The Book of Daniel, ch.3 with BAC Commentary
The Three Companions
in the Fiery Furnace
Bagpipes in the Bible
[Daniel 3:1] NEBUCHADNEZZAR THE KING MADE AN IMAGE OF GOLD, WHOSE HEIGHT WAS THREESCORE CUBITS, AND THE BREADTH THEREOF SIX CUBITS: HE SET IT UP IN THE PLAIN OF DURA, IN THE PROVINCE OF BABYLON.
Nebuchadnezzar had dreamt of a great image whose head was gold:
THIS IMAGE'S HEAD WAS OF FINE GOLD, HIS BREAST AND HIS ARMS OF SILVER, HIS BELLY AND HIS THIGHS OF BRASS, [Daniel 2:32].
HIS LEGS OF IRON, HIS FEET PART OF IRON AND PART OF CLAY [Daniel 2:33]
He had received the interpretation of Daniel that he himself was represented by the head of gold but his kingdom was to pass away and be replaced by others that would come after him.
The building of the image of gold in the plain of Dura may be seen as a reaction on the part of Nebuchadnezzar to the interpretation of Daniel. It was an attempt to escape the hand of fate and somehow immortalize himself and his own achievements..
[Daniel 3:2] THEN NEBUCHADNEZZAR THE KING SENT TO GATHER TOGETHER THE PRINCES, THE GOVERNORS, AND THE CAPTAINS, THE JUDGES, THE TREASURERS, THE COUNSELLORS, THE SHERIFFS, AND ALL THE RULERS OF THE PROVINCES, TO COME TO THE DEDICATION OF THE IMAGE WHICH NEBUCHADNEZZAR THE KING HAD SET UP.
[Daniel 3:3] THEN THE PRINCES, THE GOVERNORS, AND CAPTAINS, THE JUDGES, THE TREASURERS, THE COUNSELLORS, THE SHERIFFS, AND ALL THE RULERS OF THE PROVINCES, WERE GATHERED TOGETHER UNTO THE DEDICATION OF THE IMAGE THAT NEBUCHADNEZZAR THE KING HAD SET UP; AND THEY STOOD BEFORE THE IMAGE THAT NEBUCHADNEZZAR HAD SET UP.
[Daniel 3:4] THEN AN HERALD CRIED ALOUD, TO YOU IT IS COMMANDED, O PEOPLE, NATIONS, AND LANGUAGES,
[Daniel 3:5] THAT AT WHAT TIME YE HEAR THE SOUND OF THE CORNET, FLUTE, HARP, SACKBUT, PSALTERY, DULCIMER, AND ALL KINDS OF MUSICK, YE FALL DOWN AND WORSHIP THE GOLDEN IMAGE THAT NEBUCHADNEZZAR THE KING HATH SET UP:
<<CORNET >>: "Karna" in Aramaic. Notice that the English "cornet" still retains the original "krn" sound of karna.
<<FLUTE>>: "Mashroketa" in Aramaic, connotes "whistle".
We interpreted "Karna" (cornet) and "Mashroketa" (flute) as separate instruments and so it seems did the KJ but Daat Mikra joins the two as the name of one, "Karna-Mashroketa".
<<HARP>>: "Kitros Sabacha" in Aramaic. "Katros" is related to the Greek "kithara" meaning "fiddle" or some kind of stringed instrument.
"Sabacha" is related to the Hebrew "intertwined", i.e. intertwined strings, a kind of harp.
We took "Kitros Sabacha" together as one term connoting some kind of harp BUT the KJ took each Aramaic word as referring to a separate instrument
i.e. instead of "Katros Sabacha" in Aramaic meaning HARP, "Katros" means "harp" and "Sabacha" means something else and in the KJ translation equates with "Sackbut".
<<SACKBUT>>: "Sabacha" in Aramaic. We took "Sabacha" as being an adjectival noun attached to "Kitros" but the KJ takes it as the term for a separate item. Sackbut in English meant a kind of trombone.
<<PSALTERY>>: "Pesantron" in Aramaic. PSALTERY in the King James is the usual translation for the Hebrew word "nabal" which we have interpreted to mean "bagpipes" (1-Samuel 10:5). Rabbinical Commentators give all different opinions as to what this was and one ("Miyuchas leRav Saadia") also equates this with the "nebal" which he seems to equate with the bagpipes. Opinions are too divided on this matter to incline one way or other in making even a tentative identification. In Modern Hebrew a possibly related word, "pisanter", means piano.
