Another problem with Daniel

by kepler 12 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • kepler

    I know, if I got a name associated with anything beside an early 17th century astronomer, it's from picking apart the book of Daniel. Much of fundamentalist & apocalyptic thought (sic) arises from explanations of this book's passages and I protest. We could review other points, but let me note the following discrepancy: the end of chapter 1 and the beginning of chapter 9.

    Chapter 1 begins with the 3rd year of Jehoiakim's reign with a Nebuchadnezzar raid. That would be about 604 BC or thereabouts in "conventional" chronology. The narration is 3rd person relating how Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar bid that the sons of nobles of Israel ( Judah) be brought to his court, including one Daniel "who had determinined in his heart not to pollute himself with the delicacies of the king and drinking wine." ..."And Daniel continued on until the first year of Cyrus the king." (Daniel, I:21).

    Let me repeat: "Daniel continued on UNTIL the FIRST year of Cyrus the king."

    If you look at a Concordance, Cyrus is mentioned again in Daniel in two places:

    Chapter 10:1 "In the 3rd year of Cyrus the king of Persia, there was a matter revealed whose name was called Belteshazzar [Daniel]" The narration is in first person.

    Then there is also chapter 14, written in Greek and not included in many Bibles, but a feature of the Vulgate & Septuagint:

    "When King Astyages ( the Mede) joined his ancestors, Cyrus of Persia succeeded him. Daniel was very close to the king, who requested him more than any of his friends....:" Astyages was the last king of the Medes. See Herodotus for details - though I suspect many of these are questionable as well.

    OK. So far, so good, right? Maybe Daniel didn't leave in the first year of the reign of Cyrus. And what is the first year of Cyrus after all - since he was already king of Persia? Cyrus revolted against Astyages in 555 BC and, according to Herodotus, kept Astyages at his court.

    But what about chapter 9?

    "It was the 3rd year of Darius son of Artaxerxes, a Mede by race who assumed the throne of Chaldea. In the first year of his reign, I Daniel...

    Elsewhere this is translated as Ahasuerus, but the problem is the same. Darius ( Daryavoosh roughly in Persian) is a Persian name and is a SUCCESSOR to Cyrus. This contradicts events recorded elsewhere if we are to interpret them as a predecessor to Cyrus. And the first book of Daniel says Daniel left Babylon within a year of the entry of Cyrus. It is in ISAIAH that Cyrus is announced as the victor over Babylon. And his proclamation of return is the beginning of Ezra as well as a cuneiform artifact. The key to who Darius the Mede is in near contemporary accounts of the Battle of Marathon by the Greek historian Thucydides who declares the Athenians victors over an army of Medes in 490 BC. Same with Herodotus calling Xerxes the king of the Medes as well.

    In chapters 7 and 8, Daniel also attests to visions in the respective first and third years of Belshazzar's kingship. The trouble is, Belshazzar is the son of King Nabonidus who never abdicated. Nabonidus is never mentioned in Daniel - and in 8 the text reverts back to Hebrew from Aramaic. Go figure, considering that the testimonies are supposedly two years apart.

    I'll just let chapters 5 and 6 have a rest - for now, save that Darius the Mede is credited with Persian satrap government structure - attributed as well to Nebuchadnezzar in chapter 3.

    The visions as described appear to be much the same as historical events related much less metaphorically in Maccabees or Josephus. But it is much more difficult to construct the houses of cards with an admission that Daniel was written first for an audience of about 165 BC with a persecution as bad (or worse - abominations in the Temple) than the one suffered under the Babylonians. It is also awkward to tote Bibles with Maccabees or Bel the Dragon included. Someone might actually notice a discrepancy or two.

  • Crazyguy

    Some say if you read the books of the Macabees the book of Daniel become more understandable, but I and most Jews think it's a mess. Its amazing how fundlementalist Christians use this book as their foundation about the end times while the Jews look at this as a minor prophetic writing not to be taken seriously at all.

