Apocrypha: Susanna

1 There was a man living in Babylon whose name was

Joakim. 2 He married the daughter of Hilkiah, named

Susanna, a very beautiful woman and one who feared the

Lord. 3 Her parents were righteous, and had trained their

daughter according to the law of Moses. 4 Joakim was very

rich, and had a fine garden adjoining his house; the Jews

used to come to him because he was the most honoured of

them all.

5 That year two elders from the people were appointed as

judges. Concerning them the Lord had said: ‘Wickedness

came forth from Babylon, from elders who were judges, who

were supposed to govern the people.’ 6 These men were

frequently at Joakim’s house, and all who had a case to be

tried came to them there.

7 When the people left at noon, Susanna would go into her

husband’s garden to walk. 8 Every day the two elders used

to see her, going in and walking about, and they began to

lust for her. 9 They suppressed their consciences and turned

away their eyes from looking to Heaven or remembering

their duty to administer justice. 10 Both were overwhelmed

with passion for her, but they did not tell each other of their

distress, 11 for they were ashamed to disclose their lustful

desire to seduce her. 12 Day after day they watched eagerly

to see her.

13 One day they said to each other, ‘Let us go home, for it

is time for lunch.’ So they both left and parted from each

other. 14 But turning back, they met again; and when each

pressed the other for the reason, they confessed their lust.

Then together they arranged for a time when they could find

her alone.

15 Once, while they were watching for an opportune day,

she went in as before with only two maids, and wished to

bathe in the garden, for it was a hot day. 16 No one was there

except the two elders, who had hidden themselves and were

watching her. 17 She said to her maids, ‘Bring me olive oil and

ointments, and shut the garden doors so that I can bathe.’

18 They did as she told them: they shut the doors of the

garden and went out by the side doors to bring what they

had been commanded; they did not see the elders, because

they were hiding.

19 When the maids had gone out, the two elders got up and

ran to her. 20 They said, ‘Look, the garden doors are

shut, and no one can see us. We are burning with desire

for you; so give your consent, and lie with us. 21 If you

refuse, we will testify against you that a young man

was with you, and this was why you sent your maids


22 Susanna groaned and said, ‘I am completely trapped.

For if I do this, it will mean death for me; if I do not, I

cannot escape your hands. 23 I choose not to do it; I will

fall into your hands, rather than sin in the sight of the


24 Then Susanna cried out with a loud voice, and the

two elders shouted against her. 25 And one of them ran

and opened the garden doors. 26 When the people in

the house heard the shouting in the garden, they rushed

in at the side door to see what had happened to her. 27 And

when the elders told their story, the servants felt very much

ashamed, for nothing like this had ever been said about


28 The next day, when the people gathered at the house

of her husband Joakim, the two elders came, full of their

wicked plot to have Susanna put to death. In the presence

of the people they said, 29 ‘Send for Susanna daughter of

Hilkiah, the wife of Joakim.’ 30 So they sent for her. And she

came with her parents, her children, and all her relatives.

31 Now Susanna was a woman of great refinement and

beautiful in appearance. 32 As she was veiled, the scoundrels

ordered her to be unveiled, so that they might feast their

eyes on her beauty. 33 Those who were with her and all who

saw her were weeping.

34 Then the two elders stood up before the people and laid

their hands on her head. 35 Through her tears she looked

up towards Heaven, for her heart trusted in the Lord. 36 The

elders said, ‘While we were walking in the garden alone, this

woman came in with two maids, shut the garden doors, and

dismissed the maids. 37 Then a young man, who was hiding

there, came to her and lay with her. 38 We were in a corner

of the garden, and when we saw this wickedness we ran to

them. 39 Although we saw them embracing, we could not

hold the man, because he was stronger than we are, and he

opened the doors and got away. 40 We did, however, seize

this woman and asked who the young man was, 41 but she

would not tell us. These things we testify.’

Because they were elders of the people and judges, the

assembly believed them and condemned her to death.

42 Then Susanna cried out with a loud voice, and said, ‘O

eternal God, you know what is secret and are aware of all

things before they come to be; 43 you know that these men

have given false evidence against me. And now I am to die,

though I have done none of the wicked things that they

have charged against me!’

44 The Lord heard her cry. 45 Just as she was being led off

to execution, God stirred up the holy spirit of a young lad

named Daniel, 46 and he shouted with a loud voice, ‘I want no

part in shedding this woman’s blood!’

47 All the people turned to him and asked, ‘What is this you

are saying?’ 48 Taking his stand among them he said, ‘Are

you such fools, O Israelites, as to condemn a daughter of

Israel without examination and without learning the facts?

49 Return to court, for these men have given false evidence

against her.’

50 So all the people hurried back. And the rest of the elders

said to him, ‘Come, sit among us and inform us, for God has

given you the standing of an elder.’ 51 Daniel said to them,

‘Separate them far from each other, and I will examine them.’

52 When they were separated from each other, he

summoned one of them and said to him, ‘You old relic

of wicked days, your sins have now come home, which

you have committed in the past, 53 pronouncing unjust

judgements, condemning the innocent and acquitting the

guilty, though the Lord said, “You shall not put an innocent

and righteous person to death.” 54 Now then, if you really

saw this woman, tell me this: Under what tree did you see

them being intimate with each other?’ He answered, ‘Under

a mastic tree.’ 55 And Daniel said, ‘Very well! This lie has

cost you your head, for the angel of God has received the

sentence from God and will immediately cut you in two.’

56 Then, putting him to one side, he ordered them to bring

the other. And he said to him, ‘You offspring of Canaan

and not of Judah, beauty has beguiled you and lust has

perverted your heart. 57 This is how you have been treating

the daughters of Israel, and they were intimate with you

through fear; but a daughter of Judah would not tolerate

your wickedness. 58 Now then, tell me: Under what tree

did you catch them being intimate with each other?’ He

answered, ‘Under an evergreen oak.’ 59 Daniel said to him,

‘Very well! This lie has cost you also your head, for the angel

of God is waiting with his sword to split you in two, so as to

destroy you both.’

60 Then the whole assembly raised a great shout and

blessed God, who saves those who hope in him. 61 And they

took action against the two elders, because out of their own

mouths Daniel had convicted them of bearing false witness;

they did to them as they had wickedly planned to do to their

neighbour. 62 Acting in accordance with the law of Moses,

they put them to death. Thus innocent blood was spared

that day.

63 Hilkiah and his wife praised God for their daughter

Susanna, and so did her husband Joakim and all her

relatives, because she was found innocent of a shameful

deed. 64 And from that day onwards Daniel had a great

reputation among the people.