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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

bel, bal (bel): Appellative name of a Bah god (compare BAAL), in the Old Testament and Apocrypha identified with Marduk or Merodach, the tutelary deity of Babylon (compare Isaiah 46:1 Jeremiah 51:44; Baruch 6:41).



bel, bal, drag'-un (Greek words: drakon, "dragon," "serpent"; ektos, "except"; horasis "vision," "prophecy"; ophis, "serpent"; sphragisamenos, "having sealed"; choris, "except," Hebrew or Aramaic words: chatham, "to seal"; zepha', "pitch"; za`apha', "storm," "wind"; nachash, "snake"; tannin, "serpent," "sea monster"):




1. The Bel Story: the God of Bel

2. The Dragon Story; Meaning of "Dragon"; Serpent-Worship in Babylon


1. Manuscripts

(1) Greek

(2) Syriac

2. Recensions or Versions

(1) Greek

(2) Syriac

(3) Latin

(4) Aramaic


VI. TEACHING Little in this work that is distinctly Jewish. God is great, absolute and ever-living; angels intervene for special ends; the absurdity of idol-worship


Probably not in Babylon; perhaps the Hebrew text originated in Palestine about 146 B.C. or later. The Septuagint version produced in Egypt about 100 B.C., which may be the date and language of the Book. Theta (Theodotion's version) was produced probably at Ephesus about 180 A.D.


Accepted as canonical by the Jews of Egypt but rejected by the Jews of Palestine Accepted as part of the Bible by Greek and Latin church Fathers, by the Council of Trent and therefore by the Roman church; denied by Protestants to be canonical


I. Introductory.

Bel and the Dragon is the third of the three Apocryphal additions to Daniel, The SONG OF THE THREE CHILDREN and SUSANNA (which see) being the other two. In the Greek and Latin versions (see below, "IV. Textual Authorities") these "additions" form an integral part of the canonical Book of Daniel, and they are recognized as such and therefore as themselves canonical by the Council of Trent. But the So of the Three Children is the only piece having a necessary connection with the Hebrew canonical Book of Daniel; in the Greek and Latin texts it follows Daniel 3:24. The other two are appended and appear to have an origin independent of the book to which they are appended and also of each other, though in all three as also in the Hebrew Book of Daniel the name and fame of Daniel stand out prominently.

II. Name of Bel and the Dragon.

Since in the Greek and Latin recensions or versions Bel and the Dragon forms a portion of the Book of Daniel it does not bear a special name. But in the only two known manuscripts of the Septuagint in Syro-Hexaplar (see below, "IV. Textual Authorities") these words stand at the head of the "addition" now under consideration: "From (or "a part of") the prophecy of Habakkuk son of Joshua of the tribe of Levi." That the Biblical writing prophet of that name is meant is beyond question. In Theta (Theodotian) this fact is distinctly stated (see Bel and the Dragon verse 33); and it is equally beyond question that these tales could never have come from the prophet so called (see below "VIII. Canonicity and Authenticity").

In codices Alexandrinus and Vaticanus of Theodotian (Theta) the title is: Horasis 12, i.e. Daniel 12, canonical Daniel being comprised in 11 chapters. In the Vulgate, Bel and the Dragon forms chapter 14, but, as in the case of the earlier chapters, it has no heading.

In the Syriac Peshitta (W) the story of Bel and the Dragon is preceded by "Bel the idol," and that of the Dragon by "Then follows the Dragon." Bel and the Dragon is the title in all Protestant versions of the Apocrypha, which rigidly keep the latter separate from the books of the Hebrew canon.

III. Contents.

The stories of Bel and of the Dragon have a separate origin and existed apart: they are brought together because they both agree in holding up idolatry to ridicule and in encouraging Jewish believers to be true to their religion. The glorification of Daniel is also another point in which both agree, though while the Daniel of the Bel and the Dragon story appears as a shrewd Judge corresponding to the etymology of that name, he of the Dragon story is but a fearless puritan who will die rather than be faithless to his religion.

It is evident, however that the editor of the "additions" has fused both stories into one, making the Dragon story depend on that which precedes (See Bel and of the Dragon verses 23). It seems very likely that, in a Nestorian list mentioned by Churton (Uncanonical and Apocryphal Scriptures, 391), Bel and the Dragon is comprised under the title, The Little Daniel.

The two stories as told in common by Septuagint and Theodotion may be thus summarized:

1. The Story of Bel: the God of Bel:

There is in Babylon an image of Bel which Daniel refuses to worship, though no form of worship is mentioned except that of supplying the god with food. The king (Cyrus according to Theodotion) remonstrates with the delinquent Hebrew, pointing Out to him the immense amount of food consumed daily by Bel, who thus proves himself to be a living god. Daniel, doubting the king's statement as to the food, asks to be allowed to test the alleged fact. His request being granted, he is shown by expressed desire the lectisternia, the sacred tables being covered by food which the god is to consume during the night. The doors are all sealed by arrangement, and after the priests have departed Daniel has the temple floor strewn with light ashes. When the morning breaks it is found that the doors are still sealed, but the food has disappeared. Upon examination the tracks of bare feet are found on the ash-strewn floor, showing that the priests have entered the temple by a secret way and removed the food. Angered by the trick played on him the king has the priests put to death and the image destroyed.

