Bell and the Dragon from the RSV Old Testament Apocrypha

The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyright ę National Council of Churches of Christ in America and distributed to registered users (see User Agreement) with their kind permission. The HTI is grateful to NCC and the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Computer Analysis of Texts (CCAT) for their permission to provide this WWW-accessible version.

Bel and the Dragon may speak to modern celebrative worship by "gods" who are about to get caught slipping into the pantry.

His various names in the Old and New Testaments demonstrate the various aspects in which he was regarded. Thus in Exodus he was named Ba`al-Tsephon, the god of the crypt. He was likewise named Seth or Sheth, signifying a pillar (phallus); and it was owing to these associations that he was considered a hidden god. Among the Ammonites, a people of East Palestine, he was known as Moloch (the king); at Tyre he was called Melcarth. The worship of Ba`al was introduced into Israel under Ahab, his wife being a Phoenician princess.

"Typhon, called Set, who was a great god in Egypt during the early dynasties, is an aspect of Baal and Ammon as also of Siva, Jehovah and other gods. Baal is the all-devouring Sun, in one sense, the fiery Moloch" As to the leaping of the prophets of Ba`al, mentioned in the Bible (1 Kings 18:26), Blavatsky writes: "It was simply a characteristic of the Sabean worship, for it denoted the motion of the planets round the sun. That the dance was a Bacchic frenzy is apparent. Sistra were used on the occasion"


The Destruction of Bel
1 - When King Astyages was laid with his fathers, Cyrus the Persian received his kingdom.

2 - And Daniel was a companion of the king, and was the most honored of his friends.

3 - Now the Babylonians had an idol called Bel, and every day they spent on it twelve bushels of fine flour and forty sheep and fifty gallons of wine.

4 - The king revered it and went every day to worship it. But Daniel worshiped his own God.

5 - And the king said to him, "Why do you not worship Bel?" He answered, "Because I do not revere man-made idols, but the living God, who created heaven and earth and has dominion over all flesh."

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 - Then Daniel laughed, and said, "Do not be deceived, O king; for this is but clay inside and brass outside, and it never ate or drank anything."

8 - Then the king was angry, and he called his priests 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 blasphemed against Bel." And 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.
        And the
king went with Daniel into the temple of Bel.

11 - And the priests of Bel said, "Behold, we are going outside; you yourself, O king, shall set forth the food and mix and place the wine, and shut the door and seal it with your signet.

12 - And when you return in the morning, if you do not find that Bel has eaten it all, we will die; or else 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 - When they had gone out, the king set forth the food for Bel. Then Daniel ordered his servants to bring ashes and

they sifted 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 - In the night the priests came with their wives and children, as they were accustomed to do, and ate and drank everything.

16 - Early in the morning the king rose and came, and Daniel with him.

17 - And 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 with you there is no deceit, none at all."

19 - Then Daniel laughed, and restrained the king from going in, and said, "Look at the floor, and notice whose footsteps these are."

20 - The king said, "I see the footsteps of men and women and children."

21 - Then the king was enraged, and he seized the priests and their wives and children; and they showed him the secret doors through which they were accustomed to enter and devour 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.

The Destruction of the Snake

- There was also a great dragon, which the Babylonians revered.

24 - And the king said to Daniel, "You cannot deny that this is a living god; so worship him."

25 - Daniel said, "I will worship the Lord my God, for he is the living God.

26 - But if you, O king, will give me permission, I will slay the dragon without sword or club." The king said, "I give you permission."

27 - Then Daniel took pitch, fat, and hair, and boiled them together and made cakes, which he fed to the dragon.
The dragon ate them, and burst open. And Daniel said,

"See what you have been worshiping!"

28 - When the Babylonians heard it, they were very indignant and conspired against the king, saying,

"The king has become a Jew; he has destroyed Bel, and slain the dragon, and slaughtered the priests."

29 - Going to the king, they said, "Hand Daniel over to us, or else we will kill you and your household."

30 - The king saw that they were pressing him hard, and under compulsion he handed Daniel over to them.

31 - They threw Daniel into the lions' den, and he was there for six days.

32 - There were seven lions in the den, and

every day they had been given two human bodies and two sheep; but these were not given to them now, so that they might devour Daniel.

33 - Now the prophet Habakkuk was in Judea. He had boiled pottage and had broken bread into a bowl, and was going into the field to take it to the reapers.

