1. There lived in Babylon a man named Joakim,

2. who was married to a very beautiful God-fearing woman, Susanna, Hilkiah's daughter,

3. whose pious parents had trained her in the law of Moses.

4. A very rich man and greatly respected by his countrymen, Joakim was frequently visited by the Jews in his house adjoining a garden.

5. That year, two elders of the people were appointed judges, in whom this word of the Lord became true, "Wickedness has come forth from Babylon, through the elders appointed judges, who were supposed to govern the people."

6. These men frequented Joakim's house, and all who had legal disputes used to come to them.

7. After the people had left at noon, Susanna would go into her husband's garden for a walk.

8. The two old men began to lust for her as they watched her enter the garden every day.

9. Forgetting the demands of justice and virtue, their lust grew all the more as they made no effort to turn their eyes to heaven.

10. Although both were possessed of the same passion for her, they concealed that from each other,

11. for they were ashamed to reveal their lustful desire.

12. But they continued watching her day after day.

13. One day before lunch, they parted, saying to each other, "Let us go home for it is meal time. So off they went in different directions.

14. but both turned back, and coming face to face again, each was obliged to explain his action and admit his lust. They agreed to wait for an opportunity to meet her alone.

15. One day, as they were waiting for an opportune time, Susanna entered the garden as usual with only two maids. She decided to bathe, for it was a hot day.

16. Nobody else was there ex-cept the two elders watching her from where they had hidden themselves.

17. She said to the maids, "Bring me oil and ointments, and shut the garden doors while I bathe."

18. Unaware of the elders hidden inside the garden, the two maids did as ordered, shutting the doors and leaving by the side entrance to the house to fetch what she had asked for.

19. When the maids had left, the two elders hurried to her and said,

20. "Look, the garden doors are shut and no one sees us. We desire to possess you.

21. If you refuse to give in, we will testify that you sent your maids away for there was a young man here with you."

22. Susanna moaned, "Whatever I do, I am trapped. If I give in to your desire, it will be death for me; if I refuse, I won't escape your persecution.

23. I would rather be persecuted than sin in the eyes of the Lord."

24. Susanna shrieked, but the old men shouted, putting the blame on her.

25. One of them ran and opened the garden doors.

26. Hearing the noise in the garden, the household servants rushed in by the side entrance to see what was happening.

27. They were taken aback when they heard the elders' accusation, for never had anything like this been said of Susanna.

28. The next day a meeting was held at Joakim's house. The two elders arrived, vindictively determined to have Susanna sentenced to death.

29. They ordered before all the people, "Send for Susanna, Hilkiah's daughter and Joakim's wife."

30. They sent for her, and she came with her parents, children and all her relatives.

31. Susanna was a very refined and beautiful woman.

32. She had her veil on, but the wicked elders ordered her to uncover her face for them to feast on her beauty.

33. Her family and friends and all who saw her wept.

34. The two elders stood up and laid their hands upon her head.

35. Completely trusting in the Lord, she raised her tearful eyes to heaven.

36. The elders started making their accusation, "We were taking a walk in the garden when this woman came in with two maids. She ordered them to shut the garden doors and dismissed them.

37. Then a young man came out of hiding and lay with her.

38. We were in a corner of the garden, and we saw this crime from there. We ran to them,

39. and caught them in the act of embracing. We were unable to take hold of the man. He was too strong for us. He made a dash for the door, opened it and ran off.

40. But we were able to seize this woman. We asked her who the young man was,

41. but she refused to tell us. This is our statement, and we testify to its truth." The assembly took their word, since they were elders and judges of the people. Susanna was condemned to death.

42. She cried aloud, "Eternal God, nothing is hidden from you; you know all things before they come to be.

43. You know that these men have testified falsely against me. Would you let me die, though I am not guilty of all their malicious charges?"

44. The Lord heard her,

45. and as she was being led to her execution, God aroused the holy spirit residing in a young lad named Daniel.

46. He shouted, "I will have no part in the death of this woman!"

47. Those present turned to him, "What did you say?" they all asked.

48. Standing in their midst, he said to them, "Have you become fools, you Israelites, to condemn a daughter of Israel without due process and in the absence of clear evidence?

49. Return to court, for those men have testified falsely against her."

50. Hurriedly they returned, and the elders said to Daniel, "Come and sit with us, for you also possess the gifts bestowed by God upon the elders."

51. Daniel said to the people, "Separate these two from one another and I will examine each of them."

52. When the two elders were separated from each other, Daniel called one of them and said, "How wicked you have grown with age. Your sins of earlier days have piled up against you, and now is the time of reckoning.

53. Remember how you have passed unjust sentences, condemning the innocent and freeing the guilty, although the Lord has said 'The innocent and the just should not be put to death.'

54. Now, if you really witnessed the crime, under what tree did you see them do it?"

55. The elder answered, "Under a mastic tree." Daniel said, "Your lie will cost you your head. You will be cut in two, as soon as the Lord's angel receives your sentence from God."

56. Putting the first one aside, Daniel called the other elder and said to him, "You offspring of Canaan and not of Judah, you have long allowed yourself to be perverted by lust.

57. This is how you have dealt with the daughters of Israel, who out of fear have yielded to you. But here is a daughter of Judah who would not tolerate your wickedness.

58. Tell me then, under what tree did you catch them committing the crime?" The answer came, "Under an oak."

59. "Your lie has also cost you your head," Daniel said. "God's angel waits to cut you both in two."

60. The whole assembly shouted and blessed God for helping those who hope in him.

61. They turned against the two elders who, through Daniel's efforts, had been convicted by their own mouths. In accordance with Moses' law, the penalty the two elders had intended to impose upon their neighbor was inflicted upon them.

62. They were sentenced to death. Thus was the life of an innocent woman spared that day.

63. Hilkiah and his wife praised God for the justice given Susanna, and so did Joakim her husband and all her relatives, for she was not found guilty of any shameful deed.

64. Daniel was greatly esteemed by the people from that day onward.

“Quanto mais se caminha na vida espiritual, mais se sente a paz que se apossa de nós.” São Padre Pio de Pietrelcina