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Daniel - Chapter 14

1 When King Astyages joined his ancestors, Cyrus of Persia succeeded him.

2 Daniel was very close to the king, who respected him more than any of his other friends.

3 Now, in Babylon there was an idol called Bel, to which twelve bushels of the finest flour, forty sheep and six measures of wine were offered every day.

4 The king venerated this idol and used to go and worship it every day. Daniel, however, worshipped his own God.

5 'Why do you not worship Bel?' the king asked Daniel. 'I do not worship idols made by human hand,' Daniel replied, 'I worship the living God who made heaven and earth and who is lord over all living creatures.'

6 'Do you not believe, then,' said the king, 'that Bel is a living god? Can you not see how much he eats and drinks each day?'

7 Daniel laughed. 'Your Majesty,' he said, 'do not be taken in; he is clay inside, and bronze outside, and has never eaten or drunk anything.'

8 This made the king angry; he summoned his priests, 'Tell me who eats all this food,' he said, 'or die. Prove to me that Bel really eats it, and I will have Daniel put to death for blaspheming him.'

9 Daniel said to the king, 'Let it be as you say.'

10 There were seventy of these priests, to say nothing of their wives and children. The king went to the temple of Bel, taking Daniel with him.

11 The priests of Bel said to him, 'We shall now go out, and you, Your Majesty, will lay out the meal and mix the wine and set it out. Then, lock the door and seal it with your personal seal. If, when you return in the morning, you do not find that everything has been eaten by Bel,let us be put to death; otherwise let Daniel, that slanderer!'

12 They were thinking -- hence their confidence -- of a secret entrance which they had made under the table, and by which they came in regularly and took the offerings away.

13 When the priests had gone and the king had set out the food for Bel,

14 Daniel made his servants bring ashes and spread them all over the temple floor, with no other witness than the king. They then left the building, shut the door and, sealing it with the king's seal, went away.

15 That night, as usual, the priests came with their wives and children; they ate and drank everything.

16 The king was up very early next morning, and Daniel with him.

17 'Daniel,' said the king, 'are the seals intact?' 'They are intact, Your Majesty,' he replied.

18 The king then opened the door and, taking one look at the table, exclaimed, 'You are great, O Bel! There is no deception in you!'

19 But Daniel laughed; and, restraining the king from going in any further, he said, 'Look at the floor and take note whose footmarks these are!'

20 'I can see the footmarks of men, of women and of children,' said the king,

21 and angrily ordered the priests to be arrested, with their wives and children. They then showed him the secret door through which they used to come and take what was on the table.

22 The king had them put to death and handed Bel over to Daniel who destroyed both the idol and its temple.

23 There was a great dragon which the Babylonians worshipped too.

24 The king said to Daniel, 'Are you going to tell me that this is made of bronze? Look, it is alive; it eats and drinks; you cannot deny that this is a living god; worship it, then.'

25 Daniel replied, 'I will worship the Lord my God; he is the living God. With your permission, Your Majesty, without using either sword or club, I shall kill this dragon.'

26 'You have my permission,' said the king.

27 Whereupon, Daniel took some pitch, some fat and some hair and boiled them up together, rolled the mixture into balls and fed them to the dragon; the dragon swallowed them and burst. Daniel said, 'Now look at the sort of thing you worship!'

28 The Babylonians were furious when they heard about this and rose against the king. 'The king has turned Jew,' they said, 'he has allowed Bel to be overthrown, and the dragon to be killed, and he has put the priests to death.'

29 So they went to the king and said, 'Hand Daniel over to us or else we shall kill you and your family.'

30 They pressed him so hard that the king found himself forced to hand Daniel over to them.

31 They threw Daniel into the lion pit, and there he stayed for six days.

32 In the pit were seven lions, which were given two human bodies and two sheep every day; but for this period they were not given anything, to make sure they would eat Daniel.

33 Now, the prophet Habakkuk was in Judaea: he had been making a stew and breaking up bread into a basket. He was on his way to the fields, taking this to the harvesters,

34 when the angel of the Lord spoke to him, 'Take the meal you are carrying to Babylon, and give it to Daniel in the lion pit.'

35 'Lord,' replied Habakkuk, 'I have not even seen Babylon and know nothing about this pit.'

36 The angel of the Lord took hold of his head and carried him off by the hair to Babylon where, with a great blast of his breath, he set Habakkuk down on the edge of the pit.

37 'Daniel, Daniel,' Habakkuk shouted, 'take the meal that God has sent you.'

38 And Daniel said, 'You have kept me in mind, O God; you have not deserted those who love you.'

39 Rising to his feet, he ate the meal, while the angel of God carried Habakkuk back in a moment to his own country.

40 On the seventh day, the king came to lament over Daniel; on reaching the pit he looked inside, and there sat Daniel.

41 'You are great, O Lord, God of Daniel,' he exclaimed, 'there is no god but you!'

42 He then had Daniel released from the pit and the plotters of Daniel's ruin thrown in instead, where they were instantly eaten before his eyes.

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