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Bible Commentaries
Daniel 3

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-30

3. The test of the faith of Daniel’s three friends in the fiery furnace.

Daniel 3:1-30

1Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose [its] height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof [its breadth] six cubits: he set it up in 2the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. Then [And] Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes [satraps], the governors, and the captains [pashas], the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs [lawyers], and all the rulers of the provinces,1 to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. 3Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, 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 [were standing] 4before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Then [And] a herald cried aloud [with might], To you it is commanded [lit, they are saying], O [lit. The] 5people, nations [nations, peoples], and languages.2 That at what time [the time that] ye hear [shall hear] the sound of the cornet [horn], flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer [symphony], and all kinds of music, ye fall down and 6worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: and whose [lit. who that] falleth not [lit. shall not fall] down and worshippeth, shall the same hour [lit, in it the moment] be cast into the midst of a [or, the] burning fiery furnace [lit. oven of fire the blazing]. 7Therefore at that [lit, in it the] time, when [lit, as that] all the people heard [nations were hearing] the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of music,3 all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell [were falling] down and worshipped [worshipping] the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. 8Wherefore at that time certain Chaldæans [lit, men Casdim] came near and accused the 9Jews. They spake [were answering], and said [were saying] to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O [lit. The] king, live for eDaniel Daniel 3:10 Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image; 11and whoso falleth not down and worshippeth 12that he should be cast into the midst of a burning, fiery furnace. There are certain Jews, whom thou hast set over the affairs [work] of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego: these men, O king, have not regarded thee [set account upon thee]; they serve not thy gods, nor worship 13the golden image which thou hast set up. Then Nebuchadnezzar, in his rage and fury, commanded [said] to bring [cause to come] Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Then they brought these men [these men were brought] before 14the king. Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said unto them, Is it true [of purpose], O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego? do not ye [, that ye do not] serve my 15gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? Now, if ye be ready, that at what time [the time that] ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made, well: but [and] if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour [moment] into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that [he] God that shall deliver you out of my hands? 16Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are 17not careful [needing] to answer thee [return thee answer] in this matter. If it be so, our God [If it be that our God] whom we serve, is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and he will deliver us out of thy 18hand, O king.4 But [And] if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve [are not serving] thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. 19Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat [to heat] the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated [lit. above that any one was ever seen to heat it]. 20And he commanded the most mighty men [lit. men, heroes of might] that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, and [so as] to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21Then these men were bound in their coats [shirts, or trowsers, or mantles], their hosen [coats, or tunics], and their hats [cloaks, or turbans,] and their other garments, and were cast into the midst 22of the burning fiery furnace. Therefore, because [lit. from that] the king’s commandment [word] was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that look up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.5 23And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. 24Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?6 They answered and said unto the king, True,7 O king. 25He answered and said, Lo, I8 see four men loose [loosed], walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt [harm is not with them]; and the form [appearance] of the fourth is like the Son of God [a son of the gods]. 26Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth [door] of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, ye servants of the most high God, come [go] forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, came [went] forth of [from] the midst of the fire. 27And the princes, [the] governors, and [the] captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw [or, were gathered and saw] these men, upon [over] whose bodies the fire had no power [did not rule], nor was a [the] hair of their head singed, neither were [had] their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had 28passed on them. Then Nebuchadnezzar spake and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed9 the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve or worship any god except their own God. 29Therefore I make a decree [And from me is a decree made], That every people, nation, and language, which [shall] speak anything amiss10 against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, shall be cut [made] in pieces, and their houses11 shall be made a dunghill [or, sink]; because there is no other god that can deliver after [like] this sort. 30Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, in the province of Babylon.


Daniel 3:1-2. The erection of the image, and the command to attend its dedication. Nebuchadnezzar the king made (had made) an image of gold. Properly “made” (עֲבַד), similar to the repeated phrase in the following: “he set it up,” instead of “he caused it to be set up” (Daniel 3:1 b, Daniel 3:2, Daniel 3:3, Daniel 3:5, Daniel 3:7, Daniel 3:12, etc.), or to Daniel 3:24, “we cast three men into the fire,” instead of “had them cast in.”—The Heb. text does not state when the image was made. According to the Septuagint and Theodotion, who are followed by the Syriac hexaplar version, it was prepared ἔτους ὀκτωκαιδεκάτου Ναβουχοδόνοσορ, hence at about the time of the destruction of Jerusalem (cf. 2 Kings 25:8; Jeremiah 52:12), and after the accomplished subjection to Chaldæa of all the nations from India to Ethiopia (cf. the additions in the Sept. to Daniel 3:2-3). The incident appears at all events to belong to this later period of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, since Daniel 3:4 b, Daniel 3:7 b, Daniel 3:29 a, mention many “peoples, nations, and languages,” as being subject to him, and it was possibly a feature connected with a feast in commemoration of his victories (cf. Herodot. IV. 88). The impression of Jehovah’s power and greatness which he had formerly received in consequence of Daniel’s interpretation of his dream, appears therefore to have been long obliterated. He not only causes the colossal image subsequently described to be erected in honor of some Babylonian national god, but with arrogant presumption he challenges a conflict (see Daniel 3:15).—An image of gold. צְלֵם certainly designates in this place, as well as in Daniel 2:31, a statue in the human form, and more particularly, the image of a god, as appears from Daniel 3:12; Daniel 3:18; Daniel 3:28. It was not therefore a statue of Nebuchadnezzar himself. A marked disproportion seems to have existed in its dimensions, on the supposition that it represented an upright human form, since its height is given at sixty cubits, and its breadth or thickness at only six cubits, while the normal height and breadth of a person in an upright posture are as Daniel 6:1, not as Daniel 10:1. For this reason the צְלֵם has been held to have been in part a mere idol column, similar to the Egyptian obelisks, or, which is certainly more appropriate, analogous to the Amyclæan Apollo, which formed, according to Pausanius (Lacon. III. 19, 2), a slender column provided with head, arms, and feet, in the human form. So Münter, Relig. der Babylonier, p. 59; Hengstenberg, p. 95; and more recently Kranichfeld, who refers to the colossus of Rhodes, the height of which was seventy cubits, also to the Egyptian κολλοσσοὶ μεγάλοι and ἀνδρόσφογγες mentioned by Herodotus (II. 175), and to the image of the sun mentioned by Pliny (H. N. 24:18), which reached a height of 110 feet, in addition to the Apollo of Amyclæ. [“צְלֵם is properly an image in human likeness, and excludes the idea of a mere pillar or obelisk, for which מַצֵּבָה would have been the appropriate word. Yet … as to the upper part—the head, countenance, arms, breast—it may have been in the form of a man, and the lower part may have been formed like a pillar.”—Keil.] We might be content with this, or refer in addition to the remarkably tall and slender forms of individual persons on Egyptian wall-paintings and also on Assyrian and Babylonian sculptures (cf. the copies in Wilkinson’s Manners and customs of the ancient Egyptians, and Layard’s works on Nineveh and Babylon [German by Th. Zenker]—in the latter, e.g., the colossal sitting figure on plate XXII. A), if it were not still more suitable to regard the statement of the height of sixty cubits as a synecdoche, designating both the image and its pedestal, and to allow to the latter perhaps twenty-four, and to the former thirty-six cubits, which assumption clearly results in an entirely well-proportioned shape of the statue. If therefore, the צְלֵם proper was limited to a height of about thirty six feet, it would compare with the statue of Belus, which, according to Diodor. II. 9, was erected by Semiramis on the summit of the great temple of Bel at Babylon (probably the present “Birs Nimroud”), and attained a height of forty feet; but it can hardly be directly identified (with Bertholdt) with that statue of Bel, nor yet with the one mentioned by Herodotus (I. 183), which measured twelve cubits in height. Not only was it erected outside of the temple area of Babylon, and possibly even at a considerable distance from the city itself (see infra), but it is also extremely questionable whether an image of Bel must be assumed in this case, since the Babylonians were devoted to the zealous worship of numerous gods. Entirely too artificial is the opinion of Hofmann (Weiss, und Erfüllung, I. 277), Zündel, and Kliefoth, that the image was designed by Nebuchadnezzar to represent the world-power he had founded, in harmony with the religious (cosmical) conceptions of heathenism—as indicated (according to Kliefoth) particularly by the numbers six and sixty.—The expression דּי־דְהַב does not compel us to assume that the image was composed throughout of solid gold; for in Exodus 37:25 et seq. an altar of wood, and merely covered with plates of gold, is designated simply as מִזְבַּה־ הַזָּהָב; and Isaiah 40:19; Isaiah 41:7; Jeremiah 10:3-5 indicate plainly that the images of Babylonian idols especially were usually composed of wood with an outside covering of gold. The construction of this image by no means, therefore, involved an immoderate expenditure, as J. D. Michaelis supposed; and the gold required to cover its surface may have been less, in weight and value, than the amount required (800 talents) for the construction of the statue of Bel already referred to as mentioned by Herodotus, whose height was twelve cubits, and for the tables and chairs which accompanied it; and also less than the amount expended on the statue of Bel mentioned by Diodorus, which reached a height of forty cubits, and cost, as is reported, 1,000 talents. The relative unimportance of this image, which is thus so easy to conceive, deprives the argumentum ex silentio of all its force, as against the credibility of the narrative, which Von Lengerke and Hitzig have assigned to it, on the ground of its not being mentioned by profane authors. Finally, it is thoroughly inconsequent and ridiculous to discover, with Bleek (in Schleierm., Lücke. etc.; Theol. Zeitschr., 1822,III, p. 259; cf. Einl. ins A. T., § 265), an imaginary prototype of the βδέλυγμα ἑρημώσεως of Antiochus Epiphanes, which was assigned by pseudo-Daniel to the æra of the captivity; for according to 1Ma 1:54; 1Ma 1:59, this βδέλ. was not a statue at all, but an altar of small size, erected on the altar of burnt offerings at Jerusalem (cf. Hengstenberg, p. 86).—Whose height was threescore oubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits. פְּתָי, properly “breadth,” but here signifying both breadth and thickness, cf. Ezekiel 6:3. The cubits (אַמִּין.) were probably the royal cubits of the Babylonians (Herod. 1:178), and not smaller than the ordinary cubits (Gesen., Thesaur., p. 112s.). Instead of πήχεων ἐξήχοντα as a statement of the height, the Septuagint has πήχεων ἑξ, which reading some have endeavored to defend, e. g., Michaelis, Eichhorn, etc.; but is it probably not even an ancient attempt to provide an easier reading, and must be considered merely as the error of a copyist, if not as a typographical error of the Ed. princeps of Simon de Magistris; see Bugati, in Hävernick on this passage.—He set it up (caused it to be set up) in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. בִּקְעָא, like the corresponding Hebrew term, does not designate a narrow valley enclosed by mountains, but a low and level tract, a plain; hence a majority of moderns read “in the plain of Dura.” The location of this plain is not entirely certain; but it was probably east of the Tigris and near Apollonia in the province of Sittacene, where a town by the name of Dura was situated, according to Polyb. V. 52, and Ammian, XXV. 6, 9. The Δοῦρα (otherwise Dor) near Cæsarea Palæst. on the Mediterranean, mentioned in Polyb. V. 66, and the town of that name situated, according to Polyb. V. 48; Ammian, XXIII. 5, 8, near Circesium at the entrance of the Chaboras into the Euphrates, which was too far northward to have been included in the province of Babylon,12 cannot possibly be intended here. [“We must, without doubt, much rather seek for this plain in the neighborhood of Babylon, where, according to the statement of Jul. Oppert (Expédit. Scientifique en Mésopotamie, I. 238 ff.), there are at present to be found in the S.S.E. of the ruins representing the former capital a row of mounds which bear the name of Dura; and at the end of them, along with two larger mounds, there is a smaller one named el-Mohattat (=la coline obliquée), which forms a square six metres high, with a basis of fourteen metres, wholly built of unburned bricks, and which shows so surprising a resemblance to a colossal statue with its pedestal, that Oppert believes this little mound to be the remains of the golden image erected by Nebuchadnezzar.”—Keil.] The Sept., which probably regarded the plain here referred to as identical with the plain of Shinar, Genesis 11:2, and which could find no town bearing the name of Dura within its limits, has conceived the name דּיּרָא to be an appellative, and rendered it by ἐν πεδἱῳ τοῦ περιβόλου (cf. דּוּר, circumire, in orbem ire); in which, however, they were more nearly correct than is Hitzig, who assumes that his pseudo-Daniel adopted the name of the plain from the earlier designation (Daniel 2:45) of the mountain, טוּרא.

