Bel and the Dragon
King Astyages was gathered to his fathers, and Cyrus the Persian received his kingdom. Daniel lived with the king, and was honored above all his friends.
Now the Babylonians had an idol called Bel, and every day twelve great measures of fine flour, forty sheep, and six firkins of wine were spent on it. The king honored it and went daily to worship it; but Daniel worshiped his own God. The king said to him, “Why don’t you worship Bel?”
He said, “Because I may not honor idols made with hands, but only the living God, who has created the sky and the earth, and has sovereignty over all flesh.”
Then the king said to him, “Don’t you think that Bel is a living god? Don’t you see how much he eats and drinks every day?”
Then Daniel laughed, and said, “O king, don’t be deceived; for this is just clay inside, and brass outside, and never ate or drank anything.”
So the king was angry, and called for his priests, and said to them, “If you don’t tell me who this is who devours these expenses, you shall die. But if you can show me that Bel devours them, then Daniel shall die; for he has spoken blasphemy against Bel.”
Daniel said to the king, “Let it be according to your word.”
10 Now there were seventy priests of Bel, besides their wives and children. The king went with Daniel into Bel’s temple. 11 So Bel’s priests said, “Behold, we will leave; but you, O king, set out the food, and mix the wine and set it out, shut the door securely, and seal it with your own signet. 12 When you come in the morning, if you don’t find that Bel has eaten everything, we will suffer death, or else Daniel, who speaks falsely against us.”
13 They weren’t concerned, for under the table they had made a secret entrance, by which they entered in continually, and consumed those things. 14 It happened, when they had gone out, the king set the food before Bel. Now Daniel had commanded his servants to bring ashes, and they scattered them all over the temple in the presence of the king alone. Then they went out, shut the door, sealed it with the king’s signet, and so departed.
15 Now in the night, the priests came with their wives and children, as they usually did, and ate and drank it all. 16 In the morning, the king arose, and Daniel with him. 17 The king said, “Daniel, are the seals whole?”
He said, “Yes, O king, they are whole.”
18 And as soon as he had opened the door, the king looked at the table, and cried with a loud voice, “You are great, O Bel, and with you is no deceit at all!”
19 Then Daniel laughed, and held the king that he should not go in, and said, “Behold now the pavement, and mark well whose footsteps these are.”
20 The king said, “I see the footsteps of men, women, and children.” Then the king was angry, 21 and took the priests with their wives and children, who showed him the secret doors, where they came in and consumed the things that were on the table. 22 Therefore the king killed them, and delivered Bel into Daniel’s power, who overthrew it and its temple.
23 In that same place there was a great dragon which the people of Babylon worshiped. 24 The king said to Daniel, “Will you also say that this is of brass? Behold, he lives, eats and drinks. You can’t say that he is no living god. Therefore worship him.”
25 Then Daniel said, “I will worship the Lord my God; for he is a living God. 26 But allow me, O king, and I will kill this dragon without sword or staff.”
The king said, “I allow you.”
27 Then Daniel took pitch, fat, and hair, and melted them together, and made lumps of them. He put these in the dragon’s mouth, so the dragon ate and burst apart. Daniel said, “Behold, these are the gods you all worship.”
28 When the people of Babylon heard that, they took great indignation, and conspired against the king, saying, “The king has become a Jew. He has pulled down Bel, slain the dragon, and put the priests to the sword.” 29 So they came to the king, and said, “Deliver Daniel to us, or else we will destroy you and your house.”
30 Now when the king saw that they trapped him, being constrained, the king delivered Daniel to them. 31 They cast him into the lion’s den, where he was six days. 32 There were seven lions in the den, and they had been giving them two carcasses and two sheep every day, which then were not given to them, intending that they would devour Daniel.
33 Now there was in Jewry the prophet Habakkuk,§ who had made stew, and had broken bread into a bowl. He was going into the field to bring it to the reapers. 34 But the angel of the Lord said to Habakkuk, “Go carry the dinner that you have into Babylon to Daniel, in the lions’ den.”
35 Habakkuk said, “Lord, I never saw Babylon. I don’t know where the den is.”
36 Then the angel of the Lord took him by the crown, and lifted him up by the hair of his head, and with the blast of his breath set him in Babylon over the den.
37 Habakkuk cried, saying, “O Daniel, Daniel, take the dinner which God has sent you.”
38 Daniel said, “You have remembered me, O God! You haven’t forsaken those who love you!” 39 So Daniel arose and ate; and the angel of God set Habakkuk in his own place again immediately. 40 On the seventh day, the king came to mourn for Daniel. When he came to the den, he looked in, and, behold, Daniel was sitting. 41 Then the king cried with a loud voice, saying, “Great are you, O Lord, you God of Daniel, and there is none other beside you!” 42 So he drew him out, and cast those that were the cause of his destruction into the den; and they were devoured in a moment before his face.
14:1 Bel and the Dragon is translated from chapter 14 of Daniel in the Greek Septuagint. It is not found in the traditional Hebrew text of Daniel. Bel and the Dragon is recognized as Deuterocanonical Scripture by the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Russian Orthodox Churches. 14:3 a firkin is about 41 liters or 11 gallons. § 14:33 Gr. Ambakoum.