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Bible Commentaries
Daniel 3

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

Verse 1

Dan 3:1. We knowr the events of this chapter came after those in the preceding one for verse 12 mentions the promotion of the three companions of Daniel, which is recorded in the close of that chapter. King Nebuchadnezzar was an idolater and continued to be one as long as he lived, as far as our information goes. However, he was made to know and acknowledge the superiority of the God of heaven more than once, although he never became a worshiper of Him in the complete sense. It seems that God wished to use him as an instrument by which to demonstrate to the world that there is one only true God, and that men are blessed in proportion as they serve Him. That was done in the preceding 2 chapters, it will be done in the present one, and will be done again in later chapters. Image is from TSELEM which Strong defines, "An idolatrous figure.” This statement in the lexicon is all the Information we have as to the form or appearance of this image outside of what the text says of its size and some of its dimensions. We may get some useful suggestions, though, from historians and ancient writers, both heathen and believers in God. Such writers as Herodotus, Augustine and Dean Prideaux suggest that the 60 cubits includes the base and pedestal of the image; also that the breadth means the distance from front to back of the Image, and not that from side to side, and that would describe a more likely proportion. The image was set up at a place called plain of Dura, a place not far from Babylon.

Verse 2

Dan 3:2. The persons referred to were (he officers of various ranks in the service of Nebuchadnezzar, and their specific work does not need to be inquired into here. It was to be expected that such individuals would be present on such an important occasion as the dedication of the huge idol.

Verse 3

Dan 3:3. The men summoned came to the dedication of the image except the three companions of Daniel. Nothing is said about their absence, but even had they been present there would not have been anything to call for a complaint against them, for no one was asked to perform any act of worship that would have been recognized by the idolaters. It says these officers stood before the image and that would not have amounted to an act of worship in the eyes either of the king or the officers. When the worship was to be done it would require the citizens to fall down. However, the three Hebrews could not conscientiously give even their presence at the dedication of something they would not endorse.

Verse 4

Dan 3:4. Smith’s Bible Dictionary says the following of herald: "One who makes public proclamation. The only notice of this officer in the Old Testament occurs in Daniel 3; Daniel 4." The Babylonian Empire embraced virtually all the people, nations, and languages, hence the herald addressed these units of the government.

Verse 5

Dan 3:5. Hear . . . cornet ... all kinds of music. The Babylonian Empire was a vaBt domain composed of many kinds of people. They could not he expected to leave their homes and all go to Babylon to appear before the image, but were to do this worshiping wherever they might be. They would not all be acquainted with each instrument named, but all would be expected to know some of them and to recognize instrumental music by some one or more of these instruments. Worship Is from CAOAD and Strong defines it, "A primitive root.; to prostrate oneself (in homage).” Hence the kind of worship demanded did not call for any removal of the people from their places, neither did it stipulate any formal schedule in the service; it required only that the people prostrate themselves when they heard the music.

Verse 6

Dan 3:6. It is a principle that is recognized universally that a law that has no penalty is useless. Hence the decree of Nebuchadnezzar gave the penalty of being cast Into a fiery furnace. Jer 29:22 tells of two men whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire, so we see this was not to be something new for the Hebrews to be cast therein. Also, verse 19 of our chapter show's the furnace was wont to be used.

Verse 7

Dan 3:7. In obedience to the decree, when the people heard the sound of this music, they prostrated themselves in respect for the image which the king had set up. There is no evidence that either the people or the king were aware that any objection would be made by anyone to the kind of action called for, since there would be no outward feature of it that would prevent any man from believing in some other god.

Verse 8

Dan 3:8. But the three Hebrews would not prostrate themselves, for to do so would have violated Exo 20:5 which not only forbade them to serve false gods, but also prohibited them from bowing domi to them. This conduct was not overlooked by certain Chaldeans who doubtless were the officers mentioned in Chapter 2: 48 called "governors." They came near the king to make accusations against the Jews.

Verse 9

Dan 3:9. Line for ever was a phrase used In old times to denote a feeling of good ’will. It was sometimes said in a spirit of flattery when the speaker did not really want the one to live endlessly. As an instance, in 1Ki 1:31 the mother of Solomon used the expression to the frail king David just after he had made her the promise that her son should reign after him. Had David lived for ever, Solomon never could have been king, hence we know she was using the term as a compliment. The Chaldeans used it as a bid for the favorable attention of the king.