    An author by the name of Atwill wrote that he thinks the Gospels we're just made up and so was Jesus to be a passive Messiah to subdue the Messianic revolts by the people living in Palestine. So maybe this writing Daniel was too somekind of work written to push an idea of a coming Messiah that would save Palestine like Cyrus did. Atwill says that all the writings found at the dead see scrolls we're ones about this idea of a coming Messiah giving the Jews hope that someday someone would throw off their oppressors.

  • Vidqun

    Kepler, here's a few thoughts from Dictionaries and Commentaries. Firstly, Dan. 1:21 uses hyh "to be," which could mean "remain" or "continue." Secondly, a lot has been written about Darius the Mede. We know for a fact, Cyrus did not take up kingship immediately, for he was involved with military campaigns in Europe. The name Darius could be a title, referring to the governor Gobrayas. It would make sense that Cyrus would reward the Medes for their loyalty by appointing one of them as governor of Babylon while he was away. Thirdly, according to the Babylonian Chronicles, Daniel and friends were deported 605 BCE, the same year that Nebuchadnezzar was officially made king. This was the first of five deportations and three sieges of Jerusalem.

    hyh, to be.

    2. abide, remain, continue )with word of place or time) Ex 24:18 and Moses remainded in the mount forty days, etc., so 34:28 (both JE), Ju 17:4, 17:12, 1 S 6:1, 1 K 11:20, 2 K 11:3 = 2 Ch 22:12 +; also Lv 22:27, 25:28 )both H(, etc.; sq. `ad temp. remain until Dt 22:2, 1 K 11:40, 2 K 15:5, 2 Ch 5:9, 26:21, Dn 1:21 etc. BDB.

    to remain, live (MHb.2 bBaba bathra 15a) Jr 13 Ru 12 Da 121 (Montgomery 139). HALOT.

    21. the first year of King Cyrus. The year 538 b.c. The period of Daniel’s activity in Babylon is considerable (from 606 to 538) but not absolutely impossible. The author was probably not concerned here with the fact that this period amounts to almost seventy years, the length of time, as foretold by Jeremiah, for the Babylonian exile, that Daniel 9 will be concerned with. For a more likely reason why this chronological remark is made here, see Comment.


    The first chapter of the book serves primarily as an introduction; it sets the scene for the other stories and the visions (chs. 7–12) that make up the rest of the book. The author here brings together various strands that appear as separate units in the other chapters of the book.

    Therefore, the author of the first chapter summarizes Daniel’s career at the imperial court by saying that he was there from the reign of Nebuchadnezzar to the reign of Cyrus (1:21). [It should be recalled that “the first year of King Cyrus” (1:21), or 538 b.c., is not the end of Daniel’s career but simply the end of his service in the Babylonian court. Daniel experiences his final vision “in the third year of King Cyrus” (10:1), i.e. in 536 b.c. Cf. Comment: Detailed on 10:1.][1]

    21. ‘And Daniel continued [when and how he was—colloquial Eng., ‘remained on’] until the first year of King Cyrus.’ The implication is that he was vouchsafed the joy of the release under Cyrus, and possibly that he like other faithful Jews returned home upon that glorious event. Such a return was understood by one form of Midrashic tradition, s. Hamburger, RE 1, 225. The contradiction with 10:l, acc. to which Dan. had a vision in Cyrus’ 3d year, in the Far Orient, is removed by the critical distinction of chapters 1–6 and 7–12 as distinct books; s. §21, a. This removes the arguments made by Marti (comm.), Jahn (comm.), Charles (comm.) against the originality of the verse. The editor of the whole book, or composer of chapters 7–12, did not observe the clash between the dates (recognized however by OG which reads ‘first year’ at 10:1). To overcome the contradiction and for the interpretation of the vb. ‘continued’ various exegetical expedients have been devised: he remained in honor, Aben Ezra (comm.) or, in the king’s gate, Hitzig (comm.); or, in prophecy, Stuart (comm.); or, in Babylon, so Jer. at 6:8, C. B. Michaelis (comm.) holding that he was then removed or exiled to Media. The Heb. vb. hyh ‘to be,’ in the sense as translated here, ‘continued,’ is fully corroborated, as noted by Hävernick (comm.) of Luther’s German Version, Moffatt,‘lived’ has the implication that Daniel died thereupon.

