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. 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 22 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 23 demanded that they bring 24 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego before him. So they brought them 25 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?” 26 3:16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to King Nebuchadnezzar, 27 “We do not need to give you a reply 28 concerning this. 3:17 If 29 our God whom we are serving exists, 30 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 31 toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He gave orders 32 to heat the furnace seven times hotter than it was normally heated. 3:20 He ordered strong 33 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, 34 and were thrown into the furnace 35 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 36 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were killed 37 by the leaping flames. 38 3:23 But those three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell into the furnace 39 of blazing fire while still securely bound. 40
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
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
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.”
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.
22 sn Daniel’s absence from this scene has sparked the imagination of commentators, some of whom have suggested that perhaps he was unable to attend the dedication due to sickness or due to being away on business. Hippolytus supposed that Daniel may have been watching from a distance.
23 tn Aram “in anger and wrath”; NASB “in rage and anger.” The expression is a hendiadys.
24 tn The Aramaic infinitive is active.
25 tn Aram “these men.” The pronoun is used in the translation to avoid undue repetition.
27 tc In the MT this word is understood to begin the following address (“answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar’”). However, it seems unlikely that Nebuchadnezzar’s subordinates would address the king in such a familiar way, particularly in light of the danger that they now found themselves in. The present translation implies moving the atnach from “king” to “Nebuchadnezzar.”
28 tn Aram “to return a word to you.”
30 tn The Aramaic expression used here is very difficult to interpret. The question concerns the meaning and syntax of אִיתַי (’itay, “is” or “exist”). There are several possibilities. (1) Some interpreters take this word closely with the participle later in the verse יָכִל (yakhil, “able”), understanding the two words to form a periphrastic construction (“if our God is…able”; cf. H. Bauer and P. Leander, Grammatik des Biblisch-Aramäischen, 365, §111b). But the separation of the two elements from one another is not an argument in favor of this understanding. (2) Other interpreters take the first part of v. 17 to mean “If it is so, then our God will deliver us” (cf. KJV, ASV, RSV, NASB). However, the normal sense of ’itay is existence; on this point see F. Rosenthal, Grammar, 45, §95. The present translation maintains the sense of existence for the verb (“If our God…exists”), even though the statement is admittedly difficult to understand in this light. The statement may be an implicit reference back to Nebuchadnezzar’s comment in v. 15, which denies the existence of a god capable of delivering from the king’s power.
31 tn Aram “the appearance of his face was altered”; cf. NLT “his face became distorted with rage”; NAB “[his] face became livid with utter rage.”
32 tn Aram “he answered and said.”
33 tn This is sometimes taken as a comparative: “[some of the] strongest.”
34 sn There is a great deal of uncertainty with regard to the specific nature of these items of clothing.
35 tn Aram “into the midst of the furnace.” For stylistic reasons the words “the midst of” have been left untranslated.
36 tn Aram “caused to go up.”
37 tn The Aramaic verb is active.
38 tn Aram “the flame of the fire” (so KJV, ASV, NASB); NRSV “the raging flames.”
39 tn Aram “into the midst of the furnace.” For stylistic reasons the words “the midst of” have been left untranslated.
40 sn The deuterocanonical writings known as The Prayer of Azariah and The Song of the Three present at this point a confession and petition for God’s forgiveness and a celebration of God’s grace for the three Jewish youths in the fiery furnace. Though not found in the Hebrew/Aramaic text of Daniel, these compositions do appear in the ancient Greek versions.