Daniel 3:6
And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.
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(6) Shall be cast . . .—This punishment was not uncommon among the Babylonians. One instance of it is mentioned by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 29:22; see also Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archœology, vol. ii., p. 361). The occasion being a national festival, any refusal to worship the national gods would be regarded as high treason. Any foreign subjects would be expected to take part in the ceremony, their gods being supposed to have been conquered, and being regarded as demons. (Comp. 2Kings 19:12; 2Chronicles 28:23.)

3:1-7 In the height of the image, about thirty yards, probably is included a pedestal, and most likely it was only covered with plates of gold, not a solid mass of that precious metal. Pride and bigotry cause men to require their subjects to follow their religion, whether right or wrong, and when worldly interest allures, and punishment overawes, few refuse. This is easy to the careless, the sensual, and the infidel, who are the greatest number; and most will go their ways. There is nothing so bad which the careless world will not be drawn to by a concert of music, or driven to by a fiery furnace. By such methods, false worship has been set up and maintained.And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth - The order in this verse seems to be tyrannical, and it is contrary to all our notions of freedom of religious opinion and worship. But it was much in the spirit of that age, and indeed of almost every age. It was an act to enforce uniformity in religion by the authority of the civil magistrate, and to secure it by threatened penalties. It should be observed, however, that the command at that time would not be regarded as harsh and oppressive by "pagan" worshippers, and might be complied with consistently with their views, without infringing on their notions of religious liberty. The homage rendered to one god did not, according to their views, conflict with any honor that was due to another, and though they were required to worship this divinity, that would not be a prohibition against worshipping any other. It was also in accordance with all the views of paganism that all proper honor should be rendered to the particular god or gods which any people adored.

The nations assembled here would regard it as no dishonor shown to the particular deity whom they worshipped to render homage to the god worshipped by Nebuchadnezzar, as this command implied no prohibition against worshipping any other god. It was only in respect to those who held that there is but one God, and that all homage rendered to any other is morally wrong, that this command would be oppressive. Accordingly, the contemplated vengeance fell only on the Jews - all, of every other nation, who were assembled, complying with the command without hesitation. It violated "no" principle which they held to render the homage which was claimed, for though they had their own tutelary gods whom they worshipped, they supposed the same was true of every other people, and that "their" gods were equally entitled to respect; but it violated "every" principle on which the Jew acted - for he believed that there was but one God ruling over all nations, and that homage rendered to any other was morally wrong. Compare Hengstenberg, "Authentie des Daniel," pp. 83, 84.

Shall the same hour - This accords with the general character of an Oriental despot accustomed to enjoin implicit obedience by the most summary process, and it is entirely conformable to the whole character of Nebuchadnezzar. It would seem from this, that there was an apprehension that some among the multitudes assembled would refuse to obey the command. Whether there was any "design" to make this bear hard on the Jews, it is impossible now to determine. The word which is here rendered "hour" (שׁעתא sha‛etâ) is probably from שׁעה shâ‛âh - "to look;" and properly denotes a look, a glance of the eye, and then the "time" of such a glance - a moment, an instant. It does not refer to "an hour," as understood by us, but means "instantly, immediately" - as quick as the glance of an eye. The word is not found in Hebrew, and occurs in Chaldee only in Daniel 3:6, Daniel 3:15; Daniel 4:19, Daniel 4:33 (Daniel 4:16, Daniel 4:30); Daniel 5:5, in each case rendered "hour." Nothing can be inferred from it, however, in regard to the division of time among the Chaldeans into "hours" - though Herodotus says that the Greeks received the division of the day into twelve parts from them. - Lib. ii., c. 109.