Verse 10

Dan 3:10. They reminded the king Of the decree he made that required all people to fall prostrate to the image upon hearing the musical instruments.

Verse 11

Dan 3:11. They reminded him also of the penalty he had attached to the decree. This was all in a pretense of concern for the dignity of the king’s decree, but that was not the real point of tlieir interest as we shall see.

Verse 12

Dan 3:12. There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon. 1 have quoted this part of the verse just as it is in the text because it reveals the actual motive of these Chaldeans in reporting the case Df disobedience to the king. They made no accusation against Daniel although we are sure he also refused to worship the Image. And they certainly knew about it, for the four Hebrews were very close friends and spent much of their time together. (See the comments at chapter 2; 17, 18.) But the three named here were the ones who had been placed in a position of honor over even the other governors (chapter 2: 4S, 49), and that filled these subordinate governors with envy. But they used their pretended interest in the dignity of the decree to Instigate a persecution of the envied Hebrews. Hence they reported to the king that the men of the Jews named had refused to worship the image.

Verse 13

Dan 3:13. It is probable that Nebuchadnezzar was actually surprised at the report of disobedience on the part of these Hebrews. He had not realized that his decree would be objectionable to them. But the bare possibility that the report was true caused him to fly into a rage and proceed to investigate for himself.

Verse 14

Dan 3:14. In spite of his intense feeling Nebuchadnezzar was disposed to question the correctness of the report, or, if it was found to be true, to give the accused parties another chance. Hence he put the question directly to them and specified the charge that he had heard against them.

Verse 15

Dan 3:15, Before receiving their reply the king repeated the degree they were accused of disobeying, and informed them of their chance still to avoid the penalty attached to the decree. Who is that pod that shall deliver you? I have not capitalized the word pod because this heathen king used the word in the same sense as applied to the. gods of the heathen world. It was a challenge to them to test their respective gods.

Verse 16

Dan 3:16. Careful is the key word in this verse, hut it is rendered somewhat indefinitely. It Is from chas iiacm and Strong defines it, "To be necessary,” and Young’s definition is, "To be or think necessary," We thus can see that it was not a flippant expression of the three men as if the situation did not merit any serious consideration, It means they did not consider that their fate depended on any speech of defense they could make, and they proceeded to tell the king why they thought so.

Verse 17

Dan 3:17. If it be so means the same as the phrase “if God will.” These men did not know what would be the Lord's will in the case. They had the same thought as Paul expressed in 2Co 1:9-10. He did not know whether God was ready to permit his faithful apostle to be put to death yet, or would prolong his life for further service, but whichever it was he was resigned to his lot. And the Hebrews did not know whether their God was ready to give them miraculous deliverance although they believed He was able to do so. They also believed that if it were His will to deliver them, it would be done without any speech of defense from them.

Verse 18

Dan 3:18. They then gave to the king their ultimatum, that regardless of the will of their God (as t.o miraculous deliverance), they would not serve the gods of Nebucuadnezzar nor worship the golden image.

Verse 19

Dan 3:19. Upon learning that the report. was true, the rage of Nebuchadnezzar returned with increased fury. Visage means face and changed means distorted. The king was so enraged that his face was twisted Out of its normal shape as he looked at the three Hebrews who were brave enough to defy his decree. Wont means accustomed and it shows that the furnace had been in use for some time. (See comments at verse 6.) Sewn is derived from a word that Strong defines, “A primitive root; properly to be complete." If a furnace had been accustomed to being heated enough that it would roast a man to death (Jer 29:22), then it would be impossible for a human being to make it literally seven times that hot. The statement therefore means they were to make it as hot as possible. The king allowed his anger to blind him to the inconsistency of his order. He evidently wished to slay these men, yet also intended that they should be tortured first. A furnace "seven times” as hot as usual would cut off their lives all the sooner and lienee cause less torture.

