Book of Daniel is one of the most contested portions of the Old Testament

Taken from:

The Book of Daniel

Robert I Bradshaw

1 Introduction

For reasons that will soon become clear the book of Daniel is one of the most contested portions of the Old Testament, perhaps second only to the early chapters of Genesis. The book derives its name from its author and central character, whose experiences in the court of Babylon form the majority of the first six chapters and the his dreams and visions the last six. Regarding the interpretation of these visions there are almost as many views as there are commentators, so only the most plausible interpretations are referred to here.

2 Date

The date of the book of Daniel is one of the most hotly contested themes in OT scholarship. Two main views prevail: a) That the book was written in the second Century BC in Judea in order to encourage the people of Israel undergoing persecution by the Seleucids under Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Writing after the event the writer cast his work as a prediction of the future and urged his fellow Jews to remain faithful to their God. b) That it was written in the 6th Century BC in Babylon by a Jewish exile named Daniel who served in the royal court and accurately predicted events that were not fulfilled until the Second Century.

2.1 Internal Evidence.

2.1.1 The Book’s Claim to a Predictive Prophecy. On numerous occasions Daniel claims to be predicting the future (Dan. 2:29; 4:24-25; 5:24-30; 7 – 12). Following the established custom among the Old Testament prophets Daniel was often instructed to seal up his visions, so that after the events had been fulfilled the people might have clear evidence that the prophet had foreseen (Dan. 8:26; 12:4, 9; cf. Isa. 8:16; 29:11; 30:8; Jer. 30:2; 32:14; 36:1-32; Hab. 2:2-3) (Wenham, 1977: 50). Since the time of the Neoplatonist philosopher Porphyry (c.232 – c.305 AD) the presence of predictive prophecy in Scripture has been denied. Porphyry, an intelligent man, produced a detailed verse by verse study of the book of Daniel in support of his argument for a second century date in volume 12 of his 15 volume work Against the Christians which survives in part in Jerome’s 5th century Commentary on Daniel (Wilken, 1984: 139-143). During the Enlightenment many of Porphyry’s arguments were revived and these, together with the conviction that predictive prophecy is impossible, still form the basis of liberal views on the book of Daniel.

2.1.2 The Book’s Claim That the Author Lived in the Sixth Century BC. Several times Daniel refers to himself as the witness of the events he describes (7:2; 8:1, 15, 27; 9:22; 10:2, 7; 12:5) and claims that he was present in the royal court in Babylon from shortly after his exile from Judea in 605 to around 535 BC (Dan. 1:21; 10:1). The text contains many historical references that would have been unknown to a Second Century writer. These include the assertions that: a) Neo-Babylon was the creation of Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 4:30); b) Belshazzar was the second ruler of the Empire and governed Babylon in his father Nabonidus’ place (implied by Belshazzar only being able to offer Daniel third position in the kingdom – 5:7, 16, 29) (Pffeifer, 1948: 757-759), and c) that Shushan was to be found in the province of Elam (8:2). In the Persian and Roman periods Shushan gave its name to the province in which it was located (Archer, 1985b: 408-409). In addition to the Daniel’s own statements concerning himself we also have the testimony of Jesus in Matthew’s gospel (Matt. 24:15). This establishes that he believed Daniel to be the book’s author.

Against this it is sometimes argued that the fact that Daniel makes no mention of either the destruction of Jerusalem or the return of the exile in 539 BC counts against his being contemporary with these events. Such an argument carries no real weight as the focus of the book is on events in Babylon, not in Judea. It is not necessary for any piece of literature to be comprehensive in its scope for it to be historically accurate.

2.1.3 Language. The most significant feature about the language of the book of Daniel is the encapsulation of an Aramaic core (2:4b – 7:28) inside a Hebrew shell (1:1 -2:4a; 8:1 – 12:13). It has been noted that Aramaic was the lingua franca of the Ancient world (cf. 2 Kings 18:26). It was therefore appropriate that messages concerning the Gentile nations contained within the central section of the book be recorded in this language. The beginning and end of the book, which relate specifically to the Jewish nation, are written in Hebrew (Archer, 1985a: 6). The use of different languages is no longer seen as evidence of disunity, but a R.K. Harrison points out:

The device of enclosing the main body of a composition within the linguistic form of a contrasting style so as to heighten the effect of the work was commonly employed in the construction of single, integrated writings in the corpus of Mesopotamian literature (Harrison, 1970: 1109-1110).

Another biblical example of this technique is to be found in the book of Job, that encloses a poetic core (3:1 – 42:6) within a narrative introduction and epilogue (1:1- 2:13; 42:6-17). Ezra is written for the most part in late Hebrew, but also contains Aramaic sections (4:8 – 6:18; 7:12-26).

The presence of Persian and Greek loan words in Daniel (3:5, 15) has long been considered a problem for those who would argue for an early date for the book (so Pfeiffer, 1948: 756-757). However, further study has shown that linguistic arguments alone are inadequate when it comes to dating the book one way or the other (Kitchen, 1970: 79). Our knowledge of the development of the vocabularies of Aramaic and Hebrew from the 6th to the 2nd century BC is too fragmentary to prove that the text of Daniel contains “late” words. However, there are certain factors that favour an early date, such as the mistranslation in the Septuagint (dating from the Second Century BC) of some of the Aramaic words used in Daniel. Such an occurrence is more explicable if the translators were dealing with words with which they were no longer familiar (i.e. if the text of Daniel was from the 6th century) than if they were working on a contemporary manuscript. Persian words found in Daniel are traceable to the Old Persian Period which ended about 300 BC (Kitchen, 1970: 42-44).

The presence of three Greek loan words is easily explained, as all three refer to the names of musical instruments (lyre/zither, harp/trigon and pipe/bagpipes – 3:5, 10, 15). We now know that the Greeks traded extensively throughout the Ancient Near East from at least the 8th Century BC, and Greek mercenaries were common from the 7th Century. These facts, together with Daniel’s position in the Royal Court (Dan. 2:49), the diplomatic centre of the Empire, adequately explain the few loan words that he uses (Kitchen, 1970: 44-50). All of these occurrences are completely consistent with a 6th Century date.

2.1.4 Apocalyptic Character. The second half of the book of Daniel is written belongs to a literary genre known as apocalyptic. The characteristics of this genre have been defined by examining documents of the same type and so not every apocalyptic writing necessarily contains all the distinctive features. These are: 1) Revelatory Nature. This is distinct from the nature of the revelations about the future given to the OT prophets which were intended to communicate the Word of the Lord with the aim of reminding the people of their covenant responsibilities. To this central message the foretelling of the future took second place. In apocalyptic, however, the events of future are themselves the centre of attention. 2) Artificial nature. In general the visions and dreams the are literary fictions rather than genuine subjective experiences. There is nothing in Daniel to suggest that his visions were artificial – he recorded what he saw. 3) Pseudonymity. The revelation is presented in the name of a long dead Old Testament character. It is probable that after the end of the prophetic era in order to be taken seriously writers felt it necessary to deceive their readership by ascribing their work to an author who had lived at a time when the Lord was indeed still speaking to his people. In addition it is important to note that outside of the book of Daniel the character of Daniel himself was unknown (see 9.1). In no way could a later writer have appealed to him to lend authority to his work. 4) Pseudo-Prophecy. Having selected an ancient figure the author often rewrote history down to his own day and so presented it as a fulfilled prophecy. Characteristically the details of the “prophecy” became more vague the nearer one comes to the time of the actual writer of the work, and this is used by modern scholars to establish its date. This principle is often applied to the book of Daniel and it is argued that whilst Daniel 11:21-39 accurately describes the career of Antiochus Epiphanes, verses 40-45 are much less accurate, so indicating the true date when the book was written. However, it is more likely that just as the prophecy in 11:2-3 jumps 130 years, the fulfilment of vv. 40-45 occurs long after the Maccabean Period. Many commentators argue that the fulfilment of these verses is still future (e.g. Archer, 1985a: 146-148). 5) Symbolism. The visions are cast in the form of complex symbols that often require interpretation (e.g. Zech. 6:1-8; Dan. 7:1, 15-28). 6) Dualism. A sharp distinction is drawn both between this age and the age to come and between the power of God and the powers of evil that dominate this present age. This dualism becomes more pronounced in later apocalypses. It is discernible in the book of Daniel when it refers to the four human kingdoms (this age) and the rock representing God’s kingdom that will bring the human kingdoms to an end (2:31-35, 44-45a). Daniel also contains references to evil forces that oppose the will of God and require additional effort to overcome them (Dan. 10:13, 20) (see 7.1.3). 7) Lack of Historical Perspective in Eschatology. Whereas the prophets saw a purpose in history leading eventually to a day of judgement and vindication of the upright, apocalyptic lacks the positive understanding that God is working out his purposes. 8) Pessimism. The apocalyptic writings are not pessimistic in the sense of losing their faith in God, but rather in their despair of this present evil age in which he does not seem to act. In contrast to this pessimism it is clear that one of the themes of Daniel is the conviction that the God of Israel is also the Lord of history (2:37-38, 44, 47; 4:28-35; 5:18-21; 6:26) (see 7.1.2). 9) Determinism. The plan of history is already written and cannot be altered and God himself is viewed as waiting for his plans to come to fruition rather than actively working them out. The writers of apocalypses usually assumed that they stand at the end of this history on the threshold of the new age. 10) Ethical Passivity. Unlike the writings of the prophets, reminding the people of their covenant obligations, apocalypses were directed to the righteous remnant and usually did not include moral exhortation because the remnant was believed to be those who did uphold the Law (Ladd, 1979: 151-156).

From this brief summary it is obvious that the book of Daniel contains only a few of the features found in the later apocalypses and so cannot be subject to the same generalisations that are applied to them. For example, many scholars who argue for a second century date point often argue that as Daniel contains apocalyptic it must therefore be pseudonymous. Such reasoning ignores the most likely explanation: that apocalyptic literature modelled itself, at least in part, on the book of Daniel not vice versa. The existence of other OT passages that contain elements of apocalyptic (e.g. Isa. 25-27; Zech. 9) that cannot be dated as late as the Second Century BC support this view of literary development (Wenham, 1977: 50).

2.1.5 The Characters of the Kings. Advocates of the second century date (beginning with Porphyry in the third century AD) argue that a Maccabean writer attempted to use his work to encourage the Jews to remain faithful during the time of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. According to this view the characters of Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar and Darius were all styled on Antiochus IV. Although there are many similarities between the kings, the differences are more significant, particularly their motives in persecuting the Jews (see Table 1 below). It should also be noted that Antiochus desecrated rather than destroyed the Temple as Nebuchadnezzar had done. Nor was he ever likely to issue a decree protecting the Jews from religious persecution (cf. Dan. 3:28-29).

Table 1: A Comparison of the Characters of Nebuchadnezzar and Antiochus IV Epiphanes

Similarities Nebuchadnezzar / Belshazzar / Darius the Mede Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Represented as God’s instrument on a sinful nation Dan. 1:1-2 (Nebuchadnezzar) 2 Macc. 5:17-20; 6:12-17
Proud and arrogant Dan. 4:27, 31 (Nebuchadnezzar) 1 Macc. 1:21; 2 Macc. 5:21
Destroyed the Lord’s Temple, removed the sacred vessels and put an end to worship there. Dan. 1:2 (Nebuchadnezzar) 1 Macc. 1:20-24; 2 Macc. 6:1-2
The reason behind their mistreatment of the Jews. The suffering of the Jews was a by-product rather than the purpose of the kings actions. In the case of Darius he is presented as being a victim of the intrigue of his courtiers against Daniel. At other times the Jews had freedom to practice their own religion (Dan. 2:12-13; 3:8-15; 6:3-9; cf. 1:11-16; 3:28-29;6:10b). Deliberately set out to compel their Jewish subjects to violate their consciences by doing things forbidden in the Law (1 Macc. 1:41-64; 2 Macc. 6-7)

2.1.6 The Renaming of Daniel and his Friends. Daniel 1:7 describes how Daniel and his four friends received new names, some containing the names of Babylonian and Sumerian deities (see Table 2). It seems improbable that a Second Century writer would fabricate such a story or allow it to pass without comment in a situation where the preservation of the purity of the Jewish faith was considered so critical.

