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Three Men in the Fiery Furnace (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the Fiery Furnace) - William Maughan

King Nebuchadnezzar created a massive golden image that was 90-feet high and 9-feet wide. He placed the gold image in the plains of Dura in Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all other officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up. The officials arrived and stood before the monument.

The herald loudly proclaimed,

“Nations and peoples of every language, this is what you are commanded to do. As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe, and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up in the plains of Dura. Whoever does not fall down and worship the image will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”

Nebuchadnezzar's golden image on the plains of Dura - Unknown ArtistSo as soon as the people heard the music, they all fell down and worshiped the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar set up.

At this time, some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar,

“May the king live forever! Your Majesty has issued a decree that everyone worship the image of gold but there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of Babylon – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – who ignore your order. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Furious, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and said to them,

“Is it true that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image I have set up? Now when you hear the sound of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied,

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“King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you on this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of god you have set up.”

Jesus with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego - Unknown ArtistNebuchadnezzar was furious with them and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers to tie up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So the three men, wearing their robes, trousers, and turbans were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of fire killed the soldiers who took up the men. The three men were firmly tied and thrown into the blaze.

King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that were tied up and thrown into the fire?”

The replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”

Nebuchadnezzar said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound, and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

Nebuchadnezzar approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”

So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the fire and the satraps, prefects, governors, and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies nor was a hair of their heads singed, their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of smoke on them.

Then Nebuchadnezzar said,

“Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore, I decree that the people of any nations or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble for no other god can save in this way.”

Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Babylon.

What the story means to us today

Nebuchadnezzar’s pride and arrogance mask his understanding of God’s true power – the three Hebrews stand true to their faith

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace - Unknown ArtistAlthough Nebuchadnezzar recognized Daniel’s God after Daniel interpreted his dream, his pride and arrogance masks his understanding of God’s true power. He exercised total control over his citizens and in this instance, attempted to make the citizens demonstrate their loyalty to the king by effectively forcing a new religion on them. The young Hebrews, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refuse to compromise their morals and relinquish their religious beliefs. They stood strong even though they faced certain execution. Their faith was rewarded with life and served to influence Nebuchadnezzar’s governmental policies and thus, impacted much more than just the three men. God has a plan for all the participants and those that trusted his plan were greatly rewarded.

God’s plan may not always be clear to us and we must remember that only God sees the “bigger picture”. We must trust his objective, follow his guidance, and adhere to our religious tenets – even if it means rebelling against those in charge.

Additional thoughts and considerations

The obligation to obey God

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refuse to disobey or disrespect God. They adhere to their beliefs despite the threat of death. A similar scenario could happen to Christians today. In fact, 2 Thessalonians 2:4 and Revelation 13:8 warn us that a similar event will occur at some point in the future. The Beast described in Revelation, will demand people worship him instead of God. Some will submit to the Beast’s demands and comply with his orders while others, presumably Christians, will refuse even though they know they will be executed for their disobedience. But like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, God will reward those who maintain their religious beliefs no matter what outside influences pressure them to disobey God’s will.

Was the story of the fiery furnace a historical event or allegory?

Some scholars believe the story of the fiery furnace is an allegory rather than a true historical event. They consider the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego a metaphor that demonstrates Nebuchadnezzar’s power, wealth, and control. However, several historical facts suggest otherwise.

We have outside historical references to instances of slaves being burnt alive in ovens. As a form of execution, burning is specified twice in the Code of Hammurabi, a Babylonian law book from about 1,900 BC. And a letter from a Mesopotamian king dating to around 700 BC mentions throwing priests into a burning oven, just like the one described in Daniel.

Historical documents record the use of a herald in official announcements. Ancient manuscripts tell us the use of a herald was a widely-used Babylonian convention.

