Although Daniel was the chief minister in Bavel, he could not eradicate the custom practiced in many provinces of worshipping idols. In the capital city there was a statue of Baal and more and more people began to worship it. Even the king was beginning to believe in its power.
Every day, the people brought an ox, ten deer, one hundred pigeons, one hundred lambs, seventy loaves of bread and ten jars of wine to the idol. The priests would place this offering before the idol, and in the morning it would be gone. The priests would then notify the population that the idol had consumed their offering.
King Worships Idol
The superstitious people believed this to be true and they would crowd the temple, paying the priests to offer prayers on their behalf.
One day, the king called Daniel to him and asked, “Daniel, why don’t you worship Baal?”
“Heaven forbid I should worship a creation of man, a mere image. I fear the true and living God, the God Who created the heavens and the earth and all the people
who inhabit it,” replied Daniel.
“How could you say that Baal is an image?” questioned the king. “You see for yourself that he consumes such a tremendous offering every day. Does your God do the same?”
Daniel laughed and said, “If the King would look closely he would see that it is nothing but a hollow image made of copper. The priests do all the eating and drinking, fooling everyone, including your highness.”
The King became angry and summoned the priests.
“An accusation has been made against you by the Prime Minister, that you are fooling the public with your god. He claims that it cannot consume the food that is placed before it.
“Therefore, I command that you prove to me that Baal eats the offering placed before it. If you cannot prove it, you will be sentenced to death. However, if you can prove that your god has consumed the food then I will execute my minister, Daniel.”
“We accept the challenge,” replied all the priests.
There were a total of seventy priests in the service of Baal.
The Temple Is Sealed
That day, the king provided all the food and wine to be offered to Baal. The king and his ministers and all the chieftains of the kingdom entered the temple and watched as the food was placed before the idol. Then the king ordered everyone to lock and seal the door to the temple.
Before he locked the door, Daniel asked the king to permit him to enter the temple alone, with a bag he was carrying with him. The king agreed and he accompanied him into the temple. Daniel opened the bag and removed a fine mist of ashes which he spread over the floor.
“What are you doing, Daniel?” asked the king.
“Tomorrow you will know the answer,” replied Daniel.
Having completed his job, Daniel and the king left the room. Once outside, the king locked the door and sealed it with the royal seal.
The Secret Passage
Now, under the feet of the idol was a secret passage leading to the outskirts of the city. Every night, the priests would enter the temple room and feast on the food which was left before the idol. Their wives and children, too, would dine, and depart as silently as they came. This way, no one knew, and the people believed that the idol had consumed the offering.
That night, the priests and their wives and children came to the temple room and gorged themselves as always and then even danced, shouting with glee, “Tomorrow