Harper’s Bible Dictionary
edited by Paul J. Achtemier (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985)
You are strongly recommended to add to your library the excellent revised edition of Harper's Bible Dictionary titled, The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, Revised Edition [book review], edited by Paul J. Achtemeier, with the Society of Biblical Literature (NY: Harper Collins, 1996). It is currently the best one-volume Bible dictionary in English, and it is available at Border's Books, Christian Science Reading Rooms, http://www.borders.com, or http://www.christianbook.com.
Susanna, one of the Additions to Daniel in the Greek translations of the Hebrew ot, found after chap. 12 in the Septuagint (lxx) version and at the beginning of Daniel in Theodotion. It was probably composed in Hebrew and appended to some manuscripts of the Hebrew-Aramaic version of Daniel sometime prior to 100 b.c. Susanna is the story of Daniels rescue of a young and beautiful woman, condemned to death for adultery as a consequence of a plot by two magistrates to blackmail her into having intercourse with them.
The story opens with the marriage of Susanna to Joakim, in whose house the local court sits (vv. 1-6). Two of the elders or magistrates of the court desire Susanna and look for an opportunity to find her alone (vv. 7-14). As she takes a bath in her garden, they hide and then give her the choice of submitting to them or having them accuse her falsely of adultery (vv. 15-21). Susanna refuses their demands (vv. 22-23). She is accused, tried, and condemned to death (vv. 24-41). In response to her prayer for help, God sends the youth Daniel to aid her (vv. 42-46). He interrogates the two elders separately, proving their guilt, and the court sentences them to death in Susannas place (vv. 47-62). The story concludes with Susannas parents and husband praising God and the note that this case first established Daniels reputation among the Jewish people (vv. 63-64).
The story is a masterpiece of the art of Jewish narrative. Like Tobit, Judith, the Rest of Esther, and the stories in Daniel 1-6, it illustrates how God defends the righteous who call upon him. The difference in the case of Susanna is that the threat comes from within the Jewish community rather than from outside it. Susanna also reflects the isolation of upper-class Jewish women in postbiblical times through virtual confinement to the home and the use of the veil in public. Protestants include the book among the Apocrypha, while Catholics consider it part of the canonical text of Daniel.
Edited for BibleTexts.com by Robert Nguyen Cramer