Daniel 3:25
He answered and said, Lo, 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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(25) The Son of God.—These words, let us remember, are uttered by a heathen king, who calls this same Person, in Daniel 3:28, “an angel” of the God whom the three children worshipped. Probably Nebuchadnezzar thought that He stood to Jehovah in the same relation that he himself did to Merodach. His conceptions of the power of Jehovah were evidently raised by what he had witnessed, though as yet he does not recognise Him as being more than a chief among gods. He has not risen to that conception of the unity of God which is essential to His absolute supremacy. But still the question has to be answered, What did the king see? The early Patristic interpretation was that. it was none other than Christ Himself. We have no means of ascertaining anything further, and must be content with knowing that the same “Angel of God’s presence” who was with Israel in the wilderness watched over the people in Babylon.

3:19-27 Let Nebuchadnezzar heat his furnace as hot as he can, a few minutes will finish the torment of those cast into it; but hell-fire tortures, and yet does not kill. Those who worshipped the beast and his image, have no rest, no pause, no moment free from pain, Re 14:10,11. Now was fulfilled in the letter that great promise, Isa 43:2, When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned. Leaving it to that God who preserved them in the fire, to bring them out, they walked up and down in the midst, supported and encouraged by the presence of the Son of God. Those who suffer for Christ, have his presence in their sufferings, even in the fiery furnace, and in the valley of the shadow of death. Nebuchadnezzar owns them for servants of the most high God; a God able to deliver them out of his hand. It is our God only is the consuming fire, Heb 12:29. Could we but see into the eternal world, we should behold the persecuted believer safe from the malice of his foes, while they are exposed to the wrath of God, and tormented in unquenchable fires.He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose - From the fact that he saw these men now loose, and that this filled him with so much surprise, it may be presumed that they had been bound with something that was not combustible - with some sort of fetters or chains. In that case it would be a matter of surprise that they should be "loose," even though they could survive the action of the fire. The "fourth" personage now so mysteriously added to their number, it is evident, assumed the appearance of a "man," and not the appearance of a celestial being, though it was the aspect of a man so noble and majestic that he deserved to be called a son of God.

Walking in the midst of the fire - The furnace, therefore, was large, so that those who were in it could walk about. The vision must have been sublime; and it is a beautiful image of the children of God often walking unhurt amidst dangers, safe beneath the Divine protection.

And they have no hurt - Margin, "There is no hurt in them." They walk unharmed amidst the flames. Of course, the king judged in this only from appearances, but the result Daniel 3:27 showed that it was really so.

And the form of the fourth - Chaldee, (רוה rēvēh) - "his appearance" (from ראה râ'âh - "to see"); that is, he "seemed" to be a son of God; he "looked" like a son of God. The word does not refer to anything special or peculiar in his "form" or "figure," but it may be supposed to denote something that was noble or majestic in his mien; something in his countenance and demeanour that declared him to be of heavenly origin.

Like the son of God - There are two inquiries which arise in regard to this expression: one is, what was the idea denoted by the phrase as used by the king, or who did he take this personage to be? the other, who he actually was? In regard to the former inquiry, it may be observed, that there is no evidence that the king referred to him to whom this title is so frequently applied in the New Testament, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is clear

(1) because there is no reason to believe that the king had "any" knowledge whatever that there would be on earth one to whom this title might be appropriately given;

(2) there is no evidence that the title was then commonly given to the Messiah by the Jews, or, if it was, that the king of Babylon was so versed in Jewish theology as to be acquainted with it; and

(3) the language which he uses does not necessarily imply that, even "if" he were acquainted with the fact that there was a prevailing expectation that such a being would appear on the earth, he designed so to use it.

