Bel and the Dragon 1
Contemporary English Version

Daniel Defeats the Priests of Bel

1When King Astyages was buried in the tomb with his ancestors, Cyrus the Persian took his place as king. 2Daniel was a friend and advisor of King Cyrus, and the king honored him more than anyone else.

3Every day, the Babylonians took food to the idol of their god Bel. They brought 272 kilograms of the best wheat flour, 190 liters of wine, and the meat from 40 sheep.

4King Cyrus believed that Bel was a powerful god, and he worshiped the idol every day, but Daniel worshiped only his own God. One day, Cyrus asked Daniel, "Why don't you worship Bel?"

5Daniel answered, "I refuse to worship idols--they are made by humans. Instead, I worship the living God, because he created heaven and earth, and he rules everyone who lives."

6"But, Daniel," the king replied, "isn't Bel a living god? Haven't you seen how much he eats and drinks each day?"

7Daniel laughed and said, "Don't be fooled, Your Majesty. That idol is merely clay on the inside and bronze on the outside! It never ate or drank anything."

8This made the king angry. So he called in his priests and told them, "Prove to me that Bel is eating all this food! If you can't, then you will die. 9But if you can prove that Bel really is eating the food, then Daniel will die, because he has insulted the god Bel."

Daniel said, "Your Majesty, that sounds fair enough to me."

10Now there were 70 priests of Bel, and they and their wives had lots of children.

The king went with Daniel into the temple of Bel, 11and the priests said, "Your Majesty, we will go outside now. Please set out the food and the wine yourself, then shut the door. Drip some hot wax along the edge of the door and press your ring into the wax to leave your special mark. This will show that only you are allowed to open the door. 12When you come back in the morning, if you find that Bel hasn't eaten everything, then you can put us to death. But if the food is gone, this will prove Daniel has been lying, and you can put him to death."

13The priests were not worried at all. They had a secret trap door under the table, and that was how they sneaked into the temple every night to eat the food.

14The priests left, and the king arranged Bel's food on the table. Then Daniel told his servants to scatter ashes over the temple floor. The king was the only other person who saw them do this. They shut the door as they went outside, and the king placed his special mark on some hot wax along the edge of the door so that they could tell if the door had been opened. Then they all left.

15Later that night, the priests and their wives and children went to the temple as they always did, and they ate and drank everything.

16Early the next morning, the king brought Daniel to the temple 17and asked him, "Daniel, has the wax been broken? Has the door been opened?"

"No, Your Majesty," Daniel answered.

18As soon as the door was opened, the king looked at the empty table and shouted, "Bel, you are a great god, and you always tell the truth!"

19Daniel just laughed. He kept the king from entering the temple and said, "Look at the floor--I wonder who left all those footprints?"

20The king said, "I can see the footprints of men, women, and children!" 21He was furious and told his guards to arrest the priests along with their wives and children. Then the priests showed him the secret door they used when they sneaked into the temple to eat the food that was on Bel's table.

22The king told his guards to kill the priests and their families. Then he gave the temple and the idol of Bel to Daniel, who had them destroyed.

Daniel Kills the Dragon

23The Babylonians also worshiped a huge dragon as a god, 24and the king of Babylonia said to Daniel, "You can't say this god isn't alive! So you ought to worship it."

25Daniel answered, "I worship the Lord, because he is the living God. 26Your Majesty, if you will give me permission, I will kill this dragon, without striking it with a sword or a club."

"I give you permission to try," the king replied.

27Daniel put some tar and animal fat and hair in a pot and boiled them together. Then he shaped the mixture into cakes that looked something like loaves of barley bread and fed them to the dragon. It swelled up and burst open, and Daniel said, "Take a look at what you Babylonians worship."

28But when the Babylonians heard what had happened, they were so upset with the king that they began plotting against him. "Has the king become a Jew?" they asked each other. "First he destroyed our idol Bel and killed its priests. And now he has killed our dragon-god."

29The Babylonians went to the king and said, "Hand Daniel over to us. If you don't, we will kill you and everyone in your family!"

30The king saw that he really had no choice, and so he was forced to let them have Daniel.

31-32 The Babylonians kept seven lions in a large pit and fed them two people and two sheep each day. Daniel was thrown into this pit, and for the next six days the lions were given no other food. The Babylonians wanted to make sure the lions would eat Daniel.

33Meanwhile, far away in Judea, the prophet Habakkuk had made a pot of stew and put some pieces of bread into a bowl. He was about to take it to the workers who were harvesting wheat in the fields, 34when an angel told him, "Take this meal to the lion pit in Babylon, and give it to Daniel."

35Habakkuk replied, "But, sir, I've never been to Babylon, and I don't know where the lion pit is."

36 The angel lifted up Habakkuk by his hair and carried him to Babylon as fast as the wind. He set Habakkuk down at the edge of the lion pit, 37and Habakkuk shouted, "Daniel, take this food God has sent you."

38Daniel prayed, "Thank you, God, for remembering me. You always take care of those who love you."

39Daniel got up and ate the food, while God's angel quickly returned Habakkuk to his home.

40Seven days later, the king came to the lion pit to mourn for Daniel. But when he looked into the pit, he saw Daniel sitting there, alive. 41Then the king shouted out this prayer: "You, the Lord God of Daniel, are powerful! You alone are the true God!"

42The king ordered Daniel to be pulled up out of the pit, then he arrested the men who had tried to have Daniel killed. The king had them thrown into the pit, and he watched the lions gobble them up.

Contemporary English Version, Second Edition (CEV®)

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