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Complex King Nebuchadnezzar

Nebuchadnezzar is one of the more complex individuals in the Bible. He’s impulsive and emotional yet at other times he was thoughtful and reasonable. In the first few chapters of Daniel, we see all of them in action.

Nebuchadnezzar asked the impossible in chapter two when he demanded that someone tell him his dream and then interpret it perfectly for him.

Fear spread through the kingdom as the King’s murderous rage threatened to exterminate his magicians, astrologers and sorcerers.

When Daniel shares God’s interpretation, the monarch falls before Daniel in reverence, thus accidentally making Daniel the focus of all those with jealousies and grudges in need of exercise.

Years pass and Nebuchadnezzar builds a massive image of gold that may have been nearly one hundred feet tall (3:1). For some reason Daniel is elsewhere in the kingdom and out of the story.

However, Shadrach, Meschach and Abed-Nego refuse to bow before the image and are brought before the King (3:12-13).

Nebuchadnezzar, instead of executing these young men on the spot, pleads with them, providing them an excuse for their behavior. Yet, to maintain his power, he sentences them to death.

The fiery furnace he built was undoubtedly a wonder to behold. We can’t get a grasp of what it looked like. Similar to a smelting furnace, it was open at the top, allowing viewers to see into it clearly enough to notice details.

Then in 3:24, the King could see into the furnace from where he was sitting thus throwing all of our mental image into doubt.

The King calls for the furnace to be heated seven times. We don’t know if they had an actual method of calibration or if it just signified extreme heat.

He has his mighty soldiers throw the three young men into the inferno. However, the fire consumed the soldiers and not the Jews.

Soon Nebuchadnezzar sees a fourth man walking in the fiery furnace who looked like “the Son of God” (3:25, NKJV). We’re unsure what that meant in his mind but he had already been impressed with Daniel’s godly interpretation in the previous chapter.

Overcome with amazement, the King risked his life to be near the edge so he could see more clearly. Somehow, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were pulled from the fiery furnace.

Undoubtedly no one had ever contemplated such a rescue mission and surely only a miracle could have accomplished it.

The King then issues a royal decree that anyone who speaks against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego will be killed.

Later, Daniel interprets another of Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams and the monarch’s doom is sealed. Nebuchadnezzar grows hair all over his body and lives as a wild beast in the forest.

There’s a psychosis called Lycantrophy, where people think they’re wolves and live in the wild. However, God’s punishment was a miracle and therefore unique.

The account of this fascinating man is very rich in Daniel and yet another example of why Bible study is such a blessing and mentally stimulating.

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Richard lives in Florence, Alabama and is married to Deirdre. They have three daughters. He is an avid reader, devoted writer and lover of history and research. He is the author of "The Most Important Question" and is working on more books.

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