<<DULCIMER>: "Sumponia" in Aramaic meaning bag-pipes and linguistically it does mean an inflatable part of an animal's carcase.
"Dulcimer" according to the Dictionary was a Medieval stringed instrument attached to a kind of box.
Saadia Gaon (882942 CE) says, "Sumponia. This is what the shepherds play [tunes] on. It is like a blown up animal skin [nod], for example the "bait sumponia" [animal lung] mentioned in the Mishna, Hulin 3;1. "
Saadia is referring to a type of bagpipe as confirmed by the Rabbinical Commentary, "Shilti Giborim" p.41, who includes an illustration of a primitive type of bagpipe.
[This source was pointed out to us by Ashira Morgenstern who is a Musician, a Composer, and a Teacher of Music in Jerusalem.]
So too, the very early Medieval Rabbinical Reference book "Aruch" says that the word "Sumponia" means "a musical instrument, a kind of bagpipe".
Saadia refers to the "bait sumponia" in the Mishna (Hulin 3:1) which is explained to be the main vascular tube that enters the lung, i.e. it has the form and shape of a bagpipe.
The word "Sumponia" may have given rise to the Greek "sumphonos" meaning "harmony: from which came the Middle English "symphonie" meaning "harmony of sound" and from which derives our word "Symphony".
"Modern" commentators also identify the Aramaic "sumponia" with the bagpipes as mentioned by Wikipedia:
<<although the Aramaic word sumponyah, appearing in Daniel 3:5, 10, and 15, has been translated "dulcimer" (a stringed instrument) and "symphony", modern Bible translations generally render the expression as "bagpipe." Koehler and Baumgartners Lexicon in Veteris Testamenti Libros gives the meaning "bagpipe" (Leiden 1958, p. 1103).>>
We may conclude by saying that the bag-pipe was known in Biblical Times and was recalled in Scripture. In our opinion (that could be contested) the Hebrew word "nebal" meant the bagpipes and it was probably the equivalent of the Aramaic "sumponia".
[Daniel 3:6] AND WHOSO FALLETH NOT DOWN AND WORSHIPPETH SHALL THE SAME HOUR BE CAST INTO THE MIDST OF A BURNING FIERY FURNACE.
[Daniel 3:7] THEREFORE AT THAT TIME, WHEN ALL THE PEOPLE HEARD THE SOUND OF THE CORNET, FLUTE, HARP, SACKBUT, PSALTERY, AND ALL KINDS OF MUSICK, ALL THE PEOPLE, THE NATIONS, AND THE LANGUAGES, FELL DOWN AND WORSHIPPED THE GOLDEN IMAGE THAT NEBUCHADNEZZAR THE KING HAD SET UP.
[Daniel 3:8] WHEREFORE AT THAT TIME CERTAIN CHALDEANS CAME NEAR, AND ACCUSED THE JEWS.
[Daniel 3:9] THEY SPAKE AND SAID TO THE KING NEBUCHADNEZZAR, O KING, LIVE FOR EVER.
[Daniel 3:10] THOU, O KING, HAST MADE A DECREE, THAT EVERY MAN THAT SHALL HEAR THE SOUND OF THE CORNET, FLUTE, HARP, SACKBUT, PSALTERY, AND DULCIMER, AND ALL KINDS OF MUSICK, SHALL FALL DOWN AND WORSHIP THE GOLDEN IMAGE:
[Daniel 3:11] AND WHOSO FALLETH NOT DOWN AND WORSHIPPETH, THAT HE SHOULD BE CAST INTO THE MIDST OF A BURNING FIERY FURNACE.
[Daniel 3:12] THERE ARE CERTAIN JEWS WHOM THOU HAST SET OVER THE AFFAIRS OF THE PROVINCE OF BABYLON, SHADRACH, MESHACH, AND ABEDNEGO; THESE MEN, O KING, HAVE NOT REGARDED THEE: THEY SERVE NOT THY GODS, NOR WORSHIP THE GOLDEN IMAGE WHICH THOU HAST SET UP.
<<JEWS>>: "Yehudain" in Aramaic, "Yehudim" in Hebrew. Why they call them "Jews"? Saadia (in line with a Midrash) says it was because they denied idolatry and whoever deny idolatry is considered a Jew.
We have here a definition of "Judah" or "Jew" in the religious sense.
Why did they speak against the three companions of Daniel and not against Daniel himself? Iben Ezra says they were afraid to do so since Nebuchadnezzar had offered incense before Daniel as if he were divine (Daniel 2:46). Nebuchadnezzar would have been liable to punish them for impugning his judgment.
