Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego.
When the Babylonian Empire conquered Judah in 598 BCE, they deported all the “excellent men” back to Babylon as captives and eunuchs. Among them was a teenager named Daniel.
Daniel’s friends were Hananiah (“Beloved of the Lord”), Mishael (“Who is God?”), and Azariah (“the Lord is my help”).
Once integrated into the Babylonian government, these men were given Babylonian names: Hananiah became Shadrach (“Illumined by the Sun God”), Mishael became Meshach (“Who is like unto the Moon God”), and Azariah became Abed-Nego (“Shining Fire”).
In the Instabul Museum is a five-sided Babylonian clay prism listing various officials and their ranks from the time of Nebuchadnezzar.
Found on the list is the name Ardi-Nabu, Official of the royal prince. This name is the equivalent to the Aramaic name Abednego and may in fact be the first mention of one of Daniel’s friends outside of the bible.
Another name found on the list is Hanunu, Commander of the king’s merchants. The name Hanunu may be the Babylonian equivalent for the Hebrew name Hananiah.
Another name found on the list is Meshallim-Marduk, who was an official to Nebuchadnezzar. Marduk was the name of a Babylonian god. If Marduk is left out of the name we wind up with Meshallim which may refer to Mishael.