposition of Gesenius is difficult to

maintain, as it involves a passage from one language to another. Moses

Stuart regards the noun as derived from the aphel, h appearing instead of

a. This is not without parallel examples, e.g. dlma. Fuller’s parallel of

apalu used along with pal for “son” in Assyrian, shows a habit of

introducing initial syllables to help pronunciation. The Septuagint translator

probably read habereen; hence the rendering fi>loi – philoi -. In the uncertainty as

to the meaning of the word. the reading of the Septuagint may be regarded as at

least a possible way out of the difficulty. Some further discoveries, either in

Babylon or elsewhere, may enable us to decide. The presence along with

the king, at this execution, of the high officials of the empire, was fitted to

give it all the solemnity of an “act of faith,” but at the same time, their

presence gave a signal meaning to the miracle.


25 “He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in

the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the

fourth is like the Son of God.”  The Greek versions do not present much

worthy of note, only both insert molka, “king,” instead of the pronoun, and

omit “answered.” From the fact that v. 24 ends with malka, it may have

been dropped out of the Massoretic text. The insertion of hn[ (‘ana),

“answered,” may be due to the frequent recurrence of this phrase. The

Peshitta omits “four,” otherwise agreeing with the Massoretic. The

phrase,” the Son of God,” is clearly wrong; the correct translation is, “The

appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” Along with the three

victims of his superstition was seen a fourth figure, like one of the figures

portrayed on his palace walls as belonging to the demi-gods. This is the

culmination of the king’s astonishment. It was astonishing to see those men

loose that had been cast into the furnace bound; still more so to see them

walking, and none showing signs of having received any hurt; but most

awe-inspiring of all is the vision of the fourth figure, like a son of the gods.

We must not interpret this on Hebrew lines, as does Mr. Bevan, and compare

Genesis 6:2. He knows the usage in the Targums is to retain the

Hebrew plural in μyA when “God” is meant, as in the Peshitta Version of

the passage he refers to. As in most heathen mythologies, there were not

only gods, but demi-gods, of several different classes. The god

Nebuchadnezzar specially worshipped, Silik-Moulou-ki (Marduk), was

regarded as the son of Hea. There was a god of fire also, who was

associated with these. The suggestion of Dr. Fuller, that here in bar we

have not the word for “son,” but rather a truncated form of this god of fire,

Iz-bar, is worthy of consideration. It is impossible to say whether this

vision of a divine being was vouchsafed to those standing about

Nebuchadnezzar as well as to himself. While we ought to guard against

ascribing to the Babylonian monarch the idea that this appearance was that

of the Second Person of the Christian Trinity, we are ourselves at liberty to

maintain this, or to hold that it was an angel who strengthened these

servants of God in the furnace. The Septuagint renders bar-cloheen by

a]ggelov – aggelos – angel; a son of god. Theodotion has uiJw|~ Qeou~

huio Theou – Son of God.



The Divine Presence (v. 25)




Ø      He does not prevent them from falling into distress, but He helps them

when in, which is better for the disciplinary ends of trouble.


Ø      God does not simply send help in trouble. He comes Himself. Moses was

not satisfied with the promise of the guidance of an angel (Exodus 33:2).

He sought and obtained the assurance that God’s presence would go

with Israel (Ibid. ch. 33:14). Jesus Christ promises His abiding presence

(Matthew 28:20). This is more than the natural universal presence of

God. It is a nearness of sympathy, an active intercourse, a special

manifestation of His Spirit (John 14:23).


Ø      God’s presence in trouble implies His endurance with us by sympathy.

He is afflicted in our afflictions (Isaiah 63:9). Jesus bore our griefs

(Isaiah 53:4; Matthew 8:17). When we take Christ’s yoke we are

yoked to Him, and He bears with us (Ibid. ch. 11:29).




The secret of the safety of the three Jews in the furnace is seen in

the fourth presence, like “a Son of God.”


Ø      God’s presence secures present safety. By His sympathy He helps us to

bear trouble. By His spiritual strength in us He increases our strength. Apply



o       to the endurance of suffering and

o       to the resistance to temptation (Isaiah 43:2).


Ø      God’s presence secures ultimate deliverance. God does not only help us

to bear the trouble. He finds a way of escape so that, though we pass

through it, we shall not remain in it.




air and reveal the distant prospect. Trouble brings the eternal near and

unveils the unseen. This nearness of God is the source of our holiest life

and our deepest gladness!  It is worth entering a fiery furnace TO MEET


furnace of affliction becomes a paradise when He manifests His presence

in it.  Therefore, let us:


Ø      Be faithful. The three Jews were faithful to God. Therefore God

manifested himself to them. God is not present in every furnace of trial.

