Bel and the Dragon, customary name for chapter 14 of the Book of Daniel, a passage included in the Septuagint and the Apocrypha. It was written possibly in the 1st cent. B.C. as a response to Gentile threat to the Jewish culture and state. The first half recounts the story of the Babylonian idol Bel, ministered to by priests who secretly consume food left for it, thus deceiving the king and the people. Daniel reveals the fraud, and priests and idol are destroyed by the king. The second half of the passage tells of a dragon, i.e., a live reptile, worshiped as a god; Daniel kills it and is thrown to the lions. The prophet Habakkuk is brought miraculously to the den by an angel to feed him. Daniel is preserved, and the Babylonian king recognizes the power of the God of Daniel. Both stories are highly satirical and polemical.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.