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This article is about one of Daniel's friends. You may be looking for another Azariah.

Azariah (meaning the Lord has helped) was one of the three friends of Daniel who was cast into the fiery furnace.

He was taken to Babylon with Daniel, Mishael, and Hananiah, by Nebuchadnezzar after the siege of Jerusalem.[1] His name was changed to Abed-Nego (meaning Servant of Nego/Nebo) by the Chaldeans (Babylonians). He entered the king's service with his friends and became one of the wisest men in Babylon[2].

Later, because he would not worship the statue of Nebuchadnezzar, he was thrown into a furnace with his two friends. But they survived by praying to God, and they were not harmed by the fire.[3]

Etymology

The name Azariah (עֲזַרְיָ֖ה) was famous in ancient Judah, for king Azariah, also spelled Uzziah, had served 52 years as a godly king. Formed from עָזַר (he helps) and a shortened form of Yahweh, the name denotes faith in God in time of trouble. The name that this young man was given, Abednego (עֲבֵ֥ד נְגֹֽו) means "servant of Nego", which in effect claimed a godly man to serve the false gods of Babylon.

Biography

Early Life

Azariah was born in Judah in the latter days of reign of Josiah. His family was of noble or even royal estate [4]. The reforms of Josiah had given way to political instability, including enmity with mighty Egypt.

When Azariah was still young, Josiah was killed and the rightful king, Jehoahaz, was deposed and his brother Eliakim, renamed Jehoiakim, was made king. In the third year of Jehoiakim's reign, Azariah was taken along with his friends into captivity[5].

Life in Babylon

As a healthy young man of the upper class, Azariah was favored by the court of Nebuchadnezzar. He and his friends were chosen to become advisors to the king. This required that they first eat at the King's table. This would require breaking their strict dietary standards as set by the Law. His friend spoke with the king's steward and the four of them found that with the Lord's help, a vegetarian diet was better than that the king had for them[6].

Along with his friends, Azariah became among the most influential advisors in the Babylonian court[7]. After Daniel had successfully interpreted the king's first recorded dream the prophet requested, and was granted, posts for his friends that put them over much of the kingdom. This made the political establishment angry. However, the king foolishly set up a huge image of gold in response to his being revealed as the "head of gold"[8]. Everyone in the kingdom was required to bow down to the image. When Azariah and his friends refused, the politicians demanded that they be punished. Nebuchadnezzar had no choice but to demand that his most able advisors be brought before him. When he saw that they were honor bound to Yahweh and His Law, he lost his temper and demanded they be burned in the hottest fire possible.

They stood their ground, confident that they were doing the right thing. The Lord protected them, leading Nebuchadnezzar to make Judaism a protected religion in the land[9].

After this, with their enemies destroyed, Azariah and his friends became even more powerful in Babylon. Nothing more is known of them after this.

Verses

  1. Daniel 1:3-7 (Link)
  2. Daniel 2:49 (Link)
  3. Daniel 3 (Link)
  4. Daniel 1:3-4 (Link)
  5. Daniel 1:1-4 (Link)
  6. Daniel 1:13-16 (Link)
  7. Daniel 1:17-20 (Link)
  8. Daniel 2:36-38 (Link)
  9. Daniel 4:8-40 (Link)

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