Daniel in the Lions' Den
After Darius had captured the city of Babylon, he set over the kingdom a hundred and twenty princes. Over these princes he set three presidents, of whom Daniel was the first. This made Daniel the chief man in the kingdom of Darius, and everybody was required to pay him the greatest respect' and homage.
The princes and the presidents were jealous of the power of Daniel, and envious of the respect that the people paid him. They tried to find some occasion to complain to the king, or some fault in Daniel, but they could find nothing against him for he was faithful in all things and there was no fault or error in anything he did.
The princes and presidents then said: "We shall not find any occasion against Daniel, unless we find it in the way he serves his God. In all other things there is no fault in him. We will conspire against him on account of his worship of the Lord."
They went to King Darius, and said to him: "All the presidents and princes and governors and counsellors and captains have consulted together, and they wish for the king to make a law that whosoever shall ask anything of god or man for thirty days, except from the king himself, shall be cast into the den of lions. They pray for the king to sign the writing that it be not changed according to the laws of the Medes and Persians."
Darius was persuaded to issue the decree and to sign the order, which, according to the law, could not be changed.
When Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he paid no attention to it, but went into his house, and, his windows being open in his room toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed and gave thanks to God, just as he had been accustomed to do.
The men who had asked the king to sign the decree were watching Daniel to see what he would do. When they saw Daniel kneeling and praying to God as he had always done, they went forthwith to the king and said:
"O king, have you not signed a decree that every man that shall ask a petition of any god or any man for thirty days, except of the king himself, shall be cast into the den of lions?"
"What you say is true, and cannot be changed, according to the laws of the Medes and Persians," replied Darius, the king.
"Daniel, who is one of the Jews in captivity and is also the chief of the presidents of the kingdom, regards not the decree," said the men, "but prays and makes petitions to his God three times a day."
When the king heard that his favorite ruler had paid no attention to his decree, he was grieved and did not know what to do. He did not wish to punish his faithful servant, yet he knew he could not change his own laws. Therefore he commanded that Daniel be brought and cast into the lions' den;',
Before the order was carried out, Darius said Daniel: "Your God, whom you serve continually, will deliver you from the mouth of the lions." Then the men cast Daniel into the den of lions, and a stone was brought and laid upon the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own seal so that his decree might not be changed.
Darius went to his house in deep trouble. He would not eat, nor would he listen to the music which was played before him. All night long he lay awake wondering what had become of Daniel, and if he were yet alive.
Early in the morning he arose and hurried to the den where the lions were kept. He had but little hope that the wild beasts had spared his servant, but he wished to be sure. As he came near the door he called out in a tearful voice: "O, Daniel, servant of the living God, is your God, whom you serve continually, able to save you from the lions?"
What was the joy in the king's heart when he heard the quiet voice of his servant say: "O, king, live forever. My God has sent His angels to shut the mouth of the lions and they have not hurt me. God knew that I was innocent of any wrong toward Him and toward you, therefore, has He saved me from the fury of the wild beasts."
Darius was exceedingly glad to know that Daniel was safe, and at once commanded his men to break the seal and roll away the stones and take his servant out of the den. And he also commanded that the men who had conspired against Daniel, with their wives and children, should be cast into the den.
So Daniel was taken out of the den and the wicked princes and their families were thrown into the lions. The wild beasts caught them as they fell and broke all their bones to pieces before they had even touched the bottom of the den.
After that Darius made a decree that all the people should worship the God of Daniel. And as for the prophet himself, he prospered all the time that Darius was king in Babylon.