Table 2: The Meanings of the Names of Daniel and his Companions

Jewish Name


Babylonian Name


Daniel My Judge is El Belteshazzar May (a god) protect his life
Hananiah Yahweh has shown Grace Shadrach The Command of Aku
Mishael Who is What El is? Meshach Who is What Aku is?
Azariah Yahweh has Helped Abednego Servant of Nego

2.2 External Evidence

2.2.1 Daniel 1:1. The contents of the first verse in Daniel have been challenged on two counts. It is often claimed that the date given by Daniel for the first year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign contradicts that given by Jeremiah (so Pfeiffer, 1948: 756) (see Table 3). This objection is easily answered as the Babylonians used the Accession year system of dating (also known as post-dating) and the Judeans the non-Accession year system (or antedating). It is not surprising that Daniel follows the Babylonian system and therefore dates Jehoiakim’s reign as being one year less than that given by Jeremiah.

Table 3: Apparent Contradictions Between Dates Given By Jeremiah and Daniel






Nebuchadnezzar besieges Jerusalem 605 Dan. 1:1 3rd year of Jehoiakim 1st year of Nebuchadnezzar
Nebuchadnezzar besieges Jerusalem 605 Jer 25:1 4th year of Jehoiakim 1st year of Nebuchadnezzar
Battle of Carchemish 605 Jer 46:2 4th Year of Jehoiakim

The second objection involves the circumstances of Daniel’s exile to Babylon. There is no extrabiblical evidence for a siege of Jerusalem in 605 BC, but we do know from the Babylonian Chronicle that Nebuchadnezzar was in the area, pursuing the remnants of the Egyptian army after his victory at Carchemish (see Exile 4.1). Although our only evidence for this event comes from Scripture there is no real reason, apart from critical presuppositions, why it could not be an accurate account (Wiseman, 1970: 16-18).

2.2.2 The Identity of Darius the Mede. Daniel provides us with a number of facts about Nabonidus’ successor to the throne of Babylon: i) His name was Darius; ii) He was the son of Xerxes; iii) he was a Mede (Dan. 9:1), and iv) he began to rule when he was 62 years old (6:1). Despite this no extrabiblical evidence that such a person existed. It is generally agreed that this remains the strongest evidence against a seventh century origin for the book of Daniel (Wiseman, 1970: 9). Two main solutions have been suggested by conservative scholars. Both argue that the name Darius was a honorific title just as “Caesar” and “Augustus” was in the Roman Empire (Hoerth, 1998: 384). a) The first of these explanations sees Darius is another name for Gorbryas (Gubaru), a man who played a significant part both in the capture of Babylon and later its new administration where he served as provincial governor. The use of double throne names is not without precedent (Tiglath-pileser of Assyria=Pul in 2 Kings 15:19-29; cf. 1 Chron. 5:26). Factors which make this identification doubtful are that facts that Gorbryas is never described elsewhere as the son of Xerxes, of 62 years of age or of Median descent. The use of a royal title by a governor of a city is also without precedent and there is no evidence than Gorbryas ever bore such a title at any time in his life. Most seriously of all this identification is contradicted by extant inscriptions which portray Gorbryas as a Persian (Wiseman, 1970: 10-12). b) A more likely theory is that of D.J. Wiseman that Darius was a “throne name” or honorific title for Cyrus. Cyrus was referred to by Nabonidas in 546 as “the king of the Medes”, only four years after Cyrus’ conquest of the Median Empire. There is also some evidence that Cyrus was descended from the Medes on his father’s side and was probably about 62 when he captured Babylon. The name Xerxes (Ahasuerus) may also be an ancient royal title, which would solve the remaining difficulty. While the theory is not without its weaknesses (e.g. Xerxes occurs in Ezra 4:6 and throughout the book of Esther as a real name) it remains the best explanation pending the discovery of further relevant archaeological evidence (Wiseman, 1970: 12-16).

2.2.3 Acceptance into the Jewish Canon. The Dead Sea Scrolls reveal that Daniel shaped the theology of the Qumram Community. They referred to Daniel as “the Prophet” and accepted his writings as authoritative, indicating that they predated the founding of the community in the Second Century BC (Beckwith, 1985: 78). Writing in the First Century AD the former Pharisee Josephus also called Daniel a prophet (Antiquities, 10.249), as “…one of the greatest of the prophets…” (11.266) and his writings as being “among our ancient books” (10.218).

A number of other citations found in Intertestamental literature are significant (see Table 4 below). If the writer of 1 Enoch borrowed from Daniel then it would demonstrate that that book was considered authoritative prior to 150 BC (Harrison, 1970: 1107). In the same way the writer of 1 Maccabees refers to Daniel and his friends as famous ancestors – hardly the language one would expect if the stories of their deeds had only recently been composed.

Table 4: Extrabiblical Evidence For a Seventh Century Date For the Book of Daniel

Book Date Quotation (given in full when space permits) Corresponding Quotation(s) from Daniel
1 Enoch

c. 150 BC

And I looked and saw therein a lofty throne: its   appearance was as crystal, and the wheels thereof as the shining sun, and there   was the vision of cherubim. And from underneath the throne came streams of   flaming fire so that I could not look thereon. And the Great Glory sat thereon,   and His raiment shone more brightly than the sun and was whiter than any snow.   None of the angels could enter and could behold His face by reason of the   magnificence and glory and no flesh could behold Him. (14:18-22). As I watched, thrones were set in place, and an Ancient   One took his throne, his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head   like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, and its wheels were burning fire.   A stream of fire issued and flowed out from his presence. A thousand thousands   served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him. The court   sat in judgement, and the books were opened. (7:9-10).
1 Maccabees

c. 120 BC

“Remember the deeds of the ancestors, which they did in   their generations…. Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael believed and were saved   from the flame. Daniel, because of his innocence, was delivered from the mouth   of the lions. “And so observe, from generation to generation, that none of   those who put their trust in him will lack strength (2:51-60). 3:24-26; 6:21-22.
3 Maccabees

c.100 BC

The three companions in Babylon who had voluntarily   surrendered their lives to the flames so as not to serve vain things, you   rescued unharmed, even to a hair, moistening the fiery furnace with dew and   turning the flame against all their enemies. (v.6) Dan. 3:13-27
Daniel, who through envious slanders was thrown down into   the ground to lions as food for wild animals, you brought up to the light   unharmed. (v.7) Dan. 6:1-24
4 Macc.

c.19 -54 AD


Thus I have demonstrated not only that men have ruled over   the emotions, but also that a woman has despised the fiercest tortures. The   lions surrounding Daniel were not so savage, nor was the raging fiery furnace   of Mishael so intensely hot, as was her innate parental love, inflamed as she   saw her seven sons tortured in such varied ways. (16:2-3) Dan. 3:1-30; 6:1-24
Daniel the righteous was thrown to the lions, and   Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael were hurled into the fiery furnace and endured   it for the sake of God. (16:21) Dan. 3:1-30; 6:1-24
He praised Daniel in the den of the lions and blessed him.   (18:13) Dan. 6:1-24
Matt. 24:15

c.70 AD

So when you see the desolating sacrilege standing in the   holy place, as was spoken of by the prophet Daniel (let the reader   understand), Dan. 9:27; 11:31; 12:11
Hebrews 11:33f


-90 AD

…who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered   justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions Dan. 6:1-24
Josephus, Antiquities 10.186-263

c.90 AD

[Josephus provides a commentary on the text of   Daniel.]
Bible quotations taken from the NRSV.

3 Author

The book claims to have been written by a man named Daniel, who was brought from Jerusalem in the year 605 BC (Dan. 1:1-2) and served the kings of Babylon and later Persia until 539 BC (1:21). The first six chapters of the book, written contain a narrative that describes several significant events that took place in Babylon in which Daniel and his three fellow exiles had a part. Wishing to harness the best minds of his subject peoples Nebuchadnezzar ordered that the most promising of the Judean exiles be selected for training for royal service (1:3-5). Daniel and his three friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were selected and received new Babylonian names (see Table 2). Like Joseph before them they accepted their new names without protest (1:6-7; cf. Gen. 41:45), but when presented with food from the king’s table they refused to eat it. The text is clear that eating such food would have led to defilement for the Hebrews, but the reason for this defilement is less certain. It is most likely that food was rejected because of its source (the Kings table) rather because of its content (unclean or non-kosher meats). In the Ancient Near East accepting table fellowship was indicative of entering into a covenant relationship with your host (Gen. 31:54; Exod 24:9-11; Neh. 8:9-12; cf. Matt. 26:26-28). In order to remain free to serve the Lord, Daniel and his friends refused to be tempted by the choice food (cf. Gen 3:6) (Baldwin, 1978: 83). This interpretation is further supported by the fact that later in his career Daniel was partaking of choice food, meat and wine (10:3). Presumably only its source is different to that mentioned in Chapter 1. The guard who had been set over the four Hebrews was understandably reluctant to restrict their diet to vegetables as they requested, because he was responsible for their well-being. Daniel wisely suggested that they be allowed ten days to prove their case and, when the did indeed appear better nourished than the other young men, they won the right to not to eat the royal food. At the end of their period of training they were found to be ten times better than all of the magicians and enchanters in the realm of Babylon (1:11-20).

In the year 604 BC, the year after Daniel was taken to Babylon Nebuchadnezzar had a dream. It is unclear whether when he awoke he simply could not remember it or was perhaps seeking to test the powers of his advisors. In any event the court astrologers assured him that no one could interpret a dream unless the contents of the dream were first recounted to them. In a fit of rage Nebuchadnezzar ordered that all the wise men be put to death, including Daniel and his friends, who were not present in the court at that time. When Daniel learnt of the kings decision he went to the king and asked that he might be given time to interpret the dream. Returning to his friends the four joined together in prayer for God’s mercy and that night the dream was revealed to Daniel. Appearing before the king Daniel first made clear that God alone could do what Nebuchadnezzar asked (cf. Gen. 41:16). He then went on to recount the dream of a statue and interpret it as foretelling the four world empires that were to come (including that of Babylon), followed by the kingdom of God. After this Daniel was placed over all the wise men of Babylon and remained in the royal court while he friends took up senior administrative posts elsewhere in the Empire (2:1-49).

Nebuchadnezzar had cause to call upon Daniel’s services as an interpreter of dreams when once again his other advisors failed. The interpretation showed that unlike the earlier dream this one referred to Nebuchadnezzar personally rather than to his Empire. The king’s pride in his accomplishments was about to bring about a period of chastisement during which he would lose his mind and be driven from position of power. Daniel warned the king that the dream would be fulfilled unless Nebuchadnezzar repented of his wickedness (4:1-27). However, his advice was soon forgotten and the dream fulfilled. At the end of seven “times” Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged the his life was in God’s hands, was restored and gave praise to God (4:28-37). No further events dating from the reign of Nebuchadnezzar are recorded.