Daniel 3:2. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together, etc. This service was probably performed by couriers (רצים, who were doubtless employed in similar duties at the Babylonian court, as well as at the Persian (Esth. 10:15; Esther 8:14), and even at the courts of Saul (1 Samuel 11:7) and of Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 30:6; 2 Chronicles 30:10).—The princes, the governors,and the captains. Among the seven classes of officials enumerated, these three are shown to have been more immediately related to each other by the וּ before פַּחֲוָתָא. Their members were executive officers of superior rank, who combined both civil and military functions in their range of duties, and who may have been substantially on a par with the executive officials connected with the ministry of the interior in a modern state, while the four succeeding classes were probably connected with the departments of finance and justice. (1) The אַחַשֶׁדַּרְפְּנִין were naturally satraps (cf. kshatrapâwan on the cuneiform inscriptions at Behitun, which, according to Haug [in Ewald’s Bibl. Jahrb., 5:153] is equivalent to “protector of the country,” and according to Lassen [Zeitschr. für Kunde des Morgenl., VI. 1, 18] is f synonymous with “guardian of the warriors of the host;” cf. also the Zend shôithrapaiti and the Sanscr. kshathrapa)—the superior executive officers of the several provinces, vice or sub-kings to the sovereign (cf. the מַלְכִין, Isaiah 10:8; Genesis 14:1-2, with the מֶלֶךְ מַלְכַיָּא, Daniel 2:37, Ezra 7:12), and therefore mentioned at the head of the body of officials. The fact that the title of these chief administrators of provinces is Persian does not demonstrate that their office was entirely confined to the time of the Achæmenidian Persian empire, or that it was even created by Darius Hystaspis (Herod. III. 89 ss.); for Xenophon (Cyrop. VIII. 6, 1) dates its existence back to the time of Cyrus, and Berosus (in Josephus, c. Apion, 1,19; Ant. X. 11, 1) designates Necho already as a τεταγμένος σατράπης of Nabopolassar, which is hardly to be considered a gross anachronism, but rather as an indication of the relation of Necho as a vassal to Babylon. Consequently, the author cannot be charged with a historical error, either in this connection, or in Daniel 6:2 et seq., where he refers to the satraps of Darius the Mede. The אהשׁדרפנין must be regarded rather, as one of the Persian elements of the writer’s Chaldee idiom, the number of which, according to the Introd. § 1, note 3, must have been considerable, even at an early period (cf. on Daniel 2:4); and the early intrusion of such into the language and range of conception among the Chaldæans, is no more remarkable than is the mention of the רַב־מָג, Jeremiah 39:3, as a Chaldæan officer. The Septuagint, however, renders the term by σατράπαι only here and in Daniel 6:2; Daniel 6:4, while in Daniel 3:3; Daniel 3:27 it has ὔπατοι, in Ezra 8:36 διοικηταί, in Esther 8:9 οἰκονόμοι, and in Esther 9:3 τύραννοι, These variations indicate that the conception of a definite office was no longer connected with the title, at the time when that version was made.—(2) According to the observations on Daniel 2:48, the סִגְנִין were “superintendents, administrators” generally; in this case naturally not endowed with spiritual functions, but rather performing secular duties under the satraps, and finally employed chiefly in military rather than in civil offices (cf. the סְגָנִים of Babylon, mentioned together with the גִּבּוֹרִים, Jeremiah 51:57). The Septuagint appears to have conceived of these Signin, in harmony with this view, as being “præfects of the host, or commanders of the provinces;” for they render the term in this instance by στρατηγοί (as in Daniel 3:3 and often, twelve times in all), while they translate it elsewhere by τοπάρχαι (Daniel 3:27), ἡγούμενοι (Daniel 2:48), or ἄρχοντες.—(3) פַּהֲוָתָא (Heb. פַּחוֹת from פֶּחָה), In view of the probably Indo-Germanic derivation of this term (cf. Sanscr. paksha, “side,” Prakr. pakkha, modern Persian and Turkish pasha) it properly designates “those who are stationed on the sides or flanks, adjutants,” and then governors, or the representatives of a sovereign in a designated field of administration, provincial præfects. The governors whom Solomon placed over his provinces outside of Palestine, already bore this title (1 Kings 10:15; 2 Chronicles 9:14), also the governors of the Syrian king Benhadad (1 Kings 20:24); the corresponding officers among the Syrians (Isaiah 36:9; 2 Kings 18:24), Chaldæans (Ezekiel 26:6, 23; Jeremiah 51:23) and Persians (Esther 8:9; Esther 9:3); and especially the Persian governors of Judæa subsequent to the captivity (Haggai 1:1; Haggai 1:14; Haggai 2:2; Haggai 2:21; Nehemiah 5:14; Nehemiah 5:18, etc.) Among the nations last mentioned, who employed satraps as the chief præfects of provinces, the פֶּחָה was merely a subordinate to those officers (and more purely civil than military in his official character, as appears from the position of Zerub-babel and Nehemiah, according to Haggai and Neh. 50:100); but in the kingdoms of Solomon and Benhadad the פַּחוֹת seem to have been equal in rank to the later satraps, and therefore were chief governors. In this place and Daniel 3:3 the Septuagint translates τοπάρχαι; in Daniel 3:27, ἀρχιπατριῶται (i.e., chief of a nationality).—(4)According to the Sept. the אֲדַרְגָּזְרַיָּא are “overseers” generally (ὑπατοι), while most moderns regard them as “chief judges or discerners.” Ewald defines them as “chief star-gazers, or augurs of the first-class” (!), and Hitzig, as “directors, upon whom devolves the decision of matters, or magistrates.” The term, which occurs only in this place, appears to be a genuine Aramaic compound, from אֶדֶר, glory, dignity, and גִּזַר. to decide (cf. Daniel 2:27), and therefore probably designates a class of officers with whom rested the final decision, particularly in regard to the economical or financial administration of the provinces [possibly=the modern Oriental viziers]. The class which follows next in order obliges this restriction of the offices of the אֲדַרְגָּזְרַיָּא,—(5) גְּדָבְרַיָּא. “the treasurers.” These officers do not probably differ from the גִּזַּבְרִין, Ezra 7:21 (cf. Daniel 1:8), which term signifies γαζοφύλακες, “managers of the public treasury” (cf. Sept. διοικηταί, and is possibly related to the Pers. gaitha, modern Pets, genj, “treasure” (cf. gaza). Ewald’s assertion that גְּדָבַר is synonymous with הֲדָבַר, Daniel 3:24; Daniel 3:27, and signifies a “bearer of power,” or “exalted prince of the empire” (analogous to the old-Pers. chudvâr, from chad, “God, authorization”), is without adequate support.—(6) The דְּתָבְרַיָּא are clearly the “learned in the law,” or the “guardians of the law.” The first element of the word is evidently דָּת, “the law” (cf. Pers. data, from da,. “to give”), to which the Pers. ending vâr is annexed. Cf. the Pehlvi word datouber (Armen. datavor), “judges.”—(7) The unmistakable connection of תִּפְתָּיֵּא (like No. 4, a hapax leg.) with the Arab. ftah (cf. the Turkish mufti, chief judge) marks this class of officers as “dispensers of justice, lawyers, judges” in the strict sense (not “præfecti” as the Vulgate has it, or “οἱ ἐπʼ ἐξουσιῶν”, as it is rendered by Theodotion, in each case because of a failure to apprehend the true meaning.—And all the rulers of the provinces; i.e., all the remaining officials who administrated the affairs of provinces. On שִׁלְטוֹן, “ruler, high official,” cf. Ecclesiastes 8:4, and also the verb אשלט, Daniel 2:48. The præfect of the bodyguard, mentioned in Daniel 2:14, is not necessarily included among these remaining rulers, since only the officers of the provinces are more immediately referred to in this connection (against Kranichfeld). Von Lengerke is guilty of a gross impropriety, when he finds here “another extravagance, since the empire could not in the meantime be left without an administration.” It is not necessary to stretch כֹּל so unreasonably in this case, as to make it indicate the presence of all the government officials without exception (cf. 1 Samuel 28:4, and generally Kranichfeld on the passage).—To come to the dedication of the image, etc. חֲוֻכָה, the feast of dedication, religious dedicatory services, with which were connected sacrifices, the burning of incense, sacrificial feasts, etc. Cf. Ezra 6:16, where the same expression is employed with reference to the dedication of the second temple.

Daniel 3:3-7. The dedication. And they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had (caused to be) set up. The Keri has קימין instead of קָאמִין, as it substitutes דָּיְרִין for דָּארִין in Daniel 2:38, according to the usage of the Targums.— לָקְבֵל, “before, opposite,” which is employed here and in Ezra 4:16, instead of the usual Chaldee form לָקְבֵל (Daniel 5:1; Daniel 5:4; Daniel 5:10; Ezra 6:13), is a Syriasm in the pronunciation, similar to that in וּצְֽרִר. Genesis 37:25, which is used instead of וּצְָרִי

Daniel 3:4. Then a herald cried aloud. כָּרוֹז and the corresponding verb כְּרַז “to proclaim publicly” (Daniel 3:29), are not exactly Aramaic adaptations of the Greek terms κῆρυξ, κηρύττειν (Bertholdt and others), but are without doubt radically related to them, and also to the Sanscr. krus, old-Pers. khresio, “one who calls or screams” (mod. Pers. gris-ten; cf. the German kreischen); while on the other hand, they are also related to קרא “to call.”— בְּחַיִל, mightily, with a loud voice, as in Daniel 4:11; Daniel 5:7, and as in the Heb. בַכֹהַ, Psalms 29:4; Isaiah 40:9.—To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages. אָמְרִין, properly “they say” (are saying), a very common idiom in the Chaldee, expressing an impersonal sense, or more directly, serving as a substitute for the impersonal passive construction (Winer, § 49, 3). The collocation of עַמְמַיָּא (“peoples, nations”), אֻמַָּיּא (“tribes,” a more limited conception than the preceding; cf. also in the Heb., e.g. Psalms 111:6 with Genesis 25:16), and לִשָּׁנַיָּא (“tongues,” “peoples having a common language;” cf. the Heb. לָשׁוֹן Isaiah 66:18; Zechariah 8:23), recurs again in Daniel 3:7, Daniel 3:29, 31, and, indeed, often in the book of Daniel (Daniel 5:19; Daniel 6:26; Daniel 7:14). This formula, which combines in a solemn triad “all the nations in the empire, however distantly related they may be, or however great may be the diversity between themselves or their constituent elements,” and which exhorts them to give attention, was probably stereotyped in the official edicts of the Chaldæan realm, whose motley aggregate of languages and nations would give rise to such comprehensive phrases more readily than would the character of any other empire of antiquity. The proclamation, of course, is not addressed to all the individuals of the various nations, tribes, etc., but only to their representatives who were actually present. [“The proclamation of the herald refers not only to all who were present, since besides the officers there certainly was present a great crowd of people from all parts of the kingdom, as M. Geier has rightly remarked, so that the assembly consisted of persons of various races and languages. אֻמַּיָּא denotes tribes of people, as the Hebr. אֻמּוֹת ,אֻמָּה, Genesis 25:16, denotes the several tribes of Ishmael, and in Numbers 25:15, the separate tribes of Midianites; and is thus not so extensive in its import as עַמִּין, peoples. לִשָּׁנַיָּא, corresponding to הַלְּשֹׁנוֹת, Isaiah 66:18, designates (see Genesis 10:5; Genesis 10:20; Genesis 10:31) communities of men of the same language, and is not a tautology, since the distinctions of nation and of language are in the course of history frequently found. The placing together of the three words denotes all nations, however they may have widely branched off into tribes with different languages, and expresses the sense that no one in the whole kingdom should be exempted from the command.”—Keil.]