We know from outside historical sources that gold plated statues such as the one described by Daniel, were often created by ancient rulers. More surprisingly, an enormous base was discovered in the empty plains about six miles southeast of Babylon. The huge base hints the structure it held must have been enormous. Its proximity to Babylon fits the location of Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image (which was set up “on the plain of Dura”).

Details provided in the story are very similar to other documented historical events of the era. As fantastical as the story seems, it could easily be a true historical record of events.

The assembly of Nebuchadnezzar’s leaders

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace - Unknown ArtistThe scripture tells us Nebuchadnezzar summoned the “satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up.” This summoning was likely to force a show of loyalty from his leaders. Historical documents describe the function of each leader named in Daniel.

The satraps were the chief representatives of the king. Prefects were military commanders. Governors were civil administrators. Advisers were counselors to the other leaders. Treasurers managed the kingdom’s money. Judges administered the law. Magistrates supported the execution of law.

It was God’s choice to save the three men

The literal translation of verse 17 is ambiguous and thus, the verse has been rendered in several ways. The verse really reads, “if he is able, god will save us”. The verse however, does not question God’s capability to save the men but rather, shows the men’s understanding that God will only save them if he chooses to do so. They understood that God does not always intervene in our lives and it’s not our place to question his objective. We do not know God’s plan, our place in the “bigger picture”, nor why God allows bad things to happen. The three Hebrews understood this and despite the threat of death, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refuse to disobey God’s commands. They appreciate God’s authority and do not presume God will save them. That is why they tell the king, “If god wants, he will save us from the fire.”

The ironic death of Nebuchadnezzar’s soldiers because of the king’s rash action

Nebuchadnezzar was in such a rush to execute Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that he did not allow his soldiers time to prepare for the execution. As a result of his rash and uncaring decision, his soldiers are killed by the flames as they prepare to put the men into the oven.

The description of events seems to indicate the oven had a doorway on top that the men would be lowered or pushed into. Flames may have leapt from the opening and killed the guards while Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego fell into the opening. The poetic death of the solders aptly demonstrates “a quick-tempered man is prone to do foolish things.”

The miraculous survival of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego show God’s plan will be implemented no matter what

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego miraculously survive the flames. In fact, not only are they able to freely walk about the fire, their clothes and hair are completely untouched by the flames.

In addition to witnessing their miraculous survival, Nebuchadnezzar sees a fourth person in the flames and instantly recognizes the figure as a divine being. This changes his perception of the three men and their God. Ultimately, the flames only kill Nebuchadnezzar’s men and leave the Hebrews unharmed. As a result, Nebuchadnezzar formally recognizes the Hebrew’s God as a legitimate deity through an official decree. Again, we see God’s plan implemented even when powerful people try to oppose him.

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How did Daniel know the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?

It is not revealed how Daniel knew about the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Daniel may have been present during the events surrounding the attempted execution of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Even if Daniel was not present, a miraculous story such as the one of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, would be legendary. Likely many people knew of the event. But a government leader such as Daniel, who Daniel 2:48 says was promoted and “made the ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon”, would have surely been familiar with the monumental event.

The Greek words found in Daniel

Some of the terms used for the musical instruments in Daniel are of Greek derivation (some of the instruments are unidentifiable). For instance, the words for harp, drum, and pipes are distinctly Greek in origin. Some have touted the use of Greek words means the book was written much later than 600-700 BC. The Greek terms, however, would not have been uncommon in Daniel’s day.

Historical evidence shows there was trading with Greece for thousands of years BC. In fact, Greek mercenaries served in Nebuchadnezzar’s army and Greek musicians played in his orchestras. Words for uniquely Greek objects would certainly appear in ancient writings such as Daniel. In fact, since the book was written in a Hellenistic period, we should expect even more Greek usage.

The science and history behind the story

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refuse to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar's image of gold - Jehovah Witness LibraryNebuchadnezzar’s golden image/statue

Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image probably resembled an obelisk, 90-feet tall and 9-feet wide. It was similar in size to the region’s palm trees. It likely featured a large base to support the massive structure.

