The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Prophecy of Daniel
Of this king, Daniel was the courtier, and valued above all his other friends.
A great idol there was, that the men of Babylon worshipped; Bel was the name of it, and day by day it must be fed with thirty-two bushels of fine flour, and forty sheep, and of wine thirty-six gallons.
The king himself honoured it with the rest, and no day passed but he went to pay it reverence. A time came when he asked Daniel, that worshipped no God but his own, why Bel he would not worship;
and this answer Daniel made him, that for idols made by men’s hands worship he had none, only for that living God that made heaven and earth, and of all mankind held the sovereignty.
What,cried the king, wilt thou have it Bel is not a living god? Hast thou no eyes for the great trencherman he is, day in, day out, of food and drink both?
Nay, my lord king, Daniel answered with a smile, give no heed to false tales. Clay he is within, and bronze without; I warrant thee, eat he cannot.
Whereupon the king, in high displeasure, summoned Bel’s priests. You shall give account, said he, of yonder revenues, and that on pain of your lives. Who is it has the eating of them?
Prove to me it is Bel himself, and Daniel shall die instead, that blasphemed him. As it pleases the king’s grace, said Daniel.
Seventy of these priests there were, that had wives and children to fend for besides. And when the king reached their temple, with Daniel in attendance,
this challenge they offered: Withdraw we, as thou seest; for thee it is, lord king, to set food, pour out wine, lock and seal door with thy own hand.
To-morrow, come thou and find aught left over from Bel’s banqueting, we die for it; or else Daniel dies, that so traduced us.
Lightly enough the challenge was made; had they not provided a hidden entrance-way, close under the god’s table, by which they came in and ate what eat they would?
So out they went, and the king set on Bel’s viands with his own hand; and what did Daniel? He would have his servants bring ashes, and scatter them all over the temple floor, there in the king’s presence. Which done, all withdrew, leaving the door locked, and the royal seal upon it.
And that night in they came as came they ever, priest and priest’s wife and priest’s children, and left neither bite nor sup between them.
Next day, the king was early abroad, and Daniel with him.
What of the seals, Daniel? the king asked. Are they unbroken? Ay, my lord king, unbroken yet.
What a cry was that the king gave, when he opened the door and caught sight of the table within! A great god thou art, Bel, said he, and no deceiver!
But Daniel smiled, and would not have the king go in yet; Look about thee, he said, and ask thyself who it was left their prints on yonder floor.
Why, cried the king, these be foot-prints of living men, and women and children besides! With that, he fell into a rage;
priest and priest’s wife and priest’s children must be taken into custody. And when these had shewed him the door by which they came in and swept the table bare of its offerings,
he put the whole company of them to death. And as for Bel, he left him to Daniel’s mercy, who threw down image and temple both.
There was a great serpent, too, in those parts that was worshipped by the folk of Babylon;
and of this the king said to Daniel, here at least was a god that lived; gainsay that he could not, and therefore he needs must worship.
Nay, said Daniel, my own God I worship still; living God is none but he. Here is no living God;
let me but have the royal warrant, and I will make an end of it, and neither sword nor club to help me. So the king gave his warrant,
and what did Daniel? Pitch and fat and hairs he boiled all together, and with lumps of this fed the serpent, which thereupon burst all to pieces; and, Here, said Daniel, is your god.
Angry men were the folk of Babylon when they heard of these doings, and they made their way into the royal presence, crying out, Here is the king himself turned Jew! Here is Bel overthrown, and the dragon slain, and our priests massacred!
And when they found audience, Give up Daniel to us, they said, or we will make an end of thee, and thy household with thee.
The king, finding their onslaught so determined, gave up Daniel to them against his will;
and they threw him into a pit in which lions were kept, where he spent six whole days.
Seven lions there were in the pit, and each day two human bodies were given them as food, and two sheep; but now they were kept unfed, so that Daniel might be their prey.
Far away, in Judaea, the prophet Habacuc had been making broth, and crumbling bread in a great bowl, and was even now carrying it to the reapers on the farm;
when suddenly the angel of the Lord said to him, Take the dinner thou hast with thee to Babylon, and give it to Daniel; he is in the lion-pit.
Lord, said Habacuc, I was never yet in Babylon, and know nothing of any lion-pit there.
Upon which the angel of the Lord caught at his head and lifted him by the hair of it; then by the force of his impulse, set him down in Babylon, close to the pit.
So Habacuc cried out, Daniel! Servant of God! The Lord has sent thee thy dinner; come and take it.
And Daniel said, Thou wouldst not forget me, O God, wouldst not forsake such as love thee.
So he rose and ate, while the angel of the Lord brought Habacuc, all at once, back to his home.
When the seventh day came, the king went out to mourn for Daniel; and now, reaching the pit and looking in, he saw Daniel seated there among the lions.
And at that, the king cried aloud, How great thou art, O Lord, thou who art Daniel’s God! And he took him out of the lion-pit,
and shut up there instead the men who had conspired to ruin him; and in a moment, as he watched, the lions devoured them.
Whereupon the king said, Well may the whole world stand in awe of Daniel’s God. What deliverance he effects, what signal proofs of his power, here on earth, the God who has rescued Daniel out of a den of lions!
The Holy Bible