Daniel and the Idol
Although Daniel was the chief minister in Babylon, he could not eradicate the custom of worshipping idols. In the capital city of Babylon, there existed an idol called Ba'al, whose influence was growing stronger every day. Even the king was beginning to believe in him.
Every day, the people brought an ox, 10 deer, 100 pigeons, 100 lambs, 70 loaves of bread and 10 jars of wine to the idol. Its priests placed this offering before the idol and the following morning it would be gone. The priests would then notify the population that the idol had consumed their offering.
King Worships Idol
The superstitious people would believe this and they would crowd the temple, paying the priests to offer prayers on their behalf. Soon the king began to worship the idol too.
One day, the king asked Daniel, "Daniel, why don’t you worship Ba’al and bow to him?"
"Heaven forbid, I should worship a creation of man, a mere image. I fear the true and live G-d, the G-d Who created the heavens and the earth and all the people who inhabit the earth," replied Daniel.
"How could you say that Ba'al is an image?" questioned the king.
"You see for yourself that he consumes such a tremendous offering every day. Does your G-d do the same?"
Daniel laughed and said, "If my king would look closely at Ba al, he would see that it is nothing but a hollow image made of copper and the priests do all the eating and drinking, fooling everyone - including your highness."
The king became angry and summoned the priests of Ba’al.
"Listen to me, priests of the god Ba’al. The Prime Minister Daniel has made an accusation against you, that you are fooling the public with your god. He claims it cannot consume the food, which is placed before it. "Therefore, I command you prove to me that the god Ba’al eats the offering placed before it. If you cannot prove it, I will punish you with death. However, if you do prove that your god has consumed the food then I will execute my minister, Daniel."
"We accept the challenge," replied all the priests.
There were a total of 70 priests, excluding their wives and children, who serviced the idol Ba’al.
The Temple Is Sealed
That day, the king provided the sacrifice of all the food and wine offered to Ba’al. The king and his ministers and all the chieftains of the kingdom entered the temple and watched as the food was placed before the idol. Then the king ordered everyone to lock and seal the door to the temple.
Before he locked the door, Daniel asked the king to permit him to enter the temple alone, with a bag he was carrying with him. The king agreed and he accompanied him into the temple. Daniel then opened the bag and removed a fine mist of ashes, which he spread over the floor.
"What are you doing, Daniel?" asked the king.
"Tomorrow you will know the answer," replied Daniel.
Having completed his job, Daniel and the king left the room. On the outside, the king locked the door and sealed it with the royal seal.
The Secret Passage
Now, under the feet of the idol was a secret passage leading to the outskirts of the city. Every night the priests would enter the temple room and feast on the food that was left before the idol. Their wives and children, too, would dine, and depart as silently as they came. This way no one knew, and the people believed that the idol had consumed the offering.
That night the priests and their wives and children came to the temple room and gorged themselves as always and then even danced, shouting with glee, "Tomorrow Daniel will be killed and the king will become a devout believer in Ba’al!"
The following morning the king and all his ministers and chieftains, including Daniel, arrived at the door of the temple.
"Daniel," said the king, "look at the door very closely. Do you see whether the seal has been tampered with?"
Daniel looked closely at the seal and replied, "No, your majesty."
The king then broke open the seal and opened the door. Looking inside, they saw that all the food was gone. Not even a morsel was left over.
The king then shouted, "Ba'al, you are indeed a true god. You have eaten all the food placed before you. There is no trickery here!"
Daniel began to laugh as he stopped the king and the people from walking inside the room.
Daniel Exposes Them
"Stop where you are!" shouted Daniel. "Your majesty, look down on the floor, and tell me what you see?"
The king and all the people looked down, and there they saw many footprints of men, women, and children outlined in the ashes that were strewn on the floor.
Daniel turned to the king and said, "If the king will question the priests, I am sure he will find the answer to these footprints that appeared in this room after it was sealed:'
The king commanded the soldiers to seize the priests and after threatening them with death, they confessed to the secret passage and that it was they who consumed the food. The king then commanded that they be put to death and ordered the destruction of Ba’al and the temple.
The king now treated Daniel with greater respect, and heaped more honors upon him.
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Page last updated - 04/17/2009