Ahasuerus/Artaxerxes in Book of Ezra and Ahasuerus/Artaxerxes in Book of Esther

 Queen Esther's Banquet, by Lilian Broca

 

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

 Is this the one, same king?

 

 

For some more background to this article, see my:

 

The Persian Kings in Ezra 4

 

https://www.academia.edu/24829936/The_Persian_Kings_in_Ezra_4

 

 

The Book of Esther provides us with a Great King who is variously called “Ahasuerus” and “Artaxerxes”. I have identified him as both “Darius the Mede” and Cyrus:

 

Is the Book of Esther a Real History? Part Three: “King Ahasuerus”

 

https://www.academia.edu/24698760/Is_the_Book_of_Esther_a_Real_History_Part_Three_King_Ahasuerus_

 

I concluded this article with:

 

According to my radical truncating of the number of Chaldean kings of this era, Nebuchednezzar II’s son, Evil-Merodach (or Awel-Marduk), was the last of the rulers of this dynasty – and he was the same person as Belshazzar:

 

Neo-Babylonian Dynasty Needs ‘Hem Taken Up’. Part One (b): Evil-Merodach is Belshazzar

 

https://www.academia.edu/23926437/Neo-Babylonian_Dynasty_Needs_Hem_Taken_Up._Part_One_b_Evil-Merodach_is_Belshazzar

 

Hence it is likely that the Medo-Persian king who succeeded Belshazzar, “Darius the Mede” – who I believe to have been Cyrus himself (see e.g.):

 

Darius the Mede “Received the Kingdom”

 

https://www.academia.edu/24307028/Darius_the_Mede_Received_the_Kingdom_

 

was the Great King “Ahasuerus” (“Artaxerxes”), whose wife Queen Esther was.

 

[End of quote]

 

 

Now, the description of Ezra’s king Ahasuerus/Artaxerxes fits tolerably well with what we learn about the Great King of the same names in the drama of Esther, supplemented with parts of the Book of Daniel.

Apart from Mordecai’s dream, in the second year of Ahasuerus, we do not engage the reign of the Great King until his third year of reign (Esther 1:3), when he was in high celebratory mode.

Likely earlier than this incident was that of Ezra 4:6: “And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem”.

However, that King Ahasuerus had severe trouble early in his reign is apparent from a comparison of Daniel 6 (in which he is called “Darius the Mede”) and, more emphatically, Bel and the Dragon (in which he is called “Cyrus of Persia”):

 

Daniel 6:24: “At the king’s command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children”.

 

Bel and the Dragon (1:28-30): “When they of Babylon heard that, they took great indignation, and conspired against the king, saying, The king is become a Jew, and he hath destroyed Bel, he hath slain the dragon, and put the priests to death. So they came to the king, and said, Deliver us Daniel, or else we will destroy thee and thine house. Now when the king saw that they pressed him sore, being constrained, he delivered Daniel unto them …”.

 

This conspiracy against the king could well pertain to the conspiracy that Mordecai uncovered (Esther 2:21-23): “Once, while Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigsan and Seresh, two officers of the king’s night guards, became angry at the king, and they conspired to poison the king. Mordecai found out about it, so he told Queen Esther, and Esther told it to the king, citing Mordecai as her source. They investigated the matter, and it was verified, and they were both hanged on gallows. It was then recorded in the royal book of chronicles”.

When we move on to Ezra 4’s account of “Artaxerxes”, we encounter a name, “Bishlam”, or other variations, that is not unlike that of the conspirator, “Bigsan”, or other variations (e.g. “Bigthan”).

  1. Clines (Esther Scroll: https://books.google.com.au/books?id=PBediPzesQ0) has put forward “the supposition that Haman was himself implicated in the conspiracy of [Bigthan and Teresh] which Mordecai uncovered, as is suggested by both the Greek versions …”.

Ezra continues:

 

In the days of Artaxerxes, Bishlam and Mithredath and Tabeel and the rest of their associates wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia. The letter was written in Aramaic and translated. Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king as follows: Rehum the commander, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their associates, the judges, the governors, the officials, the Persians, the men of Erech, the Babylonians, the men of Susa, that is, the Elamites, and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Osnappar deported and settled in the cities of Samaria and in the rest of the province Beyond the River. (This is a copy of the letter that they sent.) “To Artaxerxes the king: Your servants, the men of the province Beyond the River, send greeting. And now be it known to the king that the Jews who came up from you to us have gone to Jerusalem. They are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city. They are finishing the walls and repairing the foundations. Now be it known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and the walls finished, they will not pay tribute, custom, or toll, and the royal revenue will be impaired. Now because we eat the salt of the palace and it is not fitting for us to witness the king’s dishonor, therefore we send and inform the king, in order that search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers. You will find in the book of the records and learn that this city is a rebellious city, hurtful to kings and provinces, and that sedition was stirred up in it from of old. That was why this city was laid waste. We make known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and its walls finished, you will then have no possession in the province Beyond the River.”

 

Similarly, Haman informs Ahasuerus/Artaxerxes of this allegedly rebellious and lawless people (Esther 3:8-9): “There is a nation scattered and separated among the nations throughout your empire. Their laws are different than everyone else’s, they do not obey the king’s laws, and it does not pay for the king to tolerate their existence. If it pleases the king, let a law be written that they be destroyed, and I will pay to the executors ten thousand silver Kikar-coins for the king’s treasury”.

And Queen Esther, in her prayer, would note that (vv. 19-20) “… our enemies are no longer satisfied just to see us in slavery. They have made a solemn promise to their idols not only to destroy the people who praise you, but to do away with your Law and to remove forever the glory of your house and altar”.

That is just what the enemies of the Jews were intending in the Ezran drama.

And, just as Ahasuerus/Artaxerxes will respond to this accusation (Esther 3:9-10): “The king removed his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, persecutor of the Jews. The king said to Haman, ‘Keep the money, and do whatever you want with that nation’,” so, too, did he, in Ezra, harken to Rehum and his crew (4:17-23):

 

The king sent an answer: ‘To Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe and the rest of their associates who live in Samaria and in the rest of the province Beyond the River, greeting. And now the letter that you sent to us has been plainly read before me. And I made a decree, and search has been made, and it has been found that this city from of old has risen against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been made in it. And mighty kings have been over Jerusalem, who ruled over the whole province Beyond the River, to whom tribute, custom, and toll were paid. Therefore make a decree that these men be made to cease, and that this city be not rebuilt, until a decree is made by me. And take care not to be slack in this matter. Why should damage grow to the hurt of the king?”

Then, when the copy of King Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum and Shimshai the scribe and their associates, they went in haste to the Jews at Jerusalem and by force and power made them cease.

