|Daniel (the prophet)
|Daniel was said to have been carried off from Judah in 605 BC, along with three other noble youths, as a prisoner to Babylon where he was trained in the service of the court. He became famous for interpreting dreams, but his companions were thrown into a fiery furnace for refusing to worship the Babylonian King, Nebukanezar, but were then miraculously saved.
Daniel himself was eventually cast into a den of lions for continuing to practise his faith. But he also was miraculously delivered, after which King Cyrus issued a decree enjoining reverence for "the God of Daniel" (Daniel 6:26). He probably later greatly influenced Cyrus in issuing the decree which put an end to the Jewish Captivity (536 BC), and he rose to become one of the most important figures in the court and lived well into the reign of the Persian conquerors.
Christians and Jews both regard Daniel as one of their major prophets.
Susanna and the Elders describes how the virtuous and beautiful Hebrew wife Susanna is bathing in her garden, when she is spied on by two lustful elders (judges). They stop her on her way back to her house, and tell her that they saw her with a young man and threaten to reveal all unless she will have sex with them. She rejects their blackmail attempt and ends up in court. She is about to be put to death for promiscuity (for it is just her word against that of the two elders) when the proceedings are interrupted by the boy Daniel. At his suggestion, the elders are separated and he then asks each about the sort of tree under which they saw the lovers. The two elders give different answers. So, thanks to Daniel, Susanna is released. That is why he was claimed by Dorothy L Sayers to be the very first clerical detective. The elders, by the way, were then put to death.
But that night Daniel had the floor of the temple strewn with ashes before the door was sealed. The next morning the king and Daniel found the seal intact, but the food gone. Then Daniel laughed and showed Cyrus the floor: "Behold now the pavement, and mark well whose footsteps are these." Cyrus compelled the priests to show him how they had entered the temple. As a result they were put to death, and Daniel destroyed both idol and temple.
The stories, probably based on old folk tales, were relegated to the Apocrypha by Protestants, but still appear in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Bibles.
I have seen it argued that there was an even earlier Biblical detective: God. In Genesis 3, God questions Adam and Eve (who had disobeyed His command not to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge) about why they had covered their nakedness with fig leaves. Adam tells him, "I heard my voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself." This gives away that he had eaten from the Tree of Knowledge, for, as God goes on to ask him, "Who told thee that thou wast naked?".
And it has been said that God later solved the first murder when Cain, Adam and Eve's older son, slew his brother Abel (Genesis 4): "The LORD said unto Cain, "Where is Abel thy brother?"
|Susanna and the Elders as imagined by Alessandro Allori (1535-1607). It was, understandably enough, a favorite subject of painters at this time.|