Your project on the fiery furnace is very interesting. To have a complete study of the subject, we need to look at the Bible as a whole and not just the one event. Notice in Gen 11:3-4 They said to each other, "Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth."

The folks at the tower of Babel were using bricks to build their tower to heaven. They probably had a furnace to harden the bricks. The Scriptures mentions many types of furnaces, some real and some times the word furnace is used as a metaphor to describe the future pain of hell.

The Psalmist uses the furnace to describe how the Word of the LORD is true as in Ps 12:6, And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times. And in Isa 48:10, See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.

The LORD (Jesus) uses the furnace to describe the testing and anguish that we must endure. The Lord is even more specific to Ezekiel Ezek 22:16-20 Then the word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to me; all of them are the copper, tin, iron and lead left inside a furnace. They are but the dross of silver. Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: 'Because you have all become dross, I will gather you into Jerusalem. As men gather silver, copper, iron, lead and tin into a furnace to melt it with a fiery blast, so will I gather you in my anger and my wrath and put you inside the city and melt you. Melt you!!! Wow!! That's pretty tough!

In the days of Moses you may remember that the Pharaoh required the slave drivers to stop providing the straw for the bricks that the Israelites were making. Ex 5:7-8 "You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw. But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don't reduce the quota.

Now we come forward to the time of Daniel, when the leader of Babylon was King Nebuchadnezzar. He set up a large image on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. The people were told: Dan 3:4-6 As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace."

So, here we are to a situation with a furnace again. This may have been a furnace for metals or for bricks and maybe both. The temperature for refining metals is higher than that for bricks.

One of the world's oldest building materials, the brick was used at least as long as 4,000 years ago. It is a small, clay block that has been burned in a kiln for strength, hardness, and heat resistance.

The kilns were made of that same brick and varied in size from a small one to bake a few loaves of bread to a kiln large enough for men to be thrown into. Adobe brick, made of clay mixed with straw or chopped reeds and dried in the sun, is used in hot, dry places as the Middle East .

Brick making is practiced worldwide in many cultures, one current manufacturing technology is derived from traditional hand methods, virtually unchanged from the days of the pharaohs of ancient Egypt.

After the bricks are molded from clay (some times straw is added), the next step is burning, in which the chemical properties of the clay are changed to give it strength and durability. In the continuous kiln (the most modern automated type), 3,000 or more bricks are piled on a single fireproof car that passes with others through tunnels up to 500 feet long. They move from a preheating zone to the furnace, or burning, zone, and then to a cooling zone. Temperatures within the kiln may reach 2,100o F (1,150o C).

The brick-kiln furnace had an opening at the top to cast in the materials, and a door at the side near the bottom to extract the metal or bricks. Note that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were thrown into the top but the king saw them from the opening on the side.

Dan 3:18-26 Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. And he commanded certain mighty men of valor who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their coats, their trousers, their turbans, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Therefore, because the king's command was urgent, and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, "Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?" They answered and said to the king, "True, O king." "Look!" he answered, "I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God." Then Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and spoke, saying, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here.

The Babylonians used the furnaces to inflict their cruel capital punishments but it did not work on Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.

Following are a few notes pertaining to Dan 3:18-26; It was customary to remove the clothing of those being executed, but because of the haste in which the king wanted his command carried out (the king's command was... urgent) this practice was not followed this time.

The flames leaping through the top opening of the furnace killed the men who had thrown the three into the fire. Concerning the fire being seven time hotter this may by a good interpretation; (One seven times.) Possibly the Aramaic word had, rendered one, has here the sense of our indefinite article "a" or "an"; hence a seven.

This would be some familiar kind of seven-fold thing (e.g., the Heb: word for week is seven, as is also the similar word for an oath). This seven would then be, as Zoeckler suggests, a seven of completeness of judicial penalty. Possibly they used seven times the fuel which was designed to signify that the king looked upon their crime as seven times more heinous than the crimes of others, and so made their death more ignominious.

I am also including three verses which give additional information about fire and the furnace.

Mal 4:1 "Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire," says the LORD Almighty.

Matt 13:40-42 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire.

Rev 9:1-2 Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace.

This story is not considered true by many skeptics. There is another situation where a person lived after being "burned at the stake". In the year 168 A.D., Polycarp, the leader of the church in Smyrna, was ordered to be burned alive. He was tied to a stake and the fire was set. According to eyewitnesses, Polycarp did not burn. Then the executioner, being angry that Polycarp did not die, stabbed Polycarp with his sword and his blood poured out and quenched the fire. Unlike Shadrach, Mechach and Abednego, Polycarp did die, but from the stab wound not the fire.

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