Bel versus the living God (Dan 14:4-14:5)

“The king said to him.

‘Why do you

Not worship Bel?’

Daniel answered.

‘Because I do not revere

Idols,

Made with human hands.

But I revere

The living God,

Who created heaven,

Who created earth.

He has dominion

Over all living creatures.’”

King Cyrus and Daniel got into a conversation about Bel, the Babylonian god. The king wanted to know why Daniel did not worship Bel. Daniel explained that he did not worship or revere man made idols. Instead, he revered and worshipped the living God, who created heaven and earth. Thus, his God had dominion over all living creatures.

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The Babylonian god Bel (Dan 14:3-14:4)

“Now the Babylonians

Had an idol

Called Bel.

Every day,

They provided for it

Twelve bushels

Of choice flour,

Forty sheep,

Six measures

Of wine.

The king revered it.

He went every day

To worship it.

But Daniel worshiped

His own God.”

This god Bel was Bel Marduk, the great god of the Babylonians, mentioned by Jeremiah and Isaiah. Every day, the people provided this idol 12 bushels of choice flour, 40 sheep, and 6 measures or about 50 gallons of wine. The king Cyrus revered Bel, as he worshipped this god on a daily basis. Bel may have been popular in Persia also. However, Daniel worshipped his own God, but there is no indication where he did this.

Daniel was the companion of King Cyrus (Dan 14:2-14:2)

“Daniel was

A companion

Of the king.

He was the most honored

Of all his friends.”

Daniel was certainly in Babylon. How he was involved with the Persian Cyrus before he took over Babylon is not clear. Thus, this might be after the Persians had taken over Babylon. Certainly, Daniel was considered a companion and an honored friend of the king. Daniel was once again like Joseph in Egypt.

King Cyrus (Dan 14:1-14:1)

“When King Astyages

Was laid to rest

With his ancestors,

Cyrus the Persian

Succeeded to his kingdom.”

This last chapter of the Book of Daniel is often referred to as the story of Bel, the god, and the dragon. Daniel will show how each one was useless. Once again, this chapter is only in the Greek Septuagint, so that it is often called apocryphal. This story takes place at the later part of the life of Daniel, since Cyrus the Persian (598-530 BCE) was the King. His rule in Persia began in 559 BCE and lasted about 30 years. Here, he is still only the king of Persia that he received from his father, King Astyages (585-550 BCE). The sister of King Astyages was the wife of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Thus, you can see the connection, as Cyprus would have been the nephew of the Babylonian king. Eventually, Cyrus took over Babylon in 539 BCE.

All praise God (Dan 13:63-13:64)

“Hilkiah,

With his wife,

Praised God

For their daughter,

Susanna.

Joakim,

Her husband,

Also praised God.

All her relatives

Praised God.

She was found innocent

Of a shameful deed.

From that day onward,

Daniel

Had a great reputation

Among the people.”

Of course, this story has a happy ending. Hilkiah and his wife praised God because their daughter had been found innocent of this shameful deed. Also, her husband Joakim, who had been in the background, praised God. All of Susanna’s relatives were praising God, because Susanna was not found guilty. From that day on, Daniel had a great reputation, another reason why this might be better off at the beginning of this work.

The death of the two elders (Dan 13:60-13:62)

“Then the whole assembly

Raised a great shout.

They blessed God,

Who saves those

Who hope in him.

They took action

Against the two elders.

Out of their own mouths,

Daniel had convicted them

Of bearing false witness.

They did to them

As they had wickedly planned

To do to their neighbor.

Acting in accordance

With the law of Moses,

They put them to death.

Thus,

Innocent blood

Was spared

That day.”

The whole assembly of the Israelites at Joakim and Susanna’s house raised a great shout to bless God who always saved those who hoped in him. Then, they took action against these two elders. Their own words, about the two different trees for the intimate embrace, had convicted them of lying and bearing false witness against their neighbor. Thus, according to the Law of Moses, they were to be put to death. In the meantime, the innocent blood of Susanna had been saved on that day.

Under what tree did all this take place (Dan 13:58-13:59)

“‘Now then,

Tell me!

Under what tree

Did you catch them

Being intimate

With each other?’

The second elder answered.

‘Under an evergreen oak.’

Daniel said to him.

‘Very well!

This lie will cost you

Your head.

The angel of God

Is waiting

With his sword

To split you in two.

Thus,

He will destroy you both.’”

Daniel asked the second elder the same question that he had asked the first elder. Under what tree did you find Susanna and her friend being sexually intimate with each other? The second elder said that they were under an evergreen oak tree, a large holly oak tree, quite different from the small mastic tree. Once again, Daniel told this elder, like the first elder, that his lying response would cost him his life. The angel of God was waiting with his sword to split him in two. Thus, both these lying old judges would be destroyed. Once again there is a Greek play on words with evergreen oak tree (πρϊνος) and split (καταπριση).