Elizabeth H. Porter

The Prophet Daniel in the Den of Lions

Egg tempera and gold leaf on panel
10 x 15 inches

The brilliant young Hebrew prophet Daniel and his friends were taken by a conquering king from Jerusalem to Babylon, where they served as administrators and courtiers. Danielís ability to interpret the kingís dreams brought him a major promotion, but also attracted the jealousy of the Babylonian courtiers, who repeatedly and unsuccessfully plotted to have him put to death Ė usually by taking advantage of Danielís unwillingness to bow down to pagan idols.

The Book of Daniel contains dramatic stories of Danielís prophetic and political gifts and his narrow escapes, including his miraculous deliverance from death when confined to a den of hungry lions as punishment for refusing to worship an idol.

Even more stories and variants appear in the apocryphal books known as The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Jews, Susannah, and Bel and the Dragon, which at one time were included in the Book of Daniel.

This icon depicts Danielís ordeal as told in the apocryphal book of Bel and the Dragon, which says there were seven lions (shown affectionately licking Daniel rather than biting him). After six days an angel carried the prophet Habakkuk ďby his hair, with the speed of the windĒ to Babylon with food for Daniel. When the king came to mourn for Daniel the next morning, he found Daniel alive and well, and praised God.