Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Statue. It was not the figure of a man, (Calmet) the dimensions 90 feet high and 9 broad (Worthington) being disproportionate; though a man might be represented on the pillar. Some take it for Nabolpolassar, (Calmet) or for the king himself. (St. Jerome) (Worthington) — But he never complains of the injury shewn to his own person, and therefore it probably was meant for Bel, the chief god, chap. iv. 5., and xiv. 1. This nation adored statues, Baruch vi. 3. The Persians worshipped only the elements. (Calmet) — Ochus first set up the statue of the goddess Tanais or Anais. (Clem. Protr.) — Dura. Septuagint, “enclosed.” (St. Jerome) — This happened towards the end of the king’s reign, (ver. 98, &c.) of course the three young men might be about fifty years old. (Calmet)
Ver. 2. Nobles. Literally, “satraps,” or, “the king’s domestics.” (Septuagint in 1 Esdras viii. 36.) — Judges, or “governors of provinces.” (ibid.; Theodot. &c.) — Captains of the soothsayers. — Rulers; “tyrants,” here denoting treasurers. (Calmet) — Governors. Literally, “the grandees who were in power;” (Haydock) counsellors. The original adds, (Calmet) Thopthia, (Haydock) “lawyers” and orators. The head of the Turkish religion is called muphti, from the same root, (Calmet) peti, “to teach.” (Haydock)
Ver. 5. Symphony. This and several other terms seem taken from the Greek, though the scythara and sambuca came originally from Chaldea. (Calmet) — Down. This and offering incense were sometimes considered as marks of idolatry; so being present at the sermons and churches of Protestants was a sign of joining in their communion, being required for that purpose. (Worthington)
Ver. 8. Jews: the three children whom they viewed with a jealous eye. Daniel was too much exalted, or was absent with other Jews.
Ver. 15. Hand? Proof of this king’s inconstancy, as he had witnessed the power of God!
Ver. 18. He. Chaldean, “not” (Calmet) — By this modest yet resolute answer, they testified their faith in God’s power, and their determination rather to suffer death (Worthington) than to go against their conscience. (Haydock) — They were ignorant whether God would preserve them from the flames or not, (Worthington) as he is said to have rescued Abraham from a similar danger, 2 Esdras ix. 7.
Ver. 20. Strongest. Chaldean, “mighty in strength;” (Haydock) his own guards, the usual executioners.
Ver. 21. Coats, or various coloured bandages for the thighs, used by men and women. Aquila and Th. retain the original term, Sarabarois. Chaldean, saraballa. (Calmet) — Caps: “tiaras.” (Haydock) — The king alone wore them upright.
Ver. 22. Slew. They were working still at the furnace, when it burst out and destroyed them, (Calmet) while the three Jews were praising God below. (Haydock) (ver. 46, 48.)
Ver. 24. And, &c. “What follows I have not found in the Hebrew volumes.” (St. Jerome) (Haydock) — Here St. Jerome takes notice, that from this verse to ver. 91 was not in the Hebrew in his time. But as it was in all the Greek Bibles, (which were originally translated from the Hebrew) it is more than probable that it had been formerly in the Hebrew; or rather in the Chaldaic, in which the Book of Daniel was written. But this is certain: that it is and has been of old, received by the Church, and read as canonical Scripture in her liturgy and divine offices. (Challoner) — See the preface. (Worthington)
Ver. 27. True; not fickle, and liable to change. (Calmet) — Opera mutas non mutas consilium. (St. Augustine, Conf. i. 4.) — Cappel. argues from this confession, that the piece is not divine, as they would rather have burst out into expressions of admiration, as they do in the canticle below. But they had done so already, (ver. 26) and make this confession, (Haydock) as Daniel does, chap. ix.; reflecting, that if the nation had not transgressed, they would not thus have been exposed to the fury of the king. (Houbigant. v. 40.) (Haydock)
Ver. 33. Thee. Pagans take occasion to vilify our religion.
