1 When King Astyages was laid to rest with his ancestors, Cyrus the Persian succeeded to his kingdom. 2Daniel was a companion of the king, and was the most honoured of all his friends.
3 Now the Babylonians had an idol called Bel, and every day they provided for it twelve bushels of choice flour and forty sheep and six measures* of wine. 4The king revered it and went every day to worship it. But Daniel worshipped his own God.
So the king said to him, Why do you not worship Bel? 5He answered, Because I do not revere idols made with hands, but the living God, who created heaven and earth and has dominion over all living creatures.
6 The king said to him, Do you not think that Bel is a living god? Do you not see how much he eats and drinks every day? 7And Daniel laughed, and said, Do not be deceived, O king, for this thing is only clay inside and bronze outside, and it never ate or drank anything.
8 Then the king was angry and called the priests of Bel* and said to them, If you do not tell me who is eating these provisions, you shall die. 9But if you prove that Bel is eating them, Daniel shall die, because he has spoken blasphemy against Bel. Daniel said to the king, Let it be done as you have said.
10 Now there were seventy priests of Bel, besides their wives and children. So the king went with Daniel into the temple of Bel. 11The priests of Bel said, See, we are now going outside; you yourself, O king, set out the food and prepare the wine, and shut the door and seal it with your signet. 12When you return in the morning, if you do not find that Bel has eaten it all, we will die; otherwise Daniel will, who is telling lies about us. 13They were unconcerned, for beneath the table they had made a hidden entrance, through which they used to go in regularly and consume the provisions. 14After they had gone out, the king set out the food for Bel. Then Daniel ordered his servants to bring ashes, and they scattered them throughout the whole temple in the presence of the king alone. Then they went out, shut the door and sealed it with the kings signet, and departed. 15During the night the priests came as usual, with their wives and children, and they ate and drank everything.
16 Early in the morning the king rose and came, and Daniel with him. 17The king said, Are the seals unbroken, Daniel? He answered, They are unbroken, O king. 18As soon as the doors were opened, the king looked at the table, and shouted in a loud voice, You are great, O Bel, and in you there is no deceit at all!
19 But Daniel laughed and restrained the king from going in. Look at the floor, he said, and notice whose footprints these are. 20The king said, I see the footprints of men and women and children.
21 Then the king was enraged, and he arrested the priests and their wives and children. They showed him the secret doors through which they used to enter to consume what was on the table.
22Therefore the king put them to death, and gave Bel over to Daniel, who destroyed it and its temple.
23 Now in that place* there was a great dragon, which the Babylonians revered. 24The king said to Daniel, You cannot deny that this is a living god; so worship him. 25Daniel said, I worship the Lord my God, for he is the living God. 26But give me permission, O king, and I will kill the dragon without sword or club. The king said, I give you permission.
27 Then Daniel took pitch, fat, and hair, and boiled them together and made cakes, which he fed to the dragon. The dragon ate them, and burst open. Then Daniel said, See what you have been worshipping!
28 When the Babylonians heard about it, they were very indignant and conspired against the king, saying, The king has become a Jew; he has destroyed Bel, and killed the dragon, and slaughtered the priests. 29Going to the king, they said, Hand Daniel over to us, or else we will kill you and your household. 30The king saw that they were pressing him hard, and under compulsion he handed Daniel over to them.
31 They threw Daniel into the lions den, and he was there for six days. 32There were seven lions in the den, and every day they had been given two human bodies and two sheep; but now they were given nothing, so that they would devour Daniel.
33 Now the prophet Habakkuk was in Judea; he had made a stew and had broken bread into a bowl, and was going into the field to take it to the reapers. 34But the angel of the Lord said to Habakkuk, Take the food that you have to Babylon, to Daniel, in the lions den. 35Habakkuk said, Sir, I have never seen Babylon, and I know nothing about the den. 36Then the angel of the Lord took him by the crown of his head and carried him by his hair; with the speed of the wind* he set him down in Babylon, right over the den.
37 Then Habakkuk shouted, Daniel, Daniel! Take the food that God has sent you. 38Daniel said, You have remembered me, O God, and have not forsaken those who love you. 39So Daniel got up and ate. And the angel of God immediately returned Habakkuk to his own place.
40 On the seventh day the king came to mourn for Daniel. When he came to the den he looked in, and there sat Daniel! 41The king shouted with a loud voice, You are great, O Lord, the God of Daniel, and there is no other besides you! 42Then he pulled Daniel* out, and threw into the den those who had attempted his destruction, and they were instantly eaten before his eyes.
The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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10 February 2011