In 553 BC Belshazzar was made regent of Babylon by his father Nabonidus. Later in that same year Daniel had a dream of four beasts followed by the establishment of God’s rule on earth. The vision deeply affected Daniel and left him drained and troubled (7:1-28). Two years later (in around 551) he had another vision, this time of a Ram and a He-goat. This vision was interpreted by the “man” Gabriel (8:16), who explained that it referred to the events to come in the last days. Again the experience had a dramatic effect upon Daniel, who was left exhausted and ill for days afterward (8:27). During the reign of Belshazzar it would seem that Daniel did not play a prominent role in the royal court. When Belshazzar was confronted with a disembodied hand writing a mysterious message on the palace wall it was left to the queen mother (Belshazzar’s mother) (Baldwin, 1978: 122) to remind the court of the deeds of Daniel during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar (5:1-13). Daniel was duly called and interpreted the four words written on the wall as a warning that the Empire of Babylon was about to come to an end. As a reward Belshazzar made Daniel the third ruler in the kingdom, the highest honour he could grant, as he himself was only the second ruler. True to Daniel’s interpretation before that night was over Belshazzar was dead and Cyrus took the city (5:13-31).

Under the new Persian administration Daniel found himself appointed one of the three administrators in charge of the 120 satraps who ran the affairs of the kingdom. Such was his skill that he aroused the jealousy of his co-workers who devised a plot to use his devotion to the Lord against him, since there were no other grounds for accusing him. They approached the king and effectively outlawed the worship of any God but Cyrus. Daniel quietly disregarded the command and continued in his usual routine of praying toward Jerusalem three times a day. His enemies knew about this and soon brought his activity to the notice of the king, who reluctantly agreed to carry of the death sentence on Daniel, for the Persian monarchs were not above the law. Daniel was protected from the lions by an angel, but the next morning his enemies received the punishment that they had planned for Daniel (6:1-28). Later, in the first year of Cyrus’ reign Daniel, realising from his study of the prophet Jeremiah that the seventy years for Babylon had now been fulfilled (Jer. 25:11; 29:10) Daniel turned to the Lord in prayer to fulfil the rest of Jeremiah’s injunction which required repentance on behalf of the people of Israel (29:11-14) (see EXILE 6.1). Standing as Israel’s representative Daniel prayed a prayer of repentance recalling the covenant and the consequences of breaking it. Calling upon the Lord’s great compassion he pleaded that the Lord might turn from his wrath and restore both his people and his city Jerusalem (Dan. 9:1-19). The Lord’s answer was brought once more by Gabriel, who spoke of some of the events that were to take place in Jerusalem in the future (9:20-27).

Daniel’s last recorded vision took place two years later in about 536 BC, two years after his retirement from the royal court (1:21) by which time Daniel must have been an old man. Following a period of mourning and fasting Daniel was confronted with a vision of a man, whom he alone saw. The experience once again overwhelmed the ageing prophet, but the man touched him and gave him the strength he needed (10:1-20). The man spoke of events yet to come during the Persian Empire and the Greek Empire that followed, looking forward to the day when the dead would rise. Daniel never received the full explanation for what he saw, because what he saw referred to the end times (10:21-12:13). He was truly great among the heroes of old who “…administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions…” (Heb. 11:33).

4 Canonicity

Writing in 1909 in his book The Canon of the Old Testament H.E. Ryle put forward the theory of the three stage development of the Hebrew canon. He argued that first the Pentateuch, then the Prophets and finally the Writings were produced and accepted as canonical. Daniel was placed with the Writings by the Jews because it was not in existence when the other prophetic book were accepted as canonical (Beckwith, 1985: 4). Ryle’s theory became widely accepted, but there are now serious doubts about the validity of his arguments. There are other equally plausible reasons why Daniel was not included amongst the prophets. For example, Daniel may have been viewed as a being one of the books of wisdom, like Job, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, after all “…the words ‘wise’ and ‘wisdom’ occur in the book twenty-six times.” (Beckwith, 1985: 138). More significantly, we know from Josephus’ description of the Jewish canon, dating from the 1st Century AD, that the book of Daniel was indeed counted as one of the prophets (Josephus, Against Apion 1.38-39). As Josephus’ list predated that given by the Masoretes by at least six centuries, so arguments based on the latter’s division of the canon must carry little weight (Archer, 1985a: 7-8).

5 Structure

On the simplest level the book of Daniel might be divided by language (see 2.1.3), or by genre: Narrative (chapters 1-6) and apocalyptic (chapter 7-12) (see 2.1.4). Closer examination demonstrates a complex literary structure throughout the book (see Table 5). Such a structure constitutes strong evidence for the book’s unity.

Table 5: The Literary Structure of the Book of Daniel

Section 1 Common Themes Section 2
Chapter 1 Nebuchadnezzar places God’s vessels in his idol’s temple.Daniel and others refuse in pagan impurities.Court officials sympathetic.Daniel and his colleagues physical and mental powers   vindicated.They are promoted to high office. The end of one kingdom and the beginnings of   another Chapter 6Darius bans prayer to God for thirty days.Daniel refuses to cease practising the Jewish   religion.Court officials intrigue against him.Daniel’s political loyalty to the king vindicated.He is restored to high office.
Chapters 2-3A survey of the whole course of Gentile imperial   power.Four empires in the form of a man.The fatal weakness: an incoherent mixture of iron and clay   in the feet.The whole man destroyed by the stone cut out by divine   power. The universal Messianic kingdom is set up.Nebuchadnezzar thinks that “no god can deliver (the Jews)   out of his hand”.He commands them to worship his god.The Jews defy him.They are preserved in the fiery furnace.God’s ability to deliver is thereby vindicated. An overview of human history and the establishment of   God’s Kingdom Chapter 7-8A survey of the whole course of Gentile imperial   power.Four empires in the form of wild beasts.The hideous strength: a frightening mixture of animal   destructiveness with human intelligence.The final beast destroyed and universal dominion given to   the Son of Man.The little horn: “none can deliver out of his hand”.He stops the Jews worship of their God, and defies God   himself.God’s sanctuary and truth are finally vindicated.
Chapter 4The glory of Babylon.Nebuchadnezzar is warned that he deserves discipline.He persists in pride, is chastised, and his chastisement   lasts for seven times.He is then restored. God’s Discipline and Human Pride Chapter 9The desolations of Jerusalem: Israel’s sins have brought   on them the curse warned of in the OT.Jerusalem will be restored, but Israel’s persistence in   sin will bring on further desolations lasting to the end of 70 x 7 years.Then Jerusalem will be finally restored.
Chapter 5Belshazzar makes a god of his pleasures, but still   recognises the god of stone, etc.Belshazzar sacrilegiously drinks from the Temple vesselsThe writing on the wall.The end of Belshazzar and the end of the Babylonian   empire. The last and most evil king of the human   kingdom Chapter 10-12The king exalts himself above every god, and regards no   god.Antiochus sets up the abomination of desolation in the   sanctuary (11:31)The Writing of Truth.The series of apparent “ends” leading up to “the time of   the end” and eventually to The End itself.
Based on Gooding, 1981: 43-79.

6 Chronology

Archaeological discoveries, particularly that of the Babylonian Chronicle mean that we now know a tremendous amount about the events of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. A summary of the major events in given in Table 6.

Table 6: The Chronology of the Book of Daniel



605 Necho is defeated by Nebuchadnezzar at   Carchemish. Nabopolassar dies (August 16th) and is succeeded by his son   Nebuchadnezzar (in September). While he is being crowned king in Babylon his   army besieges Jerusalem for the first time. They deport some of the young men   of the nobility (including Daniel) and remove some of the gold articles from   the Temple (Dan. 1:1-4).
604 Nebuchadnezzar takes control of the   Philistine Plain. Judah becomes a vassal of Babylon (2 Kings 24:7).
603 Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the image (Dan.   2:1-49).
603-599/598 Nebuchadnezzar campaigns in   Hattu
601 Nebuchadnezzar is defeated by Necho on the   Egyptian border and forced to retreat. Jehoiakim rebels against Babylon along   with several other vassal states (against the advice of Jeremiah).
598 Jerusalem is besieged for the second time.   Jehoiakim dies during the siege (December 7th) and is succeeded by his son   Jehoiachin.
598-597 Royal inscription testifies to   Nebuchadnezzar’s building activities.
597 After three months the city surrenders to   Babylonian forces (March 16th). Nebuchadnezzar deports the king, royal   officials, craftsmen and community leaders to Babylon, as well as the golden   articles from the Temple. Jehoiachin’s uncle Mattaniah (renamed Zedekiah)   becomes Nebuchadnezzar’s vassal (2 Kings 24:17).
597-596/95 Nebuchadnezzar’s campaigns to Hattu and   Tigris.
595-594 Rebellions in Nebuchadnezzar’s army.   Revolt plans among the exiles spread to Judah. Jeremiah’s Letters to the   Exiles. Nebuchadnezzar marches to Hattu.
594/593 Campaign to Hattu.
593/592 Royal inscription testifies to   Nebuchadnezzar’s building activity.
590 Zedekiah rebels against Babylon against   the advice of Jeremiah.
589 Jerusalem in besieged for the third time   (2 Kings 25:1).
586 Jerusalem falls to Nebuchadnezzar in late   July/August. Zedekiah is captured, blinded and deported. All but the poorest   people in the land go into exile. The city, palace and Temple are burnt and the   walls cast down. Gedeliah appointed Governor of Judah.
586-573/72 Nebuchadnezzar besieges Tyre for thirteen   years.
568-567 Nebuchadnezzar attacks Egypt.
562 Nebuchadnezzar dies and is succeeded by   Amel-Marduk (Evil-Merodach).
561 Amel-Marduk releases Jehoiachin (2 Kings   25:27-30).
560 Amel-Marduk assassinated and his   brother-in-law Neriglissar takes the throne.
556 Neriglissar dies and his infant son   Labashi-Marduk loses the throne to Nabonidus.
553 Nabonidus makes Belshazzer coregent and   departs Babylon for Tema in Arabia. Daniel’s dream of the four beasts (Dan.   7:1-27).
550 Cyrus defeats the Medes and becomes king   of both the Medes and the Persians. Daniel’s dream of the Ram, the He-Goat and   the Little Horn (Dan. 8:1-27).
546 Cyrus defeats the army of Lydia and enters   southern Babylonia.
543 Nabonidus returns to Babylon to counter   Cyrus’ advance.
539 Cyrus captures Babylon and Belshazzar is   killed, Nabonidus captured. Cyrus issues decree to allow Exiles to return.   Daniel’s prayer for the restoration of Israel (Dan. 9:1-26). Daniel retires   from Royal service (Dan. 1:21).
537 Daniel’s visions of future battles and the   end times (Dan. 10:1; 11-12).
535-534 Daniel’s vision of a man (Dan.   10:1-21).
Table based on Jonsson, 1998: 254.

7 Theology

7.1 Major Themes

7.1.1 The Covenant-Keeping God. The opening verses of the book make clear that Nebuchadnezzar was able to conquer Jerusalem because the Lord allowed him to (Dan. 1:2), recalling the covenant curses of Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. In his prayer of repentance (directed toward the site of the Temple – Dan. 6:10) Daniel specifically refers to Israel’s sin and failure to live up to her covenant obligations (9:4-11a). The EXILE, he acknowledges, was God’s judgement on the people which they fully deserved (9:11b-15; cf. Lev. 26:37-39: Deut. 4:27-28; 28:63). However, Daniel knew that that was not the end of the story, for after judgement the Lord promised both forgiveness and restoration (Dan. 9:15-16; cf. Lev. 26:40-45; Deut. 4:29-31; 2 Chron. 7:14).