34 - But the angel of the Lord said to Habakkuk, "Take the dinner which you have to Babylon, to Daniel, in the lions' den."

35 - Habakkuk said, "Sir, I have never seen Babylon, and I know nothing about the den."

36 - Then the angel of the Lord took him by the crown of his head, and lifted him by his hair and set him down in Babylon, right over the den,

with the rushing sound of the wind itself.

37 - Then Habakkuk shouted, "Daniel, Daniel! Take the dinner which God has sent you."

38 - And Daniel said, "Thou hast remembered me, O God, and hast not forsaken those who love thee."

39 - So Daniel arose and ate. And the angel of God immediately returned Habakkuk to his own place.

40 - On the seventh day the king came to mourn for Daniel. When he came to the den he looked in, and there sat Daniel.

41 - And the king shouted with a loud voice, "Thou art great, O Lord God of Daniel, and there is no other besides thee."

42 - And he pulled Daniel out, and threw into the den the men who had attempted his destruction, and they were devoured immediately before his eyes.

See this Article for more background on the Bronze Serpent

"She is called Dat ba'thani, Lady of the Serpent. Another name of ┤Asherah in the first millennium BCE is Chawat, which is Hawah in Hebrew and Eve in English. Her full title is Rabat Chawat ┤Elat, Great Lady Eve the Goddess, and is associated with the serpent. Thus, Chawa/ Eve (ZOE) is probably a form of┤Asherah as a Serpent Goddess. As a snake goddess, She was also represented by bronze serpent forms, examples of which have been found in archaeological excavations in the Levant. In fact the Nehush-tan, literally the Bronze Serpent which is associated with Moses, is much more likely an emblem of Asherah. It too was removed from the Jerusalem temple the same time as the asherah objects.

"Baal is the god most actively worshipped in Canaan and Phoenicia, the Storm God, source of the winter rain storms, spring mist, and summer dew which nourish the crops. Therefore He is considered responsible for fecundity, particularly of the Earth, for the growth of vegetation, and for the maintenance of life. None the less, He is NOT a god of vegetation. While the word "ba`al" means simply "master" or "owner," He is considered a prince. Among His other epithets are Rider of the Clouds, Prince, Master of the Earth ( c.f. the Qabalistic phrase Melek ha┤Aretz, King of the Earth). Ba`al is an executive force, dynamic, and able to accomplish what He sets out to do. Ba`al is often depicted striding forward, wearing a horned helmet and short wrap kilt, carrying a mace and spear or lightning-bolt staff. Another of His names is Re`ammin, meaning Thunderer. He is also called ┤Aleyin, meaning "Most High," "Mightiest," "Most Powerful," or "Supreme," which some scholars have misinterpreted as the name of a son of Ba`al. As a weather god, His home is in the Heights of Tsaphon, Mount of the North. Remnants of His worship survive in the Jewish prayerbook in late spring prayers for dew and late fall prayers for rain." .

Baal is the son of Dagan/Dagnu and Samson was forced to "rise up and play" in the same form which judged Israel at Mount Sinai.

[7]  legousi Athŕnaioi: there was no real snake visible; such is the inevitable inference from this passage and the still more explicit phrase below: legousi te tauta kai dŕ h˘s eonti ktl., a conclusion which only adds point to the Aristophanic gibe: Lysistr. 710 ex hou ton ophin eidon ton oikouron pote. The oikouros ophis [serpent in Revelation] was no doubt sacred to Athene, and may have been regarded as a symbol, or a reincarnation, of the earth-born Erechtheus; cp. M. P. Nilsson, J.H S. xxi. (1901) p. 329; but in this case the only proof of the real presence of the serpent was the disappearance of the offering, the divine creature, no doubt, being thought to reside in the crypt of the Erechtheion (endiaitasthai en t˘i hir˘i, cp. c. 55 infra). With this story is naturally compared the tale of Bel and the Dragon (Apocryph. Vet. Test. ed. Fritzsche (1871) pp. 86 ff.), in which, as here, the serpent himself took the cake. Blakesley (quoting Valckenaer apparently) adds that at Alexandria any one might eat the cakes of Kronos (Athenaeus 110), while the fish-offerings to Atargatis (at Askalon? Athen. 346) were consumed by the priests as a matter of course, and above board, like the o rtoi prothese˘s of the Hebrews (cp. protithentes here). The parataxis te ... kai is observable.

Apocrypha Index

Home Page

Counter added 4.03.05 9:31p 5050  7.29.09 10000