I’m facilitating an online Koine Greek reading group and we’re working through the short and apocryphal book of Bel and the Dragon. The text we’re using is the Old Greek (OG) version from Henry Barclay Swete’s 1909 edition of The Old Testament in Greek: According to the Septuagint. I will be posting the text here each week with accompanying vocabulary glosses for words that appear fewer than fifty times in the Greek New Testament. I will also try to throw in some brief commentary and illustrations.
21 καὶ ἐπῆλθεν ἐπὶ τὸν οἶκον ἐν ᾧ ἦσαν οἱ ἱερεῖς καταγινόμενοι, καὶ εὗρε τὰ βρώματα τοῦ Βὴλ καὶ τὸν οἶνον· καὶ ἐπέδειξε Δανιὴλ τῷ βασιλεῖ τὰ ψευδοθύρια, διʼ ὧν εἰσπορευόμενοι οἱ ἱερεῖς ἐδαπάνων τὰ παρατιθέμενα τῷ Βήλ.
22 καὶ ἐξήγαγεν αὐτοὺς ὁ βασιλεὺς ἐκ τοῦ Βηλίου, καὶ παρέδωκεν αὐτοὺς τῷ Δανιήλ· καὶ τὴν δαπάνην τὴν εἰς αὐτὸν ἔδωκε τῷ Δανιήλ, τὸν δὲ Βὴλ κατέστρεψε.
δαπανάω, to consume
εἰσπορεύομαι, to go into
ἐπέρχομαι, to come to
ἐπιδείκνυμι, to point out
καταγίνομαι, to dwell
παρατίθημι, to set before
ψευδοθύριον, secret door
Βηλεῖον, temple for Bel
ἐξάγω, to bring out
καταστρέφω, to destroy
παρατίθημι, to set before
Translation and Commentary
21 And he came to the house, in which the priests were dwelling, and he found the food of Bel and the wine. And Daniel pointed out to the king the secret doors through which the priests were entering and were consuming the things set before Bel.
22 And the king brought them out from Bel’s temple and he handed them over to Daniel. And he gave the expenditure to Daniel, but Bel he destroyed.
There are two lexical observations we can make regarding this passage. First, the word translated “secret doors” (ψευδοθύριον)differs from the word used for the same referent in v. 15 (ψευδοθύριον). Not only is first usage singular and the second plural, but they are different compound words. According to LEH, both are neologisms—words unattested outside of the LXX. If we risk assuming both compounds are self evident, we can compare the differing word in each. According to LSJ, θύριον is a “small door” and θυρίς is a “window.” The second lexical observation involves the word translated “temple for Bel” (Βηλεῖον). As Moore points out, the author exhibits some variety by using four different words for Bel’s temple: ἱερόν (8), εἰδώλιον (10), ναός (11), and Βηλεῖον (22) (138).
The author’s choice to front Βηλ in the final clause serves to mark it for increased prominence (Runge, 191).
Want to explore the Septuagint further? See the new Lexham English Septuagint.
Link to Part 11—Coming Soon!
For more resources on Bel and the Dragon try the following:
Bel and the Dragon in A New English Translation of the Septuagint
An Introduction to the Apocrypha by Bruce M. Metzger