Illustration Showing DANIEL CONFOUNDING THE PRIESTS OF BEL, from The Bible (Old Testament) - drawing by Gustave Dore - 055th.jpg (38K)

Now the Babylonians had an idol called Bel: and there werespent upon him every day, twelve great measures of fine flour,and forty sheep, and sixty vessels of wine. The king alsoworshipped him, and went every day to adore him: but Danieladored his God. And the king said unto him: Why dost thou notadore Bel? And he answered, and said to him Because I do notworship idols made with hands, but the living God, that createdheaven and earth, and hath power over all flesh. And the kingsaid to him: Doth not Bel seem to thee to be a living God? Seestthou not how much he eateth and drinketh every day? Then Danielsmiled and said: O king, be not deceived: for this is but claywithin, and brass without, neither hath he eaten at any time.

And the king being angry called for his priests, and said tothem: If you tell me not, who it is that eateth up theseexpenses, you shall die. But if you can show that Bel eateththese things, Daniel shall die, because he hath blasphemedagainst Bel.

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

Now the priests of Bel were seventy besides their wives andlittle ones and children. And they went with Daniel into thetemple 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 whenthou comest in the morning, if thou findest not that Bel hatheaten all up, we will suffer death, or else Daniel that hath liedagainst us.

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

So it came to pass after they were gone out, the king set themeats before Bel: and Daniel commanded his servants, and theybrought ashes, and he sifted them all over the temple before theking: and going forth they shut the door, and having sealed itwith 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 allup.

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 voiceGreat art thou, O Bel, and there is not any deceit with thee. AndDaniel 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, andchildren. And the king was angry. Then he took the priests, andtheir wives, and their children: and they showed him the privatedoors by which they came in, and consumed the things that were onthe table.

The king therefore put them to death, and delivered Bel intothe power of Daniel: who destroyed him, and his temple.—Danielxiv, I-21 (Douay Version).

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