By Kris (with a "K") Ever since I heard about the Apocrypha (I grew up Baptist, so this unfortunately took a while), I was always intrigued by the story of Bel and the Dragon. And having just finished reading through Maccabees (yes, 1–4), I decided to turn my attention to this anticipated legend. But to much dismay, the story has unfolded much differently than I had expected.
Instead of Daniel triumphantly slaying a fire breathing dragon (relative of Smaug?), I was left with a pet dragon that exploded from having a sophisticated hairball shoved down its throat. Yes—apparently pitch, hair, and fat are explosive materials. (Nothing like the fat bombs my wife makes me).
23 Now in that place there was a great dragon, which the Babylonians revered. 24 The king said to Daniel, “You cannot deny that this is a living god; so worship him.” 25 Daniel said, “I worship the Lord my God, for he is the living God. 26 But give me permission, O king, and I will kill the dragon without sword or club.” The king said, “I give you permission.”
27 Then Daniel took pitch, fat, and hair, and boiled them together and made cakes, which he fed to the dragon. The dragon ate them, and burst open. Then Daniel said, “See what you have been worshiping!” (Bel 23–27; NRSV)
This is hardly worthy of the accusation made by the locals that Daniel should be killed since he “slayed the dragon” (Bel 28). Apparently these folks haven’t read The Hobbit.
Moral of the story: stick to other literature for dragon-slaying adventures. BUT—if you're into teleportation, then Bel and the Dragon is the story for you! (After all, Habakkuk gets teleported from his homeland to Daniel while he's in the lions' den. Well actually, that's not true: one of God's messengers grabs Habakkuk by the hair and drags him [through the air?] over to Babylon).