 

Haman’s hypocritical ‘concern’ that “… it does not pay for the king to tolerate” the Jews, may echo the rebels’ feigned solidarity: “Why should damage grow to the hurt of the king?”

That the Great King should not suffer loss seems to be a rather common sentiment throughout the Book of Esther.

 

 

 

 

 

“King Ahasuerus” of Book of Esther

Esther enters King Ahasuerus’ court dressed in her royal finery  

by

Damien F. Mackey

 

  

So far we have concluded, following Jewish legend, that the conspiratorial Haman of the Book of Esther was himself a Jew, and that he was the captive king, Jehoiachin (Coniah).

Jehoiachin’s late exaltation by King Evil-Merodach, son-successor of Nebuchednezzar II, was only the prelude to his attaining the very high status that was afforded him, as Haman, by “King Ahasuerus” of Esther, who must therefore have closely followed Evil-Merodach.  

  

 

Who Was “King Ahasuerus”?

 

At the commencement of my:

 

Is the Book of Esther a Real History? Part Two

 

https://www.academia.edu/23062155/Is_the_Book_of_Esther_a_Real_History_Part_Two

 

I summed up as follows my reconstruction to that point:

 

So far I have concluded, based on some compelling Jewish legends, that Haman of the Book of Esther was actually a Jew, not an Amalekite (etc.), and that he was in fact King Jehoiachin. And that the opinion that he was an Agagite, or an Amalekite (Greek: Amali̱kíti̱s) may have arisen from Jehoiachin’s chief epithet, “Captive” (Greek: aichmálo̱tos), of similar phonetics.

With the evil king Jehoiachin as the wicked Haman, then the next logical step – as it had previously seemed to me – was that the exaltation of Jehoiachin by king Evil-Merodach (usually considered to have been the Chaldean son and successor of Nebuchednezzar II), as related in 2 Kings 25:27-28, must resonate with the exaltation of Haman by king “Ahasuerus” (Esther 3:1). And so I had concluded that Evil-Merodach was the long sought for king “Ahasuerus”. Hardly a good fit.

Better to conclude that, whereas Evil-Merodach had exalted Jehoiachin “in the year that he began to reign”, “Ahasuerus” appears to have raised up Haman some time after his wedding, in his 7th year (cf. Esther 2:16 and 3:1).

These are two separate incidents.

Clearly, now, “Ahasuerus” was a successor of Evil-Merodach’s.

[End of quote]

 

That “Ahauserus” (var. “Artaxerxes”) must have, in my context, followed very soon after the death of Evil-Merodach would be a matter of biological necessity, for, as I had gone on to note: “The age of Haman now needs to be taken into consideration. Already about 55, as we calculated, in the 1st year of Evil-Merodach, he was probably close to 70 in the 12th year of Ahasuerus (the Esther drama focusses on this king’s 12th year)”.

That Haman was not a young man is apparent from the words of one of the Great King’s edicts (Esther 16:1), telling that Haman “was called our father”.

 

According to my radical truncating of the number of Chaldean kings of this era, Nebuchednezzar II’s son, Evil-Merodach (or Awel-Marduk), was the last of the rulers of this dynasty – and he was the same person as Belshazzar:

 

Neo-Babylonian Dynasty Needs ‘Hem Taken Up’. Part One (b): Evil-Merodach is Belshazzar

https://www.academia.edu/23926437/Neo-Babylonian_Dynasty_Needs_Hem_Taken_Up._Part_One_b_Evil-Merodach_is_Belshazzar

 

Hence it is likely that the Medo-Persian king who succeeded Belshazzar, “Darius the Mede” – who I believe to have been Cyrus himself (see e.g.):

 

Darius the Mede “Received the Kingdom”

https://www.academia.edu/24307028/Darius_the_Mede_Received_the_Kingdom_

 

was the Great King “Ahasuerus” (“Artaxerxes”), whose wife Queen Esther was.

 

 

Conclusion: “King Ahasuerus” was Darius the Mede/Cyrus.

 

Daniel 7 and Daniel 8

 

by

Damien F. Mackey

 

 

A suggestion is made here that Daniel 7 and 8 may contain parallel information,

with the consequence that the one may be shedding helpful light upon the other.

  

 

 

Introduction

 

Seventh-day Adventist Church article, “Why Antiochus IV Is Not the Little Horn of Daniel 8” (http://1844madesimple.org/why-antiochus-iv-is-not-the-little-horn-of-daniel-8),

has seemingly managed to identify some enlightening parallels between these two chapters of the Book of Daniel – whether or not the article has also arrived at the correct conclusion about Antiochus IV. It begins with an overview of opinions on the matter:

 

Crucial to the interpretation of Daniel 8:9-14 is the identification of the little horn power, which dominates these verses. Attempting to identify this little horn, commentators have applied three different methods (preterist, futurist, and historicist) of prophetic interpretation to the texts.

Preterists teach that the majority Daniel’s prophecies have already been fulfilled and, therefore, have no present significance. They hold that the little horn rose from one of the divisions of Alexander’s empire; they specifically identify it with the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164 B.C.).

Futurists follow this basic line of interpretation as well, though they see Antiochus as a type of an end-time antichrist appearing in the final years of earth’s history.

Historicists declare that the prophecies in Daniel portray an outline of human and ecclesiastical history from ancient Babylon down to the end of time, with the little horn power being identified as the Roman Empire, in both its pagan and papal stages.

….

 

Now, skipping what immediately follows, we jump to what I consider to be the core of the article (whilst not necessarily agreeing with the identity of the four beasts given below):

 

The best way to understand the prophecy is to study it in context of other chapters in Daniel that parallel it, particularly Daniel 7. By comparing these two chapters, we can learn not only which school of prophetic thought best explains the vision of Daniel 8, but we can see why the identification of the little horn as Antiochus Epiphanes simply isn’t tenable.

Daniel 7

 

With the exception of some voices within the preterist camp, most conservative scholars depict the identity of the four beasts in Daniel 7 as follows:

 

(Lion) Babylon

(Bear)Media-Persia

(Leopard) Greece

(Beast with iron teeth) Rome     

 

…. While acknowledging (as all the schools do) that the first beast is Babylon, the preterist interpretation identifies the second and third beast of Daniel 7 as Media and then Persia, with the fourth beast being Greece (which arises after Persia) and the little horn coming out of Greece as Antiochus Epiphanes. This argument, however, falls apart on numerous grounds, including the lack of historical data to warrant that separation of Media and Persia into two successive kingdoms.

