Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Stories from King David and the Spiders from Mars #2

“Three Young Men” is Romie Stott's reinterpretation of the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego recorded in the book of Daniel, Chapters 1–3.

According to the Biblical story, four young men of Jewish nobility are taken from Judah to train as advisers in the Babylonian court of Nebuchadnezzar II. The men are Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. All four are given Chaldean names: Daniel becomes Belteshazzar; Hananiah becomes Shadrach; Mishael becomes Meshach; and Azariah becomes Abednego. (As the names relate to Babylonian gods, the Jewish men likely find the new monikers insulting.)

Daniel impresses Nebuchadnezzar with his ability to interpret dreams and gains influence at court. Using his rising status, Daniel convinces the king to give favorable positions to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. The men struggle to retain their Jewish identities and reamin loyal to God. Daniel leads them in refusing to eat the meat served at Nebuchadnezzar's table. Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah refuse to bow before an idol. Enraged, Nebuchadnezzar orders them burned alive in a furnace, but an angel preserves them from harm amid the flames.

Stott's story draws on the Biblical narrative but deviates from it to tell a new story. For instance, the three are condemned for a hunger strike rather than for not worshiping an idol. Stott also narrates the story from Azariah's perspective and plays up the distinctions between Daniel and the other three captives.
We are not from this country. We were taken from our parents. The king calls us by names that aren't ours. Privately, we use our true names, but can no longer remember to whom each belongs. I believe I am Azariah. My brothers and I do not share parents, yet we are the only family we have. Daniel is different; he knows he is Daniel.
Azariah and his two brothers laugh among themselves at what their Chaldean masters try to teach them. They insult Nebuchadnezzar at table, refusing to eat any of the food and accusing him of being a werewolf. Daniel, in contrast, finds a compromise, avoiding the meat but filling his plate with vegetables. Day after day, Daniel implores the three to eat something and allow the king to save face, but the three refuse to give in to the king or follow Daniel's advice. The three see themselves as powerless but gain a sense of power from refusing the king's demands. They also see themselves as weak compared to Daniel, whose great understanding allows him to appease. They decide to "show Daniel escape in place of survival." The power of Stott's story comes from her portrayal of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, who we find to be simultaneously defiant and heroic as well as stubborn and obtuse.

To learn more about Romie Stott and her work, check out her website “Three Young Men” is the second story in King David and the Spiders from Mars. To win a paperback or ebook copy of the anthology, enter the May Giveaway: King David and the Spiders from Mars.


  1. That's quite the twist on a Biblical tale!

    1. Thanks for visiting, Alex. All the tales have a good twist to them.

  2. I've heard of people being inspired by Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, or Gothic tales, but I've never heard of people re-doing biblical stories. But I don't run in Christian fic circles, so maybe it happens a lot only I don't know it! lol

    Wishing the anthology writers much success! :)

    1. There have been attempts to put out anthologies based on Bible stories before but I think I was the first one to really get it to fruition. I wouldn't call my books Christian fiction so much as fiction based on some very powerful mythology.

      And btw (this is the editor) I was actually inspired by Robert Alter's The Art of Biblical Poetry which treats the Bible in a literary manner with textual analysis that you would get in an English class.

      Also I converted to Judaism but that doesn't really matter.

    2. Are you planning another Bible-based collection? I hope so.

  3. This one sounds good too. Hope I win.