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Chronicles of Jerahmeel, by M. Gaster [1899], at

LXXII. (1) Now, when Darius was seated on the throne of his kingdom, he sent for Daniel, the servant of God, to test his wisdom and to obtain his counsel. Having come before him, he tried him and proved him, and found him sevenfold wiser than report had told of him. He was therefore very pleased with him, and loved him, and

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appointed him to be his counsellor, as Darius had done before him.

(2) One day Darius held a feast in honour of Bel, the god of Babylon, and the king accordingly prepared an offering to be brought before Bel, the god of Babylon. The daily order of the offering consisted of 1 bullock, 10 rams, 10 sheep, 100 doves, 70 loaves of bread, and 10 barrels of wine, for the table of the god. On the day in question they arranged the table before Bel, and the king said to Daniel, 'Would that thou didst believe in the glory of our god Bel, who consumes what is laid upon this table.'

(3) And Daniel replied, 'Let not the heart of the king be deceived and be led astray, for it is vanity. There is no breath in it, but it is simply the work of the craftsman. How can it therefore eat or drink anything? It is the priests of Bel who eat the contents of this table, as well as the meal-offering and burnt-offering. Now, if thou wilt hearken unto me, and deliver these priests into my hand, I will show thee the deceit they practise upon thee and thy people, which causes you to prostrate yourselves to vanity and emptiness.' 'Let it be as thou hast spoken,' said the king. Daniel then commanded the porters of Bel to lock the temple and all its gates, except the one which the king and Daniel entered.

(4) Then said the king, 'Bring me some ashes.' When they were brought he scattered them upon the floor of the house, and the priests were kept in ignorance of Daniel's advice. As soon as they had done this, the king and Daniel went out with their young men by the same gate, and, locking the door, the king sealed it with his own seal and with that of Daniel, and then both of them went back to the palace, and retired for the night.

(5) On the following morning the king sent for Daniel, to let him see and know what Bel had done. Coming to the gate of the temple, they found the seals just as they had been left; and the king said, 'Has there been any tampering with these seals?' And Daniel said 'No,' and

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commanded the seals to be removed. They then opened the gate, and saw that the contents of the table which they had arranged, from the bread even to the meat and wine, had all been consumed.

(6) As soon as the king saw this, he fell prostrate before Bel, and exclaimed, 'O Bel, great is thy name in the world, and who is like unto thee in might among all the other gods?' But Daniel answered, 'Let not the king say that, for Bel is but clay, earthenware, and brass, and cannot eat or drink. Look but upon the ashes which we have spread on the floor, and round about the temple and the table, and see whose footprints are these, for they are the traces of the consumers of Bel's table.' The king looked, and beheld the footprints of men, women, and children; (7) and sending forthwith for these seventy priests and ministers of Bel, he swore to them, saying, 'If ye will not tell me the truth, ye shall surely die.' They then showed him the secret entrances through which they came in and went out in the night, to eat the contents of the table. [Here one leaf of the MS. is missing.]