In contrast, support for the interpretation of Daniel 7 as being Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and Rome can be found in the interpretation of the ram in Daniel 8. Its two disproportionate horns are specifically identified as the kings of Media and Persia together (vs. 20), reflective of the duality found in the prophet’s view of the bear in Daniel 7, which was raised up one side (Daniel 7:5). Meanwhile, the three-directional nature of the ram’s conquests (Daniel 8:4) also parallels the three ribs depicted in the mouth of the bear (Daniel 7:5), since it expanded to the north (Lydia), to the west (Babylon), and to the south (Egypt), an accurate description of the Media-Persian expansion.

Thus, if in Daniel 7 Media-Persia is the second beast, and Greece the third ….

 

Mackey’s Comment: So far so good, I think.

This succession in Daniel 7, apparently finding its parallel confirmation in Daniel 8, makes a lot of sense to me – {which doesn’t guarantee its correctness of course}.

But then I find myself failing to feel fully confident about the next part of the article:

 

(Thus, if in Daniel 7 Media-Persia is the second beast, and Greece the third) then the nondescript beast, the fourth beast in the prophecy, must represent Rome, the great power that arose after Greece. Therefore, the little horn that came from this fourth beast cannot represent Antiochus IV, who arose prior to, and not after, Rome.

 

This is a too neat succession of kingdoms which is neither chronologically or factually correct.

New World Encyclopedia tells correctly that Rome was already very well established at the time of Antiochus IV, and that Rome was in fact calling the shots (not necessarily my BC dates here)

(http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Antiochus_IV_Epiphanes)

 

Antiochus took power after the death of Seleucus Philopator. He had been hostage in Rome following the peace of Apamea in 188 B.C.E. but had recently been exchanged for the son and rightful heir of Seleucus IV, the later Demetrius I of Syria. Taking advantage of this situation, Antiochus was able to proclaim himself as co-regent with another of Seleucus’ sons, the infant Antiochus, whose murder he orchestrated a few years later.

 

War with Egypt

 

Antiochus IV was ambitious and wanted to expand both his territory and influence. He was able to make some inroads into Egypt, ruled by the Ptolemies. In 168 B.C.E. he almost succeeded in conquering Egypt but was prevented from doing so as a result of Roman intervention. The [Seleucids] generally continued Alexander’s policy of cultural integration but Antiochus IV was more interested in Hellenizing his subjects. He was especially eager to Hellenize the Jews, who resisted the process and he started to use force to pursue this policy. His father had exempted the Jews from the Hellenizing policy. This led to the beginning of the Jewish revolt of the Maccabees. His infant son, Antiochus V Eupator, succeeded him.

Because the guardians of Ptolemy VI of Egypt were demanding the return of Coele-Syria, in 170 B.C.E. Antiochus decided on a preemptive strike and invaded Egypt, conquering all but Alexandria. He then captured Ptolemy but agreed to let him continue as puppet king. This had the advantage of not alarming Rome. Alexandria thereupon chose Ptolemy’s brother Ptolemy VIII (Ptolemy Euergetes) as King. In Antiochus’ absence, the two brothers came to an agreement to rule jointly. Hence in 168 B.C.E. Antiochus again invaded and overran all Egypt but Alexandria while his fleet captured Cyprus. Near Alexandria a Roman envoy met him and told him that he must at once withdraw from Egypt and Cyprus. Antiochus said he would discuss it with his council, whereupon the envoy drew a line in the sand round him. Were he to step out of the circle, the envoy said, without having first undertaken to withdraw, he would be at war with Rome. Antiochus agreed to withdraw.

 

[End of quote]

 

I now return to the Seventh-day Adventist article, which – while it has now disqualified king Antiochus IV from being Daniel’s ‘little horn’ – provides a series of compelling parallels between the description of the horn in Daniel 7 and 8. Whoever this may represent – and I think that Antiochus IV may actually be a frontrunner for it – the combination of descriptions in Daniel 7 and 8 ought greatly to enhance our efforts to arrive at an identification.

 

Thus, if the little horn in Daniel 8 is an entity that came out of Rome, not Greece, what is its relationship to the little horn in Daniel 8? Could the little horn in Daniel 8 still be Antiochus Epiphanes, even though the little horn in Daniel 7 cannot? Though it’s certainly possible that it could be referring to two different powers, significant arguments exist in favor of identifying the little horns in these two chapters as the same historical entity.

 

1)    Both are identified with the same symbol: a horn

7:8ff, Aramaic, qeren    8:9 ff, Hebrew qeren

2)    Both are described as “little” at the outset.

7:8, Aramaic, zerath    8:9. Hebrew, serath

3)    Both are described as becoming “great” later on.

7:20, Aramaic, rab     8:99ff, Hebrew, gadal

4)    Both are described as persecuting powers.

7:21, 25          8:10, 24

5)    Both have the same target group as object of their persecution.

7: 27 “people of the saints,            8: 24 “people of the saints”

Aramaic, am quaddise             Hebrew, am qedosim Cf. vss. 21, 25

6)  Both are described as self-exalting and blasphemous powers.

7:8, 11, 20, 25    8:10-12, 25

7)  Both are described as crafty and intelligent.

7:8 “eyes of a man”     8:25 “cunning and deceit”

8)  Both represent the final and greatest anti-God climax of their visions.

7:8-9, 21-22, 25-26       8:12-14, 25

9)   Both have aspects of their work delineated by prophetic time.

7:25      8:13-14

10)  The activities of both extend to the time of the end.

7:26-26, cf. 12:7-9    8:17, 19

11)   Both are to be supernaturally destroyed.

7:11, 26    8:25

 

How much more evidence does one need?  The little horn power of Daniel 7 and the littler horn power of Daniel 8 are both the same entity …

[End of quote

 

I think this article has made an excellent case in favour of the truth at least of this last statement.

 

Case for Identifying “Darius” (Ezra 6) as “Artaxerxes” (Ezra 7)

artaxerxes decree ezra 7

 

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

Conventional chronology has served up far too many Persian kings, this leading to a quite unrealistic assessment of the ages of Persian-era men, such as Ezra the scribe.

  

 

Introduction

 

Thanks to Herb Stork (History and Prophecy: A Study in the Post-Exilic Period, House of Nabu, 1989), some real sense was injected into the discussion about the succession of Persian kings and how this relates to the likes of Ezra/Nehemiah.

I have actually suggested:

Ezra the Scribe Identified as Nehemiah the Governor

https://www.academia.edu/8779583/Ezra_the_Scribe_Identified_as_Nehemiah_the_Governor

 

Herb had argued that, to suggest a delay of arrival of Ezra in Jerusalem to the 7th year of an “Artaxerxes” well separated from the actual completion of the Temple in the 6th year of Darius, is quite nonsensical, and that Ezra had arrived instead close to the completion of the Temple. He also tells how scholars have been divided as to whether Artaxerxes I or Artaxerxes II was intended by Ezra 7’s “Artaxerxes”. While it is already stretching things to suggest he must have been Artaxerxes I, it is biologically impossible that he could have been Artaxerxes II.

