The Judgement of Daniel
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The Judgement of Daniel

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This is an episode from the apocryphal version of the Book of Daniel, which is a self-contained story, and as such enjoyed great popularity in the middle ages. The youth standing at the centre is the Daniel, the prophet of the years of exile. He is pointing towards two elderly men to the right of the picture, while on the left side a young woman is in distress. On the ground are missiles which have been thrown at her.

The young woman was Susanna, the wife of Joachim of Babylon. She had caught the attention of two elderly judges, who spied on her as she walked in her husband's garden. One day, while she was bathing alone, they burst in upon her and threatened that, if she would not sleep with them, they would denounce her before the people for having entertained a young lover. She piously declared that it would be better to suffer this calumny than to sin against the Lord.

The scene shows what followed. The false judges were believed; Susanna was swiftly found guilty; and was being carried away by the crowd to be executed when the young Daniel stopped them.

Are ye such fools that without examination or knowledge of the truth ye have condemned a daughter of Israel?
- Daniel

This action of Daniel's led to his being considered from the Middle Ages and onwards as a one of the great judge figures which could be held up as examples to later times. It is for that reason that he is placed here, to encourage the deliberations of the legislators of our own day.

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