The word Bel, a short form of Baal, occurs in the Old Testament in Isaiah 46:1 Jeremiah 50:2; Jeremiah 51:44, where it stands for Merodach or Marduk, chief of the Babylonian deities. Originally however it denotes any one of the Babylonian local deities, and especially the principal deity worshipped at Nippur (for similar use of the Hebrew "Baal" see the article on this word). In Theodotion Cyrus appears as an abettor of Bel-worship, which is quite in accordance with the practice of the early Persian kings to show favor to the worship of the countries they conquered. See Century Bible, "Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther," 40.

2. The Dragon Story; Meaning of "Dragon"; Serpent-Worship in Babylon:

There is in Babylon a great live dragon worshipped by a large number of the inhabitants, who lavishly feed it. In the present case the god is or is represented by a living creature which can be fed, and, indeed, needs feeding. Daniel refuses to bow down before the dragon and makes an offer to the king to kill it. Believing the god well able to care for himself, the king accepts Daniel's challenge. Daniel makes a mixture of which pitch forms the principal ingredient and thrusts it down the dragon's throat, so that "it bursts asunder and dies." The people are infuriated at the death of their god and demand that the king shall have the god-murderer put to death, a demand to which the royal master yields by having Daniel cast into a den of lions, as was done to other culprits found guilty of capital charges. But though the prophet remained in the company of 7 lions for 6 days he suffered no injury. On the last day when Daniel, without food, was naturally hungry, a miracle was performed by way of supplying him with food. Habakkuk (see above, "II. Name"), when cooking food for his reapers, heard an angel's voice commanding him to carry the food he had prepared to Daniel in the lions' den in Babylon. Upon his replying that he did not know where the den, or even Babylon, was, the angel laid hold of his hair and by it carried the prophet to the very part of the den where Daniel was. Having handed the latter the meal intended for the reapers, he was safely brought back by the angel to his own home. It would seem that Habakkuk was protected from the lions as well as Daniel. See ing all this the king worshipped God, set Daniel free, and in his stead east his accusers into the lions' den, where they were instantly devoured,

Zockler in his commentary (p. 215) speaks of the "fluidity" of the Dragon myth, and he has been followed by Marshall and Daubney. But what in reality does the Greek word drakon, rendered "dragon," mean? In the Septuagint the word is used generally (15 times) to translate the Hebrew tannin which denotes a serpent or sea monster. It is this word (tannin) which in the Aramaic version of the Dragon story translates the Greek drakon. Now in Exodus 4:3 and Exodus 7:9 the Hebrew tannin and nachash ("serpent") seem identified as are the Greek drakon and ophis in Revelation 12:9. We may therefore take drakon in the present story to stand for a serpent. We know that in Babylon the god Nina was worshipped in the form of a serpent (see Sayce, Hibbert Lectures, 281), and it is more probable that it is the worship of this god or of some other serpent deity that is here meant, than that there is any allusion to the Babylonian story according to which Marduk the supreme deity of Babylon engaged in a conflict with Tiamat the monster-foe to light and order.

(1) The dragon of the present story is a god and not as Tiamat, a kind of devil, and a male, not a female.

(2) The dragon in the present story is a serpent, which is not true of Tiamat.

(3) Apsu (male) and Tiamat (female) are Babylonian deities who give birth to the gods of heaven; these gods subsequently led by their mother Tiamat engaged in a fierce contest with Marduk.

Since Gunkel published his book, Schopfung und Chaos (1895), it has been the fashion to see reflections of the Marduk-Tiamat conflict throughout the Old Testament. But recent investigations tend to show that Babylonian mythology has not dominated Hebrew thought to the extent that was formerly thought, and with this statement Gunkel himself now agrees, as the last edition of his commentary on Genesis proves.

IV. Textual Authorities.

1. Manuscripts:

(1) Greek.

There exist in Greek two forms of the text (see below).

(a) The Septuagint text has been preserved in but one original MS, the codex Christianus (from the Chigi family who owned it, published in Rome in 1772). This belongs to about the 9th century. This text has been printed also in Cozza's Sacrorum Bibliorum vestustissima fragmenta Graeca et Latina, part iii, Romae, 1877, and in Swete's edition of the Septuagint side by side with Theodotion. In Tischendorf's Septuagint it occurs at the close of the ordinary text of the Septuagint.

(b) Of Theta (the text of Theodotion) we have the following important manuscripts: Codex Vaticanus, Codex Alexandrinus, Q (codex Marchalianus), Gamma (verses 1, 2-4 only) and Delta (from verse 21 to verse 41).

