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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Song of the Three Children
4. Author and Date
5. Original Language
6. Text and Versions
For general remarks concerning the Additions to Daniel see
This Addition has no separate title in any manuscript or version because in the Septuagint, Theod, Syriac and Latin (Old Latin and Vulgate) it follows Daniel 3:23 immediately, forming an integral portion of that chapter, namely, The Song of the Three Children (Azariah) 1:24-90 in the Septuagint and Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) It is the only one of the three Additions which has an organic connection with Daniel; as regards the others see preliminary remarks to
See introductory remarks to
Though the English and other Protestant versions treat the 68 verses as one piece under the name given above, there are really two quite distinct compositions. These appear separately in the collection of Odes appended to the Psalter in Cod. A under the headings, "The Prayer of Azarias" ( Προσευχή Ἀζαρίον ,
(1) The Prayer of Azarias
The Song of the Three Children (Prayer of Azariah 1:1-22 ) (Daniel 3:24-48 ).
Azariah is the Hebrew name of Abed-nego (= Abednebo, "servant of Nebo"), the latter being the Babylonian name (see Daniel 1:7; Daniel 2:49 , etc.). This prayer joins on to Daniel 3:23 , where it is said that "Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego (Azariah) fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace." [? (the version of Theodotion; see "Text and Versions" below) adds, "And they walked (Syr adds "in their chains") in the midst of the fire, praising God, and blessing the Lord." This addition forms a suitable connecting link, and it has been adopted by the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) and in modern versions which are made from [? and not from the Septuagint, which last was lost for many centuries (see
(2) The Song of the Three Holy Children
The Song of the Three Children (Prayer of Azariah 1:28-68 ) (Daniel 3:51-90 ).
This is introduced by a brief connecting narrative (The Song of the Three Children (Azariah) 1:23-27). The king's servants continued to heat the furnace, but an angel came down and isolated an inner zone of the furnace within which no flames could enter; in this the three found safety. Rothstein (Kautzsch, Die Apok., 175) is inclined to think that this narrative section (The Song of the Three Children (Azariah) 1:23-27) stood between Daniel 3:23 and Daniel 3:24 in the original Hebrew text. The "Song" is really a psalm, probably a translation of a Hebrew original. It has nothing to do with the incident - the three young men in the furnace - except in The Song of the Three Children (Azariah) 1:66 (EV) where the three martyrs call upon themselves by name to praise and bless the Lord for delivering them from the midst of the furnace. This verse is an interpolation, for the rest of the Song is a long litany recalling Ps 103 and especially Psalms 136; Psalm 148:1-14 , and Sirach 43. The Song, in fact, has nothing to do with the sufferings of the three young men, but is an ordinary hymn of praise. It is well known from the fact that it forms a part of the Anglican Prayer-book, as it had formed part of many early Christian liturgies.
4. Author and Date:
We know nothing whatever of the author besides what may be gathered from this Addition. It is quite evident that none of the three Additions belong to the original text of Daniel, and that they were added because they contained legends in keeping with the spirit of that book, and a song in a slight degree (The Song of the Three Children (Azariah) 1:66 English Version of the Bible) adapted to the situation of the three Hebrew youths in the furnace, though itself of an independent liturgical origin.
For a long time the three Additions must have circulated independently. Polychronius says that "The Song of the Three Holy Children" was, even in the 5th century AD, absent from the text of Daniel, both in the Peshitta and in the Septuagint proper. Rothstein (Kautzsch, Die Apok., 176) contends that the Additions formed a part of the Septuagint from the beginning, from which he infers that they were all composed before the Septuagint was made. What was the date of this version of Daniel? Since its use seems implied in 1 Maccabees 1:54 (compare Daniel 11:31; Daniel 12:11 ), it would be safe to conclude that it existed about 100 BC.
(2) Date of the Prayer of Azarias.
In The Song of the Three Children (Azariah) 1:15 (English Versions of the Bible) it is said that at the time the prayer was offered, there was no prince, prophet or leader, nor sacrifice of any kind. This may point to the time between 168,165 BC, when Antiochus 4 (Epiphanes) profaned the temple. If written in that interval, it must have been added to Dan at a much later time. But on more occasions than one, in later times, the temple-services were suspended, as e.g. during the invasion of Jerusalem by the Egyptian king, Ptolemy 4 (Philopater).
(3) Date of the Song.
We find references in the Song (The Song of the Three Children (Azariah) 1:62 f English Versions of the Bible) to priests and temple-servants, and in The Song of the Three Children (Azariah) 1:31 to the temple itself, suggesting that when the Song was written the temple-services were carried on. This, in itself, would suit a time soon after the purification of the temple, about 164 BC. But the terms of the Song are, except in verse 66 (English Versions of the Bible), so general that it is impossible to fix the date definitely. On the date of the historical connecting narrative (The Song of the Three Children (Azariah) 1:23-27) see 3, (2), above.
5. Original Language:
(1) Romanist scholars in general and several Protestants (Eichhorn, Einleit ., in das Altes Testament , IV, 24 f; Einleit. in die apok. Schriften , 419; Vatke; Delitzsch, De Habacuci , 50; Zockler, Bissell, Ball, Rothstein, etc.) hold that the original language was Hebrew. The evidence, which is weak, is as follows: (a) The style is Hebraistic throughout (not more so than in writings known to have been composed in Alexandrian Gr; the idiom καταισχύνεσθαι + ἀπό ,
Some grounds: (1) The Hebraisms are comparatively few, and those which do exist can be paralleled in other writings composed in Hellenistic Greek (2) It can be proved that in Daniel and also in Bel and the Dragon (see Introduction to Bel in the Oxford Apocrypha , edition R.H. Charles), Theodotion corrects the Septuagint from the Hebrew (lost in the case of Bel); but in Three, Theodotion corrects according to Greek idiom or grammar. It must be admitted, however, that the evidence is not very decisive either way.
6. Text and Versions:
As to the text and the various versions of the Song, see what is said in the article
See the article
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Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Song of the Three Children'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/isb/s/song-of-the-three-children.html. 1915.