The insertion of the article "the," which is not in the Chaldee, gives a different impression from what the original would if literally interpreted. There is nothing in the Chaldee to limit it to "any" "son of God," or to designate anyone to whom that term could be applied as peculiarly intended. It would seem probable that our translators meant to convey the idea that ""the" Son of God" peculiarly was intended, and doubtless they regarded this as one of his appearances to men before his incarnation; but it is clear that no such conception entered into the mind of the king of Babylon. The Chaldee is simply, לבר־אלחין דמה dâmēh lebar 'ĕlâhı̂yn - "like to A son of God," or to a son of the gods - since the word אלחין 'ĕlâhı̂yn (Chaldee), or אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym (Hebrew), though often, and indeed usually applied to the true God, is in the plural number, and in the mouth of a pagan would properly be used to denote the gods that he worshipped.

The article is not prefixed to the word "son," and the language would apply to anyone who might properly be called a son of God. The Vulgate has literally rendered it, "like to A son of God" - similis filio Dei; the Greek in the same way - ὁμοία ὑιῷ θεοῦ homoia huiō theou; the Syriac is like the Chaldee; Castellio renders it, quartus formam habet Deo nati similem - "the fourth has a form resembling one born of God;" Coverdale "the fourth is like an angel to look upon;" Luther, more definitely, und der vierte ist gleich, als ware er ein Sohn der Gotter - "and the fourth as if he might be "a" son of the gods." It is clear that the authors of none of the other versions had the idea which our translators supposed to be conveyed by the text, and which implies that the Babylonian monarch "supposed" that the person whom he saw was the one who afterward became incarnate for our redemption.

In accordance with the common well-known usage of the word "son" in the Hebrew and Chaldee languages, it would denote anyone who had a "resemblance" to another, and would be applied to any being who was of a majestic or dignified appearance, and who seemed worthy to be ranked among the gods. It was usual among the pagan to suppose that the gods often appeared in a human form, and probably Nebuchadnezzar regarded this as some such celestial appearance. If it be supposed that he regarded it as some manifestation connected with the "Hebrew" form of religion, the most that would probably occur to him would be, that it was some "angelic" being appearing now for the protection of these worshippers of Jehovah. But a second inquiry, and one that is not so easily answered, in regard to this mysterious personage, arises. Who in fact "was" this being that appeared in the furnace for the protection of these three persecuted men?

Was it an angel, or was it the second person of the Trinity, "the" Son of God? That this was the Son of God - the second person of the Trinity, who afterward became incarnate, has been quite a common opinion of expositors. So it was held by Tertullian, by Augustine, and by Hilary, among the fathers; and so it has been held by Gill, Clarius, and others, among the moderns. Of those who have maintained that it was Christ, some have supposed that Nebuchadnezzar had been made acquainted with the belief of the Hebrews in regard to the Messiah; others, that he spoke under the influence of the Holy Spirit, without being fully aware of what his words imported, as Caiaphas, Saul, Pilate, and others have done. - Poole's "Synopsis." The Jewish writers Jarchi, Saadias, and Jacchiades suppose that it was an angel, called a son of God, in accordance with the usual custom in the Scriptures. That this latter is the correct opinion, will appear evident, though there cannot be exact certainty, from the following considerations:

(1) The language used implies necessarily nothing more. Though it "might" indeed be applicable to the Messiah - the second person of the Trinity, if it could be determined from other sources that it was he, yet there is nothing in the language which necessarily suggests this.

(2) In the explanation of the matter by Nebuchadnezzar himself Daniel 3:28, he understood it to be an angel - "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, etc., "who hath sent his angel,"" etc. This shows that he had had no other view of the subject, and that he had no higher knowledge in the case than to suppose that he was an angel of God. The knowledge of the existence of angels was so common among the ancients, that there is no improbability in supposing that Nebuchadnezzar was sufficiently instructed on this point to know that they were sent for the protection of the good.

continued...

