Daniel 3:1 “Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits…”
Image of gold. Either one of Babylon’s gods or perhaps of Nebuchadnezzar himself after the dreams he had. I tend to lean toward Neb himself since it was probably a great boost to his pride when Daniel told him his kingdom was represented by gold, that it was at the top of the image, and that it was presented as the strongest of the kingdoms represented. To a king who already thought of himself as invincible, that would have been like pouring fuel on a fire. And he made it immense. It was ten times as high as it was wide or thick. He didn’t set it up in a temple, he put it up on the plain.
1 “…plain of Dura…”
Wondered where this would have been. Commentary didn’t mention it. Checked online. Some disagreement on the location. Suggestions of area southeast of Babylon, area within the city itself, area near the Tigris river. One of the areas has a pedestal which might have been the foundation of the image.
2, 5 “…come to the dedication of the image…ye fall down and worship the golden image…”
Seems like they were told to attend a dedication which then turned into a worship session. But that may be a western view. Considering what they were being called to, they may have had a good idea what they would be expected to do once they got there. I doubt anyone in Babylon didn’t know the type of person Nebuchadnezzar was.
6 “…whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace”
Plain situation. Either worship the image or die a very horrible death. Sounds like something that the king was really intent on. Makes me lean more toward the image being representative of the king himself. A point of pride, his ego. You will worship this or die. Not just something I want you to do.
8, 12 “…certain Chaldeans…certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon…have not regarded thee…serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image…”
Chaldeans could refer to Babylonians in general as part of the original tribe or the sect of the wise men referred to in chapter 2. Makes me wonder if it was the latter and they are acting out of jealousy toward the Jewish men appointed as leaders. You would think they would have some respect for the Jews as Daniel was able to keep the king from killing all of them over his dream which they couldn’t interpret. The phrase not paid due regard to you could be in general since they didn’t follow the king’s command or because the image was of the king and their failure to follow the command could be seen as personal.
14, 16 “…Is it true…do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image…we are not careful to answer thee in this matter”
Commentary suggests the Jews answer reflected their resolve. There was no need to debate the situation with the king because their mind was made up. I wonder if their answer was also a reminder to the king that they served the one true God who had told the king his dream and given him a vision of the future. Why was he now questioning that they weren’t serving his gods? Of course, the king worshipped many gods as many of his other subjects did. Even if he did remember that the Jews worshipped Almighty God, he probably thought they could worship his as well. This seems to be reflected in his statement in verse 15.
15 “…who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?”
He obviously hasn’t realized who he is dealing with. Coming from a polytheistic viewpoint, that’s not surprising. I think he is also putting himself in the picture. Having served false gods, he is used to being his own man even when he gives some credit to his gods. He probably doesn’t ascribe much power to any god and sees himself as powerful as any he knows. No one has stopped him from killing others before.
17-18 “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”
Incredible statement of faith. Many aspects all rolled into one. Our God is omnipotent, He can do as He pleases. He can save us if He wants, and there is nothing you as king can do about it. But even if He chooses not to save us, He is still so great he deserves all praise and worship, therefore we will worship only Him.
19 “Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed…”
The king obviously remembered who the three Jews were. Although he was furious that they didn’t bow down, he showed some leniency by giving them an opportunity to explain and another chance to bow. Now that they have affirmed that they aren’t going to follow his commands, all good thoughts he had toward them are out the window.
19-22 “…heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated…furnace exceeding hot, the flames of the fire slew those men that took up…”
Not sure how they would do this or even know, but that’s what it says. Commentary suggests saying seven times just meant to heat it as hot as possible. He is very ticked. And the fire was so intense that it killed the men who were to throw the Jews into the furnace. Occurs to me that one miracle may have already transpired. The men doing the throwing were killed, but the Jews made it all the way into the furnace. Why weren’t they all killed due to the intense heat? Commentary suggests that is why it says they fell into the furnace instead of were cast. At any rate, the fate of the men was already set. God had determined they were safe, and nothing was going to change that.
25 “…I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God”
God caused the truth to come out of the mouth of the king himself. For all his pride and high regard for his power, he could not stop God’s desire. God could have easily just saved the men, but I think sending the other entity showed that it was God doing it and not the Jews themselves. Nebuchadnezzar was probably just referring to the fourth man’s appearance. I’m sure he had no idea of the concept of the preincarnate Christ. Whether this was indeed preincarnate Christ or just one of God’s angels isn’t mentioned. This section is still written in the Chaldean language so we don’t have any of the Hebrew phrasing to make that assertion.
26 “…Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth…”
Went himself. Didn’t ask someone else to go get them. Not sure if it was astonishment or concern that he was dealing with something way more powerful than he was.
27 “…nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them”
Gotta love these details. Hair wasn’t singed. Doesn’t take much heat to singe hair. They didn’t even get warm. Garments weren’t affected. No damage to whatever they were wearing although their bindings had been burned off. And they didn’t even smell of smoke. You don’t have to be close to a fire at all for the least bit of smoke to adhere to your clothes. They didn’t smell like they’d been anywhere near a fire. God left no question as to the supernatural nature of what happened to them.
28 “…that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God”
He appears to at least see the idea of serving only one God, even if he continues to accept many gods.
29 “…which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego…because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort”
He admits that the Hebrew God is more powerful than any other, but still doesn’t understand that Almighty God is the only one. He does at least appear to be making progress. He recognized God’s power over his dreams with Daniel. Now he has seen God’s power over nature. He’s not a follower yet by any means, but he’s not denying what he sees as Pharaoh of Egypt did with Moses.
30 “…the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego…”
If the Chaldeans who ratted on the Jews were acting out of jealousy, the plan severely backfired. The Jews now have more authority than they did.
I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word. May it accomplish what He desires. Please feel free to comment or post questions. Thanks for reading!