7.1.2 Universal Rule of Yahweh. Although the narrative of the book centres around a group of Hebrews in Babylon the book’s perspective is not simply concerned either with their fate, or even that of their people; it is universal in scope. God is shown to be working at the very heart of a pagan empire and its rulers are forced to acknowledge that he is Lord is King of kings and Lord of lords. It is he who raises up and puts down rulers and it is he alone who directs the course of history (as the visions and dreams demonstrate). Although they might have taken the sacred objects from the temple with impunity when they are used in a sacrilegious manner Yahweh proves himself more than capable of defending his honour (5:1-30).

7.1.3 God’s Rule is Not Unopposed. God’s will is opposed both ion the heavens and on earth. When Daniel prayed and fasted for 21 days for insight God’s answer was given on the first day he prayed. However, we are told that the Prince of Persia opposed God’s messenger until another angel (Michael) was sent to help. Throughout that time Daniel continued to fast, unaware why he had not had an answer to his request (10:1, 12-14). On earth God’s will is opposed by kings and rulers, some of whom can be turned to repentance (4:34-35), some of whom cannot (5:1-4, 30; 11:36-38).

7.1.4 Suffering. Being a believer in Yahweh does not guarantee a life free from suffering. Israel suffered because of military conquest, but Daniel and his friends had to chose between their faith and an easy life (3:8-23; 6:3-12). Further defeats are foretold for Israel, but God will ultimately vindicate them (7:21-25; 8:23-25; 9:26; 11:36-45; 12:7b) and bring every deed to judgement (5:2-6, 22-30; 6:24; 7:9-10; 12:1-3).

7.1.5 God is in Control of Human History. Behind the scenes of history the Lord is working out his purposes (2:44). The kings of the earth rule by his will (2:37-38, 47; 4:28-35; 5:18-21; 6:26) and their end is already known (2:31-35, 44-45)

7.2 Is Daniel’s Theology Unique? The book of Daniel is sometimes seen as standing alone amongst the Old Testament writings. The following section examines five important themes to see if this is the case.

Table 7: A Comparison of the Important Elements of Daniel’s Theology with Other Old Testament Passages

Element Daniel Other OT References
Angelic Messengers 3:28; 6:22; 7:16; 8:16-17; 9:22; 10:18-19. Gen. 16:7; 18:2; 19:1; Josh. 5:13-14; Judges 2:1; 1 Kings   19:5; Zech. 2:3; 3:1; 6:12; 9:9; 13:1; 14:5
Resurrection 12:2 Job 19:25-26; Isa. 26:19; Ezek. 37; Hos. 13:14
Messiah 7:13; 9:26 Gen. 3:15; 49:10; Num. 24:17; Deut. 18:15; Isa. 9:6-7;   11:1; Jer. 23:5-6; 33:11-17; Ezek. 34:23-31; Mic. 5:2; Mal. 3:1; 4:2
Last Judgement 7:9-10; 12:1-2 Psalm 96:10, 12-13; Joel 3:2; Mal. 3:1-5
Book of Life 7:10; 12:1 Exod. 32:32-33; Isa. 4:3; 65:6; Psalm 69:28; Mal 3:16

7.2.1 Angels. The Old Testament contains numerous references to angelic activity. Angels at various times met, guided (24:7), ate (Gen. 18:2-8) and even wrestled with the Patriarchs (32:24-30); they pronounced and executed judgement (Judges 2:1-4; 1 Chron. 21:15), fought on behalf of Israel (2 Kings 19:35; 2 Chron. 32:21), as well as guiding (2 Kings 1:3. 15) and sustaining the Lord’s servants (1 Kings 19:5-8; Psalm 34:7). We see many of the same angelic activities evidenced in Daniel. Angel protected Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the fire (Dan. 3:28), shut the mouths of the lions (6:22), gave Daniel strength (10:18-19) and interpreted Daniel’s visions (7:16; 8:16-17; 9:22). However, there is at least one new element in Daniel’s understanding of angels, that of demographic responsibility. Chapter 10:13 refers to a “prince of the Persian kingdom” who resisted the angelic messenger sent to Daniel. The messenger was assisted by Michael, an angel who has special responsibility for protecting Israel (10:13, 21; 12:1). Also mentioned is the prince of Greece, who will succeed the prince of Persia in opposing the people of God (10:21). Although these passages are popularly understood as teaching that these spirits are geographically territorial rather than demographic, such a teaching can scarcely be supported from this passage. After all Michael, the prince of Israel, came to the aid of the messenger sent to Daniel in Babylon, well outside the geographic border of Israel at any point in that nations history (Page, 1995: 63-65; Payne, 1962: 289).

7.2.2 Resurrection. There are a number of passages in the Old Testament that deal with the resurrection of the dead. Hosea 13:14 & Ezekiel 37:11-14 refer to the raising of all Israel, while Isaiah 26:19 refers only to the righteous. Daniel 12:2 is the only reference in the Old Testament in which both righteous and unrighteous are resurrected.

7.2.3 Messiah. Daniel continues the developing revelation of the person of the Messiah, who is referred to explicitly in 9:26. While there is no direct connection made with the “son of man” of 7:13 in the book the two figures were equated in the Intertestamental Period (1 Enoch 48:2, 10) and by Jesus (Matt. 23:63; cf. Mark 14:62). The book of Daniel portrays the Messiah as a suffering (“cut off” – 9:26), a common theme in other Messianic passages (Isa. 52:13-53:12). As the “son of man” he is portrayed as having full access to the presence of the Ancient of Days and exercises the prerogatives of deity (7:13-14).

7.2.4 Last Judgement. Chapter 7:9-10 provides a vivid illustration of God’s judgement metered out against his enemies. We learn from 12:1-2 that this judgement is to take place following the resurrection of the dead (see 7.2.3). Once again, Daniel’s revelation adds to and compliments the revelation of the other prophets (see Table 7).


Daniel’s Vision of God’s Throne – Daniel 7:9-12

The scene changes from the terrestrial to the celestial, from earth to  heaven. This vision contains the most descriptive picture of the First Person of  the Trinity in the Bible.  To distinguish Him from the Son, God the Father is identified as “the Ancient  of Days.” He is the eternal, self-existent One, the Creator of all things  (Isaiah 43:10), and He has been viewing the activities of men and demons from  His throne in Heaven.

His clothing as white as snow symbolizes His righteousness, justice, purity  and holiness. Hair white as snow stands for wisdom. Fire symbolizes holiness,  wrath and judgment (Psalm 50:3; 97:3-5) as well as God’s presence (Exodus  13:21).

There is no escape from His judgment—a river of fire comes flowing out from  before Him. He is the Lord of Hosts as thousands upon thousands (an infinite  number of celestial beings, possibly included are the raptured saints) await His  command to execute judgment.

His throne is flaming fire and its wheels are all ablaze. The wheels, on  which the throne rests, are moving about and they are ringed with fire. Such  symbolism describes God’s omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience in Ezekiel  1:12-18.

God is enthroned as the Great King and He sits in judgment of the kingdoms of  the world. The first two to be judged in God’s court will be the boastful little  horn—the Antichrist and the False Prophet. Their eternal destiny is blazing  fire, the Lake of Fire, in which they are thrown alive, bypassing Sheol/Hades  (Revelation 19:20).

Daniel records that “the other beasts had been stripped of their authority,  but were allowed to live for a period of time.” This period falls between  Armageddon and the Great White Throne Judgment. Then Satan, his demons and all  his subjects will be judged (Revelation 20:1-15), when the books are opened.  What books? The Lamb’s Book of Life, the books of the deeds of men, and the  Scriptures, especially the Law. If one’s name is not recorded in the first, the  other books become the basis of God’s judgment as seen in Revelation 20:11-15.  It appears that Daniel and John beheld the same scene.

There is no judgment for the animal kingdom, but for unsaved man “it is a  dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). The  rebellion of angels and men will be judged. This scene is also similar to the  one in chapters 4-6 of Revelation, where the slain Lamb comes and takes the  scroll (the title deed to the earth) from the right hand of Him who sat on the  throne. After taking the scroll, He proceeds to break its seven seals, which  commences God’s judgment on the kingdom of the fourth beast.


Taken from:

Was Daniel an Eyewitness of 6th-Century B. C. Events

Part Two by Everette Hatcher III

2001 / March-April

5 Did the Book of Daniel err when it presented Belshazzar as the King of Babylon (Dan. 5)?

William Sierichs, Jr., asserted that Belshazzar “was never the king” (TSR, Vol. 9.6, p.2), and Dave Matson made this same point twice (TSR, Vol. 9.6, p. 12, Vol. 10.1, p. 15). Moreover, Sierichs and Matson are not the only ones who hold this view (E.W. Heaton, The Book of Daniel, Torch Bible Commentaries, London: SCM, 1956, p. 63; Brodrick D. Shepherd, Beasts, Horns, and the Anti-Christ, Grassy Creek, NC: Cliffside Publishing House, 1994, p. 23; Russell, p. 83). Earlier I quoted the critic Philip Davies concerning this. Davies noted, “This is still sometimes repeated as a charge against the historicity of Daniel, and resisted by conservative scholars. But it has been clear since 1924 (J. A. Montgomery, Daniel, International Critical Commentary, Edinburgh: T and T Clark, New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1927, pp. 66-67) that although Nabonidus was the last king of the Neo-Babylonian dynasty, Belshazzar was effectively ruling Babylon. In this respect, then, Daniel is correct” (Davies, pp. 30-31; TSR, Vol. 9.2, p. 4). Evidently, that didn’t convince Dave Matson and William Sierichs, Jr. Therefore, let us look at the two points of evidence that convinced the critic James A. Montgomery. First, a cuneiform inscription revealed that royal dignity was conferred on Belshazzar (Montgomery, pp. 66-67). The text records: “He entrusted a camp to his eldest, his firstborn son; the troops of the land he sent with him. He freed his hand; he entrusted the kingship (sarrutam) to him” (Sidney Smith, Babylonian Historical Texts, [1924], p. 84ff). Second, Belshazzar’s name was coupled with his father’s in prayers and also in an oath. The late R .P. Dougherty of Yale commented, “There is no other instance in available documents of an oath being sworn in the name of the son of the king…. 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 a large part, if not the whole, of the reign of Nabonidus” (Montgomery, p. 67; Pinches, Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology [1882], pp. 167ff; Dougherty, Records from Erech, Time of Nabonidus [Yale Or. Series], 1920, No. 134; Clay, Miscellaneous Inscriptions in the Yale Babylonian Collection, 1915, No. 39). Daniel recognized Belshazzar as king, and I have a hard time understanding why some critics still have a problem with that. Obviously, the evidence from archaeology seems to confirm the view that Belshazzar was functioning as king.

6. Did the writer of Daniel err when he called the Babylonian king “Nebuchadnezzar” instead of Nebuchadrezzar?

William Sierichs, Jr., said that Daniel used the “biblical, not scholars spelling” (TSR, Vol. 9.6, p. 2, Column 2), and Stephen Van Eck called the “Nebuchadnezzar” spelling “erroneous” (TSR, Vol. 9.6, p. 11). Many critical scholars would agree with these observations (John J. Collins, Daniel, Hermeneia, Minneapolis, Fortress, 1994, p. 133; Samuel Driver, The Book of Daniel: Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges: University Press, 1900, p. 3; Heaton, p. 122; Jeffery, p. 362; Montgomery, p. 118; Owens, p. 381). The conservative scholar Dr. Stephen Miller of Mid-America Seminary has noted that “Nebuchadrezzar” is closer to the Babylonian “Nabu-kndurri-usur” (“O Nabu [the god], protect my offspring/boundary”). However, the change of r in Akkadian and Aramaic to n in Hebrew was not erroneous but an accepted philological practice (Daniel, The New American Commentary, Nashville, TN: Broadman, 1994, p. 45 n. 2; Gleason Archer, Jr., Daniel, Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1985, p. 32; D. J. Wiseman, Nebuchadrezzar and Babylon [Oxford: University Press, 1985], pp. 2-3). I don’t know why the critics have chosen this argument in their attempt to late date Daniel, because some other Old Testament books also use “Nebuchadnezzar” (2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther). This argument is weak indeed.

