Bel and The Dragon
Bel and The Dragon
The story of Bel and the Serpent is included in the Greek Septuagint. However, it is not included in the Hebrew Bible. There are three parts to the story of Bel and the Serpent, and they all take place under the rule of the Persian King Cyrus.
The first part concerns the false accusation against Suzanne, Joakim's wife
The second part concerns the worship of the statue of Bel.
The third part concerns the story where Daniel is thrown into the den of lions
At that time will rise Michael, the great chief, who stands for the children of your people, and it will be a time of distress such as there has not been such, since there is a nation until that time. And in that time thy people shall be saved, whosoever shall be found written in the book.
And many who sleep in the dust will awake, some to eternal life, some to reproach, to everlasting reprobation.
Those who have been intelligent will shine like the splendor of the firmament, and those who have led many to righteousness will be like the stars, forever and ever.
And you, Daniel, keep these words and seal the book until the time of the end. Many will scrutinize it, and knowledge will increase."
I, Daniel, looked and behold two other men were standing, one on one side of the river, the other on the other side of the river.
One of them spoke to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river: "Until when is the end of these wonderful things?"
And I heard the man clothed in linen above the waters; and he lifted up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by him that liveth for ever that it would be at a time, and times, and half a time; And when the power of the holy people is broken, then all these things shall be accomplished.
And I heard, but without understanding, and said, "My lord, what shall be the end of these things?"
He said, "Go, Daniel, for the words are kept and sealed until the time of the end.
Many will be purified, made pure, and tried; and the wicked will do evil, and no wicked will understand; but the wise will understand.
From the time that the daily sacrifice is interrupted, and the abomination of the destroyer is set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.
Blessed is he who waits and comes to one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days!
Go to your end and rest; you will stand for your inheritance at the end of days."
Suzanne and the Judgment of Daniel - Stories from the Greek Version
There was a man who dwelt in Babylon, and his name was Joakim.
He took a wife named Suzanne, daughter of Helcias, of great beauty and God fearing;
for her parents, who were righteous, had instructed their daughter according to the law of Moses.
Now Joakim was very rich, and he had a garden near his house. Jews flocked to him because he was the most honorable of all.
Two elders of the people were appointed as judges in that year, of whom the Master said: "Iniquity came out of Babylon by elders who were judges, who seemed to rule over the people."
They frequented the house of Joakim, and all who had differences came to them.
Towards the middle of the day, when the people had retired, Susanna entered her husband's garden and was walking there.
The two old men saw her enter and walk there every day, and they developed a burning passion for her.
They perverted their senses and turned their eyes away so as not to see heaven and remember God's righteous judgments.
They were therefore filled with passion for her, but they did not communicate their suffering to each other,
for they were ashamed to reveal to each other the passion that made them want to be with her.
They watched her carefully every day to see her, and they said to each other:
"Let's go home, it's dinner time." And they went out and parted.
But having retraced their steps, they met, and wondering the reason for their return, they confessed their passion; then they agreed among themselves when they could find her alone.
As they were spying on a suitable day, it happened that Suzanne entered the garden, as she had done the day before and the day before, with no other company than two young girls; she wanted to bathe in the garden, for it was hot.
There was no one there, except the two old men, who had hid themselves and were watching her.
She said to the young women: "Bring me perfumed oil and ointments, and close the doors of the garden, that I may bathe."
They did as Suzanne had commanded and, having closed the garden gate, they went out by a back door, to bring what had been asked of them; they did not know that the old men were hidden in the garden.
As soon as the young girls had gone out, the two old men got up, ran to Susanna and said to her:
"See, the garden gates are closed, no one sees us, and we are burning with love for you; therefore consent to our desire and be ours.
"If not, we will stand as witnesses against you, and we will say that a young man was with you, and that is why you sent the young women away."
Suzanne sighed and said: "I am surrounded by anguish on all sides. If I do this, it is death for me, and if I don't, I will not escape from your hands."
"But it is better for me to fall into your hands without having done evil than to sin in the presence of the Lord."
Then Suzanne uttered a loud cry, and the two old men also cried out against her.
And one of them ran to open the gates of the garden.
