Bel is back after a brief break! This time we look at verses 23–24.
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.
23 Καὶ ἦν δράκων ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ τόπῳ, καὶ ἐσέβοντο οἱ Βαβυλώνιοι.
24 καὶ εἷπεν ὁ βασιλεὺς τῷ Δανιήλ Μὴ καὶ τοῦτον ἐρεῖς ὅτι χαλκοῦς ἐστιν; ἰδοὺ ζῇ καὶ ἐσθίει καὶ πίνει, προσκύνησον αὐτῷ.
σέβω, to worship
χαλκοῦς, made of copper
Translation and Commentary
23 And there was a dragon in the same place. And the Babylonians were worshipping.
24 And the king said to Daniel, “You will not also say this one is made of copper? Behold, he lives, and eats, and drinks. Worship him.
According to BDAG, δράκων can reference either a dragon or a serpent (261). Carey contends that its use in Bel must be limited to serpent because it appears to describe an “actual living” creature (141–142). Eynikel and Hauspie disagree that it must refer to a living creature since the babylonian cult fostered the legend of “dragon-like animals” (134).
There is a textual variant present in v. 23. Swete’s text does not include the masculine pronoun αὐτὸν following ἐσέβοντο, while Ralhfs does citing Codex Chisianus 45 (88) as a witnesses to the omission.
Want to explore the Septuagint further? See the new Lexham English Septuagint.
Link to Part 12—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