Here is the conventional list of Persian kings from Darius ‘the Great’ to Artaxerxes II.

 

  • Darius I (Darius the Great) (521–486 B.C.)
  • Xerxes I (Xerxes the Great) (486–465 B.C.)
  • Artaxerxes I (464–425 B.C.)
  • Xerxes II (424 B.C.)
  • Darius II (423?–404 B.C.)
  • Artaxerxes II (404–358 B.C.)One can easily see that Darius ‘the Great’ and Artaxerxes II are well separated in time.   The Passover kept on the 14th day of the 1st month of the 7th year.    Both King Darius of Ezra 6 and Artaxerxes of Ezra 7 were concerned for their own life and the life of their sons:
  • If Darius and Artaxerxes are one and the same king (as above), then we can expect a similarity in phraseology, family life etc. This we also find:
  • And he then proceeds to show some striking similarities in favour of his identification:
  • If Darius Hystaspis of Ezra 6:14–15 and the Artaxerxes of 7:1 are the same king then we find Ezra, approximately 27 days later, after the temple was completed, preparing for his trip (7:9). Four months go by and he came to Jerusalem (7:9). On this ‘common sense’ basis alone (i.e. Ezra not waiting 49 years but only 27 days before making preparations for his trip to Jerusalem), we would expect these kings to be one and the same.
  • Not surprisingly, then, Austin’s solution is the same one with which Storck had previously come up, “Darius” must be “Artaxerxes”:
  • Then Ezra, full of concern and zeal for the house of the Lord (who ‘had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments’—Ezra 7:10) holding back this concern for 49 years! Because of the character and zeal revealed in Scripture of this man, it cannot be imagined that this urgent matter would result in action only when he was a very old man of about 121 years.
  • The temple completed on the 3rd day of the last month (Adar) of King Darius’ 6th year.
  • Then he writes (“Longimanus” referring to Artaxerxes I): “The ‘80 year gap theory’ has the Artaxerxes of Ezra 7:1 as Longimanus,14 and therefore his 7th year would be about 49 years later than the Darius Hystaspis of Ezra 6:14–15 …. This then would make Ezra’s age approx 121 years when he made his trip from Babylon to Jerusalem”. Austin considers to be – as Storck, too, had – a quite unrealistic scenario both in terms of age and zeal:
  • In the chronologies of Bishop Ussher and Floyd Jones there is an unsubstantiated gap or space of 80–82 years between the return of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity and the commencement of the 70 weeks of years of Daniel 9:24–25. The main reason for such a space is the unproved assumption that the Darius (Hystaspis) of Ezra 6:14–15 is a different king to the Artaxerxes of Ezra 7:1. This paper shows these two are the same king and that there is therefore no such gap in the Bible but instead a continuous chronology from creation to Christ.
  • Now, I find a similar sort of sensible thinking to Storck’s in a Creation Ministries International article by David Austin: “Is Darius, the king of Ezra 6:14–15, the same king as the Artaxerxes of Ezra 7:1?” (http://creation.com/darius-is-artaxerxes) – whilst not necessarily agreeing with everything else in the article (e.g. his interpretation of the Great King in the Book of Esther). Austin prefaces this article with this statement:
  1. Ezra 6:10—‘Pray for the life of the King and of his sons.’
  2. Ezra 7:23—‘Why should there be wrath against the King and his sons?’

 

Habakkuk and the Angel

detail of the statue 'Habakkuk and the Angel' by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 1655, Museo Sacro, Musei Vaticani, Vatican City, Rome, Italy

Daniel 14:

33 Now the prophet Habakkuk was in Judea; he had made a stew and had broken bread into a bowl, and was going into the field to take it to the reapers. 34 But the angel of the Lord said to Habakkuk, “Take the food that you have to Babylon, to Daniel, in the lions’ den.” 35 Habakkuk said, “Sir, I have never seen Babylon, and I know nothing about the den.” 36 Then the angel of the Lord took him by the crown of his head and carried him by his hair; with the speed of the wind[a] he set him down in Babylon, right over the den.

Was Daniel Twice in the Lions’ Den?

 imagesCAUXPD2P

by

Damien F. Mackey

 

Was Daniel twice in the den of lions? Once under “Darius the Mede” and once under Cyrus?

No, not if – as according to what we have argued elsewhere – Darius was King Cyrus.

 

 

Toledôt Assistance

 

Sometimes the sacred Scriptures present us with two or more versions of the same incident, but written by different authors and hence from a different perspective. Because of seeming contradictions between (or amongst) these texts, arising as they do from different sources, critics can pounce on these as examples of biblical contradiction and error.

One such situation that I looked at were the two very similar – though in some ways quite different – accounts of Abram’s wife, Sarai, and Abraham’s wife, Sarah, being abducted by “Pharaoh” (in the case of Sarai), and by “Abimelech” (in the case of Sarah):

‘Toledoth’ Explains Abram’s Pharaoh

https://www.academia.edu/3690053/Toledoth_Explains_Abrams_Pharaoh

 

These tales I concluded, with the benefit of P. J. Wiseman’s illuminating toledôt theory, were recording the one and same incident:

 

From the now well-known theory of toledôt (or Toledoth, a Hebrew feminine plural), we might be surprised to learn that so great a Patriarch as Abram (later Abraham), did not sign off the record of his own history (as did e.g. Adam, Noah, and Jacob). No, Abram’s story was recorded instead by his two chief sons, Ishmael and Isaac.

“These are the generations of Ishmael …” (Genesis 25:12).

“These are the generations of Isaac …” (Genesis 25:19).

So, there were two hands at work in this particular narrative, and this fact explains the otherwise strange repetition of several famous incidents recorded in the narrative. And it is in the second telling of the incident of the abduction of Abram’s wife, Sarai (later Sarah), that we get the name of the ruler who, in the first telling of it is called simply

“Pharaoh”. He is “Abimelech” (20:2).

[End of quote]

 

Whilst the Egyptianised Ishmael (or his family) was recounting the story from the perspective of Egypt; Isaac (or his kin) gave the story from a Palestinian perspective.

Archaeologically we have learned that Egypt had, at this time, most appropriately, flowed over into southern Canaan.

 

And so with Daniel and the two accounts of his ordeal in the den of lions (Daniel 6 and Bel and the Dragon), it now follows that – given our identification of “Darius the Mede” with Cyrus – that only the one incident is being referred to, but presumably related by different authors. Hence, as with the case of the abduction of Sarah, it can read as if referring to two separate incidents. This, whilst being possible, is highly unlikely given Daniel’s advanced age at this time.

