Damien F. Mackey
“Then 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”.
According to my new arrangement of the Neo-Babylonian dynasty, which – arguing for certain duplications in the sequence – involves an approximate halving of the number of kings conventionally listed:
the dynasty now shapes up somewhat like this:
- Nabu-kudurri-usur II = Nabonidus
- Amel-Marduk = Neriglissar = Belshazzar
- Some of the benefits of this, albeit yet tentative, restructuring, are that:
- Nabonidus, considered by various scholars to have been the true paradigm for Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar”, is now to be identified with Nebuchednezzar II;
- Belshazzar (Belsharezer), who is the similarly-named Neriglissar (Nergalsharezer), now becomes a king (as Neriglissar undoubtedly was);
- Belshazzar (= Amel-Marduk = Neriglissar) is the last king of the dynasty, as according to Daniel; and
- Belshazzar is immediately followed by the Medo-Persians.
How it all works out
in relation to Daniel
King Belshazzar is now the Amel-Marduk (Awel-Marduk or Evil Merodach) who raised up the captive Judaean king, Jehoiachin (Coniah) (2 Kings 25:27-30):
And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, that Evilmerodach king of Babylon in the year that he began to reign did lift up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah out of prison;
And he spake kindly to him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon;
And changed his prison garments: and he did eat bread continually before him all the days of his life.
And his allowance was a continual allowance given him of the king, a daily rate for every day, all the days of his life.
Clearly, King Belshazzar (as Amel-Marduk) had made Jehoiachin second to himself, having “set [Jehoiachin’s] throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon”. Considering the short reign of Belshazzar as Amel-Marduk (c. 562-560 BC), and as Daniel’s Belshazzar (8:1): “In the third year of King Belshazzar’s reign, I, Daniel, had a vision, after the one that had already appeared to me”, a mere 2-3 years, Jehoiachin would presumably still have been second in the kingdom at the time of “Belshazzar’s Feast” (Daniel 5:1-29). The best that Daniel could be given, therefore, was “the third highest ruler in the kingdom”.
First: King Belshazzar;
But the blasphemous numero uno would promptly lose his place at the top, for we read (5:30): “That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain …”.
His replacement at the top? V. 31: “And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old”.
Presumably Jehoiachin retained a high place. He was the conspiratorial Haman of the Book of Esther, according to my:
Darius the Mede, though, appears to have employed a different system of government (Daniel 6:1-3):
It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.
Daniel may have died about this time, and that would have opened the door wide for the advancement, again, of Jehoiachin, now as Haman. And so Darius the Mede, the “Ahasuerus” of the Book of Esther (3:1): “…promoted Haman … the son of Hammedatha, and advanced him and set his throne above all the officials who were with him”.