(2) Syriac.

There exists in the Ambrosian Library at Milan, a manuscript of the 8th century of the Syro-Hexaplar version made by Paul of Tella in 617 A.D. at Alexandria from col vi (Septuagint) of Origen's Hexapla. This most valuable manuscript has been edited and published by Ceriani.

2. Recensions or Versions:

(1) Greek.

(a) The Septuagint:

Of this we have but one manuscript (see above under "Manuscripts") and until its publication at Rome in 1772 what is now known as Theta was believed to be the real Septuagint version, notwithstanding hints to the contrary by early Christian writers.

(b) Theta, or the Version of Theodotion:

This version appears to be a revision of the Septuagint, with the help, perhaps, as in the case of the canonical Daniel, of a Hebrew (or Aramaic) original, now lost. It is much less pedantic than Aquila's Greek translation which preceded it, and its Greek is better. It is also a better translation than the Septuagint; yet it has many transliterations of Hebrew words instead of translations. This version of Daniel displaced that of the Septuagint at a very early time, for though Origen gave place to the Septuagint in his Hexapla, in his writings he almost always cites from Theta. In his preface to Daniel Jerome points to the fact that in his own time the church had rejected the Septuagint in favor of Theodotion, mentioning the defectiveness of the former as the ground. Even Irenaeus (died 202) and Porphyry (died 305) preferred Theodotion to the Septuagint. Field was the first to point out that it is the work of Theodotion (not the Septuagint) that we have in 1 Esdras, etc.

(2) Syriac.

In addition to the Syro-Hexaplar version (see above, under "Manuscript") the Peshitta version must be noted. It follows Theodotion closely, and is printed in Walton's Polyglot (in one recension only of Bel and the Dragon) and in a revised text edited by Lagarde in 1861; not as R. H. Charles (Enc Brit, VII, 807) erroneously says in The Book of Tobit by Neubauer.

(3) Latin.

(a) The old Latin version, which rests on Theodotion, fragments of which occur in Sabatier's work, Bibliorum sacrorum Latinae versiones antiquae (1743, etc., II).

(b) The Vulgate, which follows Jerome's translation, is also based on Theodotion, and follows it closely.

(4) Aramaic.

For the Aramaic version published by M. Caster and claimed to be the text of the book as first written, see below, "V. Original Language." V. The Original Language: Principal Opinions.

It has been until recent years most generally maintained that Bel and the Dragon was composed and first edited in the Greek language. So Eichhorn, de Wette, Schrader, Fritzsche, Schurer and Konig. In favor of this the following reasons have been given:

(1) No Semitic original with reasonable claims has been discovered. Origen, Eusebius and Jerome distinctly say that no Hebrew (or Aramaic) form of this tract existed or was known in their time.

(2) The Hebraisms with which this work undoubtedly abounds are no more numerous or more crucial than can be found in works by Jewish authors which are known to have been composed in the Greek language, such as the continual recurrence of kai (= "and"), kai eipe ("and he said"), etc.

On the other hand, the opinion has been growing among recent scholars that this work was written first of all either in Hebrew or Aramaic Some of the grounds are the following:

(1) It is known that Theodotion in making his translation of other parts of the Old Testament (Daniel) endeavored to correct the Septuagint with the aid of the Massoretic Text. A comparison of the Septuagint and of Theodotion of Bel and the Dragon reveal differences of a similar character. How can we account for them unless we assume that Theodotion had before him a Semitic original? A very weak argument, however, for the translator might have corrected on a priori principles, using his own Judgment; or there might well have been in his time different recensions of the Septuagint. Westcott (DB, I, 397a; 2nd edition, 714a) holds that some of Theodotion's changes are due to a desire to give consistency to the facts.

(2) Much has been made of the Semiticisms in the work, and it must be admitted that they are numerous and striking. But are these Hebraisms or Aramaisms? The commonest and most undoubted Semiticism is the repeated use of kai and kai egeneto with the force of the waw-consecutive and only to be explained and understood in the light of that construction. But the waw-consecutive exists only in classical Hebrew; Aramaic and post-Biblical. Hebrew, including late parts of the Old Testament (parts of Ecclesiastes, etc.), know nothing of it. It must be assumed then that if the Semiticisms of this work imply a Semitic original, that original was Hebrew, not Aramaic

The following Hebraisms found in the Septuagint and in Theodotion may briefly be noted:

(1) The use of the Greek kai with all the varied meanings of the waw-consecutive. (see below, under "VI. Teaching"). The beginning of a sentence with kai en ("and there was") Bel and the Dragon (verses 1, 3 in the Septuagint; 2, etc., in Theodotion) agrees with the Hebrew waw-consecutive construction, but makes poor Greek. In verse 15 kai egeneto can be understood only in the light of the Hebrew for which it stands.

