Another problem with Daniel

by kepler 12 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • kepler


    Just for the record, I believe it was Karl ( not Groucho) Marx rather than Mao who originated that phrase, though perhaps Mao might have re-iterated.


    I want to go on the record as well as saying that your responses and arguments are reasonable rebuttals in what we could pass off as a debate. Some of what you present I could subscribe to as well, such as the dossier model for the stories of Daniel. That it is there in the Bible - there are a number of reasons. But its interpretation and origins I see as open to question. While some of my arguments are traditional from earlier studies, I have never seen anyone in the Biblical studies community consider the evidence of Greek historical documents in the way I have presented it. Nor do I elicit much response when I do.

    But ythere is still at least one more item I should present regarding Nabonidus. It's from the Qumrun. (4Q4Q2):

    Deciphered or translated on Livius from the Aramaic it goes thus:

    Words of the prayer, said by Nabonidus, king of Babylonia, [the great] king, [when afflicted] with an ulcer on command of the most high God in Tem�:
    [ 'I, Nabonidus,] was afflicted [with an evil ulcer] for seven years, and far from [men] I [was driven, until I prayed to the most high God.] And an exorcist pardoned my sins. He was a Jew from [among the children of the exile of Judah, and said:] "Recount this in writing to glorify and exalt the name of [the most high God." Then I wrote this:] "When I was afflicted for seven years [by the most high God] with an evil ulcer during my stay at Tem�, I prayed [to] the gods of silver and gold, [bronze and iron,] wood, stone and lime, because [I thought and considered] them gods [..."']

    [the end is missing]

    It is noted at the site that the gods of silver and gold... wood also appears in the Daniel chapter 5:23-24

    Daniel speaks to Belshazzar: "You have praise gods of gold and silver, of bronze and iron, of wood and stone, which neither hear you or understand you, but you have given no glory to the God of in whose hands are your breath and all your fortunes. That is why he sent the hand that has written these words."

    As you say, Belshazzar awards Daniel position number three after hearing these words.

    But the facts remain that Belshazzar was not the son of Nebuchadnazzar and the kingdom did not suddenly fall into the hands of Darius the Mede - but to Cyrus after a campaign which involved both Nabonidus and Belshazzar. If the city fell over night, there was no need for reading wall handwriting to predict the future - nor to have a feast.

    The Nabonidus prayer indicates that someone else in Qumrun was aware of Nabonidus and had an interpretation of his time in the desert. Who originated the emboldened phrase above is arguable, but the anonymous writer of the prayer appears to me closer to the historical roots of the story.

  • Vidqun

    Kepler, just for the record, I view your attitude as condescending, dismissive, quite narrow-minded in fact. Nevertheless, if you enjoy studying Persian history from a Greek perspective, that’s you choice. E.g., it would be like studying Nazi history from British sources. I, on the other hand, would prefer to compare all available evidence, and work from there. If there are serious deviations in some of the accounts, I would not stoop so low as to denigrate the author, instead I will question his source(s). The person that comes to mind here is Josephus.

    Nebuchadnezzar vs. Nabonidus: Firstly, to me it is no surprise that Nabonidus does not feature in the book of Daniel. He was away from Babylon for ten of his seventeen years. Secondly, do you really think you are going to read of the shortcomings or illnesses of Babylonian kings in official sources? Modern scholars have come up with some wayward theories, and this is one of them. They are are saying in so many words: The person(s) that wrote or edited Daniel were so stupid, they mistook Nebuchadnezzar for Nabonidus, or vice versa. You are saying: The person that wrote the Prayer of Nabonidus is closest to the truth. The writer of Daniel is a lier and a fraudster. You base your theory on the phrase “gods of gold and silver, of bronze and iron, of wood and stone” directed at Belshazzar. Did it not occur to you that the writer of the Prayer of Nabonidus might have read the book of Daniel? Amongst the DSS were found quite a few fragments of different Daniel MSS. These were viewed as scripture, and would discount a late Maccabean dating of Daniel. By the way, the Maccabees called Daniel one of their ancestors (1 Macc. 2:51-60 JB). But I forgot, they were also ignorant primitives that had no clue.

    Difference here concerns respect. I respect the writer/editor of an account as a person and because of his writing ability. Think in the lines of Shakespeare. One can criticize his work but still have respect for the man and his writing ability.

    Statement: “Historical inaccuracy: The relationship of Belshazzar in Daniel 5:11 is stated to be that of a “son” to Nebuchadnezzar, whereas it is known that actually Belshazzar was the son of Nabonidus.” Answer: Yet, Nabonidus was in all probability married to Nitocris, the daughter of Nebuchadnezzar, at least as early as 585 BCE. And it hardly needs to be mentioned that a grandfather in Hebrew usage is often referred to as a “father” (Heb. ’b and Aram. ’bb’), as, for example, in Genesis 28:13 and 32:10. Indeed, there is no other term for “grandfather” besides this in the Old Testament.

    We know Cyrus was involved with military campaigns and did not take over the reins immediately. If you study Hebrew/Aramaic you would have noticed the following:

    Darius given kingship. In the word hāmelak the Hophal is to be noticed: rex constitutus, factus est. It shows that Darius did not become king over the Chaldean kingdom by virtue of a hereditary right to it, nor that he gained the kingdom by means of conquest, but that he received it (qabbeil Dan. 5:31 [Dan. 6:1 BHS]) from the conqueror of Babylon, Cyrus, the general of the army.[1]

    [1] See Keil-Delitszch Commentary. Although the verb (‘to make king’) is followed by the preposition (‘over’) forty times in the OT, this is the only occurrence where the verb is passive. Montgomery summarizes the evidence in this manner—“The passive had been explained from the alleged institution by Cyrus of a viceroy, Darius-Astyages-Gobryas, in Babylonia” (James A. Montgomery, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Daniel [Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1972], p. 359).

  • kepler


    Points taken. But for one reason or another I have continued to research this question. And you might find that I did find another instance of Belshazzar being referred to as the son of Nebuchadnezzar. It's truly remarkable!

    The source of the reference I never would have thought of examining. It's the Book of Baruch. It appears in the Septuagint and the Vulgate - and it is attributed, if we take things literally here as well, to the scribe of Jeremiah.

    In the first chapter of six, including the purported letter from the Prophet.

    In chapter 6, in the text of the letter, it begins:

    "Because of the sins which you have committed before God, you are to be deported by Nebuchadnezzar king of the Babylonians. Once you have reached Babylon you will stay there for many years, as long as 7 generations, after which I shall bring you home in peace.

    Now in Babylon, you will see gods made of silver, of gold, of wood, being carried shoulder high..."

    So far so good?

    Now in the first chapter this material is introduced as follows:

    Baruch 1:1

    This is the text of the book written in Babylon by Baruch son of Neraiah, son of Mahseaih, .... in the fifth year on the on the seventh day of the month, at the time when the Chaldaens had captured Jerusalem and burned it down.

    1:3 Baruch read text of this book aloud to Jeconiah son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and to all the people who had come to hear...

    1:11 Now pray for the long of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and of his son Belshazzar, that they may endure on earth as long as the heavens endure;...

    1:12and that we may lead our lives under the protection of the king of Babylon and of his son Belshazzar, and that we may serve them for a long time and win their favor."

    Well, it is hard for me to make a case one way or another from this translation about whether it's the same author as chapter 5 of Daniel, but certain elements are in common.

    But there is one big clarification. The author does not know of the existence of Nabonidus. He thinks that Belshazzar as a regent was living circa 582 BC.

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