Anyone who has read the book of Daniel is familiar with the account of the three Hebrew men who were thrown into the fiery furnace by Nebuchadnezzar. (Daniel 3) What you may not realize is that there is more to the story.
Actually, there is more to the book of Daniel. Those of us who are familiar with the Apocryphal writings know that there are additions to this book that were not included in the modern Western biblical canon. These additions are:
The Prayer of Azariah and Song of the Three Children
The Prayer of Azariah and Song of the Three Children are noticeably absent from the Masoretic version of the “fiery furnace” account in Daniel 3.
Azariah’s prayer, and the song, were included in the LXX (Septuagint), Latin, Syriac, Egyptian, Arabic, and Ethiopian versions of Daniel. It was removed by Reformed Churches and relegated to a separate Apocryphon. However, the Catholic Church kept it as an integral part of the collections of Old Testament prophets. Both the prayer and song reportedly were known by believers in the early days following the crucifixion and resurrection of Yeshua.
Faith Is Tested In The Fiery Furnace
We all have experienced our own versions of the fiery furnace. It may have been a divorce, bankruptcy, or catastrophic illness. These types of trials test our faith and can either bring out the best or the worst of our personalities. Our response to stress and hard times show us if we really trust in Yah’s ability to bring us through any disaster that may come our way.
However, believers in Yeshua who have willingly laid down their lives rather than compromise their faith are in a whole other league. Martyrs, who remain faithful unto death for the sake of the Gospel, demonstrate what genuine commitment looks like. (Revelation 2:10)
When Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah1 refused to bow down to the rule of Babylon, they made a decision. They were willing to pay the ultimate price, even if it meant death by fire.
Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated. And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.
Daniel 3:14-20 KJV
The fire was stoked seven times hotter than usual. The three insurgents were bound, fully clothed, and cast into the ferocious flames. Then something miraculous happened. The men who led the trio to the flames were burned to a crisp. But Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were seen walking around in the flames with a fourth person.
And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king” “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”2
Daniel 3: 23-25 KJV
In the Septuagint (LXX), verse 23 of Daniel 3 reads differently and makes a connection to Azariah’s prayer and the psalm of praise sung by the three men:
Then these three men, Sedrach, Misach, and Abdenago, fell bound into the midst of the burning furnace, and walked in the midst of the flame, singing praise to God, and blessing the Lord.
It has long been my contention that big decisions are rooted in small ones. When one has a track record of walking righteously in small matters, there will be no hesitation or deviation when the moment comes to make the big decision. These three men, along with Daniel, had a reputation for uncompromising integrity regarding adherence to their covenant with The Most High. The first test occurred when they refused to eat the king’s delicacies.
Then the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm.
Daniel 1:19,20 KJV
By the time they were threatened with death, they did not have to struggle with decision making. Their position in the matter had already been decided. They would not bow down.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnesser, we have no need to answer you in this matter. “If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”
Daniel 3:16-18 KJV
In these last days, we need to make up our minds concerning how we will respond to persecution before the persecution comes. There will be a 42-month period of extreme pressure applied to believers who do not take the anti-messiah’s mark. During this period the two witnesses will spread the Gospel of the Kingdom. It is at the end of this 3 1/2 year time period when the trumpet sounds commencing the first resurrection event that true believers will be taken up to “heaven” — the New Jerusalem which exists now above the firmament. The Scriptures do not teach a pre-tribulation rapture. 3 (Matthew 24)
The social and economic pressures that many are getting a taste of now are just a preview of more difficult times ahead. The prophets, apostles, and Yeshua all warned us, and told us to prepare for hard times in the last days leading up to the Second Coming of Messiah.
Although Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael were not killed in the fiery furnace, they share a conviction with martyrs throughout history. Those who were killed for their witness fully embraced the good news of the coming Kingdom and weighed its everlasting benefits against this passing world; fully convinced that their earthly lives are a small price to pay compared to life in Yahuah’s eternal Kingdom.
Their deaths serve as witnesses to an unimpeachable faith.
No matter what is going on in the world we must always remember that the Most High is in charge. He separates the wheat from the tares and the righteous from the unrighteous by applying pressure. His instruments of judgment are usually sword, famine, and plague.4
The Prayer of Azariah and The Song of the Three Children
The canonical Daniel is silent regarding the goings-on inside the furnace. We are told that there was a fourth person with the men, but we were not given the details of what really transpired. This is where the “Addition” can be helpful.5
Coming after Daniel 3:23 in the Septuagint, Thod, Syriac, and Latin Vulgate scriptures, these additions add another dimension to the story of what happened in the fiery furnace. Azariah does not pray for deliverance. Instead, he prays for the nation of Yashar’el/Israel.
