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A Saint by any Other Name
Witnessing Tools
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Wendy Wippel

The account of Daniel and his three friends-- captured and taken to Babylon as slaves is a great example of faith and a testimony to perseverance in the face of difficulty.  It is also an account that is inarguably historically true. Confirmed straight from the horse’s mouth.

The account in the book of Daniel tells us that Daniel and his three buddies were captured together and taken to Babylon.  We probably all also remember that Daniel’s faith-- combined with an ability to interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and no small measure of administrative skill-- ended up helping Daniel rise through the ranks to become second only to the king.

Daniel, however, as you might expect, did not leave his friends behind: 

“Daniel petitioned the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego over the affairs of the Province of Babylon, but Daniel sat in the gate of the king.” Daniel 2:49 NKJV

Unfortunately, at some point, Daniel seems to have been sent out of town on some diplomatic errand (as he is completely absent from the narrative), and in his absence things get complicated for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Remember Nebuchadnezzar's dream?  In which he saw a giant gleaming statue in which he, Nebuchadnezzar was the golden head? Daniel’s interpretation of the dream was that Nebuchadnezzar’s empire would fall, but apparently Neb’s takeaway was this: “I am the golden head! Yay me!  I think I’ll make my own statue!"  

And so he did:  “Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its width six cubits. He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.” Daniel 3:1

But apparently even that didn’t stoke Neb’s ego quite enough, so he went a little further:

“King Nebuchadnezzar sent word to gather together the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up “ Daniel 3:2

Remember, Daniel had procured his buddies Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego positions as administrators in the  Babylonian government. So they were there. And things got worse: 

"Then a herald cried aloud: “To you it is commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, you shall fall down and worship the gold image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up; and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.” Daniel 3:4-6

Daniel didn’t see that coming. But his buddies, in his absence, stand tall:

"So at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the horn, flute, harp, and lyre, in symphony with all kinds of music, all the people, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the gold image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up." Daniel 3:7

All the people except Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, that is.

And that didn’t escape the notice of the kings spies, who immediately went to Nebuchadnezzar with a report:  

"Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and accused the Jews. They spoke and said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! You, O king, have made a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the gold image; and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. There are certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego; these men, O king, have not paid due regard to you. They do not serve your gods or worship the gold image which you have set up.”

Then Nebuchadnezzar, in rage and fury, gave the command to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. So they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up? Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” Daniel 3:8-18

I think we all know the outcome: God rescued the three friends of Daniel and the fire consumed their guards.   

The funny thing here, actually, is that Daniel is remembered by his Hebrew name (even though his Babylonian one, Belteshazzar is given), while his three friends we know by their  Babylonian names-- even though heir Hebrew names are given too: Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. (Daniel 1:6-8).

Not exactly surprising, as the names  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are repeated multiple times just in the passage above.

But here’s where it gets really interesting—their names appear to be repeated in Babylonian records as well.

Specifically, a five-sided clay prism found in Babylon and now housed in an Istanbul museum and known as the Istanbul prism of Nebuchadnezzar.  The prism contains a list of the satraps, administrators,  governors, counselors, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and officials of the provinces during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar.

And the list includes a chief of the Royal merchants named Han-nan-nu, (a derivation of Hananaiah), and an administrator named Mishel-marduk (Mishael with the name of the Babylonian God, marduk appended to it,)  and a secretary to the Crown Prince named  Ardi-nabu ( believed to be a variation of Abed-nego).

Preserved for posterity and for the perseverance of the saints for almost 3000 years.

"Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” John 17:17

Wippel" href="http://www.omegaletter.com/content/?Bio_Wendy_page">About Wendy Wippel

Last week: Wippel" href="http://www.omegaletter.com/articles/articles.asp?ArticleID=8257">Secrets of the Third Commandment



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