He comes when we are true and trustful. If we are living without God in

prosperity, we cannot expect Him to visit us in adversity (Jeremiah 11:14).


Ø      Be fearless. If we are following Christ, we need fear no trouble. The

assurance of the Divine presence should nerve us to meet the hardest trial

(Psalm 23:4). Christian courage is a duty which depends on faith in the

presence and help of God (John 14:1, 18). This faith is the secret of the

great difference between:


o       the fortitude of the Stoic, which often ended in despair and suicide, and

o       the courage of the Christian which issues in patient hopeful submission.


26 “Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the

burning fiery furnace, and spake and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and

Abed-nego, ye servants of the Most High God, come forth and come

hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, came forth of the

midst of the fire.”   The variations of the Septuagint Version here are

inconsiderable. Instead of “spake and said,” it renders, “called them by

name,” and omits the second repetition of the names, and the pleonastic

“come hither;” instead of “Most High God,” it has”God of gods Most

High.” Theodotion is in closer agreement with the Massoretic text; the

only differnce is that “spake” is omitted. The Peshitta and Vulgate are in

exact accordance with the Massoretic. The distinction between qp"n] and

ht;a} is “go out” and “come.” It is well rendered in our Authorized Verbion.

only there was no need of “hither” being put in italics. As above

mentioned, this shows the form of the furnace to be not unlike our own —

open at the top, but having a door at the side. It was to this side door that

the king approached. The fact that Nebuchadnezzar acknowledges Jehovah

to be “Most High God” does not imply any recognition of His supreme

Divinity, any more than a king of France acknowledged the supremacy of

the head of the Holy Roman Empire. when in the credentials of his

ambassador the emperor was called Dominus urbis et orbis. It was simply

a matter of what we may call religious etiquette to address gods of the

higher class as “god of gods.” and “god most high.” In ch. 2:47

Nebuchadnezzar had already declared the God of Daniel to be “God of

gods” It is not impossible that to the Babylonians ‘illaa might have the

appearance of a proper name.


27 “And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s

counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose

bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed,

neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on

them. “ The versions present no variation of importance. We can, however,

at this point compare the list of officials with that which we find in the

beginning of this chapter, in vs. 2-3. We find that the word

haddabereen occupies the same place in the list as gedabreen, translated

“treasurer,” from which one might be inclined to think that h had taken the

place of g, not an impossible change. The probability rather is that the word

is to be regarded as collective, equivalent to “officials of the court,” to save

the repetition of the remaining classes Whether or not these officials had

seen the companion the three witnesses for the truth had with them in the

furnace, they, at all events, were now able to bear testimony to the fact that

the three friends had escaped, and “had quenched the violence of the fire”

(Hebrews 11:34). This event was all the more important to the

Babylonians as to them fire was a god high in the pantheon. The God of

Israel was thus manifested as so much greater than Iz-bar, that He could

deliver His servants even when in the very element in which Iz-bar had his

power. The fact that even their “coats” — whatever these garments were

— were not burned, and not even a hair singed, while the cords that had

been used to bind them were consumed, emphasizes their deliverance, and

shows it to be the work of a higher power, who could discriminate and

limit the deliverance. The cords were consumed, but the garments of his

servants were preserved even from the smell of fire. The Babylonians had

conquered the city of Jehovah, had burned his temple, and had done this

through the power of Marduk, so they thought; but here Bel-Marduk had

been openly defied by three worshippers of Jehovah. They had been hurled

into the very element of Iz-bar, the servant and ally of Marduk, yet fire had

been unable to harm them or vindicate the honor of Bel-Marduk. What

emphasized this was that the fire that spared the servants of Jehovah slew

the votaries of Bel-Marduk, who were eager to show their reverence for

Marduk by carrying these Jehovah-worshippers to the furnace. Such a

miracle, so wrought before all the high dignitaries of the Babylonian

Empire, would go far to take the edge off any taunting reference to the

weakness of Jehovah’s Godhead as demonstrated by the ruins of

Jerusalem. Jehovah had shown Himself as the supreme Revealer of secrets

when He enabled Daniel to tell Nebuchadnezzar his dream. He now

manifested Himself as Master of the most powerful of elements — fire. The

Jews could thus maintain their faith unchallenged.