7. Did King Nebuchadnezzar make a solid gold image 60 cubits tall and six cubits broad?

Till correctly noted that an image that size would have contained 270 cubic yards of gold and it would have surely impoverished the supply of gold in the royal treasury (TSR, Vol. 9.6, p. 1, Column 1). However, critical scholars agree that the Bible suggests the statute was gold-plated only (Montgomery, pp. 195-197; Louis F. Hartman and Alexander A. DiLella, The Book of Daniel, Anchor Bible, Garden City: Doubleday, 1978, pp. 160-161; Jeffery, p. 395). J. J. Collins asserts, “Compare Isaiah 40:19 (‘The idol, a workman casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold’); Jeremiah 10:3-4 and Epistle of Jeremiah 8, 55, 57, which refer to gods of wood, overlaid with silver or gold; Bel and the Serpent 7 (‘This is but clay inside and brass outside’). Compare also the altar overlaid with gold in Exodus 30:3, which can still be referred to as ‘the golden altar’(Driver, p. 35; cf. Also Herodotus 2.129; 182)” (Collins, p. 181). Therefore, Till’s criticism is so weak that it is not shared by any other critical scholar that I have come across, and the biblical evidence clearly contradicts his assertion.

8. If Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon (Daniel 2:49), then why haven’t their names been found in the Babylonian archives?

Till asks this question (TSR, Vol. 9.6, p.1, Column 2), and the answer can be found on a 5-sided clay prism found in Babylon, now on display at the Istanbul Museum. Dr. William Shea has identified these three Jews in this list of more than fifty government officials (W.H. Shea, “Daniel 3: Extra-Biblical Texts and the Convocation on the Plain of Dura,” Andrews University Seminary Studies, Vol. 20 [1982]: pp. 37-50; A. L. Oppenheim’s English Translation of the Babylonian text may be found in Ancient Near Eastern Texts, J. B. Pritchard, ed, pp. 307-308). Hananiah is Hanunu (“chief of the royal merchants”); Abednego is Aridi-Nabu (“secretary of the crown prince [i.e., Amel- Marduk]”); and Mishael is Mushallim-Marduk (one of the “overseers of the slave girls”). Two other government officials mentioned both in this list and the Bible are Nabuzeriddinam=Nabuzaradan (2 Kings 25:8, 11; Jer. 39:9-11, 13; 40:01, etc.) and Nergalsharusur (Neriglissar)=Nergal-Sharezer (Jer. 39:3, 13). In Daniel 1:3, we are introduced to Ashpenaz who was an important official in the court of Nebuchadnezzar around 600 B.C. Did this person actually exist in history? The critic Arthur Jeffery asserted: “No satisfactory explanation of the name has been suggested” (p. 364). However, Peter Coxon has noted, “Almost the same consonants (spnz) are found in an Aram incantation bowl from Nippur dated ca. 600 B.C.” (The Anchor Bible Dictionary, 1992, Vol. 1, pp. 491). Till scoffs at the view “that absence of evidence does not constitute evidence of absence” (TSR, Vol. 11.2, p. 2), but as time goes by, the archaeologist continues to unearth evidence that supports the accuracy of the Bible. Nevertheless, when it comes to the Book of Daniel, Till finds the argument from silence very attractive. He states: “If Darius the Mede was a real person, then why didn’t the records of that period mention a ruler of such prominence? We don’t have to wonder if Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Cyrus, Evil-Merodach, Artaxerxes, Sennacherib, Tiglath-Pileser, and other gentile kings mentioned in the Bible were actual historical persons, because extrabiblical records confirm that they were real, but we are supposed to believe that a king who conquered Babylon, issued edicts, and made extensive administrative reforms during his reign (Dan. 6) went completely unmentioned in the contemporary records of both Babylon and Persia” (TSR, Vol. 11.1, p. 5).

Dr. Wayne A. Brindle of Liberty University e-mailed me on January 14, 2000, concerning these comments of Till. Brindle noted: “Till is arguing out of both sides of his critical mouth. Two hundred years ago, critics commonly said that since most such names in the Bible weren’t found in secular literature/inscriptions, those people never existed. Then when they began to be found ­one at a time­ by slow, deliberate archaeological searching, critics were surprised, and some, like Albright, saw the discoveries almost as providing proof of Biblical accuracy and eyewitness testimony. Now Till says that since so many have already been found, the ones that haven’t yet been found never existed. He obviously hasn’t learned much from the past 200 years.”

In addition, not “all” of the Gentile kings have been found in secular histories/inscriptions. The farther back you go, and the farther from Greek and Roman culture you go, the fewer have been found. For example, as far as I know, none of the kings mentioned in Genesis 14 have been positively identified. The finding of the Gallio inscription (Acts 18) in Delphi was a fluke. A number of the kings of Syria and Philistia mentioned in Samuel/Kings/Chronicles have no secular parallel identifications. The reasons for this lack of information are simply that the sources are scarce and archaeologists have barely touched the surface of what might be available throughout the Near East. Many sites, even in Palestine, have not even been touched. In other words, we are not looking for a missing person, but just a missing nickname. However Till’s argument from silence concerning the names Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego has been completely put to flight, and that is why I ranked it as the weakest of the eight arguments presented by critics in The Skeptical Review, (Vol. 9.2 through Vol. 11.3).

II. Six Pieces of Archaeological Evidence that Support the 6th Century View: Since Daniel was an eyewitness to 6th-century events, he could accurately record historical details. The conservative scholar Dr. Stephen R. Miller notes: “In fact, the author of Daniel exhibited a more extensive knowledge of Sixth Century events than would seem possible for a second-century writer.” R. H. Pfeiffer (who argued that the work contains errors) acknowledged that Daniel reports some amazing historical details: “We shall presumably never know how our author learned that the new Babylon was the creation of Nebuchadnezzar (4:30 [Heb. 4:27]), as the excavations have proved… and that Belshazzar, mentioned only in Babylonian records, in Daniel and Bar. 1:11, which is based on Daniel, was functioning as king when Cyrus took Babylon in 538 [Chap. 5]” (Pfeiffer, “Introduction,” pp. 758-759). Harrison comments that the author “was quite accurate in recording the change from punishment by fire under the Babylonians (Dan. 3:11) to punishment by being thrown to lions under the Persian regime (Dan. 6:7), since fire was sacred to the Zoroastrians of Persia” [R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979, pp. 1120- 1121; cf. A. T. Olmstead, History of the Persian Empire, Chicago: University of Chicago press, 1948, pp. 473-474] (Miller, p. 26).

It is true that there are “some amazing historical details” to be found in Daniel, but also there are some small details throughout the book that support the view that its author lived early in the Persian period. For instance, concerning Daniel 6:8, 12, 15, the conservative Dr. John Whitcomb notes, “the mention of Medes before Persians in the phrase, ‘the law of the Medes and Persians,’ is an evidence of the early date of the book; for in later years, the Persians were usually mentioned before the Medes [Esther 1:3, 14, 18, 19, though not 10:2; cf. I Macc. 6:56] (characteristically, the critics find an anachronism in the fact that Darius the Mede is under the law of the Medes and Persians. Cf. Arthur Jeffery, p. 442)” (John Whitcomb, Darius the Mede, [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1959], p. 55).

Nevertheless, the critic John Joseph Owens still claims this is a sign of later authorship. Owens asserts, “Esther 1:19 gives the proper evolution of the rank in ‘Persians and Medes’ instead of the later view as in Daniel” (p. 415). Conservative scholars point out that the evidence contradicts this assertion (Miller, p. 181, n.54; E. J. Young, The Prophecy of Daniel, [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949], p. 127).

Daniel 6:8, 12, 15 also states that the laws made by the king could not be altered. The critic Carey Moore disputed this in his commentary on Esther (Anchor Bible, Garden city: Doubleday, 1971, pp. 10-11), but many critics will concede that Daniel was correct about this too (Hartman, p. 199; Driver, p. 7; Collins, pp. 267-268). The critic Lacocque observes: “Diodorus of Sicily (XVII, 30) in fact, reports the case of a man put to death under Darius III (336-330) even though he was known to be perfectly innocent. (Darius III) immediately repented and blamed himself for having committed such a great error, but it was impossible to have undone what had been done by royal authority” (Andre Lacocque, The Book of Daniel, Atlanta: John Knox, 1979, p. 113).

Again, Daniel was correct when he placed Susa in the province of Elam (Dan. 8:2). Dr. Gleason Archer, Jr., notes: “From the Greek and Roman historians, we learn that from Persian times Susa, or Sushan, was the capital of the province of Susiana; and Elam was restricted to the territory east of the Eulaeus River. Nevertheless, we know from cuneiform records that Sushan was part of the territory of Elam back in Chaldean times and before. It is very striking that Daniel 8:2 refers to ‘Susa in the province of Elam’­ an item of information scarcely accessible to a second-century B.C. author” (Archer, p. 19).

Daniel 4:30 quotes Nebuchadnezzar: “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” Did Nebuchadnezzar actually say these words? Archaeology seems to indicate that he did make a very similar statement: “The fortifications of Esagila and Babylon I strengthened and established the name of my reign forever” (George A. Barton, Archaeology and the Bible, Philadelphia: American Sunday School Union, 1916, p. 479). Nebuchadnezzar evidently did have a habit of boasting, which indicated that he was very prideful.

How would a Maccabean author know these details? [1] Belshazzar was ruling during the last few years of the Babylonian Empire. [2] The Babylonians executed individuals by casting them into fire, but the Persians threw the condemned to the lions. [3] The practice in the 6th Century was to mention first the Medes, then the Persians. [4] Laws made by Persian kings could not be revoked. [5] In the sixth century B.C., Susa was in the province of Elam (Dan. 8:2). [6] Nebuchadnezzar had a pride problem (Dan. 4:30) and often boasted about his great building projects.

William Sierichs, Jr., dismisses this kind of evidence, and he boldly asserts that archeology has “trashed all claims to historical accuracy for Daniel” (TSR, Vol. 9.6, p. 2, Column 1). In fact, Sierichs claims that the Persian Verse Account is destructive to the biblical view, even though it was this particular piece of evidence that told us Nabonidus entrusted “kingship” to Belshazzar. Earlier critics considered Belshazzar “a figment of the Jewish writer’s imagination” (Ferdinard Hitzig, Das Buch Daniel, Leipzig: Weidman, 1850, p. 75), but archaeology has forced the critics to abandon that position (Alan Millard, “Daniel and Belshazzar in History,” Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 1985, pp. 74-75). Even a staunch critic like J. J. Collins has admitted: “The fact that Daniel 5 preserved the name of Belshazzar suggests that the underlying tradition had its origin close to the end of the Babylonian era” (p. 33). Nevertheless, Till believes all of Daniel originated during the Maccabean period (TSR, Vol. 9.5, p. 1). However, the evidence from archaeology supports the view that the author came from early in the Persian period.