25. four—whereas but three had been cast in.

loose—whereas they had been cast in "bound." Nebuchadnezzar's question, in Da 3:24, is as if he can scarcely trust his own memory as to a fact so recent, now that he sees through an aperture in the furnace what seems to contradict it.

walking in … midst of … fire—image of the godly unhurt, and at large (Joh 8:36), "in the midst of trouble" (Ps 138:7; compare Ps 23:3, 4). They walked up and down in the fire, not leaving it, but waiting for God's time to bring them out, just as Jesus waited in the tomb as God's prisoner, till God should let Him out (Ac 2:26, 27). So Paul (2Co 12:8, 9). So Noah waited in the ark, after the flood, till God brought him forth (Ge 8:12-18).

like the Son of God—Unconsciously, like Saul, Caiaphas (Joh 11:49-52), and Pilate, he is made to utter divine truths. "Son of God" in his mouth means only an "angel" from heaven, as Da 3:28 proves. Compare Job 1:6; 38:7; Ps 34:7, 8; and the probably heathen centurion's exclamation (Mt 27:54). The Chaldeans believed in families of gods: Bel, the supreme god, accompanied by the goddess Mylitta, being the father of the gods; thus the expression he meant: one sprung from and sent by the gods. Really it was the "messenger of the covenant," who herein gave a prelude to His incarnation.

I see; the fire gave light to see them, though it had no power of heat to burn them.

Like the Son of God; a Divine, most beautiful, and glorious countenance; either of a mere angel, or rather of Jesus Christ, the Angel of the covenant, who did sometimes appear in the Old Testament before his incarnation, Genesis 12:7 18:10,13,17,20 Exo 23:23 33:2 Joshua 5:13-15 Proverbs 8:31; in all which places it is Jehovah; Genesis 19:24 Exodus 3:2 Acts 7:30,32,33,38.

He answered and said, lo, I see four men loose,.... Not bound as the three were, when cast in; but quite at liberty in their hands and feet, and separate from one another. As this fiery furnace may be an emblem of the fiery trials and afflictive dispensations the children of God pass through in this world, being not joyous, but grievous to the flesh, though useful to purge and purify; so this and some other circumstances attending these good men in the furnace are applicable to the saints in such cases; for though afflictions are sometimes themselves called cords, with which men are said to be bound, yet by means of them they are loosed from other things from the power and prevalence of sin over them; from the world, and the things of it, they sometimes too much cleave and are glued unto; from a spirit of bondage, and from doubts and fears; their hearts under them being comforted and enlarged with the love of God; he knowing, visiting, and choosing them in the furnace of affliction; or making known himself to them, his love and choice of them; whereby their souls are set at liberty, and the graces of his Spirit are drawn forth into a lively exercise, through his love being shed abroad in them.

Walking in the midst of the fire; the furnace being large enough to walk in, and where they took their walks as in a garden; nor were they concerned to come out of it; nor uneasy at being in it; the violence of the fire being quenched, as the apostle says, referring to this instance, Hebrews 11:34. Saadiah says, the angel Gabriel, who is over the hail, came and cooled the fire of the furnace. So afflictions are a path to walk in, the narrow way to eternal life, through which all must enter the kingdom of heaven, of which there will be an end. Walking in it supposes strength, which God gives his people at such seasons; and when they have his presence they are unconcerned; none or these things move them, nor can they separate them from the love of Christ; they walk on with pleasure and delight, sing the praises of God, as did Paul and Silas in a prison, and as many martyrs have done in the flames: conversing with Christ, and with his people, they pass on, and pass through the more cheerfully, and are not anxious about their deliverance, but leave it with God to work it in his own time and way; nay, are ready to say with the disciples, it is good for them to be here; and indeed it was better for these good men to be with Christ in the fiery furnace, than to be with Nebuchadnezzar in his palace without him.

And they have no hurt; either in their bodies, or in their garments, neither of them being burnt; they suffered no pain in the one, nor loss in the other. Afflictions do no hurt to the people of God; not to their persons, which are safe in Christ, and to whom he is a hiding place and covert, as from the storm and tempest, so from the force of fire, that it shall not kindle upon them to hurt them; nor to their graces, which are tried, refined, and brightened hereby; faith is strengthened, hope is encouraged, and love made to abound. All the afflictions of the saints are in love, and are designed for good, and do work together for good to them that love God; they are sometimes for their temporal, and often for their spiritual good, and always work for them an exceeding weight of glory.