    21. wyhy] Despite the objection of comm., this use of hyh, ‘remained, continued,’ is found elsewhere. The present phrase is exactly duplicated in Jer. 1:3; cf. Ruth 1:2 sm wyhyw, ‘they remained there.’ Cf. the translation-Greek of Test. Joseph, 11:8, ‘we were with him three months’; and with Bertholdt (comm.) the use of ἐσμέν = ζῶμεν, Acts 17:28, while Ehrlich cft. the Talmud use of hyh = ‘live,’ e.g., Baba b. 15a. The pesher frequently translate μένειν by hw’, e.g., Jn. 1:33, 40bis, 2:12.—`d] Geier notes that this prep. does not exclude the remoter future, cft. Ps. 110:1, 112:8. —kwrs] Also mss krs and so Ezr. 1:1 f.[2]

    I prefer the translation of Dan. 1:21 by John J. Collins, “Daniel continued [at court] until the first year of King Cyrus.”


    “No special importance is attached here to the first year of Cyrus, beyond the fact that it extends Daniel’s career into the Persian era.”

    “The Book of Daniel does not say what happened to Daniel after the first year of Cyrus. Josephus has him finish his career at Susa (Ant. 10.11.7 §§269-272). In later times there was a tradition that he was buried in Susa and that his grave was marked with a mausoleum.”[3]

    [1] Hartman, L. F., & Di Lella, A. A. (2008). The Book of Daniel: a new translation with notes and commentary on chapters 1-9 (Vol. 23, pp. 131, 132). New Haven; London: Yale University Press.

    [2] Montgomery, J. A. (1927). A critical and exegetical commentary on the book of Daniel (p. 137-139). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

    [3] J. J. Collins, A Commentary on the Book of Daniel – Hermeneia-series, pp. 129, 145.

  • kepler


    If one insists that Daniel was an historical figure of the 6th century BC as described:

    Arriving in Nebuchadnezzar's court and immediately assuming duties similar to a prime minister, for one, it makes him a partner in the destruction of the Temple and overseeing the sundry details of the deportations. While he might not be able to stomach Babylonian court food, it appears that there was considerably more in his duties that he could choke down.

    His recollections, writing in 3rd person in chapter 3, appears to include a number of Persian officials ( satraps) in King Nebuchadnezzar's court.

    Your grammatical argument ( remain, reside etc. into the period of the first year of the reign of Cyrus) in 3rd person authorship, still does not address how it can be the first year of Cyrus's reign (555 BC) or how he can be writing testimonies several years afterward.

    None of what you say seems to address the biggest holes in the argument about "Darius the Mede":

    Why would a Mede king have a Persian name?

    How do you explain the references of Thucydides and Herodotus?

    The Peloponnesian War: Book 1, Paragraph 19:

    "Not many years after the deposition of the tyrants, the battle of Marathon was fought between the Medes and the Athenians....So that the whole period from the Median war to this, with some peaceful intervals.."

    Thucydides makes at least 50 references to the Persian invaders as Medes - and the Battle of Marathon was 490BC. Darius (the Mede) was king of Persia at that time, not in 538 BC.

    Here is a section from Herodotus describing the later invasion of Greece under Xerxes:

    [7.136] And afterwards, when they were come to Susa into the king's presence, and the guards ordered them to fall down and do obeisance, and went so far as to use force to compel them, they refused, and said they would never do any such thing, even were their heads thrust down to the ground; for it was not their custom to worship men, and they had not come to Persia for that purpose. So they fought off the ceremony; and having done so, addressed the king in words much like the following:-

    "O king of the Medes! the Lacedaemonians have sent us hither, in the place of those heralds of thine who were slain in Sparta, to make atonement to thee on their account."

