Daniel Confounding the Priests of Bel

dore-055Now the Babylonians had an idol called Bel: and there were spent upon him every day, twelve great measures of fine flour, and forty sheep, and sixty vessels of wine. The king also worshipped him, and went every day to adore him: but Daniel adored his God. And the king said unto him: Why dost thou not adore Bel? And he answered, and said to him Because I do not worship idols made with hands, but the living God, that created heaven and earth, and hath power over all flesh. And the king said to him: Doth not Bel seem to thee to be a living God? Seest thou not how much he eateth and drinketh every day? Then Daniel smiled and said: O king, be not deceived: for this is but clay within, and brass without, neither hath he eaten at any time.

And the king being angry called for his priests, and said to them: If you tell me not, who it is that eateth up these expenses, you shall die. But if you can show that Bel eateth these things, Daniel shall die, because he hath blasphemed against Bel.

And Daniel said to the king: Be it done according to thy word.

Now the priests of Bel were seventy besides their wives and little ones and children. And they went with Daniel into the temple of Bel. And the priests of Bel said: Behold, we go out: and do thou, O king, set on the meats, and make ready, the wine, and shut the door fast, and seal it with thy own ring: and when thou comest in the morning, if thou findest not that Bel hath eaten all up, we will suffer death, or else Daniel that hath lied against us.

And they little regarded it, because they had made under the table a secret entrance, and they always came in by it, and consumed those things.

So it came to pass after they were gone out, the king set the meats before Bel: and Daniel commanded his servants, and they brought ashes, and he sifted them all over the temple before the king: and going forth they shut the door, and having sealed it with the king’s ring, they departed.

But the priests went in by night, according to their custom, with their wives and their children: and they eat and drank all up.

And the king rose early in the morning, and Daniel with him. And the king said: Are the seals whole, Daniel? and he answered: They are whole, O king. And as soon as he had opened the door, the king looked upon the table, and cried out with a loud voice Great art thou, O Bel, and there is not any deceit with thee. And Daniel laughed: and he held the king that he should not go in: and he said: Behold the pavement, mark whose footsteps these are. And the king said: I see the footsteps of men, and women, and children. And the king was angry. Then he took the priests, and their wives, and their children: and they showed him the private doors by which they came in, and consumed the things that were on the table.

The king therefore put them to death, and delivered Bel into the power of Daniel: who destroyed him, and his temple.

—Daniel xiv, I-21 (Douay Version).

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