Ver. 34. Sake. This disinterested motive is often urged, Joshua vii. 9., and 2 Machabees viii. 15. (Calmet)
Ver. 35. One. Moses used the like terms, and pacified God, Exodus xxxii. (Worthington)
Ver. 38. Thee, in Jerusalem, (Haydock) or Judea. There were chiefs and judges, (Chap. xiii.) as well as prophets, (Ezechiel, &c.) among the captives. Yet the republic was in disorder. (Calmet) — Sedecias was dead, Joakim in prison, so that no Jewish king ruled over the people; nor was there any prophet in the promised land, Jeremias being either dead or in Egypt. (Worthington) — Prophets were at least very rare. (Menochius)
Ver. 40. Sacrifice of ourselves. (Haydock) — They knew not yet whether they would escape. When they beheld the angel they had greater confidence, and broke forth into a hymn of praise. (Houbigant.) — They now offer all they can, a humble heart!
Ver. 43. Name, by rescuing us, that all may confess thy power. (Calmet)
Ver. 46. Brimstone. Literally, naphtha, (Haydock) or bitumen, which was very inflammable. — Tow, besmeared with pitch. (Calmet) — Dry (malleolis) “bundles” of sticks, or ropes, covered with pitch. (Haydock) — Manipuli spartœi pice contecti. (Nonius.)
Ver. 48. Furnace. These might be other victims, (Haydock) or he recapitulates what had been said ver. 22, (Calmet) which is by no means unusual, though Cappel. would hence reject the piece. (Houbigant.)
Ver. 49. Furnace: so that it destroyed the Chaldeans, while it had no power to hurt God’s servants. The operation of the laws nature was thus only restrained. (Haydock)
Ver. 53. Temple; heaven, styled the throne, ver. 54. The temple was now in ruins.
Ver. 55. Depths, from whom nothing is hidden. — Cherubims, as on thy chariot.
Ver. 65. Spirits: winds. Angels and men are mentioned elsewhere. (Calmet) — They rejoice that the angels always praise God, and wish that all would strive to imitate them. (Worthington)
Ver. 67. Heat. Winter and summer. Some copies have, æstas. (Calmet)
Ver. 72. Darkness. The privation of light has its use, and invites men to praise. (St. Augustine, de Nat. Boni. 16.) (Worthington)
Ver. 86. Souls, in a separate state. Angels are invited before. (Calmet)
Ver. 88. Ananias, &c. They retain their Hebrew names, despising those imposed by the Chaldeans, with their impious manners, chap. i. 7. The inanimate creation is invited to praise God in its way, (Psalm cxlviii.) as well as those endued with reason. The former never refuse obedience. (Haydock) — Hell: the grave. (Calmet)
Ver. 90. And ever. “Hitherto does not occur in Hebrew; and what we have written, is translated from the edition of Theodotion.” (St. Jerome, ver. 24.)
Ver. 91. Then hearing these praises, and seeing people walking in the fire. Grabe’s edition after ver. 24, has only, “And Nabuchodonosor heard them singing hymns, and was, ” &c.
Ver. 92. The son, or rather (Haydock) “a son;” nio. (Lowth’s Gram.) — He supposed this was some angel or petty god, like Hercules. (Carthus.) — It was the same angel who descended (Worthington) with them ver. 49. Some have taken him for Jesus Christ. But St. Augustine observes, that most of these apparitions were made by angels, (Trin. iii. 11.) who are often styled “sons of God,” Job i. 6. (Tirinus; Calmet)
Ver. 94. Smell, such as is felt when people, (Haydock) or their garments, come too near the fire. Pagans have sometimes walked through fire; but they first anointed their feet with certain preservatives, as Servius (in Æn. xi.) remarks from Varro. (Calmet) — Here the fire burnt only the bands, (ver. 23, 92.; Haydock) God making his creatures afford comfort to his servants, as was the case when the Goths attempted to burn St. Benedict. (St. Gregory, Dial. iii. 18.) (Worthington)
Ver. 95. Changed, refusing to comply against their better knowledge. The force of reason extorts this concession from the wicked king. (Haydock)
Ver. 96. Destroyed. Chaldean, “torn limb from limb, (Calmet) and their houses be made a dunghill,” chap. ii. 5. (Haydock) — Manner. One would suppose that he was really converted; but his heart was not changed, chap. iv. (Calmet)
Ver. 97. Promoted. He granted them greater power: (Worthington) or Chaldean, “re-established” them in their former dignities. Roman Septuagint, “He elevated them in honour, and judged them worthy to rule over all the Jews in his kingdom.” (Theod.)
