In the story, Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach), and Azariah (Abednego), defy King Nebuchadnezzar's order that they bow down and worship a golden idol, a cult image of Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar, in a rage, orders the boys thrown into a furnace, but they are miraculously unharmed by the flames and survive the experience unscathed. Nebuchadnezzar sees them walking around in the furnace along with an unnamed angel. After the three youths emerge, Nebuchadnezzar gives a command that anyone who speaks against the God of Shadrach, Mesahach, and Abednego will be torn apart and have his house turned into a pile of stones.
The Septuagint version of this story adds two additional portions to the story that take place while the three youths are inside the furnace. In the "Prayer of Azariah", Azariah confesses their sins and the sins of Israel, and asks their God to save them to demonstrate his power to the Babylonians. It is followed by an account of an angel coming and making the inside of the furnace feel like a cool breeze over dew, and an extended hymn of praise to their God for delivering them, the "Song of the Three Young Men".
The song of the three youths is alluded to in odes seven and eight of the canon, a hymn sung in the matins service and on other occasions in the Eastern Orthodox Church, where their feast day is December 17 (along with Daniel). The Orthodox also commemorate them on the two Sundays before the Nativity of Christ. The reading of the story of the fiery furnace, including the song, is prescribed for the vesperal Divine Liturgy celebrated by the Orthodox on Holy Saturday. Likewise, the three are commemorated as prophets in the Calendar of Saints of the Lutheran Church on December 17 with Daniel.
In 17th century England, Quakers used this Bible story to justify their campaign against the deference required by the judiciary, which they called "Hat honour".
Meshach (me-shack) is the name given in Babylon to Mishael, one of the three young Hebrew companions of Daniel (Daniel 1:7; 2:49; 3:12-30). It is likely based on a name of a Chaldean (Babylonian) god. It also means "to feed" or "to provide" (as in how a husband would provide for his family) in Hebrew.
Meshach (possibly, Mi·sha·aku), apparently a clever twist of "Who Is Like God?" to "Who Is What Aku Is?"
Abednego (Hebrew עֲבֵד־נְגוֹ, Standard Hebrew ʿAved-nəgo, Tiberian Hebrew ʿĂḇēḏ-nəḡô) is the name given in Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar to Azariah, one of the companions of Daniel (Daniel 1:7). It is perhaps a corruption, perhaps deliberate, of either Abednebo, "servant of Nebo," or Abednergo, for Abednergal, "servant of the god Nergal." Azariah is Hebrew for "Yahweh has helped".
George Fox: Journal, 1656: When we were brought into the court, we stood a while with our hats on, and all was quiet. I was moved to say, "Peace be amongst you." Judge Glynne, a Welshman, then Chief-Justice of England, said to the jailer, "What be these you have brought here into the court?" "Prisoners, my lord," said he. "Why do you not put off your hats?" said the Judge to us. We said nothing. "Put off your hats," said the Judge again. Still we said nothing. Then said the Judge, "The Court commands you to put off your hats." Then I spoke, and said, "Where did ever any magistrate, king, or judge, from Moses to Daniel, command any to put off their hats, when they came before him in his court, either amongst the Jews, the people of God, or amongst the heathen? and if the law of England doth command any such thing, show me that law either written or printed." Then the Judge grew very angry, and said, "I do not carry my law-books on my back." "But," said I, "tell me where it is printed in any statute-book, that I may read it. "Then said the Judge, "Take him away, prevaricator! I'll ferk him." So they took us away, and put us among the thieves. Presently after he calls to the jailer, "Bring them up again." "Come," said he, "where had they hats, from Moses to Daniel; come, answer me: I have you fast now." I replied, "Thou mayest read in the third of Daniel, that the three children were cast into the fiery furnace by Nebuchadnezzar's command, with their coats, their hose, and their hats on." This plain instance stopped him: so that, not having anything else to say to the point, he cried again, "Take them away, jailer."
Meaning: who is like God!
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