The three men should bless God (Dan 3:66-3:66)

“Bless the Lord!

Hananiah!

Azariah!

Mishael!

Sing praise to him!

Highly exalt him forever!

He has rescued us

From Hades.

He has saved us

From the power

Of death.

He has delivered us

From the midst

Of the burning fiery furnace.

From the midst

Of the fire,

He has delivered us.”

Finally, the 3 young men, using their Judean names and not their Babylonian names, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael, would bless, praise, and exalt the Lord. However, they had a particular reason to bless God, because he had rescued them from hell or hades. He had saved them from the power of death itself. He had delivered them and kept them safe. Right in the middle of this fiery furnace, God had saved their lives.

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The three companions pray together (Dan 3:28-3:28)

“Then the three,

With one voice,

Praised,

Glorified,

Blessed God

In the furnace.”

After this brief description about the events in the furnace, this prayer then continued with all 3 companions together, not just Azariah. All 3 of them, Azariah, called Abednego, Shadrach who was Hananiah, and Meshach, originally Mishael, prayed together in the furnace, blessing, praising, and glorifying God.

Daniel discussed the situation with his companions (Dan 2:17-2:18)

“Then Daniel went

To his house.

He informed

His companions,

Hananiah,

Mishael,

Azariah.

He told them

To seek mercy

From the God of heaven

Concerning this mystery.

Thus,

Daniel

With his companions

Might not perish

With the rest

Of the wise men

Of Babylon.”

Daniel went home and shared his information with his 3 other companions, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. He told them to ask mercy from the God of heaven. Once again it is not Yahweh, but the God of heaven. He wanted help with this great mystery. He hoped and prayed that they and the other wise men of Babylon would be able to spare their lives.

The four successful court attendants (Dan 1:19-1:21)

“The king spoke

With them.

Among them all,

No one was found

To compare with

Daniel,

Hananiah,

Mishael,

Azariah.

Therefore,

They were stationed

In the king’s court.

In every matter

Of wisdom,

Of understanding,

Concerning

What the king inquired of them,

He found them

Ten times better

Than all the magicians,

All the enchanters

In his whole kingdom.

Daniel continued there

Until the first year

Of King Cyrus.”

The Babylonian king spoke with all his new young court people. These 4 young Israelite royal students, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were very successful, since no one could compare to them. Thus, they were stationed in the king’s court. In anything about wisdom and understanding, these 4 court attendants were 10 times better than the more traditional Babylonian court magicians and enchanters. These 4 young men became the favorites of King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel, in fact, stayed the whole time in the royal court until King Cyrus of Persia took over around 538 BCE. Thus, Daniel would have spent pretty much his entire life in the Babylonian royal court, about 70 years.

The response of Daniel (Dan 1:11-1:13)

“Then Daniel

Asked the guard,

That the palace master

Had appointed over

Daniel,

Hananiah,

Mishael,

Azariah.

‘Please test your servants

For ten days!

Let us be given vegetables

To eat

As well as water

To drink!

You can then compare

Our appearance

With the appearance

Of the young men

Who eat the royal rations.

Deal with your servants

According to

What you observe!’”

Daniel had a plan. He was going to ask the guard that the palace master had assigned over him and his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah for a favor. He wanted to have a 10-day test. They would only eat vegetables and water. Then after 10 days, the guard could compare their appearance to the others who were eating the royal food. At that point, Daniel would leave it up to the guard to decide what was best for the four of them.

The names of the Israelite students (Dan 1:6-1:7)

“Among those chosen were

Daniel,

Hananiah,

Mishael,

Azariah,

From the tribe of Judah.

The palace master

Gave them other names.

Daniel,

He called Belteshazzar.

Hananiah,

He called Shadrach.

Mishael,

He called Meshach.

Azariah

He called Abednego.”

The names of the 4 Israelite students from the tribe of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Obviously, the emphasis will be on Daniel, the name of this book. However, Ashpenaz, the chief of the palace, gave them other names that were more Babylonian, Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. There was an American song written about the 3 young men with Daniel, called “Shadrach,” and later recorded by Louis Armstrong and Brook Benton.  This was another common practice to help integrate them into the Chaldean Babylonian culture.

Reading from the book of Moses (Neh 8:4-8:8)

“The scribe Ezra stood on a wooden platform that had made for this purpose. Beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand. Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam stood on his left hand. Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people. He was above all the people. When he opened it all the people stood up. Ezra blessed Yahweh, the great God! All the people answered. ‘Amen, Amen!’ They lifted up their hands. Then they bowed their heads as they worshiped Yahweh with their faces to the ground. Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah, the Levites, helped the people to understand the law, while the people remained in their places. They read from the book, from the law of God, with interpretation. They gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.”

Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform or tower so that they could hear and see him. This was similar to the special bronze platform of King Solomon in 2 Chronicles, chapter 6.   He had 6 people on his right side and 7 on his left side. Of the 6 on the right side Maaseiah will be also one of those instructing the people. All the others just appear here although there are numerous other biblical people with the same names. On the left side, Pedaiah, Malchijah, and Meshullam had helped with the wall. Hashum and Zechariah were from important returning families, while very little is known about Mishael and Hashbaddanah. He opened the book, probably the Book of Deuteronomy, but it is not clear. Everyone stood up as he opened the book, much like Roman Catholics stand for the reading of the Gospel of Jesus. There was the great ‘Amen’ at the end of Ezra’s blessing of Yahweh. They lifted up their hands to pray and then bowed their heads to the ground, much like the Muslim prayer position. There was another group who helped the people to understand the law. They seem to be important Levite family members, especially Jeshua, Bani, Azariah, and Hanan. Only Jamin appears here and nowhere else, while Akkub was a gatekeeper. They gave an interpretation of the law so that the people could understand it. Some commentators indicate that this might have been a translation into Aramaic, since the book was written in Hebrew. However, it could have been a commentary also.