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Sefer Daniel: Part 4 - Perek 3: Big Idol, Hot Fire, Guards Die

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Sefer Daniel: Part 4 - Perek 3: Big Idol, Hot Fire, Guards Die
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Revach L'Neshama

"King Nevuchadnetzer designed a tzelem of gold, its height was sixty amos, its width was six amos, and he erected it in the valley of Dura."

Nevuchadnetzer now took steps to nullify the message from his dream that his kingdom would eventually be dissolved. He erected a tzelem which was similar to the one which he saw in the dream, except that it was formed entirely of gold. He then commanded that all the nations bow down to it as if they were accepting Nevuchadnetzer's malchus which would exist forever. Nevuchadnetzer believed that these actions had magical powers to nullify the Heavenly plan as expressed in his dream.

According to Chazal, the valley of Dura was the same valley where the Dor Haflaga had gathered to build a tower. Their intentions had also been to establish a malchus against shamayim which would exist forever.

"And King Nevuchadnetzer sent to gather all the officers of the countries to come to the dedication of the tzelem which he set up."

The officers were then commanded to bow down to the golden tzelem when they heard the sound of music. They were warned that whoever did not bow down to the image will be immediately thrown into a burning furnace.

"At that time Kashadim men approached and defamed the Yehudim."

These men informed Nevuchadnetzer that Shadrach, Meishach, and Aved Nego did not bow down before the golden tzelem. They were included among the officials of the medinos, since they had been appointed as officials of Bavel. This answers the question which all the mefarshim ask, which is why didn't they inform on Daniel as well? Daniel served as the advisor to the king; he was not an official over a city or country.

Nevuchadnetzer called for the three men, and granted them a second chance to bow down to the tzelem, despite his threat that anyone who didn't bow down would be punished immediately. This was because the informers had told him that the men refrained from bowing down because their religion prevents them from bowing down to idols. Nevuchadnezer had granted religious freedom to the subjects of his kingdom, so he understood that they were not deserving of death. He gave them a second chance, but this time he specifically commanded them to bow down to the tzelem.

"Chananya, Mishael, and Azarya answered and said to the king, "Nevuchadnetzer, we are not interested in answering you on this matter, because there is a G-d Whom we serve, who is capable of saving us from the furnace, and He can save us from the hands of the king."

Chananya, Mishael, and Azarya said that even if Hashem does not save them, they will not bow down to the tzelem. Nevuchadnetzer reacted with fury and commanded that the furnace should be heated to seven times its normal heat. He then commanded his strong bodyguards to bind Shadrach, Meishach, and Aved Nego and throw them into the furnace.

Nevuchadnetzer commanded them to heat up the kiln seven times its normal heat because ovdei avodah zara believe that G-dly power is limited. Therefore, he reasoned that if the fire would be seven times its normal heat, Hashem may not be capable of overcoming it. This also explains his command for strong bodyguards to overpower the three men; he wanted their strength to stand against the power of Hashem, Nevuchadnetzer's commands were carried out so hurriedly, and the fire was so hot that the bodyguards who carried up the three men were killed when they reached the opening of the furnace. Chananel, Mishael, and Azarya fell into the furnace as the bodyguards breathed their last breaths and lost their grips on them.

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