Let us consider the points of comparison:

 

The scene is Babylon (4:30; Bel v. 3).

In both cases, Daniel is on very good terms with a Medo-Persian king (6:3; Bel v. 2).

The people conspire against Daniel (and the king) on religious grounds (6:4-5; Bel vv. 28-29).

The king, under extreme pressure was distressed (6:14; Bel v. 30).

The fate was a den of lions (6:7, 16; Bel v. 31).

The king comes to the den to see what fate has befallen Daniel (6:19; Bel v. 40).

Daniel has been miraculously delivered (6:21; Bel v. 40).

The king rejoices, praises Daniel’s God (6:23; Bel v. 41).

Daniel is lifted out of the den (6:23; Bel v. 42).

His accusers are thrown into the den and are instantly devoured (6:24; Bel v. 42).

 

Perhaps the biggest apparent difference between the two narrations is the length of time that Daniel was in the den. Bel v. 31 is explicit. It was six days: “Who cast him into the lions’ den: where he was six days”. Daniel 6:19, on the other hand, gives: “At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den”.

However, that does not mean that Daniel was lifted out from the den that next day.

Daniel 6 may be telescoping events here.

 

Also, the motive given in Bel and the Dragon for the Babylonians wanting Daniel slain – and even threatening the king – was because Daniel, the friend of the king, had destroyed the Dragon that they worshipped (vv. 28-29):

 

When they of Babylon heard that, they took great indignation, and conspired against the king, saying, ‘The king is become a Jew, and he hath destroyed Bel, he hath slain the dragon, and put the priests to death’. So they came to the king, and said, ‘Deliver us Daniel, or else we will destroy thee and thine house’.

 

In Daniel 6:3-4, however, the motive is jealousy of Daniel who is favoured by the king.

 

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. At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.

 

These two motives, however, may not be incompatible.

Over a period of time, which may again be telescoped here, the Babylonians could have become incensed with Daniel both because of his being favoured by the king and because of the involvement of Daniel, in the company of the king, in the destruction of the very idols that these superstitious people held to be most worshipful.

Part Two: A Habakkuk Clue

 

Daniel 14:33-39

The prophet Habakkuk was in Judea. He mixed some bread in a bowl with the stew he had boiled, and was going to bring it to the reapers in the field, when an angel of the Lord told him, “Take the meal you have to Daniel in the lions’ den at Babylon.” But Habakkuk answered, “Sir, I have never seen Babylon, and I do not know the den!” The angel of the Lord seized him by the crown of his head and carried him by the hair; with the speed of the wind, he set him down in Babylon above the den. “Daniel, Daniel,” cried Habakkuk, “take the meal God has sent you.” “You have remembered me, O God,” said Daniel; “you have not forsaken those who love you.” So Daniel ate, but the angel of God at once brought Habakkuk back to his own place.

If, as I have argued in Part One of this series:

https://www.academia.edu/24308877/Was_Daniel_Twice_in_the_Lions_Den

the two accounts of Daniel in the den of lions (Daniel 6 and 14) are just two versions – from different authors and perspectives – of the one incident, then how could the prophet Habakkuk have served Daniel with a meal in the lions’ den if, as according to the parallel account of it in

Daniel 6, the Great King had actually sealed the den to prevent any such sort of intervention (v. 17): “A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed”?

It was a situation somewhat analogous to that of the tomb of Christ with the stone no longer an obstacle to access there.

 

My suggestion would be that, between the initial visit of the king to the den (6:19): “At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den”, and the last one days later, when he had Daniel released (14:39-40): “And upon the seventh day the king came to bewail Daniel: and he came to the den, and looked in, and behold Daniel was sitting in the midst of the lions. And the king cried out with a loud voice, saying: ‘Great art thou, O Lord the God of Daniel’. And he drew him out of the lions’ den”, the stone had been removed.

This could have been done either at the order of the king himself, in order to see and communicate with Daniel, or – to carry further the Resurrection analogy (cf. Matthew 28:2) – by the angel who had hair-raisingly transported Habakkuk to the den in Babylon.

 

 

 

 

 

Darius the Mede “Received the Kingdom”

 

by

Damien F. Mackey

  

 

The Book of Daniel presents historians with difficulties regarding both the Neo-Babylonian and the Medo-Persian successions. An unknown king “Belshazzar”, given as the son (and presumably successor) of “Nebuchednezzar”, is slain, and his kingdom then passes into the hands of a likewise unknown monarch who is called “Darius the Mede”.

I am confident, however, that my revised history of the Neo-Babylonian dynasty can provide ready solutions to both of these conundrums (or, as some would prefer, conundra).

 

 

Part One: King Belshazzar

 

 

Introduction

 

The many ‘historical inaccuracies’ that critics claim to find in the Book of Daniel are, as I have previously argued, not faults of ignorance on the part of Daniel (or whichever author[s]), but the limitations imposed upon historical knowledge by a one-dimensional conventional history.

See e.g. my”

 

“Nebuchednezzar” of the Book of Daniel

 

https://www.academia.edu/23886406/_Nebuchednezzar_of_the_Book_of_Daniel

 

According to my revision here, King Nabonidus, the penultimate king of the Neo-Babylonian dynasty – who in so many ways fits the description of the “Nebuchednezzar” of the Book of Daniel (as critics have noted) – is an alter ego of the mighty Chaldean king Nebuchednezzar II.

Already this new vision of history manages to establish that:

 

  • there was an historical king like Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar”;
  • and he, just like “Nebuchednezzar”, had a notable son named Belshazzar;

 

Now, given my equation, Nebuchednezzar II = Nabonidus, I was gratified to learn of documentary evidence attesting to some apparent mad or erratic behaviour on the part of king Nebuchednezzar II, to complement the well-attested “Madness of Nabonidus”.

I referred to this in my:

 

Neo-Babylonian Dynasty Needs ‘Hem Taken Up’. Part One (b): Evil-Merodach is Belshazzar

 

https://www.academia.edu/23926437/Neo-Babylonian_Dynasty_Needs_Hem_Taken_Up._Part_One_b_Evil-Merodach_is_Belshazzar

 

in which I also concluded – based on a strikingly parallel situation – that Evil-Merodach, son and successor of Nebuchednezzar II, was Belshazzar. I reproduce that information here (with ref. to British Museum tablet No. BM 34113 (sp 213), published by A. K. Grayson in 1975):

 

Read lines 3, 6, 7, 11, 12, and Mas referring to strange behavior by Nebuchadnezzar, which has been brought to the attention of Evilmerodach by state officials. Life had lost all value to Nebuchadnezzar, who gave contradictory orders, refused to accept the counsel of his courtiers, showed love neither to son nor daughter, neglected his family, and no longer performed his duties as head of state with regard to the Babylonian state religion and its principal temple. Line 5, then, can refer to officials who, bewildered by the king’s behavior, counseled Evilmerodach to assume responsibility for affairs of state so long as his father was unable to carry out his duties. Lines 6 and on would then be a description of Nebuchadnezzar’s behavior as described to Evilmerodach. Since Nebuchadnezzar later recovered (Dan. 4:36), the counsel of the king’s courtiers to Evil-merodach may later have been considered “bad” (line 5), though at the time it seemed the best way out of a national crisis.

