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Daniel 3:24, 25

Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”

He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

Was it Jesus?

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  • The noun used in the Chaldee is a collective noun. It would be correct to translate it thus : son of Deity.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 19 '20 at 20:29
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Nebuchadnezzar was a pagan king whose ideas about the truth of the heavenly hosts was vague and influenced by his own polytheism. However, we have some clarification of what he thought a few verses later in Dan 3

  • V25: “Look!” he exclaimed. “I see four men, unbound and unharmed, walking around in the fire—and the fourth looks like a son of the gods!” [Had this been uttered by a Hebrew, it would have been translated, "Son of God", but a heathen king said it.]
  • V28: Nebuchadnezzar declared, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him. They violated the king’s command and risked their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.

Now, notice that:

  • Nebuchadnezzar believed this "son of the gods" was an angel
  • The word "gods" in v25 is the same word translated "God" in v28 and is plural in both cases.

Thus, as many versions say via footnotes, and some in their main text (eg, KJV, NKJV, Brenton LXX, etc), V25 can reasonably be translated "Son of God".

As Christians we understand the significance of this phrase "Son of God", but it is just as certain that Nebuchadnezzar did NOT understand that the still future NT would apply this term to the Messiah.

Ellicott observes:

But still the question has to be answered, What did the king see? The early Patristic interpretation was that. it was none other than Christ Himself. We have no means of ascertaining anything further, and must be content with knowing that the same “Angel of God’s presence” who was with Israel in the wilderness watched over the people in Babylon.

Barnes says something similar:

Was it an angel, or was it the second person of the Trinity, "the" Son of God? That this was the Son of God - the second person of the Trinity, who afterward became incarnate, has been quite a common opinion of expositors. So it was held by Tertullian, by Augustine, and by Hilary, among the fathers; and so it has been held by Gill, Clarius, and others, among the moderns.

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  • I understand. You just wrote or at least strongly implied that the Hebrew characters in and of themselves support either “god” or “God”, and that it is only context and meaning which can determine which is better. Acquaintance of mine said that while that is oft repeated, the actual Hebrew characters make capitalized “God” a better translation even in v25? Do you agree? Im not asking about context or meaning or who’s speaking. (Maybe he said Hebrew “markings” or “emphasis” or something in addition to characters but maybe not? Pardon my not recalling that)
    – Al Brown
    Sep 13 at 22:33
  • @AlBrown - there is no "capitals" in Hebrew. In V25 the word is אֱלָהִֽין = "of gods"; in V28 the word is אֱלָ֔הּ = gods. Both are masculine plural Aramaic.
    – Dottard
    Sep 13 at 22:37
  • Thank you glad for a clear answer
    – Al Brown
    Sep 13 at 23:04
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The term "son of the gods" usually refers divine beings that are not God Himself (Job 1:6; Deuteronomy 32:8). In this particular case it could mean an unidentified angel or even Christ (even though the theophany of Yahweh himself, preincarnated Christ, ... is commonly found in Scriptures as the "Angel of the Lord" which comes from the expression mal'akh yehauh or mal'akh elohim).

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Like all other miracles of the Bible, one cannot appeal to natural processes to explain a non-natural event. We cannot appeal to physics or any of the scientific fields to explain a miracle. The explanation is simply not in the natural world. Apart from the power of God, there was no way to explain how these men survived such an experience.

Nebuchadnezzar immediately came to the correct conclusion. He attributed this to the reality, power, and presence of God. How could he possibly do otherwise? When Nebuchadnezzar saw the fourth man in the furnace, he made a rather interesting statement, “…and the form of the fourth is like the son of the gods.” NOT “like the Son of God,” as it is rendered in many translations.

I cannot help but wonder how Nebuchadnezzar knew what a son of the gods would look like. I think the idea is simply that Nebuchadnezzar saw an angelic figure, a being he immediately recognized as being different than the others in appearance. Whether or not this was an angel or a theophonic manifestation is unclear and a matter of some disagreement among scholars. What is clear from the language is that Nebuchadnezzar did not recognize this fourth figure as the third member of the Triadic Unity. It is suggested by Dr. Fuller that Nebuchadnezzar was identifying the fourth person as the son of the Babylonian fire god Iz-bar – dā-mêh lə-ḇar- ’ĕ-lā-hîn.

From the Pulpit Commentary, “The suggestion of Dr. Fuller [is], that here in bar we have not the word for "son," but rather a truncated form of [the Babylonian] god of fire, Iz-bar….”

While I find this an intriguing possibility, I think we must recognize the fact that when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego are released from the furnace, Nebuchadnezzar did not thank his god Iz-bar for their deliverance. Rather, he thanks the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego

“who sent His angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God! Therefore, I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this.’”

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