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39. Daniel


tl by danluffey


1: After the fall of the kingdom of Judah, a great number of people were taken to became prisoners in Babylon a total of three times. (568 ~ 538 BC)
2: At the time, Neo-Babylonia had crowned a new king named Nebuchadnezzar, and he amassed great power under himself.

*Daniel 1 ~ 3, 5 ~ 6, Ezra 1, Nehemiah 1 ~ 3, 6

1: A strange nightmare keeps disturbing my sleep at night. Is there anyone who can interpret dreams?!
2: What kind of dreams are you having?
3: It shouldn't matter what kind they are to a true dream interpreter! Now bring one here at once!
4: If someone gives him an answer he doesn't like, he'll execute them.
5: Let's have someone from the tribe of Judah serve him.
6: I am Daniel, son of Judah.
7: Explain to me
8: what my dreams mean!
9: O LORD... please, give me strength!
10: Aahh...

1: You dream of a large statue crumbling, don't you?
2: Yes, that's exactly it! You're amazing, Daniel!
3: The golden head represents you, the king.
4: The silver, bronze, and steel body represents the kingdoms that will follow you.
5: The mountain of stone that they crumble into represents the eternal nature of the true kingdom of the LORD, which is greater than all other kingdoms on earth. That is what your dream means.
6: Amazing, Daniel! Is that what the god you call LORD told you?!

1: From here on, I will display respect toward your people and your LORD. And Daniel! I hereby make you ruler of all of Neo-Babylonia!
2: What?! He made a son of Judah a ruler?!
3: That's insane! What is he thinking?!
4: Look at this beautiful golden statue!
5: God is eternal, so all those who do not worship this idol must be executed!
6: But we can only pray to the LORD!
7: Execute them!
8: Those are my beloved friends! Please forgive them!
9: Impossible! Throw them into the furnace!

1: Shadrach! Meshach! Abednego!
2: Hm...?
3: They all look like they're fine... and there's someone else in there with them! Get out here at once, you three! Who else is in there with you?!
4: There isn't a burn mark on their bodies... and only three came out! What happened to the other one? Was he a servant of your God?!

1: I now understand the full power of your LORD...
2: I won't require you to pray to any other gods any more, and I will start believing in yours.
3: King!
4: But... soon, King Nebuchadnezzar died, and King Belshazzar took his place.
5: Here is a holy item our last king stole from a temple in Jerusalem.
6: This item was used to make offerings to their god...
7: and now I use it to chug wine! That means I'm like a god now! Wahahaha!
8: Aah... aaiiieee!
9: There's a hand floating in the air!

1: It's writing something! What does that say?!
2: Call Daniel!
3: It says...
4: Because your king is immoral, he will prove unable to rule your kingdom.
5: Soon, this land will be divided by the kingdoms of Media and Persia.
6: What?!
7: That night, someone assassinated Belshazzar.
8: Not long after, Neo-Babylonia was taken over by the Persians.
9: Persia
10: Neo-Babylonia

1: The Persian King Cyrus
2: I'm nothing like Babylonia's old king Nebuchadnezzar...
3: I understand full well that the beliefs, culture, and ways of other tribes must be respected in order to bring about world peace. People of the kingdom of Judah! I know that you were brought to Babylon against your will!
4: Those who wish to return to their homeland are free to do so. Those that wish to remain here are also free to do so.
5: Ohhh!
6: Hooray!

1: Jerusalem was burned to the ground by the Babylonians. I wonder what's become of it?
2: Go and take a look!
3: We'll make preparations for everyone's return.
4: Over the next 48 years, from 586 BC to 538 BC, the tribe of Judah made their first return to their homeland.
5: No matter how far they were from their homeland, they remained unified in their faith in the LORD.
6: King Darius succeeded King Cyrus, and was very tolerant of other tribes.
7: I believe in the words of Zarathustra and Ahura Mazda,
8: but I will not deny the existence of your god.

1: Daniel! You have overcome the boundaries of your tribe! You are a symbol of harmony! I expect great things from you!
2: He's from the tribe of Judah, isn't he? Just seeing him pisses me off!
3: Your majesty, we have a question.
4: Hm?
5: It feels to us that your authority has been neglected in recent days, your majesty.
6: Perhaps a law needs to be instated to better unify the hearts of the people.
7: "All those who honor anyone other than King Darius over the next 30 days will be thrown into a pit of lions."
8: We feel a strict method like this is necessary to turn people back toward you, your majesty.
9: Hmm... I see.

1: Daniel! Who are you praying to?!
2: My LORD.
3: You honored someone other than King Darius! You must be executed!
4: Daniel!
5: I wasn't thinking straight! Please, forgive me!
6: Don't let it trouble you!
8: Daniel!
9: Daniel! Are you okay?!
10: As you can see, I'm fine.