Since Daniel records that Nebuchadnezzar was “driven from men” (Dan. 4:33) but later reinstated as king by his officials (verse 36), Evilmerodach, Nebuchadnezzar’s eldest son, may have served as regent during his father’s incapacity. Official records, however, show Nebuchadnezzar as king during his lifetime.

 

Comment: Now this is the very same situation that we have found with King Nabonidus’ acting strangely, and defying the prognosticators, whilst the rule at Babylon – though not the kingship – lay in the hands of his eldest son, Belshazzar.

 

The inevitable (for me) conclusion now is that:

Evil-merodach is Belshazzar!

 

Again, this new vision of history manages to establish that

 

  • Belshazzar, the son of Nebuchednezzar II/Nabonidus, was in fact a king.

 

Hence, a solution to the first conundrum referred to at the beginning of this article: An unknown king “Belshazzar”, given as the son (and presumably successor) of “Nebuchednezzar” ….

 

Moreover, I am confident that this new vision of history will enable, in Part Two, for the true identification of that most enigmatic of biblical characters, “Darius the Mede” – an identification already hinted at in the title of this series.

 

 

Part Two (i): Medo-Persia

 

 

 

 

The Who, When, How, and Why of “Darius the Mede” of the Book of Daniel.

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction

 

Having now established (I think) King Nabonidus’s son, Belshazzar, as the “King Belshazzar” of the Book of Daniel, then it ought to become self-evident – for those who know the basic facts about the historical Belshazzar – which Medo-Persian king succeeded him.

To put it in the words of the three young men when confronted by an irate “Nebuchednezzar” (Daniel 3:16): ‘Your question hardly requires an answer …’.

 

King Belshazzar was succeeded by King Cyrus.

 

According to (http://www.biblehistory.net/newsletter/belshazzar_darius_mede.htm):

 

King Cyrus of Persia also refers to  Belshazzar when he conquered Babylon in his writings:
       “A coward was put in charge as the king of this country . . . With evil intents he did away with the regular offerings to the gods  . . .  and desecrated the worship of the king of his gods, Marduk.” BM90920
      Cyrus’s statement that Belshazzar desecrated the worship of his god Marduk matches very closely to the story in the book of Daniel. Although it wasn’t Marduk whose handwriting appeared on the wall, but the one true God of Israel.
      According to the Bible, Belshazzar was holding a feast at the time the city of Babylon was run over by the Medes and Persians.
      The fall of Babylon as recorded by the ancient historians Herodotus, Berosus and Xenophon verifies this:
 

“Cyrus then dug a trench and diverted the flow of the Euphrates river into the new channel which led to an existing swamp. The level of the river then dropped to such a level that it became like a stream. His army was then able to take the city by marching through the shallow waters  . . .  The Babylonians at the time were celebrating intensely at a feast to one of their gods and they were taken totally by surprise.”

 

[End of quotes]

 

 

Unfortunately, some of these semi-historical ancient texts seem, at times, to mix up Nabonidus and Belshazzar.

 

The Book of Daniel identifies this same Medo-Persian king as “Darius the Mede” (5:30-31):

 

… 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.

That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain, and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two.

 

Daniel 9:1 adds a little more biographical information about this new king:

 

In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of Median descent, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans ….

 

 

Part Two (ii):

Some Favourable Views

 

 

 

There are some historians who have come to the conclusion that the “Darius the Mede” of the Book of Daniel is likely to have been King Cyrus “the Great” himself.

 

 

 

  1. J. Wiseman

 

“Donald John Wiseman OBE FBA FSA (25 October 1918 – 2 February 2010)[1] was a biblical scholar, archaeologist and Assyriologist. He was Professor of Assyriology at the University of London from 1961 to 1982”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Wiseman

Donald was the son of P. J. Wiseman, whose brilliant archaeologically-based insights into the structure of the Book of Genesis (the toledôt “family histories”) I have found most illuminating. See e.g. my P. J. Wiseman-inspired:

 

The “Toledoths” of Genesis

 

https://www.academia.edu/3501243/The_Toledoths_of_Genesis

 

  1. J. Wiseman advanced his “Darius the Mede” as Cyrus theory back in 1957, in his article, “Some Historical Problems in the Book of Daniel

(see: http://www.thedivineconspiracy.org/Z3205D.pdf) There he wrote:

 

The basis of the hypothesis is that Daniel 6:28 can be translated ‘Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, even (namely, or i.e.) the reign of Cyrus the Persian.’ Such a use of the appositional or explicative Hebrew waw construction has long been recognized in Chronicles 5:26 (‘So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria even the spirit of Tiglath–pileser king of Assyria’) and elsewhere.

[End of quote]

 

We know that “Pul” was the same person as Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria.

Correct translations of this verse, like the New King James Version, in this case, phrase it as “the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, that is, Tiglath–Pileser king of Assyria”.

 

William H. Shea

 

Dr. William H. Shea, retired associate director of the Biblical Research Institute, has written a book on this subject (Daniel), as well as his 1982 up-dated article specifically on the identification of “Darius the Mede”:

https://www.andrews.edu/library/car/cardigital/Periodicals/AUSS/1982-3/1982-3-04.pdf

Although Shea gives some reasons in favour of “Darius the Mede” as Cyrus, his conclusion is ultimately that: “…this theory makes the dated references to these two kings in Daniel appear to be quite haphazard in arrangement, since it provides no explanation why Daniel would refer back from the third year of Cyrus, king of Persia (10:1), to the first year of Darius the Mede who was king over the realm of the Chaldeans (11:1)”.

 

George R. Law

 

His published version of a 2010 dissertation, written on our very subject, is a fully comprehensive treatment of the issues involved – a must read in fact. And Law comes out firmly on the side of “Darius the Mede” as Cyrus. We read this useful summary of the book at: http://www.readyscribepress.com/home_files/DariustheMede.html

 

Identification of Darius the Mede

 

Identifying Darius the Mede has been a problem because of the lack of a direct correlation between the names in the ancient records of Babylonian kings and the record of the Hebrew Scriptures. Certainly, the prophet Daniel knew the Babylonian King whom he stylized as “Darius the Mede,” even if modern readers are uncertain, since this King Darius cast him into a den of lions.

