The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Prophecy of Daniel
It was this king Nabuchodonosor made a golden image, sixty cubits high and six cubits broad, which he set up on the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon;
and word went round in king Nabuchodonosor’s name, summoning all the governors, magistrates, judges, chieftains, rulers, prefects and leading men from every part of his dominions, to be present at the dedication of the image king Nabuchodonosor had set up.
So they gathered there, governors, magistrates, judges, chieftains, rulers, noblemen in high office, and leading men from every part, for the dedication of king Nabuchodonosor’s image. And, as they stood before the image he had set up,
a herald cried lustily to men of all peoples, nations and languages:
As soon as you hear the sound of horn, flute, harp, zither, dulcimer, pipe and other instruments of music, you are to fall down and worship the image of gold which king Nabuchodonosor has set up.
Whoever does not fall down in worship will be thrown, there and then, into the heart of a raging furnace.
No sooner, then, did the sound of horn, flute, harp, zither, dulcimer, pipe and the rest reach the assembly than all of them, whatever their tribe, people or language, fell down in worship of king Nabuchodonosor’s image.
It was then that certain Chaldaeans came forward with malicious accusations against the Jews.
They wished long life to king Nabuchodonosor,
and said, Lord King, thy command was that all men, at the sound of horn, flute, harp, zither, dulcimer, pipe and the rest, should fall down and worship the golden image,
on pain of being thrown into a raging furnace.
And here are certain Jews, entrusted by thee with the affairs of Babylon province, to wit, Sidrach, Misach and Abdenago, who have set the royal command at defiance, and will not reverence thy gods, or worship the golden image thou hast set up.
Upon this, in a transport of rage, Nabuchodonosor sent for Sidrach, Misach and Abdenago; and when they were brought, without delay, into his presence,
this was the threat king Nabuchodonosor uttered: So Sidrach, Misach and Abdenago will not reverence my gods, or worship this golden image of mine?
Here is your choice, then; either you will fall down and worship this image of mine when the sound of horn, flute, harp, zither, dulcimer, pipe and the other music reaches you, or then and there you shall be thrown into a raging furnace. You are in my power; what God can deliver you?
Then Sidrach, Misach and Abdenago said to king Nabuchodonosor, There is no need for any answer of ours to that question;
thou wilt see for thyself whether the God we worship is able to rescue us from the raging fire, and from thy royal power.
But, whether he rescues us or no, be assured, sir king, here are men who do not reverence thy gods, or worship any image of thine.
At this, Nabuchodonosor fell into a rage; his features, as he glared at Sidrach, Misach and Abdenago, were distorted with fury. He would have the furnace heated seven times hotter than its wont;
and into this raging furnace he bade the most stalwart of his fighting men throw Sidrach, Misach and Abdenago with their feet tied together.
So they were bound just as they were, in breeches and turban, shoes and coat, and thrown into the heart of the raging furnace;
the king’s order admitted no delay. So fiercely was the furnace heated that those who threw them in were burned to death.
Meanwhile these three, Sidrach, Misach and Abdenago, fell fast bound into the heart of the fires that raged in it.
And there, in the hottest of the flames, they walked to and fro, singing to God their praises, blessing the Lord.
There, as he stood in the heart of the fire, Azarias found utterance, and thus made his prayer:
Blessed art thou, Lord God of our fathers, renowned and glorious is thy name for ever!
In all thy dealings with us, thou hast right on thy side; so true to thy promises, so unswerving in thy course, so just in thy awards!
No punishment thou hast inflicted upon us, or upon Jerusalem, holy city of our fathers, but was deserved; for sins of ours, faithfulness and justice that stroke laid on.
Sinners we were, that had wronged and forsaken thee, all was amiss with us;
unheard thy commandments, or else unheeded, thy will neglected, and with it, our own well-being!
Nothing we had not deserved, pillage of thy contriving, plague of thy sending,
and at last the foul domination of godless foes, of a tyrant that has no equal on earth!
Tongue-tied we stand, that have brought disgrace on the livery of thy true worship.
For thy own honour, we entreat thee not to abandon us eternally. Do not annul thy covenant, and deprive us of thy mercy.
Think of Abraham that was thy friend, of thy servant Isaac, of Jacob whom thou didst set apart for thyself;
the men to whom thou didst promise that thou wouldst increase their posterity, till it was countless as the stars in heaven, or the sand by the sea-shore.
Whereas now, Lord, we are of all nations the most insignificant; all the world over, men see us humbled for our sins.
In these days we are without prince or leader or prophet, we have no burnt-sacrifice, no victim, no offering; for us no incense burns, no first-fruits can be brought into thy presence
and win thy favour. But oh, accept us still, hearts that are crushed, spirits bowed down by adversity;
look kindly on the sacrifice we offer thee this day, as it had been burnt-sacrifice of rams and bullocks, thousands of fattened lambs; who ever trusted in thee and was disappointed?