    Then Xerxes answered with true greatness of soul "that he would not act like the Lacedaemonians, who, by killing the heralds, had broken the laws which all men hold in common. As he had blamed such conduct in them, he would never be guilty of it himself. And besides, he did not wish, by putting the two men to death, to free the Lacedaemonians from the stain of their former outrage." Book 7 - section 136.

    While Herodotus probably was off by an order of magnitude in describing the invasion fleet of Xerxes, he identifies him much the same as Thucydides, but more explicitly - as a Mede or as a Persian interchangeable with such an identity. Herodotus also relates a complicated story of the origin of Cyrus as the son of Astyages - and Josephus morphs it into Darius.

    Ahasuerus is the Hebrew derived form of the same monarch known among Greeks as Xerxes, Khshayārshā in the Persian inscriptions.

    Consequently, a writer who speaks of "Darius the Mede" conquering Babylon has his historical memory scrambled, filtered no doubt by obtaining ancient history via an education influenced by the 2nd century BC Hellenic occupation.

  • kepler

    Here is another quote from the Histories of Herodotus, written about 50 years after the events surrounding the Persian invasion of Greece, and in particular the stand of the Spartans at Thermopylae in 480 BC, ten years after Marathon.

    [8.114] At the time when Mardonius was making choice of his troops, and Xerxes still continued in Thessaly, the Lacedaemonians received a message from the Delphic oracle, bidding them seek satisfaction at the hands of Xerxes for the death of Leonidas, and take whatever he chose to give them. So the Spartans sent a herald with all speed into Thessaly, who arrived while the entire Persian army was still there. This man, being brought before the king, spake as follows:-

    "King of the Medes, the Lacedaemonians and the Heracleids of Sparta require of thee the satisfaction due for bloodshed, because thou slewest their king, who fell fighting for Greece."

    Xerxes laughed, and for a long time spake not a word. At last, however, he pointed to Mardonius, who was standing by him, and said:- "Mardonius here shall give them the satisfaction they deserve to get." And the herald accepted the answer, and forthwith went his way.

  • Vidqun

    Kepler, as far as I can make out, there was no Median Empire. Cyrus defeated Astyages, the last Median king ca. 550 BCE. He then merged Media and Persia into the Medo-Persian Empire, before attacking Babylon in 539 BCE. Darius the Mede “received the kingdom” from Cyrus the Persian (Dan. 5:30). This is confirmed by Dan. 9:1, which says Darius “had been made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans,” courtesy of Cyrus the Persian. Darius was standing in for Cyrus, while Cyrus was involved with his military campaigns. Thus, even a short-lived “Median Empire” cannot compare to the Babylonian Empire (612 – 539), the Persian Empire (539 – 332), or the Greek Empire (332 – 165 at least).

    Darius as title: In the Biblical record, the name is applied to three kings, one a Mede, the other two Persians. In Greek-English Lexicon by Liddell and Scott (pp. 370A, 691A) Greek form Dareios is related to Old Persian Dārayava(h)uš ‘upholder of the Good,’ or ‘maintaining what is good,’ being a Greek form of Persian darâ, meaning ‘a king.’ According to Herodotus 6.98 = Gr. ἐρξἰης or ἐρξεἰης, i.e., Herxieis, which means “one who restrains” (Latin: coercitor) or “the worker/doer.” Thus, it may be possible that “Darius,” in the case of Darius the Mede, may have been used as a title or throne name.

