We jump back in the timeline a bit, back before Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem completely, back to the first time, he took the city. Nebuchadnezzar takes the gold and stuff from the Temple of Yahweh, back to the temple of his gods, and tells his general to pick out some of the best of the young Jewish people from the nobility and bring them back to Babylon and train them in the language and customs of the Babylonians, so that they could become Babylonian officials and probably make the whole servitude to Babylon easier for the Jews to handle.
Among those chosen was Daniel and his three friends: Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach), and Azariah (Abed-nego).
But Daniel doesn’t want to eat the king’s food, since the meat has been offered to idols. I guess there was some rule that I’m not aware of that if a piece of meat was offered to an idol, eating it means you participated in the worship of said idol. Paul will go on about that in one or more of his epistles.
Danny doesn’t want to eat the meat and asks permission to be a vegan instead. The guy in charge of the Jewish youths is worried that Danny and his friends will look weak and pathetic next to the Jewish boys who are eating the roast beast, but Danny convinces him to give it 10 days and if they look weak, then they’ll start eating the roast beast too.
At the end of ten days, the boys looked healthier and stronger than the other Jewish boys, so the overseer lets them stay on the vegan diet.
They take to their lessons well, and impress the king who makes them officials.
Nebuchadnezzar has a dream that disturbs him, so he calls all of his magi and wise men and asks them to interpret his dream.
Magi: Sure thing. Tell us the dream.
Nebbi: Hey, you know, if you guys really have mystic powers, you should be able to tell me the dream and the interpretation.
Magi: Oh… uh… yeah… we could totally do that, but uh… our connection to the divine realm is fuzzy. Maybe we can try again later?
Nebbi: How about I kill you all for being fakes and liars instead?
Daniel: Uh, could you maybe give me a day?
(One day later…)
Nebbi: So, can you tell me the dream and the interpretation?
Danny: God told me your dream and what it means. You dreamed of a giant statue with a head of gold, chest of silver, tummy of bronze, legs of iron, and feet of iron and clay. Then a giant rock smashed the feet of iron and clay and the whole statue fell over and the rock grew into a huge mountain.
You are the head of gold. God has given all of the world to you.
But after you die, the Medes and Persians will take over.
Then the Greeks, then the Romans, and then the Messiah will come and smash all the Earthly kingdoms and reign forever.
Nebbi: I really dig that head of gold business. Also, you’re right and you’re God is pretty cool. You’re the head wise man now and one of my right hand guys.
Nebbi: Hey, guys, I really like that head of gold stuff. Could you build a giant statue of me, but make the entire thing gold? That would be awesome. Oh, and then when I order music to be played, everyone will bow down and worship my giant gold statue? And if they don’t, we burn them alive?
Magi: Overcompensating much?
Nebbi: What was that?
So they build a statue and play the music. Everyone bows. Or almost everyone.
Magi: Hey, there are a few Jews who won’t bow to the statue. Danny’s friends.
Nebbi: But Danny bowed?
Apologist: He’s not in this story. He must have been away on business. Yeah… away on business.
Nebbi: Hey, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, why you no bow?
The boys: We only worship Yahweh. And we’re not worshipping a giant statue, even if it means we’re burned alive. God can deliver us if he wants to.
Nebbi: Let’s test that theory. Turn up the heat on that puppy and throw them in!
They turn up the heat on the furnace and the guys throwing the Jewish boys into it die from the heat.
Nebbi: Crap… they’re alive, aren’t they? And yeah… there’s a fourth one in there that looks like a god. Hey, guys… uh… come on out, would you? And yea, Yahweh! We’re totally cool, right? In fact, if anyone says shit about Yahweh, I’ll have them torn into pieces and turn their house into a pile for manure. We’re good, right? In fact, I’ll give you three a promotion! Yeah, we’re good.