And the form of the fourth is like the Son of God; like one of the angels, who are called the sons of God; so Jarchi, Saadiah, and Jacchiades; but many of the ancient Christian writers interpret it of Christ the Son of God, whom Nebuchadnezzar, though a Heathen prince, might have some knowledge of from Daniel and other Jews in his court, of whom he had heard them speak as a glorious Person; and this being such an one, he might conclude it was he, or one like to him; and it is highly probable it was he, since it was not unusual for him to appear in a human form, and to be present with his people, as he often is with them, and even in the furnace of affliction; see Isaiah 43:2, to sympathize with them; to revive and comfort them; to bear them up and support them; to teach and instruct them, and at last to deliver them out of their afflictions.

He answered and said, Lo, 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 {k} Son of God.

(k) For the angels were called the sons of God because of their excellency. Therefore the king called this angel whom God sent to comfort his own in these great torments, the son of God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
25. loose] the fire had burnt away the fetters, but left the bodies of the three youths untouched.

form] aspect, appearance, as Daniel 2:31.

is like the Son of God] is like a son of (the) gods, i.e. a heavenly being or angel: cf. the ‘sons of God’ (or, of the gods) in Genesis 6:2; Job 1:6 (where see Davidson’s note), Job 38:7. The rendering ‘the Son of God’ cannot stand: ’ĕlôhim is, indeed, used with a singular force in Hebrew, but the Aram. ’ělâhîn is always a true plural (Daniel 2:11; Daniel 2:47, Daniel 3:12; Daniel 3:18, Daniel 4:8; Daniel 4:19; Daniel 4:18, Daniel 5:4; Daniel 5:11; Daniel 5:14; Daniel 5:23), ‘God’ being in the Aram. of Ezra and Dan. denoted regularly by the sing. ’ĕlâh. The meaning is simply that Nebuchadnezzar saw an angelic figure (LXX, ὁμοίωμα ἀγγέλου Θεοῦ) beside the three youths (cf. Daniel 3:28, ‘his angel’).

Between Daniel 3:23 and Daniel 3:24 LXX, and Theodotion, and following them the Vulgate (but with notes prefixed and added to the effect that Jerome did not find the passage in the Heb. text, but translated it from Theodotion), have a long insertion (Daniel 3:24-30), which, after describing how the three youths walked in the midst of the fire, praising God (Daniel 3:24), narrates the confession and prayer of Azarias (Daniel 3:25-30), and then, after another short descriptive passage (v. 46–50), represents the three as uttering a doxology (v. 52–56), which leads on into the hymn known familiarly as the Benedicite (v. 57–90). This insertion constitutes the Apocryphal book called the ‘Song of the Three Children.’

