Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
|Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego by Simeon Solomon.
|Three Holy Children|
|Major shrine||Tomb of Daniel, Susa|
|Feast||16 December – Roman Catholicism
17 December – Eastern Orthodoxy
|Attributes||Three men in the fiery furnace|
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are figures from chapter 3 of the Book of Daniel, three Hebrew men thrown into a fiery furnace by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, when they refuse to bow down to the king's image; the three are preserved from harm and the king sees four men walking in the flames, "the fourth ... like a son of God".
The first six chapters of Daniel are stories dating from the late Persian/early Hellenistic period, and Daniel's absence from the story of the Hebrew children in the fiery furnace suggests that it may originally have been independent. It forms a pair with the story of Daniel in the lions' den, both making the point that the God of the Jews will deliver those who are faithful to him.
King Nebuchadnezzar set up a golden image in the plain of Dura (a word meaning simply "plain") and commanded that all his officials bow down before it. All who failed to do so would be thrown into a blazing furnace. Certain officials informed the king that the three Jewish youths Hanania, Mishael, and Azaria, who bore the Babylonian names Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and whom the king had appointed to high office in Babylon, were refusing to worship the golden statue. The three were brought before Nebuchadnezzar, where they informed the king that their God would be with them. Nebuchadnezzar commanded that they be thrown into the fiery furnace, heated seven times hotter than normal, but when the king looked he saw four figures walking unharmed in the flames, the fourth "like a son of God." Seeing this, Nebuchadnezzar brought the youths out of the flames and promoted them to high office, decreeing that anyone who spoke against their God should be torn limb from limb.
Composition and structure
Book of Daniel
It is generally accepted that the Book of Daniel originated as a collection of folktales among the Jewish community in Babylon and Mesopotamia in the Persian and early Hellenistic periods (5th to 3rd centuries BCE), expanded by the visions of chapters 7-12 in the Maccabean era (mid-2nd century). Modern scholarship agrees that Daniel is a legendary figure. It is possible that the name was chosen for the hero of the book because of his reputation as a wise seer in Hebrew tradition. The tales are in the voice of an anonymous narrator, except for chapter 4 which is in the form of a letter from king Nebuchadnezzar.  Chapter 3 is unique in that Daniel does not appear in it.
Daniel 3 forms part of a chiasmus (a poetic structure in which the main point or message of a passage is placed in the centre and framed by further repetitions on either side) within Daniel 2-7, paired with Daniel 6, the story of Daniel in the lions' den:
- A. (2:4b-49) – A dream of four kingdoms replaced by a fifth
- B. (3:1–30) – Daniel's three friends in the fiery furnace
- C. (4:1–37) – Daniel interprets a dream for Nebuchadnezzar
- C'. (5:1–31) – Daniel interprets the handwriting on the wall for Belshazzar
- B'. (6:1–28) – Daniel in the lions' den
- B. (3:1–30) – Daniel's three friends in the fiery furnace
- A'. (7:1–28) – A vision of four world kingdoms replaced by a fifth
Chapters 3 and 6 contain significant differences, however. The story of the fiery furnace does not include Daniel, while the story of the lions' den does not include Daniel's friends; the first story takes place under Nebuchadnezzar and the second under Darius; and in the first story the disobedience to the earthly ruler takes place in public, while in the second Daniel petitions God in private. The stories thus supplement each other to make the point that the God of the Jews will deliver those who are faithful to him.
Genre and themes
The legendary nature of the story is revealed by the liberal use of hyperbole - the size of the statue, the use of every kind of music, the destruction of the executioners, and the king's rage followed by his confession of the superiority of the God of Israel. The plot is a type known in folklore as "the disgrace and rehabilitation of a minister," the plot of which involves a man in a state of prosperity who is sentenced to death or prison by the plots of his enemies but vindicated and restored to honour.
When Nebuchadnezzar confronts the defiant Jewish youths who refuse to submit to his will he asks them what god will deliver them from his hands. Their reply is the theological high point of the story: without addressing the king by his title, they tell him that the question is not whether they are willing to bow before the king's image, but whether God is present and willing to save. When the three are thrown into the furnace the king sees four men walking in the flames, the fourth like "a son of god," a divine being.
