Daniel 3:1-30 (3:1-97, LXX)

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In the Septuagint (but not in the Greek version of Theodotion), Nebuchadnezzar is identified as governing “cities and territories and all those dwelling on the earth from India to Ethiopia.” The Aramaic text of Daniel does not include these words nor does it mention the year when Nebuchadnezzar “made,” or directed the making of, an image of gold. Although the Dead Sea Daniel scroll (4QDana) from about 60 BCE contains only a fragmentary portion of verse 1, the missing part could not have included the year. According to the oldest extant Greek text (P967), it was in his “eighteenth year.” This year is also included in later Greek manuscripts. If understood to be Nebuchadnezzar’s eighteenth regnal year, it would be the year in which Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonian military force under his command. According to the reading of verse 1 in chapter 2 of P967, this placed the event about six years after Nebuchadnezzar had the dream that was mentioned in the previous chapter. There is, however, no existing evidence that confirms the correctness of the reading in P967. (3:1; also see the comments on 2:1.)

The height of the golden image (probably meaning a gold-plated image) is said to have been 60 cubits (c. 90 feet [c. 27 meters]) and the breadth 6 cubits (c. 9 feet [c. 2.7 meters]). According to P967, the image was 12 cubits (c. 18 feet [c. 5.5 meters]) wide, which would mean that the ratio of breadth to height would be one to five — a ratio more suited for an image resembling a human form. The image was set up on the “plain of Dura [Deira (Theodotion)] in the district of Babylon.” This may mean that the plain was near the city of Babylon, but it is not possible to identify this plain with any specific location. The name “Dura” has been linked to the Akkadian word dūru, which has been defined as meaning “circuit,” “walled place,” or “wall.” In the Septuagint, the reference is to “the plain of the enclosure [períbolos].” The Greek word períbolos, like the Akkadian term, can also designate an “enclosing wall” or a “walled place.” (3:1)

Through messengers, Nebuchadnezzar must have sent out word for the various officials throughout his realm to assemble for the dedication of the image of gold or the gold-plated image that he “had set up” or that he had authorized to be fashioned and positioned in the plain of Dura. In the Septuagint (including P967), Nebuchadnezzar is identified as “king of kings” and as dominating the whole inhabited world or all the lands making up his vast empire. The summoned ones were satraps (“protectors of a kingdom” or a “dominion”), prefects (officials of lower rank than satraps), governors, counselors or advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the officials of the districts or provinces. (3:2)

In the Septuagint (not including P967, which manuscript does not list “satraps” first), the officeholders are referred to as occupying the positions of satrap, commander (strategós), local governor or local official (topárches [an official in charge of a place]), high official (hýpatos), administrator or steward (dioiketés), and as all those exercising authority “according to territory” or region and all those throughout the “inhabited world.” Additionally, the Septuagint says that Nebuchadnezzar sent out word for “all the nations and tribes and tongues” to assemble. The Greek text of Theodotion does not include the additions of the Septuagint, and the listing of officials differs (“high officials” [hýpatos], “commanders” [strategós], “local governors” or “local officials” [topárches], “leaders” [hegoúmenos], “princes” [týrannos, tyrant, dominator, sovereign], all those in positions of authority, and all the rulers of the territories). (3:2)

In response to the message that had been sent out, the satraps, prefects, governors, counselors or advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the officials of the districts or provinces assembled for the “dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.” Whereas the listing of the government officials corresponds to the listing in verse 2 in the extant Aramaic text, this is not the case in the Greek text of Theodotion (local governors or local officials, high officials, commanders, leaders, great princes or great tyrants, all those in positions of authority, and all the rulers of the territories). In the Septuagint, the official designations of those summoned are not repeated, but the abbreviated text says that those previously described “stood before the image.” (3:3)

A herald made a proclamation with a loud voice, telling the “peoples, nations, and languages” (persons speaking languages other than that of the native Babylonians) what they were being commanded to do. Although the wording of the Septuagint (“nations and territories, peoples and languages” [“nations, peoples, and languages” (P967)]) and the Greek version of Theodotion (“peoples, tribes, languages”) differ, the thought conveyed is basically the same as that which is expressed in the Masoretic Text. (3:4)