With all our hearts, now, we choose thy will, we reverence thee, we long after thy presence;
for that clemency, that abundant mercy of thine must we hope in vain?
By some wondrous deliverance vindicate thy own renown;
theirs be the vain hope, that would do thy servants an injury. Fools, that would match themselves with omnipotence! Crush down their might;
teach them that in all the world Lord there is none, God there is none, glorified as thou.
Meanwhile, their tormentors were not idle; naphtha and tow, pitch and tinder must be heaped on the furnace,
till the flame rose forty-nine cubits above the furnace itself,
breaking out and burning such Chaldaeans as stood near it.
But an angel of the Lord had gone down into the furnace with Azarias and his companions; and he drove the flames away from it,
making a wind blow in the heart of the furnace, like the wind that brings the dew. So that these three were untouched, and the fire brought them neither pain nor discomfort.
Whereupon all of them, as with one mouth, began to give praise and glory and blessing to God, there in the furnace, in these words that follow:
Blessed art thou, Lord God of our fathers, praised above all, renowned above all for ever; blessed is thy holy and glorious name, praised above all, renowned above all for ever.
Blessed art thou, whose glory fills thy holy temple, praised above all, renowned above all for ever;
blessed art thou, who reignest on thy kingly throne, praised above all, renowned above all for ever.
Blessed art thou, who art throned above the cherubim, and gazest down into the depths, praised above all, renowned above all for ever.
Blessed art thou, high in the vault of heaven, praised above all, renowned above all for ever.
Then they cried out upon all things the Lord had made, to bless him, and praise him, and extol his name for ever.✻
Bless the Lord they should, the Lord’s angels;
bless him they should, the heavens,
and the waters above the heavens;
bless him they should, all the Lord’s powers.
Bless him they should, sun and moon,
stars of heaven,
each drop of rain and moisture,
and all the winds of God.
Bless him they should, fire and heat,
winter cold and summer drought,
dew and rime at morning,
frost and the cold air.
Bless him they should, ice and snow,
day-time and night-time,
light and darkness,
lightnings and storm-clouds.
And earth in its turn should bless the Lord, praise him, and extol his name for ever.
Bless the Lord they should, mountains and hills,
every growing thing that earth yields,
seas and rivers.
Bless him they should, sea-monsters and all life that is bred in the waters,
all the birds that fly in heaven,
wild beasts and tame,
and the sons of men.
Bless him Israel should,
priests of the Lord bless him,
servants of the Lord bless him;
bless him they should, spirits and souls of all faithful men;
bless him they should, dedicated and humble hearts.
And for Ananias, Azarias and Misael, well might they bless the Lord, praise him and extol his name for ever; here was the grave spoiled, death robbed of its prey, and ever they were kept safe from the furnace, let its flames rage as they would.
Give thanks to the Lord, they cried, the Lord is gracious; his mercy is eternal!
Bless the Lord, you that are his worshippers; he is God above all gods; praise him and give him thanks, whose mercy is eternal.✻
Sore amazed was king Nabuchodonosor, and started to his feet; Tell me, he said to his courtiers, did we not cast three men into yonder furnace, all closely bound? And when they answered, Sire, past doubt,
he told them what he had seen; here were four men, that bonds wore none, walking to and fro in the heart of the fire, and never the worse. And such an aspect he wore, the fourth of them, as it had been a son of God.
With that, close went Nabuchodonosor to the furnace door, and cried, Come forth, Sidrach, Misach and Abdenago! Servants of the most high God, come out to me! So out came Sidrach, Misach and Abdenago, from the fire’s heart all of them;
and with one accord governor and judge and courtier clustered round them to look. Plain it was, the heat had no power over them; never a hair singed, nor a coat shrivelled, nor any smell of burning marked its passage.
And at that, Nabuchodonosor could contain himself no longer; Blessed be this God whom Sidrach, Misach and Abdenago worship! Here were servants of his that trusted in him, and defied a king’s edict, ready to put their lives in peril, so they might be free men, worshipping no God but their own; and he has sent an angel to deliver them.
Hereby, then, I enact that if anyone blasphemes against the God of Sidrach, Misach and Abdenago, come he of what people, what tribe, what race he may, he shall pay for it with his life, and his house be put to public use. God there is no other that can grant such deliverance as this!
And be sure he promoted them to high rank in Babylon province.
King Nabuchodonosor to men of every race, tribe and tongue, dwell they where they will, all health!
Here be wondrous portents the most high God has been manifesting, and in my person.
And my will is to make them known, portents most weighty, wonders most compelling; such a reign as his lasts for ever, such power as his the ages cannot diminish.✻
The Holy Bible