The Saviour in the Fire (vs. 19-27)


“The form of the fourth” (v. 3). A sketch of the further developments of

the history will well introduce the following topics.


·         THE SAVIOUR OF THE KING’S IMAGINATION. “Like unto a son

of the gods.” The king was certainly not acquainted with the Hebrew

doctrine of the Messiah, and even if he were, the appellation, “Son of

God,” would not be familiar to him. The deliverer to him was perhaps an

angel, but surely a visitant from the unseen.


·         THE REAL DELIVERER. “The Angel of Jehovah,” the Angel-God of

the Old Testament, the Lord Jesus, in those temporary and special

epiphanies which preceded the great Epiphany of the Incarnation. This

coming down to deliver” does not stand alone. Therefore the other

emergences out of eternity into time of the Lord should throw light on this;

e.g. two appearances to Hagar (Genesis 16.; 21:19-21). Two in the life of

Abraham (Genesis 17., 19., 22.). Several instances in the history of Jacob

(Ibid. ch.28:10-22; 31:11-13; 32:24-32; 48:15-16). At the burning

bush (Exodus 3.; see also Exodus 23:20-25; 13:20-22; 14:19-20; 40:33-35;

I Kings 8:10-11; II Chronicles 7:1-3). The same august Personage was at Sinai

(compare Exodus 24. and 33:11-20 with Galatians 3:19). Several manifestations,

too, in the desert-life of Israel (Exodus 16:10; 33:2; Numbers 12:5; 14:1-21;

16:19,42; 20:6). So in the life of Joshua (Joshua 5:13; 6:5). See further

epiphanies in Judges 2:1-5; 6:11-24; 13.; I Kings 8:9-11, Isaiah 63:8-9.

(In the late 1960’s, our pastor, Marion Duncan preached a series of sermons

on “The Pre-manifestations of the Incarnation of Christ” – many taken

from the above scripture references – I remember their influence to this day!

CY – 2014.  “The Angel of Jehovah” is none other than Jehovah Himself

manifested in the Person of the Lord Jesus. The doctrine of the Trinity the

only adequate explanation. What Robert Hall said of the Divine Being is

strikingly true of the doctrine of the Trinity:  “Inexplicable itself:


Ø      it explains all besides;

Ø      it casts a clearness upon every question,

Ø      accounts for every phenomenon,

Ø      solves every problem,

Ø      illumines every depth, and

Ø      renders the whole mystery of evidence as perfectly simple

as it is otherwise perfectly unintelligible, whilst itself remains an

impenetrable obscurity.”


The following are reasons for believing that the Lord Jesus was present

in this fire:


Ø      It was antecedently probable that He would be. Taking into

Account antecedent appearances, observe the time of the

Captivity was a critical epoch in the history of the kingdom

of God; the place — Babylonia grand theatre for the manifestation

of the Divine. Evil clashed with conscience. The faithful there

were helpless. It was for Christ to deliver.

Ø      It would fulfil a promise a thousand years old (Leviticus 26:14-44).

Ø      The moral effect of the epiphany would be great — on Jews,





Ø      The Lord Jesus can be present with us in the fire of our trouble. This

depends on whether we give Him welcome or not. He waits to come

in unto us in our sorrows. Different is the intensity el the fire with

different saints, with the same at various times.

Ø      His presence is relief.

Ø      He will be our ultimate deliverance and perfected salvation.



The Unexpected Fruits of Persecution (vs. 24-27)


As soon as the fierce tempest in Nebuchadnezzar’s mind had expended its

little force, there succeeded the calm of exhaustion. The tyrant is

transformed into a servant, and appears like a docile child. Something has

produced a strange impression on him — perhaps the sudden burning of his

own officers, perhaps the unbending fortitude of the three Hebrews,

perhaps the natural reaction from high-wrought excitement. Abandoning

royal pomp, he visits himself the fiery furnace, that he may discern the

wreck of human life wrought by foolish violence. An unexpected sight

awaits him.



is not always uniform. God seldom follows precisely the same course

twice. The bodily life of the oppressed is not always preserved. Yet, in

every case, it is true that no real harm is done to them. Often —


“Persecution has dragged them into fame,

And chased them up to heaven.”


On this occasion the material flame, though heated sevenfold, was not

nearly so vindictive and deadly as the fiery rage of the king. He had

summoned into his service one of the most destructive elements of nature,

but it would not obey him. The flame did them no harm: it did them good.

