Four Young Israelites at the Babylonian Court – Extracted from Daniel Chapter 1:
1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched on Jerusalem and besieged it.
2 The Lord let Jehoiakim king of Judah fall into his power, as well as some of the vessels belonging to the Temple of God. These he took away to Shinar, putting the vessels into the treasury of his own gods.
3 From the Israelites, the king ordered Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring a certain number of boys of royal or noble descent;
4 they had to be without any physical defect, of good appearance, versed in every branch of wisdom, well-informed, discerning, suitable for service at the royal court. Ashpenaz was to teach them to speak and write the language of the Chaldaeans.
5 The king assigned them a daily allowance of food and wine from the royal table. They were to receive an education lasting for three years, after which they would enter the royal service.
6 Among them were the Judaeans Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.
7 The chief eunuch gave them other names, calling Daniel Belteshazzar, Hananiah Shadrach, Mishael Meshach, and Azariah Abed-Nego.
8 Daniel, who was determined not to incur pollution by food and wine from the royal table, begged the chief eunuch to spare him this defilement.
9 God allowed Daniel to receive faithful love and sympathy from the chief eunuch.
10 But the eunuch warned Daniel, 'I am afraid of my lord the king: he has assigned you food and drink, and if he sees you looking thinner in the face than the other boys of your age, my head will be in danger with the king because of you.'
11 To the guard assigned to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah by the chief eunuch, Daniel then said,
12 'Please allow your servants a ten days' trial, during which we are given only vegetables to eat and water to drink.
13 You can then compare our looks with those of the boys who eat the king's food; go by what you see, and treat your servants accordingly.'
14 The man agreed to do what they asked and put them on ten days' trial.
15 When the ten days were over, they looked better and fatter than any of the boys who had eaten their allowance from the royal table;
16 so the guard withdrew their allowance of food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.
17 To these four boys God gave knowledge and skill in every aspect of literature and learning; Daniel also had the gift of interpreting every kind of vision and dream.
18 When the time stipulated by the king for the boys to be presented to him came round, the chief eunuch presented them to Nebuchadnezzar.
19 The king conversed with them, and among all the boys found none to equal Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. So they became members of the king's court,
20 and on whatever point of wisdom or understanding he might question them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and soothsayers in his entire kingdom. Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.
The Golden Image – Extracted from the Book of Daniel, Chapter 3:
1 King Nebuchadnezzar had a golden statue made, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide, which he set up on the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.
4 A herald then loudly proclaimed: 'Peoples, nations, languages! Thus are you commanded:
5 the moment you hear the sound of horn, pipe, lyre, zither, harp, bagpipe and every other kind of instrument, you will prostrate yourselves and worship the golden statue set up by King Nebuchadnezzar.
6 Anyone who does not prostrate himself and worship will immediately be thrown into the burning fiery furnace.'
7 And so, the instant all the peoples heard the sound of horn, pipe, lyre, zither, harp, bagpipe and all the other instruments, all the peoples, nations and languages prostrated themselves and worshipped the statue set up by King Nebuchadnezzar.
8 Some Chaldaeans then came forward and maliciously accused the Jews.
9 They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, '…
12 Now, there are certain Jews to whom you have entrusted the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego; these men have ignored your command, Your Majesty; they do not serve your gods, and refuse to worship the golden statue you have set up.'
13 Shaking with fury, Nebuchadnezzar sent for Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego. The men were immediately brought before the king.
14 Nebuchadnezzar addressed them, 'Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, is it true that you do not serve my gods, and that you refuse to worship the golden statue I have set up?
15 …If you refuse to worship it, you will be thrown forthwith into the burning fiery furnace; then which of the gods could save you from my power?'
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego replied to King Nebuchadnezzar, 'Your question needs no answer from us:
17 if our God, the one we serve, is able to save us from the burning fiery furnace and from your power, Your Majesty, he will save us;
18 and even if he does not, then you must know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your god or worship the statue you have set up.'
19 This infuriated King Nebuchadnezzar; his expression was changed now as he looked at Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego. He gave orders for the furnace to be made seven times hotter than usual
20 and commanded certain stalwarts from his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego and throw them into the burning fiery furnace.
21 They were then bound in their cloaks, trousers, headgear and other garments, and thrown into the burning fiery furnace.
22 The king's command was so urgent and the heat of the furnace was so fierce, that the men carrying Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego were burnt to death by the flames from the fire;
23 the three men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego fell, bound, into the burning fiery furnace.
24 And they walked in the heart of the flames, praising God and blessing the Lord.
25 Azariah stood in the heart of the fire, praying aloud thus:
26 May you be blessed and revered, Lord, God of our ancestors, may your name be held glorious for ever.
27 For you are upright in all that you have done for us, all your deeds are true, all your ways right, all your judgements true.
29 Yes, we have sinned and committed a crime by deserting you, yes, we have greatly sinned; we have not listened to your commandments,
30 we have not observed them, we have not done what you commanded us to do for our own good.
34 Do not abandon us for ever, for the sake of your name; do not repudiate your covenant,
35 do not withdraw your favour from us, for the sake of Abraham, your friend, of Isaac, your servant, and of Israel, your holy one,
36 to whom you promised to make their descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as the grains of sand on the seashore.
37 Lord, we have become the least of all nations, we are put to shame today throughout the world, because of our sins.
38 We now have no leader, no prophet, no prince, no burnt offering, no sacrifice, no oblation, no incense, no place where we can make offerings to you
39 and win your favour. But may the contrite soul, the humbled spirit, be as acceptable to you
40 as burnt offerings of rams and bullocks, as thousands of fat lambs: such let our sacrifice be to you today, and may it please you that we follow you whole-heartedly, since those who trust in you will not be shamed.
41 And now we put our whole heart into following you, into fearing you and seeking your face once more.
42 Do not abandon us to shame but treat us in accordance with your gentleness, in accordance with the greatness of your mercy.
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