When the servants of the house heard the cries of the garden, they rushed out the back door to see what was there.
When the old men explained themselves, the servants were very ashamed, because no such thing had ever been said about Suzanne.
The next day, the people having gathered at Joakim, Suzanne's husband, the two elders also came there, filled with evil thoughts against her, in order to destroy her.
They said before the people: "Send to seek shining, daughter of Helcias, wife of Joakim." And we sent immediately.
She came with her parents, her sons and all her relatives.
Or Suzanne, had delicate features and great beauty.
As she was veiled, the wicked judges commanded that her veil be taken off, to be satisfied with her beauty.
But all her family and all who knew her shed tears.
The two elders rose up among the people and put their hands on her head.
She, weeping, looked up to heaven, for her heart trusted in the Lord.
The old men said: "As we were walking alone in the garden, she came in with two young girls and, after closing the garden doors, she sent the young girls away.
"And a young man who was in hiding came to her and did evil with her.
"We were in a corner of the garden; seeing the crime, we ran to them, and we saw them in this infamy.
"We could not take the young man, because he was stronger than us, and having opened the door, he escaped.
"But she, after taking her, we asked her who this young man was, and she wouldn't tell us. That's what we attest to."
The multitude believed them, because they were elders and judges of the people, and they condemned her to death.
Then Suzanne cried out aloud and said: "Eternal God, who knows what is hidden and who knows all things before they happen,
"You know that they have borne false witness against me; and, behold, I die, having done nothing of what they wickedly invented against me."
The Lord heard her voice.
As she was being led to death, God awakened the holy spirit of a young child named Daniel.
He cried aloud: "For me, I am pure of this woman's blood!"
All the people turned to him and said to him: "What does this word which you say mean?"
Daniel standing in the midst of them said: "Are you then so foolish, children of Israel, to kill a girl of Israel without investigation, without seeking to know the truth?
"Go back to court, for they gave false testimony against her."
Then the people returned in haste, and the elders said to Daniel,
"Come, take your place among us, and tell us your advice, for God has given you wisdom of old age."
Daniel said to the people: "Separate them far from one another, and I will judge them."
When they were separated from each other, Daniel called one of them and said to him: "A man aged in crime, the sins which you once committed have now come upon you,
"you who judged unjustly, who condemned the innocent and released the guilty, when the Lord said: You shall not put to death the innocent and the righteous.
"Well, if you saw her, say under what tree you saw them talking to each other." He replied: "Under a mastic tree."
Daniel said: "Precisely you are telling a lie for your loss; for the angel of God who has already received divine judgment is going to split you in the middle."
After having sent him away, he commanded to bring the other, and he said to him: "Race of Canaan, and not of Judah, the beauty of a woman has deceived you, and passion has perverted your heart.
This is how you did with the daughters of Israel, and they, being afraid of you, spoke to you; but a daughter of Judah could not endure your iniquity.
Tell me now, then, under which tree you caught them talking together."
He said: "Under an oak tree." Daniel said to him: "You too have said a lie for your loss; for the angel of the Lord is waiting, sword in hand, the time to cut you in the middle, in order to kill you."
Then the whole assembly cried out with a loud cry, and they blessed God who saves those who hope in him.
Then they rose up against the two elders, whom Daniel had convinced with their own mouths that they had borne false witness, and they did them the evil which they themselves had intended to do to their neighbor;
in order to fulfill the law of Moses, and therefore they put them to death, and innocent blood was saved in that day.
Helcias and his wife praised God concerning their daughter Suzanne, with Joakim, her husband, and all her relatives, because there was nothing dishonorable in her.
And Daniel became great in the sight of the people from that day forth and in the latter days.
Bel and the Serpent - Daniel and the priests of Bel
When King Astyages was laid with his fathers, Cyrus the Persian received his kingdom.
And Daniel was a companion of the king, and was the most honored of his friends.
Now the Babylonians had an idol called Bel, and every day they spent on it twelve bushels of fine flour and forty sheep and fifty gallons of wine.
The king revered it and went every day to worship it. But Daniel worshiped his own God.