It consumed their bonds; it did not singe their clothes. It gave them liberty.

It brought them new experience. It put a new scepter into their hands, and

made them kings of nature. They were mightier men than ever. It admitted

them into new society, and brought an angel into their circle. GOD

HIMSELF gave them new evidence of His presence, His tender concern

for them, and His all-sufficient power.  Now it is evident that fire has no

consuming property of its own. It is a property given and maintained by God.

All the forces of nature are like the manuals of an organ touched by a Divine

hand.  By faith in God these men “quenched the violence of fire.”

(Hebrews 11:34)  (I recommend Genesis 17 – Names of God – El Shaddai

by Nathan Stone – this website – CY – 2014)




against God only brings out THE GREATER RESOURCES OF HIS

OMNIPOTENCE!  Satan’s oppression of our race gave scope for THE

REDEMPTIVE MIRACLE!  Creation is miracle, for the like was not

before. Providence, which is but a continuous act of creation, is a miracle.

Granting that there is a God, there is nothing unreasonable in miracle.

Whenever God is pleased to work, if ordinary methods fail, extraordinary

methods are forthwith introduced. (He is El Shaddai!  - CY – 2014)  No

occasion is more fitting for the introduction of miracle than persecution.

God has identified Himself with His people, and injury done to them is

resented as injury done to Him. Nor are we to think only of the miracle

wrought on the material flame or on the living bodies of these men. That is

a narrow view of miracle. There was miraculous agency also displayed in

the mind, the temper, and the conduct of these oppressed Hebrews. It was

not natural that they should submit to human injustice without a word. It

was not natural, but supernatural, that they showed no vindictive spirit nor

indulged in any language of personal triumph. Their modesty and self-

forgetfulness were as miraculous as their faith. With the ending of the

persecution came the ending of the angel’s visit.



CONVICTION IN THE UNGODLY. The king himself was overcome by

astonishment. He could not believe the evidence of his eyes. He could

scarcely trust his memory. Hence he summoned his princes and counselors

to his assistance. He appeals to their recollections. He requires them to see,

to investigate, and to understand these strange facts for themselves. In their

presence the king himself (not a deputy) entreats these injured Hebrews to

come out of the mystic flame. He prays to them whom just now he cruelly

condemned. The king styles them, not fanatics, miscreants, traitors — he

styles them “servants of the most high God.” Yes, of that God whom he

had awhile despised. The proof of DIVINE SUCCOR and of

SUPERNATURAL PROTECTION  is complete, undeniable,

overwhelming. And, with candor of mind, Nebuchadnezzar yields

himself to the evidence. (Would to God that all of us was that candid!

CY – 2014)


28 “Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God

of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who hath sent His angel, and

delivered His servants that trusted in Him, and have changed the

king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor

worship any god, except their own God.”  The Septuagint and Peshitta,

instead of “changed the king’s word,” have “despised the king’s word,”

reading, fWv, “to despise,” instead of an;v], “to change.” Theodotion

agrees with the Massoretic, as otherwise do the other two versions. We

may regard this as the beginning of the royal decree revoking practically

that previously promulgated, omitting only the statement of the titles of the

monarch. The wording is somewhat peculiar, “Blessed be their God — of

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.” It may indicate that some words in

the immediate context have been omitted; in other words, that the editor, in

quoting the decree, has endeavored, as far as possible, to condense

without changing the words of the document. Bertholdt is mistaken in

maintaining that this declaration is that the God of the three Hebrews is

worthy of being blessed. All that Nebuchadnezzar acknowledges in this

verse is that Jehovah really exists — that He is powerful, and the Hebrews

did right to continue in the worship of their national God. We find that the

bar-eloheen of v. 25 is now regarded by Nebuchadnezzar as an angel, or,

as we ought rather to translate it, “messenger.” We have no need to import

Hebrew ideas into the declaration of the Babylonian monarch. It was quite

in accordance with his mythological notions that a great God like the God

of the Hebrews might have a messenger, who was His instrument in the

deliverance of His servants. The reading of the Massoretes, “changed,” is to

be preferred to “despised.” To one like Nebuchadnezzar, stiff to obstinacy

in his opinions, for anything to compel him to change not only his opinions,

but more, to alter a decree, was a strange thing, and a thing that he would

think worthy of chronicling. At the same time, he might feel it needed a

justification. On the other hand, such a one as Nebuchadnezzar would not

advertise the fact that any one had “despised” his “word.” It is to be

observed that Nebuchadnezzar recognizes not only the deliverance as an

evidence of the truth of Jehovah’s Divinity, but also the willingness with

which His servants were ready to offer their bodies to be burnt. The

evidence that compelled Nebuchadnezzar to acknowledge the might of

Jehovah was the same in essence as that which converted the Roman

Empire. Still, we must again repeat Nebuchadnezzar recognized in Jehovah

only the God of the Jews, and in the faithfulness of the three Hebrews only

a species of religious patriotism, which he could at once understand and

respect without having the slightest belief in monotheism, or even

comprehension of such a ‘notion.


