Before I get started, I would like to point out my new Subscribe feature. This was much more hidden in the past and if you did find it and fill it out I have no idea where the data went. Now I have found how to capture the information and within the next month will start an email feature. It will not be a particularly persistent or annoying feature and if your definition differs from mine on that point you can simply let me know and I’ll adjust.
I have noticed that stories about my work don’t get much attention on my blog. There is one more story in the queue but I’m avoiding that for now and jumping on to an oldie but a good. One I’ve kind of touched on before. As is typically the case with me, this one needs a bit of setup.
When the Pilgrims (or the Puritans I forget which) came to the United States there were certain parts of the bible that they didn’t like. Some were whole books, others just chapters or parts of chapters. Whether they read more like stories than bible, Jesus never quoted them, or they failed to fit their confirmation bias of cannon I don’t know. I only know they didn’t like these parts, so they asked the publishers to leave them out. Perhaps an odd request, though at the time with the infighting back and forth between Catholics and Protestants maybe it wasn’t such a hard idea to grasp. So the publishers of the authorized bible only sent the remaining books to Massachusetts (or Rhode Island or wherever they were). Most manufacturers don’t like making two incredibly similar products to send to the same market so eventually, the bibles sent to North America were all lacking these particular parts. Is this story apocryphal? Perhaps, but unquestionably the parts that got left out of the book are.
There is a constant debate between whether the bible stories consist of the first and only time the stories happened or whether it is just a telling of the final time. For instance Noah may not have been the first attempt at finding someone to build the ark. The first guy may have given up, so God went to Noah and tried again. David may not have been the first shepherd to look at Goliath, the first may have been someone who looked and said “No Way!” before running off to sip lattes in an Californian pub and reminiscence about the way things should have been.
With that in mind, there is one particularly interesting apocryphal part of the book of Daniel where he was in the lion’s den and fed by Habakkuk. An angel picked him up by his hair and dropped him into the den. Let’s look at the event from Habakkuk’s perspective. It may have gone something like this:
Habakkuk walked over to sit beneath the lone olive tree on the hill overlooking the sparse field where his sheep grazed. It had been a long morning, one sheep kept wandering off and he had to leave the 99 to find it more than once but now it was his favorite time of day, lunchtime.
He sat among the roots and found a comfortable spot leaning against the trunk. Reaching over to open his bag he suddenly felt a sharp pain on his head and he was lifted off the ground. Being lifted by his head he was unable to look up but looking around and using his peripheral vision he could see shimmering wings.
Dropping his lunch he reached for the wings and found himself falling back to the ground. He hadn’t gotten very high up so it was a short fall. He braced himself and when his feet hit he rolled to the side and then scrambled to get behind the olive tree.
He peeked around the tree. His lunch lay smashed where he had rolled over but the field looked the same. He raised his eyes to look up and saw the most incredible sight he had ever seen. A frightening apparition hovered in the air. Light seemed to emanate from the creature as it shimmered and its wings beat. It was looking at Habakkuk but not paying him any mind. Slowly he backed away but the creature didn’t follow him.
Emboldened he turned and ran towards the sheep. The angel remained hovering near the tree. After a hundred yards Habakkuk turned and looked. No movement except the gently up and down hovering that the winged creature did. The sheep looked up at him then returned to grazing.
Cautiouly he began to move slowly back toward his lunch. Still the creature watched him, but made no move. As he neared the lunch he crouched and reached a tentative hand below the angel. He snatched his lunch and ran toward a row of shrubs. He put the strap of the bag in his mouth so his hands were free.
Before he had gone four steps he found himself again being lifted by the hair. He grabbed the hands holding his hair and clawed but it was no use. The angel lifted him higher and higher. He clutched his lunch like a security blanket and closed his eyes.
The soft, gentle breeze was cool on his face. The sensation of flying was simultaneously scary and exhilarating. He opened one eye and peeked. He still could not move his head but he looked down with just his eyes. The people and animals below looked like ants. The trees and shrubs like tufts of green cotton. He didn’t know what a fifth-grade diorama was, but if he did that is how he would describe the scene below.
His heart returned to a normal beat after a few minutes. He was now far from the field of sheep and coming up on a town. The buildings and streets were laid out like an ancient map. The hustle and bustle of life went on below him with no one noticing his flight.
Ahead was the palace grounds. Beautiful hanging gardens beckoned but to the side was a walled enclosure. It was full of pacing lions. Startled, Habakkuk spoke, “Not there! Anywhere but there!”
The angel swooped down lower and lower then at the worst possible second, right above the biggest lion Habakkuk had ever seen he felt the tug on his head disappear and he was falling. The ground had been hardened by the pacing animals and hurt his left ankle. Regardless, he scampered away from the lions and saw a man standing alone.
“Help! Save me!” Habakkuk yelled.
The man calmly reached out to help Habakkuk to his feet, “I can’t help, but YHWH can. Stand with me. My name is Daniel. What do you have?”
Habakkuk stood and quickly pushed Daniel to stand between him and the lions. “Are you crazy? Those lions look hungry.”
A sedate Daniel said, “They are. No one has fed them in over a week. The King hoped they might feast on me.”
“What? That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard,” said Habakkuk while looking in every direction to make sure there were no lions behind him. “I don’t know what’s going on. I sat down to eat my lunch in peace and next thing I know I’m in here with you.”
Daniel turned and reached for the bag, “Is this your lunch? What do you have?” He opened the bag and looked inside.
“Look you crazy goon, you can have the lunch just tell me how to get out of here.”
“Is that tuna fish? I haven’t had a tuna fish sandwich in weeks. It’s all chocolate covered locusts and honey-covered lamb in the palace. And a cheese stick? Whoever packed your lunch must love you.” Daniel said as he poured the contents of the bag onto the ground.
As it had after a minute of flying, Habakkuk’s heart slowed to a normal beat. The calm demeanor of Daniel and the reticence of the lions to attack began to put him more at ease.
“There may be some carrot sticks in there too. My wife knows how much I love those. And there’s a leftover lamb chop, too. I hate leftovers, go ahead help yourself.” Habakkuk said.
The two sat in the shade of the den wall and split the meal while talking about the strange situation they had found themselves.
After the meal, Daniel moved to lean back against the wall and patted his belly, “I haven’t been this full in years. Thanks for sharing, Habakkuk.” He turned to face where his new friend was but saw only shoes being lifted. Shifting his gaze upward he saw the angel had reappeared and grabbed Habakkuk by the head. This time he had grabbed onto the angel’s arms and was shouting as they cleared the wall of the lion’s den.
Silence returned to the enclosure as Daniel remarked out load to no one, “Now where can I get something for desert?”