Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spoke, and said to his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the middle of the fire? They answered and said to the king, True, O king.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Was astonied.—He had been watching the proceedings from a distance through the “mouth” (Daniel 3:26), which was in the side of the furnace.Daniel 3:24-25. Then Nebuchadnezzar was astonied, and rose up in haste — Some have thought there is something wanting between this and the preceding verse, expressive of the reason of Nebuchadnezzar’s astonishment. Hence Houbigant inserts two verses, which are found in the Vulgate to this purpose: “But an angel of the Lord descended to Azariah and his companions into the furnace, and drove the flame of the fire from the furnace. And they walked in the midst of the flame, praising and blessing the Lord.” The LXX. and Arabic read the beginning of this verse thus: Then Nebuchadnezzar heard them singing praise, and was astonished, &c. But it is probable that either the slaying of the men who executed his sentence was that which astonished Nebuchadnezzar, or rather, his unexpectedly seeing at a distance the young men walking at liberty, and apparently in comfort, in the fiery furnace. He said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire — 1st, They were loose from their bonds: the fire, which did not so much as singe their clothes, burned the cords with which they were tied. 2d, They had no hurt, felt no pain or uneasiness in the least; the flame did not scorch them, the smoke did not stifle them: they were alive, and as well as ever in the midst of the flames. See how the God of nature can, when he pleases, control the powers of nature, to make them serve his purposes! Now was fulfilled in the letter that gracious promise, Isaiah 43:2, When thou walkest through the fire thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. By faith they quenched the violence of fire. 3d, They walked in the midst of the fire: the furnace was large, so that they had room to walk; they were unhurt, so that they were able to walk; their minds were easy, so that they were disposed to walk as in a paradise, or garden of pleasure. Can a man walk upon hot coals, and his feet not be burnt? Proverbs 6:28. Yes; they did it with as much pleasure as the king of Tyrus walked up and down in the midst of his precious stones, which sparkled as fire, Ezekiel 28:14. 4th, There was a fourth seen with them in the fire, whose form, says Nebuchadnezzar, is like the Son of God — Or rather, like a son of God, or, of the gods; in agreement with the Hebrew, LXX., and Syriac; that is, “Like a divine and glorious person, sent from the powers above to rescue and deliver these men.” For as Nebuchadnezzar was an idolater, it is scarce to be conceived that he should know any thing concerning the Song of Solomon of God, the Messiah, and much less of his form and likeness; whereas all the heathen had a notion, which runs through their theology, of the sons of the deities, as powerful beings, sent often to the aid and protection of mankind. But though we can scarce suppose Nebuchadnezzar to have called or known this person to have been the Song of Solomon of God, the promised Redeemer; yet it is extremely probable, (and so the best Jewish as well as Christian commentators have understood it,) that he was indeed the Song of Solomon of God, who often appeared in our nature, in a human form, before he assumed that nature for our salvation; the great angel, or messenger of the covenant, who under that character frequently revealed himself to the patriarchs of old; and accordingly, in a subsequent verse, he is called the angel of God, the messenger sent to deliver these servants of the Lord; the same who was afterward sent to Daniel, to preserve him from the rage of the lions. Moreover, we may observe, that as angels are often called sons of God, and as most nations had high ideas of their power, perhaps Nebuchadnezzar might only mean an angel, a celestial delegate; and this seems the more probable from his own words, Daniel 3:28, Blessed be God, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants, &c. — That angel, or Song of Solomon of God, whom I saw in the furnace, &c: see Christian Mag., vol. 2. page 613. Observe, reader, those that suffer for Christ, have his gracious presence with them in their sufferings, even in the fiery furnace, even in the valley of the shadow of death, and therefore even there they need fear no evil. Hereby Christ showed that what is done against his people, he takes as done against himself: whoever throw them into the furnace, do in effect throw him in; I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest, Acts 9:5.Ezra 9:3; Job 17:8; Job 18:20; Ezekiel 4:17; Daniel 3:24; Daniel 4:19; Daniel 5:9, is but another form for "astonished," and expresses wonder or amazement. The reasons of the wonder here were that the men who were bound when cast into the furnace were seen alive, and walking unbound; that to them a fourth person was added, walking with them; and that the fourth had the appearance of a Divine personage. It would seem from this, that the furnace was so made that one could conveniently see into it, and also that the king remained near to it to witness the result of the execution of his own order.
And rose up in haste - He would naturally express his surprise to his counselors, and ask an explanation of the remarkable occurrence which he witnessed. "And spake, and said unto his counselors." Margin, "governors." The word used here (הדברין haddâberı̂yn) occurs only here and in Daniel 3:27; Daniel 4:36; Daniel 6:7. It is rendered "counselors" in each case. The Vulgate renders it "optimatibus;" the Septuagint, μεγιστᾶσιν megistasin - his nobles, or distinguished men. The word would seem to mean those who were authorized to "speak" (from דבר dâbar); that is, those authorized to give counsel; ministers of state, viziers, cabinet counselors.