    Some assert Ugbaru is Darius the Mede: According to the so-called Nabonidus Chronicle (cf. ANET, pp. 305ff),[1] “[In the seventeenth year (of Nabonidus)].… In the month of Tishri, when Cyrus fought at Opis on the Tigris against the army of Akkad, the people of Akkad revolted.… On the fourteenth day, Sippar was captured without battle. Nabonidus fled. On the sixteenth day, Ugbaru (Greek, Gobryas), the governor of Gutium, and the troops of Cyrus entered Babylon without battle. Afterwards, when Nabonidus returned, he was arrested in Babylon.… In the month of Marchesvan, on the third day, Cyrus entered Babylon.…”[2]

    Where does Belshazzar fit in: Belshazzar is referred to as “king” in Daniel 5:1–30. Cuneiform temple receipts from Sippar attest that Belshazzar presented sheep and oxen there as “an offering of the king.”[3] While it is true that no cuneiform record refers to Belshazzar by the explicit term sharru (“king”), it is clear that during the latter years of Nabonidus’s reign, while the latter made his headquarters at Teima in Arabia, Belshazzar ruled as his viceroy, with all the authority of the king. That this fact was well known to the author of Daniel is clearly implied by the fact that in Daniel 5:7, 16 the viceroy could promise to the successful interpreter of the handwriting on the wall only the honor of third ruler in the kingdom. Obviously Belshazzar himself was only the second ruler.

    [1] ANET Pritchard, J. B., ed. Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, 2d ed. Princeton University Press, 1955.

    [2] Hartman, L. F., & Di Lella, A. A. (2008). The Book of Daniel: a new translation with notes and commentary on chapters 1-9 (Vol. 23, p. 191). New Haven; London: Yale University Press.

    [3] R. P. Dougherty, Nabonidus and Belshazzar, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1929), p. 88.

  • kepler


    " it is clear that during the latter years of Nabonidus’s reign, while the latter made his headquarters at Teima in Arabia, Belshazzar ruled as his viceroy, with all the authority of the king. "

    Actually, citations I have seen say that Nabonidus returned from Teima in 544 BC.

    [ Beaulieu 1989:149-205. On Tayma's importance for trade: C. Edens and G. Bawden, "History of Tayma' and Hejazi trade during the first millennium B.C.", Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 32 (1989:48-103)]

    And here from the Nabonidus Cylinder from Ur, a building dedication circa 540 BC.

    i.1-4]Nabonidus, king of Babylon, caretaker of Esagila and Ezida, worshiper of the great gods, I:…

    " ...As for me, Nabonidus, king of Babylon, save me from sinning against your great godhead and grant me as a present a life long of days, and as for Belshazzar, the eldest son - my offspring - instill reverence for your great godhead in his heart and may he not commit any cultic mistake, may he be sated with a life of plenitude."

    Doesn't sound like a king in abdication to me. Just a king pre-occupied with building and restoring temples.

    In the Nabonidus chronicle events in his reign are chronicled according to the year of his reign dating in our terms from ( 556 to 539 BC). In the original language he is referred to as Nabu.

    In the 6th year ( 550/549) it records that Astyages marched against Cyrus ( roughly, Kurashar Anshanan) and that his army revolted.

    In the several years following it records the presence of Nabu in Teima and the death of his centenarian mother. (She is Assyrian rather than Chaldean/Akkadian). Mourning is announced for months with names similar to those in the Hebrew calendar.

    The 17th year (539/538 BC) is thick with entries. Nabu is at Borshippa and then confronting Cyrus and his army at Opis.

    The seventeenth year (539/538): ... N]abu [came] from Borsippa for the procession of Bel. Bel came out.]

    8 [... B]el came out. They performed the Akitu festival as in normal times. In the month [...]

    9 [...] [... the gods] of Marad, Zababa, and the gods of Kish, Ninlil [and the gods of]

    10 [x] šá kurAkkadîki Hursagkalamma entered Babylon. Until the end of the month Ululu the gods of Akkad [...]

    11 from everywhere were entering Babylon. The gods of Borsippa, Cuthah,

    12 and Sippar did not enter (Babylon). When13 Cyrus did13 battle at Opis on the [bank of]

    13 the Tigris against the army of Akkad, the people of Akkad

    14 retreated. He carried off the plunder (and) slaughtered the people. On the fourteenth day Sippar was captured without a battle.