[Daniel 3:13] THEN NEBUCHADNEZZAR IN HIS RAGE AND FURY COMMANDED TO BRING SHADRACH, MESHACH, AND ABEDNEGO. THEN THEY BROUGHT THESE MEN BEFORE THE KING.
[Daniel 3:14] 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?
[Daniel 3:15] 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?
[Daniel 3:16] SHADRACH, MESHACH, AND ABEDNEGO, ANSWERED AND SAID TO THE KING, O NEBUCHADNEZZAR, WE ARE NOT CAREFUL TO ANSWER THEE IN THIS MATTER.
[Daniel 3:17] 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.
[Daniel 3:18] 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.
[Daniel 3:19] 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.
[Daniel 3:20] 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 3:21] THEN THESE MEN WERE BOUND IN THEIR COATS, THEIR HOSEN, AND THEIR HATS, AND THEIR OTHER GARMENTS, AND WERE CAST INTO THE MIDST OF THE BURNING FIERY FURNACE.
[Daniel 3:22] THEREFORE BECAUSE THE KING'S COMMANDMENT WAS URGENT, AND THE FURNACE EXCEEDING HOT, THE FLAMES OF THE FIRE SLEW THOSE MEN THAT TOOK UP SHADRACH, MESHACH, AND ABEDNEGO.
[Daniel 3:23] AND THESE THREE MEN, SHADRACH, MESHACH, AND ABEDNEGO, FELL DOWN BOUND INTO THE MIDST OF THE BURNING FIERY FURNACE.
[Daniel 3:24] THEN NEBUCHADNEZZAR THE KING WAS ASTONIED, AND ROSE UP IN HASTE, AND SPAKE, AND SAID UNTO HIS COUNSELLORS, DID NOT WE CAST THREE MEN BOUND INTO THE MIDST OF THE FIRE? THEY ANSWERED AND SAID UNTO THE KING, TRUE, O KING.
[Daniel 3:25] HE ANSWERED AND SAID, LO, I SEE FOUR MEN LOOSE, WALKING IN THE MIDST OF THE FIRE, AND THEY HAVE NO HURT; AND THE FORM OF THE FOURTH IS LIKE THE SON OF GOD.
<<SON OF GOD>>: An angel cf.
NOW THERE WAS A DAY WHEN THE SONS OF GOD CAME TO PRESENT THEMSELVES BEFORE THE LORD [Job 1:6]
[Daniel 3:26] THEN NEBUCHADNEZZAR CAME NEAR TO THE MOUTH OF THE BURNING FIERY FURNACE, AND SPAKE, AND SAID, SHADRACH, MESHACH, AND ABEDNEGO, YE SERVANTS OF THE MOST HIGH GOD, COME FORTH, AND COME HITHER. THEN SHADRACH, MESHACH, AND ABEDNEGO, CAME FORTH OF THE MIDST OF THE FIRE.
[Daniel 3:27] AND THE PRINCES, GOVERNORS, AND CAPTAINS, AND THE KING'S COUNSELLORS, BEING GATHERED TOGETHER, SAW THESE MEN, UPON WHOSE BODIES THE FIRE HAD NO POWER, NOR WAS AN HAIR OF THEIR HEAD SINGED, NEITHER WERE THEIR COATS CHANGED, NOR THE SMELL OF FIRE HAD PASSED ON THEM.
[Daniel 3:28] THEN NEBUCHADNEZZAR SPAKE, AND SAID, BLESSED BE THE GOD OF SHADRACH, MESHACH, AND ABEDNEGO, WHO HATH SENT HIS ANGEL, AND DELIVERED HIS SERVANTS THAT TRUSTED IN HIM, AND HAVE CHANGED THE KING'S WORD, AND YIELDED THEIR BODIES, THAT THEY MIGHT NOT SERVE NOR WORSHIP ANY GOD, EXCEPT THEIR OWN GOD.
[Daniel 3:29] THEREFORE I MAKE A DECREE, THAT EVERY PEOPLE, NATION, AND LANGUAGE, WHICH SPEAK ANY THING AMISS AGAINST THE GOD OF SHADRACH, MESHACH, AND ABEDNEGO, SHALL BE CUT IN PIECES, AND THEIR HOUSES SHALL BE MADE A DUNGHILL: BECAUSE THERE IS NO OTHER GOD THAT CAN DELIVER AFTER THIS SORT.
[Daniel 3:30] THEN THE KING PROMOTED SHADRACH, MESHACH, AND ABEDNEGO, IN THE PROVINCE OF BABYLON.