(Everette Hatcher III, P. O. Box 23416, Little Rock, AR 72221; )


Is the Bible historically accurate? Here are some of the posts I have done in the past on the subject:

1. The Babylonian Chronicle of Nebuchadnezzars Siege of Jerusalem

This clay tablet is a Babylonian chronicle recording events from 605-594BC. It was first translated in 1956 and is now in the British Museum. The cuneiform text on this clay tablet tells, among other things, 3 main events: 1. The Battle of Carchemish (famous battle for world supremacy where Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon defeated Pharoah Necho of Egypt, 605 BC.), 2. The accession to the throne of Nebuchadnezzar II, the Chaldean, and 3. The capture of Jerusalem on the 16th of March, 598 BC.

2. Hezekiah’s Siloam Tunnel Inscription.

King Hezekiah of Judah ruled from 721 to 686 BC. Fearing a siege by the Assyrian king, Sennacherib, Hezekiah preserved Jerusalem’s water supply by cutting a tunnel through 1,750 feet of solid rock from the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam inside the city walls (2 Kings 20; 2 Chron. 32). At the Siloam end of the tunnel, an inscription, presently in the archaeological museum at Istanbul, Turkey, celebrates this remarkable accomplishment.

3. Taylor Prism (Sennacherib Hexagonal Prism)

It contains the victories of Sennacherib himself, the Assyrian king who had besieged Jerusalem in 701 BC during the reign of king Hezekiah, it never mentions any defeats. On the prism Sennacherib boasts that he shut up “Hezekiah the Judahite” within Jerusalem his own royal city “like a caged bird.” This prism is among the three accounts discovered so far which have been left by the Assyrian king Sennacherib of his campaign against Israel and Judah.

4. Biblical Cities Attested Archaeologically.

In addition to Jericho, places such as Haran, Hazor, Dan, Megiddo, Shechem, Samaria, Shiloh, Gezer, Gibeah, Beth Shemesh, Beth Shean, Beersheba, Lachish, and many other urban sites have been excavated, quite apart from such larger and obvious locations as Jerusalem or Babylon. Such geographical markers are extremely significant in demonstrating that fact, not fantasy, is intended in the Old Testament historical narratives;

5. The Discovery of the Hittites

Most doubting scholars back then said that the Hittites were just a “mythical people that are only mentioned in the Bible.” Some skeptics pointed to the fact that the Bible pictures the Hittites as a very big nation that was worthy of being coalition partners with Egypt (II Kings 7:6), and these bible critics would assert that surely we would have found records of this great nation of Hittites.  The ironic thing is that when the Hittite nation was discovered, a vast amount of Hittite documents were found. Among those documents was the treaty between Ramesses II and the Hittite King.

6.Shishak Smiting His Captives

The Bible mentions that Shishak marched his troops into the land of Judah and plundered a host of cities including Jerusalem,  this has been confirmed by archaeologists. Shishak’s own record of his campaign is inscribed on the south wall of the Great Temple of Amon at Karnak in Egypt. In his campaign he presents 156 cities of Judea to his god Amon.

7. Moabite Stone

The Moabite Stone also known as the Mesha Stele is an interesting story. The Bible says in 2 Kings 3:5 that Mesha the king of Moab stopped paying tribute to Israel and rebelled and fought against Israel and later he recorded this event. This record from Mesha has been discovered.

8. Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III

The tribute of Jehu, son of Omri, silver, gold, bowls of gold, chalices of gold, cups of gold, vases of gold, lead, a sceptre for the king, and spear-shafts, I have received.”

View from the dome of the Capitol!9A Verification of places in Gospel of John and Book of Acts.

Sir William Ramsay, famed archaeologist, began a study of Asia Minor with little regard for the book of Acts. He later wrote:

I found myself brought into contact with the Book of Acts as an authority for the topography, antiquities and society of Asia Minor. It was gradually borne upon me that in various details the narrative showed marvelous truth.

9B Discovery of Ebla Tablets. When I think of discoveries like the Ebla Tablets that verify  names like Adam, Eve, Ishmael, David and Saul were in common usage when the Bible said they were, it makes me think of what amazing confirmation that is of the historical accuracy of the Bible.

10. Cyrus Cylinder

There is a well preserved cylinder seal in the Yale University Library from Cyrus which contains his commands to resettle the captive nations.

11. Puru “The lot of Yahali” 9th Century B.C.E.

This cube is inscribed with the name and titles of Yahali and a prayer: “In his year assigned to him by lot (puru) may the harvest of the land of Assyria prosper and thrive, in front of the gods Assur and Adad may his lot (puru) fall.”  It provides a prototype (the only one ever recovered) for the lots (purim) cast by Haman to fix a date for the destruction of the Jews of the Persian Empire, ostensibly in the fifth century B.C.E. (Esther 3:7; cf. 9:26).

12. The Uzziah Tablet Inscription

The Bible mentions Uzziah or Azariah as the king of the southern kingdom of Judah in 2 Kings 15. The Uzziah Tablet Inscription is a stone tablet (35 cm high x 34 cm wide x 6 cm deep) with letters inscribed in ancient Hebrew text with an Aramaic style of writing, which dates to around 30-70 AD. The text reveals the burial site of Uzziah of Judah, who died in 747 BC.

13. The Pilate Inscription

The Pilate Inscription is the only known occurrence of the name Pontius Pilate in any ancient inscription. Visitors to the Caesarea theater today see a replica, the original is in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. There have been a few bronze coins found that were struck form 29-32 AD by Pontius Pilate

14. Caiaphas Ossuary

This beautifully decorated ossuary found in the ruins of Jerusalem, contained the bones of Caiaphas, the first century AD. high priest during the time of Jesus.

14 B Pontius Pilate Part 2     

In June 1961 Italian archaeologists led by Dr. Frova were excavating an ancient Roman amphitheatre near Caesarea-on-the-Sea (Maritima) and uncovered this interesting limestone block. On the face is a monumental inscription which is part of a larger dedication to Tiberius Caesar which clearly says that it was from “Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea.”

14c. Three greatest American Archaeologists moved to accept Bible’s accuracy through archaeology.

Despite their liberal training, it was archaeological research that bolstered their confidence in the biblical text:Albright said of himself, “I must admit that I tried to be rational and empirical in my approach [but] we all have presuppositions of a philosophical order.” The same statement could be applied as easily to Gleuck and Wright, for all three were deeply imbued with the theological perceptions which infused their work.


Taken from:

Nehemiah and Jeremiah Confirmed By History

Topic#: 1055 GodSaidManSaid is a proof text.

On this site, we prove pragmatically and scholastically that God is, and that he is the author of the scriptures, and that he will hold all men accountable to that word at a soon- coming judgement day. For the believer, it is critically important to know that the scriptures are true and righteous altogether, for upon these words all that we have to do with depends. God’s glorious words are the answers to the past, the sustenance of the present, the lit path to the future, and the very literal key to eternal life in Christ Jesus. Believing these words is not just a good thing, but everything.I should note that the first and most primary proof that God is and that his word is truth is not a product of scholastic research. It is a matter of faith in Christ, repentance, a spiritual awakening from the dead, and pursuit of the cross of Calvary. This spiritual plain is superior and dominant to all other inputs combined. This revelation stands alone. God is a spirit and he created all physical things. Therefore, spirit always precedes flesh. Salvation is not joining a church, confirmation, or whatever else is offered up on the plate of sanctimony. But salvation is of the Spirit of God through the blood of Christ and there is NO OTHER WAY! Romans 8:15-16: 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: Salvation is a spiritual thing. It is accomplished spiritually and confirmed spiritually, separate from carnal rationale. Some would then ask, “What is the purpose of this website?” GodSaidManSaid stands in defense of the gospel as we are directed (Philippians 1:17). We strive to prove all things as we are commanded (I Thessalonians 5:21), that we might convince the gainsayers (Titus 1:9), and arm the saints with faith-building information — info that contends for the faith (Jude 1:3).Have you yet to cry out unto God for mercy? Have you been born again? Are you ready to shed the confusion and shame of this life? Are you ready for a brand-new beginning full of hope and promise of a single mind? I have good news for you. Today is the day of salvation. Click onto “Further With Jesus” right now. It will be your doorway to eternal life. Do it now. We’ll wait for you. Now for today’s subject.GodSaidManSaid follows a four-step proof text: 1. God’s word is a supremely accurate history book. We establish its bona fides via archaeology, paleontology, and ancient historical records.2. God’s word is supernaturally authored by the Spirit of God. Prophecy and the laws of probability are incorporated to establish the divine authenticity of the scriptures beyond any reasonable doubt.3. God’s word is inerrant and correct in all issues of life: temporal and eternal. A category on the navigation bar on the left is “GodSaidManSaid — The Record.” The name of this website is derived from this section. We declare God’s position on a wide range of issues, from honey to witchcraft. We then report the consequences man has endured as a result of his disobedience. Thus, “God Said, Man Said, The Record.”4. God’s word is supremely accurate regarding the historicity of Jesus Christ. Ancient, non-biblical records and histories confirm the account of the New Testament. GOD SAID, Psalms 19:9: The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. GOD SAID, Psalms 119:160: Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever. MAN SAID: The Old Testament is not a reliable account of the past, but simply the rants of old men given to hyperbole.Now THE RECORD. The historical skeptics constantly challenge the veracity of God’s word, but as in all situations, the challengers are found to be in error, or more poignantly, as Proverbs 30:6states, Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. Archaeologists continue to certify the historical record of the word of God. The following excerpts are from the International Jerusalem Postunder the heading, “Seal of First Temple servants found in Jerusalem.” Note that the temple mentioned in the article was built by King Solomon, the son of King David, nearly 3,000 years ago. A stone seal bearing the name of one of the families who acted as servants in the First Temple and then returned to Jerusalem after being exiled to Babylonia has been uncovered in an archeological excavation in Jerusalem’s City of David, a prominent Israeli archeologist said on January 16. The 2,500-year-old black stone seal, which has the name “Temech” engraved on it, was found last week amid stratified debris in the excavation under way just outside the Old City walls near the Dung Gate, said archeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar, who is leading the dig.According to the Book of Nehemiah, the Temech family were servants of the First Temple and were sent into exile to Babylon following its destruction by the Babylonians in 586 BC.The family was among those who later returned to Jerusalem, the Bible recounts.The Bible refers to the Temech family: “These are the children of the province, that went up out of the captivity, of those that had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away, and came again to Jerusalem and to Judah, every one unto his city.” [Nehemiah 7:6]… “The Nethinim [7:46]”… The children of Temech.” [7:55].”The seal of the Temech family gives us a direct connection between archeology and the biblical sources and serves as actual evidence of a family mentioned in the Bible,” she said. “One cannot help being astonished by the credibility of the biblical source as seen by the archaeological find.”The find was officially announced by Mazar at the eighth annual Herzliya Conference on January 20.The archeologist, who rose to international prominence for her recent excavation that may have uncovered King David’s palace, most recently uncovered the remants of a wall from Nehemiah’s time. [End of quote] The next account is from the January-February 2008 issue of the periodical, Archaeology. The headline reads, “Nebo-Sarsekim Tablet, The British Museum, UK:” Last June, Austrian Assyriologist Michael Jursa was doing what he has done since 1991, poring over the more than 100,000 undeciphered cuneiform tablets in the British Museum. But while analyzing records from the Babylonian city of Sippar, he made a startling discovery with Biblical implications. It came in the unlikely form of a tablet noting a one-and-a-half pound gold donation to a temple made by an official, or “chief eunuch,” Nebo-Sarsekim. “At first I was just pleased to have found a reference to the title ’chief eunuch,’ as these officials are mentioned very rarely in the sources,” says Jursa. “Then it suddenly came to me that this text was very close chronologically to an episode narrated in Jeremiah 39 in which Nebo-Sarsekim is mentioned, and that I might actually have found the very man. So then I got quite excited and instantly went and checked (and double-checked) the exact spelling of the name in the Hebrew Bible and saw that it matched what I had found in the Babylonian text!”The tablet is dated 595 B.C., the ninth year of Nebuchadnezzar II’s reign. The Book of Jeremiah relates that after Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem in 587 B.C., he committed the prophet Jeremiah to Nebo-Sarsekim’s care.”It is so incredibly rare to find people appearing in the Bible, who are not kings, mentioned elsewhere,” says Jursa. “Something like this tablet, where we see a person mentioned in the Bible making an everyday payment to the temple in Babylon and quoting the exact date, is quite extraordinary.” [End of quote] The Babylonian, Mr. Sarsechim, is listed in Jeremiah 39:3. I must mention that the Masoretic Text of the King James Version does not show him as the one given charge over Jeremiah (Jeremiah 39:11), but the point of the author is still valid. Sarsechim is recorded in the scriptures and ancient Babylonian records, as well.God’s word is a reliable history book.GOD SAID, Psalms 19:9: The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. GOD SAID, Psalms 119:160: Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever. MAN SAID: The Old Testament is not a reliable account of the past, but simply the rants of old men given to hyperbole.Now you have THE RECORD.References:Authorized King James VersionLefkovits, E., “Seal of First Temple servants found in Jerusalem,” International Jerusalem Post, January 25-31, 2008, p9Sexton, L., “Nebo-Sarsekim Tablet,” Archaeology, Jan./Feb. 2008, p24 –