According to the herald’s proclamation, all assembled, upon hearing the sound of the horn or trumpet, pipe, zither or kithara, trigon, harp, bagpipe (a possible [though uncertain] meaning for sumponeyáh), and “all kinds of music,” were to fall down, or drop to their knees, and worship, or prostrate themselves before, the “image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up,” or the gold-plated image that the king had directed to be positioned there on the plain. The expression rendered “all kinds of music” could refer to the variety of sounds from the different instruments. (3:5)

Whoever failed to “fall down,” not dropping to his knees, and worshiping (or prostrating himself before) the image would immediately be cast into the flames of the fire burning in a furnace. (3:6)

On account of this threat, “all the peoples, nations, and languages” (persons speaking languages other than that of the native Chaldeans) fell down (dropped to their knees) and worshiped (or prostrated themselves before) the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up or had directed to be set up. They did this as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, pipe, zither or kithara, trigon, harp, and “all kinds of music.” (See verse 5.) Whereas in the previous verse the instrument designated as the sumponeyáh was mentioned, it is not included in the extant Aramaic text of this verse. The Septuagint rendering is even more abbreviated, mentioning only the “sound of the trumpet and all the resounding of music” (or the “resounding of musical instruments”). In the Greek version of Theodotion, all the musical instruments are named, including the “bagpipe” (a possible, though uncertain, meaning for sumponeyáh, the word which is transliterated in the Greek text). (3:7)

Certain Chaldeans, either those belonging to the special class of Chaldeans who were skilled in the occult arts or other Chaldeans who had been appointed to governmental positions, appear to have noticed that Daniel’s three companions did not prostrate themselves before the image. They approached Nebuchadnezzar and made their accusation against the “Jews,” or the three Jewish men. It may well be that they resented that Daniel’s companions had been elevated to high office and that they had ill will toward them because they worshiped only their own God. (3:8)

As was customary when formally addressing their monarch, the Chaldeans prefaced their accusation against Daniel’s companions with the words, “O king, live forever.” Thus they expressed their wish that King Nebuchadnezzar might enjoy a long life. (3:9)

The Chaldeans focused attention on the decree King Nebuchadnezzar had issued, setting forth the requirement for every man to “fall down” (drop to his knees) and worship (prostrate himself before) the golden image (the gold-plated image) upon hearing the sound of the horn or trumpet, pipe, zither or kithara, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and “all kinds of music.” (See verse 5 for comments.) In the Septuagint, all the instruments are not mentioned, but it reads, “the sound of the trumpet and all the resounding of music” (or the “resounding of musical instruments”). The Greek version of Theodotion, however, corresponds to the wording of the extant Aramaic text. (3:10)

The Chaldeans are quoted as referring to the penalty for refusing to worship the image. Anyone who did not worship it would be cast into the flames of the fire burning in a furnace. (3:11)

The manner in which the Chaldeans expressed the accusation they made against Daniel’s companions indicates that they wanted Nebuchadnezzar to carry out the severe penalty against them. They referred to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as Jews whom Nebuchadnezzar had appointed over the affairs of the district or province of Babylon. Regarding them, they then said to Nebuchadnezzar that these men did not give heed to the king nor serve his gods and did not worship (prostrate themselves before) the golden image (the gold-plated image) that he had set up. Whereas Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego carried out their duties with due regard for King Nebuchadnezzar, the wording of the Chaldeans implied that the three men were guilty of acts of insubordination aside from refusing to worship the image. According to the Septuagint, Daniel’s companions did not fear Nebuchadnezzar’s command, did not serve his idol, and did not prostrate themselves before his image. The Greek version of Theodotion says that they did not obey Nebuchadnezzar’s decree, did not serve his gods, and did not prostrate themselves before his image. Both renderings are more restrictive than is the wording of the extant Aramaic text, for the Greek renderings limit the command or decree to the matter involving the worship of the image. (3:12)

In his rage and fury upon hearing the accusation, Nebuchadnezzar ordered that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought before him. They were thereafter led into his presence. (3:13)