    15 Nabonidus fled. On the sixteenth day, Ugbaru, governor of Gutium, and the army of Cyrus, without battle

    16 they entered Babylon. Afterwards, after Nabonidus retreated, he was captured in Babylon. Until the end of the month, the shield-(bearing troops)

    17 from Gutium surrounded the gates of Esagil. (But) interruption (of rites) in Esagil or the (other) temples

    18 there was not, and no date (for a performance) was missed. On the third day of the month Arahsamna, Cyrus entered Babylon.

    19 The harû-vessels were filled before him. There was peace in the city while Cyrus, (his) greeting to

    20 Babylon in its entirety spoke. Gubaru, his district officer, appointed the district officers in Babylon.

    21 From the month Kislimu to the month Addaru, the gods of Akkad which Nabonidus had brought to Babylon

    22 returned to their places. On the night of the eleventh of the month Arahsamna, Ugbaru died. In the mon[th Addaru]

    23 ] the king's wife died. From the twenty-seventh of the month Addaru to the third of the month Nisannu [there was] (an official) mourning period in Akkad.

    That’s the account of the Nabonidus Cylinder. Now here is some of the account of the Cyrus Cylinder.

    Cyrus takes Babylon

    [15-19] He [Marduk] ordered him to go to his city Babylon. He set him on the road to Babylon and like a companion and a friend, he went at his side. His vast army, whose number, like water of the river, cannot be known, marched at his side fully armed. He made him enter his city Babylon without fighting or battle; he saved Babylon from hardship. He delivered Nabonidus, the king who did not revere him, into his hands. All the people of Babylon, all the land of Sumer and Akkad, princes and governors, bowed to him and kissed his feet. They rejoiced at his kingship and their faces shone. Lord by whose aid the dead were revived and who had all been redeemed from hardship and difficulty, they greeted him with gladness and praised his name.

    [20-22a] I am Cyrus, king of the world, great king, mighty king, king of Babylon, king of Sumer and Akkad, king of the four quarters, the son of Cambyses, great king, king of Anšan, grandson of Cyrus, great king, king of Anšan, descendant of Teispes, great king, king of Anšan, of an eternal line of kingship, whose rule Bêl and Nabu [not Nabonidus, obviously] love, whose kingship they desire for their hearts' pleasure.

    [22b-28] When I entered Babylon in a peaceful manner, I took up my lordly abode in the royal palace amidst rejoicing and happiness. Marduk, the great lord, established as his fate for me a magnanimous heart of one who loves Babylon, and I daily attended to his worship. My vast army marched into Babylon in peace; I did not permit anyone to frighten the people of Sumer and Akkad. I sought the welfare of the city of Babylon and all its sacred centers. As for the citizens of Babylon, [...] upon whom Nabonidus imposed a corvée which was not the gods' wish and not befitting them, I relieved their wariness and freed them from their service. Marduk, the great lord, rejoiced over my good deeds. He sent gracious blessing upon me, Cyrus, the king who worships him, and upon Cambyses, the son who is my offspring, and upon all my army, and in peace, before him, we moved around in friendship.

    End of Cyrus extract.

    This proclamation bears striking resemblance to what appears in Ezra and what appears in Isaiah, chapters 45 to 47. While Cyrus takes a multi-cultural approach with respect to gods, the OT texts assume that he is talking about their God alone. The description in Isaiah most likely written early in the days of the siege when confidence in Cyrus was already high. That would be the latest. Or, we could believe that Isaiah wrote it and it headed off to Babylon along with the rest of extant Hebrew scriptures. That poses obvious problems, and especially in the case of Daniel summoned to Belshazzar’s feast to tell what the morrow might bring. Because his prediction had little connection to the historical record and was delivered to the supposed son of Nebuchadnezzar – king.