The obelisk has never been found but even if it were, it might not be recognizable. Looters would have stripped the gold plating, leaving behind nothing more than sections of stone. However, the Greek historian Herodotus wrote about the practice of overlaying images such as the one described in Daniel, with gold plating.

Archaeologists have even found the remains of a large base at the supposed location of Dura. Located a few miles south of the city of Babylon, near a small river, mounds uncovered in the area bore the name Douair or Duair. The pedestal of a huge statue was found in this area during a scientific expedition.

The oven Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into

Burning of prisoners and slaves in ovens is mentioned in several ancient manuscripts. The oven was likely used to make images and forge metals (possibly even the image the men were told to worship). The description of the oven in Daniel matches what we know about the ancient ovens. It would have had an opening in the top (through which the three men were dropped) and some sort of opening in the side (through which Nebuchadnezzar saw the three men alive and unharmed).

Notes on Biblical translation

The astrologers “denounce” the Jews

The Bible tells us the astrologers “came forward and denounced the Jews”. Translations for this verse vary. Most say the astrologers “denounced” the three men. Some translations say the astrologers “accused” the men. The literal translation is “ate their pieces”, implying that they strongly denounced the men, greatly insulting and accusing them of insubordination. Although the phrase “ate their pieces” sounds odd today, it was probably a common phrase at the time, similar to the modern-day phrase “they made mincemeat of them”.

Heating the oven seven times hotter than usual

Daniel says the king “ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual”. In biblical times, the number seven represented completeness, fullness, or total. It wasn’t a superstitious number or numerological construct but rather a figure of speech, a hyperbole. To heat the oven “seven times hotter than usual” is an idiomatic way of saying heat the oven “as hot as possible”.

Bible Text

King Nebuchadnezzar's golden image - Unknown ArtistNIV

King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. 2 He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up. 3 So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it.

4 Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “Nations and peoples of every language, this is what you are commanded to do: 5 As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6 Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”

7 Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the nations and peoples of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

8 At this time some astrologers z came forward and denounced the Jews. 9 They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “May the king live forever! 10 Your Majesty has issued a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, 11 and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. 12 But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”

13 Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, 14 and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? 15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual 20 and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. 22 The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, 23 and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”

They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”

25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”

So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, 27 and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.

28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”

30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

The New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. Print.

The NET Bible

King Nebuchadnezzar had a golden statue made. It was ninety feet tall and nine feet wide. He erected it on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. 3:2 Then King Nebuchadnezzar sent out a summons to assemble the satraps, prefects, governors, counselors, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the other authorities of the province to attend the dedication of the statue that he had erected. 3:3 So the satraps, prefects, governors, counselors, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the other provincial authorities assembled for the dedication of the statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had erected. They were standing in front of the statue that Nebuchadnezzar had erected.

3:4 Then the herald made a loud proclamation: “To you, O peoples, nations, and language groups, the following command is given: 3:5 When you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, trigon, harp, pipes, and all kinds of music, you must bow down and pay homage to the golden statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has erected. 3:6 Whoever does not bow down and pay homage will immediately be thrown into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire!” 3:7 Therefore when they all heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, trigon, harp, pipes, and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations, and language groups began bowing down and paying homage to the golden statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had erected.

3:8 Now at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and brought malicious accusations against the Jews. 3:9 They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 3:10 You have issued an edict, O king, that everyone must bow down and pay homage to the golden statue when they hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, trigon, harp, pipes, and all kinds of music. 3:11 And whoever does not bow down and pay homage must be thrown into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire. 3:12 But there are Jewish men whom you appointed over the administration of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—and these men have not shown proper respect to you, O king. They don’t serve your gods and they don’t pay homage to the golden statue that you have erected.”