Daniel's absence from the tale of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego suggests that it may originally have been an independent story. The Hebrew names of Daniel's friends were Hananiah (חֲנַנְיָה Ḥănanyāh), "Yah is gracious", Mishael (מִישָׁאֵל Mîšā’êl), "Who is what El is?" and Azariah (עֲזַרְיָה Ǎzaryāh), "Yah has helped", but by the king’s decree they were assigned Chaldean names, so that Hananiah became Shadrach (שַׁדְרַך Šaḏraḵ), Mishael became Meshach (מֵישַׁ֖ךְ Mêšaḵ) and Azariah became Abednego (עֲבֵ֣דנְג֑וֹ ‘Ǎḇêḏ-Nəḡō) . Shadrach's name is possibly derived from Shudur Aku "Command of Aku (the moon god)", Meshach is probably a variation of Mi-sha-aku, meaning "Who is as Aku is?", and Abednego is either "Slave of the god Nebo/Nabu" or a variation of Abednergal, "Slave of the god Nergal." The Chaldean names are related to the Hebrew names, but the name of a heathen god has replaced that of Yahweh.
The word "Dura" (where the statue is erected) means simply "plain" or "fortress" and is not any specific place; the Greek historian Herodotus mentions a golden image of the god Bel in Babylon, but the gigantic size of this statue might suggest that its origins lie in folklore. The statue's dimensions (6x60 cubits) are linked intertextually with those of Ezra-Nehemiah's Second Temple (60x60 cubits), suggesting that the king's image is contrasted with the post-exilic place of worship for faithful Jews like Daniel.
Eastern Orthodox observance
The Greek version of Daniel 3 inserts "the song of the three youths," two psalms, connected by a narrative emphasising their miraculous salvation. The song 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.
In popular culture
This section does not cite any sources. (November 2015) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
- 1968: "The Fourth Man in the Fire", the Johnny Cash song appearing on the albums The Holy Land (1969) and Unearthed (2003)
- 1976: "Abendigo" by Jamaican reggae group The Abyssinians
- 1989: "Shadrach" the Beastie Boys song appearing on Paul's Boutique.
- 2007: The title track to Funkadelic's By Way of the Drum.
- 1995: The VeggieTales video "Rack, Shack & Benny"
- 2013: Segment of the episode "Survival" in the miniseries The Bible
|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.|
- Seow 2003, p. 55-58.
- Levine 2010, p. 1233, 1239 footnote 3.1-7.
- Seow 2003, p. 87.
- Levine 2010, p. 1239-1241.
- Collins 1984, p. 29,34-35.
- Collins 1984, p. 28.
- Redditt 2008, p. 176-177,180.
- Wesselius 2002, p. 295.
- Redditt 2009, p. 177.
- Collins 1984, p. 55.
- Seow 2003, p. 55-57.
- Levine 2010, p. 1239, footnote 3.1-7.
- Wesselius 2002, p. 303.
- Collins 1984, p. 56.
- Aune, David E. (2010). "The World of Roman Hellenism". In Aune, David E. The Blackwell Companion to The New Testament. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9781444318944.
- Bandstra, Barry L. (2008). Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. Wadsworth Publishing Company. ISBN 0495391050.
- Boyer, Paul S. (1992). When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-95129-8.
- Brettler, Mark Zvi (2005). How To Read the Bible. Jewish Publication Society. ISBN 9780827610019.
- Cohn, Shaye J.D. (2006). From the Maccabees to the Mishnah. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 9780664227432.
- Collins, John J. (1984). Daniel: With an Introduction to Apocalyptic Literature. Eerdmans. ISBN 9780802800206.
- Collins, John J. (1998). The Apocalyptic Imagination: An Introduction to Jewish Apocalyptic Literature. Eerdmans. ISBN 9780802843715.
- Collins, John J. (2001). "Current Issues in the Study of Daniel". In Collins, John J.; Flint, Peter W.; VanEpps, Cameron. The Book of Daniel: Composition and Reception. I. BRILL. ISBN 9004116753.
- Collins, John J. (2003). "From Prophecy to Apocalypticism: The Expectation of the End". In McGinn, Bernard; Collins, John J.; Stein, Stephen J. The Continuum History of Apocalypticism. Continuum. ISBN 9780826415202.
- Crawford, Sidnie White (2000). "Apocalyptic". In Freedman, David Noel; Myers, Allen C. Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Eerdmans. ISBN 9789053565032.
