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SUSANNA
(soo zan' uh) GREEK: SOUSANNA; HEBREW: SHOSHANNA
"lily"
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1. A beautiful and rich young woman named Susanna can be said to have launched the career of the prophet Daniel. According to the book of Susanna in the Apocrypha, she and Daniel were among the Jewish exiles living in Babylon. Susanna and her husband, Joakim, owned a large house with an attached garden.

Among those who assembled in Susanna's home each day to hear lawsuits were two lecherous elders who had recently been appointed judges. Spending so much time there, the two became obsessed with Susanna and plotted to seduce her. They hid in the garden one hot afternoon, when Susanna was preparing to bathe. She asked her maids to close the gates, then sent them away. Immediately, the two elders ran to her and said, "Look, the garden doors are shut, no one sees us, and we are in love with you; so give your consent, and lie with us" (Susanna 20). If she refused, they threatened to testify that she had sent her maids away in order to meet a young man in the secluded spot.

Susanna knew that the elders would be believed and that the penalty for adultery was death, but she refused to consent to their demands and sin against the Lord. Instead, she gave a loud shout, which provoked the elders to begin yelling accusations at her. During her trial the next day, in her own home and before the assumbled community, the elders testified they had caught her with a man who was so strong he got away when they tried to seize him. Without questioning the elders, the community condemned Susanna to death.

She immediately prayed to God for help, and as she was being led to her execution, the Lord inspired Daniel, then merely a lad, to come to her defense. He ordered the elders separated, then asked them each under which tree they had witnessed Susanna's sin. "Under a mastic tree," the first one said. "Under an evergreen oak" (Susanna 54,58), the other said. Convinced of Susanna's innocence, the community condemned the elders to the very death they had planned for Susanna, presumably stoning. This was in accordance with Mosaic Law: "If the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother; so you shall purge the evil from the midst of you" (Dt. 18:18-19).

Everyone rejoiced for Susanna "because nothing shameful was found in her" and from then on "Daniel had a great reputation among the people" (Susanna 63,64).

2. Apparently a wealthy woman, Susanna became a member of the group traveling with Jesus after he healed her of an illness or of demonic possession. She is mentioned only once in the Bible, where she is identified as one of several women - including Mary Magdalene and Joanna, the wife of Herod Antipas's steward, Chuza - who joined with Jesus and his disciples in Galilee and "provided for them out of their means" (Lk. 8:3). Likely, these women supported the disciples by giving money as well as their time in cooking and cleaning. Jewish rabbis of the day would have criticized as scandalous Susanna's decision to travel with a mixed group. But Jesus welcomed women as disciples, several of whom remained faithful to the end as witnesses to his crucifixion and were among the first to hear of his resurrection.

cf... E2 Dictionary of Biblical People

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