In his book, Identifying Darius the Mede, George Law offers a scientific method which examines the data from the original sources concerning six potential candidates who might be identified as Darius the Mede: Astyages, Cambyses II, Cyaxeres (II), Cyrus the Great, Darius I (the Persian), and Gubaru (Gobryas). Law’s scientific method disqualifies most of these potential candidates and leaves only Cyrus the Great and Gubaru for further consideration.  In his extended consideration of Gubaru, a governor of Babylon, Law offers the following evidence explaining why Gubaru cannot be identified as Darius the Mede. In the original sources, there is no evidence of the following:

1)      Gubaru being called “king” in Babylon in 538-536 BC

2)      Gubaru being governor of Babylon from 538-536 BC

3)      a district called “Babylon and the Region across the River” existing in 538-536 BC

4)      a new governor (administration) being established in Babylon in 538-536 BC

5)      Darius the Mede acting as a vassal king.

 

On the other hand, Law considers how the evidence concerning Cyrus the Great does fit Daniel’s description of Darius the Mede.

….

 

The Cyrus Cylinder is often heralded as the first “human-rights       charter”  to proclaim  freedom to  everyone  in a  multicultural  empire.  Whether or not  this is  exactly  true,  there  is  ample  evidence  that   Cyrus  the  Great  did   grant   freedom   to   Babylonian  slaves. In  addition,   the   Jewish   Scriptures  record  that   during Cyrus’ first  year (538 BC), he fulfilled prophecy  when he  granted  freedom to  the  Jewish  captives  living in  Babylon. His proclamation of  freedom  for the Jews  allowed  their  return  to  the  land  which  was  “promised” to them  by  their   God,   Jehovah,  and  also  provided for  the eventual rebuilding of their Temple in Jerusalem.

 

 

        The Book of Daniel  records  part of the  history of this era of  empire-building by     Cyrus the Great. The  author  of  Daniel  calls  the  conqueror  of   Babylon  “Darius  the  Mede”   instead  of  “Cyrus.” This curious description of Babylon’s conqueror has spawned many explanations over the years.

In Chapter Three of  his dissertation,  George  Law  offers a scientific method for considering candidates  who could  potentially be  identified  as  “Darius  the  Mede.” In  Chapter Four, relevant supporting evidence is  gathered  for  each  of  six   potential  candidates. The  employed   method   proceeds  to

eliminate from  consideration  the  candidates who  are  unqualified,  and  then  it  further  investigates specific  details  in  order to  determine which  qualified  candidate  is the  best match for all the available evidence describing Darius the Mede.  Numerous relevant ancient  documents and their  translations are provided in the  Appendices to allow  other  scholars  to follow these trails of evidence.         Chapter Five  provides  insightful correlations between many ancient Mesopotamian concepts, even some  humorous  pagan  prophecies,  and  their  relevance  to  this  great  conqueror of  Babylon.  This  final  chapter  concludes  with  an  analysis  of  the   Scriptural  data  recorded  in  the  Book  of  Daniel,  and  explains  their  significance for a  complete  understanding of this  character  Daniel called  “Darius the Mede.”

….

[End of quote]

Part Two (iii):

Textual Clues

 

 

 

 

 

Was Daniel twice in the den of lions? Once under “Darius the Mede” and once under Cyrus?

No, not if – as according to this series – Darius the Mede was King Cyrus.

 

 

 

 

 

Toledôt Assistance

 

Sometimes the sacred Scriptures present us with two or more versions of the same incident, but written by different authors and hence from a different perspective. Because of seeming contradictions between (or amongst) these texts, arising as they do from different sources, critics can pounce on these as examples of biblical contradiction and error.

One such situation that I looked at were the two very similar – though in some ways quite different – accounts of Abram’s wife, Sarai, and Abraham’s wife, Sarah, being abducted by “Pharaoh” (in the case of Sarai), and by “Abimelech” (in the case of Sarah):

 

‘Toledoth’ Explains Abram’s Pharaoh

 

https://www.academia.edu/3690053/Toledoth_Explains_Abrams_Pharaoh

 

These tales I concluded, with the benefit of P. J. Wiseman’s illuminating toledôt theory, were recording the one and same incident:

 

From the now well-known theory of toledôt (or Toledoth, a Hebrew feminine plural), we might be surprised to learn that so great a Patriarch as Abram (later Abraham), did not sign off the record of his own history (as did e.g. Adam, Noah, and Jacob). No, Abram’s story was recorded instead by his two chief sons, Ishmael and Isaac.

“These are the generations of Ishmael …” (Genesis 25:12).

“These are the generations of Isaac …” (Genesis 25:19).

So, there were two hands at work in this particular narrative, and this fact explains the otherwise strange repetition of several famous incidents recorded in the narrative. And it is in the second telling of the incident of the abduction of Abram’s wife, Sarai (later Sarah), that we get the name of the ruler who, in the first telling of it is called simply

“Pharaoh”. He is “Abimelech” (20:2).

[End of quote]

 

Whilst the Egyptianised Ishmael (or his family) was recounting the story from the perspective of Egypt; Isaac (or his kin) gave the story from a Palestinian perspective.

Archaeologically we have learned that Egypt had, at this time, most appropriately, flowed over into southern Canaan.

 

And so with Daniel and the two accounts of his ordeal in the den of lions (Daniel 6 and Bel and the Dragon), it now follows that – given our identification of “Darius the Mede” with Cyrus – that only the one incident is being referred to, but presumably related by different authors. Hence, as with the case of the abduction of Sarah, it can read as if referring to two separate incidents. This, whilst being possible, is highly unlikely given Daniel’s advanced age at this time.

Let us consider the points of comparison:

 

The scene is Babylon (4:30; Bel v. 3).

In both cases, Daniel is on very good terms with a Medo-Persian king (6:3; Bel v. 2).

The people conspire against Daniel (and the king) on religious grounds (6:4-5; Bel vv. 28-29).

The king, under extreme pressure was distressed (6:14; Bel v. 30).

The fate was a den of lions (6:7, 16; Bel v. 31).

The king comes to the den to see what fate has befallen Daniel (6:19; Bel v. 40).

Daniel has been miraculously delivered (6:21; Bel v. 40).

The king rejoices, praises Daniel’s God (6:23; Bel v. 41).

Daniel is lifted out of the den (6:23; Bel v. 42).

His accusers are thrown into the den and are instantly devoured (6:24; Bel v. 42).

 

Perhaps the biggest apparent difference between the two narrations is the length of time that Daniel was in the den. Bel v. 31 is explicit. It was six days: “Who cast him into the lions’ den: where he was six days”. Daniel 6:19, on the other hand, gives: “At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den”.

