Daniel 3:6ff – Did They Really Burn People?
Every Bible student is familiar with the Old Testament narrative concerning Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego — the Hebrew lads who refused to worship the Babylonian image of gold during the days of the Captivity Era (see Daniel, chapter 3). As a result of archaeological discoveries, several bits of information have come to light which demonstrate the accuracy of the book of Daniel in detailing this exciting biblical event.
First of all, in one of the earlier excavations at Babylon a strange building was discovered which initially appeared to be a firing kiln, much like those used to fire bricks and pottery. However, a cuneiform inscription revealed the purpose of the structure:
“This is the place of burning where men who blasphemed the gods of Chaldea died by fire” (Rimmer, p. 325).
While no one suggests that this was the actual furnace into which the Jewish boys were thrown (and from which they were delivered!), it does demonstrate that the scriptural account is consistent with the religious cultism of ancient Babylon.
In addition, there is a cuneiform inscription from the library of the Assyrian king, Ashurbanipal. It was discovered at Nineveh about a century ago, and is now housed in the British Museum. The inscription reads:
“Saulmagina my rebellious brother, who made war with me, they threw into a burning fiery furnace, and destroyed his life” (Caiger, p. 176).
And so, in connection with Daniel 3:6ff, underscore the reference to the “burning fiery furnace” and note: Supported by archaeology.
It is thrilling to know that in spite of harsh criticisms against it, the Bible has been vindicated repeatedly.
Caiger, Stephen (1944), Bible and Spade (London: Oxford University Press).
Rimmer, Harry (1939), Dead Men Tell Tales (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).