Nebuchadnezzar asked Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego for what purpose or reason they did not serve his gods nor worship (prostrate themselves before) the image he had set up. (3:14)

The Babylonian monarch gave them an opportunity to change their stand, worshiping (or prostrating themselves before) the image when hearing the sound of the horn or trumpet, pipe, zither or kithara, trigon, harp, bagpipe and “all kinds of music.” (See verse 5 for comments.) If, however, they still refused to do so, they would immediately be cast into the flames of the fire burning in a furnace. Challengingly, Nebuchadnezzar asked, “Who [is] the god that can deliver you out of my hands?” His question implied that the God whom Shadrach, Meshah, and Abednego worshiped could not rescue them from his power. (3:15)

In their response, the companions of Daniel said that they had no need to answer Nebuchadnezzar in this matter. Their words indicated that they were determined not to alter or modify their view and so would not consent to his offer to save themselves by worshiping the image he had set up. (3:16)

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego expressed their faith that the God whom they served could rescue them. Their words that God would deliver them from the flames of the fire burning in a furnace and from the hand or power of Nebuchadnezzar were based on their recognition that his will would be done. This is evident from the expression they made next. According to the reading of the Septuagint, they referred to the “God in the heavens” as their “one” or only “Lord” whom they “feared.” (3:17)

Daniel’s companions did not presume that they would be delivered from the penalty that would be imposed on them, and their refusal to worship the image was not based on their knowing that they would not perish in the flames. Therefore, they indicated that, even if they could not expect to be rescued, they wanted Nebuchadnezzar to know that they would not serve his gods and would not worship (or prostrate themselves before) the image of gold he had set up. According to the Septuagint rendering, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego believed that they would be delivered and that this would reveal to Nebuchadnezzar that they would not serve his idol nor prostrate themselves before his image of gold. (3:18)

The response enraged King Nebuchadnezzar. The “appearance” of his face was changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and must have reflected his fury against them. He ordered that the furnace be heated “seven times” more than was customary, or heated to the ultimate degree. (3:19; see the Notes section.)

Nebuchadnezzar ordered certain mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and then to cast them into the flames of the fire burning in the furnace. In Rahlfs’ printed Greek text, the names of Daniel’s companions are mentioned, but this is not the case in the oldest extant Greek manuscript (P967) that preserves most of the words of this verse. It appears to support the reading that those around Azariah (Azarias) were bound. (3:20; compare 3:23.)

Then, just as they were dressed with their “trousers” (sarbalín), “garments” (pattísh), “caps” (karbeláh), and their other “clothing” (levúsh), Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were cast into the superheated furnace. There is a measure of uncertainty about the items of clothing that the original-language words designate. The meaning “trousers” for sarbalín has the support of the Vulgate, for the plural Latin word bracae means “pants” or “trousers.” Based on a link to the Persian word patyuše, pattísh may be defined as “garments.” The Akkadian word for “cap” is karballatu, and this may support defining karbeláh as “cap.” A link to the Akkadian word for “clothing” lubūŝu(m) supports rendering levúsh as “clothing.” (3:21)

According to the Septuagint (including P967), the three men were tied while still “having their sandals [plural of hypodéma] on and their tiaras on their heads” and being clothed “with their apparel [himatismós].” The Greek version of Theodotion also includes the reference to “tiaras,” but the other items of clothing mentioned are the plural of sarábara (an apparent transliteration of the Aramaic word sarbalín) periknemís (“leggings”), and éndyma (“garment”). It may be that the Greek word for “tiara” could, in this context, designate a distinctive headdress worn by men occupying the position to which Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had been elevated. (3:21)

The reference to King Nebuchadnezzar’s “word” or “command” (LXX) being “harsh” or “severe” (“pressing” or “urgent” [LXX], prevailing or being strong or overpowering [Theodotion]) may denote that he wanted it to be acted on without delay even though he had not given any thought to what the superheated furnace could cause. Because of the nature of his command and the extreme heat (“sevenfold” greater than formerly [LXX]), the men who cast Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the furnace were the ones whom the flame of fire killed. At this point, the Septuagint does not mention the death of those who cast the three men into the furnace. It indicates that those selected to carry out Nebuchadnezzar’s command threw the men into the furnace after having tied them and led them to it. The Greek version of Theodotion contains no reference to the death of those who threw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the furnace. According to this Greek text, the fact that Nebuchadnezzar’s word prevailed or was overpowering resulted in heating the furnace to excess. (3:22)