- Davidson, Robert (1993). "Jeremiah, Book of". In Metzger, Bruce M.; Coogan, Michael D. The Oxford Companion to the Bible. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199743919.
- Davies, Philip (2006). "Apocalyptic". In Rogerson, J. W.; Lieu, Judith M. The Oxford Handbook of Biblical Studies. Oxford Handbooks Online. ISBN 9780199254255.
- DeChant, Dell (2009). "Apocalyptic Communities". In Neusner, Jacob. World Religions in America: An Introduction. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 9781611640472.
- Dunn, James D.G. (2002). "The Danilic Son of Man in the New Testament". In Collins, John J.; Flint, Peter W.; VanEpps, Cameron. The Book of Daniel: Composition and Reception. BRILL. ISBN 0391041282.
- Froom, Le Roy Edwin (1950). Early Church Exposition, Subsequent Deflections, and Medieval Revival. The Prophetic Faith of our Fathers: The Historical Development of Prophetic Interpretation. 1. The Review and Herald Publishing Association. p. 1006.
- Froom, Le Roy Edwin (1948). Pre-Reformation and Reformation Restoration, and Second Departure. The Prophetic Faith of our Fathers: The Historical Development of Prophetic Interpretation. 2. The Review and Herald Publishing Association. p. 863.
- Froom, Le Roy Edwin (1946). PART I, Colonial and Early National American Exposition. PART II, Old World Nineteenth Century Advent Awakening. The Prophetic Faith of our Fathers: The Historical Development of Prophetic Interpretation. 3. The Review and Herald Publishing Association. p. 802.
- Gallagher, Eugene V. (2011). "Millennialism, Scripture, and Tradition". In Wessinger, Catherine. The Oxford Handbook of Millennialism. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195301052.
- Goldingay, John J. (2002). "Daniel in the Context of OT Theology". In Collins, John J.; Flint, Peter W.; VanEpps, Cameron. The Book of Daniel: Composition and Reception. II. BRILL. ISBN 0391041282.
- Grabbe, Lester L. (2010). An Introduction to Second Temple Judaism: History and Religion of the Jews in the Time of Nehemiah, the Maccabees, Hillel, and Jesus. Continuum. ISBN 9780567552488.
- Grabbe, Lester L. (2002). Judaic Religion in the Second Temple Period: Belief and Practice from the Exile to Yavneh. Routledge. ISBN 9780203461013.
- Grabbe, Lester L. (2002). "A Dan(iel) For All Seasons". In Collins, John J.; Flint, Peter W.; VanEpps, Cameron. The Book of Daniel: Composition and Reception. BRILL. ISBN 9004116753.
- Hammer, Raymond (1976). The Book of Daniel. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521097659.
- Harrington, Daniel J. (1999). Invitation to the Apocrypha. Eerdmans. ISBN 9780802846334.
- Hebbard, Aaron B. (2009). Reading Daniel as a Text in Theological Hermeneutics. Wipf and Stock Publishers. ISBN 9781606089910.
- Hill, Andrew E. (2009). "Daniel-Malachi". In Longman, Tremper; Garland, David E. The Expositor's Bible Commentary. 8. Zondervan. ISBN 9780310590545.
- Hill, Charles E. (2000). "Antichrist". In Freedman, David Noel; Myers, Allen C. Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Eerdmans. ISBN 9789053565032.
- Holbrook, Frank B. (1986). The Seventy Weeks, Leviticus, and the Nature of Prophecy (Volume 3 of Daniel and Revelation Committee Series ed.). Biblical Research Institute, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. ISBN 0925675024.
- Horsley, Richard A. (2007). Scribes, Visionaries, and the Politics of Second Temple Judea. Presbyterian Publishing Corp. ISBN 9780664229917.
- Knibb, Michael (2009). Essays on the Book of Enoch and Other Early Jewish Texts and Traditions. BRILL. ISBN 9004167250.
- Knibb, Michael (2002). "The Book of Daniel in its Context". In Collins, John J.; Flint, Peter W.; VanEpps, Cameron. The Book of Daniel: Composition and Reception. BRILL. ISBN 9004116753.
- Koch, Klaus (2002). "Stages in the Canonization of the Book of daniel". In Collins, John J.; Flint, Peter W.; VanEpps, Cameron. The Book of Daniel: Composition and Reception. BRILL. ISBN 0391041282.