Ver. 98. Nabuchodonosor, &c. These three last verses are a kind of preface to the following chapter, which is written in the style of an epistle from the king. (Challoner) — It was probably published in consequence of this miracle. Here the chapter might properly commence, (Calmet) as it does in Hebrew and Protestant Bibles. (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Nabuchodonosor sets up a golden statue: which he commands all to adore: the three children, for refusing to do it, are cast into the fiery furnace; but are not hurt by the flames. Their prayer, and canticle of praise.
1 King Nabuchodonosor *made a statue of gold, of sixty cubits high, and six cubits broad, and he set it up in the plain of Dura, of the province of Babylon.
2 Then Nabuchodonosor, the king, sent to call together the nobles, the magistrates, and the judges, the captains, the rulers, and governors, and all the chief men of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the statue which king Nabuchodonosor had set up.
3 Then the nobles, the magistrates, and the judges, the captains, and rulers, and the great men that were placed in authority, and all the princes of the provinces, were gathered together to come to the dedication of the statue, which king Nabuchodonosor had set up. And they stood before the statue which king Nabuchodonosor had set up.
4 Then a herald cried with a strong voice: To you it is commanded, O nations, tribes, and languages:
5 That in the hour that you shall hear the sound of the trumpet, and of the flute, and of the harp, of the sackbut, and of the psaltery, and of the symphony, and of all kind of music, ye fall down and adore the golden statue which king Nabuchodonosor hath set up.
6 But if any man shall not fall down and adore, he shall the same hour be cast into a furnace of burning fire.
7 Upon this, therefore, at the time when all the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the flute, and the harp, of the sackbut, and the psaltery, of the symphony, and of all kind of music, all the nations, tribes, and languages fell down and adored the golden statue which king Nabuchodonosor had set up.
8 And presently at that very time some Chaldeans came and accused the Jews,
9 And said to king Nabuchodonosor: O king, live for ever:
10 Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the trumpet, the flute, and the harp, of the sackbut, and the psaltery, of the symphony, and of all kind of music, shall prostrate himself, and adore the golden statue:
11 And that if any man shall not fall down and adore, he should be cast into a furnace of burning fire.
12 Now there are certain Jews, whom thou hast set over the works of the province of Babylon, Sidrach, Misach, and Abdenago: these men, O king, have slighted thy decree: they worship not thy gods, nor do they adore the golden statue which thou hast set up.
13 Then Nabuchodonosor in fury, and in wrath, commanded that Sidrach, Misach, and Abdenago should be brought: who immediately were brought before the king.
14 And Nabuchodonosor, the king, spoke to them, and said: Is it true, O Sidrach, Misach, and Abdenago, that you do not worship my gods, nor adore the golden statue that I have set up?
15 Now, therefore, if you be ready, at what hour soever, you shall hear the sound of the trumpet, flute, harp, sackbut, and psaltery, and symphony, and of all kind of music, prostrate yourselves, and adore the statue which I have made: but if you do not adore, you shall be cast the same hour into the furnace of burning fire: and who is the God that shall deliver you out of my hand?
16 Sidrach, Misach, and Abdenago, answered, and said to king Nabuchodonosor: We have no occasion to answer thee concerning this matter.
17 For behold our God, whom we worship, is able to save us from the furnace of burning fire, and to deliver us out of thy hands, O king.