Be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace - The word here rendered "furnace" (אתון 'attûn) is derived from (תנן tenan), "to smoke;" and may be applied to any species of furnace, or large oven. It does not denote the use to which the furnace was commonly applied, or the form of its construction. Any furnace for burning lime - if lime was then burned - or for burning bricks, if they were burned, or for smelting ore, would correspond with the meaning of the word. Nor is it said whether the furnace referred to would be one that would be constructed for the occasion, or one in common use for some other purpose. The editor of Calmet (Taylor) supposes that the "furnace" here referred to was rather a fire kindled in the open court of a temple, like a place set apart for burning martyrs, than a closed furnace of brick. See Cal. "Dict." vol. iv. p. 330, following. The more obvious representation, however, is, that it was a closed place, in which the intensity of the fire could be greatly increased. Such a mode of punishment is not uncommon in the East. Chardin (vi. p. 118), after speaking of the common modes of inflicting the punishment of death in Persia, remarks that "there are other modes of inflicting the punishment of death on those who have violated the police laws, especially those who have contributed to produce scarcity of food, or who have used false weights, or who have disregarded the laws respecting taxes. The cooks," says he, "were fixed on spits, and roasted over a gentle fire (compare Jeremiah 29:22), and the bakers were cast into a burning oven. In the year 1668, when the famine was raging, I saw in the royal residence in Ispahan one of these ovens burning to terrify the bakers, and to prevent their taking advantage of the scarcity to increase their gains." See Rosenmuller, "Alte u. neue Morgenland, in loc."

6. No other nation but the Jews would feel this edict oppressive; for it did not prevent them worshipping their own gods besides. It was evidently aimed at the Jews by those jealous of their high position in the king's court, who therefore induced the king to pass an edict as to all recusants, representing such refusal of homage as an act of treason to Nebuchadnezzar as civil and religious "head" of the empire. So the edict under Darius (Da 6:7-9) was aimed against the Jews by those jealous of Daniel's influence. The literal image of Nebuchadnezzar is a typical prophecy of "the image of the beast," connected with mystical Babylon, in Re 13:14. The second mystical beast there causeth the earth, and them that dwell therein, to worship the first beast, and that as many as would not, should be killed (Re 13:12, 15).

furnace—a common mode of punishment in Babylon (Jer 29:22). It is not necessary to suppose that the furnace was made for the occasion. Compare "brick-kiln," 2Sa 12:31. Any furnace for common purposes in the vicinity of Dura would serve. Chardin, in his travels (A.D. 1671-1677), mentions that in Persia, to terrify those who took advantage of scarcity to sell provisions at exorbitant prices, the cooks were roasted over a slow fire, and the bakers cast into a burning oven.

This was a punishment usual among the Chaldeans, to scorch, roast, and burn offenders with fire, Jeremiah 29:22: see /APC 1Ma 7:3. And this the king of Moab imitated, 2 Kings 3:27 Amos 2:1. This shows the hellish malice and cruelty of wicked men, especially against those that cross their pride and superstition, which was visible in the tortures Christians were put to in the ten persecutions, and in the fires which antichrist hath kindled in all his reign against the witnesses of Jesus; witness the book of "Acts and Monuments" whom they cannot allure with their gaudery, they fright with their fires and massacres, as ye see the effects of both in the verse following.

And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth,.... Who refuses to worship it, or wilfully neglects it; which would be interpreted a contempt of it, and of the king's command:

shall in the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; such as were used to burn stones in for lime, as Jarchi observes: the music was to draw, the furnace was to drive, men to this idolatrous worship; the one was to please and sooth the minds of men, and so allure them to such stupid service; the other to frighten them into obedience. This is the first time that mention is made of "hours" in the sacred Scriptures; it was very probably the invention of the Chaldeans or Babylonians; for Herodotus (m) says the Greeks received the twelve parts of the day from the Babylonians.

(m) Euterpe, sive l. 2. c. 109.

And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.
6. the same hour] Cf. Daniel 3:15, Daniel 4:33, Daniel 5:5 (also ‘hour’ alone, Daniel 4:16). The expression is common in Syriac, as in the Pesh. of Matthew 8:3; Matthew 27:48; Mark 1:42; Acts 11:11; Acts 11:16; comp. (in the Greek) Matthew 8:3; Matthew 10:19; Matthew 18:1, Luke 2:38; Luke 7:21; Luke 10:21, and elsewhere. ‘Hour’ (shâ‘âh) does not occur in Biblical Hebrew; but it is common in Aramaic (Targums and Syriac) and later Hebrew. Originally it denoted any small interval of time, and was only gradually fixed definitely to what we call an ‘hour.’

shall be cast, &c.] Cruel punishments were in vogue among both the Assyrians and the Babylonians. In Jeremiah 29:12 allusion is made to two Jews, Zedekiah and Ahab, whom (for some reason not stated) ‘the king of Babylon roasted in the fire.’ (The statement, sometimes made, that Asshurbanipal’s rebel brother, Shamash-shum-ukin, was punished in this manner, appears to rest on a misconception: see KB[226] ii. 191 [Annals iv. 50 f.], and Maspero, Passing of the Empires, p. 422.)

