Prayer of Azariah
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are biblical characters in the book of Daniel chapters 1–3. They are depicted as being saved by divine intervention from the Babylonian execution of being burned alive in a fiery furnace. They, along with Daniel, are presented as representatives of Jews of royal or noble birth from the Kingdom of Judah who were inducted into Babylon after Jerusalemwas besieged by Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar in 605 BC.
Prayer of Azariah & The Song of the Three Holy Children
Hananiah became Shadrach
Mishael became Meshach
Azariah became Abednego
All three Hebrew names are theophoric: These names are derived from a god”, “bearing or carrying a god”) embeds the name of a god, both invoking and displaying the protection of that deity. For example, names embedding Apollo, such as Apollonios or Apollodorus, existed in Greek antiquity
- Hananiah means “Yah who is gracious”
- Misha’el means “Who is like God?”
- Azariah means “Yah has helped”
It has been asserted that the names Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego all pertain to pagan Babylonian gods.
- Shadrach possibly is derived from Shudur Aku “Command of the moon god”
- Meshach is probably a variation of Mi•sha•aku, meaning “Who is what Aku is?”, and may have been an alteration of his Hebrew name Mishael
- Abednego is either a corrupted or deliberate use of Abednebo, “servant of Nebo/Nabu,” or Abednergo, a variation of Abednergal, “servant of the god Nergal“
In the “Prayer of Azariah,” Azariah (Abednego) confesses their sins and the sins of Israel, and asks their God to save them in order to demonstrate God’s power to the Babylonians. It is followed by an account of an angel who came to make the inside of the furnace feel like a cool breeze over dew. An extended hymn of praise to their God for deliverance is found in the “Song of the Three Young Men.”
The Prayer of Azariah appears in the Septuagint, but not the Masoretic Text. It is part of the Deuterocanon for Catholic and Orthodox Christians, but considered apocryphal by most Protestants and most Jews.
Daniel’s Training in Babylon
1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia [a] and put in the treasure house of his god.
3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility- 4 young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. [b] 5 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.
6 Among these were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7 The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.
8 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. 9 Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, 10 but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your [c] food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”
11 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” 14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
18 At the end of the time set by the king to bring them in, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. 20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.
21 And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.