“Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.” – Daniel 3:28
Verse 28. – Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. The Septuagint and Peshitta, instead of “changed the king’s word,” have “despised the king’s word,” reading, שׁוּט, “to despise,” instead of שְׁנָא, “to change.” Theodotion agrees with the Massoretic, as otherwise do the other two versions. We may regard this as the beginning of the royal decree revoking practically that previously promulgated, omitting only the statement of the titles of the monarch. The wording is somewhat peculiar, “Blessed be their God – of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.” It may indicate that some words in the immediate context have been omitted; in other words, that the editor, in quoting the decree, has endeavoured, as far as possible, to condense without changing the words of the document. Bertholdt is mistaken in maintaining that this declaration is that the God of the three Hebrews is worthy of being blessed. All that Nebuchadnezzar acknowledges in this verse is that Jehovah really exists – that he is powerful, and the Hebrews did right to continue in the worship of their national God. We find that the bar-eloheen of ver. 25 is now regarded by Nebuchadnezzar as an angel, or, as we ought rather to translate it, “messenger.” We have no need to import Hebrew ideas into the declaration of the Babylonian monarch. It was quite in accordance with his mythological notions that a great God like the God of the Hebrews might have a messenger, who was his instrument in the deliverance of his servants. The reading of the Massoretes, “changed,” is to be preferred to “despised.” To one like Nebuchadnezzar, stiff to obstinacy in his opinions, for anything to compel him to change not only his opinions, but more, to alter a decree, was a strange thing, and a thing that he would think worthy of chronicling. At the same time, he might feel it needed a justification. On the other hand, such a one as Nebuchadnezzar would not advertise the fact that any one had “despised” his “word.” It is to be observed that Nebuchadnezzar recognizes not only the deliverance as an evidence of the truth of Jehovah’s Divinity, but also the willingness with which his servants were ready to offer their bodies to be burnt. The evidence that compelled Nebuchadnezzar to acknowledge the might of Jehovah was the same in essence as that which converted the Roman Empire. Still, we must again repeat Nebuchadnezzar recognized in Jehovah only the God of the Jews, and in the fatthfulness of the three Hebrews only a species of religious patriotism, which he could at once understand and respect without having the slightest belief in monotheism, or even comprehension of such a ‘notion.
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