3:13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in a fit of rage demanded that they bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego before him. So they brought them before the king. 3:14 Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you don’t serve my gods and that you don’t pay homage to the golden statue that I erected? 3:15 Now if you are ready, when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, trigon, harp, pipes, and all kinds of music, you must bow down and pay homage to the statue that I had made. If you don’t pay homage to it, you will immediately be thrown into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire. Now, who is that god who can rescue you from my power?” 3:16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to King Nebuchadnezzar, “We do not need to give you a reply concerning this. 3:17 If our God whom we are serving exists, he is able to rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and he will rescue us, O king, from your power as well. 3:18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we don’t serve your gods, and we will not pay homage to the golden statue that you have erected.”

3:19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with rage, and his disposition changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He gave orders to heat the furnace seven times hotter than it was normally heated. 3:20 He ordered strong soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and to throw them into the furnace of blazing fire. 3:21 So those men were tied up while still wearing their cloaks, trousers, turbans, and other clothes, and were thrown into the furnace of blazing fire. 3:22 But since the king’s command was so urgent, and the furnace was so excessively hot, the men who escorted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were killed by the leaping flames. 3:23 But those three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell into the furnace of blazing fire while still securely bound.

3:24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was startled and quickly got up. He said to his ministers, “Wasn’t it three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied to the king, “For sure, O king.” 3:25 He answered, “But I see four men, untied and walking around in the midst of the fire! No harm has come to them! And the appearance of the fourth is like that of a god!” 3:26 Then Nebuchadnezzar approached the door of the furnace of blazing fire. He called out, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the most high God, come out! Come here!”

Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego emerged from the fire. 3:27 Once the satraps, prefects, governors, and ministers of the king had gathered around, they saw that those men were physically unharmed by the fire. The hair of their heads was not singed, nor were their trousers damaged. Not even the smell of fire was to be found on them!

3:28 Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed, “Praised be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent forth his angel and has rescued his servants who trusted in him, ignoring the edict of the king and giving up their bodies rather than serve or pay homage to any god other than their God! 3:29 I hereby decree that any people, nation, or language group that blasphemes the god of Shadrach, Meshach, or Abednego will be dismembered and his home reduced to rubble! For there exists no other god who can deliver in this way.” 3:30 Then Nebuchadnezzar promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

Biblical Studies Press. The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press, 2006. Print.

Jesus with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace - Unknown ArtistNew King James Version

3 Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its width six cubits. He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. 2 And King Nebuchadnezzar sent word to gather together the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 3 So the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces gathered together for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 4 Then a herald cried aloud: “To you it is commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, 5 that at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, you shall fall down and worship the gold image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up; 6 and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.”

7 So at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the horn, flute, harp, and lyre, in symphony with all kinds of music, all the people, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the gold image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

8 Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and accused the Jews. 9 They spoke and said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 10 You, O king, have made a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the gold image; 11 and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. 12 There are certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego; these men, O king, have not paid due regard to you. They do not serve your gods or worship the gold image which you have set up.”

13 Then Nebuchadnezzar, in rage and fury, gave the command to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. So they brought these men before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 And he commanded certain mighty men of valor who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their coats, their trousers, their turbans, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. 22 Therefore, because the king’s command was urgent, and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?”

They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.”

25 “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”

26 Then Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and spoke, saying, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here.” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego came from the midst of the fire. 27 And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them.

28 Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God! 29 Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this.”

30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the province of Babylon.

The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.

The Message

King Nebuchadnezzar built a gold statue, ninety feet high and nine feet thick. He set it up on the Dura plain in the province of Babylon. He then ordered all the important leaders in the province, everybody who was anybody, to the dedication ceremony of the statue. They all came for the dedication, all the important people, and took their places before the statue that Nebuchadnezzar had erected.

4–6 A herald then proclaimed in a loud voice: “Attention, everyone! Every race, color, and creed, listen! When you hear the band strike up—all the trumpets and trombones, the tubas and baritones, the drums and cymbals—fall to your knees and worship the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Anyone who does not kneel and worship shall be thrown immediately into a roaring furnace.”

