Introduction
This material occurs between Daniel 3.23 and 24 in some Greek manuscripts and the Latin Vulgate.
This is the first of three additions to the text of The Book of Daniel in the Greek Septuagint Bible. The Song of the Three Holy Children has its place appropriately as a lengthy insertion of 68 verses between Daniel 3.23 and 3.24, as the note beneath the title of the KJV indicates. Daniel tells how some bright young Judean exiles—Daniel and several friends—found positions and advanced in the Babylonian royal court. His friends were named Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, but when they were trained for royal service they were given Babylonian names—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Dan 1.6,7). According to Daniel 3.23, King Nebuchadnezzar was vexed with their refusal to worship the golden image he had set up. As punishment he had the three youths thrown into a fiery furnace, and it is at that point that the inserted text continues the story.
In the midst of the furnace Azariah (Abednego in Daniel 3) first offers a prayer (verses 1-22), essentially a corporate confession of sin ending with a heartfelt plea to God for forgiveness and deliverance. After a brief reminder by the narrator of the perilous conditions in that fiery furnace (verses 23-27), Azariah joins voices with his two companions to sing triumphantly in the midst of the flames a grand song of praise to God their creator and rescuer (verses 28-68). This song, with its ecstatic rhythms, is part psalm, part lyric poetry. It pictures all aspects of God's creation gratefully and happily praising God. A large part of their song (verses 35-66) has long been sung in the Western Church as a Latin canticle, Benedicite, omnia opera Domini. When the song concludes with the words, “for his mercy endureth for ever,” the story line continues at Daniel 3.24 with the king's stunned reaction to the miraculous survival of the three in the midst of the furnace.
Outline
The Prayer of Azariah (1-22)
Conditions in the Fiery Furnace (23-27)
The Song of the Three Holy Children (28-68)
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