Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are men recorded in the book of Daniel Chapters 1–3, known for their exclusive devotion to God. In particular, they are known for being saved by divine intervention from the Babylonian execution of being burned alive in a fiery furnace. They were three young Jews, of royal or noble birth from the Kingdom of Judah, who, along with Daniel, were inducted into Babylon when Jerusalem was occupied by the Babylonians in 606/605 BCE, under the campaign of Nebuchadnezzar II, during the first deportation of the Israelites.
Their Hebraic names were Hananiah (חֲנַנְיָה), Mishael (מִישָׁאֵל) and Azariah (עֲזַרְיָה). It was probably by the King’s decree that Chief Official Ashpenaz assigned Chaldean names, so that Hananiah became Shadrach, Mishael became Meshach and Azariah became Abednego.
In view of the possible foreign religious connotations attached to their names, commentators have questioned why the Bible seldom uses their original Hebrew names. It is speculated that they are identified mostly by their Chaldean names to maintain the accuracy of the dialogue given in the text. Since it would have been confusing to have the writer call them one thing and the King call them another, the story primarily uses their Chaldean names instead.
Hebrew etymologies 
All three Hebrew names are theophoric:
- Hananiah means "Jah who is gracious"
- Misha'el means "Who is like God?”, also means "to feed" or "to provide"—as in how a husband provides for his family
- Azariah appropriately means "Jah has helped"
|Chapters of the Book of Daniel|
1: Induction into Babylon
Chaldean etymologies 
It has been asserted that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego's names all pertained to pagan Babylonian gods.
- Shadrach possibly is derived from Shudur Aku "Command of the moon god"
- Meshach is probably a variation of Mi•sha•aku, meaning "Who is what Aku is?", and may have been an alteration of his Hebrew name Mishael
- Abednego is either a corrupted or deliberate use of Abednebo, "servant of Nebo/Nabu," or Abednergo, a variation of Abednergal, "servant of the god Nergal"
Induction into Babylon 
In, King Nebuchadnezzar wanted select men from Judah to learn the language and literature of Babylon. This would be a three-year training course to qualify those selected to serve in the King’s Palace. Those chosen were to partake of Babylonian royal food and wine.
Daniel spoke highly of the three to the King whenever opportunity afforded itself, so that they could also have honorable positions in the Province of Babylon.
Daniel 3 
In, the narrative of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego describes how they were sent into a blazing fiery furnace because of their stand to exclusively serve their God alone. By God’s angel, they were delivered out of harm’s way from this order of execution by the King of Babylon.
Golden image 
Fiery furnace 
During the dedication ceremony of the golden image, certain officials noticed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego not bowing down to the idol. Thus, Nebuchadnezzar was immediately notified.
Their response: "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."
Nebuchadnezzar demanded that the execution furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual. Valiant soldiers of the King’s army were ordered to firmly bind the fully clothed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and cast them in the blazing furnace. Upon approaching the mouth of the furnace, the fire was so hot that the soldiers perished while attempting to throw in the three tightly bound Jews (who then fell in).
Burning in the form of execution was a typical practice of Babylonian rulers. According to Jeremiah 29:22, Nebuchadnezzar burned to death two men named Zedekiah and Ahab. Burning as a penalty for certain crimes appears twice in the Code of Hammurabi, the system of law set forth by the Babylonian king in the 18th century BC. Another early Babylonian monarch, Rim-Sin, also executed death by burning as a form of punishment.
When the King saw what appeared to be four men in the furnace, unbound and walking about, he called to them to come out. King Nebuchadnezzar then acknowledged the power of their God, even going as far as to make a decree, whereby any nation who says anything against the God of the Jews is an act of war. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were then given promotions to their positions over the province of Babylon.
In Christian tradition, one interpretation of identifying the fourth man in the furnace is that of Christ, although he is more often shown in the arts as the Archangel Michael. The pagan king reasoned that the being in the fire was divine. There are inscriptions found in excavations of ancient Ugarit (Ras Shamra, on the coast of Syria), that use the expression “a son of the gods”.
Prayer of Azariah 
In the "Prayer of Azariah", an apocryphal passage of the Septuagint, Azariah (Abednego) confesses their sins and the sins of Israel, and asks their God to save them in order to demonstrate God’s power to the Babylonians. It is followed by an account of an angel who came to make the inside of the furnace feel like a cool breeze over dew. An extended hymn of praise to their God for deliverance is found in the "Song of the Three Young Men".
Eastern Orthodox observance 
The song of the three youths is alluded to in odes seven and eight of the canon, a hymn sung in the matins service and on other occasions in the Eastern Orthodox Church, where their feast day is December 17 (along with Daniel). The Orthodox also commemorate them on the two Sundays before the Nativity of Christ. The reading of the story of the fiery furnace, including the song, is prescribed for the vesperal Divine Liturgy celebrated by the Orthodox on Holy Saturday. Likewise, the three are commemorated as prophets in the Calendar of Saints of the Lutheran Church on December 17 with Daniel.
