6 Darius divided the kingdom into 120 provinces, each under a governor. 2 The governors were accountable to three presidents (Daniel was one of them) so the king could administer the kingdom efficiently.
3 Daniel soon proved himself more capable than all the other presidents and governors, for he had great ability, and the king began to think of placing him over the entire empire as his administrative officer.
4 This made the other presidents and governors very jealous, and they began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling his affairs so that they could complain to the king about him. But they couldn’t find anything to criticize! He was faithful and honest and made no mistakes. 5 So they concluded, “Our only chance is his religion!”
6 They decided to go to the king and say, “King Darius, live forever! 7 We presidents, governors, counselors, and deputies have unanimously decided that you should make a law, irrevocable under any circumstance, that for the next thirty days anyone who asks a favor of God or man—except from you, Your Majesty—shall be thrown to the lions. 8 Your Majesty, we request your signature on this law; sign it so that it cannot be canceled or changed; it will be a ‘law of the Medes and Persians’ that cannot be revoked.”
9 So King Darius signed the law.
10 But though Daniel knew about it, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs bedroom, with its windows open toward Jerusalem, and prayed three times a day, just as he always had, giving thanks to his God.
11 Then the men thronged to Daniel’s house and found him praying there, asking favors of his God. 12 They rushed back to the king and reminded him about his law. “Haven’t you signed a decree,” they demanded, “that permits no petitions to any God or man—except you—for thirty days? And anyone disobeying will be thrown to the lions?”
“Yes,” the king replied, “it is ‘a law of the Medes and Persians,’ that cannot be altered or revoked.”
13 Then they told the king, “That fellow Daniel, one of the Jewish captives, is paying no attention to you or your law. He is asking favors of his God three times a day.”
14 Hearing this, the king was very angry with himself for signing the law and determined to save Daniel. He spent the rest of the day trying to think of some way to get Daniel out of this predicament.
15 In the evening the men came again to the king and said, “Your Majesty, there is nothing you can do. You signed the law, and it cannot be changed.”
16 So at last the king gave the order for Daniel’s arrest, and he was taken to the den of lions. The king said to him, “May your God, whom you worship continually, deliver you.” And then they threw him in. 17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with that of his government, so that no one could rescue Daniel from the lions.
18 Then the king returned to his palace and went to bed without dinner. He refused his usual entertainment and didn’t sleep all night. 19 Very early the next morning he hurried out to the lions’ den 20 and called out in anguish, “O Daniel, servant of the Living God, was your God, whom you worship continually, able to deliver you from the lions?”
21 Then he heard a voice! “Your Majesty, live forever!” It was Daniel! 22 “My God has sent his angel,” he said, “to shut the lions’ mouths so that they can’t touch me, for I am innocent before God; nor, sir, have I wronged you.”
23 The king was beside himself with joy and ordered Daniel lifted from the den. And not a scratch was found on him because he believed in his God.
24 Then the king issued a command to bring the men who had accused Daniel and throw them into the den along with their children and wives, and the lions leaped upon them and tore them apart before they even hit the bottom of the den.
25-26 Afterward King Darius wrote this message addressed to everyone in his empire:
“Greetings! I decree that everyone shall tremble and fear before the God of Daniel in every part of my kingdom. For his God is the living, unchanging God whose kingdom shall never be destroyed and whose power shall never end. 27 He delivers his people, preserving them from harm; he does great miracles in heaven and earth; it is he who delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.”
28 So Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.