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Daniel 3:1-10

Context
Daniel’s Friends Are Tested

3:1 1 King Nebuchadnezzar had a golden 2  statue made. 3  It was ninety feet 4  tall and nine feet 5  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, 6  and all the other authorities of the province to attend the dedication of the statue that he 7  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. 8 

3:4 Then the herald 9  made a loud 10  proclamation: “To you, O peoples, nations, and language groups, the following command is given: 11  3:5 When you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, 12  trigon, harp, pipes, and all kinds of music, you must 13  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 14  be thrown into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire!” 3:7 Therefore when they all 15  heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, trigon, harp, pipes, 16  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 17  at that time certain 18  Chaldeans came forward and brought malicious accusations against 19  the Jews. 3:9 They said 20  to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 21  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.

1 sn The LXX introduces this chapter with the following chronological note: “in the eighteenth year of.” Such a date would place these events at about the time of the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. (cf. 2 Kgs 25:8). However, there seems to be no real basis for associating the events of Daniel 3 with this date.

2 sn There is no need to think of Nebuchadnezzar’s image as being solid gold. No doubt the sense is that it was overlaid with gold (cf. Isa 40:19; Jer 10:3-4), with the result that it presented a dazzling self-compliment to the greatness of Nebuchadnezzar’s achievements.

3 sn According to a number of patristic authors, the image represented a deification of Nebuchadnezzar himself. This is not clear from the biblical text, however.

4 tn Aram “sixty cubits.” Assuming a length of 18 inches for the standard cubit, the image would be 90 feet (27.4 m) high.

5 tn Aram “six cubits.” Assuming a length of 18 inches for the standard cubit, the image would be 9 feet (2.74 m) wide.

sn The dimensions of the image (ninety feet high and nine feet wide) imply that it did not possess normal human proportions, unless a base for the image is included in the height dimension. The ancient world knew of other tall statues. For example, the Colossus of Rhodes – the huge statue of Helios which stood (ca. 280-224 B.C.) at the entrance to the harbor at Rhodes and was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world – was said to be seventy cubits (105 ft or 32 m) in height, which would make it even taller than Nebuchadnezzar’s image.

6 sn The specific duties of the seven types of officials listed here (cf. vv. 3, 27) are unclear. The Aramaic words that are used are transliterations of Akkadian or Persian technical terms whose exact meanings are uncertain. The translations given here follow suggestions set forth in BDB.

7 tn Aram “Nebuchadnezzar the king.” The proper name and title have been replaced by the relative pronoun (“he”) in the translation for stylistic reasons.

8 tc The LXX and Theodotion lack the words “that Nebuchadnezzar had erected.”

9 tn According to BDB 1097 s.v. כָּרוֹז the Aramaic word used here is a Greek loanword, but other scholars have argued instead for a Persian derivation (HALOT 1902 s.v. *כָּרוֹז).

10 tn Aram “in strength.”

11 tn Aram “they are saying.”

12 sn The word zither (Aramaic קִיתָרוֹס [qitaros]), and the words for harp (Aramaic פְּסַנְתֵּרִין [pÿsanterin]) and pipes (Aramaic סוּמְפֹּנְיָה [sumponÿyah]), are of Greek derivation. Though much has been made of this in terms of suggesting a date in the Hellenistic period for the writing of the book, it is not surprising that a few Greek cultural terms, all of them the names of musical instruments, should appear in this book. As a number of scholars have pointed out, the bigger surprise (if, in fact, the book is to be dated to the Hellenistic period) may be that there are so few Greek loanwords in Daniel.

13 tn The imperfect Aramaic verbs have here an injunctive nuance.

14 tn Aram “in that hour.”

15 tn Aram “all the peoples.”

16 tc Though not in the Aramaic text of BHS, this word appears in many medieval Hebrew MSS, some LXX MSS, and Vulgate. Cf. vv. 5, 10, 15.

17 tc This expression is absent in Theodotion.

18 tn Aram “men.”

19 tn Aram “ate the pieces of.” This is a rather vivid idiom for slander.

20 tn Aram “answered and said,” a common Aramaic idiom that occurs repeatedly in this chapter.

21 sn O king, live forever! is a comment of typical court courtesy that is not necessarily indicative of the real sentiments of the speaker. Ancient oriental court protocol could sometimes require a certain amount of hypocrisy.



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