Daniel 3:5. At what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, etc. As in the case of religious dedicatory festivals among the Israelites (Psalms 30:1; Nehemiah 12:27; 1Ma 4:54), so at the dedication of this heathen statue, there was no lack of music and song (cf. Exodus 32:18 et seq.). This is an especially natural feature, since the Babylonians, as well as the ancient Assyrians, appear, as a people, to have been unusually addicted to music, in view of the testimony afforded by numerous historical records of a positive character; cf. Isaiah 14:11; Psalms 137:2; Herodotus, I. 191 (the χορεύειν of the Babylonians during the capture of their city by Cyrus); Curtius, V. 3 (Alexander welcomed on his entrance into Babylon, by “artifices cum fidibus sui generis—laudes regum canere soliti”). Additional evidence is found in the representations of musicians with various instruments, on the monumental edifices of Nineveh and Babylon.—The names of the six instruments here enumerated are in the singular, not as indicating that only one of each kind was at hand, but as a generic designation of the entire class to which it belonged. Hence, there is no impropriety in rendering them in the plural “the cornets, flutes,” etc. [“קַרְנָא, horn, is the tuba of the ancients, the קֶרֶן or שׁוֹפָר of the Hebr.; see Joshua 6:5. מַשְׁרוֹקִיתָא, from שָׁרַק, to hiss or whistle, is the reed-flute, translated by the Sept. and Theodotion σύριγξ the shepherd’s or Pan’s pipe, which consisted of several reeds of different thickness and length bound together, and according to a Greek tradition (Pollux, IV. 9, 15), was invented by two Medes.”—Keil. “It is uncertain whether the horn intended was straight, like the Assyrian, or curved, like the Roman cornu and lituus. The pipe was probably the double instrument, played at the end, which was familiar to the Susianians and Assyrians. The harp would seem to have resembled the later harp of the Assyrians; but it had fewer strings, if we may judge from a representation upon a cylinder. Like the Assyrian, it was carried under the arm, and was played with both hands, one on either side of the strings” (Rawlinson, Five Monarchies, III. 20).] —The harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer. For the opinion that of the names of the four instruments here mentioned, which several expositors hold to be derived without exception from the Greek, probably but two are really taken from that language, see the Introd. § 7. See ibid, note 2. concerning the possibility of an importation of musical instruments and their names from Greece, even prior to the time of Daniel. It is yet to be noticed in this connection: (1) that instead of the Kethib קיתרס, which is to be pronounced either as קִיתְרֹס, or קִירָרס, the Keri has the shortened form קִתרֹס which appears to have been in general use in later times. The Syriac affords repeated examples of the conversion of the Greek ending ιζ into וֹס (Gesen. Thes., p. 1215), so that in this direction the derivation of the term from the Gr. κίθαρις seems certainly to be secured. However, see the Introd., as above.—(2) The σαμβύκη, which Strabo notices (Daniel 10:3; Daniel 10:7) as being of foreign origin, and whose invention is attributed by Clemens Alex. (Strom. I. 76) to the Troglodytes, might possibly be explained in analogy with the Sanscrit cambuka, “bivalve, muscle.” The form סַבְכָּא, however, appears rather to point to the Shemitic root סבךְ, “to weave.”—(3) The orthography of פְּסַנְתְּרִין is not fixed; in Daniel 3:7 the name is written with ט instead of ת, and in Daniel 3:10; Daniel 3:15 it is pointed with—under תּ. The numerous changes of the Greek ending ιον into ין— which are found in the later Chaldee, and of which סַנְהֶדְרִין=συνέδριον is the most familiar (Gesen. Thesaur., p. 1116), indicate the identity of this instrument with the ψαληριον, [“It was an instrument like a harp, which, according to Augustine (on Psalms 32:0. [33.] 2 and Psalms 42:0. [43.] 4) was distinguished from the cithara in this particular, that while the strings of the cithara passed over the sounding-board, those of the psalterion(or organon) were placed under it. Such harps are found on Egyptian (see Roselini) and also on Assyrian monuments (cf. Layard, Ninev. and Bab., plate XIII. 4).”—Keil. “In Egypt they have an instrument, evidently of the same name, santir (Lane, Mod. Eg., p. 77), which is a species of dulcimer, is stringed, and is beaten with two small sticks.”—Stuart.]—(4) V. 10 has the softer סִיפֹנְיָה instead of סוּמְפּוֹנְיָה; a form which points back no less certainly than does(the more usual term, to the Greek συμφωνια, since the sound υ is intermediate between וּ and י— Its rendering by “bagpipe” (Germ. Sackpfeife, Dudelsack) has a sufficient support in Polyb. XXXI. 4, in Saadias on this passage, and in the Italian sampogna. In addition, the name συμφωνία (Jerome, “consonantia”) is exceedingly suitable for an instrument consisting of two pipes which are passed through a leathern bag, from which their ends protrude equally above and below—the lower of which pipes, when played with the fingers like a flute, emits in screaming tones the sounds breathed into the upper and increased in force by passing through the bag (cf. Winer, Reaw. II, p. 123). We must therefore reject its interpretation by עוּגָב, “Pandean pipes” in the Heb. translation of the passage; further, its rendering as “a drum” by Isidore (Origg. III. 21); the derivation of the word by Hävernick from סוּף, “a reed;” that by Paulus from סְפִינָה, “a ship,” “the covering of a ship” (cf. a resonant frame), etc. [Stuart adduces the instrument called summarah, described and figured by Lane (Mod. Eg., II. 81, 82), still commonly used in Egypt by the boatmen, and giving two symphonious sounds, being double.]—And all kinds of music. A comprehensive supplemental phrase, similar to that which follows the names of the officers in Daniel 3:2. [By the addition “this pompous language of the world-ruler and of the herald of his power is well expressed.”—Keil.] זְמָרָא does not designate either instrumental music or “song” (Hitz.) as distinct from each other, but music in general; cf. the Sept. and Theodotion: καὶ παντὸς γένους μουσικῶν. The expression therefore does not refer to various melodies, nor to different parts of vocal music; but it does not, on the other hand, exclude such music from the ceremony; cf. the Targ. Genesis 4:21; Ezekiel 33:22.—Ye (shall) fall down and worship the golden image, etc. Kranichfeld observes correctly (on Daniel 3:6): “The homage which the king required to be rendered to his god (cf. on Daniel 3:14) on the occasion of this great national festival in honor of their victories (cf. on Daniel 3:1), was regarded as a test of the loyalty of the officers to the king himself, and especially in the case of those who belonged to subjugated nations. The victory of a heathen king over other tribes and nations was considered a triumph of his gods over their gods (1 Kings 20:23; 1 Kings 20:28; 2 Chronicles 28:23; Isaiah 36:18-20, etc.); and hostile kingdoms included the gods of their opponents among their foes, and in contrast with the usual tolerance and indifference of heathenism in regard to the worship of the gods, they refused them reverence, so long as neither party believed that its cause was lost. Thus, for instance, the different foes of the Assyrian empire are characterized on an inscription of Tiglath-pilesar as those who ‘refuse to reverence’ the god of Asshur, as the lord of Tiglath-pilesar. Opposition to the gods of a kingdom was therefore equivalent to hostility against the realm. The same inscription represents Tiglath-pilesar, for this reason, as directly imposing on the conquered nations the worship of Asshur’s god; they must prostrate themselves before this offended god, and -thus render their tribute (Pusey, Daniel, p. 444 ss.). This will illustrate the baselessness of Von Lengerke’s assertion that religious compulsion was unknown among the ancient Asiatic nations, and that they never enforced a recognition of the gods from unwilling persons. What has been remarked, serves to show that, on the contrary, an expression of homage toward the national divinity was always required, and even insisted on, whenever the political supremacy of a realm was in question; and this would be observed especially in the case of officers, upon whose loyalty the security of the realm of such divinity might depend. If Nebuchadnezzar was concerned, on the celebration of the nation’s triumph before us, to secure a recognition of his right, as the supreme ruler, to the allegiance of his subjects, and especially to the homage of the officials to whom was entrusted the administration of his empire, it follows that the compulsory requirement to do homage to the national god of his kingdom, was, in this instance, a necessary measure, aiming simply at the preservation of the realm.”

Daniel 3:6, And whoso falleth not down …. shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. מָן־דִּי, quicunque, synonymous with מָח־דִּי, Daniel 2:28 (cf. Daniel 3:11; Daniel 4:14)— בַּהּ־שַׁעְתָּא, in the same hour, literally “in it, the hour;” the suffix, which anticipates the connected noun, is annexed to the preposition; cf. Daniel 3:7-8; Daniel 3:15; Daniel 4:30; Daniel 4:33, and also the instances in which, additionally, the preposition is itself repeated before the noun, e.g. בֵּהּ בְּלֵילְיָא Daniel 5:30; cf. Daniel 5:12. [“The frequent pleonastic use, in the later Aramaic, of the union of a preposition with a suffix anticipating the following noun, has in the Bibl. Chald. generally a certain emphasis, for the pronominal suffix is manifestly used demonstratively, in the sense, ‘even this’.Keil.] שָׁעָח, after the Arabic, is literally, “the quickly expiring, the quickly passing,” hence a moment, in which sense the term is often found in the Targums (=Hebr. רָגַע). In Daniel it always has the meaning of “hour,” as appears especially from Daniel 4:16 [19]. [The passage here referred to, however, does not support this later or Rabbinical import to the word, which is therefore here, as elsewhere in Daniel, to be rendered moment.] The word does not seem to be related to the verb שָׁעָה “to see;” the root from which it is derived signifies in the Arabic “celeriter ire, currere.”—אַתּוּן ,according to the Arabic, literally, “a furrow, excavation” (whence probably: a lime pit), designates an excavated smelting furnace in the form of a pit, a fire pit, which sense is also expressed in the corresponding Ethiop. אַתּוֹן, and by the originally synonymous, but not essentially related Heb. תַּנּוּר. The smelting furnace here referred to, however, being designed for the infliction of the death penalty on criminals by means of fire, was arranged according to Daniel 3:22; Daniel 3:26, so that at least one, if not more of its sides, rose as perpendicular (or inclined) surfaces above the earth, analogous to the construction of our lime-kilns and furnaces, and probably also to the brickkiln (מַלְבּן) at Tahpanhes in Egypt, which is referred to in Jeremiah 43:9 et seq. The principal opening, by which fuel and other materials designed for burning (or smelting) were introduced into the furnace, was above (see Daniel 3:22); a second, for the removal of slag, cinders, etc., or the molten metal, was arranged below, in one of the sides, and permitted persons standing before the furnace to observe the material in its interior (the תְּרַע Daniel 3:26; cf. Daniel 3:24-25). The passage Jeremiah 29:22 (“The Lord make thee like Zedekiah and like Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire”) attests that the Babylonians were accustomed to burn condemned criminals, and perhaps prisoners of war in such furnaces, even prior to the time of Daniel. The Moabites employed the same method of inflicting capital punishment, according to Amos 2:1, as did also the Israelites, according to the Keri of 2 Samuel 12:31. [“That burning was not an unusual punishment in the East is sufficiently known. As to the Persians, see Brissonius. De Reg. Pers., II. cap. 216.… Chardin (who was in Persia A. D. 1671–7) relates that in a time of scarcity, two furnaces were kept burning a whole month, in order to consume such as exacted more than the lawful price of food (Voyages, VI. p. 118).”—Stuart.] The genitive clause נוּרָא יָקִידְתָּא, “of the burning fire,” exemplifies the terribly cruel and frightful character of the threatened punishment.

Daniel 3:7. Therefore at that time when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, etc. [“בֵּהּזִמְנָא, (cf. also Daniel 3:8) is interchanged with בְּעִדָּנָא, at the time (Daniel 3:5; Daniel 3:15); but it is to be distinguished from בַּהּ־שַׁעְתָּא, at the same moment, Daniel 3:6; Daniel 3:15, for שָׁעָא, or שָׁעָח, has in the Bib. Chald. only the meaning instant, moment (cf. Daniel 4:16; Daniel 4:30; Daniel 5:5), and acquires the signification short time, hour, first in the Targ. and Rabbins.”—Keil.] Only five, instead of six, sorts of musical instruments are here mentioned; but the omission of the סוּמְפֹּנְיָּא hardly be designed, as appears from Daniel 3:10; Daniel 3:15. It is probably to be attributed to the haste of the writer, which also caused the orthography of פסנטריו with ט instead of ת in this passage, and only here.

Daniel 3:8-12. The companions of Daniel charged with transgressing the royal command. Wherefore at that time certain Chaldæans came near, etc. “Wherefore,” i.e., in view of the worship rendered by all the people, excepting only the Jews, to the idol image. Daniel does not mention that it was refused by the Jews, leaving it to be inferred, as a matter of course.—And accused (or slandered) the Jews (cf. Daniel 6:25); literally, “and ate the pieces (of flash) of the Jews”—a phrase found also in the Arabic and the Syriac, which expresses both the murder caused by the slanderous tongue, and the gloating over the fragmentary remains of the victim. Cf. the German “Jemanden kurz und klein machen, an ihrn kein gutes Haar lassen.” It appears from the indefinite “Chaldæan men” that the malicious informers were not specifically Chaldæan priests or wise men (this would have been indicated by פּשְׂדִּין merely, cf. Daniel 2:2), but people generally, who were of Chaldæan descent. [“That which was odious in their report was, that they used the instance of disobedience to the king’s command on the part of the Jewish officers as an occasion of removing them from their offices,— that their denunciation of them arose from their envying the Jews their position of influence, as in Daniel 6:5 (4), ff.”—Keil]

Daniel 3:9. O king, live for ever. Cf. Daniel 2:4.