As for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who had been tied, they fell into the furnace where the fire was burning and producing extreme heat. The Septuagint indicates that a flame came out of the furnace, burning and killing the men who had bound the ones with Azarias (Azariah) or the other two men, Shadrach (Hananiah) and Meshech (Mishael), but the three men whom they had cast into the furnace were preserved. In the version of Theodotion, this development is not mentioned. It indicates that the three men, Shadrach (Sedrach), Meshech (Misach), and Abednego (Abdenago), fell bound into the midst of the furnace where the fire was burning. (3:23)

Nebuchadnezzar appears to have been seated at a safe distance from the furnace but close enough to observe what was happening inside it. What he saw startled, astonished, or frightened him, and he quickly got up to speak to “his officials,” state counselors, or members of his court. They gave an affirmative answer to Nebuchadnezzar’s question. “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” (3:24; see the Notes section.)

A Dead Sea Daniel scroll (4QDand) identifies those to whom Nebuchadnezzar then spoke as “his officials.” To them, he mentioned seeing four unbound men “walking in the midst of the fire.” They were unharmed by the flames, and the “fourth one” resembled a “son of the gods” (an “angel of a god” [3:92, LXX]; a “son of a god” [3:92, Theodotion) (3:25)

Nebuchadnezzar approached the door of the heated furnace. He must have stood at a safe distance away when he addressed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as “servants of the Most High God,” telling them to come out of the fire. The three men then did so. (3:26 [3:93, LXX])

The assembled satraps, prefects, governors, and the king’s officials or state counselors, could see that the fire had not had any “power” over or effect on the bodies of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The hair on their heads had not been singed. There was no change in their “trousers,” as if they had never been in the midst of a fire. (See verse 21 regarding “trousers.”) So there was not even a smell of “fire” or smoke on them. (3:27 [3:94, LXX])

In the Septuagint, the officeholders are identified as occupying the position of high official (hýpatos), local official (topárches [an official in charge of a place]), head of a family (archipatriótes), and friend of the king (a court official who was the king’s confidant). The Greek text of Theodotion lists the officeholders as satraps, commanders (strategós), local officials (topárches), and princes or mighty ones (dynástes) of the king. (3:27 [3:94, LXX])

Based on what he saw, King Nebuchadnezzar blessed and praised the “God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego” for having sent his angel to rescue “his servants who trusted in him.” They “changed” or disregarded the king’s “word” (his command to worship the image he had set up) and “gave over their body” (“their body for burning” [LXX; “their bodies to the fire” [Theodotion]), or chose to have the severe penalty imposed on them, so as not to serve and worship (prostrate themselves before) any god other than their own God. (3:28 [3:95, LXX])

On account of what he had witnessed, Nebuchadnezzar issued a decree that applied to “every people [every nation (LXX, including P967)], nation [tribe [Theodotion]; all tribes (LXX, including P967)], and language” (“all languages” [LXX (“all” not included in P967)]), the subjects of the Babylonian monarch who spoke languages other than his). He ordered that anyone saying anything improper against (blaspheming [LXX]; speaking blasphemy against [Theodotion]) the “God of Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego” would be dismembered (literally, “made limbs” or “pieces”; “will be for destruction” [Theodotion]) and his house turned into a “refuse heap.” According to the version of Theodotion, the houses of the blasphemers would be “plundered,” and the Septuagint indicates that the house of the blasphemer would be confiscated. As to the reason for his harsh order, Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged regarding YHWH that no other god could “deliver in this way.” (3:29 [3:96, LXX])

Thereafter King Nebuchadnezzar “prospered” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the district or province. This indicates that they were given a higher position than they had formerly. According to the Septuagint, Nebuchadnezzar gave them “authority over the whole territory,” appointing them as rulers. The version of Theodotion refers to the king as prospering Shadrach (Sedrach), Meshach (Misach), and Abednego (Abdenago) in the territory of Babylon and deeming them worthy to rule over “all the Judeans who were in his kingdom.” (3:30 [3:97, LXX])