Hat Honour 
George Fox: Journal, 1656: When we were brought into the court, we stood a while with our hats on, and all was quiet. I was moved to say, "Peace be amongst you." Judge Glynne, a Welshman, then Chief-Justice of England, said to the jailer, "What be these you have brought here into the court?" "Prisoners, my lord," said he. "Why do you not put off your hats?" said the Judge to us. We said nothing. "Put off your hats," said the Judge again. Still we said nothing. Then said the Judge, "The Court commands you to put off your hats." Then I spoke, and said, "Where did ever any magistrate, king, or judge, from Moses to Daniel, command any to put off their hats, when they came before him in his court, either amongst the Jews, the people of God, or amongst the heathen? and if the law of England doth command any such thing, show me that law either written or printed." Then the Judge grew very angry, and said, "I do not carry my law-books on my back." "But," said I, "tell me where it is printed in any statute-book, that I may read it." Then said the Judge, "Take him away, prevaricator! I'll ferk him." So they took us away, and put us among the thieves. Presently after he called to the jailer, "Bring them up again." "Come," said he, "where had they hats, from Moses to Daniel; come, answer me: I have you fast now." I replied, "Thou mayest read in the third of Daniel, that the three children were cast into the fiery furnace by Nebuchadnezzar's command, with their coats, their hose, and their hats on." This plain instance stopped him: so that, not having anything else to say to the point, he cried again, "Take them away, jailer."
References and portrayals in popular culture 
- Sir Charles Laughton's recounting of the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego was a well-known recording in the 1950s
- Martin Luther King Jr. references them in his Letter from Birmingham Jail:.
- The 1955 electronic work Gesang der Jünglinge by Karlheinz Stockhausen takes its title and some words from the story
- The Burning Fiery Furnace is one of the three Parables for Church Performances composed by Benjamin Britten, dating from 1966, and is his Opus 77
- The 1930s song "Shadrack" written by Robert MacGimsey
- The story of the fiery furnace is chronicled in the Johnny Cash song named The Fourth Man in the Fire, appearing on the albums The Holy Land and Unearthed
- There are numerous references in reggae music, e.g. The Viceroys' song "Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo", the Twinkle Brothers' "Never Get Burn", the Abyssinians "Abendigo", Bob Marley & the Wailers' "Survival", The Congos' song "La La Bam-Bam" and Steel Pulse's song "Blazing Fire" on the album "African Holocaust"
- The author Robert Silverberg wrote a Science Fiction novel named Shadrach in the Furnace
- The VeggieTales episode "Rack, Shack, and Benny" tells a version of the biblical Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego with Bob the Tomato, Junior Asparagus and Larry the Cucumber, respectively, playing the title roles of Rack, Shack, and Benny
See also 
- List of Hebrew Bible events
- The Burning Fiery Furnace, a performance
- The Prayer of Azariah and Song of the Three Holy Children, an apocryphal text
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Fiery furnace|
|Wikisource has the text of the 1897 Easton's Bible Dictionary article Shadrach.|
|Wikisource has the text of the 1897 Easton's Bible Dictionary article Meshach.|
|Wikisource has the text of the 1897 Easton's Bible Dictionary article Abednego.|
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Abednego.|
- Barker, Kenneth (Editor); Donald Burdick, John H. Stek, Walter Wessel, & Ronald F. Youngblood (1995). The NIV Study Bible 10th Anniversary Edition. The Book of Daniel: Zondervan Publishing House. pp. 1291–1295.
- JewishEncyclopedia.com, "Shadrach"
- Easton's Bible Dictionary, "Abednego."
- Apologetics Study Bible-HCSB, commentary on p. 1273 (3-1): “Ancient rulers commonly constructed large statues, such as the Great Sphinx in Egypt, and the statue of Bel (Marduk), a solid gold statue that stood 18 feet high in Babylon.”
- Compare Old Testament Map #5. Plain of Dura with Map of Karbala, Iraq
- The Zondervan Corporation (2005). Archaeological Study Bible. The Book of Daniel (under the archaeological commentary): The Zondervan Corporation. p. 1389.
- Apologetics Study Bible-HCSB, B&H Publishing Group, 2007, (ISBN 1586404466, ISBN 978-1-58640-446-8), p. 1274 (3-6)
- Apologetics Study Bible-HCSB, 2007, p. 1275 (3-25)
- Compare: Genesis 18:1-10
- George Fox: Journal, 1656
- Track 5, side 1 on the album Satta Massagana, released by The Abyssinians in 1976 on Penetrate Label.
- Bible Stories for Kids – The Fiery Furnace, modern Christian telling of the story for children
- Biblical Art on the WWW, illustrations of the story
- Chananya, Mishael, and Azarya – The Fiery Furnace. From Talks and Tales by Nissan Mindel at Chabad.org
- Lessons on Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Teaching the Story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
- October 1998 Scientific American Magazine
- Map 9: The World of the Old Testament, See #5. Plain of Dura
- The height of the golden image, (60 Cubits = 90 feet; 90 ft. = 9 stories)