Daniel 3

The Faithfulness of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

Golden Statue

Nebuchadnezzar the king made a statue of gold (Daniel 3:1).

The statue described in Daniel 3 is usually assumed to have been human in form, an assumption which is probably correct. The text seems to imply that it was an image of Nebuchadnezzar’s god (3:12, 14, 18, 28). A “statue of gold” could mean “a gold-plated statue,” although the Greek historian Herodotus (5th century BC) was convinced it was solid gold. This gold statuette depicts the Egyptian god Amun.

A Behemoth Idol

Its height was sixty cubits and its width six cubits (Daniel 3:1).

This gold statue was no personal-sized idol; even if we assume these are “short cubits,” this still means that the statue was approximately ninety feet (27 m) tall by nine feet (2.7 m) wide. These twin obelisks at the Karnak Temple are very close to the dimensions given for Nebuchadnezzar’s statue, standing 97 feet (30 meters) tall. The people standing by the base of the obelisk give perspective for its size.

Dedication Ceremony

Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent an order . . . to come to the dedication of the statue (Daniel 3:2).

Mesopotamia had a long history of formal dedications for religious installations. This plaque from Lagash dates to the 21st century BC, and it records the dedication of a temple. In the Neo-Babylonian period, however, dedicatory inscriptions were often written on baked clay cylinders instead of on stone tablets.

Ancient Trumpets

When you hear the sound of the trumpet . . . (Daniel 3:5)

In modern musical terminology, these instruments called “trumpets” were like bugles. They could be made of animal horns, but King Nebuchadnezzar’s royal orchestra must have had silver or bronze trumpets, such as the ones shown here from the tomb of Tutankhamun. These are the oldest playable trumpets in the world.

Babylonian Dress

These three men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their headgear, and their other clothes (Daniel 3:21).

Normally prisoners would be stripped before being executed. But the king’s command was so urgent, he did not wait even for that. This depiction of Median and Persian dignitaries (from the apadana of Persepolis) dates slightly later than the events recorded in Daniel 3, but their wardrobe—particularly that of the man second from the left—is likely similar to how Daniel’s three friends were dressed.

The Furnace

These three men . . . fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace (Daniel 3:23).

The Babylonians had huge kilns for firing tens of thousands of mudbricks at a time, with which they built their city and its walls. Remains of numerous such brick kilns have been found in the plains around Babylon. These kilns had an opening at the top for smoke to escape, and one or more openings at the bottom to insert bricks or to control the heat of the furnace. This Iraqi brick kiln was photographed in 1932.

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