What do the names Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego mean?

Quick answer:

The name Shadrach means "command of the moon god," Meshach means "who is Aku," and Abednego means "slave of the god Nebo." These are new names the three Israelites are given when they move to Babylon. However, these names do not erase their faith in Israel's god, YWHW.

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In the original Hebrew, Shadrach was named Hananiah, which means "God is gracious." Meshach was Mishael, which means "who is God?" Abednego was Azariah, means "God has helped."

However, as often happens to people who move to a new culture, when they are taken to Babylon, these former Israelites are given Babylonian names. The new name Shadrach means "command of the moon god," while Meshach means "who is Aku." Abednego means "slave of the god Nebo."

In the book of Daniel, we see that the new, pagan names given to the three Israelites do not change their underlying identities. Although they are now officials in Babylonian society, they retain their loyalty to Judaism and the Jewish God, YHWH. In fact, they refuse to do what Nebuchadnezzar orders, which is to bow down in worship to a golden statue. They know it is an idol or false god. Even when they are faced with being burned alive in a fiery furnace, they hold fast to their faith in YHWH.

Through a miracle, they are not burned up in the fiery furnace. At this point, we see that their original Hebrew names express who they are: they are faithful worshipers to whom God is gracious and whom God helps. They answer the question "Who is God?" by showing the power of their God in a convincing way. Their ability to withstand the flames makes a strong impression on Nebuchadnezzar, who offers them his protection.

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