How did these men survive the flames?
And the king’s servants, that put them in, did not cease to make the furnace hot with naphtha, pitch,tow, and small wood; so that the flame streamed forth above the furnace 73 feet high. it spread, and burned those Chaldeans whom it found near the furnace. But the angel of Yahuah came down into the furnace together with Azariah and his friends, and he drove the flame of the fire out of the furnace; and made the midst of the furnace like a moist whistling wind, so that the fire did not touch them at all, neither hurt nor troubled them.
ThePrayer of Azariah verses 23-27 Apocrypha
In both Daniel 3 and verses 25-27 of The Prayer of Azariah we are told that the Nebuchadnezzar saw someone else in the oven. As you read through Azariah’s prayer, pay attention to the fourth person in the fire. In the chapter titled “Agency and Prolepsis” of our book The Gospel Worth Dying For, we contend that the fourth person was an angel sent by Yah to protect the trio from harm.
1 In most translations of Daniel, the three Hebrew men are referred to by their Aramaic names — Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. In this Addition, their Hellenized (Greek) forms of their Hebrew names are Hanaiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
2 The Masoretic translation renders this as “like the Son of God.” This description and capitalizations imply that the fourth person in the fire was Yeshua. It was an angel sent by Yah to protect these men.
3 The Jesuits were the originators of the pre-tribulation rapture theory. Their enablers were many: the Roman Catholic Church, Council of Trent, Manuel Lacunza, Margaret MacDonald, John Nelson Darby, and Cyrus Ingerson Scofield. Do your research.
4 Jeremiah 15:2;24:10; 29:17, Ezekiel 5:12;5:17, Matthew 24:7
5 Known as the First Addition to the canonical Book of Daniel. The prayer of Azariah and The Song of the Three Children is an apocryphal insertion into Daniel. Both were included in the Latin Vulgate and Roman Catholic Bible canon. This version has been revised for easier readability for speakers of American English. It is based on the R.H. Charles translation of the apocryphal manuscripts.
I have to confess up front that this side of eternity, I will probably never buy in to the belief that the day begins in the evening. I pretty much settled in on my position in 2017 after doing some research. However, I stumbled upon information recently that compelled me to write this article. Believe me, I am not trying to stir up contention among my brothers and sisters in the faith. What I am presenting here is an explanation based on research as to how I came to this conclusion. I invite your comments and am open to hearing your position on the matter if you disagree. Let’s dive in, shall we.
In The Beginning
The creation narrative begins with a chaotic earth immersed in darkness. Then Yahuah says, “Let there be light: and there was light.” Yah separated the light from darkness and told us that the light was a good thing.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Ruach Elohiym moved on upon the face of the waters. And Elohiym said, Let there be light: and there was light. And Elohiym saw the light, that it was good: And Elohiym divided the light from the darkness.
Genesis 1:2-4 Cepher
Why did Yah declare the light to be good? When trying to answer this question we have to go back to the Hebrew where the word translated as good is tov (טוב). The meaning implies that the light is functional. The word for light is or (אור). Or has several meanings, depending on the context. In this case it is associated with illumination.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path..
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.
The righteous and faithful Simeon, full of the Word, was enlightened. He had eyes that saw the promised Messiah. And because he understood prophecy, he could fully comprehend how Yeshua’s light would be able to save not just Hebrews but people of all nations.
For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to Your people Israel.
The word darkness (choshek) means obscurity, and figuratively misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, or wickedness. The primitive root of choshek is chashak which means to be or become dark, grow dim; to hide, conceal or obscure.
When Yeshua began his ministry in Galilee, he came face to face with people who were unable to fully understand Yah or His Kingdom. The message of the Gospel of the Kingdom was obscured or confused due to years of bad theology. This is why Yeshua’s teaching was so earth shattering. Through the Ruach Elohiym (Spirit of Elohim) Messiah brought illumination to their minds that enabled them to comprehend the fullness of the Gospel message.
When Yeshua heard that John had been imprisoned, he withdrew to Galilee. Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which is by the sea in the region of Zebulun and Naptali, to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles — the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned. From that time on Yeshua began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
Matthew 4: 12-17
When Does A Day Begin?
And Elohim called the light day, and the darkness He called night, and there was evening, and there was morning, day one.
Day. How can one three letter word imply so many meanings? If you searched the definition of this noun, here is a sampling of what the results will return:
the interval of light between two successive nights
the time between sunrise and sunset
the portion of a day allotted to work
the light of day; daylight
each of the 24 hour periods, reckoned from one midnight to the next, into which a week, month or year is divided [and corresponding to a rotation of the earth on its axis.1]
the time between sunrise and sunset
However, the consensus among modern definitions of the word “day” seems to be either —
a time existing between the rising and setting of the sun, or
a period of 24 hours corresponding to a single revolution of the sun around [the fixed, stationary] earth. 2
Most followers of rabbinical Judaism believe the day begins at night. Meir M. Ydit, writing for the Conservative Judaism Journal in 1981, asserts that the Jewish rendering of a day beginning in the evening is not based on Scripture, but on customs and historical changes.
