And Daniel went in and requested the king to appoint him a time, that he might show the interpretation to the king. Daniel 2:16
Of course, I hadn’t the time to stay and eat; what had seemed like a straightforward charge was proving to be anything but that. An execution is not usually difficult to perform, especially if the person in question is frozen in fear or resigned to his fate. And while I had known that I wouldn’t be able to count on this in the case of young men such as the Judahite captives—and as such had brought along a contingent of five guards—I never anticipated this kind of response. Belteshazzar’s boldness had left me completely baffled, and in his wake I found myself scrambling, undermanned, and pressed for time. I abruptly left the five guards to oversee the diners and pursued the young man on foot, but in that brief space of time he had become just another shadow among many traversing the narrow city streets. A new urgency propelled me forward, for I knew there would be no finding him once he reached the Processional Way, Babylon’s chief road.
My heart leapt at sighting him briefly in a ribbon of light streaming between two buildings for, to my surprise, he was only stone’s throw away. Even so, distance hardly mattered since there was no way to reach him amid the boisterous flood of bodies. Suddenly all was light as we poured out into the Processional Way. I held up my hand, desperately squinting with fleeting hope of catching a glimpse of him in spite of the glare, but he was gone.
What were my options? The palace—only the palace—even if I had to arrive with my tail between my legs. I needed to verify that he had arrived there, and if he hadn’t … then I would need no end of help to scramble out of this grave dug and prepared by my own carelessness. Would this day be my last? Exasperation gave way to frustration as I noted my stupidity at leaving all my guards behind me. What if Belteshazzar’s actions were only a brilliant bluff? Could there be a better pretense to employ for his escape? As we approached the palace, the crowds slowed, my brow furrowed, and my thoughts grew dark.
“Of all the impudent, foolhardy choices he could make! If he reaches the king there will be hell to pay, and if he doesn’t I’ll be only further behind in carrying out this odious assignment. How can one man be so much trouble?!”
Illustrations by Elesha Casimir
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