[226] B. Eb. Schrader, Keilinschriftliche Bibliothek (transliterations and translations of Assyrian and Babylonian inscriptions), 1889–1900.

Verse 6. - And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. The only difference between the Septuagint and the Massoretic text is that instead of rendering, "shall be cast," it is put in the plural active, "they shall cast him." There may have been a difference of reading - יִרְמונֵה instead of יִתְרְמֵא. It is, perhaps, more probable that it is simply that the translator preferred this construction to the one which would have resulted from a more literal translation. Theodotion,the Peshitta, and Vulgate agree with the Massoretic. In that very hour. It has been suggested by Professor Fuller that the way the shadow fell would enable them to fix the hour. This, however, is giving an exact astronomical meaning to what had only a rhetorical significance. The word sha'a is very vague; it means "time" in general, it means "any short interval of time," from some days to a moment. Shall be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. The word אַתּוּן is of uncertain derivation; it is found in both dialects of Aramaic. It occurs in the Targum of pseudo-Jonathan, in the story of the death of Haran and the preservation of Abraham, which seems distinctly imitated from the events related here. In Smith's 'Life of Asshurbanipal,' we find this punishment more than once resorted to, e.g. pp. 163, 164. Professor Bevan maintains, in answer to Lenormant's appeal to this as a proof of the author's accurate knowledge of Babylonian methods of punishment, that this is derived from Jeremiah 29:22, Zedekiah and Ahab, "whom the King of Babylon roasted in the fire." Only the action implied by the verb קָלָה (qalah) is not complete burning, as that implied in the punishment before us, but rather the more cruel torture of slowly burning The word is used of "parched corn" (Leviticus 2:14; Judges 5:11); it is used also of the heat of fever (Psalm 38:8). There is no verbal indication that the author of Daniel was at all influenced by this passage. Daniel 3:6Nebuchadnezzar commanded all the chief officers of the kingdom to be present at the solemn dedication of the image. שׁלח, he sent, viz., מלאכים or רצים messengers, 1 Samuel 11:7; 2 Chronicles 30:6, 2 Chronicles 30:10; Esther 3:15. Of the great officers of state, seven classes are named: - 1. אחשׁדּרפּניּא, i.e., administrators of the Khshatra, in Old Pers. dominion, province, and pâvan in Zend., guardians, watchers, in Greek Σατράπης, the chief representatives of the king in the provinces. 2. סגניּא, Hebr. סגנים, from the Old Pers. (although not proved) akana, to command (see under Daniel 2:48), commanders, probably the military chiefs of the provinces. 3. פּחותא, Hebr. פּחה, פחות, also an Old Pers. word, whose etymon and meaning have not yet been established (see under Haggai 1:1), denotes the presidents of the civil government, the guardians of the country; cf. Haggai 1:1, Haggai 1:14; Nehemiah 5:14, Nehemiah 5:18. 4. אדרגּזריּא, chief judges, from the Sem. גזר, to distinguish, and אדר, dignity (cf. אדרמּלך), properly, chief arbitrators, counsellors of the government. 5. גּדבריּא, a word of Aryan origin, from גּדבר, identical with גּזבּר, masters of the treasury, superintendents of the public treasury. 6. דּתבריּא, the Old Pers. dâta-bara, guardians of the law, lawyers (cf. דּת, law). 7. תּפתּיּא, Semitic, from Arab. fty IV to give a just sentence, thus judges in the narrower sense of the word. Finally, all שׁלטני, rulers, i.e., governors of provinces, prefects, who were subordinate to the chief governor, cf. Daniel 2:48-49.

All these officers were summoned "to come (מתא from אתא, with the rejection of the initial )א to the dedication of the image." The objection of v. Leng. and Hitz., that this call would "put a stop to the government of the country," only shows their ignorance of the departments of the state-government, and by no means makes the narrative doubtful. The affairs of the state did not lie so exclusively in the hands of the presidents of the different branches of the government, as that their temporary absence should cause a suspension of all the affairs of government. חנכּה is used of the dedication of a house (Deuteronomy 20:5) as well as of the temple (1 Kings 8:63; 2 Chronicles 7:5; Ezra 6:16), and here undoubtedly denotes an act connected with religious usages, by means of which the image, when the great officers of the kingdom fell down before it, was solemnly consecrated as the symbol of the world-power and (in the heathen sense) of its divine glory. This act is described (Daniel 3:3-7) in so far as the object contemplated rendered it necessary.