Verse 25. - He answered and said, Lo, 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. The Greek versions do not present much worthy of note, only both insert molka, "king," instead of the pronoun, and omit "answered." From the fact that ver. 24 ends with malka, it may have been dropped out of the Masse-retie text. The insertion of ענה ('ana), "answered," may be due to the frequent recurrence of this phrase. The Peshitta omits "four," otherwise agreeing with the Massoretic. The phrase," the Son of God," is clearly wrong; the correct translation is, "The appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods." Along with the three victims of his superstition was seen a fourth figure, like one of the figures portrayed on his palace walls as belonging to the demi-gods. This is the culmination of the king's astonishment. It was astonishing to see those men loose that had been east into the furnace bound; still more so to see them walking, and none showing signs of having received any hurt; but most awe-inspiring of all is the vision of the fourth figure, like a son of the gods. We must not interpret this on Hebrew lines, as does Mr. Bevan, and comp. Genesis 6:2. He knows the usage in the Tar-gums is to retain the Hebrew plural in ־ים when "God" is meant, as in the Peshitta Version of the passage he refers to. As in most heathen mythologies, there were not only gods, but demi-gods, of several different classes. The god Nebuchadnezzar specially worshipped, Silik-Moulou-ki (Marduk), was regarded as the son of Hea. There was a god of fire also, who was associated with these. The suggestion of Dr. Fuller, that here in bar we have not the word for "son," but rather a truncated form of this god of fire, Iz-bar, is worthy of consideration. It is impossible to say whether Ibis vision of a divine being was vouchsafed to those standing about Nebuchadnezzar as well as to himself. While we ought to guard against ascribing to the Babylonian monarch the idea that this appearance was that of the Second Person of the Christian Trinity, we are ourselves at liberty to maintain this, or to hold that it was an angel who strengthened these servants of God in the furnace. The Septuagint renders bar-cloheen by ἄγγελος. Theodotion has υἱῷ Θεοῦ. Daniel 3:25The king, who sat watching the issue of the matter, looked through the door into the furnace, and observed that the three who had been cast into it bound, walked about freed from their bonds and unhurt; and, in truth, he saw not the three only, but also a fourth, "like to a son of the gods," beside them. At this sight he was astonished and terrified. He hastily stood up; and having assured himself by a consultation with his counsellors that three men had indeed been cast bound into the furnace, while he saw four walking in the midst of it, he approached the mouth of the furnace and cried to the three to come forth. They immediately came out, and were inspected by the assembled officers of state, and found to be wholly uninjured as to their bodies, their clothes being unharmed also, and without even the smell of fire upon them. הדּברין refers, without doubt, to the officers of the kingdom, ministers or counselors of state standing very near the king, since they are named in Daniel 3:27 and Daniel 6:8 (Daniel 6:7) along with the first three ranks of officers, and (Daniel 4:23 [26]) during Nebuchadnezzar's madness they conducted the affairs of government. The literal meaning of the word, however, is not quite obvious. Its derivation from the Chald. דּברין, duces, with the Hebr. article (Gesen.), which can only be supported by מדברא, Proverbs 11:14 (Targ.), is decidedly opposed by the absence of all analogies of the blending into one word of the article with a noun in the Semitic language. The Alkoran offers no corresponding analogues, since this word with the article is found only in the more modern dialects. But the meaning which P. v. Bohlen (Symbolae ad interp. s. Codicis ex ling. pers. p. 26) has sought from the Persian word which is translated by simul judex, i.e., socius in judicio, is opposed not only by the fact that the compensation of the Mim by the Dagesch, but also the composition and the meaning, has very little probability.

The fourth whom Nebuchadnezzar saw in the furnace was like in his appearance, i.e., as commanding veneration, to a son of the gods, i.e., to one of the race of the gods. In Daniel 3:28 the same personage is called an angel of God, Nebuchadnezzar there following the religious conceptions of the Jews, in consequence of the conversation which no doubt he had with the three who were saved. Here, on the other hand, he speaks in the spirit and meaning of the Babylonian doctrine of the gods, according to the theogonic representation of the συζυγία of the gods peculiar to all Oriental religions, whose existence among the Babylonians the female divinity Mylitta associated with Bel places beyond a doubt; cf. Hgst. Beitr. i. p. 159, and Hv., Kran., and Klief. in loc.

Acting on this assumption, which did not call in question the deliverance of the accused by the miraculous interposition of the Deity, Nebuchadnezzar approached the door of the furnace and cried to the three men to come out, addressing them as the servants (worshippers) of the most high God. This address does not go beyond the circle of heathen ideas. He does not call the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego the only true God, but only the most high God, the chief of the gods, just as the Greeks called their Zeus ὁ ὕψιστος θεός. The Kethiv עלּיא (in Syr. ̀elāyā̀, to preserve) is here and everywhere in Daniel (v. 32; Daniel 4:14, Daniel 4:21, etc.) pointed by the Masoretes according to the form עילאה (with )ה prevailing in the Targg. The forms גשׁם, גּשׁמא, are peculiar to Daniel (v. 27f., Daniel 4:30; Daniel 5:21; Daniel 7:11). The Targg. have גּוּשׁמא instead of it.

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