Daniel 3:12. There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon. A clear reference to the close of the preceding section (Daniel 2:49). The mention of their exalted official rank was designed to emphasize the dangerous feature connected with the disobedience of such men to the royal command, and also to direct attention to the blackness of their ingratitude toward their royal benefactor.—These men, O king, have not regarded thee; i.e., thy commands, אִלֵּךְ “these,” is peculiar to the Biblical Chaldee of Daniel and Ezra, and is not found in the Targums, which have אִלֵּין or אֵלֶּה instead (Winer, § 9. p. 29).—They serve not thy god, nor worship the golden image, etc. The former of these charges is related to the latter as the general to the particular; the general lack of reverence for the gods of Babylon on the part of the three men, which had been formerly observed, was now demonstrated by a flagrant example. Because of this evident relation to each other between the two clauses—a relation that is again brought out in the parallel Daniel 3:18 (and possibly in Daniel 3:14; see on the passage)—the Kethib לֵאלָהָיךְ “thy gods.” must be preferred to the Keri לֵאלָהָךְ “thy god;” which has been the case accordingly, in Theodotion and the Vulgate. Compare, although it is superfluous, Daniel 3:28 b, where לְכָל־ אֱלָהּ shows clearly that a number of gods were in question. [“The Chaldæans knew the three Jews, who were so placed as to be well known, and at the same time envied, before this. They had long known that they did not worship idols; but on this occasion, when their religion made it necessary for the Jews to disobey the king’s command, they made use of their knowledge.”—Hitzig. It is barely possible that the proposal of erecting such an idolatrous image and requiring the whole realm, and especially the public officials to adore it, originated, as in chap. 6. with some such malicious and envious enemies of Judaism.]—Why was not Daniel included in this charge of the Chaldæans? To this question that so readily presents itself, no answer can be given that will be sufficiently assured to exclude all others; but we are not on that account compelled (with 5. Lengerke) to find here a new improbability, and a testimony against the credibility of the book. Daniel might be omitted from the number of the accused, (1) because he was too firmly established in the favor of the king, to justify the attempt of a slanderer to destroy him (Calvin, Hävernick, etc.); (2) because he was absent on business, or sick (Luderwald, Jahn); (3) because his position, as chief of the magian caste, would remove him from the gaze of the multitude, and would also relieve him from the obligation of prostrating himself before the idol, which more immediately affected the secular officials (see on Daniel 3:2, Kranichfeld). All of these explanations are admissible; and very possibly any two of the reasons adduced might combine to cause his absence, e. g. Nos. 1 and 2, or 2 and 3. The opinion of Hengstenberg however (with whom Hitzig agrees), that according to Daniel 2:49, Daniel filled no office of superior power and influence in the state, but that he at once transferred to his three friends the dignity of a viceroy which was offered to him and contented himself with the spiritual rank of chief of the Magi, cannot be entertained. See to the contrary Daniel 2:48-49, where it was shown that, together with this spiritual dignity, Daniel must have possessed considerable influence in the political field, although not bearing the title of a recognized officer of the state. [“But the circumstance that Daniel, if he were present, did not exert himself in behalf of his three friends, may be explained from the quick execution of Babylonian justice; provided some higher reason did not determine him confidently to commit the decision of the matter to the Lord his God.”—Keil.]

Daniel 3:13-15. The accused summoned to renounce Jehovah. Then Nebuchadnezzar in rage and fury commanded to bring, etc. בִּרְגַז וַחֲמָא The use of the synonymous terms expresses the violence of the king’s rage. The Inf. Aphel לְהַ־ְףָרָה “to let them be brought,” is found also in Daniel 5:2; Daniel 5:13.—Then they brought these men before the king; rather, “Then these men were brought before the king.” הֵיתָיוּ is not to be taken transitively, “they brought these men” (Chr. B. Michaelis, etc.); nor is it to be explained as a Hebraizing Hophal form (Buxt., Hävernick, 5. Lengerke). It is rather a passive form of the Aphel after the manner of the Hebrew [Hophal], of which the 3d pers. masc. sing, is הֵיתִי the fem. חֵיתַית (Daniel 6:18), while the regular participle with a passive signification would be מֵיתַי and the active partic. Aphel מֵיתֵי (cf. Hitzig and Kranichfeld on this passage).

Daniel 3:14. Of purpose (marg.), O Shadrach … do ye not serve my god? The plural לֵאלָהַי “my gods,” is perhaps admissible here, in analogy with Daniel 3:12; Daniel 3:18 (Hitzig); but in this instance the singular is especially suitable, as referring directly to the image of the idol immediately before them; and there is no Keri, in this case, recommending the plural—הַצְדָא literally, “Was it design?”—a combination of the interrogative הֲ with צְדָא, a noun that occurs in no other place, but which may be explained by “fraudulent design, evil purpose” [contumacy] on the analogy of the Hebrew צְדִיָּה (Numbers 35:20-21). The question, “Does an evil purpose lead you to refuse to serve my god”? evidently has a substantial basis in the situation as described; for these men had by no means presented themselves at once in the festive assembly, as is shown by the command to “bring them.” Despite their official station, they had rather endeavored to avoid any participation in the ceremonies. Nothing could therefore be more natural than the question of the king, as to whether their absence was grounded on an actual disobedience or evil design, or not. The usual interpretation of חַצְדָא is therefore to be retained, and the departures from it must be rejected; e.g., the rendering of Hävernick (“Is it because ye mock, or despise my gods, that ye do not worship them?”), and by Fürst and Kranichfeld (who conceive הצדא as an adverbial Aphel noun, from צְדַא, and thus avoid the interrogative sense of the clause entirely: “In mockery ye not serve my god !”). [The interpretation of the Engl. Bible. “Is it true,” is not only unsustained by the etymological signification of the word, but at variance with the circumstances of the case; for their absence was a matter of fact, and their declining to worship was only a question of inadvertence or setted determination. “The king, seemingly with more than usual moderation, first inquires into the truth of the accusation.” (Rather he first opens the way for the most favorable construction of the omission.) “He probably suspected the accusers of envious motives, and was desirous of sparing these Hebrews on whom he had bestowed special favors.”—Stuart.]

Daniel 3:15. Now if ye be ready that at what time …. ye worship; i.e. “at the time … to worship. This conditional clause of a positive character may be readily completed from the negative conditional clause which immediately follows, whose apodosis involves the contrary of the thought here required; hence, e.g., “nothing shall be done to you; ye shall escape the death by fire.” The same construction [aposiopesis] occurs in Exodus 32:32; Luke 13:9. It is also frequent in the classics, e.g., Homer, Il. 1:135; Plato, Protag. 15; and likewise in the Arabic.—כְּעַו, at the beginning of the sentence, corresponds to the Heb. וְעַתָּה; the Vulgate renders it correctly by “Nunc ergo.”—And who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hand? Not exactly a direct blasphemy of the God of the Jew (Hitzig), but still a challenge addressed to Him in a presumptuous spirit and with a haughty sense of superior power; cf. Isaiah 37:10; and supra, on Daniel 3:1.

Daniel 3:16-18. The steadfast confession of the three Jews. Shadrach …. answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, etc. Thus the Masoretic punctuation, which, however, is departed from by all the ancient translations. The Septuagint introduces a βασιλεῦ, “O king,” before the vocative Nebuchadnezzar, and Theodotion and the Vulgate connect the name of the king with the preceding dative case, and therefore place the Athnach under נְבוּכ׳. But there is no ground for either of these variations: for while on the one hand, the boldness of the reply is indicated at the be ginning by the word לְמַלְכָּא, the direct address by name, on the other hand, conveys an emphasis and solemnity that fully comport with the situation. The vocative מַלְכָּא in Daniel 3:17 shows that the form of this address, which contains merely the name of the king, and omits the royal title, was not designed as an expression of contempt. Cf. Daniel 3:14, where Nebuchadnezzar likewise addresses the three Hebrews simply by name.—We are not careful to answer thee in this matter, i.e., it is not necessary. The primary emphasis falls on אְנַחְנָא, as appears from the words הֵי אִיתַי אְֵלָהָנָא at the beginning of the next verse. Hence the sense is, “It is not we that are compelled to answer thee (i.e., to manage our case before thee), but if our God can deliver us,” etc. On הַשְׁחִיי cf. Daniel 4:16; Daniel 5:25. The root חֲשַׁח is foreign to the language of the Targums. but is found in the Syriac, where it signifies “to be useful, suitable,” while in the Bibl. Chaldee it expresses the idea of being necessary (e.g., Ezra 6:9; cf. חַשְׁחוּת “need,” Ezra 7:20), or of standing in need of (as in this place).—עַל־דְּנָה, “upon this,” is connected with the following פתגם, by the Sept., Theodotion, Vulgate, Hävernick, etc.: “to answer thee upon this word (or matter);” but in that case פתגם must be in the Stat, emphaticus, despite the preceding demonstrative; cf. Daniel 4:15; Daniel 2:32; Ezra 6:11.—פרּגם is a word unquestionably borrowed from the Persian (cf. the Introd. § 1, note 3), but found also in the later Hebrew of the book of Ecclesiastes (see on Ecclesiastes 8:11). It is compounded from the Zend preposition paiti (= prati, πρός) and the verb gam, “to go,” and accordingly, signifies “what is going forward, a message” (cf. mod. Pers. paiam, “a messenger,” and the Armen. patgam, “a message”), from which results the further meaning of “a command, edict, word.” The latter is the sense in this place. The idea of “answer” results from its connection with the verb חֲתִיב, “to give back.”

Daniel 3:17. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us; rather, “If our God whom we serve, can save us.” חֵן is not the Heb. הֵן or חִנֵּה, and cannot be rendered by ecce enim, with the Vulgate, nor by a causal γάρ, with the Sept. It corresponds rather, as always in Daniel, to the Heb. אִם, “if,” and is here, as in Daniel 3:15, in contrast with a חֵו לָא (see Daniel 3:17). In this case, however, the conditional clause is followed by its apodosis. which begins, as the athnach correctly indicates, with the words מִף־אַתּוּן. יָכִל, “to be able,” does not, of course, refer to the ability of God, as limited by any bounds whatever, but as ethically conditioned (cf. Genesis 19:29). The pious Jews were not probably concerned to maintain the perfection of the Divine power in opposition to the king, but at the most, their own worthiness to find mercy at the hands of the Almighty (cf. Daniel 2:18; Daniel 6:22; Daniel 9:15-19),—and perhaps not even this,—for the whole may have been spoken from the point of view occupied by the heathen hearers of the three Hebrews, who certainly doubted Jehovah’s ability to save His servants. In order to refer these opponents, and above all the king himself, with all possible emphasis to the test of experience, upon which everything depended, the Jews employ the words, “If our God—can save” (thus corresponding to Daniel 3:17), although it would have been more in harmony with their Israelitish consciousness to say, “If He will save” (cf. Hitzig on this passage). [“There lies in the answer, ‘If our God will save us, then …. and if not, know, O king, that we will not serve thy gods,’ neither audacity, nor a superstitious expectation of some miracle, (Daniel 3:17), nor fanaticism (Daniel 3:18), as Berth., 5. Leng., and Hitz. maintain, but only the confidence of faith and a humble submission to the will of God.”—Keil. In the most extreme event they prefer death to idolatry.]

Daniel 3:19-23. The execution. Then …. and the form (the expression) of his visage was changed against Shadrach, etc. The A. V. is literal. The Kethib אֶשְׁתַּנִּו is conformed to the Genit. אַנְפּוֹהִי. while the Keri אֶשְׁתַּנִי agrees with the Nom. sing. צְלֵם. The former construction, as being more rare and difficult, is to be considered genuine.—Seven times more than it was wont to be heated; thus Bertholdt, Gesenius, and others, in agreement with the A. V. But חֲזִי, passive part. of חזה, “to see,” is constantly used in the Targums in the sense of “suitable, appropriate” (literally, “what has been selected as appropriate,” quod conveniens visum est), and the construction with לְ, c. Infinit., shows that the same signification is required here. Therefore, “seven times beyond its appropriate heating;” i.e., seven times more than was necessary (παῤ ὃ ἔδει, Sept). [The sense thus yielded, however, is more inept than the other, and the impersonal construction of the former verb (חזה), together with the active form of the latter (למזיהּ), rather favors the same rendering. In either case the ultimate thought is the unusually intense fire.]—The command to heat the furnace exactly seven times beyond its proper measure, has a parallel in judicial procedures and limitations, where seven as a number indicates a full atonement or satisfaction, cf. Leviticus 26:18-24; Deut. 38:7 et seq.; Proverbs 6:31; Matthew 18:21 et seq.; and perhaps passages like Isaiah 11:15; Isaiah 30:26; Psalms 12:7, etc. This judicial bearing of the number seven, which was familiar to all the ancient Oriental nations and current among them, is the only respect in which the number is here employed, and it affords the only explanation of the phrase as used by the Babylonian king. Kranichfeld’s remark is less appropriate, when he observes that the number seven serves in this instance to express the idea of intensity, because here, “where a notorious injury had been inflicted on the national divinity,” no other than a pre-eminently sacred number would be adequate; but this may be admitted rather than the general opinion that in this case seven was “merely the indefinite expression of around number” (Hävernick, etc.)

Daniel 3:20. And he commanded the most mighty men … in his army. בְּחַיְלֵהּ must not be limited to the life or body guards, against which view the comprehensive and indefinite signification of the term חיל is, in itself, a sufficient testimony; but in addition, the selection of executioners from the army is seen to be well grounded and capable of an easy explanation, in view of the fact that the task was not without danger, and would require the services of especially trustworthy men; and the presence of the troops at a religious ceremony is not strange, since a great festive procession was one of its features.—To bind Shadrach …. and to (rather “in order to”) cast them into the burning fiery furnace. The second inf. לְמִרְמֵא is subordinated to the first, לְכַפַּתם, as more directly pointing out the special design.