In verse 19, the Aramaic word here translated “appearance” basically means “image.” The Septuagint, including P967, reads morphé, and the Greek version of Theodotion says ópsis. Both Greek words may be rendered “appearance.” The Greek version of Theodotion and the extant Aramaic text include the reference to Nebuchadnezzar’s change of face as being directed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. In the Septuagint, including P967, the three names are not included. Regarding the sevenfold increase, the Septuagint indicates that this was more than was necessary to heat the furnace. In the Greek version of Theodotion, the literal reading is, “to the end it should burn.” The thought appears to be that the furnace was to be stoked to the fullest extent in order to produce the greatest amount of heat possible.

Starting with verse 24, the extant text of the Septuagint and the Greek version of Theodotion are much longer than the Aramaic text. The words from verse 24 are included in verse 91 of the Greek text of Theodotion, and an abbreviated version is found in the Septuagint (“Then Nabouchodonosor [Nebuchadnezzar] the king was astonished and rose quickly and said to his friends”).

The comments that follow regarding verses 24 through 90 are based on the text of the Septuagint and the version of Theodotion. Information from the version of Theodotion is included only when it departs significantly from the reading of the extant Septuagint text.

Ananias (Hananiah), Azarias (Azariah), and Misael (Mishael) “prayed and sang hymns to the “Lord” at the time Nebuchadnezzar commanded that they be cast into the furnace. In P967, Azarias (Azariah) is mentioned first. According to the version of Theodotion, the men “were walking in the midst of the flame, singing hymns to God and praising the Lord.” (3:24)

Azarias (Azariah) stood up in the furnace and prayed, acknowledging the Lord “together with his companions in the midst of the fire.” At the same time certain Chaldeans were exceedingly heating the furnace. The version of Theodotion mentions neither the companions of Azariah nor the action of the Chaldeans. (3:25)

Azarias (Azariah) is quoted as saying, “Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers [forefathers], and praised and glorified [be] your name forever” (literally, “into the ages.”) For God’s name to be praised and glorified means for God himself (the one represented by the name) to be lauded and highly honored. (3:26)

“For you are righteous [or just] regarding everything that you have done to us, and all your works [are] truth, and your ways upright, and all your judgments [are] true.” In all his dealings with his people, God proved to be righteous or just. There was no defect in his works, but his activity revealed the dependability and stability of truth. His ways never deviated from what is right, and his judgments were true, always impartial and flawless. (3:27)

Whatever God permits is attributed to him. Therefore, Azariah is quoted as acknowledging that everything God had brought upon his people and upon Jerusalem, God’s “holy city” of their ancestors, expressed “true” or deserved judgments. He had acted “in truth [according to what is right] and judgment” or justice when doing “all these things” because of the “sins” of his people. “All these things” included letting his people suffer during military campaigns against Jerusalem and then letting them be taken into exile. (3:28)

Including himself among God’s wayward people, Azarias (Azariah) continued, “For we have sinned in everything and acted lawlessly [by] turning away from you, and we have erred in everything and have not obeyed the commandments of your law.” The Greek word here rendered “everything” is the plural of pas, meaning “all.” (3:29)

As a people, the Israelites had not observed the commandments nor done according to what God required of them so that it might go well for them. (3:30)

All that God brought upon his people and all that he did to them (which included everything that he permitted to befall them and his refusal to come to their aid in their time of distress) were acts done “in true judgment,” indicating that the divine judgment was right and just. The oldest extant Greek manuscript (P967) does not (with reference to God) say, “and everything you have done to us.” (3:31)

In expression of his “true” or right and just judgment, God had delivered his people “into the hand of [their] enemies,” permitting the foes to conquer them and to deal with them as a defeated and humiliated people. The adversaries are designated as “lawless and hostile rebels.” As for the king into whose “hand” or power they were handed over, he is described as “unjust” and the “most evil” in “all the earth.” (3:32)

Because of what had befallen them, God’s people were reduced to silence, unable to open their mouth to protest or to request relief. His servants and those revering him were submitted to “shame and reproach” as captives of their enemies. (3:33)