Women at Belshazzar’s Feast

Taken from:


That the king and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink  therein – Nothing is too sacred to be profaned when men are under the influence  of wine. They do not hesitate to desecrate the holiest things, and vessels taken  from the altar of God are regarded with as little reverence as any other. It  would seem that Nebuchadnezzar had some respect for these vessels, as having  been employed in the purposes of religion; at least so much respect as to lay  them up as trophies of victory, and that this respect had been shown for them  under the reign of his successors, until the exciting scenes of this “impious  feast” occurred, when all veneration for them vanished. It was not very common  for females in the East to be present at such festivals as this, but it would  seem that all the usual restraints of propriety and decency came to be  disregarded as the feast advanced. The “wives and concubines” were probably not  present when the feast began, for it was made for “his lords” Daniel 5:1; but when the scenes of revelry had  advanced so far that it was proposed to introduce the sacred vessels of the  temple, it would not be unnatural to propose also to introduce the females of  the court.

A similar instance is related in the book of Esther. In the feast which  Ahasuerus gave, it is said that “on the seventh day, when the heart of the king  was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, etc., the seven chamberlains  that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king, to bring Vashti the queen  before the king with the crown royal, to show the people and the princes her  beauty,” etc. Esther 1:10-11. Compare Joseph.  “Ant.” b. xi. ch. 6: Section 1. The females that were thus introduced to the  banquet were those of the harem, yet it would seem that she who was usually  called “the queen” by way of eminence, or the queen-mother (compare the note at Esther 5:10), was not among them at this time.  The females in the court of an Oriental monarch were divided into two classes;  those who were properly concubines, and who had none of the privileges of a  wife; and those of a higher class, and who were spoken of as wives, and to whom  pertained the privileges of that relation. Among the latter, also, in the court  of a king, it would seem that there was one to whom properly belonged the  appellation of “queen;” that is, probably, a favorite wife whose children were  heirs to the crown. See Bertholdt, in loc. Compare 2 Samuel 5:13; 1 Kings  11:3; Sol 6:8.


The Similarities Between the Books of Daniel and Esther

by Gretchen S.

The books of Daniel and Esther have much in common. These commonalities include the overall genre of the successful courtier, the slander of a Jew (or all Jews), the triumph of the main character, and other parallels between the texts. This is not to say that the stories are wholly the same, only that they share much in common. The common themes in Daniel and Esther can tell a great deal about the Jewish people of the time. The timelessness of the two books indicates that the themes continue to have relevance for the Jewish people.The stories start similarly for the two main characters. Daniel was taken into the court of the Babylonian king, with a number of other Judean youths. “Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, his chief officer, to bring some Israelites of royal descent and of the nobility–youths without blemish, handsome, proficient in all wisdom, knowledgeable and intelligent, and capable of serving in the royal palace” (Daniel 1:3-4).1 They were to be groomed to be advisors to the king. A similar thing happened to the Jewess, Hadassah, who was taken into the palace of King Ahasuerus along with other virgins of his kingdom as a candidate to be his new wife (Esther 2). Both were renamed with non-Jewish names. Daniel was renamed Belteshazzar, and his 3 friends were also given Babylonian names. Hadassah was given the name Esther, a name by which most people remember her, and by which her book is known.Having both been taken into the palace of the king, they were supplied with what they will need to fulfill their role in the palace. For Daniel and his three friends, this meant food, training in Aramaic, and writing. “Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the king’s food or the wine he drank, so he sought permission of the chief officer not to defile himself, and God disposed the chief officer to be kind and compassionate toward Daniel.” (Daniel 1:8-9). Esther, though she did not ask for anything, was given the perfume, make-up, and beauty treatments needed for her role by the eunuch in charge (Esther 2:8-9 and 2:15). Daniel’s resistance was an active one, while Esther’s was one of passivity. She did not ask for anything with which to beautify herself; it had to be given to her by the chief eunuch. Even though they resisted in their own ways, they both found favor in the eyes of those who are charged to making them ready (Daniel 1:9 and Esther 2:8).Having been well prepared, both Daniel and his three companions, and Esther, were taken into the presence of their respective kings. “Whenever the king put a question to them requiring wisdom and understanding, he found them to be ten times better than all the magicians and exorcists throughout his realm.” (Daniel 1:20). “The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she won his grace and favor more than all the virgins. So he set a royal diadem on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.” (Esther 2:17). All of them found favor in the eyes of the kings involved. They, like Joseph before them, became successful courtiers.Esther’s uncle, Mordecai, became involved in the politics of the court just as Daniel did, when he saved the king from a plot against his life by Bigthan and Teresh (Esther 2:21-23). Daniel was called in to interpret a dream, and in doing so not only helped the king, he also saved the lives of his three companions and himself as chapter 2 of Daniel discusses. Daniel was well rewarded for his dream interpretation: “The king then elevated Daniel and gave him very many gifts, and made him governor of the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect of all the wise men of Babylon.” (Daniel 2:48). While Mordecai was not rewarded immediately, the king did eventually reward him. Haman (boo), in Esther 6:7-9, advised the king: “For the man whom the king desires to honor, let royal garb which the king has worn be brought, and a horse on which the king has ridden and on whose head a royal diadem has been set; and let the attire and the horse be put in the charge of one of the king’s noble courtiers. And let the man whom the king desires to honor be attired and paraded on the horse through the city square, while they proclaim before him: This is what is done for the man whom the king desires to honor!” Haman himself, who had planned on having Mordecai impaled, instead had to lead Mordecai around on the king’s horse dressed in royal clothing. Similarly, Daniel was arrayed in clothing of the royal purple in Daniel 5:22. “Then, at Belshazzar’s command, they clothed Daniel in purple, placed a golden chain on his neck, and proclaimed that he should rule as one of three in the kingdom.”The Book of Daniel describes an episode of slander against the Jews in general, and later, Daniel in particular. Chapter three of Daniel tells about the statue of Nebuchadnezzar and the law that was made requiring all the people of Babylon to bow down and worship the statue. Those who did not do so, were to be thrown in a fiery furnace. “Seizing the occasion, certain Chaldeans came forward to slander the Jews” (Daniel 3:8). Though their goal was to take power away from Daniel’s three companions, as verse 3:12 makes clear, they had slandered all of the Jews. Later, in Daniel 6:6-18, other men sought to slander and entrap Daniel himself. A law–made this time by Darius at the instigation of the men–made it illegal to bow down to anyone but Darius for thirty days. The men asked for this law to be made to entrap Daniel, who they knew prayed to G-d three times a day, bowing down to Him. They also knew that a law, once written by Darius, could not be revoked. Similarly, “When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel or bow low to him, Haman was filled with rage. But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone; having been told who Mordecai’s people were, Haman plotted to do away with all the Jews, Mordecai’s people, throughout the kingdom of Ahasuerus.” (Esther 3:5-6). This is similar to the two cases in Daniel, where both Daniel and his three companions refused to bow down to kings or statues of kings and worship them. Granted, Haman (hiss) was not asking to be worshiped, but he was asking Mordecai to bow down to him. Haman approached the king, saying (Esther 3:8) “There is a certain people, scattered and dispersed among the other peoples in all the provinces of your realm, whose laws are different from those of any other people and who do not obey the king’s laws; and it is not in Your Majesty’s interest to tolerate them.” Haman thus convinced Ahasuerus to write a law that will allow for the massacre of all Jews in the kingdom on a day selected by lots; again, this law cannot be revoked by the king.Those people who are threatened were saved miraculously in all three cases. An angel rescued Hannaniah, Mishial, and Azuria from the fiery furnace. Another angel closed up the lions’ mouths, saving Daniel. Both of these stories in Daniel end with the instigators, those trying to kill the heroes, themselves being killed or executed. The heros are elevated. Esther’s story has the instigator, Haman (boo) executed, on the very same stakes on which he had planned to impale Mordecai.. The survival of the Jews of Persia in the story of Esther was a bit more complex, but nonetheless, it had a miraculous element about it. Esther put her own life in jeopardy to save the lives of her people. She found favor in the eyes of her king who, though unable to rescind the law, wrote another law allowing the Jews to defend themselves. Miraculously, no Jewish lives were lost, while those who wanted to annihilate them were all killed.After the incident with Daniel’s three friends, Nebuchadnezzer made a proclamation: “King Nebuchadnezzar to all people and nations of every language that inhabit the whole earth: May your well-being abound! The signs and wonders that the Most High G-d has worked for me I am pleased to relate. How great are His signs; how mighty His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion endures throughout the generations.” (Daniel 3:31-33) Similarly, a proclamation was made in the book of Esther. This proclamation, like the whole book of Esther, made no mention of G-d. Esther 8:9 says, “So the king’s scribes were summoned at that time, on the twenty-third day of the third month, that is, the month of Sivan; and letters were written, at Mordecai’s dictation, to the Jews and to the satraps, the governors and the officials of the one hundred and twenty-seven provinces from India to Ethiopia: to every province in its own script and to every people in its own language, and to the Jews in their own script and language…” This proclamation gave all of the Jews permission to defend themselves. Both the proclamation in Daniel and the one in Esther went out to all nations and all tongues under the rule of the respective kings.Chapter five of Daniel talks about a party that Belshazzar hosted. During this party, under the influence of wine, “Belshazzar ordered the gold and silver vessels that his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple at Jerusalem to be brought so that the king and his nobles, his consorts, and his concubines could drink from them.” (Daniel 5:2). This is similar to very first chapter of Esther, where it says in verse 7: “Royal wine was served in abundance, as befits a king, in golden beakers, beakers of varied design.” Though the verse does not say that the beakers are the same ones Belshazzar uses, it certainly seems likely.The fortress of Shushan, the main setting for the book of Esther, is also mentioned in the book of Daniel in chapter eight, verse two. “I saw in the vision–at the time I saw it I was in the fortress of Shushan, in the province of Elam–I saw in the vision that I was beside the Ulai River.” The king in Megillat Esther is King Ahasuerus. After Belshazzar’s death, Darius the Mede, became king.