Daniel 3:21. Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, etc; rather, their undergarments, coats, etc. The haste, as here implied, with which the sentence was executed, is in strong contrast with the direction given immediately before, to heat the furnace more intensely than usual; for the newly added fuel would require time before it could burn with sufficient force, in a furnace of considerable size. But the rage of an inflamed Oriental despot allows itself no time in which to quietly consider all the circumstances connected with any given case.—Three articles of clothing are specified as belonging to the costume of the three Hebrews, which may have constituted the distinguishing features of their official dress; and upon these follows the generalizing וּלְבוּשֵׁיהךֹן, “and their (other) garments” (cf. Daniel 3:2; Daniel 3:5) [as “coverings for the feet and the head” (Keil)]. There would be no need to mention such a variety of garments in the case of men of inferior rank.—(1) The סַרְבָּלִין were probably long and closely-fitting under-garments, that covered the whole body (shirts, tunics); for the word is most readily explained by comparison with the Chald. quadril. verb סַרְבֵּל, texit, operuit. It occurs in the Syriac and the Talmuds, with the signification of pallium (hence “mantles”—Luther, Gesenius, and many others); and in the Arabic, where it becomes serbal, it designates a long under-garment for females, indusium mulieris. Others, among moderns, especially Hävernick, 5. Lengerke, and Hitzig, identify סַרְבֵּל with the Pers. shalwár, Chald. שַׁרְוָל, and therefore translate it by “hosen,” justifying this opinion by an appeal to Symmachus, the Vulgate, and also to Hesychius, Suidas, etc. (who explain the later Greek σαράβαρα by τὰ περὶ τὰς κνημῖδας ἐνδύματα, βρακία, σκελεαί). But the Pers. shalwâr appears to differ fundamentally from our word, and to be related to shul, “the hip” (Sanscr. khura, Latin crus), while it bears no relation to the Zend sáravâro, “covering for the head” (from sára, “head,” and vri, “to cover”) in either sound or signification. The Greek σαράβαρα (Mid. Age saraballa), in the sense of “hosen,” seems, on the other hand, to owe this interpretation to the Arabic sarawîl “a covering for the thighs,” and also to the Pers. shalvár; but this sense was not attributed to it by the earliest Greek translators. Theodotion, indeed, renders סַרְבָּלין by σαράβαρα, but reserves the interpretation by “hosen” for the third garment, כַּרְבְּלָן, which he translates περικνημῖδες; while the Sept. (and Aquila) evidently failed to comprehend the meaning of סרבלין, since it renders it in this place by ὑποδήματα, but adopts σαράβαρα in Daniel 3:27. Upon the whole, the first named garment in this passage is probably identical with the κιθὼν ποδηνεκὴς λίνεος, which Herodotus (i. 195) describes as the innermost garment worn by the Babylonians.—(2) The פַּשִישִׁין, or, as the Keri prefers, פַּטְשִׁין, were not “hammers,” of course, although the root פטשׁ, “to spread, extend” (cf. פשט, “to spread out”), is probably the same from which פַּטִּישׁ, “a hammer,” is derived; cf. the Gr. πατάσσω, “to strike.” According to the Hebrew translator of the Chaldee sections of Daniel, פְּטִישׁ in this place corresponds to the Heb. כֻּתֹכֶת, and therefore designates a wider and more flowing under-garment than the סַרְבָּל, which answers to the second, woolen tunic (εἰρίνεος κιθών), which the Babylonians wore, cf. Herod. 1. c. The derivation from the Arabic fuds, “a spider, fine web,” according to which the word would rather designate the innermost, closest, and finest garmant (Hitzig), seems too precarious, because of the harsh t-sound. The identification of the word with the Gr. πέτασος, “a hat, covering for the head” (Bertholdt), is entirely too far-fetched, since πέτασος was used by the Greeks exclusively to designate the head-covering of the ἔφηβοι, and since the Chaldee language was certainly able to command other than Greek terms with which to designate the Oriental turban (e.g., in Ezekiel 23:15 we find טְבּוּלִים). The same reference of פְּטִישׁ back to πέτασος seems to underlie the τιάραις, by which the Sept., Theodotion, and Theodoret render the word in this passage.—(3) The כַּרְבְּלָא appears to have been the third Babylonian garment mentioned by Herodotus, the χλανίδιον λευκόν, which was worn over the two κιθῶνες; for this word is based on the quadril. verb כִּרְבֵּל, “to gird, wind about,” which is also found in the later Hebrew, cf. 1 Chronicles 15:27, מְכֻרְבָּל בִּמְעִיל בּוּע. [According to Rawlinson (Five Monarchies, iii. 2 sq.), the ordinary Babylonian dress of the lower orders of men, was “but one garment, a tunic, generally ornamented with a diagonal fringe, and reaching from the shoulder to a little above the knee. It was confined round the waist by a belt.” The head and feet were bare. The richer persons are represented on the cylinders as having “a fillet or head-band, not a turban, round the head. They wear generally the same sort of a tunic as the others, but over it they have a long robe, shaped like a modern dressing-gown, except that it has no sleeves, and does not cover the right shoulder. In a few cases only, we see underneath this open gown a long under-dress or robe, such as that described by Herodotus.” “In lieu of the long robe reaching to the feet, which seems to have been the ordinary costume of the higher classes, we observe sometimes a shorter but still a similar garment—a sort of coat without sleeves, fringed down both sides, and reaching a little below the knee.” “With rare exceptions the Babylonians are represented with bare feet on the monuments.” “The girdle was an essential feature of Babylonian costumes, common to high and low.” “The dress of the priests was a long robe or gown, flounced and striped, over which they seem to have worn an open jacket of a similar character. A long scarf or ribbon depended from behind down their backs. They carried on their heads an elaborate crown or mitre” (ib.).]—The garments which are specially mentioned, are accordingly referred to in the order of their succession from within outward, “under-garments, coats, mantles”—a climax which serves to indicate that because of the excessive haste under which this transaction took place, the victims were not relieved of their under, nor even of their outer garments. [Or, as Keil suggests, “in the easily inflammable nature of these materials, namely, of the fine long linen gown (cf. Herod.), we have perhaps to seek the reason on account of which the accused were bound in their clothes.”]

Daniel 3:22-23. Because the king’s command was urgent, or furious. “Because” (כָּל קְבֵל דְּנָח) refers to what has preceded, and the clause מִן־דִּי וגו׳ (=Heb. מֵאֲשֶׁר, “therefore”) points out this reference more fully; “because” is therefore equivalent to “namely because,” and the וְ before אַתּוּנָא expresses the consequence: “and because in consequence the furnace was in the mean time exceedingly heated up.” With regard to מַחְצְפָח “strict, raging” (not “hurried”) see on Daniel 2:15.—The flame of the fire slew those men that took up, etc. It is not stated how and at what portion of the furnace the death of these executioners took place, nor could it be demonstrated with any degree of probability; but it is not difficult to assume that, owing to the excessive violence of the fire, a strong draught of air, while sweeping through the compressed flames, might blow them in the direction of the executioners on their issuing from the upper opening of the furnace, while leaving the three victims unharmed at the bottom of the furnace, and continuing to burn above their heads without attacking them. The deliverance of the condemned Hebrews is still miraculous, even on this assumption, and the contrast between the extraordinary strictness of the means employed, and the security of the followers of Jehovah in the face of the rage of men, which is so strongly emphasized by our book (and also by the “Song of the three children,” Daniel 3:46–50), is still a notable fact. Cf. the Dog-ethical remarks, No. 3. [“If the three were brought up to the furnace, it must have had a mouth above, through which the victims could be cast into it. When heated to an ordinary degree, this could be done without danger to the men who performed this service; but in the present case the heat of the fire was so great that the servants themselves perished by it. This circumstance also is mentioned to show the greatness of the miracle by which the three were preserved unhurt in the midst of the furnace. The same thing is intended by the repetition of the word מִכַפְּסִין, bound, Daniel 3:23, which, moreover, is purposely placed at the close of the passage to prepare for the contrast שְׁרִין, at liberty, free from the bonds, Daniel 3:25.”—Keil.]—The Sept., and also Theodotion and the Vulg., influenced probably by an already existing Hebrew or Greek tradition (see Introd. § 11), introduce after Daniel 3:23 the apocryphal fragment, “The prayer of Azariah and Song of the three children” (προσευχὴ Αζαρίου καὶ ὺμνος τῶν τριῶν), which is broken by a shorter narrative section (Daniel 3:46–50, or also Daniel 3:22-26), devoted to a detailed description of the subject of Daniel 3:22-23, and containing especially the statement, that the turning aside of the flames from the three men was due to an angel of the Lord.

Daniel 3:24-26. The liberation of the three men from the furnace. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, viz.: from the chair on which he had been seated opposite the side-door of the furnace, and from whence he had witnessed the execution. He did not seat himself in that position after the victims were cast into the furnace, for the purpose of gloating over their tortures (Hitzig); but, as a king, he was doubtless seated before (although all others might be standing), and his position probably enabled him to see the inside of the furnace, in whose immediate vicinity his chair was placed. It is not necessary to assume that his seat was so near the opening of the furnace, that he could view the interior perfectly, and thus observe the three men together with their heavenly protector; for his words in Daniel 3:25 may be readily explained on the hypothesis of a merely spiritual or visional sight.—Spake, and said to his counsellors. The חַדָּ‍ֽנְרִין are councillors of state or ministers, consiliarii, socii in judicio (Sept. φίλοι; Theodot. μελιστᾶνες; Vulg. and Syr. optimates). The word is scarcely the Chaldee דָּ‍ֽבְרִין, “leaders,” with the prefixed Hebrew article ה which in this instance, like the Arabic article in “Alcoran,” “Almanac,” has become inseparably united to the word (Gesenius); but the ח, must probably be regarded as an organic element of the first half of this compound word (as it must be considered), whether that part be traced back to the Sanscr. sahas, “power” (Hitzig), or it be compared with the Pers. hamd, “judgment, counsel” (5. Bohlen, Kranichfeld). The second half בָּר is, without doubt, the Pers. vâr, “possessor, owner,” as in דְּרָבְרִין and נְּדָבְרִין, Daniel 3:2. In regard to Ewald’s attempt to identify the terms הֲדָבַר and גְּדָבַר directly, see supra, on Daniel 3:2. Compare generally the repeated mention of these prominent royal officials, in Daniel 3:27; Daniel 4:33; Daniel 6:8.

Daniel 3:25. Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire. מַהְלְכִין is a regular part. Aphel, as in Daniel 4:34; Cf. the Chaldaizing מַחְלְכִים in the Heb. of Zechariah 3:7. In opposition to Hitzig, who regards the form as a metamorphosed part. Pael, basing his opinion on Daniel 4:26, see Kranichfeld on this passage.—And the form of the fourth is like the son of God; rather “like a son of the gods.” It is by no means necessary to believe that this vision of the king which revealed to him this “son of the gods” בַּר־אֱלָהִין, of plural אלהין in Daniel 3:12; Daniel 3:18) in company with the three Jews, was an objective seeing. It must be observed, that here as well as in Daniel 3:28, where the son of the gods is designated as the “angel” of the God of the Jews, Daniel does not himself attest his appearance, nor does he refer to additional witnesses, but in each case mentions the king only as the authority for the occurrence of the event. Kranichfeld’s hypothesis that the king employed the term “angel” (מלאךְ) in the second reference to the son of the gods, in consequence of the instruction (which is to be read between the lines after Daniel 3:27) imparted to him meanwhile by the rescued Jews, is unnecessary, and without support in the context. From his heathen Babylonian point of view the king could readily characterize an appearance from the celestial world which he fancied he had seen, either as a “son” or a “messenger” of the gods (or of one of the gods—for only thus would he conceive of the national God of the Jews, despite Daniel 3:26). That theogonic ideas were unknown to the ancient Babylonians, and that the expression “a son of the gods” must therefore be regarded as a conception of Hellenistic origin, which was foreign to the Orient until after the march of Alexander, as Bertholdt asserts, is wholly untrue; and it is with entire justice that Hengstenberg (p. 159 et seq.) while opposing it, refers to the marriage between Bel and Mylitta and to their offspring. On the conception of a messenger of the gods, compare also the god Nebo, the “writer of the gods,” who corresponds fully to the Greek Hermes. The Sept., however, renders even the בַּר־אֱלָחִין of this verse by ἄγγελος θεοῦ, and thus avoids all reference to heathen conceptions.

Daniel 3:26. Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace. On תְּרַע, see on Daniel 3:6Ye servants of the most high God. The king thus designates the national God of the Jews from his heathen stand-point, because he has just received an overpowering impression of His greatness, and therefore regards Him as mightier than all his Babylonian divinities. Cf. אְָלָהּ אֱלָהִין, Daniel 2:47; also the Gr. ῦψιστος θεός, as applied to Zeus by Pindar, Nem. Dan 1:90.—אֱלָא עִלָּיָא corresponds exactly to the Hebrew אֵל עֶלְיוֹן, Genesis 14:18. Instead of עִלָּיָּא the Keri has עַלָּאָח in this place, Daniel 4:14, and nine times elsewhere in the book—substituting the later form, which is usual in the Targums, for the more ancient; Cf. the similar Keris in Daniel 2:5; Daniel 2:40.