The appeal directed to YHWH was for him to act for the sake of his name, not handing his people over completely (literally, to the “end”) and not annulling his covenant with them. This petition constituted a plea for YHWH to bring an end to the suffering of his people so that their enemies would not reproach his name, referring to him as a God who could not help them. As indicated in verses 35 and 36, the covenant is the one God first concluded with Abraham and then also confirmed to Isaac and Jacob. (3:34)

In view of what the captive people were enduring, Azarias (Azariah) prayed to God not to distance his “mercy” from them, being compassionate instead “because of Abraam [Abraham]” his “beloved one,” and “because of Isaac” his “servant,” and “Israel” his “holy one.” In this context, “Israel” refers to Jacob whose name was changed to Israel after he wrestled with an angel. Despite his failings, Jacob could be called God’s “holy one,” for he remained faithful to him to the end of his life. (3:35)

To the forefathers of the Israelites — Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob — God promised to multiply “their seed” or offspring “like the stars of heaven and like the sand on the seashore (literally, “lip of the sea”). This covenant promise could only be fulfilled if they could once again be in their own land and prosper there as a people. (3:36)

YHWH is the one called “Master. Azarias (Azariah) acknowledged that God’s people, instead of increasing in number, had become fewer than all the other nations and were in that day abased in all the earth “because of [their] sins.” (3:37)

At that time the Israelites had no ruler, prophet, or governor. There was no one among them as a leader to defend their cause nor a prophet to make known the word of YHWH. Also among the things that did not exist were holocaust, sacrifice, offering, incense, and a place to present fruits to God and where mercy could be found, or where God’s compassionate care could be experienced. (3:38)

Without any arrangement for carrying out the sacrificial services at the divinely approved location, the people could only make their approach to God with a “broken soul,” or with their life and very being in a crushed state, and “humbled in spirit.” Azariah’s petition was that they might be accepted in their crushed and humbled condition. His plea was that the people might be favorably received as if they had made their approach with acceptable holocausts of “rams and bulls” and with “myriads of fat lambs.” (3:39)

At this point, the prayerful expressions of Azarias (Azariah) appear to be made for his two companions and for him. According to the oldest extant Greek text (P967), he pleaded, “Thus may our sacrifice come before you today and propitiate.” This could be understood to be a request that their crushed and humbled condition be like an acceptable sacrifice to God. In Rahlfs’ printed text the word for “propitiate” is followed by ópisthen sou, meaning “after” or “behind you.” The thought could be that the sacrifice be as one that surrounded God (being “before” him and “behind” him) and thus be pleasing to him, serving as an offering for propitiation. In the Greek version of Theodotion, the phrase that appears at the end of the verse in the Septuagint appears in place of the words about propitiation (“and may it be accomplished behind [or after] you”). (3:40)

In the Septuagint, the next words are, “for [there] is no shame to those relying on you.” Trust in YHWH never results in disappointment, for he fulfills his promises. In the oldest Greek manuscript, the concluding phrase is, “and may it be accomplished after,” possibly meaning “afterward.” This could relate to receiving God’s favorable attention after the offering up of the “sacrifice.” In the phrase about accomplishment, the pronoun “you” is not included (as in the version of Theodotion and other manuscripts of the Septuagint). One way to interpret the inclusion of the “you” might be to regard the phrase as saying, “and may [the acceptance] be accomplished after you [have received the sacrifice].” (3:40)

Azarias (Azariah) and his two companions followed God “with a whole heart,” or with undivided devotion, choosing to submit to his commands. They manifested “fear” or a reverential regard for him. Their seeking his face meant looking to him for guidance and aid and desiring to have his approval. Based on the course they had pursued, Azariah prayed that God would not put them to shame, which would have been the case if he had not revealed himself to be their deliverer. (3:41)

Azarias (Azariah) pleaded that YHWH would do with him and his companions according to his “fairness” or “goodness” and according to the “abundance” of his “mercy.” (3:42)

