April 21, 2023

#08-303: Susanna and the Elders

Susannah and the Elders by Chiari (c. 1700-1727) (Wikipedia)

Note: Some Bibles have extra books or passages, called "Apocrypha," which contain "extra" materials. Nevertheless, some of these are of great interest. Here's one such story.

Get Ready: If someone tells a lie about you, how can you prove it?

Not all Christian Bibles are the same. Some denominations include books that others exclude, so the contents of a Bible depend on who published it.

One such "optional" story, sometimes called "Susanna and the Elders," is usually found only in Bibles produced by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. It is part of "The Book of Daniel," which is found--without this story--in Bibles made by the Protestant churches and in the original Jewish texts on which Christian Bibles are based.

Nevertheless, it is a beautiful story, with a great "twist" at the end.

In Babylon there once was a beautiful woman of the Hebrews named Susanna, wife of Joachim. And everyone knew her to be a good wife and a holy woman.

Her husband was a prominent man, and had a large house with a fine garden. And visitors often came to him on business. Two of these were elders of the people, but were not pure of heart.

They both desired to sleep with Susanna. So one day after meeting with Joachim they parted ways, saying they were going home for lunch. Then each sneaked back into the garden to spy on Susanna. Running into each other, they agreed to a plot to achieve their goal.

On that day Susanna had dismissed her maids and asked them to shut the garden gates, so she could bathe in a pool in the garden, for it was very hot. As soon as the maids were gone, the elders rushed out and told Susanna she must sleep with them.

When she refused, they said they would blackmail her, saying they had caught her under a tree with a handsome young man, who was too strong for them to hold and had escaped.

Nevertheless, she would not sleep with them. So the elders lied to the council, and Susanna was put on trial. The elders swore before God that their story was true, and the poor woman was condemned to death.

But a young man of the people, Daniel, arose and said, "Wait! Let me question the two elders separately." So the elders were separated, and Daniel asked each a simple question: "Under what kind of tree did you catch this woman and her lover?"

One elder said, "Under a mastic tree" (which grows only to 13 feet, or four meters tall); when the other was brought in he said, "Under an evergreen oak" (which can be as tall as 92 feet, or 28 meters). Their story was obviously a lie, and the council put them to death.

Daniel was a hero.


Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. blackmail
  2. condemned
  3. denominations
  4. dismissed
  5. elder
  6. exclude
  7. obviously
  8. parted
  9. prominent
  10. sneaked

  1. types of churches; divisions
  2. important; leading
  3. went different ways
  4. pronounced guilty
  5. told to leave
  6. a religious leader
  7. leave out
  8. easily seen (to be)
  9. force into an action (sometimes a payment) or a secret will be exposed
  10. came secretly

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for April 21, 2023

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. i; 2. d; 3. a; 4. e; 5. f; 6. g; 7. h; 8. c; 9. b; 10. j