Bel and the Dragon
Daniel 13 RNAB
Bel and the Dragon, 1-22
Bel and the Dragon, 23-30
Bel and the Dragon, 31-42
In this second story of Daniel that is not included in every Bible, we learn about the Babylonian idol named Bel. This was a god the Babylonian King worshiped.
Daniel did not worship Bel but he worshiped Yahweh God. We learn about Daniel and the Priests of Bel in Bel and the Dragon in 1-22, “When King Astyages was laid to rest with his ancestors, Cyrus the Persian succeeded to his kingdom. Daniel was a companion of the king and was the most honored of all his Friends. Now the Babylonians had an idol called Bel, and every day they provided for it twelve bushels of choice flour and forty sheep and six measures of wine. The king revered it and went every day to worship it. But Daniel worshiped his own God. So the king said to him, “Why do you not worship Bel?” He answered, “Because I do not revere idols made with hands but the living God, who created heaven and earth and has dominion over all living creatures.” The king said to him, “Do you not think that Bel is a living god? Do you not see how much he eats and drinks every day?” And Daniel laughed and said, “Do not be deceived, O king, for this thing is only clay inside and bronze outside, and it has never eaten or drunk anything.” Then the king was angry and called the priests of Bel and said to them, “If you do not tell me who is eating these provisions, you shall die. But if you prove that Bel is eating them, Daniel shall die because he has spoken blasphemy against Bel.” Daniel said to the king, “Let it be done as you have said.” Now there were seventy priests of Bel, besides their wives and children. So the king went with Daniel into the temple of Bel. The priests of Bel said, “See, we are now going outside; you yourself, O king, set out the food and prepare the wine and shut the door and seal it with your signet. When you return in the morning, if you do not find that Bel has eaten it all, we will die; otherwise Daniel will, who is telling lies about us.” They were unconcerned, for beneath the table they had made a hidden entrance through which they used to go in regularly and consume the provisions. After they had gone out, the king set out the food for Bel. Then Daniel ordered his servants to bring ashes, and they scattered them throughout the whole temple in the presence of the king alone. Then they went out, shut the door and sealed it with the king’s signet, and departed. During the night the priests came as usual, with their wives and children, and they ate and drank everything. Early in the morning the king rose and came, and Daniel with him. The king said, “Are the seals unbroken, Daniel?” He answered, “They are unbroken, O king.” As soon as the doors were opened, the king looked at the table and shouted in a loud voice, “You are great, O Bel, and in you there is no deceit at all!” But Daniel laughed and restrained the king from going in. “Look at the floor,” he said, “and notice whose footprints these are.” The king said, “I see the footprints of men and women and children.” Then the king was enraged, and he arrested the priests and their wives and children. They showed him the secret doors through which they used to enter to consume what was on the table. Therefore the king put them to death and gave Bel over to Daniel, who destroyed it and its temple.”
The first interesting item we wonder about is why the King had not questioned or doubted who was eating the provisions given to Bel the clay idol? In the story it seems like the king had never thought about what the daily provision of food was used for…12 bushels of flour, 40 sheep and 6 measures of wine every day was a lot of food!
The king didn’t question where the food was going until Daniel challenged him on the issue.
After the challenge, the King demanded to know who was eating the daily provision if it wasn’t Bel?
The king also said if Bel wasn’t eating the provisions he demanded to know WHO was eating the food laid out for Bel daily. As part of the challenge, it became clear (depending on the response) that either the priests would die or Daniel would die. They priests had to be concerned at this point because they KNEW the clay idol Bel was not eating the provisions.
See, they had a system set up so they could go in and eat the provisions when no one was watching.
Daniel suspected as much. That’s why he ordered ashes to be spread on the floor one night. When morning came Daniel was able to show the king that human footprints proved that the men were entering at night to eat the provisions.
The King sent the priests and all who were eating the provisions to their death. He also ordered that Bel the clay idol was destroyed. One down one to go.
Another god the Babylonians worshiped was a great dragon. Once again, Daniel challenged the authenticity of the Dragon as a god and he refused to worship the dragon. In Bel and the Dragon 23-30 we learn, “Now in that place there was a great dragon that the Babylonians revered. The king said to Daniel, “You cannot deny that this is a living god, so worship him.” Daniel said, “I worship the Lord my God, for he is a living God. But give me permission, O king, and I will kill the dragon without sword or club.” The king said, “I give you permission.”
Then Daniel took pitch, fat, and hair and boiled them together and made cakes, which he fed to the dragon. The dragon ate them and burst open. Then Daniel said, “See what you have been worshiping!” When the Babylonians heard about it, they were very indignant and conspired against the king, saying, “The king has become a Jew; he has destroyed Bel and killed the dragon and slaughtered the priests.” Going to the king, they said, “Hand Daniel over to us, or else we will kill you and your household.” The king saw that they were pressing him hard, and under compulsion he handed Daniel over to them.”
The priests apparently thought this time they had a sure-fire plan to get rid of the pesky Hebrew Daniel. We are told in Bel and the Dragon 31-42, “They threw Daniel into the lions’ den, and he was there for six days. There were seven lions in the den, and every day they had been given two human bodies and two sheep, but now they were given nothing, so that they would devour Daniel. Now the prophet Habakkuk was in Judea; he had made a stew and had broken bread into a bowl and was going into the field to take it to the reapers. But the angel of the Lord said to Habakkuk, “Take the food that you have to Babylon, to Daniel, in the lions’ den.” Habakkuk said, “Sir, I have never seen Babylon, and I know nothing about the den.” Then the angel of the Lord took him by the crown of his head and carried him by his hair; with a gust of wind he set him down in Babylon, right over the den. Then Habakkuk shouted, “Daniel, Daniel! Take the food that God has sent you.” Daniel said, “You have remembered me, O God, and have not abandoned those who love you.” So Daniel got up and ate. And the angel of God immediately returned Habakkuk to his own place. On the seventh day the king came to mourn for Daniel. When he came to the den he looked in, and there sat Daniel! The king shouted with a loud voice, “You are great, O Lord, the God of Daniel, and there is no other besides you!”Then he pulled Daniel out and threw into the den those who had attempted his destruction, and they were instantly eaten before his eyes.”
This time, God sent the prophet Habakkuk to feed Daniel and at the end of the week the King went to the lion’s den to mourn for Daniel, but Daniel was alive!
As a result, instead of Daniel being killed, those’d who plotted against Daniel and the one true Yahweh God were thrown into the lion’s Deb and they were devoured.
Ultimately, the King came to believe that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was the one true God!
Spiritual Practice: Faith
Would you be willing to defend God against all odds?
In God, Deborah