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The meaning of Abed-nego in the Bible
(From International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)

a-bed'-ne-go (Hebrew and Aramaic 'abhedh neghgo; Daniel 3:29, 'abhedh negho'): According to many, the nego is an intentional corruption of Nebo, the name of a Babylonian god, arising from the desire of the Hebrew scribes to avoid the giving of a heathen name to a hero of their faith. The name, according to this view, would mean "servant of Nebo." Inasmuch as 'abhedh is a translation of the Babylonian 'arad, it seems ore probable that nego also must be a translation of some Babylonian word. The goddess Ishtar is by the Babylonians called "the morning star" and "the perfect light" (nigittu gitmaltu). The morning star is called by the Arameans nogah, "the shining one," a word derived from the root negah, the equivalent of the Babylonian nagu, "to shine." Abed-nego, according to this interpretation, would be the translation of Arad-Ishtar, a not uncommon name among the Assyrians and Babylonians. Canon Johns gives this as the name of more than thirty Assyrians, who are mentioned on the tablets cited by him in Vol. III of his great work entitled Assyrian Deeds and Documents. It means "servant of Ishtar."

Abed-nego was one of the three companions of Daniel, and was the name imposed upon the Hebrew Azariah by Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 1:7). Having refused, along with his friends, to eat the provisions of the king's table, he was fed and flourished upon pulse and water. Having successfully passed his examinations and escaped the death with which the wise men of Babylon were threatened, he was appointed at the request of Daniel along with his companions over the affairs of the province of Babylon (Dan. 2). Having refused to bow down to the image which Nebuehadnezzar had set up, he was cast into the burning fiery furnace, and after his triumphant delivery he was caused by the king to prosper in the province of Babylon (Dan. 3). The three friends are referred to by name in 1 Macc 2:59, and by implication in Hebrews 11:33-34.

R. Dick Wilson


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