The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Prophecy of Daniel
There was a man called Joakim living in Babylon,
married to one Susanna, daughter of Helcias.✻ This was a woman of great beauty, and one that feared God,
so well had her parents, religious folk, schooled their daughter in the law of Moses.
A rich man was Joakim, and had a fruit-garden close to his house; and he was much visited by the Jews, among whom there was none more honoured than he.
There came a year in which those two elders of the people were appointed judges, of whom the Lord said, Wickedness has sprung up in Babylon, and the roots of it are those elders and judges who claim to rule the people.✻
These two were often at Joakim’s house, and all those who had disputes to settle appeared before them there.
At noon, when the common folk had returned home, Susanna would walk about in her husband’s garden,
and these two elders, who saw her go in and walk there day after day, fell to lusting after her.
Reason they dethroned, and turned away their eyes from the sight of heaven; its just awards they would fain have forgotten.
The love that tortured both, neither to other would disclose;
confess it for very shame they might not, this hankering after a woman’s favours;
yet day after day they seized the opportunity to have sight of her. A day came at last when one said to the other,
Home go we, it is dinner-time; and go they did, taking their several ways;
yet both returned hot-foot to their watching-place, and there met one another. So there was questioning on both sides, and out came the story of their lust; and now they made common cause; at a suitable time they would waylay her together, when she was alone.
They watched, then, for their opportunity; and she, as her custom was, went out one day with two of her maids, and had a mind to bathe, there in the garden, for it was summer weather,
and none was by except the two elders; and they were in hiding, watching her.
So she bade her servants go and bring her oil and soap, and shut the garden door while she was a-bathing.
Her whim was obeyed; shut the door of the garden they did, and went out by a back entrance to bring her what she had asked for; they knew nothing of the elders that were hiding there within.
And these two, as soon as the servants were gone, rose from their hiding-place and ran to her side.
See, they told her, the garden door is shut, and there is no witness by. We are both smitten with a desire for thy favours; come, then, let us enjoy thee.
Refuse, and we will bear witness that thou hadst a gallant here, and this was the reason thou wouldst rid thyself of thy hand-maidens’ company.
Whereupon Susanna groaned deeply; There is no escape for me, she said, either way. It is death if I consent, and if I refuse, I shall be at your mercy.
Let me rather fall into your power through no act of mine, than commit sin in the Lord’s sight.
With that, Susanna cried aloud, and the elders, too, began crying shame on her;
meanwhile, one of them ran to the garden door and opened it.
And now the servants of the house, hearing such outcry in the garden, came running in through the back entrance to know what was afoot;
and they were greatly abashed when the elders told their story; never before had Susanna been defamed thus.
When the morrow came,
When the morrow came,
there was a throng of people in Joakim’s house, and the two elders were there, intent upon their malicious design against Susanna’s life.
They asked publicly that Susanna, daughter of Helcias and wife to Joakim, should be sent for; sent for she was,
and came out with her parents and her children and all her kindred.
So dainty she was, and so fair,
these two knaves would have her let down her veil, the better to enjoy the sight of her charms.
All her friends, all her acquaintances, were in tears.
Then the two elders rose amidst the throng, and laid their hands upon Susanna’s head,
while she, weeping, looked up to heaven, in token that her heart had not lost confidence in the Lord.
We were walking in the garden apart, said the elders, when this woman came out with two hand-maidens. She had the garden door shut close, and sent the maidens away;
whereupon a young man, who had been in hiding till then, came out and had his will with her.
We, from a nook in the garden, saw what foul deed was being done, and ran up close, so that we had full view of their dalliance;
but lay hold of the man we could not; he was too strong for us, opening the garden door and springing out.
The woman we caught, and asked her who her gallant was, but she would not tell us. To all this, we bear witness.
They were elders, they were judges of the people, and they persuaded the assembly, without more ado, to pass the death sentence.
Whereupon Susanna cried aloud, Eternal God, no secret is hidden from thee, nothing comes to pass without thy foreknowledge.
Thou knowest that these men have borne false witness against me; wilt thou let me die, a woman innocent of all the charges their malice has invented?
And the Lord listened to her plea;
even as she was being led off to her death, all at once he roused to utterance the holy spirit that dwelt in a young boy there, called Daniel.
This Daniel raised his voice and cried out, I will be no party to the death of this woman;
and when all the people turned upon him, asking what he meant,
he stood there in their midst, and said, Are you such fools, men of Israel, as to condemn an Israelite woman without trial, without investigation of the truth?
Go back to the place of judgement; the witness they have borne against her is false witness.
Eagerly enough the people went back, and the elders would have Daniel sit with them, such credit God had given him beyond his years.
He bade them part the two men, at a distance from each other, while he questioned them.
So parted they were, and when the first was summoned, thus Daniel greeted him: Grown so old in years, and years ill spent! Now, that past sinning of thine has found thee out,
a man that perverts justice, persecutes innocence, and lets the guilty go free. Has not the Lord said, Never shalt thou put the innocent man, the upright man, to death?
Thou foundest her; good; they met under a tree; tell us what kind of tree. And he answered, Under a mastic-tree I surprised them.
The right word! cried Daniel; prized asunder thyself shall be, when God bids his angel requite thee for this calumny.
Then he had this one removed, and bade the other come near. Brood of Chanaan, said he, and no true son of Juda, so beauty ensnared thee? So lust drove thy heart astray?
Such approaches you have made, long since, to women of the other tribes, and they, from very fear, admitted your suit; but you could not bring a woman of Juda to fall in with your wicked design.
And now tell me, under what tree it was thou didst find them talking together? Under a holm-oak, said he, I saw them.
The right word again! cried Daniel. Saw thee asunder the angel of the Lord will, with the sharp blade he carries yonder; you are both dead men.
And with that, the whole multitude cried aloud, blessing God that is the deliverer of those who trust in him.
And they turned on the two elders, by Daniel’s questioning self-convicted of false witness; served they must be as they would have served others,
and the law of Moses obeyed; so they put them to death. That day, an innocent life was saved.
Good cause had Helcias and his wife to praise God for their daughter Susanna, good cause had Joakim and all his friends; no breath of suspicion assailed her now.
And as for Daniel, he was in high favour with all the people from that day forward.
When king Astyages became part of his line, it was Cyrus, the Persian, succeeded him.✻
The Holy Bible