1 Darius decided it would be good to place the kingdom under the control of one hundred and twenty provincial governors. 2 Three chief ministers were placed over them to look after the king's interests. Daniel was one of the three. 3 Soon Daniel was shown to be a far better administrator than the other chief ministers and provincial governors. Because of his exceptional ability, the king planned to put him in charge of the whole kingdom.
4 As a result the other chief ministers and provincial governors tried to find a pretext against Daniel as to the way he ran the kingdom. But they couldn't find any cause for complaint or any corruption, for he was trustworthy. They could not discover any evidence that Daniel was negligent or corrupt. 5 So they said to themselves, “We won't find any pretext to attack Daniel unless we use his observance of his God's laws against him.”
6 So these chief ministers and provincial governors went together to see the king. “May Your Majesty King Darius live forever!” they said. 7 “We have all agreed—chief ministers, prefects, provincial governors, counselors, and local governors—that Your Majesty should issue a decree, legally enforced, that for the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human being except you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions' den. 8 Now, Your Majesty, if you will sign the decree and have it issued so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians that cannot be revoked.” 9 So Darius signed the decree into law.
10 When Daniel found out that the decree had been signed he went home to his upstairs room where he would pray three times a day, with the windows open facing Jerusalem. There he kneeled down, praying and thanking his God as he always did. 11 Then the men who had plotted against Daniel* “The men who had plotted against Daniel”: literally, “these men.” went together and found him praying to his God and asking for help. 12 They went to the king right away and asked him about the decree. “Didn't Your Majesty sign a decree that for the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human being except you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions' den?”
“I certainly did!” the king replied. “The decree stands. According to the law of the Medes and the Persians it cannot be revoked.”
13 Then they told the king, “Daniel, one of those captives from Judah, pays no attention to Your Majesty or to the decree you signed and prays three times a day.”
14 When the king heard this, he was very upset and tried to think of how to save Daniel. He worked hard until sundown trying to rescue him. 15 Then the men returned together and said to the king, “You know, Your Majesty, that according to the law of the Medes and the Persians no decree or statute can be changed.”
16 Eventually the king gave the order and Daniel was taken and thrown into the lions' den. The king told him, “May the God you so loyally serve save you!”
17 A stone was brought and placed over the entrance to the den and the king sealed it with his own personal seal and those of his nobles so that no one could interfere with what was happening to Daniel. 18 Then the king went back to his palace. He ate nothing at all that night and refused any kind of entertainment. He couldn't sleep a wink.
19 At dawn, as soon as it was light, the king got up and rushed to the lions' den. 20 As he approached the den, he called out anxiously to Daniel, “Daniel, servant of the living God whom you honor so faithfully, was your God able to save you from the lions?”
21 Daniel replied, “May Your Majesty the king live forever! 22 My God sent his angel to shut the lions' mouths. They have not hurt me because I was found innocent in his sight. In addition, I have never done you any wrong, Your Majesty.”
23 The king was extremely pleased and ordered Daniel brought up from the den. Daniel was lifted up from the den and he was found to have no injuries at all because he had trusted in his God.
24 Then the king ordered the men who had accused Daniel to be brought and they were thrown into the lions' den along with their wives and children. Before they even reached the floor of the den the lions attacked them, ripping them to pieces.† “Ripping them to pieces”: literally, “crushing all their bones.”
25 Then Darius wrote to all the people of the world, the different nations and languages, saying, “I wish you well!‡ On the greeting see 4:1. 26 I decree that throughout my entire kingdom everyone should respect and honor the God of Daniel, for he is the living God. He is everlasting and his kingdom will never be destroyed. His reign will never end. 27 He is the one who rescues and saves; he does miracles and wonders in the heavens and on earth. He saved Daniel from death in the lions' den.”
28 Daniel experienced good success during the reigns of Darius and Cyrus the Persian.
*6:11 “The men who had plotted against Daniel”: literally, “these men.”
†6:24 “Ripping them to pieces”: literally, “crushing all their bones.”
‡6:25 On the greeting see 4:1.