In the past, YHWH had rescued his people in time of great peril. His acts of deliverance were his marvelous or astonishing deeds. Azarias (Azariah) pleaded that God would deliver him and his companions in keeping with the marvelous deeds of the past and thus give or add glory to his name or to himself (the one whom the name represented). By effecting the deliverance, YHWH would reveal himself as the deliverer without equal. (3:43)

The focus shifts to all those who manifest “evil” to God’s servants, desiring to do them harm. Concerning them, Azarias (Azariah) prayed that they be the ones to be put to shame, being disgraced by all lordship and having their strength broken. (3:44)

With divine judgment being expressed against them, the enemies of God’s people would come to know, or be forced to recognize, that he is the “Lord” and “glorious” over all the inhabited earth. He is the Sovereign, the possessor of unparalleled majesty. (3:45)

King Nabouchodonosor’s (Nebuchadnezzar’s) subordinates who had cast Azarias (Azariah), Hananias (Hananiah) and Misael (Mishael) into the furnace did not cease stoking it. At the time “the three were cast into the furnace once for all,” the furnace, as it had been heated sevenfold or to the utmost degree, was extremely hot. Those who had cast the men into the furnace were “above them,” and others continued stoking the furnace “below them” with naphtha (a flammable liquid), tow, pitch, and brushwood. (3:46)

A shorter version of verse 46 is found in the version of Theodotion. “And the subordinates of the king who cast them in did not cease stoking the furnace with naphtha and pitch and tow and brushwood.”

In verse 46, the oldest extant Greek manuscript (P967) does not include the initial phrase, “And the subordinates of the king who cast them in did not cease stoking the furnace.” Thereafter this manuscript basically parallels the wording of the Septuagint, and so contains a text that is longer than the version of Theodotion.

A flame “poured out” from the furnace, reaching a height of “49 cubits” (c. 73.5 feet; less than 22.5 meters). (3:47)

The flame spread out and burned those of the Chaldeans around the furnace whom it reached. (3:48)

“But an angel of the Lord descended into the furnace.” The words that follow could be understood to mean that the angel did so at the same time as Azarias (Azariah) and his two companions were cast into it. This angel forced the flame “out of the furnace.” (3:49)

The angel made the inside of the furnace as if a moist wind (literally, “wind of dew”) were “whistling” there, and the fire did not at all touch the men, and neither did it harm nor annoy them. (3:50)

“As out of one mouth,” the three men commenced to sing hymns to and glorify, bless and exalt God while “in the furnace.” The oldest extant Greek text (P967) here reads like the version of Theodotion. “Then the three, as out of one mouth, hymned and glorified and blessed and exalted God [while] in the furnace, saying, …” The version of Theodotion, however, does not include “and exalted.” (3:51)

The expressions of praise consist of repeated thoughts and identical refrains. “Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers [forefathers], and [you are] praised and highly exalted forever” (literally, “into the ages”). “And blessed be the name of your glory, the holy one [your glorious, holy name; the glorious or majestic God whom the name represents] and be highly praised and highly exalted for eternity” (literally, “into all the ages” [“into the ages” (Theodotion)]). (3:52)

“Blessed are you in the sanctuary of your holy glory” (your glory or majesty in its holiness or absolute purity), and you are “highly praised” [hymned] and highly glorified forever” (literally, “into the ages”). The oldest extant Greek manuscript (P967) does not refer to the sanctuary. With reference to God, this manuscript says, “Blessed are you upon the throne of the glory of your kingdom, and [you are] highly praised [hymned] and highly glorified forever” (literally, “into the ages”). In the Septuagint, the reference to the “throne” appears in the next verse. (3:53)

Rahlfs’ printed text of the Septuagint and his version of Theodotion do not identify the “throne” as being the “throne of the glory of [God’s] kingdom.” The reference in both printed texts is to the “throne of your [God’s] kingdom,” and the concluding phrase is, “and [you are] praised [highly praised or hymned (Theodotion)] and highly exalted forever [literally, into the ages].” (3:54)

“Blessed are you, the one beholding the abysses, seated upon the cherubs, and [you are] praised and glorified forever” (literally, “into the ages”). The “abysses” would include the depths of the seas and deep pits or chasms. God’s being “seated upon the cherubs” probably alludes to the two cherubs on the ark of the covenant and above which appeared the Shechinah (representing the divine presence). Also, as the cherubs were always in his service, YHWH could be spoken of as being seated upon them. (3:55)