29 “Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and

language, which speak anything amiss against the God of Shadrach,

Meshach, and Abed-nego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall

be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver

after this sort.” The versions agree with the Massoretic text here, only that

all put the crime, “speaking anything amiss,” more strongly than we find it

in the Massoretic recension, hlv is amended by the Massoretes to Wlv,

“erroneous,” whereas the Septuagint renders, o[v a]n blasfhmh>sh|

hos an blasphaemaesae – anything evil. Theodotion, h[– hae – he (agreeing

with glw~ssa – glossa – speaks) eja>n ei]ph blasfhmi>an – ean eipae

blasphaemian – anything evil. The Peshitta renders <ARAMAIC>,” to

blaspheme.” Hitzig has suggested that the K’thib here is to be preferred to

the Q’ri, maintaining that hlv means “word,” while Wlv really means

“inadvertence.” Certainly, if we were sure that the meaning he gives to

hlv is correct, and the versions all support it, we would give the preference

to it. It has, however, to be borne in mind that, in the notions of heathenism,

 intentional disrespect was not taken into consideration in regard to the gods.

The intention of the worshipper was of very little moment in such a matter;

he might even desire to be specially respectful to the deity he worshipped;

but if, by inadvertence, he omitted something, or did something which was

not according to rule, all the good will and respect in his mind was nothing —

the wrath of the insulted deity was poured out in full measure, unless some

other deity regarded the action in question as specially honoring to him.

It was the external action — the mere form of words — that was the important

matter with the polytheist. Idolatry is by its very nature A MENTAL AND

MORAL DISEASE, it is as absurd to expect logically concatenated actions

from an idol-worshipper in regard to his deities, as to expect the same from

a madman in regard to his craze. We must guard against imagining that the

decree was against blasphemy as a crime against Jehovah. Primarily it was

against words that, by exciting the wrath of Jehovah, might bring down

damage on the empire.  Nebuchadnezzar was not jealous for the honor of

Jehovah, but for the safety of the Babylonian supremacy. The punishment

threatened, it may be observed, is the same as that decreed against the wise

men because of their failure to tell the dream and its interpretation. In regard

to this, in ch.2:5 the Septuagint renders the phrase, “Ye shall be made an

example of, and your goods shall be escheat to the king’s treasury.” This

change, as we maintained, was due to a difference of reading, not to any

objection to the harshness of the phrase. The object of the punishment here

was to remove utterly from the earth the wrong-doer and every

remembrance of him, so that the offended deity might have no excuse for

visiting the kingdom of Babylon with judgments. The reason, “because

there is no other god that can deliver after this sort,” is not to be stretched

too far. All that is asserted is that no other god has been able to deliver his

worshippers out of the very realm of the god of fire, and therefore it is to

be argued that His power of offence is as great; hence all are to avoid

enraging Him; but there is no worship enjoined. The Lagid princes, when

Jerusalem was in their hands, ordered sacrifices to be offered on their

behalf daily. Nebuchadnezzar does nothing of this sort; his decree is simply



30 “Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,

in the province of Babylon.”  The Septuagint renders here, “Thus,

then, the king gave authority to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, and

appointed them to be rulers over the whole province.” There seems to have

been a slight difference of reading, probably hashlayt instead of hatzlah,

and lenol medee-meh instead of lamdeenath Babel. It seems difficult to

decide which of these two readings is the preferable; perhaps, on the

whole, the Massoretic is the simpler. The version of Theodotion is

considerably interpolated, “Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach,

and Abednego in the province of Babylon, and made them great, and

reckoned them worthy to have authority over all the Jews in his kingdom.”

