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The Catholic Study Bible A special version of the New American Bible, with a wealth of background information useful to Catholics.

Chapter 3

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The Fiery Furnace. 1King Nebuchadnezzar had a golden statue made, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide, which he set up in the plain of Dura* in the province of Babylon. 2He then ordered the satraps,* prefects, and governors, the counselors, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the officials of the provinces to be summoned to the dedication of the statue which he had set up.

3The satraps, prefects, and governors, the counselors, treasurers, judges, and magistrates and all the officials of the provinces, all these came together for the dedication and stood before the statue which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 4A herald cried out: “Nations and peoples of every language, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, flute, lyre, harp, psaltery,* bagpipe, and all the other musical instruments, 5you are ordered to fall down and worship the golden statue which King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6Whoever does not fall down and worship shall be instantly cast into a white‐hot furnace.”* 7Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the trumpet, flute, lyre, harp, psaltery, bagpipe, and all the other musical instruments, the nations and peoples of every language all fell down and worshiped the golden statue which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

8At that point, some of the Chaldeans came and accused the Jews 9to King Nebuchadnezzar: “O king, live forever! 10O king, you issued a decree that everyone who heard the sound of the trumpet, flute, lyre, harp, psaltery, bagpipe, and all the other musical instruments should fall down and worship the golden statue; 11whoever did not was to be cast into a white‐hot furnace. 12There are certain Jews whom you have made administrators of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego; these men, O king, have paid no attention to you; they will not serve your god or worship the golden statue which you set up.”

13Nebuchadnezzar flew into a rage and sent for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who were promptly brought before the king.

14King Nebuchadnezzar questioned them: “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you will not serve my god, or worship the golden statue that I set up? 15Be ready now to fall down and worship the statue I had made, whenever you hear the sound of the trumpet, flute, lyre, harp, psaltery, bagpipe, and all the other musical instruments; otherwise, you shall be instantly cast into the white‐hot furnace; and who is the God that can deliver you out of my hands?” 16Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, “There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17If our God, whom we serve, can save us* from the white‐hot furnace and from your hands, O king, may he save us! 18But even if he will not, know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statue which you set up.”

19Nebuchadnezzar's face became livid with utter rage against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times more than usual 20and had some of the strongest men in his army bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and cast them into the white‐hot furnace. 21They were bound and cast into the white‐hot furnace with their coats, hats, shoes and other garments, 22for the king's order was urgent. So huge a fire was kindled in the furnace that the flames devoured the men who threw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into it.

23But these three fell, bound, into the midst of the white‐hot furnace.

24 *They walked about in the flames, singing to God and blessing the Lord. 25In the fire Azariah stood up and prayed aloud:

26“Blessed are you, and praiseworthy, Lord, the God of our fathers, and glorious forever is your name. 27;for you are just in all you have done; all your deeds are faultless, all your ways right, and all your judgments proper. 28You have executed proper judgments in all that you have brought upon us and upon Jerusalem, the holy city of our fathers. By a proper judgment you have done all this because of our sins; 29For we have sinned and transgressed by departing from you, and we have done every kind of evil. 30Your commandments we have not heeded or observed, nor have we done as you ordered us for our good. 31Therefore all you have brought upon us, all you have done to us, you have done by a proper judgment. 32You have handed us over to our enemies, lawless and hateful rebels; to an unjust king, the worst in all the world. 33Now we cannot open our mouths; we, your servants, who revere you, have become a shame and a reproach. 34For your name's sake, do not deliver us up forever, or make void your covenant. 35Do not take away your mercy from us, for the sake of Abraham, your beloved, Isaac your servant, and Israel your holy one, 36To whom you promised to multiply their offspring like the stars of heaven, or the sand on the shore of the sea. 37For we are reduced, O Lord, beyond any other nation, brought low everywhere in the world this day because of our sins. 38We have in our day no prince, prophet, or leader, no holocaust, sacrifice, oblation, or incense, no place to offer first fruits, to find favor with you. 39But with contrite heart and humble spirit let us be received; 40As though it were holocausts of rams and bullocks, or thousands of fat lambs, So let our sacrifice be in your presence today as we follow you unreservedly; for those who trust in you cannot be put to shame. 41And now we follow you with our whole heart, we fear you and we pray to you. 42Do not let us be put to shame, but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy. 43Deliver us by your wonders, and bring glory to your name, O Lord: 44Let all those be routed who inflict evils on your servants; Let them be shamed and powerless, and their strength broken; 45Let them know that you alone are the Lord God, glorious over the whole world.”