18 But if he will not, be it known to thee, O king, that we will not worship thy gods, nor adore the golden statue which thou hast set up.
19 Then was Nabuchodonosor filled with fury: and the countenance of his face was changed against Sidrach, Misach, and Abdenago, and he commanded that the furnace should be heated seven times more than it had been accustomed to be heated.
20 And he commanded the strongest men that were in his army, to bind the feet of Sidrach, Misach, and Abdenago, and to cast them into the furnace of burning fire.
21 And immediately these men were bound, and were cast into the furnace of burning fire, with their coats, and their caps, and their shoes, and their garments.
22 For the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace was heated exceedingly. And the flame of the fire slew those men that had cast in Sidrach, Misach, and Abdenago.
23 But these three men, that is, Sidrach, Misach, and Abdenago, fell down bound in the midst of the furnace of burning fire.
24 And they walked in the midst of the flame, praising God, and blessing the Lord.
25 Then Azarias standing up, prayed in this manner, and opening his mouth in the midst of the fire, he said:
26 Blessed art thou, O Lord, the God of our fathers, and thy name is worthy of praise, and glorious for ever:
27 For thou art just in all that thou hast done to us, and all thy works are true, and thy ways right, and all thy judgments true.
28 For thou hast executed true judgments in all the things that thou hast brought upon us, and upon Jerusalem, the holy city of our fathers: for according to truth and judgment, thou hast brought all these things upon us for our sins.
29 For we have sinned, and committed iniquity, departing from thee: and we have trespassed in all things:
30 And we have not hearkened to thy commandments, nor have we observed nor done as thou hadst commanded us, that it might go well with us.
31 Wherefore, all that thou hast brought upon us, and every thing that thou hast done to us, thou hast done in true judgment:
32 And thou hast delivered us into the hands of our enemies that are unjust, and most wicked, and prevaricators, and to a king unjust, and most wicked beyond all that are upon the earth.
33 And now we cannot open our mouths: we are become a shame, and reproach to thy servants, and to them that worship thee.
34 Deliver us not up for ever, we beseech thee, for thy name’s sake, and abolish not thy covenant.
35 And take not away thy mercy from us, for the sake of Abraham, thy beloved, and Isaac, thy servant, and Israel, thy holy one:
36 To whom thou hast spoken, promising that thou wouldst multiply their seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand that is on the sea shore.
37 For we, O Lord, are diminished more than any nation, and are brought low in all the earth this day for our sins.
38 Neither is there at this time prince, or leader, or prophet, or holocaust, or sacrifice, or oblation, or incense, or place of first-fruits before thee,
39 That we may find thy mercy: nevertheless, in a contrite heart and humble spirit let us be accepted.
40 As in holocausts of rams, and bullocks, and as in thousands of fat lambs: so let our sacrifice be made in thy sight this day, that it may please thee: for there is no confusion to them that trust in thee.
41 And now we follow thee with all our heart, and we fear thee, and seek thy face.
42 Put us not to confusion, but deal with us according to thy meekness, and according to the multitude of thy mercies.
43 And deliver us according to thy wonderful works, and give glory to thy name, O Lord:
44 And let all them be confounded that shew evils to thy servants, let them be confounded in all thy might, and let their strength be broken:
45 And let them know that thou art the Lord, the only God, and glorious over all the world.
46 Now the king’s servants that had cast them in, ceased not to heat the furnace with brimstone and tow, and pitch, and dry sticks,
47 And the flame mounted up above the furnace nine and forty cubits:
48 And it broke forth, and burnt such of the Chaldeans as it found near the furnace.
49 But the angel of the Lord went down with Azarias and his companions into the furnace: and he drove the flame of the fire out of the furnace,
50 And made the midst of the furnace like the blowing of a wind bringing dew, and the fire touched them not at all, nor troubled them, nor did them any harm.
51 Then these three, as with one mouth, praised and glorified and blessed God, in the furnace, saying:
52 Blessed art thou, O Lord, the God of our fathers; and worthy to be praised, and glorified, and exalted above all for ever: and blessed is the holy name of thy glory: and worthy to be praised, and exalted above all, in all ages.