(2) The syntactical feature called parataxy (coordination) presents itself throughout the Greek of this piece, and it has been reproduced in the English translations (the King James Version, the Revised Version (British and American)) as any English reader can see. In the classical languages it is hypotaxy that prevails. If, as seems likely, those responsible for Septuagint and Theodotion followed a Hebrew original, they failed to make sufficient allowance for the peculiar force of the waw-consecutive idiom, for this does not involve hypotaxy to an y considerable extent.

(3) The constant occurrence of Kurios ("Lord") without the article implies the Hebrew Yahweh; and the phrase the "Lord God" is also Hebrew.

(4) There are difficulties and differences best explained by assuming a Hebrew origin. The Greek word sphragisamenos has no sense in verse 14 (Septuagint) for, retaining it, we should read of a sealing of the temple (of Bel) and also of a sealing with signet rings of the doors. The Hebrew word "shut" (catham) is written much like that for "seal" (chatham), and was probably, as Marshal suggests, mistaken for the latter. The temple was "shut" and the doors "sealed." In verse 10 the Septuagint (choris) and Theodotion (ektos) have 2 words of similar sense, which are best explained as independent renderings of one Hebrew word.

Marshall, identifying this dragon story with the Babylonian creation-myth of Marduk and Tiamat, thinks that instead of "pitch" used in making the obolus with which Daniel destroyed the dragon, the original Aramaic document has "storm wind," the two words being in Aramaic written much alike (za`apha' = "storm wind," and zepha' = pitch). But the fact is quite overlooked that the obolus contained not only pitch, but also "fat" and "hair" (see Bel and the Dragon, verse 27). Besides, in the Aramaic version, published by Gaster, to which Marshall attaches great importance as at least a real source, we have four ingredients, namely, pitch (zepetha'), fat, flax (kittan) and hair. Dr. Marshall's suggestion involves therefore not only the confusion of two words spelled differently in Aramaic, but the substitution of 3 or 4 terms for one in the original draft. Moreover, in Bel and the Dragon the several ingredients are made up into a cake with which the dragon was gorged. Dr. Marshall's view assumes also an Aramaic original which is a gainst the evidence. But the suggestion would not have been made but for a desire to assimilate the dragon story to the Babylonian creation-myth, though in motive and details both differ so essentially.

In favor of a Semitic original many writers have cited the fact that forms of the story have been found in Hebrew and Aramaic in the 13th century. Raymund Martini in his Pugio Fidei (written against the Jews) quotes Bel and the Dragon from a Hebrew Midrash on Genesis which Neubauer discovered and which is almost verbatim identical with the unique manuscript containing Midrash Rabba de Rabba (see Neubauer, Tobit, viii, and Franz Delitzsch, de Habacuci, 82). Still other Hebrew forms of these stories have been found. All the "additions" to Daniel "occur in Hebrew in the remains of Yosippon," the "Hebrew Josephus," as he has been called. He wrote in the 10th century.

But most important of all is the discovery by Dr. M. Gaster of the dragon story in Aramaic, imbedded in the Chronicles of Yerahmeel, a work of the 10th century. Dr. Gaster maintains that in this Aramaic fragment we have a portion of the original Bel and the Dragon (see PSBA, 1894, 280 (Introduction), 312 (Text) and 1895 (for notes and translation)). The present writer does not think Dr. Gaster has made out his case.

(1) If such an Aramaic original did really exist at any time we should have learned something definite about it from early writers, Jewish and Christian.

(2) Dr. Gaster has discovered an Aramaic form of only two of the three "additions," those of the So of the Three Children and of the dragon story. What of the rest of the Aramaic document?

(3) It has already been pointed out that the waw-consecutive constructions implied in the Greek texts go back to a Hebrew, not an Aramaic original.

(4) The Aramaic text of the Dragon story not seldom differs both from the Septuagint and Theodotion as in the following and many other cases: The two Greek versions have in Bel and the Dragon, verse 24 "The king (said)," which the Aramaic omits: in verse 35 the Aramaic after "And Habakkuk said" adds "to the angel," which the Septuagint and Theodotion are without.

(5) The compiler of the Yerahmeel Chronicle says distinctly that he had taken the So of the Three Children and the dragon story from the writings of Theodotion (see PSBA, 1895, 283), he having, it is quite evident, himself put them into Aramaic. Dr. Gaster lays stress on the words of the compiler, that what he gives in Aramaic is that which "Theodotion found" (loc. cit.). But the reference can be only to the Septuagint which this translator made the basis of his own version; it is far too much to assume that the Chronicler means an Aramaic form of the stories.

VI. Teaching.

The two stories teach the doctrine of the oneness and absoluteness of Yahwe, called throughout Kurios ("Lord"), a literal rendering of the Hebrew word 'adhonai ("Lord") which the Jews substituted for Yahwe in reading the Hebrew as do now-a-day Jews. In the Greek and Latin versions it is the word read (the Qere perpetuum, not that written Kethibh), which is translated. It would have been more consonant with universal practice if the proper name Yahweh had been transliterated as proper names usually are.