When all the great officers of state were assembled, a herald proclaimed that as soon as the sound of the music was heard, all who were present should, on pain of death by being cast into the fire, fall down before the image and offer homage to it; which they all did as soon as the signal was given. The form קאמין, Daniel 3:3, corresponds to the sing. קאם (Daniel 2:31) as it is written in Syr., but is read קימין. The Masoretes substitute for it in the Talm. The common form קימין; cf. Frst, Lehrgb. der aram. Idiom. p. 161, and Luzzatto, Elem. Gram. p. 33. The expression לקבל, Daniel 3:3, and Ezra 4:16, is founded on קבל, the semi-vowel of the preceding sound being absorbed, as in the Syr. l-kebel. On כּרוזא, herald, and on the form לכון, see under Daniel 2:5. אמרין, they say, for "it is said to you." The expression of the passive by means of a plural form of the active used impersonally, either participially or by 3rd pers. perf. plur., is found in Hebr., but is quite common in Chald.; cf. Ewald, Lehr. d. hebr. Spr. 128, b, and Winer, Chald. Gram. 49, 3. The proclamation of the herald refers not only to the officers who were summoned to the festival, but to all who were present, since besides the officers there was certainly present a great crowd of people from all parts of the kingdom, as M. Geier has rightly remarked, so that the assembly consisted of persons of various races and languages. אמּיּא denotes tribes of people, as the Hebr. אמּה, אמּות Genesis 25:16, denotes the several tribes of Ishmael, and Numbers 25:15 the separate tribes of the Midianites, and is thus not so extensive in its import as עמּין, peoples. לשּׁניּא, corresponding to הלּשׁות, Isaiah 66:18, designates (vide Genesis 10:5, Genesis 10:20, Genesis 10:31) communities of men of the same language, and is not a tautology, since the distinctions of nation and of language are in the course of history frequently found. The placing together of the three words denotes all nations, however they may have widely branched off into tribes with different languages, and expresses the sense that no one in the whole kingdom should be exempted from the command. It is a mode of expression (cf. Daniel 3:7, Daniel 3:29, 31[4:1], and Daniel 6:26[25]) specially characterizing the pathetic style of the herald and the official language of the world-kingdom, which Daniel also (Daniel 5:19; Daniel 7:14) makes use of, and which from the latter passage is transferred to the Apocalypse, and by the union of these passages in Daniel with Isaiah 66:18 is increased to ἔθνη (גּוים in Isa.), φυλλαι,́ λαοὶ καὶ γλῶσσαι (Revelation 5:9; Revelation 7:9; Revelation 13:7; Revelation 14:6; Revelation 17:15).

