Abed-nego meaning | Abed-nego etymology

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עבד נגו
Abed-nego in Biblical Hebrew
Biblical male character
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The name Abed-nego in the Bible

Abed-nego is the name given to Azariah, one of the three friends of Daniel (Daniel 1:7).

Azariah and friends — young, smart, beautiful (v4) — were abducted by the Babylonian forces of king Nebuchadnezzar and taken to his court to serve him. And that meant that they were to dine on the king's best food and to learn the writings of Babylon, which in those days were the most advanced in the world. It's like being kidnapped and taken to Harvard. But then, at Harvard you're not likely to get thrown into a fiery furnace (Daniel 3).

Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps by means of transliteration and projection, this Babylonian name seems very Hebrew.

Etymology of the name Abed-nego

The name Abed-nego obviously consists of two parts. The first part of the name Abed-nego comes from the root עבד, meaning servant:

Abarim Publications Theological Dictionary

The second part of the name does not occur in Hebrew but looks like it could be variant of נגה (nagah), shine. Derivation נגה (nogah) means brightness.

Abed-nego meaning

What the name Abed-nego was supposed to mean in the language in which it was first pronounced isn't clear, but for a Hebrew audience it must have sounded like A Work Of Light. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names initially reads Worshiper of Mercury, but then suggests a more 'natural' interpretation, and offers Servant of Splendor, i.e. the sun. NOBSE Study Bible Name List assumes Nego is the name of some god and renders Servant of Nego. BDB Theological Dictionary resolutely decrees that the nego-part is supposed to be Nebo, "נגו being corrupt (intent. or unintent.) for נבו."

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