The young Hebrew prophet Daniel has risen to the top of the Medo-Persian government. By now, Daniel is not so young anymore but an older man recognized for his honesty and sagacity. He served Darius, the King of the Medes who had taken the city of Babylon as one of his top three officials who oversaw the satraps of the Medo-Persian Empire. In that capacity, he excelled to such an extent that King Darius was considering elevating him over the entire empire. Daniel’s political rivals, the other two chief officials and the satraps didn’t want this to happen. Because Daniel was incorruptible and performed his job with excellence, his rivals’ only option, as they saw it was to set a trap.
Daniel was known for praying towards Jerusalem thrice daily, and this custom was the “point of attack”. The rivals proposed to King Darius that he be the sole object of worship for thirty days. The penalty for worshipping any other god would be for the worshipper to be thrown to the lions. King Darius agreed to the proposal and signed it into law.
Knowing what would happen to him once the law was in effect, Daniel didn’t even consider changing his custom of daily prayer and continued to pray towards Jerusalem. Spies observed him in this act, and accused him to the king. Darius now understood that the “worship the king only” law was intended to destroy Daniel. Darius tried to find a way to save Daniel, but he had to enforce his own law.
Therefore, with a heavy heart, Darius ordered Daniel thrown to hungry lions. He spent the night fasting and praying for his friend whom he valued greatly. At sunrise the next day, Darius ordered the stone covering the cave rolled away and cried into the cave, “Daniel, do you yet live?” Daniel’s strong and calm voice responded, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no wrong.”
With great joy, king Darius ordered Daniel to be pulled out of the cave or den. He then ordered the other two men who served with Daniel and the satraps who had plotted with the two to be thrown to the lions. In addition to the men, their wives and children were thrown to the lions, and all were killed.
The lesson to the men is this: if you play power politics as a blood sport and lose, your wives and children share in your punishment with you.