Daniel – Chapter 14

The Bible – Old Testament



Chapter 14


1 After King Astyages was laid with his fathers, Cyrus the Persian succeeded to his kingdom.


2 Daniel was the king’s favorite and was held in higher esteem than any of the friends of the king.


3 The Babylonians had an idol called Bel, and every day they provided for it six barrels of fine flour, forty sheep, and six measures of wine.


The king worshiped it and went every day to adore it; but Daniel adored only his God.


When the king asked him, «Why do you not adore Bel?» Daniel replied, «Because I worship not idols made with hands, but only the living God who made heaven and earth and has dominion over all mankind.»


Then the king continued, «You do not think Bel is a living god? Do you not see how much he eats and drinks every day?»


Daniel began to laugh. «Do not be deceived, O king,» he said; «it is only clay inside and bronze outside; it has never taken any food or drink.»


Enraged, the king called his priests and said to them, «Unless you tell me who it is that consumes these provisions, you shall die.


But if you can show that Bel consumes them, Daniel shall die for blaspheming Bel.» Daniel said to the king, «Let it be as you say!»


There were seventy priests of Bel, besides their wives and children. When the king went with Daniel into the temple of Bel,


the priests of Bel said, «See, we are going to leave. Do you, O king, set out the food and prepare the wine; then shut the door and seal it with your ring.


If you do not find that Bel has eaten it all when you return in the morning, we are to die; otherwise Daniel shall die for his lies against us.»


They were not perturbed, because under the table they had made a secret entrance through which they always came in to consume the food.


After they departed the king set the food before Bel, while Daniel ordered his servants to bring some ashes, which they scattered through the whole temple; the king alone was present. Then they went outside, sealed the closed door with the king’s ring, and departed.


The priests entered that night as usual, with their wives and children, and they ate and drank everything.


Early the next morning, the king came with Daniel.


«Are the seals unbroken, Daniel?» he asked. And Daniel answered, «They are unbroken, O king.»


As soon as he had opened the door, the king looked at the table and cried aloud, «Great you are, O Bel; there is no trickery in you.»


But Daniel laughed and kept the king from entering. «Look at the floor,» he said; «whose footprints are these?»


«I see the footprints of men, women, and children!» said the king.


The angry king arrested the priests, their wives, and their children. They showed him the secret door by which they used to enter to consume what was on the table.


He put them to death, and handed Bel over to Daniel, who destroyed it and its temple.


There was a great dragon which the Babylonians worshiped.


«Look!» said the king to Daniel, «you cannot deny that this is a living god, so adore it.»


But Daniel answered, «I adore the Lord, my God, for he is the living God.


Give me permission, O king, and I will kill this dragon without sword or club.» «I give you permission,» the king said.


Then Daniel took some pitch, fat, and hair; these he boiled together and made into cakes. He put them into the mouth of the dragon, and when the dragon ate them, he burst asunder. «This,» he said, «is what you worshiped.»


When the Babylonians heard this, they were angry and turned against the king. «The king has become a Jew,» they said; «he has destroyed Bel, killed the dragon, and put the priests to death.»


They went to the king and demanded: «Hand Daniel over to us, or we will kill you and your family.»


When he saw himself threatened with violence, the king was forced to hand Daniel over to them.


They threw Daniel into a lions’ den, where he remained six days.


In the den were seven lions, and two carcasses and two sheep had been given to them daily. But now they were given nothing, so that they would devour Daniel.


In Judea there was a prophet, Habakkuk; he mixed some bread in a bowl with the stew he had boiled, and was going to bring it to the reapers in the field,


when an angel of the Lord told him, «Take the lunch you have to Daniel in the lions’ den at Babylon.»


But Habakkuk answered, «Babylon, sir, I have never seen, and I do not know the den!»


The angel of the Lord seized him by the crown of his head and carried him by the hair; with the speed of the wind, he set him down in Babylon above the den.


«Daniel, Daniel,» cried Habakkuk, «take the lunch God has sent you.»


«You have remembered me, O God,» said Daniel; «you have not forsaken those who love you.»


While Daniel began to eat, the angel of the Lord at once brought Habakkuk back to his own place.


On the seventh day the king came to mourn for Daniel. As he came to the den and looked in, there was Daniel, sitting there!


The king cried aloud, «You are great, O Lord, the God of Daniel, and there is no other besides you!»


Daniel he took out, but those who had tried to destroy him he threw into the den, and they were devoured in a moment before his eyes.


1 14, 1: King Astyages: the last of the Median kings, defeated by Cyrus in 550 B.C. This story preserves the fiction of a successive Median and Persian rule of Babylon.

2 [2] 14, 2: This verse in the Septuagint Greek text reads: «There was once a priest, Daniel by name, the son of Abal, A favorite of the king of Babylon.» This may represent an earlier form of the story, before it was attached to the Book of Daniel.

3 [3] 14, 3: Bel: see the note on 4, 5.