Daniel and the Priests of Bel
1After the death of King Astyages, Cyrus of Persia took over his kingdom. 2Daniel was one of King Cyrus' closest companions, and the king thought more highly of Daniel than of any other of his advisers.
3 # Is 46.1; Jr 51.44 The Babylonians had an idol named Bel. Each day the people had to provide Bel with an offering of twelve bushels of fine flour, forty sheep, and fifty gallons of wine. 4King Cyrus believed that Bel was a god, and each day he used to go and worship it. But Daniel worshiped his own God.
5One day the king asked Daniel, “Why don't you worship Bel?”
Daniel answered, “I do not worship idols made with human hands. I worship only the living God, who created heaven and earth and is the Lord of all human beings.”
6“And don't you believe that our god Bel is really alive?” asked the king. “Haven't you seen how much he eats and drinks every day?”
7Daniel laughed and said, “Don't be fooled, Your Majesty. This god you call Bel is nothing more than clay covered with bronze; it has never eaten or drunk anything.”
8-10At this the king became angry and called in all seventy of the priests of Bel. He said to them, “I warn you that you will be put to death, unless you can show me that it is Bel who is eating these offerings. If you prove to me that it is Bel, then I will have Daniel put to death for claiming that Bel is not a god.”
Daniel agreed to this proposal.
11Then they all went with the king into Bel's temple, where the priests said to the king, “Your Majesty, we will go out and let you place the food on the table and prepare the wine. When you leave, you may lock the door behind you and seal it with the royal seal. 12In the morning when you return, if you find that Bel has not eaten everything, you can put us to death. But if he has, Daniel will die for making false accusations against us.”
13But the priests were not worried, because they had made a secret entrance underneath a table in the temple, so that they could go in every night and eat the offerings.
14When the priests had left, the king set out the food for Bel. Then Daniel ordered his servants to bring some ashes and scatter them all over the floor of the temple. No one except the king saw them do this. After that they all went out, locked the door, sealed it with the royal seal, and left.
15That night, as usual, the priests with their wives and children came into the temple by the secret entrance and ate all the food and drank all the wine.
16Early the next morning, the king and Daniel went to the temple. 17The king asked, “Have the seals been broken, Daniel?”
“No, Your Majesty, they have not been broken,” he replied.
18As soon as the door was opened, the king saw the empty table and shouted, “You are great, O Bel! You really are a god.”
19But Daniel began to laugh and said to the king, “Before you enter the temple, look at the floor and tell me whose footprints you see there.”
20“I see the footprints of men, women, and children,” said the king, 21and he became so angry that he had the priests and their families arrested and brought to him. They showed him the secret doors through which they had come in each night to eat the food placed on the table. 22So the king had the priests put to death, and he gave Bel to Daniel, who destroyed the idol and tore down its temple.
Daniel Kills the Dragon
23There was also a huge dragon which the Babylonians worshiped. 24One day the king said to Daniel, “You can't tell me that this god is not alive. So worship him!”
25“I worship the Lord,” replied Daniel. “He is the only living God. 26And if Your Majesty will give me permission, I will kill this dragon of yours without using a sword or a club.”
“You have my permission,” answered the king.
27So Daniel took some tar, some fat, and some hair and boiled them all together. He made cakes out of the mixture and fed them to the dragon. When the dragon ate them, it swelled up and burst open. “That's the kind of thing you Babylonians worship,” said Daniel.
28When the people of Babylon heard what had happened, they staged an angry demonstration against the king. “The king has become a Jew,” they shouted. “First he destroyed Bel and slaughtered the priests, and now he has killed our dragon.” 29They went to the king and demanded that Daniel be handed over to them. “If you refuse,” they warned the king, “we will put you and your family to death.”
30When the king saw that they meant what they said, he was forced to hand Daniel over to them. 31#Dn 6.16-24 They threw him into a pit of lions, where they left him for six days. 32There were seven lions in the pit, and normally they were fed two human bodies and two sheep each day. But they were given nothing to eat during these six days, in order to make sure that Daniel would be eaten.
Daniel Is Rescued from the Pit of Lions
33At that time the prophet Habakkuk was in the land of Judah. He had cooked a stew and crumbled bread into it. He was carrying a bowl of it to the workers who were out in the fields harvesting grain, 34when an angel of the Lord spoke to him, “Take the food you are carrying and give it to Daniel, who is in Babylon in a pit of lions.”
35Habakkuk answered, “Sir, I have never been to Babylon, and I don't know where the pit of lions is.”
36 # Ez 8.3 So the angel grabbed the prophet by the hair and took him to Babylon with the speed of the wind.#1.36: with the speed of the wind; or by the power of his spirit. He set him down near the pit of lions. 37Habakkuk called out, “Daniel! Daniel! God has sent you some food. Here, take it.”
38When Daniel heard Habakkuk, he prayed, “God, you did remember me; you never abandon those who love you.” 39Then he got up and ate the meal, and God's angel immediately took Habakkuk home.
40Seven days after Daniel had been thrown to the lions, the king went to the pit to mourn for him. When he got there and looked in, there sat Daniel. 41The king shouted, “O Lord, the God of Daniel, how great you are. You alone are God.” 42So he pulled Daniel out of the pit and had those who had tried to kill Daniel thrown into it. And the lions ate them immediately, while the king watched.