8 February 2015

God closes the mouths of lions…

“Throw someone to the lions” or “to be in the lions’ den” means (in French) “to expose someone, or to be exposed oneself, to strong criticism”.

For some, the origin of these expressions goes back to the time of the Roman Empire when those who refused to worship the emperor were thrown publicly into a pit full of hungry lions. The spectators were delighted with such a spectacle.

For others, the story that gave birth to the expression goes back much further, to the time when the prophet Daniel held one of the most important posts in the Medio-Persian Empire. We are in the sixth century B.C. The enemies of Daniel, jealous of his success, lay a trap for him. They persuade King Darius to decree a law preventing anyone, for a period of one month, from praying to any other divinity than the king himself.

Daniel, faithful to his God, is caught in the middle of worshipping. He is “thrown into the den of lions”. It seems that his accusers have won…

In his “Légende des siècles” Victor Hugo ends his poem about the prophet Daniel: “When the night had blackened the great blue firmament, the guard wanted to see the den and this slave, gluing his pale face to the bars of the cave, in the vague depths perceived Daniel standing looking at the heavens in wonder, seeing the innumerable stars, while the lions licked his feet in the gloom.”

We, too, when we are in the pit, we can lift our eyes to heaven; God will sort out the lions!


Robert Héris