7 The band started to play, a huge band equipped with all the musical instruments of Babylon, and everyone—every race, color, and creed—fell to their knees and worshiped the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

8–12 Just then, some Babylonian fortunetellers stepped up and accused the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “Long live the king! You gave strict orders, O king, that when the big band started playing, everyone had to fall to their knees and worship the gold statue, and whoever did not go to their knees and worship it had to be pitched into a roaring furnace. Well, there are some Jews here—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—whom you have placed in high positions in the province of Babylon. These men are ignoring you, O king. They don’t respect your gods and they won’t worship the gold statue you set up.”

13–15 Furious, King Nebuchadnezzar ordered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be brought in. When the men were brought in, Nebuchadnezzar asked, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you don’t respect my gods and refuse to worship the gold statue that I have set up? I’m giving you a second chance—but from now on, when the big band strikes up you must go to your knees and worship the statue I have made. If you don’t worship it, you will be pitched into a roaring furnace, no questions asked. Who is the god who can rescue you from my power?”

16–18 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, “Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if he doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.”

19–23 Nebuchadnezzar, his face purple with anger, cut off Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace fired up seven times hotter than usual. He ordered some strong men from the army to tie them up, hands and feet, and throw them into the roaring furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, bound hand and foot, fully dressed from head to toe, were pitched into the roaring fire. Because the king was in such a hurry and the furnace was so hot, flames from the furnace killed the men who carried Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to it, while the fire raged around Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

24 Suddenly King Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in alarm and said, “Didn’t we throw three men, bound hand and foot, into the fire?”

“That’s right, O king,” they said.

25 “But look!” he said. “I see four men, walking around freely in the fire, completely unharmed! And the fourth man looks like a son of the gods!”

26 Nebuchadnezzar went to the door of the roaring furnace and called in, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the High God, come out here!”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked out of the fire.

27 All the important people, the government leaders and king’s counselors, gathered around to examine them and discovered that the fire hadn’t so much as touched the three men—not a hair singed, not a scorch mark on their clothes, not even the smell of fire on them!

28 Nebuchadnezzar said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel and rescued his servants who trusted in him! They ignored the king’s orders and laid their bodies on the line rather than serve or worship any god but their own.

29 “Therefore I issue this decree: Anyone anywhere, of any race, color, or creed, who says anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego will be ripped to pieces, limb from limb, and their houses torn down. There has never been a god who can pull off a rescue like this.”

30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

Peterson, Eugene H. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005. Print.

King James Version

3 Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. 2 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together ethe princes, fthe governors, and gthe captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellers, 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 counsellers, 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. 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, mharp, sackbut, psaltery, †dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: 6 And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. 7 Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of musick, all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.

8 Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews. 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 musick, 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.

13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Then they brought these men before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? 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 musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? 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.

19 Then was Nebuchadnezzar cfull 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. 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. 21 Then these men were bound in their ecoats, their hosen, and their fhats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. 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 Abed-nego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

24 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his lcounsellers, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. 25 He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and nthey have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. 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. 27 And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellers, 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. 28 Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who hath sent uhis 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. 29 Therefore xI make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing 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. 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, in the province of Babylon.

The Holy Bible: King James Version. Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009. Print.

Sources: NIV, The Message, The NET Bible, King James Version, NET Bible Notes, Faithlife Study Bible, The Apologetics Study Bible, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Commentary, The Bible Reader’s Companion, Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Holman Concise Bible Commentary, The Bible Exposition Commentary, The Teacher’s Bible Commentary, The Teacher’s Commentary, The Bible Guide, Word Studies in the New Testament, Holman Bible Handbook, Calvin Commentaries, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines, The New Manner and Customs of the Bible, Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, The Lexham Bible Dictionary, Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Harper’s Bible Dictionary, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, The Archaeological Encyclopedia, Biblical Archeology Review, The New Bible Dictionary, The Lexham Analytical Lexicon, Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database
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