The first portion agrees with the Massoretic text and with the Septuagint in

sense; but the last clause is a much later addition. The Peshitta agrees with

the Massoretic. The exact meaning of halzlah is “to make glad,” “to give

rewards to,” and therefore is in no conflict with the Massoretic recension

of the concluding verse of the preceding chapter, “And Daniel requested of

the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, over the affairs of

the province of Babyhm.” It is to be observed that in the deutero-Isaiah

(Isaiah 43:2) there seems to be a reference to this event, “When thou

walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame

kindle upon thee.” The deliverance from Egypt, and the passage of the Red

Sea, and the entrance into Canaan, and the passage of the Jordan, are

referred to in the first part of this verse, “When thou passest through the

waters, I will be with thee, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow

thee.” It certainly is but natural to suppose that the deliverance of the three

Hebrews from the furnace of Nebuchadnezzar is the historical reference of

the latter.



Salvations Demonstrate the Saviour (vs. 28-30)


“There is no other God that can deliver after this sort” (v. 29). Explain

the king’s real state of mind. He did not own Jehovah as the only God, nor

command Him to be worshipped. He only declared Him to be able to save

His servants as none other could, and commanded that there should be no

reviling of His Name. Curious commingling of tolerance and intolerance. So

slowly do men learn the principles of religions and ecclesiastical freedom.




Ø      Internal.


o       Darkness of intellect in moral questions.

o       Dwarfed, misplaced, perverted emotion.

o       Torpidity of conscience

o       Terror of the awakened conscience, which nothing but the

gospel can assuage.

o       Paralysis of the will; i.e. sheer inability (i.e. moral) to do the thing

We would. “I approve the good, but the evil I pursue” (Romans 7.).


Ø      External.


o       Individual. Perhaps most of the sorrows and discouragements of

life will fall under this classification.

§         Limitation. Nearly all forms of pain fall under this head;

e.g. the feebleness of youth, weakness, sickness, deprivations,

bereavements, discouragements, debility of age, etc.

§         Strain. Battle of life. Work of life.

§         Impending death.

§         Imperfection of character; i.e. of the external manifestation

of the good within.

o       Social. There are evils that fall to us in our relations to our fellow-men.

These arise from the extreme difficulty of carrying ourselves morally,

rightly, in relation to our associates.  Hence many sorrows. Hence, too,

many sins:

§         wrongs in the family;

§         unjust subjection of women;

§         slavery;

§         cruelty;

§         neglect of ministration to suffering;

§         breaches of:

ü      the fifth,

ü      sixth,

ü      seventh,

ü      eighth,

ü      ninth, and

ü      tenth commandments;

§         war, etc.

Hence, too, all political tyrannies and religious persecution. No liberty,

equality, humanity, unity, or true independence.


·         DELIVERERS PROVED INCOMPETENT. All religions which have

declined from the purity of the primaeval revelation, and in proportion to

the extent of their departure. It may be necessary here to contrast the easy

and flippant assumption that each religion is an evolution from the genius

of each race, and congenial with it, and conducive to its moral elevation.

E.g. the contrast between the comparatively pure idea, which the New

Guinea people have, of a Great Spirit and the horrors of their cannibal life.

Surely these may not be left to such religion as they have evolved. In

showing incompetence to deliver from evil, the religious of the world must

be classified, and then the incompetence of each demonstrated in relation

to evils enumerated above. The following classification is suggested:


o       Indifferentism; i.e. any negative system that ignores the religious

nature of man.

o       Polytheism.

o       Pantheism.

o       Mere theism; e.g. the Brahmo-Samaj movement in India. Its failure

to meet the sin and sorrows of men is abundantly proved (see its own

literary organs in India).

o       Atheism in all its modern forms; e.g. agnosticism, positivism.

o       Impure forms of Christianity. Note that even in Russia so deep is the

void left by the Greek Church, that there are fifteen millions of

Dissenters, whom Imperialism tries to crush. It would not be difficult

to show that the Roman perversion of Christianity has proved

incompetent, and just in proportion to its decline from primitive truth.


·         THE SAVIOUR ALMIGHTY. The whole history of Christ’s

kingdom, the facts of modern missions, our own experience, demonstrate

the competence of Christ to:


o       fill the void of man’s necessity, and

o       to lift the burden from his surcharged heart; e.g.

o       to enlighten the mind;

o       to direct, purify, and elevate the emotions;

o       to rouse and then soothe the conscience;

o       to justify the will.


And so with the other forms of evil marshaled above.

Exhibit all this in detail, and demonstrate that “there is no other God that

can deliver after this sort.”





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