BOOK OF DANIEL – Certain Death

Posted by on Nov 7, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on BOOK OF DANIEL – Certain Death

Certain Death

Once Daniel was cast into the lions’ den the entrance was sealed shut. This word “cast” is used for the Aramaic word remah which means cast, cast (down) or throw. Let’s not be mistaken here. Daniel wasn’t casually walked up to the entrance of the lions’ den. He was thrown into it. That is significant as the story unfolds because it relates to why the lions did not immediately attack their prey. Some have suggested that a door may have been located at the side of the den. But read the Scripture and you will see why that does not make much sense. Daniel 6:17 reads, “A stone was brought and laid over the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signet rings of his nobles, so that nothing would be changed in regard to Daniel. Then the king went off to his palace and spent the night fasting, and no entertainment was brought before him; and his sleep fled from him.” (NASB)

The original Aramaic text reads, “And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den. And the king sealed it”. Notice the NASB translation is very close to the original. In fact, it is so close there is only a one-word difference. The translators of the NSAB use the word “over” in describing the stone being put in place. The original text uses the word “on”. Both words are actually describing the same thing. The entrance to the den or pit (as some translations use), was actually above the den not at the side of it. You will see this point confirmed by two further Scriptures when we get to them.

The signet ring of the king likely contained his name and symbols that would identify to anyone the orders of the king. Breaking the seal would result in the death of the offender for breaking the king’s command. Notice the Scripture also tells us that the signet rings of several nobles were also used. The seal was likely made of clay.  Each signet ring would be pressed into the clay to form the impression of the name of the king or his symbol, along with each identity of the nobles. We are not told how many and who these nobles were. The reason why so many signet rings were used meant that nothing would be changed with regard to Daniel’s sentence. The seals of the nobles guaranteed that the king had fulfilled the provisions of the Persian law. Unlike the absolute power of Nebuchadnezzar under the rule of the Persians, it may also have meant that, although Darius was king, his authority or power was in some way limited by the nobility. However, although Darius had fulfilled the provisions of the law, his seal did not mean that he could not break his seal if Daniel was somehow able to survive. The officials assumed Daniel would die. But Darius had hoped Daniel’s God would somehow save him. Where Darius had been foolish in not questioning why the officials were asking for such an injunction, those same officials were equally inept in not considering the possibility of Daniel surviving. Such a request may suggest to us that feeding enemies to the lions was a sure death sentence. They were convinced Daniel would perish also.

One can imagine those who contrived the plan to have Daniel murdered went off gleefully into the night celebrating their victory. They were finally rid of Daniel, or so they thought. As for Darius, he retired to his palace where we are told he spent the night fasting, unable to eat or drink. Nor was he able to sleep. Darius knew he had been duped into killing Daniel by his own orders. He was party to a grave and serious injustice. His conscience troubled him greatly which is why we see him unable to eat, drink or sleep.

Interestingly we are not told if the sentence had a time limit imposed on ensuring Daniel’s death. Wild beasts such as lions, starved to the point where they would eat humans, meant an easy and quick kill. Therefore, there was very little need to state how long the person was to remain in the den because their death was likely to be immediate. We do know from ancient mosaics and writings that during the Roman Empire, lions and other wild beasts were used to devour enemies, which later included Christians, to entertain the crowds during their games. This was known as Damnatio ad bestias (Latin for condemnation to beasts). This form of execution started around the 2nd century BC and continued through to 3rd century AD. It was part of a wider class of blood sports called Bestiarii.