Verse 20

Dan 3:20. There was no occasion for Nebuchadnezzar to employ the most mighty men for this execution, lor the Hebrews bad given no indication iliac they would resist. But the king was being driven on by a blinding fury and was inclined to exhibit the worst possible spirit of vengeance.

Verse 21

Dan 3:21. Hosen is from PATTIYSH which Strong defines, “A gown (as if hammered out wide).'' Many versions render the word “mantle" or cloak. It was a loosefitting garment worn over the regular articles of clothing for a man, even including The hat in the present case. All of these articles were tied fast around the men and then they were cast into the burning fiery furnace.

Verse 22

Dan 3:22, Exceeding hot is a good definition of "seven times” in verse 19, It was not only the intensity of the heat that slew the executioners, but the extent of the fire, flame is from a wrord which Strong defines, “flame (as split into tongues),” I do not know by what means the furnace was heated, but whatever was the fuel generally used, It was increased because of the king’s urgent order. The result was that the flame shot out from the furnace or its heat reached to a radius that included the soldiers and slew them.

Verse 23

Dan 3:23. Fell down bound denotes that whatever was done on behalf of the three men was after they were on. tbe inside of the furnace; no act of trickery was performed by some friend on the outside to free them from their shackles.

Verse 24

Dan 3:24. Nebuchadnezzar must have been near when the men were cast into the furnace, for it was immediately following the act that the text says then the king was astonished at what he saw la the furnace. As if he did not believe the testimony of his eyes, he asked 'whether they did not cast three men hound into the furnace, and his servants gave him an affirmative answer.

Verse 25

Dan 3:25. There are three words of special importance in this verse as regards the miraculous character of the situation, and they are four, loose and walking. There was one more man in sight than were cast into the furnace. They were loose whereas they had been bound by strong men. The fire might have dissolved the fetters that bound them, but the men were walking around in the furnace which showed they were alive and unhurt. Like the son of god. Again I have changed the capitalization because the principles that would make such marking proper were unknown to this heathen king. In verse 28 he is commenting on the circumstance and calls this same person an angel. What the king meant was that tbe extra person was different in appearance from that of ordinary men, hence he must have been related to the gods.

Verse 26

Dan 3:26. We are sure that God took a part in the whole proceeding else the king could not have come near enough to the furnace to speak to the men without being injured by the heat. The men inside were not harmed, yet they were prisoners of Nebuchadnezzar and would not be guilty of "breaking jail” until authorized to come forth by him. The king said nothing to the "fourth man," but spoke only to the three Hebrews; the angel evidently had disappeared. Besides, Nebuchadnezzar would not have felt at liberty or considered it necessary to give instructions to him.

Verse 27

Dan 3:27. Such an event as this would naturally attract the attention of the leading men in the empire, and they were present when Shadrach and his companions came forth. Nor , . . hair , , . singed indicates tbe complete control that was had over the fire. To a believer in the infinite God this miracle is no greater than any other. There are no great and small miracles as far as ability is concerned, for there is nothing too hard for Him (Jer 32:17; Jer 32:27). The same God who created fire is the author of all its laws, and it would be no greater task to control those laws than to create them. These men were members of a nation that had to be sent into captivity, and in that sense they had to suffer along with their fellow citizens. But they were personally righteous and hence were entitled to the special favors that God had promised to such servants. It is important that the reader now consult the note given at 2Ki 22:17 in volume 2 of this Commentary.

Verse 28

Dan 3:28. We have no evidence that Nebuchadnezzar ever ceased to be an idolater, but be was led to believe that the one god whom the Hebrews worshiped was superior to others. And he understood that the deliverance of the three Hebrews was in reward for their refusal to worship any god but their own.

Verse 29

Dan 3:29. We note that Nebuchadnezzar made no decree that required any person to worship the god of Shadrach and his fellows, only that it would he unlawful to say anything against him. The reason he assigned for the decree was that no other god can deliver after this sort, not that he deserved to be given exclusive worship.

Verse 30

Dan 3:30. To promote is from a word that merely means “to advance,” whether in matters of temporal success and prosperity or otherwise. All that we can understand from it is that the king bestowed some additional favors upon them besides the position of trust they already had.
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Daniel 3". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/daniel-3.html. 1952.
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