    So we have Babylonian, Persian, Greek and Hebrew accounts of the fall of Babylon in 539 in one column – and then we have Daniel and Josephus in another. Josephus in his Jewish Antiquities provide much less independent research or knowledge to the account in comparison to the Jewish Wars. In the latter he is practically our sole source, but in the former he mostly paraphrases what is already available in Hebrew and Greek texts with periodic anecdotes. In the case of Daniel Josephus surmises that he ended up like Ashpenaz, the chief eunuch. But he enlightens us less on mid eastern history than he does in the Jewish Wars. Moreover, considering that Daniel purports to be an inside view of Babylonian priest castes, it does not carry away an iota of information about their chief occupations, by no means in the manner that the Greeks did in developing their Ptolemaic astronomy from Babylonian records.

    So, we have four sources that give us a different account of Babylon’s fall to an invading army – and they all seem to have a better provenance and coherence ( save perhaps Isaiah) than the account given in Daniel. Daniel’s narrative testimony shifts from language to language, person to person and drops off in mid chapter. ..

    And then, of course, going back to Daniel's internal structure, it contradicts itself with the later chapters (13-14) telling of Daniel's activities in Babylon during the time of Cyrus. Excluded in some Bibles, yes. Yet these tales are much less phantasmagorical than the baseline of 12 chapters. Ditto with the Book of Wisdom by Ben Sirach who enumerates the prophets and never mentions Daniel - because circa 200 BC he never heard of him. And the TaNaKh is straight-forward enough when it includes the book - under Writings.

    But it is vigorously defended like the proponents of the Ptolemaic cosmology with articles adding the equivalents of new and more complicated epicycles such as Belshazzar was related to Nebuchadnezzar by way of his mother or that satraps were somehow a notion of Nebuchadnazzar’s court – and so forth.


    If we can accept all these vague explanations for anachronisms and ignorance presented by the book’s author and editors, we will somehow be more likely to accept every new and preposterous interpretation handed down to us by radio preachers and others about what the text really means. We will be ready to accept its primacy over any other element of Christian faith and the prominence it gives to its dogged advocates.

  • Vidqun

    Kepler, I have noticed that Bible writers use the title king very loosely, e.g., Nebuchadnezzar is called king even though he was not yet king (Dan. 1:1). Same goes for Belshazzar, he is addressed as king, but as seen he was subservient to his father Nabonidus (Dan. 5:18).

    Just a few thoughts on Nabonidus. He spent at least 10 years of his seventeen years in Teima, Arabia. He was highly unpopular because of forsaking Marduk, one of Babylon’s most prominent deities for Sin, the moon god. He was involved with building projects at Teima and Haran, not Babylon. There is good reason to suspect that Belshazzar’s feast was an akitu festival in honor of Sin, the moon god. So Belshazzar was not very popular either. The following excerpt by Montgomery explains the relationship of Nabonidus and Belshazzar:

    In the cuneiform texts Belsh. is called either by his name or, as in the Nabonidus-Cyrus Chronicle simply ‘son of the king,’ i.e., anglice, ‘crown prince.’ In the Chronicle for years 7, 9, 10, 11 of Nabonidus’ reign it is recorded that “the king was in Teima; the son of the king, the princes and his (or, the) army were in the land of Akkad.” In the texts hitherto known Belsh. is never given the title of king, and this has been ground for argument against one detail of our story which represents Belsh. as absolute king. But Sidney Smith’s presentation of a new text (s. end of Note 12) shows that royal dignity was actually conferred upon Belsh. This text, of the third full year of Nabonidus, detailing that king’s victorious campaign against Arabian Teima (as this place has elsewhere been identified by Dougherty), records: “He intrusted a camp to his eldest, his first-born son; the troops of the land he sent with him. He freed his hand; he intrusted the kingship (šarrûtam) to him.” That is, in the early part of Nabonidus’ reign, in his third year, his son was invested with royal dignity, which, in view of the active position he held throughout the subsequent years, must have continued throughout his life. That is, the Bible story is correct as to the rank of kingship given to Belsh. Now in several texts the prince’s name is coupled with his father’s in the latter’s prayers and in the omens interpreted for him; and in Pinches’ text and two texts in the Yale Museum his name is associated with his father’s in an oath; on which Dougherty remarks: “There is no other instance in available documents of an oath being sworn in the name of the son of the king.” The induction therefore that had been made from earlier data by Pinches, Dougherty, and others, is now brilliantly corroborated; as in a previous statement of the latter scholar: “It appears that he was invested with a degree of royal authority, not only at the close of the reign of his father, but throughout large part, if not the whole, of the reign of Nabonidus.”[1]