- Kratz, Reinhard (2002). "The Visions of Daniel". In Collins, John J.; Flint, Peter W.; VanEpps, Cameron. The Book of Daniel: Composition and Reception. BRILL. ISBN 9004116753.
- Levine, Amy-Jill (2010). "Daniel". In Coogan, Michael D.; Brettler, Marc Z.; Newsom, Carol A. The new Oxford annotated Bible with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical books : New Revised Standard Version. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199370504.
- Lucas, Ernest C. (2005). "Daniel, Book of". In Vanhoozer, Kevin J.; Bartholomew, Craig G.; Treier, Daniel J. Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible. Baker Academic. ISBN 9780801026942.
- Mangano, Mark (2001). Esther & Daniel. College Press. ISBN 9780899008851.
- Matthews, Victor H.; Moyer, James C. (2012). The Old Testament: Text and Context. Baker Books. ISBN 9780801048357.
- Nelson, William B. (2000). "Daniel". In Freedman, David Noel; Myers, Allen C. Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Eerdmans. ISBN 9789053565032.
- Nelson, William B. (2013). Daniel. Baker Books. ISBN 9781441240064.
- Newsom, Carol A.; Breed, Brennan W. (2014). Daniel: A Commentary. Presbyterian Publishing Corp. ISBN 9780664220808.
- Nichol, F., ed. (1954). "chronology chart". SDA Bible Commentary. pp. 326–327.
- Niskanen, Paul (2004). The Human and the Divine in History: Herodotus and the Book of Daniel. Continuum. ISBN 9780567082138.
- Pasachoff, Naomi E.; Littman, Robert J. (2005). A Concise History of the Jewish People. Rowman & Littlefield.
- Portier-Young, Anathea E. (2013). Apocalypse Against Empire: Theologies of Resistance in Early Judaism. Eerdmans. ISBN 9780802837110.
- Provan, Iain (2003). "Daniel". In Dunn, James D. G.; Rogerson, John William. Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible. Eerdmans. ISBN 9780802837110.
- Redditt, Paul L. (2009). Introduction to the Prophets. Eerdmans. ISBN 9780802828965.
- Reid, Stephen Breck (2000). "Daniel, Book of". In Freedman, David Noel; Myers, Allen C. Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Eerdmans. ISBN 9789053565032.
- Rowland, Christopher (2007). "Apocalyptic Literature". In Hass, Andrew; Jasper, David; Jay, Elisabeth. The Oxford Handbook of English Literature and Theology. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199271979.
- Ryken,, Leland; Wilhoit, Jim; Longman, Tremper (1998). Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. InterVarsity Press. ISBN 9780830867332.
- Sacchi, Paolo (2004). The History of the Second Temple Period. Continuum. ISBN 9780567044501.
- Schwartz, Daniel R. (1992). Studies in the Jewish Background of Christianity. Mohr Siebeck. ISBN 9783161457982.
- Seow, C.L. (2003). Daniel. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 9780664256753.
- Schiffman, Lawrence H. (1991). From Text to Tradition: A History of Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism. KTAV Publishing House. ISBN 9780881253726.
- Spencer, Richard A. (2002). "Additions to Daniel". In Mills, Watson E.; Wilson, Richard F. The Deuterocanonicals/Apocrypha. Mercer University Press. ISBN 9780865545106.
- Towner, W. Sibley (1993). "Daniel". In Coogan, Michael D.; Metzger, Bruce M. The Oxford Companion to the Bible. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199743919.
- Towner, W. Sibley (1984). Daniel. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 9780664237561.
- VanderKam, James C. (2010). The Dead Sea Scrolls Today. Eerdmans. ISBN 9780802864352.
- VanderKam, James C.; Flint, Peter (2013). The meaning of the Dead Sea scrolls: their significance for understanding the Bible, Judaism, Jesus, and Christianity. HarperCollins. ISBN 9780062243300.
- Weber, Timothy P. (2007). "Millennialism". In Walls, Jerry L. The Oxford Handbook of Eschatology. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199742486.
- Wesselius, Jan-Wim (2002). "The Writing of Daniel". In Collins, John J.; Flint, Peter W.; VanEpps, Cameron. The Book of Daniel: Composition and Reception. BRILL.
- White, Ellen (2014). Yahweh's Council: Its Structure and Membership. Mohr Siebeck.