In the next three parts of our study we will look at three Apocryphal books that are additions to the Book of Daniel: Susanna, Prayer of Azariah, and Bel and the Dragon. Should these be included in all Bibles as the Word of God?
Susanna is a short addition to the Book of Daniel – just 64 verses – but it includes something that the great prophet Daniel is supposed to have done for her.
“There dwelt a man in Babylon, called Joacim: And he took a wife, whose name was Susanna, the daughter of Chelcias, a very fair woman, and one that feared the Lord. Her parents also were righteous, and taught their daughter according to the law of Moses. ” Susanna 1:1-3 (King James Version)
The story takes place in Babylon. A Jewish man named Joacim took Susanna to be his wife. She was the daughter of Chelcias and was raised to obey the Law of Moses and fear God. Two Jewish elders tried to have sex with Susanna as she was bathing and when she refused them they claimed they saw her having sex with another man. The elders testified against Susanna and she was in danger of being put to death for adultery. Susanna cried out to the Lord:
“Then Susanna cried out with a loud voice, and said, O everlasting God, that knowest the secrets, and knowest all things before they be: Thou knowest that they have borne false witness against me, and, behold, I must die; whereas I never did such things as these men have maliciously invented against me. And the Lord heard her voice.” Susanna 1:42-44 (KJV)
The Lord heard Susanna’s voice and brought a young Daniel to her rescue.
“Therefore when she was led to be put to death, the Lord raised up the holy spirit of a young youth whose name was Daniel: Who cried with a loud voice, I am clear from the blood of this woman. Then all the people turned them toward him, and said, What mean these words that thou hast spoken? So he standing in the midst of them said, Are ye such fools, ye sons of Israel, that without examination or knowledge of the truth ye have condemned a daughter of Israel? Return again to the place of judgment: for they have borne false witness against her. Wherefore all the people turned again in haste, and the elders said unto him, Come, sit down among us, and shew it us, seeing God hath given thee the honour of an elder. Then said Daniel unto them, Put these two aside one far from another, and I will examine them. So when they were put asunder one from another, he called one of them, and said unto him, O thou that art waxen old in wickedness, now thy sins which thou hast committed aforetime are come to light. For thou hast pronounced false judgment and hast condemned the innocent and hast let the guilty go free; albeit the Lord saith, The innocent and righteous shalt thou not slay. Now then, if thou hast seen her, tell me, Under what tree sawest thou them companying together? Who answered, Under a mastick tree. And Daniel said, Very well; thou hast lied against thine own head; for even now the angel of God hath received the sentence of God to cut thee in two. So he put him aside, and commanded to bring the other, and said unto him, O thou seed of Chanaan, and not of Juda, beauty hath deceived thee, and lust hath perverted thine heart. Thus have ye dealt with the daughters of Israel, and they for fear companied with you: but the daughter of Juda would not abide your wickedness. Now therefore tell me, Under what tree didst thou take them companying together? Who answered, Under an holm tree. Then said Daniel unto him, Well; thou hast also lied against thine own head: for the angel of God waiteth with the sword to cut thee in two, that he may destroy you. With that all the assembly cried out with a loud voice, and praised God, who saveth them that trust in him. And they arose against the two elders, for Daniel had convicted them of false witness by their own mouth: And according to the law of Moses they did unto them in such sort as they maliciously intended to do to their neighbour: and they put them to death. Thus the innocent blood was saved the same day. Therefore Chelcias and his wife praised God for their daughter Susanna, with Joacim her husband, and all the kindred, because there was no dishonesty found in her. From that day forth was Daniel had in great reputation in the sight of the people.” Susanna 1:45-64
Did this happen? Did Daniel intervene in the life of Susanna and save her from a wrongful discharge of justice? First, let’s see if the story is included in the Book of Daniel. It is not. Search the Book of Daniel and you will find no mention of Susanna or anything even remotely similar to her story. Search all of the protocanonical Books of the Old Testament and there is no mention of Susanna. Therefore, to believe that the addition of Susanna to the Book of Daniel is accurate, we need to look somewhere other than the Bible.
The oldest surviving copies of Susanna were written in Greek. The Septuagint text is in the 9th century AD Codex Chisianus and places Susanna at the end of the Book of Daniel (chapter 13). The Theodotion manuscript places Susanna before Daniel 1. Hebrew and Aramaic copies of Susanna do not exist and many scholars do not believe Susanna was ever written in either language. That brings into question whether Daniel wrote Susanna since he wrote in Hebrew and Aramaic. Most of the apocryphal books were written in Greek between the 5th and 1st centuries BC. Most conservative scholars agree that Daniel was born at the end of the 7th century BC and wrote his Book during the 6th century BC.
If Daniel did not write Susanna, who did and why? Good question. There is no strong indication of the author or date of writing. Scholars continue to argue whether the original was in Greek or Hebrew. There is some thought that it was written during the early part of the 1st century BC during a time when Pharisees and Sadducees were debating the issue of how to punish false witnesses where the death penalty was involved. While the story of Susanna has some interesting moral implications for Jews, it is highly questionable as being inspired by the Holy Spirit as Scripture.
In the next part of our study we will look at whether The Prayer of Azariah should be included as the Word of God.
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
Building Confidence Through Evidence