Daniel 3:27-30. The effect of this incident. And the princes …. being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, etc.; literally, that the fire had possessed no power over their bodies,—an antiptosis, like Genesis 1:3. The Chaldee of the Targums constantly substitutes גּוּשְׁמָא, a fuller form, and analogous to the Syriac, for the נֶּשָׁם, גִּשְׁמָא, “body,” of Daniel.—Neither were their coats (under-garments) changed. The mention of this particular article of clothing only, as being uninjured, might lead to the conclusion that the remaining, or outer garments, had actually been harmed by the fire; but that the writer intended no such toning down of the marvelous nature of the event, is shown by the words, “nor the smell of fire had passed upon them.” The pointing of the expression “on them” (בְּהוֹן) refers indeed, to the persons themselves, but it furnishes an indirect testimony to the preservation of their clothing that is unmistakable; and the testimony of the passage as a whole, relating to their bodies, hair, and under-clothing, and also to the absence of any odor of the burning, constitutes a gradation analogous to that of Daniel 3:21. Only one of the four garments there referred to is here mentioned, and the first is selected, in order to recall that enumeration.

Daniel 3:28. Blessed be the God of Shadrach, etc. The doxology corresponds in form with those recorded in Daniel 4:31 et seq. and Daniel 6:26 et seq., but is addressed to Jehovah himself, in a precatory or explanatory form, Cf. Genesis 9:26; Luke 1:68.—That trusted in Him, and have changed the king’s word; rather, “and transgressed the king’s command.” The וּ before מִלַּת is illative: “and in consequence,” or, “and by reason of their trust, they transgressed the king’s command;” Cf. supra on Daniel 3:22. שְׁנָא מִלַּת מַלְכָּא is, literally, “to change the word of the king, to alter it (criminally).” The same idiom occurs in Ezra 6:11; cf. חַלֹף חק, Isaiah 24:5.—And yielded their bodies; Cf. Acts 15:26 : ἀνθρώποις παραδεδωκόι τὰς ψυχὰς αὐτῶν ὑπὲρ τοῦ ὀνόματος τοῦ κυρίου

Daniel 3:29. Therefore, I make a decree; literally, “And by me is issued a decree.” שִׂים טְעֵם as in Daniel 3:9, and also in Ezra 6:11, which latter passage is upon the whole very similar to this (e.g., because of its use of the phrase שְׁנָא מלת מ׳), but is not for this reason to be regarded as the model, from which the alleged pseudo-Daniel copied in this place (as Hitzig contends). The writer of this book displays too thorough an acquaintance with the Chaldee, to warrant the assumption of its composition by the process of a laborious and clumsy compilation of extracts taken from Ezra and other ancient documents; and in addition, nothing is more probable than that royal edicts should employ stereotyped phrases to enforce obedience to law, threaten punishments, etc.—whether the respective kings were Chaldæns or Persians (cf. also Kranichfeld on this passage).—Which speak anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, etc. The Kethib שָׁלָה, a Hebraized form for שָׁלָא is not to be changed, with Hitzig, into שֵׁלָה (= שְׁאֵלָה = דָּבָר “anything whatever”), nor to be replaced by the Keri שָׁלוּ, which is used in the Kethib of Daniel 6:5; Ezra 4:22; Ezra 6:9. שָׁלָח, “a fault, single error, offence,” “is rather a concrete term, which is related to the abstract שָׁלוּ, “error,” precisely as the Heb. כְּלִמָּח, “a disgraceful thing,” is to כְּלִמוּת (Jeremiah 23:40), “disgrace.” or the Chaldee מַלְכָּה (Daniel 5:12) to מַלְכוּ, etc.—Shall be cut in pieces. This threat, which was evidently a stereotyped formula in royal edicts, and in view of the customs of Oriental despots might also be employed with reference to minor offences, has already been explained in Daniel 2:5.—Because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort. Thus also, among recent expositors, Kranichfefd, who takes כִּדְנָה = οῦτως, ita; cf. Sept., Theodotion, Vulg., in a feminine sense. The masculine form, however, which accords better with the syntax and the context, is sufficiently supported by Daniel 2:43; 6:29. Therefore, “that can deliver as He can.”—Then the king made Shadrach, ……, to prosper (marg.) in the province of Babylon. חַצְלַח is not intransitive, as in Daniel 6:29, but has a transitive signification, “to bless,” and is accompanied by לְ of the person prospered, as in the Heb. of Nehemiah 1:11; Nehemiah 2:20; Cf. Genesis 39:23; 2 Chronicles 26:5. The reference to “the province of Babylon” indicates the nature of this blessing or prospering, viz.: as a repeated endowment with a position of exalted dignity and power; Cf. Daniel 2:49. The expression “made to prosper” is therefore equivalent to “gave prosperity and great power.”

ethico-fundamental principles related to the history of salvation, apologetical remarks, and homiletical suggestions

1. General preliminary observation.—A correct estimate of the foregoing section imperatively requires the recognition of the peculiarities of the style of writing employed. That style will serve in a greater degree than any other of the first six chapters, to exemplify the repeated observations in the Introduction respecting the “theocratic chronicling style” of our prophet (cf. Introd. § 4, note 2; § 9, note 1). The whole of the event described is considered emphatically in the light of the strictest theocratic pragmatism. It is Jehovah who preserves His devoted confessors in the midst of the flames. The heathen executors of the barbarous decree, and not they, are destroyed. The tyrant, at first blasphemous and presumptuously defiant, is compelled to humble himself, and reverently to acknowledge the superior power of the only true God, in the end. At the same time, the narrative possesses a peculiar breadth and minuteness of detail, combined with a condensed brevity and force that recall the lapidary style of records relating to the Assyrian and Babylonian empires. Observe the frequent repetition of identical formulas, and of changes and series of names (including both appellatives and proper names). The phrase, “The image which king Nebuchadnezzar had caused to be set up,” is found no less than ten times in the first fifteen verses; three times we meet the expression “not serve the gods (or “the god”) of the king, nor worship the golden image erected by him,” and the characteristic triad “peoples, tribes, and tongues” recurs as often, as does also the triad of officials, “satraps, governors, and præfects.” The sounding list of official titles, “satraps, governors, præfects, chief-judges, treasurers, judges, lawyers,” is repeated at least once; the names of the six instruments, “the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer” three times (on Daniel 3:6, where the “dulcimer” is omitted, see the exegetical remarks); while the proper names Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego recur no less than thirteen times. The explanation of this extraordinary wealth in repetitions, is evidently not to be sought in the careless style of the writer, but in his well-defined intention to impart a solemn and weighty character to the narrative. This hypothesis, however, which is supported by the frequent use of a similar style by both earlier and later writers of the Old-Testament Scriptures,—e.g., by the Elohist in the Pentateuch, among the former, and by the writer of the books of Chronicles among the latter—is not of itself sufficient to explain the numerous repetitions. It will be necessary to assume, in addition, a designed imitation of the solemn phrases and stereotyped formulas employed in the official documents and records of the Babylonian empire, on the part of our prophetic author. The propriety of this method was already apparent in the preceding chapter, in view of the repeated expression, “The decree has been published by me” (Daniel 3:5; Daniel 3:8); and also with regard to the triad “scribes, conjurers, and Chaldæans” (Daniel 3:2; Daniel 3:10), and in the phrases repeated in this chapter, although not found in the former: “O king, live for ever,” and “ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses be made dunghills” (cf. Daniel 2:4 with Daniel 3:9, and Daniel 2:5 with Daniel 3:29). The fact that such stereotyped formulas and repeated phrases in an unchanged form are considerably more numerous in this chapter, than in either the chapters that precede or the three narrative sections that follow, indicates that the writer preferred the documentary and chronicling style in this connection, because the subject-matter afforded greater inducements than any other for this choice, and possibly also because he had a special inclination to narrate the event in question in the manner of a theocratic chronicler.—The peculiar coloring of the style of narration in this section unquestionably affords an evidence of especial significance, for the hypothesis postulated in the Introd. § 4, note 2 (in agreement with Kranichfeld), which assumes that the writer recorded the events contained in chap. 2–5 at different times (although not without regard to their relation to each other), and in the form of a diary.

2. Apologetical.—The foregoing remarks contain features that testify to the authenticity and historical accuracy of the narrative; but a far more forcible evidence is found in the strong contrast between the situation and circumstances of the persecuted Hebrews who steadfastly clung to their faith, as here related, and the similar fortunes of pious Jews in the Asmonæan age. According to Bertholdt, Bleek, 5. Lengerke, Hitzig, etc, the motive that inspired the alleged historical fictions of the pseudo-Daniel, was derived from the tribulations of the latter period; but at that time Israel endured the barbarous persecutions inflicted on account of its faith in Jehovah while established on its own native soil; whereas here, the suffering is imposed while in a foreign land and in captivity, and merely upon three individual representatives, who are penally prosecuted on the ground of the slanderous accusations of envious persons or of politico-religious opponents, who charge them with hostility to the national gods of Babylon. In the former case the heathen despot attempted to carry into effect a general system of persecution which aimed at the extirpation of the worship of Jehovah (1Ma 1:41 et seq.); while here an occasional denunciation incites a single act of heathen intolerance, which is immediately followed by the recognition and adoration of the God of Israel as a pre-eminently powerful divinity, as in a former instance (cf. Daniel 2:46 with Daniel 3:28 et seq.). In that case the furious religious intolerance of the persecuting tyrant is opposed by the fanatical defiance of the desperate Jewish confessors,13 while the confession of the three persecuted Hebrews in this case, Daniel 3:17-18, reveals no trace of fanatical excitement; it presents, on the contrary, “so moderate a reflection on the interference of God for the purpose of delivering His servants, that it concedes the possibility of a refusal, on the part of God, to deliver in the present exigency,—for which reason the Sept. felt constrained, in the spirit of its time, to guard against the possible mistake that a doubt of the Divine ability to save is here implied” (see on the passage). Finally, while the barbarous custom of inflicting the death-penalty by means of fire, and in large smelting-furnaces, prevailed at the period of the Chaldæan supremacy, as is certified by Jeremiah 29:22 (cf. Jeremiah 43:9 et seq.; Cf. above, on Daniel 3:6), the books of the Maccabees, which describe so many modes of capital punishment as inflicted on the Jews of his time by Antiochus Epiphanes (see 1Ma 1:50; 1Ma 1:57; 1Ma 1:60 et seq.; 1Ma 2:38; Malachi 2:0 Maccabees 7.), make no mention whatever of this. The burning of isolated fugitives in caverns, where they had concealed themselves in order to observe the Sabbath (2Ma 6:11), was an unpremeditated device, and therefore entirely different from the predetermined punishment by means of the fiery furnace.—Even Hitzig recognizes the weight of the numerous differences in the situation, as here indicated—to which must be added the extreme contrast between the golden image on the plain of Dura, and the βδέλυγμα ἐρημώσεως of Antiochus (1Ma 1:54; see above, on Daniel 3:1)—but assumes that the compiler purposely avoided an exact adaptation of his types to the circumstances and facts of his time, in order to prevent any suspicion that his work was invented for a purpose (p. 43, “Ought a type to correspond so exactly as to arouse suspicion?”) He thus attributes to our author an art in concealing his aim, a gift of refined simulation, a practised cunning and adroitness, that might excel even the efforts of modern pseudological tendency writers. But while these, and similar charges of such a critical tendency in the book, are unworthy, and establish nothing, the manifold expositions of details of the narrative which have been deemed necessary by the modern criticism, are no less so. No improbability can be discovered in the statement of the dimensions of the golden image, giving its height at sixty cubits and its thickness at six (Daniel 3:1), or in the remark that all the high officials of the realm were summoned to the dedication of the image [(Daniel 3:2-3), which is unquestionably to be taken in a relative sense; nor yet in the mention of certain Grecian instruments (Daniel 3:5; Daniel 3:7; Daniel 3:10; Daniel 3:15), or in the occurrence of the title of “satrap” among those pertaining to political dignitaries (Daniel 3:2-3; Daniel 3:27). We have already furnished the necessary explanation of these features, and also have accounted for the circumstance that Daniel was absent from the ceremony (see on Daniel 3:12), that the garments of the three martyrs are referred to by names that belong, as is asserted, to a post-Babylonian (Persian or Greek) age, and finally, that the decree directed against the blasphemers of the God of these Jews (Daniel 3:29) is couched in terms that are considered extravagantly severe.