1: The LORD protected me.
2: All men who conspired against Daniel are to be thrown into the pit!
3: Hiieee!
4: We went to inspect Jerusalem, but it's been reduced to ruins.
5: There isn't even a trace of its former glory.
6: I'll assist you in rebuilding your homeland. Let us work together and create a bright future!
7: King Darius!
8: The tribe of Judah was taken three times from their kingdom to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, and returned to their homeland three times.
9: Babylon
10: Susa
11: Nippur
12: Aleppo
13: Damascus
14: Jerusalem

1: Our temple is complete!
2: Long live Jerusalem!
3: This is nothing compared to the great temple that King Solomon once built!
4: Old people only ever talk about the splendor of the past...
5: Let's have faith in our future and work hard to restore our kingdom!
6: Yeah!
7: However... the neighboring kingdoms didn't want the kingdom of Judah to come back, so they continually interfered with its restoration.

1: Later, a man named Nehemiah from the tribe of Judah served as a cupbearer under the Persian King Artaxerxes. The king took a liking to Nehemiah and instated him as governor of the kingdom in order to oversee its restoration. He returned to the kingdom of Judah in 515 BC.
2: Nehemiah completed Jerusalem's castle wall, but the kingdom of Judah still remained as a province of the Persian Empire. And so, the Old Testament ends, without the Israelites ever returning to their promised land.

1. In Conclusion
2: The stories in the Old Testament are precious records that form the basis of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Currently, Jerusalem is the holy land of all three religions.
3: The stone wall that remains from Solomon's palace in Jerusalem is treated as a holy spot for Jewish believers,
4: while the golden dome on top of the hill beyond it was built by Muslims to honor Abraham.
5: To Christians, it is most often referred to as the place where Jesus was crucified and resurrected.

1: Jewish people believe that the "savior" the LORD speaks of still has yet to arrive to the world,
2: while Christians believe that Jesus Christ was the savior,
3: and Muslims believe that Muhammad is the true prophet.
4: Regardless of differences in interpretations, the stories in the Old Testament are thought to be historical truths by all three.

1: The Old Testament and Art
2: Millet has a piece called The Gleaners, which is drawn from the story of Ruth.
3: Many of the stories and teachings from the Old Testament live on in Europe and Christianity,
4: Just like in biblical times!
5: where leaving fallen crops for poor people and widows became a civic duty.
6: There is a wealth of European art that was inspired by stories in the Old Testament. Michaelangelo's Sistine Chapel is 100% based on the Old Testament.

1: Michaelangelo also sculpted statues of David
2: I'm just about to go fight Goliath!
3: and Moses.
4: In Michaelangelo's day, the "light" that came out from Moses' head was mistranslated as "horns."
5: Donatello sculpted a statue of David in his youth, whom he modeled after his pupil Leonardo.
6: Goliath
7: There is a mountain of pieces based on Adam and Eve alone.
8: Masaccio
9: Cranach
10: Masolino
11: Rembrandt's rendition of Bathsheba is so plump...
12: and pudgy...
13: David's love letter
14: Art museums are always full of pieces based on the Old Testament. It's a drama that's been enjoyed for thousands of years.
15: The same's true for Greek Mythology, though...

Afterword - Satonaka Machiko

When I was in middle school, I was talking with a classmate about what book we would take with us if we went to a deserted island. When I said "The Bible," she asked me if I was a Christian.

"No," I answered, "but the Bible, especially the Old Testament, is a vault of good stories. It's super long, too, so I'd be able to enjoy it for a pretty long time."

I had no real knowledge of religion or history at the time, but I still knew that The Bible was the basis of all Western ethics and morals. Every time I noticed a plot line in a Western movie, novel, or art piece that was connected to The Old Testament and Greek Mythology, I thought "I don't really get this, but I bet it's common knowledge in the West. If I learned about all this stuff, I'd be able to better enjoy Western things."

And so, deciding that I should give it a read through, I took the Bible in my hands. It looked like a dictionary, especially with how many pages it had. At that point, I didn't even know the difference between the Old and New Testaments.

Once I started reading, though, I ran into many stories that had been used as motifs in movies and novels, which helped things make a lot more sense to me. Reading the Bible also helped me understand themes in Western art. I also better understood why Western people place their hands on the Bible and swear by it in court and during weddings.

When I entered high school and started getting interested in the connections between The Old Testament and Greek Mythology, I also learned how the Old Testament was also the basis for Judaism and Islam, which made me even more intrigued by it.

"The LORD is the perfect, absolute being." The sense of a large gap between the fear and faith of those who believe in this sentence, and someone like me, who has no such unflinching faith, is something that I spent many hours contemplating during my youth, and stays with me even now.

These stories provide the morals, ethics, and basics of living for a very large area of the world. And so, just like Buddhism, the religion of Ancient Egypt, and Greek Mythology, the Old Testament also became something that I eventually wanted to turn into a manga.

These stories are part of our past. All tribes, regardless of where they come from, have religious beliefs, legends, and myths that help to create their identities. Stories to answer questions about what it means to live as a human, stories to help explain what is fair and what is a sin... these are things the human race has been thinking about ever since we started creating societies.

The Old Testament has been utilized for thousands of years, in a variety of different ways. And so, as I continued wishing that I could someday draw a manga about the world's most best-selling book, I met with a man named Ishii from a committee who suggested that I make it my next project, which pushed me to my final decision. I tried depicting it without any sort of bias... how do you think it turned out?

September 2011


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