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Introduction
This material precedes Daniel 1 in some Greek manuscripts and follows Daniel 12 in the Latin Vulgate, where it is numbered Daniel 13.
The History of Susanna, the second of the three additions to The Book of Daniel, was most likely made when the book was translated from Hebrew into Greek. In the Greek Septuagint Bible Susanna is located as a single-chapter preliminary to the book of Daniel. In the Latin Vulgate Bible it is treated as an appendix chapter and relocated to the end of Daniel where it is identified as chapter 13. Although the narrative pivots around the fate of an otherwise unknown woman named Susanna, this book is very much a story about Daniel, a brilliant lawyer who comes to the rescue of the wrongfully accused Susanna. And thus this fast-paced courtroom drama has always been associated with the book of Daniel. The underlying message is aimed at people experiencing unjust oppression, reminding them that God is just and will rescue those who are resolutely faithful even when their faith is severely tested.
In this story we encounter a beautiful young woman, Susanna, who is newly married and living in the Jewish community in Babylon. While bathing one day in the secluded gardens of her home, she is confronted by two lustful elders (judges in the community) who had been hiding and watching her. When she rejects their advances, they resort to the age-old male ploy of defaming the reputation of the female they wished to victimize while hiding behind their cloaks of respectability as judges. Since the law warrants conviction on the basis of two witnesses who agree and since these two witnesses conspired to accuse her falsely, Susanna is condemned to die for the adulterous act they claimed to have seen her commit. But God hears her prayers and sends Daniel to her rescue. In defending her, Daniel makes a brilliant tactical move—that of separating the accusers to check the details of their stories. When their stories do not cohere, their lies are exposed, and they are convicted instead of Susanna, whose innocence is vindicated. It is this scene of Daniel using his cleverness to find the truth that gave Shakespeare his famous phrase, “a Daniel come to judgment” (Merchant of Venice, IV, 1).
Outline
Two Judges Plot to Seduce Susanna (1-27)
Susanna Is Accused, Put on Trial, and Condemned to Death (28-43)
Daniel Comes to the Rescue of Susanna (44-64)