    And now one can understand the motives of the writer of the Cyrus Cylinder. He hated Nabonidus, and probably was an adherent of Marduk. Cyrus, again, was a popular monarch because he was religiously tolerant.

    Eventually and inevitably the truth will become known. I won’t write off the evidence of the Bible writers as yet. Sometimes these are biased and slant things according to the Jewish perspective. Nevertheless, truth can be found in the Bible accounts, but it takes effort to unearth it. E.g., if one compares the Babylonian Chronology of the Babylonian Chronicles to that of the Bible account, there are few discrepancies. These are mainly differences in regnal/ascencion years, different calenders, etc. My favorite saying will always be: Where there’s smoke there’s fire. By hook or by crook, the truth will come out.

    [1] Montgomery, J. A. (1927). A critical and exegetical commentary on the book of Daniel (pp. 66, 67). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

  • Vidqun

    Kepler, what helped me "understand" Daniel better is the following article by Jan-Wim Wesselius. It doesn't explain all the discrepancies, but goes a long way to explain the state of the text we have before us today.

    In his article “The Writing of Daniel,” Wesselius compares the structure of Daniel to that of Ezra. He refers to the book of Daniel as the Daniel Dossier, a collection of separate documents, dealing with the life, career, and visions of Daniel, which he attributes to the writing style of the author of the book of Daniel. This, he asserts, would account for the discontinuity of the book, being an ancient dossier, unmodified, while retaining some of the characteristics of its sources. At the same time, the assembled material, left relatively unpolished and deviating from chronological order, having all the hallmarks of a complicated history of composition, is structured in such a way that it forms a harmonious whole. Modern scholars and critics view this as part of a scribal conspiracy. Wesselius concludes: “The book was to appear to its readers as a collection of separate documents, dealing with the life, career and visions of Daniel. At the same time, however, it retained the marks of literary unity, thus inviting the reader to achieve the unity of the book through making his own synthesis of its parts - one of the most successful literary enterprises in history.”[1]

    According to Jewish tradition, the Men of the Great Synagogue edited the book and incorporated it into the Scriptures. I agree with his conclusion. Like Shakespeare's works, it remains an impressive piece of literature.

    [1] J. W. Wesselius, “The Writing of Daniel,” in The Book of Daniel: Composition and Reception, volume II, Brill Academic Publishers, edited by J. J. Collins and P. W. Flint, pp. 291, 298, 299, 309, 310.

  • smiddy

    All the foregoing just convinces me more than ever that the Bible is nothing more than humans concocting a story to convince the masses to believe in a higher power who can control their destiny and alleviate there suffering on earth.

    Much the same could be said for the Muslim faith Islam as a controlling force among the masses .

    Isn`t it interesting that 3 major faiths have one common denominator ? Sections of the Bible ?

    The Jewish religion , Islam , and Christianity . all have roots in the Bible in one way or another .

    Over the years an autopsy on the Bible has found it to be flawed in so many ways , accuracy , historically , ,authenticity , concsistency , etc., that by rights , should have it heaved on the scrap heap .

    Yet it is still reported to be among the best seller list .

    What does that say about us .?

    Mao said that religion is the Opium of the people , I tend to agree with him , however who gave the people this Opium ?


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