53 Blessed art thou in the holy temple of thy glory: and exceedingly to be praised, and exceeding glorious for ever.
54 Blessed art thou on the throne of thy kingdom, and exceedingly to be praised and exalted above all for ever.
55 Blessed art thou that beholdest the depths, and sittest upon the cherubims: and worthy to be praised and exalted above all for ever.
56 Blessed art thou in the firmament of heaven: and worthy of praise, and glorious for ever.
57 All ye works of the Lord, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
58 O ye angels of the Lord, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
59 *O ye heavens, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
60 O all ye waters that are above the heavens, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
61 O all ye powers of the Lord, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
62 O ye sun and moon, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
63 O ye stars of heaven, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
64 O every shower and dew, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
65 O all ye spirits of God, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
66 O ye fire and heat, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
67 O ye cold and heat, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
68 O ye dews and hoar frost, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
69 O ye frost and cold, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
70 O ye ice and snow, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
71 O ye nights and days, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
72 O ye light and darkness, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
73 O ye lightnings and clouds, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
74 O let the earth bless the Lord: let it praise and exalt him above all for ever.
75 O ye mountains and hills, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
76 O all ye things that spring up in the earth, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
77 O ye fountains, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
78 O ye seas and rivers, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
79 O ye whales, and all that move in the waters, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
80 O all ye fowls of the air, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
81 O all ye beasts and cattle, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
82 O ye sons of men, bless the Lord, praise and exalt him above all for ever.
83 O let Israel bless the Lord: let them praise and exalt him above all for ever.
84 O ye priests of the Lord, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
85 O ye servants of the Lord, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
86 O ye spirits and souls of the just, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
87 O ye holy and humble of heart, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
88 O Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. For he hath delivered us from hell, and saved us out of the hand of death, and delivered us out of the midst of the burning flame, and saved us out of the midst of the fire.
89 O give thanks to the Lord, because he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever and ever.
90 O all ye religious, bless the Lord, the God of gods: praise him, and give him thanks, because his mercy endureth for ever and ever.
91 Then Nabuchodonosor, the king, was astonished, and rose up in haste, and said to his nobles: Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered the king, and said: True, O king.
92 He answered, and said: Behold, I see four men loose, and walking in the midst of the fire, and there is no hurt in them, and the form of the fourth is like the son of God.
93 Then Nabuchodonosor came to the door of the burning fiery furnace, and said: Sidrach, Misach, and Abdenago, ye servants of the most high God, go ye forth, and come. And immediately Sidrach, Misach, and Abdenago went out from the midst of the fire.
94 And the nobles, and the magistrates, and the judges, and the great men of the king, being gathered together, considered these men, that the fire had no power on their bodies, and that not a hair of their head had been singed, nor their garments altered, nor the smell of the fire had passed on them.
95 Then Nabuchodonosor breaking forth, said: Blessed be the God of them, to wit, of Sidrach, Misach, and Abdenago, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that believed in him: and they changed the king’s word, and delivered up their bodies, that they might not serve nor adore any god, except their own God.
96 By me, therefore, this decree is made: That every people, tribe, and tongue, which shall speak blasphemy against the God of Sidrach, Misach, and Abdenago, shall be destroyed, and their houses laid waste: for there is no other God that can save in this manner.
97 Then the king promoted Sidrach, Misach, and Abdenago, in the province of Babylon.
98 Nabuchodonosor, the king, to all peoples, nations, and tongues, that dwell in all the earth, peace be multiplied unto you.
99 The most high God hath wrought signs and wonders towards me. It hath seemed good to me, therefore to publish
100 His signs, because they are great: and his wonders, because they are mighty: and his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, *and his power to all generations.
1: Year of the World 3417, Year before Christ 587.
59: Psalm cxlviii. 4.
100: Daniel iv. 31. and vii. 14.