In the Jewish tradition it is customary to count the day from the onset of night (i.e., the visibility of three stars in the sky) until after the sunset of the following day. Thus the halakhic ruling: Halailah nimshakh aharei hayom, the night follows (i.e., is part of the day which comes after it. This method of counting was based upon the language of the Bible in the creation story (Gen. 1) where it says several times “and it was evening, and it was morning, the first (second, third, etc.) day.” Because of the language of the Bible, in which the evening is antecedent to the morning, it was reasoned that in the counting of the unit “day” the evening is reckoned to belong to the day which comes after it. However, a more precise scrutiny of this test shows that the opposite is true…But we should know that this time-honored custom which we regard and accept as obligatory evolved gradually and is the result of historical changes.
The Counting of ‘Day’ and ‘Night’, by Meir M. Ydit, Conservative Judaism Journal, Vol. 35, No.1, Fall 1981, The Rabbinical Assembly,
So, What Does Scripture Say?
When Yah separated the light from the darkness, this action also divided “time” into day and night. Let’s examine the two foremost luminaries and understand their purpose and function.
Then Yahuah made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also.
How does Scripture define the term “day” from a traditional (non-Jewish) Hebraic perspective? To find out, we will go back to Genesis.
And Elohim called the light ‘day’ and the darkness He called ‘night.’ And there came to be evening and there came to be morning, one day.
New American Standard 1977 And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
It seems to me that Genesis 1:5 is saying the 24 hour period we generically refer to as a day consists of 4 parts: morning, day, evening and night. They are one unit. In my humble opinion, I do not believe the verse is saying that a day begins at night.
Morning = H1242 boker: dawn (as the break of day); generally morning: — day, day, early, morning, morrow
Day = H3117 yom: from an unused root meaning to be hot; a dry (as the warm hours),
Evening = H6153 erev: dusk — day, even, evening, evening tide, even tide, night. from H6150 arab, a primitive root; to grow dusky at sundown: — be darkened, evening, toward evening. H6151 arab, commingle: — mingle, mingle self, mix.
Night = H3915 layil: a twist (away of the light); i.e. night; figuratively adversity: — night, midnight, night season.
Here are a few Scripture verses that distinguish day from night.
2 Samuel 2:32
And they brought Ash’el and buried him in his father’s burial-site, which was in Beyth Lehem. and Yo’ab and his men went all night, and they came to Hebron at daybreak.
Exodus 18: 13,14
And it came to be, on the next day; that Mosheh sat to rightly rule the people. And the people stood before Mosheh from morning until evening.
…the Azzathites saying, “Shimshon has come here!” So they went round and lay in wait for him all night at the gate of the city, and kept silent all night, saying, “In the morning, when it is daylight, then we shall kill him”
And the man arose to go, he and his concubine and his servant. But his father-in-law, the young woman’s father said to him, “See, the day is now drawing toward evening. Please spend the night. See, the day is coming to an end. Stay here, and let your heart be glad. And you shall rise early tomorrow for your journey, and you shall go to your tent.”
But they pleaded with Him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day* is almost over.” So He went in to stay with them.
*2250. hémera — definition: day; usage: a day, the period from sunrise to sunset.
Clear as Night and Day
Based on my understanding and research, morning + day + evening + night = the four parts of one 24 hour day.
The disciples said to him, “Teacher, the Yahudim were seeking just now to stone you, and are you going there again?” Yeshua replied, Are there not twelve hours in the day. If anyone walks around in the daylight, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks around in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.
John 11: 8-10
This statement by our Messiah is as clear as day.
For many years the tags “and there was evening, and there was morning, day X” threw me into a state of confusion. But when you add evening and morning, you have a 24 hour “day unit.” Thanks be to Elohim, that He is not the author of confusion, but clarity that comes by walking in the light of Torah.
It is my position that evening, by definition, concludes the day(time) hours and always follows a period of light. This means that “day” commenced first (following morning) and nighttime was preceded by evening — making a full 24 hour day. So, a day (governed by the greater light of the sun) cannot begin in the evening, when the day ends and the moon (the lesser light) takes over to rule the night.
When speaking of the Day of Yahuah, Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy told believers in Thessalonica:
You are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night nor of darkness.
If we are children of the light, why would our Father tell us to begin each day in darkness?
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