Bel’s Secret
1When King Astyages was buried with his ancestors, Cyrus the Persian took over his kingdom. 2Daniel was a companion of the king, honored above all Cyrus’ political advisors.#Or Friends 3Now the Babylonians had an idol named Bel. Each day they supplied it with twelve bushels of fine flour, forty sheep, and sixty gallons#Gk metretai, a liquid measure of approximately ten gallons of wine. 4The king honored Bel and worshipped it daily, but Daniel worshipped his own God. So the king said to him, "Why don’t you worship Bel?"
5He said, "I don’t honor idols made by humans, rather the living God who created heaven and earth and has authority over all living things."
6The king said to him, "You believe Bel is a living god, don’t you? Haven’t you seen how much he eats and drinks every day?"
7Daniel laughed and said, "Don’t be taken in, Your Majesty! This is clay on the inside and brass on the outside. It hasn’t eaten or drunk anything, ever!"
8Furious, the king called for his priests. He said to them,"If you don’t tell me who eats these provisions, you die! But if you can prove that Bel eats them, Daniel will die for insulting Bel."
9Daniel said to the king,"That’s fair enough."
Now Bel had seventy priests plus their wives and children. 10The king went with Daniel to Bel’s temple. 11Bel’s priests said, "We’re going outside now. Your Majesty, you set out the food and mix the wine. Lock the door and seal it with your own seal. Early tomorrow, if you don’t find that Bel has eaten everything, you can kill us. Otherwise, kill Daniel for lying about us!" (12The priests weren’t worried because they had made a hidden entrance under the table, which they regularly used to enter to eat everything.)
13When the priests went out, the king set out Bel’s food. 14But Daniel ordered his servants to bring ashes and sprinkle the whole temple, with only the king watching. Then everyone went out, locked the door, sealed it with the king’s seal, and left.
15The priests came that night, as usual, with their wives and children, and ate and drank everything. 16The king and Daniel got up very early the next morning. 17The king said,"Are the seals unbroken, Daniel?"
He answered,"Unbroken, Your Majesty."
18As soon as the doors were opened, the king looked at the table and yelled,"You are great, Bel! There’s nothing fake about you!"
19But Daniel laughed and held the king back from going in. He said,"Look at the floor. Whose tracks are these?"
20The king said,"I see the footprints of men, women, and children!" 21Then the king became angry. He arrested the priests, their wives, and children. They showed him the hidden doors through which they regularly entered to eat what was on the table. 22The king killed them and handed Bel over to Daniel, who tore it and its temple down.
A living god?
23Now there was a big snake that the Babylonians worshipped. 24The king said to Daniel,"You can’t say that this one isn’t a living god. So worship it!"
25Daniel said,"I will keep worshipping the Lord my God, because he is a living God. But, Your Majesty, just give me permission, and I’ll kill the snake without using a sword or stick!"
26The king said,"I give you permission."
27Then Daniel took tar and cooking grease and hair. He boiled them down, made patties, and put them into the snake’s mouth. The snake swallowed them and burst open. Daniel said,"Look at what you have been worshipping!"
Daniel in the lions’ pit
28When the Babylonians heard what happened, they were very angry. They came together as a mob and started toward the king, saying,"The king has become a Jew! He’s torn down Bel, killed the snake, and murdered the priests!" 29When they reached the king, they said,"Hand Daniel over to us! If you don’t, we’ll kill you and your family!"
30The king saw that he was in a bind and was forced to hand Daniel over to them. 31They threw Daniel into a pit of lions. He was there six days. 32There were seven lions in the pit. Usually they were fed two bodies and two sheep daily, but now they were fed nothing so that they would devour Daniel.
33At the same time, the prophet Habakkuk was in Judah. He had boiled a stew, put some bread in a bowl, and was carrying it to the people harvesting the field. 34But the Lord’s angel said to Habakkuk,"Take this lunch to Babylon, to Daniel in the lions’ pit."
35Habakkuk said,"Lord, I’ve never seen Babylon, and I’m not familiar with that pit." 36So the Lord’s angel lifted Habakkuk by his hair and brought him in a rush of wind#Or in the rush of his spirit to Babylon, right above the pit. 37Habakkuk yelled,"Daniel! Daniel! Take the lunch that God has sent to you!"
38Daniel said,"God, you remembered me! You don’t abandon the people who love you." 39Daniel got up and ate, while God’s angel took Habakkuk instantly back to his own place.
40On the seventh day the king came to the pit to grieve for Daniel. He looked in, and there was Daniel, sitting there! 41Then the king shouted out loud, "You are great, Lord, Daniel’s God! There’s no other but you!" 42He pulled Daniel out. But he threw the ones who had planned Daniel’s destruction into the pit, and they were eaten instantly, right in front of him.
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