3. The miracle.—The strongest objections, of course, are raised by opponents against the deliverance of the three condemned Hebrews out of the fiery furnace, while at the same time the executioners are destroyed by the flames. Hitzig holds that “the claim of this narrative to a historical character is unworthy of consideration. Its correctness would not only involve that the nature of an element was changed, but also that the flames had at the same time demonstrated (Daniel 3:22) and denied (Daniel 3:27) their power to consume; and a reference to the angel (Daniel 3:28; Daniel 3:25) does not improve the matter.”—Our exegetical remarks have already pointed out that the case is not really so desperate. Traces of a certain co-operation of natural laws in the wonderful event are by no means wanting from the text, despite its evident aim to emphasize the extraordinary and supernatural features of the incident, rather than to modify them. The excessive heating of the furnace which the king had commanded, the reckless haste in executing his commands, which his rage demanded, and even the circumstances that the flames issuing from the upper opening should seize upon and destroy the persons employed in the execution—all these taken together make it possible, up to a certain point, to conceive how the condemned persons might remain uninjured, and afterward, on their leaving the furnace, be without even the odor of fire upon them. Nebuchadnezzar believed himself able to testify that the efficient or cooperating cause of this deliverance was the visible appearance of an angel which was observed at the same time by several witnesses, probably because, in his fearful excitement and conscientious terror, he really saw in vision a fourth person of celestial form in company with the three victims. The writer, however, does not personally assert such an objective entrance of an angel on the arena, because he neither aims to positively establish the fact, nor yet to explain the philosophy of the event taken as a whole. Without seeking out secondary causes of the deliverance of the Hebrews, he contents himself with simply certifying to the extraordinary event itself, which was probably reported to him, as absent at the time, by his delivered friends in person; and his added remarks, of a religious and practical nature, refer merely to the unmistakable interference of his God, whom he represents, after the manner of the older theocratic writers, as working directly and without the mediation of angels. A narrator of the Maccabæan period who possessed a mania for miracles, would exaggerate the marvelous element of the event far more conspicuously, would describe the terrible rage of the flames in colors much more glowing, and would introduce, not one, but a multitude of angels as instrumental deliverers. An approximate idea of the description of the event in question which such a writer would have furnished may be gained from a comparison of Daniel 3:46–50 of the apocryphal “Prayer of Azariah and song of the three children;” although the embellishment and description of the event attempted in that connection are still within the bounds of reason, and would doubtless be surpassed by a religious-tendency writer of the Maccabæan period. On the other hand, a writer at the beginning of the exile, although influenced by an extravagant mania for miracles and inclined to angelolatry, was not necessarily without a real belief in miracles, but rather, might possess a firm and living confidence in the power of God to work miracles for the deliverance and exaltation of His faithful ones. This is apparent in numerous expressions of the exilian Isaiah , 14 and of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, who assert miraculous displays of Jehovah’s power and grace, in the proper sense, and also express conceptions of the Divine government of the world, and particularly of his direction of the theocratical people in the past, present, and future, which are, to say the least, decidedly supranaturalistic; Cf. Introd., § 1, note 1; § 9, note 1. The shallowness and triteness of the reasoning is thus apparent, on which Hitzig, p. 44, formulates his conclusion: “A belief in miracles, such as the writer confesses, could not arise and flourish in the night of the exile, in the days of discouragement and despondency, nor yet in the centuries of servitude (Ezra 9:9) subsequent to Cyrus. The deliverance from the fiery furnace expresses a supranaturalism entirely different from that manifested in the additions of the reviser in Leviticus 25:21; Leviticus 20:20; Exodus 34:2; Exodus 34:4 (?), and seems to be indicative of the enthusiasm, the increased power of faith, and the boundless imagination of the Maccabæan epoch.”

4. The ethical and religions importance of the miracle is found substantially in the consequent Divine confirmation and rewarding of the steadfast faith, by which the three Hebrews had glorified the name of God before the heathen monarch and his court. As they had confessed Him, so He now acknowledges them; as they had glorified His name by the confession of their faith, so He now magnifies Himself in them by a glorious display of His power, and of His infinite superiority over all the gods of the heathen. It is a miracle of deliverance, analogous to those witnessed by Noah at the flood, by Lot at the burning of Sodom, and by Israel at the passage of the Red Sea and of the Jordan; but it is none the less, on that account, a type of the deliverance which the recording prophet should himself experience when, at a much later period, his unwavering devotion to Jehovah had brought him to the lion’s den, as well as of the rescue of a Peter from the dungeon of Herod, of a Paul from the jail at Philippi, and of other miraculous events of the Apostolic age. The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews therefore classes this event among the Old-Testament trials of faith that were followed by marvelous results, when, near the close of his glorious Catalogus testium fidei Veteris Testamenti (Daniel 11:33), and immediately after the allusion to Daniel in the lion’s den, he refers to his three companions with the words, they “quenched the violence of fire” (ἔσβεσαν δύναμν πυρός). In the same sense, and in a similar connection, the first book of the Maccabees had already adduced the wonderful occurrence, observing with reference to Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael, that they πιστεὐσαντες ἐσώθησαν ἐκ φλογός,—a primitive attestation of the fact, with which, as has been indicated in a former connection, the assumption of its invention in the Asmonæan period, can hardly be made to consist (Introd., § 6). The dogmatic importance of this miraculous event is, however, decidedly overestimated, when it is assumed, with several church fathers, e.g., Tertullian, Irenæus, Hilary. Augustine, etc, and also with Carpzov, Joh. Gerhard (in the Bibl. Vimar.), Joach. Lange, etc., that the appearance in company with the three men was an actual objective fact, and further, that it was not merely an angel, but the personal Logos that was made flesh in Jesus Christ. Jerome is far more correct when he rejects, as being improbable, the idea that the Son of God should have appeared to the godless king Nebuchadnezzar, and therefore assumes that the appearance of the delivering angel was only a typical prefiguration of the Redeemer: “Cœterum in typo prœfigurat iste angelus sive ‘filius Dei’ Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum, qui ad fornacem descendit inferni, in quo causœ peccatorum et justorum animœ tenebantur, ut absque exustione et noxa sui eos, qui tenebantur inclusi, vinculis mortis liberaret.” His remark (on Daniel 3:1) on the relation of this event to the Messianic mission of Israel in the midst of the pre-Christian world of nations, is also worthy of note: “Datur autem per occasionem captivorum barbaris nationibus salutis occasio; ut qui primum per Danielis revelationem potentiam cognoverant unius Dei, in trium puerorum quoque fortitudine discant mortem contemnere et idola nan colere.

5. Homiletical suggestions. Melancthon has correctly specified the points of practical importance in his observations: 1, on Daniel 3:1, “Exemplum humanœ cœcitatis et audaciœ instituentis noves cultus sine verbo Dei, quos hic ostendit se Deus reprobare;” 2, on Daniel 3:12Quod oporteat mandatum Dei anteferre omnibus rebus humanis, potestati, legibus humanis, paci, tranquillitati vitœ nostrœ;” 3, on Daniel 3:16-18 : “Qualis debeat esse fides de corporali liberatione, videlicet cum conditione, si Deo placet;” 4, on Daniel 3:22 et seq.: “Glorificatio piorum contra blasphemiam, et pœna impiorum, prœsertim satellitum, qui alieni furoris ministri sunt;” 5, on Daniel 3:25 et seq.: “Conversio regis, sequens concionem et glorificationem piorum.” He also finely develops several of these points. Thus, he remarks on Daniel 3:1 et seq.: “Consider that not only the one Nebuchadnezzar is here intended, but all idolaters in general. As Nebuchadnezzar, with fearful temerity, but still under the impression that he was acting religiously, establishes a new cultus, so have many acted at other periods. A majority of states protect idolatry; and even within the church godless popes found dynasties, and seek to confirm them by the successive introduction of new forms of worship.…. Consider, therefore, how great is the guilt of the popes and princes, who defend ceremonies and traditions that contradict the Word of God, such as the Mass, monasticism, etc.” Cf. M. Geier: “The great lords often put forth greater efforts to introduce false religions than to protect the true.… It is a false opinion that all the subjects of a state must adhere to one and the same religion. Thence result so many bloody plans to effect by force what cannot be required with a good conscience.” Melancthon observes, on Daniel 3:17-18 : “All the Divine promises require us to believe both that God can and that He will aid; but with reference to His will the following distinction must be observed; God will bestow on us the forgiveness of sins, justification, and eternal life, for He has positively declared His readiness to do this (John 3:36; 1 John 5:11). Faith in this must therefore shine everywhere upon our pathway before us, and govern our expectations of various external blessings and supports. But the latter must ever be subject to the condition, ‘If it please God, He will now deliver me,’—a condition that in no wise conflicts with the essence of faith, but that exhorts us to obedience, to prayer, to patient waiting for aid, and to humble submission to the only wise decree of God.” Cf. Starke: “In need and danger men are cheerfully to submit to the will of God, and are not to prescribe to Him in relation to His aid and deliverance. Their motto must always be, ‘Thy will be done’ (Matthew 26:39; Cf. James 4:15”). On Daniel 3:23 et seq., Cf. Melancthon: “Though the deliverance be long delayed, in order that we may be tried, we dare not cease to call upon the Lord, because supplication is never in vain. For … God always aids, either by immediately imparting comfort and diminishing the evil, or by granting a fortunate escape from the tribulation” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Cf. Osiander: “God has assigned a limit to all tribulations and persecutions. If it appears to be too distant, consider that the affliction is light and but for a moment, yea, that it secures an eternal glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). On Daniel 3:28 et seq., Melancthon: “Learn from this that it is the office of princes to suppress godless teaching and customs, and to provide for truly pious instruction and worship. For the government is the guardian and protector of the whole moral law; it cannot change and renew men’s hearts, but it must forbid and prevent idolatry, blasphemy, immoral religious services, etc, as well as murder, theft, and the like. For, although a civil government is not enrolled in the service of the Holy Spirit, it is nevertheless the servant of the external moral law, and the responsibility rests upon it, as a distinguished member of the church (membrum prœcipuum Ecclesiœ), to aid and protect the other members in maintaining the true faith.” [“The moral effect of this transaction must have been all the greater because it was the final outcome of a public conflict between the king’s god and Jehovah of Hosts. Nor let us fail to note that here, as usual, an unseen hand made the wrath of man work out the praise of God.”—Cowles].

4. The royal report concerning Nebuchadnezzar’s dream relating to his unfitness to govern, and its fulfillment

Daniel 3:31–4:34 [English Bible, Daniel 4:0.]

1Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations [tribes], and languages, that dwell in all the earth;15 Peace be multiplied unto you.16 2I thought it good17 to shew the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward [with] 3me. How great are his signs!18 and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,19 and his dominion is from generation to generation [with age and age].

4I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest [tranquil] in my house, and flourishing [green] in my palace. 5I saw a dream which made [, and it would make] me afraid,20 and the thoughts upon my bed [came], and the visions of my head troubled 6[would trouble] me. Therefore [And] made I a decree21 to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known unto me [make me know] the interpretation of the dream. 7Then came in the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldæans, and the soothsayers;22 and I told the dream before them; but [and] they did not make known unto me the interpretation thereof. 8But [And] at the last Daniel came in before me, (whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods), 9and before him I told the dream, saying, O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I23 know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret troubleth [is burdensome to] thee, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof.

10Thus [And these] were the visions of my head in [on] my bed: I saw, and, behold, a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great. 11The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached [would reach] unto 12heaven [the heavens], and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth. The leaves thereof were [Its foliage was] fair, and the fruit24 thereof much, and in it was meat [food] for all [the whole]: the beasts [living creature] of the field had [might have] shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt [might dwell] in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was [might be] fed of it. 13I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and a holy one came down from heaven [the heavens]. 14He cried aloud [with might], and said thus, Hew [cut] down the tree, and cut [lop] off his [its] branches, shake off his leaves [its foliage], and scatter his [its] fruit: let the beasts get away [living creature 15flee] from under it, and the fowls from his [its] branches. Nevertheless, leave the stump of his [its] roots in the earth, even [and] with a band of iron and brass in the tender grass of the field; and let it [him] be wet with the dew of heaven [the heavens], and let his portion be with the beasts [living creature] in the grass 16[herbage] of the earth. Let his heart be changed25 from man’s [mankind], and let a beast’s heart26 be given unto him: and let seven times pass over him. 17This matter [The rescript] is by the decree [decision] of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones; to the intent that the living may know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men [mankind], and giveth [will give] it to whomsoever he will [may please], and setteth [will set] up over it the basest [low] of men.

18This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now [And] thou, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof; forasmuch as all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me [make me know] the interpretation: but [and] thou art able [capable]; for the spirit of the holy gods is in thee.

19Then Daniel (whose name was Belteshazzar) was astonished for [as] one hour, and his thoughts troubled [would trouble] him. The king spake and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or [and] the interpretation thereof, trouble thee. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies. 20The tree that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached [would reach] unto the 21heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth; whose leaves were [and its foliage was] fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all [the whole]; under which [it] the beasts [living creature] of the field dwelt [might dwell], and upon whose [its] branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation [might abide]: 22it is thou, O king, that art [hast] grown and become strong: for [and] thy greatness is [has] grown, and reacheth unto heaven [the heavens], and thy dominion to the end of the earth. 23And whereas the king saw a watcher and a holy one coming down from heaven [the heavens], and saying. Hew [cut] the tree down, and destroy it; yet leave the stump of the roots thereof in the earth, even [and] with a band of iron and brass in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven [the heavens], and let his portion be with 24the beasts [living creature] of the field, till seven times pass over him; this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree [decision] of the Most High, which is [has] come upon my lord the king: 25That they shall drive thee from men,27 and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts [living creature] of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grâss [the herbage] as oxen, and they shall wet thee with [from] the dew of heaven [the heavens], and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men 26[mankind], and giveth [will give] it to whomsoever he will [may please]. And whereas they commanded [said] to leave the stump of the tree roots [roots of the tree]; thy kingdom shall be sure [standing] unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule. 27Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to [pitying] the poor; if it may be a lengthening of [to] thy tranquillity.

