Apocrypha: Daniel And The Priests of Bel

When King Astyages was laid to rest with his

ancestors, Cyrus the Persian succeeded to his

kingdom. 2 Daniel was a companion of the king, and

was the most honoured of all his friends.

3 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. 4 The king revered it and

went every day to worship it. But Daniel worshipped his own


So the king said to him, ‘Why do you not worship Bel?’ 5 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.’

6 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?’ 7 And Daniel laughed, and said, ‘Do not be deceived,

O king, for this thing is only clay inside and bronze outside,

and it never ate or drank anything.’

8 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. 9 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.’

10 Now there were seventy priests of Bel, besides their wives

and children. So the king went with Daniel into the temple

of Bel. 11 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.

12 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.’ 13 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.

14 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. 15

During the night the priests came as usual, with their wives

and children, and they ate and drank everything.

16 Early in the morning the king rose and came, and Daniel

with him. 17 The king said, ‘Are the seals unbroken, Daniel?’

He answered, ‘They are unbroken, O king.’ 18 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!’

19 But Daniel laughed and restrained the king from going

in. ‘Look at the floor’, he said, ‘and notice whose footprints

these are.’ 20 The king said, ‘I see the footprints of men and

women and children.’

21 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. 22 Therefore the king put them to death,

and gave Bel over to Daniel, who destroyed it and its temple.