“Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?” – Daniel 3:14
Verse 14. – Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? The Septuagint rendering here is, “Whom when he saw, Nebuchadnezzar the king said to them, Wherefore, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do ye not worship my gods, nod before the golden image which I have set up do ye not prostrate yourselves?” There seems to have been a difference of reading here. The first words must have been read as בהון עליהון (behon ‘aleehon), and the mysterious word הַצְדָּא (hatzeda) had occupied a position before, not after אמר. The word צְדָא in the aphel in Syriac means “to look steadily.” This interpretation of the word shows that the translator had before him a document in which Syriac meanings might be expected. Theodotion renders the last clause, “If truly (εἰ ἀληθῶς) Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, my gods ye do not worship, and before the golden image which I have set up ye do not prostrate yourselves?” – a construction that shows a slavish following of the Aramaic. The sense here is really the same as that of the Authorized Version. The Peshitta renders the opening word of this latter portion of the verse, “in truth” – a rendering with which Jerome agrees. Professor Bevan suggests another reading, הַאַזְדָּא, followed by Behrmann. Unfortunately, the meaning of אַזְדָּא is very doubtful. The common rendering is “of set purpose.” So Furst, Gesenius, Winer, among lexicographers, and Bertholdt, Ewald, Aben Ezra, Wordsworth, among commentators; Keil, Kliefoth, Kra-nichfeld, hold it to mean “with evil intent.” It is suggested also that it may mean “in mockery.” The reading suggested by Professor Bevan and supported by Behrmann is not to be thought of; they appeal to Theodotion, but when this word occurs in the previous chapter (ver. 5), Theodotion translates ἀπέστη, which makes it evident that אזדא (azda) did not mean “truth” to him. More may be said for the Peshitta, only that, though azda does seem to mean “truth,” the translation is not the same in Daniel 2:5 and the present verse. If there is to be a change of reading, that indicated by the Septuagint translation is preferable. The Septuagint translator has had צדא before him, and there is no evidence that Theodotion had not. The change in the arrangement of the words is a simpler variation than any other, and it retains the word in its Syriac meaning; otherwise we should be inclined to follow the lexicographers, and translate “of set purpose.” If we take the view of this word indicated above, then we may imagine Nebuchadnezzar looking steadfastly on those youths who had dared to oppose him, hoping, it may be, to see them shrink from his gaze, as he had seen so many of the kings he had conquered do. If this is correct, it gives a point to what the youths begin their answer with in ver. 16. If we take the more common rendering, we see the generosity of the king. Full of rage and fury as he is, he will give them an opening to say that it was of inadvertence that they failed to obey his decree. This is fully borne out by the next verse. If Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury at the crime against the gods, he yet was careful that the envy of the Chaldeans should not hinder him from giving the Jews who had been accused to him a chance to defend themselves. This mental fairness it was which, despite his outbursts of capricious rage, drew the affection of those about him to Nebuchadnezzar.
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