And the king said to him: "Why do you not worship Bel?" He answered: "Because I do not revere man-made idols, but the living God, who created heaven and earth and has dominion over all flesh."
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?"
Then Daniel laughed, and said: "Do not be deceived, O king; for this is but clay inside and brass outside, and it never ate or drank anything."
Then the king was angry, and he called his priests and said to them: "If you do not tell me who is eating these provisions, you shall die.
"But if you prove that Bel is eating them, Daniel shall die, because he blasphemed against Bel." And Daniel said to the king: "Let it be done as you have said."
Now there were seventy priests of Bel, besides their wives and children. And the king went with Daniel into the temple of Bel.
And the priests of Bel said: "Behold, we are going outside; you yourself, O king, shall set forth the food and mix and place the wine, and shut the door and seal it with your signet.
"And when you return in the morning, if you do not find that Bel has eaten it all, we will die; or else Daniel will, who is telling lies about us."
They were unconcerned, for beneath the table they had made a hidden entrance, through which they used to go in regularly and consume the provisions.
When they had gone out, the king set forth the food for Bel. Then Daniel ordered his servants to bring ashes and they sifted them throughout the whole temple in the presence of the king alone. Then they went out, shut the door and sealed it with the king's signet, and departed.
In the night the priests came with their wives and children, as they were accustomed to do, and ate and drank everything.
Early in the morning the king rose and came, and Daniel with him.
And the king said: "Are the seals unbroken, Daniel?" He answered: "They are unbroken, O king."
As soon as the doors were opened, the king looked at the table, and shouted in a loud voice: "You are great, O Bel; and with you there is no deceit, none at all."
Then Daniel laughed, and restrained the king from going in, and said: "Look at the floor, and notice whose footsteps these are."
The king said: "I see the footsteps of men and women and children."
Then the king was enraged, and he seized the priests and their wives and children; and they showed him the secret doors through which they were accustomed to enter and devour what was on the table.
Therefore the king put them to death, and gave Bel over to Daniel, who destroyed it and its temple.
There was also a great dragon, which the Babylonians revered.
And the king said to Daniel: "You cannot deny that this is a living god; so worship him."
Daniel said: "I will worship the Lord my God, for he is the living God.
"But if you, O king, will give me permission, I will slay the dragon without sword or club." The king said: "I give you permission."
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. And Daniel said: "See what you have been worshiping!"
When the Babylonians heard it, they were very indignant and conspired against the king, saying: "The king has become a Jew; he has destroyed Bel, and slain the dragon, and slaughtered the priests."
Going to the king, they said: "Hand Daniel over to us, or else we will kill you and your household."
The king saw that they were pressing him hard, and under compulsion he handed Daniel over to them.
They threw Daniel into the lions' den, and he was there for six days.
There were seven lions in the den, and every day they had been given two human bodies and two sheep; but these were not given to them now, so that they might devour Daniel.
Now the prophet Habakkuk was in Judea. He had boiled pottage and had broken bread into a bowl, and was going into the field to take it to the reapers.
But the angel of the Lord said to Habakkuk: "Take the dinner which you have to Babylon, to Daniel, in the lions' den."
Habakkuk said: "Sir, I have never seen Babylon, and I know nothing about the den."
Then the angel of the Lord took him by the crown of his head, and lifted him by his hair and set him down in Babylon, right over the den, with the rushing sound of the wind itself.
Then Habakkuk shouted: "Daniel, Daniel! Take the dinner which God has sent you."
And Daniel said: "Thou hast remembered me, O God, and hast not forsaken those who love thee."
So Daniel arose and ate. And the angel of God immediately returned Habakkuk to his own place.
On the seventh day the king came to mourn for Daniel. When he came to the den he looked in, and there sat Daniel.
And the king shouted with a loud voice: "Thou art great, O Lord God of Daniel, and there is no other besides thee."
And he pulled Daniel out, and threw into the den the men who had attempted his destruction, and they were devoured immediately before his eyes. Then the king said:
"Let all the inhabitants of the whole earth fear the God of Daniel, for he is the Savior, who works signs and wonders on the earth, he who delivered Daniel from the den of lions!"