46Now the king's men who had thrown them in continued to stoke the furnace with brimstone, pitch, tow, and faggots. 47The flames rose forty‐nine cubits above the furnace, 48and spread out, burning the Chaldeans nearby. 49But the angel of the Lord went down into the furnace with Azariah and his companions, drove the fiery flames out of the furnace, 50and made the inside of the furnace as though a dew‐laden breeze were blowing through it. The fire in no way touched them or caused them pain or harm. 51Then these three in the furnace with one voice sang, glorifying and blessing God:

52Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever; And blessed is your holy and glorious name, praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages. 53Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory, praiseworthy and glorious above all forever. 54Blessed are you on the throne of your kingdom, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever. 55Blessed are you who look into the depths from your throne upon the cherubim, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever. 56Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven, praiseworthy and glorious forever. 57Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever. 58Angels of the Lord, bless the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever. 59You heavens, bless the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever. f 59f: Ps 148, 4 . 60All you waters above the heavens, bless the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever. 61All you hosts of the Lord, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. 62Sun and moon, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. 63Stars of heaven, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. 64Every shower and dew, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. 65All you winds, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. 66Fire and heat, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. 67[Cold and chill, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. 68Dew and rain, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.] 69Frost and chill, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. 70Ice and snow, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. 71Nights and days, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. 72Light and darkness, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. 73Lightnings and clouds, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. 74Let the earth bless the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever. 75Mountains and hills, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. 76Everything growing from the earth, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. 77You springs, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. 78Seas and rivers, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. 79You dolphins and all water creatures, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. 80All you birds of the air, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. 81All you beasts, wild and tame, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. 82You sons of men, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. 83O Israel, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. 84Priests of the Lord, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. 85Servants of the Lord, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. 86Spirits and souls of the just, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. 87Holy men of humble heart, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. 88Hananiah, Azariah, Mishael, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. For he has delivered us from the nether world, and saved us from the power of death; He has freed us from the raging flame and delivered us from the fire. 89Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever. 90Bless the God of gods, all you who fear the Lord; praise him and give him thanks, because his mercy endures forever.”

Hearing them sing, and astonished at seeing them alive, 91King Nebuchadnezzar rose in haste and asked his nobles, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” “Assuredly, O‐king,” they answered. 92“But,” he replied, “I see four men unfettered and unhurt, walking in the fire, and the fourth looks like a son of God.”* 93Then Nebuchadnezzar came to the opening of the white‐hot furnace and called to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: “Servants of the most high God, come out.” Thereupon Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the fire. 94When the satraps, prefects, governors, and nobles of the king came together, they saw that the fire had had no power over the bodies of these men; not a hair of their heads had been singed, nor were their garments altered; there was not even a smell of fire about them. 95Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who sent his angel to deliver the servants that trusted in him; they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 96Therefore I decree for nations and peoples of every language that whoever blasphemes the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be cut to pieces and his house destroyed. For there is no other God who can rescue like this.” 97Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

Vision of the Great Tree. * 98King Nebuchadnezzar to the nations and peoples of every language, wherever they dwell on earth: abundant peace! 99It has seemed good to me to publish the signs and wonders which the most high God* has accomplished in my regard.

100How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders; his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion endures through all generations. g Dn 4, 31; 7, 14 .

Notes:

f: 59f: Ps 148, 4 .

g: Dn 4, 31; 7, 14 .

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