But very little is said of the character of Yahweh. He is great and the only (true) God in Bel and the Dragon (verse 41), the living God in contrast with Bel (verse 57). Of the nature of His demands on His worshippers, ritualistic and ethical, nothing is said. There is no reference to any distinctly Jewish beliefs or practices; nothing about the torah or about any Divine revelation to men, about sacrifice or the temple or even a priesthood, except that in the Septuagint (not in Theodotion) Daniel the prophet is spoken of as a priest-strong evidence of the low place assigned by the writer to the external side of the religion he professed. We do however find mention of an angel, a sort of deus ex machina in the Dragon story (verses 34); compare Daniel 6:22.

The incident of the transportation of Habakkuk to Babylon shows that the writer had strong faith in supernatural intervention on behalf of the pious. Apart from this incident the two stories steer fairly clear of anything that is supernatural. But Bel and the Dragon verses 33-39 are a late interpolation.

VII. Author, Place and Date of Composition.

Nothing whatever is known of the author of the book and nothing definite or certain of the place or date of composition. It has been commonly felt, as by Bissell, etc., that it reflects a Babylonian origin. Clay (see Bel and the Dragon, verse 7) abounded in Babylon (but surely not only in Babylon); bronze (Bel and the Dragon, verse 7) was often used in that country for the manufacturing of images, and the lion, it is known, was native to the country (but that was the case also in Palestine in Biblical, and even post-Biblical times). None of the arguments for a Babylonian origin have much weight, and there are contrary arguments of considerable force.

The anachronisms and inconsistencies are more easily explained on the assumption of a non-Babylonian origin. Besides, the Judaism of Babylon was of a very strict and regulation kind, great attention being given to the law and to matters of ritual. There is nothing in Bel and the Dragon regarding these points (see above under "Teaching").

If we assume a Hebrew original, as there are good grounds for doing, it is quite possible that these legends were written in Palestine at a time when the Jewish religion was severely persecuted: perhaps when Antiochus VII (Sidetes, 139-128 B.C.) reconquered Judah for Syria and sorely oppressed the subject people. Yet nothing very dogmatic can be said as to this. We cannot infer much from the style of the Hebrew (or Aramaic?), since no Semitic original has come down to us. It is quite clear that these "additions" imply the existence of the canonical Book of Daniel and belong to a subsequent date, for they contain later developments of traditions respecting Daniel. The canonical Book of Daniel is dated by modern scholars about 160 B.C., so that a date about 136 B.C. (see above) could not be far amiss.

If, on the other hand, we take for granted that the Septuagint is the original text of the book, the date of that recension is the date of the work itself. It seems probable that this recension of Daniel was made in Egypt about 150 B.C. (see 1 Maccabees 1:54; 2:59), and we have evidence that up to that date the "three additions" formed no part of the book, though they exist in all Greek and Syriac manuscripts of Daniel, which have come down to us. Probably the "additions" existed as separate compositions for some time before they were joined to Daniel proper, but it is hardly too much to assume that they were united no later than 100 B.C. Yet the data for reaching a conclusion are very slight. It may be added that the Greek of the Septuagint is distinctly Alexandrian in its character, as Westcott, Bissell and others have pointed out. Theodotion's version is supposed to have been made at Ephesus toward the end of the 2nd century A.D.

VIII. Canonicity and Authenticity.

The Alexandrian Jews, recognizing the Septuagint as their Bible, accepted the whole of the Apocrypha as canonical. The Palestine Jews, on the other hand, limited their canonical Scriptures to the Hebrew Old Testament. There is, of course, some uncertainty (largely no doubt because it was originally a translation from the Hebrew) as to whether the Septuagint at the first included the Apocrypha in its whole extent or not, but all the evidence points to the fact that it did, though individual books like Daniel existed apart before they formed a portion of the Greek or Egyptian canon.

In the early Christian church all the three "additions" are quoted as integral parts of Daniel by Greek and by Latin Fathers, as e.g. by Irenaeus (IV, 5, 2); Tertullian (De idololatria c.18); Cyprian (Ad fortunatum, c.11).

By a decree of the Council of Trent these "additions" were for the Roman church made as much a part of the Bible canon as the Hebrew Book of Daniel. Protestant churches have as a rule excluded the whole of the Apocrypha from their Bibles, regarding its books as either "Deutero-canonical" or "non-canonical." In consequence of this attitude among Protestants the Apocrypha has until lately been greatly neglected by Protestant writers. But a great change is setting in, and some of the best commentaries by Protestant scholars produced in recent years deal with the Apocrypha and its teaching.

Julius Africanus (flourished about first half of 3rd century A.D.) was the first to impugn the truth of the stories embodied in the "additions" to Daniel. This he did in a letter to Origen to which the recipient vigorously replied.

The improbabilities and contradictions of these three pieces have often been pointed out from the time of Julius Africanus down to the present day. The following points may be set down as specimens:

(1) Daniel is called a priest in the Septuagint (Bel and the Dragon, verse 1), and yet he is identified with the prophet of that name.

(2) Habakkuk the prophet (he is so called in Theodotion (see Bel and the Dragon, verse 33), and no other can be intended) is made to be a contemporary of Daniel and also of the Persian king Cyrus (see Bel and the Dragon, verses 1 and 33 in the English Bible). Now Cyrus conquered Babylon in 538 B.C., the principal Jews in Babylon returning to Palestine the following year. The events narrated in Bel and the Dragon could not have occurred during the time Cyrus was king of Babylon, but the Septuagint speaks of "the king" without naming him.

(3) It was not Cyrus but Xerxes who destroyed the image of Bel, this being in 475 B.C. (see Herodotus i0.183; Strabo xvi0.1; Arrian, Exped. Alex., vii.1).

(4) It is further objected that dragon-worship in Babylon, such as is implied in the dragon story, is contrary to fact. Star-worship, it has been said, did exist, but not animal-worship. So Eichhorn and Fritzsche. But there is every reason for believing that the worship of living animals as representing deity, and especially of the living serpent, existed in Babylon as among other nations of antiquity, including the Greeks and Romans (see Herzog, 1st edition, article "Drache zu Babylon," by J. G. Muller). It has already been pointed out (see list of meanings) that the word "dragon" denotes a serpent.


Eichhorn, Einleitung in die apoc. Schriften des Alten Testaments (1795), 431 (remarkable for its time: compares the Septuagint and Theodotion); W. H. Daubney, The Three Additions to Daniel (Cambridge, 1906; contains much matter though rather uncritically treated); the commentaries of Fritzsche (Vol I: still very rich in material; it forms part of the Kurzgefasstes exegetisches Handbuch); Bissell (in Lange's series, but not a translation); Ball Speaker's Commentary (this is the best English commentary on the Apocrypha). See also Schurer, Geschichte3, III, 333, and his article in RE3, I, 639; and the articles by Kamphausen in EB, I, 1014; Toy, in Jewish Encyclopedia, II, 650; R. H. Charles, Encyclopedia Brittanica, VII, 807, and especially that by J. Turner Marshall in HDB, I, 267. Fritzsche Libri Veteris Testamenti Graece (1871), and Swete, The Old Testament in Greek, III, 1894, and later editions, give the Septuagint and Theodotion on parallel pages. In the edition of the Septuagint edited by Tischendorf, the Septuagint is given in the text and Theodotion in an appendix.

T. Witton Davies


See DANIEL, BOOK OF, sec. X.



957. beltion -- better
... better. Part of Speech: Adverb, Comparative Transliteration: beltion Phonetic Spelling:
(bel-tee'-on) Short Definition: better Definition: better; adv: very well ...
// - 6k

955. Beliar -- "lord of the forest," Beliar, a name of Satan
... Beliar. 956 . "lord of the forest," Beliar, a name of Satan. Part of Speech: Proper
Noun, Indeclinable Transliteration: Beliar Phonetic Spelling: (bel-ee'-al ...
// - 6k

956. belos -- a needle
... a needle. Part of Speech: Noun, Neuter Transliteration: belos Phonetic Spelling:
(bel'-os) Short Definition: a missile, dart, javelin Definition: a missile, dart ...
// - 5k

Strong's Hebrew
1078. Bel -- a chief Bab. deity
... 1077, 1078. Bel. 1079 . a chief Bab. deity. Transliteration: Bel Phonetic
Spelling: (bale) Short Definition: Bel. Word Origin short. ...
/hebrew/1078.htm - 6k

1112. Beleshatstsar -- "Bel, protect the king," a Bab. king
... 1111, 1112. Beleshatstsar or Beleshatstsar. 1113 . "Bel, protect the king,"
a Bab. ... Word Origin of foreign origin Definition "Bel, protect the king," a Bab. ...
/hebrew/1112.htm - 6k

1085. Bildad -- perhaps "Bel has loved," one of Job's friends
... 1084, 1085. Bildad. 1086 . perhaps "Bel has loved," one of Job's friends.
Transliteration: Bildad Phonetic Spelling: (bil-dad') Short Definition: Bildad. ...
/hebrew/1085.htm - 6k

1081. Baladan -- "he has given a son," father of a Bab. king
... Baladan. From Bel and 'adown (contracted); Bel (is his) lord; Baladan, the name
of a Babylonian prince -- Baladan. see HEBREW Bel. see HEBREW 'adown. ...
/hebrew/1081.htm - 6k

1094. belo -- worn-out things, rags
... 1093, 1094. belo. 1095 . worn-out things, rags. Transliteration: belo
Phonetic Spelling: (bel-o') Short Definition: worn-out. Word ...
/hebrew/1094.htm - 6k

2256. chebel -- cord, territory, band
... 2255, 2256. chebel. 2256a . cord, territory, band. Transliteration: chebel
Phonetic Spelling: (kheh'-bel) Short Definition: band. ...
/hebrew/2256.htm - 6k

5035. nebel -- a skin bottle, skin, jar, pitcher
... 5034b, 5035. nebel. 5035a . a skin bottle, skin, jar, pitcher. Transliteration:
nebel Phonetic Spelling: (neh'-bel) Short Definition: bottle. ...
/hebrew/5035.htm - 5k

895. Babel -- an E. Mediterranean empire and its capital city
... 894, 895. Babel. 896 . an E. Mediterranean empire and its capital city.
Transliteration: Babel Phonetic Spelling: (baw-bel') Short Definition: Babylon. ...
/hebrew/895.htm - 6k

1893. Hebel -- the second son of Adam
... Hebel or Habel. 1894 . the second son of Adam. Transliteration: Hebel or Habel
Phonetic Spelling: (heh'-bel) Short Definition: Abel. Word Origin a prim. ...
/hebrew/1893.htm - 6k

1093. belo -- tribute
... 1092, 1093. belo. 1094 . tribute. Transliteration: belo Phonetic Spelling:
(bel-o') Short Definition: custom. Word Origin (Aramaic ...
/hebrew/1093.htm - 6k


For whom and with what Object Written.
WRITTEN. This story was evidently composed for Jewish use ...
/.../daubney/the three additions to daniel a study/for whom and with what 3.htm

Integrity and State of the Text.
double story seems to have been treated as one in the Greek. ...
/.../daubney/the three additions to daniel a study/integrity and state of the 3.htm

"Example of Life and Instruction of Manners. "
No half compliance is suggested, such as worshipping Bel and God together. ...
/.../the three additions to daniel a study/example of life and instruction 3.htm

... Part IV. THE HISTORY OF BEL AND THE DRAGON CHRONOLOGY. ... The second difficulty, B,
is raised by the asserted destruction of Bel's temple in v.22. ...
/.../daubney/the three additions to daniel a study/chronology 3.htm

... into LXX from some ancient Jewish authority." The variations of text certainly suggest
an oral tradition, perhaps even more strongly than in Bel and the Dragon ...
/.../daubney/the three additions to daniel a study/authorship.htm

Title and Position.
Bel kai Drakon is the usual title of this booklet. It ...
/.../daubney/the three additions to daniel a study/title and position 3.htm

... THE HISTORY OF BEL AND THE DRAGON AUTHORSHIP. In Th, Bel and the Dragon is apparently
assumed to be by the same writer as the rest of the Book of Daniel. ...
/.../daubney/the three additions to daniel a study/authorship 2.htm

Early Christian Literature and Art
John 18:35 compare Bel 38, O' and Th, as to a Gentile being taken for a Jew. ...
/.../the three additions to daniel a study/early christian literature and art 3.htm

Religious and Social State.
Two sorts of worship were in vogue:". (a) Bel-worship. ...
/.../daubney/the three additions to daniel a study/religious and social state 3.htm

... Part IV. THE HISTORY OF BEL AND THE DRAGON ANALYSIS. ... (thl ts' yg). vv.1, 2. Introduces
Cyrus and Daniel.3. How Bel was worshipped by the Babylonians.4-7. ...
/.../daubney/the three additions to daniel a study/analysis.htm

Smith's Bible Dictionary


ATS Bible Dictionary

The chief idol of the Babylonians.

Easton's Bible Dictionary
The Aramaic form of Baal, the national god of the Babylonians (Isaiah 46:1; Jeremiah 50:2; 51:44). It signifies "lord." (see BAAL.)
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
(n.) The Babylonian name of the god known among the Hebrews as Baal. See Baal.
A'bel-Mizraim (1 Occurrence)
A'bel-Mizraim. Abel-mizraim, A'bel-Mizraim. Abel's . Multi-Version
Concordance A'bel-Mizraim (1 Occurrence). Genesis ...
/a/a'bel-mizraim.htm - 6k

A'bel-Meho'lah (3 Occurrences)
A'bel-Meho'lah. Abel-meholah, A'bel-Meho'lah. Abelmizraim .
Multi-Version Concordance A'bel-Meho'lah (3 Occurrences). ...
/a/a'bel-meho'lah.htm - 7k

A'bel-Ma'im (1 Occurrence)
A'bel-Ma'im. Abel-maim, A'bel-Ma'im. Abelmeholah . Multi-Version
Concordance A'bel-Ma'im (1 Occurrence). 2 Chronicles ...
/a/a'bel-ma'im.htm - 6k

Bel (3 Occurrences)
... See Baal. Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia. BEL. bel, bal (bel... 41). See BABYLONIA
/b/bel.htm - 39k

