Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego Following the lengthy prophecies of Ezekiel, we enter the final (and shortest) major Prophet – Daniel. Only 12 chapters make up this prophetic piece, yet we gain much valuable insight into the millennial reign of Christ and the final days. Written between the early 600-late 500 B.C., this book chronicles the actions of Daniel, a Jewish prince who was taken captive to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar when he conquered Jerusalem.

Right away in chapter 1 we find out that Daniel was a man who feared the Lord. A victim of the sins of a nation, Daniel was placed in an unfortunate situation due to the actions of others. One of the many Israelites who suffered at the hands of the Babylonians, Daniel found favor with God during his ordeal. Verse 4 tells us that Daniel was obviously educated in the science of the day and physically fit, enough to be chosen as a special group to be presented before the king. The outcome of this arrangement would fulfill the prophecy Isaiah gave to King Hezekiah in Isaiah 39:5-7.

One minor detail which jumps out in this opening chapter is the names of Daniel and his three companions. In order to enforce submission, it was customary for conquering nations to change the names of captives from their native names to new names in the conquering tongue. Unlike today, names in ancient times meant much more than simply a label. A name represented identity, character, and destiny. Many times the names in the Bible held prophetic insight into the move of the Spirit behind the scenes. In this case, Daniel’s Jewish companions were named Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (vs. 6). Each had specific meaning in the Hebrew tongue – centered around the worship of Yahweh God. We are then told that the prince of the eunuchs in Babylon changed their names to Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abdenego.

As I already mentioned, these names are more than just labels. The meanings tied into each name would come to represent great feats, events, or characteristics of the wearer of the name. In this case, the meaning of the Jewish names, as well as the meaning of their new Babylonian names, is telling:

          Daniel (God is judge) was renamed Belteshazzar (Preserve thou his life, O Bel – the chief Babylonian god).

          Hananiah (Gift of the Lord) was renamed Shadrach (Command of Aku – the moon god).

          Mishael (Who is what God is) was renamed Meshach (Who is as Aku).

          Azariah (Whom Jehovah helps) was renamed Abed-nego (Servant of Nego – the god of science and literature).

One can only imagine how degrading it would have been to have this foreign king literally change the name of your birth, your heritage, your family, etc. Every inch of dignity was stripped from these captives, leaving them hopeless and broken. (Obviously Daniel hated this new name because he would go on to refer to himself another 75 times by his original Hebrew name throughout his book).

One more thought as we progress through this book… Most of us have heard the stories of Daniel in Sunday School or Church, such as the fiery furnace and the lion’s den. It is interesting that most of us remember Daniel’s three friends by their Babylonian names (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego)… not by their Hebrew names (Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah).

I wonder why that is?

 

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

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