In the same passage זמנא בּהּ, Daniel 3:7 (cf. also Daniel 3:8), is interchanged with בּעדּנא, at the time (Daniel 3:5 and Daniel 3:15); but it is to be distinguished from בּהּ־שׁעתּא, at the same moment, Daniel 3:6 and Daniel 3:15; for שׁעא or שׁעה has in the Bib. Chald. only the meaning instant, moment, cf. Daniel 4:16, Daniel 4:30; Daniel 5:5, and acquires the signification short time, hour, first in the Targ. and Rabbin. In the enumeration also of the six names of the musical instruments with the addition: and all kinds of music, the pompous language of the world-ruler and of the herald of his power is well expressed. Regarding the Greek names of three of these instruments see p. 507. The great delight of the Babylonians in music and stringed instruments appears from Isaiah 14:11 and Psalm 137:3, and is confirmed by the testimony of Herod. i. 191, and Curtius, Daniel 3:3. קרנא, horn, is the far-sounding tuba of the ancients, the קרן or שׁופר of the Hebr.; see under Joshua 6:5. משׁרוקיתא, from שׁרק, to hiss, to whistle, is the reed-flute, translated by the lxx and Theodot. σύριγξ, the shepherd's or Pan's pipes, which consisted of several reeds of different thicknesses and of different lengths bound together, and, according to a Greek tradition (Pollux, iv. 9, 15), was invented by two Medes. קיתתס (according to the Kethiv; but the Keri and the Targ. and Rabbin. give the form קתרס) is the Greek κιθάρα or κίθαρις, harp, for the Greek ending ις becomes ος in the Aramaic, as in many similar cases; cf. Ges. Thes. p. 1215. סבּכא, corresponding to the Greek σαμβύκη, but a Syrian invention, is, according to Athen. iv. p. 175, a four-stringed instrument, having a sharp, clear tone; cf. Ges. Thes. p. 935. פּסנמּרין (in Daniel 3:7 written with a טinstead of תand in Daniel 3:10 and Daniel 3:15 pointed with a Tsere under the )ת is the Greek ψαλτήριον, of which the Greek ending ιον becomes abbreviated in the Aram. into ין (cf. Ges. Thes. p. 1116). The word has no etymology in the Semitic. It was an instrument like a harp, which according to Augustin (on Psalm 33:2 [Psalm 32:2] and Psalm 43:4 [Psalm 42:4) was distinguished from the cithara in this particular, that while the strings of the cithara passed over the sounding-board, those of the psalterium (or organon) were placed under it. Such harps are found on Egyptian (see Rosellini) and also on Assyrian monuments (cf. Layard, Ninev. and Bab., Table xiii. 4). סוּמפּניה, in Daniel 3:10 סיפניה, is not derived from ספן, contignare, but is the Aramaic form of συμφωνία, bag-pipes, which is called in Italy at the present day sampogna, and derives its Greek name from the accord of two pipes placed in the bag; cf. Ges. Thes. p. 941. זמרא signifies, not "song," but musical playing, from reemaz, to play the strings, ψάλλειν; and because the music of the instrument was accompanied with song, it means also the song accompanying the music. The explanation of זמרא by singing stands here in opposition to the זני כּל, since all sorts of songs could only be sung after one another, but the herald speaks of the simultaneous rise of the sound. The limiting of the word also to the playing on a stringed instrument does not fit the context, inasmuch as wind instruments are also named. Plainly in the words זמרא זני כּל all the other instruments not particularly named are comprehended, so that זמרא is to be understood generally of playing on musical instruments. בּהּ־שׁעתּא, in the same instant. The frequent pleonastic use in the later Aramaic of the union of the preposition with a suffix anticipating the following noun, whereby the preposition is frequently repeated before the noun, as e.g., בּדּניּאל בּהּ, Daniel 5:12, cf. Daniel 5:30, has in the Bibl. Chald. generally a certain emphasis, for the pronominal suffix is manifestly used demonstratively, in the sense even this, even that.

Homage was commanded to be shown to the image under the pain of death to those who refused. Since "the dominion of Nebuchadnezzar was founded not by right, but by the might of conquest" (Klief.), and the homage which he commanded to be shown to the image was regarded not only as a proof of subjection under the power of the king, but comprehended in it also the recognition of his gods as the gods of the kingdom, instances of refusal were to be expected. In the demand of the king there was certainly a kind of religious oppression, but by no means, as Bleek, v. Leng., and other critics maintain, a religious persecution, as among heathen rulers Antiochus Epiphanes practised it. For so tolerant was heathenism, that it recognised the gods of the different nations; but all heathen kings required that the nations subdued by them should also recognise the gods of their kingdom, which they held to be more powerful than were the gods of the vanquished nations. A refusal to yield homage to the gods of the kingdom they regarded as an act of hostility against the kingdom and its monarch, while every one might at the same time honour his own national god. This acknowledgement, that the gods of the kingdom were the more powerful, every heathen could grant; and thus Nebuchadnezzar demanded nothing in a religious point of view which every one of his subjects could not yield. To him, therefore, the refusal of the Jews could not but appear as opposition to the greatness of his kingdom. But the Jews, or Israelites, could not do homage to the gods of Nebuchadnezzar without rejecting their faith that Jehovah alone was God, and that besides Him there were no gods. Therefore Nebuchadnezzar practised towards them, without, from his polytheistic standpoint, designing it, an intolerable religious coercion, which, whoever, is fundamentally different from the persecution of Judaism by Antiochus Epiphanes, who forbade the Jews on pain of death to serve their God, and endeavoured utterly to destroy the Jewish religion. - Regarding the structure of the fiery furnace, see under Daniel 3:22.

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