Susanna was the daughter of Hilkiah. Among the lovely ladies of the Old Testament, this woman was said to have been extremely beautiful and pious. She lived with her husband Joakim, a rich Jew who occupied a place of honor in Babylon. Jews came every day to the house of Joakim, where cases were heard and judged. After the people left each day, Susanna would walk about in the fine garden that adjoined Joakim's house. Two elders, who had been appointed as judges and who held daily court in Joakim's house, began to feel uncontrollable lust for Susanna.
The Judges Confess Their Lust
The two judges told no one (not even each other) of the mounting lust they felt for Susanna as they watched her move about in her garden. One day, they said goodbye to each other at high noon and went their separate ways to have lunch. But suddenly, each man turned back. Meeting up again, both insisted on knowing the reason why the other had returned to Joakim's house. Each finally confessed to the other his desire for Susanna.
A Plan Is Hatched to Seduce Susanna
The two judges waited for an opportunity to seduce the beautiful girl. One hot afternoon, Susanna sent her maids to fetch olive oil and ointments, and told them to shut the garden doors for privacy while she bathed. What she and the maids did not know was that the two judges were hiding in the garden.
Susanna Understands She Is Trapped
When the maids had left and the gates were shut and locked, the men revealed their presence to Susanna. Both confessed their desire to lie with her. She quickly understood her precarious situation: If she agreed to do what the men wanted, she would be put to death; if she did not agree, then she would be at their mercy (since they were judges). Susanna refused their advances and screamed. Her cries for help brought the maids and the villagers to the garden, where the men spoke against her.
The Locals Gather to Hear the Case
The house of Joakim became crowded with people. The two judges were there, along with the villagers. Susanna appeared with her children, parents, and other relatives. The men laid out their case against Susanna. They said they were out of sight in the garden when she came and dismissed her maids. Then she lay with a young man who had been in hiding. Upon seeing her indiscretion, the two judges said that they ran to capture the young man, but he was strong and got away.
Susanna Receives the Death Sentence
Those assembled believed the two judges and condemned Susanna to death. She cried out to God that the men had given false evidence against her. As the people led her away, the Holy Spirit came down upon a young man named Daniel, who shouted that he wanted no part in shedding the innocent blood of Susanna. He told those assembled that they were foolish not to hear all of the facts before rushing to judgment.
Daniel Traps the Two Judges
Daniel separated the two judges (perhaps so they could not support each other's version of the events). He then asked the first judge to tell him under what kind of tree he had seen Susanna and her lover being intimate. The man replied that it was a mastic tree. There must not have been a mastic tree in the garden, for Daniel pronounced that the angel of God would thereupon cut the man's head in two. He put the same question to the second judge, and was told the tree was an evergreen oak — another lie.
Both men were put to death that day. After that day, Daniel became highly respected among the people of Babylon. Beautiful Susanna's ordeal was over, and her spotless reputation remained intact.