Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego by Simeon Solomon, 1863.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are characters in the biblical Hebrew book of Daniel Chapters 1 – 3, known for their exclusive devotion to God. In particular, they are known for being saved by divine intervention from the Babylonian execution of being burned alive in a fiery furnace. They were three young Jews, of royal or noble birth from the Kingdom of Judah, who, along with Daniel, were inducted into Babylon when Jerusalem was occupied by the Babylonians in 606/605 BCE, under the campaign of Nebuchadnezzar II, during the first deportation of the Israelites.[1]

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Etymologies

Their Hebraic names were Hananiah (חֲנַנְיָה), Mishael (מִישָׁאֵל) and Azariah (עֲזַרְיָה). It was probably by the King’s decree that Chief Official Ashpenaz assigned Chaldean names, so that Hananiah became Shadrach, Mishael became Meshach and Azariah became Abednego.[Dan.1:3,7]

In view of the possible foreign religious connotations attached to their names, commentators have questioned why the Bible seldom uses their original Hebrew names. It is speculated that they are identified mostly by their Chaldean names to maintain the accuracy of the dialogue given in the text. Since it would have been confusing to have the writer call them one thing and the King call them another, the story primarily uses their Chaldean names instead.

Hebrew etymologies

Hananiah is a Hebrew name that means "God who is gracious". Misha'el means "Who is like God?” and it also means "to feed" or "to provide" as in how a husband provides for his family. The Hebrew name Azariah appropriately means "God has helped".