Did not we cast three men bound ... - The emphasis here is on the words "three," and "bound." It was now a matter of astonishment that there were "four," and that they were all "loose." It is not to be supposed that Nebuchadnezzar had any doubt on this subject, or that his recollection had so soon failed him, but this manner of introducing the subject is adopted in order to fix the attention strongly on the fact to which he was about to call their attention, and which was to him so much a matter of surprise.Rose up in haste: this fear, perturbation, and amazement as the word signifies, surprised the king, being surprised with the strangeness of it, beholding something supernatural in it, together with the disappointment of his design and cruel commands.
True, O king: the Lord extorted this confession from them, though enemies.
and rose up in haste; from the place where he was, and went to the mouth of the furnace, to see what was become of those that were cast into it:
and spake and said unto his counsellors; who had advised him to do what he had done, out of envy and ill will to these Jews:
did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? that is, was there not an order of council for it? and was it not done according to it?
they answered and said, true, O King; it was certainly so: thus they are brought to bear a testimony to the truth of this; it was not only the king that gave the orders, and saw them obeyed, but his counsellors also; and which they own, and serves to corroborate the truth of the miracle.
(u) "expavit", Munster, Piscator, Michaelis; "trepidavit", Gejerus; so Ben Melech from the Targum on Genesis 27.33; "trepidus", Junius & Tremellius.Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)24. was astonied] ‘astonied’ is the old, and more correct, form of astonished (Old Eng. astony, astonie, from Old Fr. estonner, Lat. *extonare). Here, however, the meaning is rather, was alarmed, the Aram. těwah being used in the Targums for Heb. words signifying to fear, as Genesis 27:33; 1 Kings 1:49.
rose up] from the seat, from which he had been watching the preparations at the furnace.
spake] properly answered, as Daniel 3:9. So Daniel 3:26; Daniel 3:28.
counsellers] ministers (‘counseller, is used—rightly—for an entirely different word in Ezra 7:14-15, 2 Samuel 15:12, al.), a word (haddâbar) peculiar to Dan. (Daniel 3:27, Daniel 4:36, Daniel 6:7), and of uncertain meaning. The termination bar shews that it is of Persian origin (cf. dethâbar, ‘law-bearer,’ gizbar, ‘treasurer’), but the sense of the first part of the word is not clear (Andreas). The explanation ‘associate-judge’ is questionable, as it implies a contracted, modern form of dethâbar, ‘judge,’ viz. dâwar.Verse 24. - Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. The Greek versions suffer in this verse also from the interpolation of the song. The LXX. renders thus: "And it was when the king heard them singing praises, and stood and saw them living, then was Nebuchadnezzar the king astonished and rose up hastily and said to his friends, Did we not cast three men into the fire bound? and thev said to the king, Truly, O king." Theodotion does not seriously differ from this, "And Nebuchadnezzar heard them singing praises, and marvelled, and rose up in haste, and said to his lords, Did we not cast three men into the midst of the fire bound? and they answered, Truly, O king." The Peshitta rendering is, "Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up trembling, and answered and said to his princes, Were there not three men which we cast into the midst of the furnace of fierce fire and bound? and they answered the king, It is true, O king." As will be seen, the Peshitta varies less from the Massoretic than do the Greek versions. The Vulgar does not merit remark. The action of the king is introduced abruptly in the Massoretic text. This abruptness was probably the occasion of the interpolations made at this point. It may be observed that the interpolations - not-withstanding the efforts of redactors to soften the transition - all add to the difficulty. Theodotion has them immediately walking and praising God. The Septuagint translator, though he omits the walking, implies the praising. We are to unclear-stand the circumstances as of the nature of an auto-da-fe which Nebuchadnezzar was gracing with his presence, much as Philip II. attended the burning of the heretics in Madrid. The refusal of worship to the god to whom he had erected the golden image was an act not only of heresy, but also of treason of the blackest kind. The word haddabereen, translated "councillors," is derived by some from the Persian hamdaver (Behrmann and V. Bohlen). Gesenius would derive it from דבר, "to do," hence "leaders;" he explains the first syllable of the Hebrew article. The first interpretation is impossible, as is well shown by Bevan (in loco). The supposition of Gesenius is difficult to maintain, as it involves a passage from one language to another. Moses Stuart regards the noun as derived from the aphel, ה appearing instead of א. This is not without parallel examples, e.g. אמלד. Fuller's parallel of apalu used along with pal for "son" in Assyrian, shows a habit of introducing initial syllables to help pronunciation. The Septuagint translator probably read habereen; hence the rendering φίλοι. In the uncertainty as to the meaning of the word. the reading of the LXX. may be regarded as at least a possible way out of the difficulty. Some further discoveries, either in Babylon or elsewhere, may enable us to decide. The presence along with the king, at this execution, of the high officials of the empire, was fitted to give it all the solemnity of an "act of faith," but at the same time, their presence gave a signal meaning to the miracle.
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