End Notes

1 All quotes from the Tanakh are taken from Tanakh, The Holy Scriptures. Philadelphia, Jerusalem: Jewish Publication Society, 1985.2 This is based on the table of kings in: Louis F. Harman, C.SS.R., The Anchor Bible: The Book of Daniel, Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, 1998, p 30.



Tanakh, The Holy Scriptures. Philadelphia, Jerusalem: Jewish Publication Society, 1985.Louis F. Harman, C.SS.R., The Anchor Bible: The Book of Daniel, Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, 1998, p 30.


Taken from:

The End Times

The account of Jesus being wrong about his prophecies was actually misinterpreted to mean what it literally meant but he actually meant the Destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. By the Romans.


Jesus and the end times by Dr. Brant Pitre

In the Bible Jesus says:

Immediately after the tribulation of those days… they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heavenwith power and  great glory… Amen I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all these things take place.(Matthew 24:30, 34)

Many believed  Jesus to be wrong in saying that and because of that they thought that Jesus in the words of Albert Schweitzer “A false Apocalyptic prophet”. Also C.S. Lewis believed it to be “the most embarrassing verse in the Bible”. They believed this because of the way David describe a false prophet (see Deut 18:19-22)

Earlier Jesus says to the disciples after they point out the temple,

“You see all these, do you not? Amen, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone uponanother, that will not be thrown down.”  As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying,“Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” (Matthew 24:1-3) The account of Jesus being wrong about his prophecies was actually misinterpreted to mean what it literally meant but he actually meant the Destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. By the Romans.


Taken from:

The Beloved Daniel and Saint John Are Alike

Taken from:


Dr. W. A. Criswell

Our Lord loved and read and studied and knew the Book of Daniel. I picked out six times where the Lord referred to the Book of Daniel. And, by name in the apocalyptic chapter, Matthew 24, where He refers to the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel, the prophet; speaking of him by name. When the apostle Paul was in his last incarceration, just before he died, in the fourth chapter of 2 Timothy, he referred to being delivered out of the mouth of the lion, such as was Daniel. In the list of heroes, the heroes of the faith in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, Daniel is mentioned: “Who by faith stopped the mouths of lions.” But upon all of those who followed after Daniel was the influence of the prophet not greater than upon John the seer, to whom God gave the vision of the Revelation. You will find so much of Daniel in the Revelation. And without an understanding of Daniel, you cannot understand the Revelation.

Now the Revelation, the Apocalypse, was an unveiling that God gave to Jesus, and through Him and the angel to the apostle John, to us here in the Bible. But from the heavenly point of view, the same One that revealed the vision to Daniel revealed the vision to John. And, of course, much of the nomenclature, the language, the thought, the truth, the revelation would be the same because the same Author did it. But from the earthly point of view, the Book of Daniel is so much in Revelation. And as you read Daniel, you will find it in the Revelation, and that’s why the comparison of the two books in the introductory message this morning.

First, we shall compare the two men. They were favored of heaven. They were loved of God, of men and of angels. Three times Daniel is referred to as “O man, greatly beloved.” And five times in the Gospel of John is John referred to as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Favored of God, both men were given the privilege of seeing the sweep of history until the consummation of the age. Again, both men wrote apocalyptically. Daniel is unique among the authors of the Old Testament. John is unique among the authors of the New Testament, for both men wrote apocalyptically. Daniel is the apocalypse of the Old Testament; and the Revelation is the apocalypse of the New Testament. Apocalyptic writing is a vehicle by which the message of God unfolding the future is presented in visions and in signs and in symbols. And the things we read in the Book have a great meaning beyond themselves. We shall illustrate that in a moment.

Now, a third thing about the men: they both wrote and saw their visions in exile. Daniel was an exile in Babylon. And John was an exile on the lonely Isle of Patmos. And, while both men were exiled away from home, God showed them those marvelous visions of what the Lord purposes for His people in the future. The saints shall inherit the earth: so Daniel; so says John.

All right, a fourth thing; the books the men wrote are books of prophecy, and that is all-important in our study and in our remembrance. They are books of prophecy. For example, five times in the Revelation is the book referred to as a book of prophecy. Look at this, in the third verse you just read: “Blessed is he that readeth and they that hear the words of this prophecy” [Revelation 1:3]. That is, the things in them have a meaning beyond themselves. The books are books of prophecy. And when I study the book, when I read it, I am to remember that God has a message in it beyond what is in the syllable or sentence itself. In the Revelation, for example, the Lord sends messages to the seven churches of Asia. Were there just seven churches in Asia? Why, no. There are far, far more churches than seven in Asia, the Roman province of Asia. Right across the Lycus River from Laodicea was one of the famous churches of all time, the church at Hierapolis. The pastor of it was Papias, a disciple of John and a friend of Polycarp, who was the pastor at Smyrna. But Hierapolis is not named, nor dozens of others.

Well, why those seven? Because they are vehicles of a great revelation from God; they are prophetic. They are prophetic churches. They are used and they stand for something meaningful and significant far beyond their own day and hour. And in the case of the seven churches of Asia, they represent this prophetic unfoldings of the future. There is an Ephesian period in the history of the church. There is a Smyrnan period. There is a Pergamean period. There is a Thyatiran period. There is a Sardinian period. There is a Philadelphian period. There is a Laodicean period of the church. And, beyond what you read, is a great meaning and message from God. John was so given to that.

In the Gospel of John, for example, John never uses the word “miracle”—para dunamis—never. Always it was the semeion, “signs.” That is, what he saw Jesus do represented something far beyond the thing itself. When He turned the water into wine, there were foot tubs there made out of stone, and they were filled according to the law. They were filled, then they drew out and took to the governor of the feast. That is, Jesus fulfilled the old Law, all of it, and now, in liberty, in grace, “for the Law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” [John 1:17]. This is a new love. It’s a new freedom. It’s a new dedication. It’s a new revelation. This is the Christian faith. It is not legal, that was filled. Ah, we have a new religion and a new life in Christ. John saw that in the miracle, and he calls it a semeion: a sign. Opening the eyes of the blind: a gracious deed; but all beyond, Jesus is the light of the world. Or the raising of Lazarus from the dead: a man resuscitated, yes, but that’s incidental. The great thing is the semeion, the sign. He is the resurrection and the life. Now, when I read then the book of prophecy, I am to understand that beyond the page, beyond the actual thing itself, there is a great revelation of God, a prophetic overtone. Now, when I turn to the Book of Daniel, beyond what I read, I am to see, I am to understand, I am to sense the great profound meaning that God is speaking to our hearts and revealing to us.

Now, the Book of Daniel is divided in two. The first six chapters are historical. The last six chapters are prophecies as such. But remember, all of it is a book of prophecy. Like the Revelation, the first part of it to the churches of Asia, but that is a prophecy; the second part, the tribulation period, but that a prophecy. So it is in the Book of Daniel. The first six chapters: historical. They are prophetic as well as the last six chapters. So, when I look at the Book of Daniel and turn to the first chapter, here is the captivity of Daniel and his friends. It is a picture of the diaspora, the captivity, the scattering abroad of God’s people.


“Writing on the Wall”. Creedence Clearwater Revival

Did you hear ’em talkin’ ’bout it on the radio Did you try to read the writing on the wall Did that voice inside you say I’ve heard it all before It’s like Deja Vu all over againDay by day I hear the voices rising Started with a whisper like it did before Day by day we count the dead and dying Ship the bodies back home while the networks all keep scoreDid you hear ’em talin’ ’bout it on the radio Could you’re eyes belive the writing on the wall Did that voice inside you say I’ve heard it all before It’s like Deja Vu all over again

One by one I see the old ghosts rising Stumblin’ ‘cross Big Muddy Where the light gets dim Day after day another Mamma’s crying She’s lost her precious Child To a war that has no end

Did you hear ’em talin’ ’bout it on the radio Did you stop to read the writing at the wall Did that voice inside you say I’ve seen this all before It’s like Deja Vu all over again It’s like Deja Vu all over again


Daniel 5

New International Version (NIV)

Daniel 5

The Writing on the Wall

1 King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them. 2 While Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father[a] had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them. 3 So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them. 4As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone. 5 Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. 6His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his legs became weak and his knees were knocking.

7 The king summoned the enchanters, astrologers[b]and diviners. Then he said to these wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing and tells me what it means will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around his neck, and he will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”

8 Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or tell the king what it meant. 9So King Belshazzar became even more terrified and his face grew more pale. His nobles were baffled.

10 The queen,[c] hearing the voices of the king and his nobles, came into the banquet hall. “May the king live forever!” she said. “Don’t be alarmed! Don’t look so pale! 11 There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. In the time of your father he was found to have insight and intelligence and wisdom like that of the gods. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners. 12He did this because Daniel, whom the king called Belteshazzar, was found to have a keen mind and knowledge and understanding, and also the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems. Call for Daniel, and he will tell you what the writing means.”

13 So Daniel was brought before the king, and the king said to him, “Are you Daniel, one of the exiles my father the king brought from Judah? 14 I have heard that the spirit of the gods is in you and that you have insight, intelligence and outstanding wisdom. 15 The wise men and enchanters were brought before me to read this writing and tell me what it means, but they could not explain it. 16Now I have heard that you are able to give interpretations and to solve difficult problems. If you can read this writing and tell me what it means, you will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around your neck, and you will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”

17Then Daniel answered the king, “You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else. Nevertheless, I will read the writing for the king and tell him what it means.

18 “Your Majesty, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and greatness and glory and splendor. 19 Because of the high position he gave him, all the nations and peoples of every language dreaded and feared him. Those the king wanted to put to death, he put to death; those he wanted to spare, he spared; those he wanted to promote, he promoted; and those he wanted to humble, he humbled. 20 But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory. 21He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like the ox; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and sets over them anyone he wishes.

22 “But you, Belshazzar, his son,[d] have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this. 23 Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways. 24Therefore he sent the hand that wrote the inscription.

25“This is the inscription that was written:


26“Here is what these words mean:

Mene[e]: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.

27 Tekel[f]: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.

28 Peres[g]: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”

29Then at Belshazzar’s command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom.

30 That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians,[h] was slain, 31 and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two.[i]


  1. Daniel 5:2 Or ancestor; or predecessor; also in verses 11, 13 and 18
  2. Daniel 5:7 Or Chaldeans; also in verse 11
  3. Daniel 5:10 Or queen mother
  4. Daniel 5:22 Or descendant; or successor
  5. Daniel 5:26 Mene can mean numbered or mina (a unit of money).
  6. Daniel 5:27 Tekel can mean weighed or shekel.
  7. Daniel 5:28 Peres (the singular of Parsin) can mean divided or Persia or a half mina or a half shekel.
  8. Daniel 5:30 Or Chaldeans
  9. Daniel 5:31 In Aramaic texts this verse (5:31) is numbered 6:1.

Louis Armstrong – The Story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

There was three children from the land of Israel . . Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego Took a trip to the land of Babylon Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Babylon He took a lot of gold and made an idol And he told everybody when you hear the music of the cornet And he told everybody when you hear the music of the flute And he told everybody when you hear the music of the horn You must fall down and worship the idol But the children of Israel would not bow down Wouldn’t fool em with a golden idol I said you couldn’t fool em with a golden idol

So the king put the children in a fiery furnace He thrown coal and red-hot brimestone Seven times hotter hotter than it oughta be Burned up the soldiers that the king had put there But the Lord sent an angel with the snowy white wings Down in the middle of the furnace Talking to the children about the power of the gospel Well they couldn’t even burn a hair on the head of Shadrach Laughing and talking while the fire is jumping around Old Nebuchadnezzar called “Hey there!” when he saw the power of the Lord And they had a big time in the house of Babylon.

Taken from: