Photo credit: kctd.org
Thousands of years ago, Babylonians successfully invaded a country in the middle east and captured many slaves. Among these slaves was a young man called Dan. The then King of Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar, knowing very well there may be gifted individuals among the captives, ordered that a few of them be selected and brought to the palace to be trained as government officials. Dan was not only incorruptible in the discharge of his duties but was also exceptionally knowledgeable and gifted in dream interpretation. Three times, Nebuchadnezzar had a strange dream and only the young slave gave a meaningful and a helpful interpretation. Soon, after Nebuchadnezzar was ousted, Dan was promoted over the whole province of Babylon and the native mystics who, hitherto, furnished the king with lies, were envious. All day, they tried to find fault with him but failed. Then they came up with a plan and went to the new king, King Darius and said:
” O Great King, as the Medes and Persians have it, let us a make a law that no one should worship any other god apart from the national god”
The king was hesitant but they managed to convince him and had him sign the bill into a law. A few days later, thy came back and said:
”O Great King, did you not make a law that anyone found worshiping any other god will be fed to the lions?
”Yes it is true, there is such a law”, the king replied.
”We saw that silly slave defy our gods by meditating and praying to his personal god”.
Immediately Dan was dragged to the palace and charged with ”defiance and impiety”. Deep down, the king was fond of him, he knew jealousy was at play but he was the king and must act as such. So in a soft voice, while he was being led to the den, he whispered,
“Don’t worry, the personal god which you continuously serve shall save you”. Dan was thrown in and the entrance of the den was covered.
Throughout the night, King Darius was troubled. He kept thinking –
” How could we punish an innocent man, what if he is the only one with such vision so as to give interpretations to our dreams and give sound policy directions”.
The palace musician came in as usual to play music but he sent him away. Early in the morning, before the first light of the sun, the king woke up and in his pajamas, he run through the backyard. While still halfway through to the den, he cried out:
” Dan! is your god able to deliver you from the jaw of the lions?”. And a voice echoed:
” O King, live long, my god has sent his warriors and they have shut the lion’s mouths, so that the lions have not hurt me. For in as much as before him innocence was found in me and before you, O King, have I done no hurt ”.
The king was very happy for him and had him taken out. Then his enemies, including all their families were thrown into the den. Of course they were eaten by the lions.
Symbolism of the Story
This is a symbolic story, please let no one go to the zoo and try acting out Dan. I don’t normally post on biblical literature but I was inspired by this story. First, ancient kings have the habit of keeping wild animals near the palace. In rural Africa, there are kings that keep young lions, leopards or cheetahs at the palace to establish their position in society. And the story was said to have taken place just a little beyond north of Africa. Again, I am sure you have heard about those ancient gladiators in Rome who fought even tigers, kept by the king. So it possible that there is some historical truth in the story.
Dan, however, could be any innocent victim of injustice or discrimination. The den is any dangerous position or situation that could lead to the loss of your job, family or even life. Experience has taught me that there is competition everywhere – in the family, in school and at the workplace etc and sometimes it gets so serious that opponents try to eliminate their worst competitors. Meanwhile it is not your fault that they can’t do better. In such times, whatever they accuse you of, make sure that you are innocent.
Maybe your son serves in the army or his job involves some danger, call him and tell him to let his god find innocence in him. Some people enter certain dangerous places or are involved in complicated legal battles and come out unhurt, others go and never come out- the difference is innocence.
Nelson Mandela was in prison for twenty-seven years but finally innocence was found in him and he was released. Malala was shot in the head, her skull was shattered, but she is still alive because she has done nothing wrong. I don’t think there is anything like mere luck. Let innocence be found in you.
*My apologies for not posting for while, the year started rather loaded with programmes but I will surely tell you about those four dates I had last year.