A'bel-Beth-Ma'acah (2 Occurrences)
A'bel-Beth-Ma'acah. Abel-beth-maacah, A'bel-Beth-Ma'acah. Abelbethmaachah .
Multi-Version Concordance A'bel-Beth-Ma'acah (2 Occurrences). ...
/a/a'bel-beth-ma'acah.htm - 7k

Ba'bel (2 Occurrences)
Ba'bel. Babel, Ba'bel. Babes . Multi-Version Concordance Ba'bel
(2 Occurrences). Genesis 10:10 The beginning of his ...
/b/ba'bel.htm - 6k

Beth-ar'bel (1 Occurrence)
Beth-ar'bel. Beth-arbel, Beth-ar'bel. Beth-ashbea . Multi-Version
Concordance Beth-ar'bel (1 Occurrence). Hosea 10:14 ...
/b/beth-ar'bel.htm - 6k

Sharezer (5 Occurrences)
... etser): Corresponds to the Assyrian Shar-ucur, "protect the king"; found otherwise,
not as a complete name, but as elements in personal names, eg Bel-shar-ucur ...
/s/sharezer.htm - 10k

Three (5005 Occurrences)
... 3. Contents 4. Author and Date 5. Original Language 6. Text and Versions LITERATURE
For general remarks concerning the Additions to Daniel see BEL AND THE ...
/t/three.htm - 18k

Belshazzar (8 Occurrences)
... Easton's Bible Dictionary Bel protect the king!, the last of the kings of
Babylon (Dan. 5:1). He was the son of Nabonidus by Nitocris ...
/b/belshazzar.htm - 16k

Bible Concordance
Bel (3 Occurrences)

Isaiah 46:1 Bel bows down, Nebo stoops; their idols are on the animals, and on the livestock: the things that you carried about are made a load, a burden to the weary animal.

Jeremiah 50:2 Declare among the nations and publish, and set up a standard; publish, and don't conceal: say, Babylon is taken, Bel is disappointed, Merodach is dismayed; her images are disappointed, her idols are dismayed.

Jeremiah 51:44 I will execute judgment on Bel in Babylon, and I will bring forth out of his mouth that which he has swallowed up; and the nations shall not flow any more to him: yes, the wall of Babylon shall fall.



Bel and the Dragon

Bel: A Babylonian God

Related Terms

A'bel-Meho'lah (3 Occurrences)

A'bel-Ma'im (1 Occurrence)

Bel (3 Occurrences)

A'bel-Beth-Ma'acah (2 Occurrences)

Ba'bel (2 Occurrences)

Beth-ar'bel (1 Occurrence)

Sharezer (5 Occurrences)

Three (5005 Occurrences)

Belshazzar (8 Occurrences)

Chaldeans (82 Occurrences)

Baal (94 Occurrences)

Chaldea (8 Occurrences)

Beth-arbel (1 Occurrence)

Abel-beth-maacah (2 Occurrences)

Abel-meholah (3 Occurrences)

Abel-mizraim (1 Occurrence)

Abelmizraim (1 Occurrence)

Abelmeholah (3 Occurrences)

Susanna (1 Occurrence)

Babylon (270 Occurrences)

Daniel (74 Occurrences)

Nebo (13 Occurrences)

Zorobabel (3 Occurrences)

Meshezabel (3 Occurrences)


Merodach (2 Occurrences)

Mehetabel (3 Occurrences)

Bildad (5 Occurrences)


Bellows (1 Occurrence)



Abel-maim (1 Occurrence)

Ashbelite (1 Occurrence)

Ashbel (3 Occurrences)

Dragon (20 Occurrences)

Habakkuk (3 Occurrences)

Tower (74 Occurrences)

Abel (22 Occurrences)


Babes (18 Occurrences)

Abelbethmaachah (2 Occurrences)

Song (207 Occurrences)

Bela (14 Occurrences)

Babel (3 Occurrences)


Gods (310 Occurrences)

Babylonia (17 Occurrences)

Cyrus (20 Occurrences)

Assyria (124 Occurrences)

Zer'erah (1 Occurrence)

Zerubbabel (25 Occurrences)

Nebuchadnezzar (90 Occurrences)

Unicorn (6 Occurrences)

Jezebel (20 Occurrences)

Loaden (1 Occurrence)

Loaded (21 Occurrences)

Loads (12 Occurrences)

Lion (92 Occurrences)

Ibleam (4 Occurrences)


Rezeph (2 Occurrences)


Dinner (23 Occurrences)

Mount (311 Occurrences)

Marduk (1 Occurrence)

Mer'odach (1 Occurrence)

Pavement (9 Occurrences)

Publish (22 Occurrences)

Bekerite (1 Occurrence)

Betimes (17 Occurrences)

Belly (62 Occurrences)

Bendeth (4 Occurrences)

Baalhazor (1 Occurrence)

Baal-hazor (1 Occurrence)

Benammi (1 Occurrence)

Bileam (1 Occurrence)

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