“Blessed are you in the firmament, and [you are] praised and glorified forever” (literally “into the ages”). The “firmament” is the celestial dome or vault, and the ancient Israelites perceived their God to be above this vault. (3:56)

Starting with verse 57 through verse 88, nearly every verse begins with the second person plural Greek imperative verb eulogeite, which may be translated “bless.” The exception is verse 74, where the verb is eulogeíto (a singular third person imperative) and may be rendered “let bless.” Each verse from 57 through 73 has the same refrain, “hymn [sing praises] and highly exalt him [the Lord] forever [literally into the ages].” Although the wording may be the same in the oldest Greek manuscript (P967), Rahlfs’ Greek text of the Septuagint, and the version of Theodotion, the order in which the verses appear varies at times.

Basically, all creation is called upon to “bless” the Lord. The imperative includes inanimate things, for every part of the creation can bless him as it fulfills its role and his purpose. His “works” are referred to as blessing him, for these works — both his saving acts and his creative works — reveal his unsurpassed greatness and thereby bless or laud him. (3:57).

The imperative to “bless” or laud the Lord is directed to angels (3:58), the heavens or the sky (3:59), all the waters above the heavens, which descend in the form of rain from above (3:60), all the powers of the Lord, or everything that reveals his might (3:61), sun and moon (3:62), stars of heaven (3:63), rain and dew (3:64), all the winds (3:65), fire and heat (3:66), frost and cold [cold and burning heat (Theodotion)] (3:67), dews and snowfall [plural in Greek] (3:68), frosts and cold (3:69), hoarfrosts and snows (3:70), nights and days (3:71), light and darkness (3:72), and lightnings and clouds. (3:73)

Verse 74 may be rendered, “Let the earth bless the Lord; let it hymn [sing praises] and highly exalt him forever [literally, into the ages].” From verses 75 through 88, each verse again starts with the imperative “bless” (eulogeite) and repeats the refrain, “hymn [sing praises and highly exalt him [the Lord] forever [literally into the ages].” The imperative to “bless” the Lord is addressed to mountains and hills (3:75), all the things sprouting on the earth or on the land (3:76), fountains or springs (3:77), seas and rivers (3:78), huge fish and all the creatures moving in the waters (3:79), all the birds of heaven or the birds flying in the air above the land (3:80), quadrupeds and beasts of the earth [domestic and wild animals] (3:81), sons of men [humans or people from every nation] (3:82), Israel (3:83), priests or, according to the version of Theodotion, priests of the Lord (3:84), slaves or, according to the version of Theodotion, slaves of the Lord (3:85), spirits and righteous souls [possibly meaning spirit persons or angels and upright humans] (3:86), those who are “holy” or “pure” and “lowly in heart,” or godly persons who are humble in their inmost selves (3:87), and Ananias (Hananiah), Azarias (Azariah), and Misael (Mishael). (3:88)

The praise from Ananias (Hananiah), Azarias (Azariah), and Misael (Mishael) served to express gratitude to God for having delivered them “from Hades” (the realm of the dead) and saved them from the “hand” or power of death and rescued them “from the midst of the burning flame” and “released” them “from the fire.” (3:88)

The poetic composition of praise ends with the admonition for all to acknowledge, or to give thanks to, the Lord, “for he is good [or kind], for his mercy [is] forever [literally, into the ages]. (3:89)

All persons who have reverential regard for him are to bless the “God of gods” and to hymn or sing praises to him and to acknowledge him or to thank him, for his mercy is “forever and ever [literally, into the age of the ages].” (3:90)

Nebuchadnezzar (the “king” [LXX]) heard the three men singing hymns or praises. In a standing position, he saw that they were alive. Then Nebuchadnezzar “was astonished.” According to the version of Theodotion, Nebuchadnezzar, upon hearing the singing of hymns or praises and, therefore, being astonished, “arose [from a seated position] in haste.” (3:91; for comments on the rest of the text of the Septuagint, see the commentary for verses 24 through 30 of the Aramaic text.)