28All this [The whole] came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of 29twelve months he walked in [was walking on] the palace of the kingdom of Babylon. 30The king spake and said, Is not this [the] great Babylon that I28 have built for the house of the kingdom,29 by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? 31While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven [the heavens], saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken,30 The kingdom is [has] departed from thee. 32And they shall drive thee from men,31 and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts [living creature] of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass [the herbage] as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until [that] thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men [mankind], and giveth [will give] it to whomsoever he will [may please]. [In] 33The same hour was the thing [word] fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men [mankind,], and did [would] eat grass [the herbage] as oxen, and his body was [would be] wet with [from] the dew of heaven [the heavens], till [that] his hairs [hair] were [had] grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.

34And at the end of the days, I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven [the heavens], and mine understanding [knowledge] returned [would return] unto [upon] me; and I blessed the Most High; and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom 35is from generation to generation [with age and age]: and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven [the heavens], and among the inhabitants of the earth; and [there is] none [who] can stay [lay hold of] his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? 36At the same time my reason [knowledge] returned [would return] unto [upon] me; and, for [as to] the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto [would return upon] me; and my counsellors and my lords sought [would seek] unto me; and I was established in [upon] my 37kingdom; and excellent majesty was added unto me. Now32 I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven [the heavens], all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.


[The numerical division of the verses in chap. 4 differs in the English Bible from that in the original text, as the latter annexes the first three verses of this narrative to chap. 3, and consequently begins its chap. 4 with Daniel 3:4 of the English Bible.]


Daniel 3:31–33 [Engl. Daniel 4:1-3]. The introduction to the edict. Nebuchadnezzar the king unto all the people, nations, and languages, etc. On the triad “people, tribes, and tongues,” see on Daniel 3:4. As it there occurs in the public proclamation of a herald, so here in a royal edict in writing, and at the very beginning. This probably induced the persons who in a former age arranged the division [of the Hebrew text] into chapters, to include the introduction of this edict in the preceding section; but such an arrangement is obviously inadmissible and incorrect, in view of the evident relation of Daniel 3:31–33 to the statements commencing with Daniel 4:1, and in view also of the considerable interval of time that appears to have elapsed between the events of the third and those of the fourth chapter (cf. on Daniel 3:1, and see Daniel 4:26 et seq.). A certain relation, however, exists between the subject of the present section and that of the preceding, inasmuch as both record experiences of the exalted greatness and power of God, such as had come to the king in the course of events that partook of the supernatural to a greater or smaller extent.—Like this edict of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, so an open letter (manifesto) of the Persian king Artaxerxes, in Ezra 7:12, begins with a solemn wish for the welfare of the people, immediately after the names of the king and of the person addressed.—Is Nebuchadnezzar in person to be regarded as the immediate composer of the proclamation? Such a conclusion is opposed (1) by the frequent indications of an intimate acquaintance with theocratic modes of thought and expression which are found in the document, and especially in the beginning and the end (cf. e.g., the doxology in Daniel 3:33; Daniel 4:31; with Psalms 72:4 et seq.; Psalms 145:13, and also with Daniel 7:14; Daniel 7:27; Cf. further, the description of the infinite greatness of God in Daniel 4:32, with Isaiah 24:21; Isaiah 40:17; Isaiah 41:12; Isaiah 41:24; Isaiah 41:29; Isaiah 43:13; Isaiah 45:9; Job 9:12; Job 21:22, etc.); (2) by the broad and circumstantial character of the narrative, resulting from the many repetitions (cf. e.g., the repetition of identical or entirely similar turns in the sentences of Daniel 4:6; Daniel 4:15 and of Daniel 5:5; in Daniel 4:17-23 and in Daniel 3:17-23; in Daniel 4:30 and in Daniel 3:12; Daniel 3:22; in Daniel 4:31 and in Dan 3:33, etc.), which it has in common with the remaining narrative sections, thus indicating by its style that Daniel was its author; (3) by Daniel 4:25-30, where the king is referred to in the third person, while elsewhere the first person is constantly employed; (4) by the designation of the palace as being located “at Babylon,” Daniel 4:26, which is positively inconsistent with the assumption that Nebuchadnezzar composed the proclamation in person, but indicates, as clearly as could possibly be required, that the writer was not a Babylonian, or, at least, that he wrote chiefly for other than Babylonians, and that he even adopted their modes of thought. No substantial difficulty can be raised against the hypothesis that Daniel was the writer, and that he composed the proclamation by direction of the king soon after the conclusion of the events to which it refers. The peculiarly heathen forms of thought and expression which occur beside the Jewish-theocratic (especially in Daniel 4:5-6; Daniel 4:10; Daniel 4:14-15; Daniel 4:20), find a sufficient explanation in the consideration that the writer employed, although a decided theocrat, would be obliged to adhere as closely as possible to the king’s habits of thought and the range of his conception in the framing of an official document to be published in the royal name—otherwise it would fail to receive his approval. This view, which has recently been represented by Kranichfeld especially, is at any rate more simple and natural than the assumption, which becomes necessary on the supposition that Nebuchadnezzar in person composed the writing, that its theocratic coloring resulted from the instruction derived by the king from his intercourse with Daniel (Calvin, Hävernick, Hengstenberg, etc.). Upon our hypothesis, moreover, it becomes easy to comprehend why the writer should occasionally pass from the first to the third person (Daniel 3:25-30). If Nebuchadnezzar be conceived as the author, the explanation of this feature can only be found in the supposition that the report of the king is interrupted to admit of an abbreviated statement by Daniel (Calvin), or in the assumption that “Nebuchadnezzar considered it improper to report his insanity in person” (Hengstenberg, Maurer, etc.), or finally, in the admission that Daniel 3:25 is still due to Nebuchadnezzar, while Daniel 3:26-30 are regarded as a parenthesis inserted by Daniel (Hävernick; see to the contrary infra, on Daniel 3:25).33Peace be multiplied to you; literally, “increase richly, be richly imparted to you;” Cf. Ezra 4:22. יִשְׁגֵּא corresponds exactly to πληθυνθείη in the analogous formulas of greeting, 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:2; Judges 2:0; Clem. Romans 1:0; 1 Corinthians 1:1.

Daniel 3:32 [Daniel 4:2], I thought it good to show (to you) the signs and wonders, etc; i.e., “it pleases me.”—וְתִמְהַיָּא אָתַיָּא, in the Heb. trans., אוֹתוֹת וְנוֹרָאוֹת; Cf. the well-known similar combination וּמוֹפְתִים אוֹתוֹת, Isaiah 8:18 (Greek σημεῖα και τέρατα). The somewhat indefinite and general term אַת, “a sign, token,” receives the special signification of “miraculous sign” (portentum) from its combination with תְּמַה, “a wonder, wonderful thing.” The same combination occurs in Dan 3:33 [Daniel 4:3], and also in Daniel 6:28.—שְׁפַר קֳדָמַי, pulcrum est coram me, i.e., visum est mihi, placuit mihi (Vulg.); Cf. Daniel 4:24; Daniel 6:2.

Daniel 3:33 [Daniel 4:31. How great are His signs, etc. כְּמָה, quantopere, a strengthening of the simple כְּ, quam. The exclamation does not by any means deny that signs and wonders were also performed by the Babylonian gods, but asserts the incomparable greatness of the miracles of Jehovah—a thought which Daniel might express as well as Nebuchadnezzar.—His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, etc. The same doxology occurs also at the close of Daniel 4:31, with but little change. Cf. Psalms 145:13.


[1][These are apparently technical terms for various classes of officers, who are carefully distinguished and graded, and may be represented as follows:
























On the bench.




At the bar





[2][There is in these three terms likewise clearly a gradation downwards: nations, tribes, dialects.]

[3][In these names of musical instruments, some borrowed from foreign languages, and all more or less uncertain of import, there are nevertheless traces of classification:
















Gradually more complex.





III. —Bagpipe.—Wind—Compound.

IV —All sorts.—General.]

[4][אֲכַלוּ קרְצֵיהוֹן דּי, lit., ate their pieces of, i.e., slandered; conf. English “backbite.”]

[The Masoretic interpunction requires us to punctuate thus: to deliver its; from the burning fiery furnace and from thy hand, O king, he will deliver.]

[5][The position of the term for the executioners is very emphatic in the original: literally, …. those men, who lifted. … the flame of the fire killed them.]

[6][The order of the words in the original is emphatic: “Was it not three men we cast into [to] the midst of the fire—bound?” This last was an additional circumstance of wonder.

[7]— יַצִּיבָא, may be the fem. or the “definite state;” in either case it is emphatic, i. q., “the truth.”

[8]—The pronoun, being expressed, is emphatic, i. q., “I myself.” The others appear to have been so situated as not to observe this fact, or did not notice it.

[9]—שַׁנִּיו being in Pael so far as the form is concerned, is simply transitive; but the context gives it the sense of contravene, common in the cognate Syriac.

[10]—שָׁלָה Keri שָׁלוּ something astray, an error or wrong word, i.e., detraction.

[11]בַּיְתֵהּ his house, i.e., the house of any individual so doing.]

[12]Cf. generally, Rawlinson, Journal of the R. Geogr. Society, x., p. 93.

[13]The martyrs in 2Ma 7:9 address the Syrian king as: “Thou accursed man.” and in 2Ma 7:34 of the same chapter they denounce him thus: “Thou godless man, and of all others most wicked, be not lifted up without a cause, nor puffed up with uncertain hopes, lifting up thy hand against the servants of God; for thou has not yet escaped the judgment of Almighty God, who seeth all things.” How different is the language of the three Hebrews, Daniel 3:16; Daniel 3:18! cf. upon the whole, Zündel, Krit. Unterss., p. 72 et seq.

[14][The author by this epithet probably refers to the pseudo-Isaiah assumed to have written the latter chapters of that book—an unnecessary and unwarranted distinction.]

[15][The customary phrase: sends this greeting, is to be mentally supplied.

[16]Literally. May your peace (i.e., prosperity) be increased.

[17]Literally, It has seemed good before me. The order in the original is also emphatic: The signs and wonders. .… I (have) thought it good to show.

[18]The same emphatic order is observed in this and the following clause: His signs how, (literally, as what) great (literally, very great, a reduplicated form)! etc.

[19]Literally, a kingdom of eternity.

[20]וִידַחַּלִנַּנִי is the fut. Pael, with נ epenthelic, as usual in these forms. The tense seems to express the continued effect on the speaker’s mind.

[21]Literally, From me was made a decree.

[22]The terms employed for these various classes of conjurers are the same as those in Daniel 2:2, except the last, but they are named in a somewhat different order.

[23]The pronoun, being expressed, is somewhat emphatic.

[24]אִוְבֵּהּ from אֵב by resolution of the dagesh.

[25]Literally, Let them change his heart from the man.

[26]Literally, a heart of the living creature.

[27]Literally, And thee they are driving from mankind (the man).

[28]The pronoun, being expressed, is somewhat emphatic.

[29]Both nouns being anarthrous, the meaning is a royal residence.

[30]Literally, they are saying.

[31]Literally, and from mankind (the man) thee they are driving.

[32]The particle כְּעָן is emphatic = At this time, in contrast with his former impiety.]

[33][The author’s arguments for the original composition of this passage by Daniel are plausible, but not quite conclusive. It would seem that all the Chaldee portions of this book are substantially extracts from the archives of the Chaldæan realm, and this portion has more than ordinary marks of having been such a document. The record of the facts would doubtless be made as a part of the annals of the empire, such as we know were wont to be preserved by the monarchs of the great East (Esther 6:1). written doubtless by the official scribe or historiographer in the vernacular or court language. This account we may readily conceive Nebuchadnezzar on his recovery from insanity would be anxious to revise, and he would naturally select Daniel as his secretary in publishing an authorized statement of the matter. This view accounts for the mixture of theocratic and heathen sentiments contained in this extraordinary confession of royal humiliation. Well might Daniel recur to this scene in his bold rebuke of Belshazzar’s impiety, Daniel 5:18 et seq. The explanation of the Jewish coloring of parts of this chapter by the hypothesis of a later interpolation of the Maccabæan age, is amply refuted by Stuart and Keil (see likewise our author’s apologetical remarks [No. 3] appended to this chapter). These writers both adduce, as corroboration of the account of Nebuchadnezzar’s madness, the statement of Abydenus in the fragments preserved by Eusebius (Prœp. Evang., ix. 42, and Chron. Armen., ed. Aucher, I. p. 59), that the Chaldæan monarch was seized with a preternatural frenzy (κατασχεθείη θεῶὅτεω δή. … θεοπίσαι) while walking on the top of his royal tower at Babylon.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Daniel 3". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/daniel-3.html. 1857-84.
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