After the death of Balshazzar, Darius the Medean became king of Babylon. He appointed 120 governors to rule over his provinces and over them he appointed three presidents, and over them he appointed Daniel. The king admired the wisdom of Daniel and this evoked jealousy and enmity among all the ministers who sought to find fault with him. But Daniel was too honest and wise.
Then, one day, they hit upon a scheme. They approached the king and said, “We have a plan to make all the people of your kingdom respect and admire you more than they do now. Have an image of yourself built and make every person pray to you for 30 days. Anyone who prays to another image or god during that time should be cast into a den of hungry lions.”
The king felt honored and flattered and he readily agreed to such a plan, not realizing that this was done to harm Daniel.
The following day the ministers visited Daniel’s home. At the entrance of the courtyard they saw a small girl playing. “Little girl,” they asked, “Do you know Daniel who lives here?”
“Yes,” she answered.
“What does he do all day?” they asked.
“He buys clothes for the poor brides and grooms who come to him. He also makes the wedding for them and everybody enjoys themselves.”
”You don’t say,” remarked the ministers. “Is he always this happy?”
“No,” she replied, “at other times he arranges for the burial of the poor people who could not afford to arrange funerals for their departed relatives. He also gives a lot of money to the poor and he provides meals for the hungry.”
While they were speaking, a crowd of people entered the courtyard and remained waiting. “Who are these people and for whom are they waiting?” the ministers asked.
“They are poor people and they are waiting for Daniel to descend from the attic where he goes three times a day to pray to his G-d and then he will give them food and money.”
The ministers entered the home and went up to the attic where they found Daniel praying to G-d. Without saying a word, they left the house to gain an audience with the king.
“Your Highness,” they began, “we have found Daniel praying to his G-d, which is against your edict. We demand that you order him cast into the den of lions.”
The king felt bad and tried to argue against such a harsh verdict being meted out to so prominent a man as Daniel.
“But you have no choice,” they said. “He violated your law. If he gets away with it, then everyone in your kingdom will do the same. You must make an example of him.”
Having no choice, the king ordered his soldiers to cast Daniel into the den of lions. Every day, 10 lambs and 10 carcasses were thrown into the hole for the lions to devour. However, on that day, no food was thrown in.
A large crowd assembled to watch as Daniel was led forward, and after the charges were read, he was cast into the den. A huge stone was placed over the hole and sealed with the king’s signet. It would not be opened until the following day.
When Daniel was thrown into the den, all the lions surrounded him. They began to lick his feet and became as docile as kittens. They all lay down beside him, even though they were very hungry.
That evening, the Navi Chavakuk was preparing a luncheon for his workers in the land of Judea.
Suddenly, the voice of G-d came to him, “Go to Babylon and take along the meal you have prepared for your laborers and give it to Daniel who is now sitting in a den of lions!”
An angel descended from heaven and picked him up and carried him to the pit. Without disturbing the seal, the angel lowered the navi next to Daniel. They both ate of the meal in the presence of the lions, and when they were finished the angel returned the navi to his home.
In the meantime, the king returned to his palace and he passed the night fasting and praying for Daniel. He loved Daniel very much, but was helpless to do anything in the face of all of his ministers and soldiers. Arising very early, he called all of his ministers and soldiers and they visited the den.
Examining the seal, they saw it was intact. The stone was removed from the pit.
Crying out in a lamenting voice, the king said, “Daniel, servant of the living G-d, was your G-d able to deliver you from the lions?”
They were astonished to hear Daniel’s strong voice come up from the hole. “Yes, my king,” he said, “My G-d sent His angel who shut the lions’ mouths and they have not hurt me. This proves I am innocent of any crime.”
The king was jubilant and he ordered Daniel to be taken up from the pit. Then, turning to Daniel’s accusers, he ordered them to be cast in. Immediately, the lions were upon them.
The king then issued the following decree to all of his people and nations in his domain, “Men should tremble and fear before the G-d of Daniel, for He is the living G-d and remains so forever, and His kingdom will never be destroyed until the end of time. He delivers and rescues and He works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth. He has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.”
Daniel was appointed second in command during the reign of Darius, and also during the reign of Cyrus the Persian.