After Daniel had been thrown into the lion's den a stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the lion's den. There is no mention of a stone being in place before Daniel had been thrown in the den.

Daniel 6:17 NIV

17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed.

What could be the significance and reason for placing the stone?

  • Bipedal humans, unlike four-footed animals, have hands or arms to crawl out of holes.
    – Lucian
    Mar 7 '20 at 8:20

Barnes comments on Daniel 6:17 include the following:

And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den - Probably a large flat stone sufficient to cover the mouth of the cave, and so heavy that Daniel could not remove it from within and escape. It was usual then, as it is now, to close up the entrance to sepulchres with a large stone. See John 11:38; Matthew 27:60. It would be natural to endeavor to secure this vault or den in the same way - on the one hand so that Daniel could not escape from within, and on the other so that none of his friends could come and rescue him from without.

The parallels with Christ's burial are obvious and marked.

This is fairly obvious - a large stone, immovable by Daniel inside, was used to prevent his escape.. However, there is another question possibly implied in the original question expressed in Gill's exposition:

And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den,.... Not a heap of stones, but a single one, a very large one, sufficient to stop up the mouth of the den, that nothing might enter in at it, or be cast into it: this stone was brought by proper persons, and a sufficient number of them, according the order of the king, or his princes, or both; for what Jarchi says, of there being no stones in Babylon, only bricks, …

This raises the question: why a large stone and where might it have come from? (Amncient Babylon used bricks because large stones were very scarce.) And, Why not simply a bolted door with its support made of bricks as was so common in ancient Babylon?

No Bible answer to these questions is available and no viable (sensible) suggestion from commentators is forthcoming either. Further, no ancient lion's dens have been discovered so archaeology is also unable to help.

Sometimes we must just accept Scripture as it is.

  • A good answer, however, according to Wikipedia's article on the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, limestone was quarried to produce "massive" blocks. So, the use of a large stone to cover the lion's den entry is not a mystery.
    – enegue
    Feb 18 '20 at 23:50
  • @euegue - I think limestone was used in Sennacharub's palace. The hanging gardens were constructed of mudbrick.
    – Dottard
    Feb 19 '20 at 0:11
  • Yes, I directed you to the article in order for you to see that large blocks of stone were available.
    – enegue
    Feb 19 '20 at 9:08
  • @enegue - many thanks for your suggestion. (BTW, Nineveh and Babylon are over 500 km apart.)
    – Dottard
    Feb 19 '20 at 9:30
  • The article has this about the gardens, "It was said to have been built in the ancient city of Babylon, near present-day Hillah". Further down it is mentioned that one of the "theories" concerning the gardens puts them in Nineveh. Your mention of Nineveh suggests you favour that theory.
    – enegue
    Feb 19 '20 at 11:50

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