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THE STORY OF DANIEL IN THE LIONS’ DEN

The lands which had been the Babylonian or Chaldean empire, now became
the empire of Persia; and over these Darius was the king. King Darius
gave to Daniel, who was now a very old man, a high place in honor and in
power. Among all the rulers over the land, Daniel stood first, for the
king saw that he was wise and able to rule. This made the other princes
and rulers very jealous, and they tried to find something evil in
Daniel, so that they could speak to the king against him.

These men saw that three times every day Daniel went to his room and
opened the window that was toward the city of Jerusalem, and looking
toward Jerusalem, made his prayer to God. Jerusalem was at that time in
ruins, and the Temple was no longer standing; but Daniel prayed three
times each day with his face toward the place where the house of God had
once stood, although it was many hundreds of miles away.

These nobles thought that in Daniel’s prayers they could find a chance
to do him harm, and perhaps cause him to be put to death. They came to
King Darius, and said to him:

“All the rulers have agreed together to have a law made that for thirty
days no one shall ask anything of any god or of any man, except from
you, O king; and that if any one shall pray to any god, or shall ask
anything from any man during the thirty days, except from you, O king,
he shall be thrown into the den where the lions are kept. Now, O king,
make the law, and sign the writing, so that it cannot be changed, for no
law among the Medes and the Persians can be altered.”

The king was not a wise man; and being foolish and vain, he was pleased
with this law which would set him even above the gods. So without asking
Daniel’s advice, he signed the writing; and the law was made, and the
word was sent out through the kingdom, that for thirty days no one
should pray to any god.

Daniel knew that the law had been made, but every day he went to his
room three times, and opened the window that looked toward Jerusalem,
and offered his prayers to the Lord, just as he had prayed in other
times. These rulers were watching near by, and they saw Daniel kneeling
in prayer to God. Then they came to the king, and said:

“O King Darius, have you not made a law, that if any one in thirty days
offers a prayer, he shall be thrown into the den of lions?”

“It is true,” said the king. “The law has been made, and it must
stand.”

They said to the king: “There is one man who does not obey the law which
you have made. It is that Daniel, one of the captive Jews. Every day
Daniel prays to his God three times, just as he did before you signed
the writing of the law.”

Then the king was very sorry for what he had done, for he loved Daniel,
and knew that no one could take his place in the kingdom. All day, until
the sun went down, he tried in vain to find some way to save Daniel’s
life; but when evening came, these men again told him of the law that he
had made, and said to him that it must be kept. Very unwillingly the
king sent for Daniel, and gave an order that he should be thrown into
the den of lions. He said to Daniel: “Perhaps your God, whom you serve
so faithfully, will save you from the lions.”

They led Daniel to the mouth of the pit where the lions were kept, and
they threw him in; and over the mouth they placed a stone; and the king
sealed it with his own seal, and with the seals of his nobles; so that
no one might take away the stone and let Daniel out of the den.

Then the king went again to his palace; but that night he was so sad
that he could not eat, nor did he listen to music as he was used to
listen. He could not sleep, for all through the night he was thinking of
Daniel. Very early in the morning he rose up from his bed and went in
haste to the den of lions. He broke the seal and took away the stone,
and in a voice full of sorrow he called out, scarcely hoping to have an
answer:

“O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God been able to save you
from the lions?”

And out of the darkness in the den came the voice of Daniel, saying:

“O king, may you live forever! My God has sent his angel and has shut
the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because my God saw that
I had done no wrong. And I have done no wrong toward you, O king!”

[Illustration: DANIEL’S ANSWER TO THE KING–“Then said Daniel unto
the King, O King, live forever. My God hath sent his angel, and hath
shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me.”–(Daniel 6:
21-22.)]

Then the king was glad. He gave to his servants orders to take Daniel
out of the den. Daniel was brought out safe and without harm, because
he had trusted fully in the Lord God. Then by the king’s command, they
brought those men who had spoken against Daniel, and with them their
wives and their children, for the king was exceedingly angry with them.
They were all thrown into the den, and the hungry lions leaped upon
them, and tore them in pieces, so soon as they fell upon the floor of
the den.

After this king Darius wrote to all the lands and the peoples in the
many kingdoms under his rule:

“May peace be given to you all abundantly! I make a law that everywhere
among my kingdoms men fear and worship the Lord God of Daniel; for he is
the living God, above all other gods, who only can save men.”

And Daniel stood beside king Darius until the end of his reign, and
afterward while Cyrus the Persian was king over all the lands.

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