Can God Deliver His Servants? Two Theological Problems in the Daniel Narratives (Dan 1:9; 3:17-18)

Naama Golan, Shai Gordin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article addresses two cases from the narratives in Daniel in which a similar theological question arises concerning the uncertainty of God's ability to deliver his servants: (1) The chief officer's denial of Daniels' request (Dan 1:10) despite the fact that God granted Daniel grace and compassion from the chief officer, and (2) the speech of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Dan 3:17-18), in which they entertain the possibility that God will not, or perhaps cannot, save them. Commentators and translators throughout the generations have struggled with these theological problems, and we can identify a clear trend seeking to read the relevant verses in a way that removes the uncertainty, replacing it with certain faith in God's deliverance. In this article, we demonstrate how this interpretive trend surprisingly continues even with modern biblical scholars. Based on a literary analysis, we suggest that reading the MT version without altering it to conform with certain theological preconceptions may shed new light on the Daniel narratives, thereby exposing their deep and complex message.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)591-606
Number of pages16
JournalVetus Testamentum
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - 2021


  • Dan 1
  • Dan 3
  • God's deliverance
  • theological problems


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