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Week 5 - The Statue of Idolatry

Babylon U

Babylonian astronomy had no geometric model or theory, such as the Greeks had. They divided the circle into 360 degrees, and described location in the sky in terms of bearing (compass direction) and azimuth (angle from the ground). These observations were carefully recorded along with time of day, measured by water clock. They then constructed arithmetic models which predicted phases of the moon, eclipses, period of wandering stars (e.g. Venus), and more. These arithmetic models were effective, yielding precise predictions (given the precision of water clocks).

The Legend of Daniel - Susanna and the Elders

The Septuagint book of Daniel has several stories appended that do not appear in the Hebrew and Aramaic. Their tone is quite different (Daniel acts more like a super hero), making it clear that Daniel was not the author. For Protestants and Jews, they are Apocryphal, for Catholics, Canonical.

The first is about Susanna, a beautiful Jewish wife in Babylon. Two lecherous Jewish elders spy on her while bathing, and after she has sent her attendents away, they spring out and demand that she commit adultery with them - or they will accuse her of adultery. She refuses, they accuse her, as she is led to be stoned, young Daniel speaks up and demands that the two witnesses be questioned separately. Their stories conflict, and they are stoned as false witnesses, and Daniel is revered.

The bathing scene from Susanna is a popular subject of Medieval art.

Daniel 2:46 - 3:30

3:23½ The Septuagint adds another appendix to Daniel, which occurs between verse 23 and 24: The Prayer of Azariah, and the "Song of the Three Hebrew Children". After their prayer, "the flame mounted up above the furnace nine and fourth cubits: And it broke forth, and burnt such of the Chaldeans as it found near the furnace. But the angel of the Lord went down with Azarias and his companions into the furnace: and he drove the flame of the fire out of the furnace." Then they break into a song reminiscent of Psalm 148. Dramatic speculation: the jealous courtiers who ratted them out were "found near the furnace".