However, that does not mean that Daniel was lifted out from the den that next day.

Daniel 6 may be telescoping events here.

 

The “Chiasmus” Guide

 

In the “Abram’s Pharaoh” article (above), chiastic parallelism also came to the aid of my theory that Abram’s “Pharaoh” was the same as “Abimelech”. A reader – one albeit critical of some of what I had been writing – had e-mailed to show that “Pharaoh” and “Abimelech” actually dovetailed chiastically. Thus he wrote: “Note how B. 1 and B’. 1’ merge beautifully with “Pharaoh” in B. 1 reflecting “Abimelech” in B’. 1’.”

Not that a chiastic parallelism of names necessarily means that the same person must be intended. Bern Sadler has, in his magnificent deciphering of the Gospel of Matthew: http://www.structureofmatthew.com/The%20Structure%20of%20Matthew.pdf

has drawn such a parallel between the name “Jacob” (Matthew 1:2) and “James” (Matthew 4:21). Most interestingly, “James” is the English form of the Hebrew name “Jacob” (Yaʻaqov).

 

Now, James B. Jordan has in The Handwriting on the Wall, on p. 314, shown a similar chiastic convergence of “Darius the Mede” (5:31) (his A.) and ‘Cyrus” (6:18b) (his A’).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prophet Ezekiel and Plato’s ‘Myth of Er’

 by

Damien F. Mackey

 

 

Traces of Ezekiel’s famous ‘merkabah’ vision of the wheels within wheels may perhaps be found towards the end of Plato’s Republic, in the mysterious Myth of Er.

 

 

 

IMAGE: WHEELS WITHIN WHEELS (Ezekiel 1 and 3)

 

The prophet Ezekiel tells of what he saw (1:15-17):

 

As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the earth beside the living creatures, one for each of the four of them. As for the appearance of the wheels, and their construction: their appearance was like a gleaming of beryl; and the four had the same form, their construction being something like a wheel within a wheel. When they moved they moved in any of the four directions without veering as they moved. ….

 

Ezekiel would encounter these whirling creatures again at the river Chebar, in captivity, when he said (3:15): “I came to the exiles at Tel-abib, who lived by the river Chebar. And I sat there among them stunned for seven days” (note this is exactly what Job’s three friends had done as well, Job 2:13).

Here is the prophet’s full account of it (Ezekiel 3:12-21):

 

Then the spirit lifted me up, and as the glory of the Lord rose from its place, I heard behind me the sound of loud rumbling; it was the sound of the wings of the living creatures brushing against one another, and the sound of the wheels beside them, that sounded like a loud rumbling. The spirit lifted me up and bore me away; I went in bitterness in the heat of my spirit, the hand of the Lord being strong upon me. I came to the exiles at Tel-abib, who lived by the river Chebar. And I sat there among them stunned for seven days.

At the end of the seven days, the word of the Lord came to me: Mortal, I have made you a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die’, and you give them no warning, or speak to warn the wicked from their wicked way, in order to save their life, those wicked persons shall die for their iniquity; but their blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked, and they do not turn from their wickedness, or from their wicked way, they shall die for their iniquity; but you will have saved your life. Again, if the righteous turn from their righteousness and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before them, they shall die; because you haven’t warned them, they shall die for their sin, and their righteous deeds that they have done shall not be remembered; but their blood I will require at your hand. If, however, you warn the righteous not to sin, and they do not sin, they shall surely live, because they took warning; and you will have saved your life.

 

Myth of Er

 

Now let us see what (as I think) Plato might have done to this inspired text, in the ‘Myth of Er’, at the end of the Republic, with Ezekiel, replaced by the messenger, Er; Er being the soul of a dead person come to life, whereas Ezekiel had been in spirit lifted out of his body. And Er being set apart as a messenger to the dead as they choose their destiny, whereas Ezekiel, set apart as the prophet-sentinel, is amongst the exiled living, calling them to righteousness over evil (Republic, 614):

 

[Er] said when his soul left its body it travelled in company with many others till they came to a wonderfully strange place, where there were, close to each other, two gaping chasms in the earth, and opposite and above them two other chasms in the sky. Between the chasms sat Judges, who, having delivered judgement, ordered the just to take the right-hand road that led up through the sky, and fastened the badge of their judgement in front of them, while they ordered the unjust, who carried the badges of all that they had done behind them, to take the left-hand road that led downwards. When Er came before them, they said that he was to be a messenger to men about the other world, and ordered him to listen to and watch all that went on in that place.

 

As to the Glory of God and the wheels within wheels, a famous image from Ezekiel, Plato again tells of something very similar. It is what he calls the ‘spindle of Necessity’, and is eschatological like Ezekiel.

And the seven day period is there also, as in Ezekiel (Republic, Bk. 10, 615):

 

‘After seven days spent in the meadow the souls set out again and came on the fourth day to a place from which they could see a shaft of light running straight through earth and heaven, like a pillar, in colour most nearly resembling a rainbow, only brighter and clearer; after a further day’s journey they entered the light and could then look down its axis and see the ends of it stretching from heaven, to which they were tied; for this light is the tie-rod of heaven which holds its whole circumference together like the braces of a trireme [a Greek boat]. And to these ends is fastened the spindle of Necessity, which causes all the orbits to revolve; its shaft and its hook are of adamant, and its whorl a mixture of adamant and other substances. And the whorl is made in the following way. Its shape is like the ones we know; but from the description Er gave me we must suppose it to consist of a large whorl hollowed out, with a second fitting exactly into it, the second being hollowed out to hold a third, the third a fourth, and so on up to a total of eight, like a nest of bowls. For there were in all eight whorls, fitting one inside the other, with their rims showing as circles from above and forming a continuous surface of a single whorl round the shaft, which was driven straight through the middle of the eighth…’.

 

Er’s “Forgetful river”, where the souls were all encamped (ibid., 620), has probably taken the place of the river Chebar, where Ezekiel was living amongst the exiles. Whereas Er seems to be amongst the dead, Ezekiel – who does in fact have a vision of dead bones becoming en-fleshed again (Ezekiel 37:1-14) – is a prophet to the living, with the portfolio from God to warn the evildoers. Ezekiel’s account of the good who turn to evil, and the evil who turn to good, may have been picked up in the Greek version as souls choosing in what form they will come back, whether as tyrants or as virtual saints.

Now, Justin Martyr had given consideration to this famous Platonic myth:

 

The Myth of Er

 

Justin is quoting from Plato’s The Republic book 10. It is the very last section of the Republic where Socrates is relating to Glaucon a story about the fate of souls after death. The story is known as the myth of Er. A description is given of a man called Er son of Armenius from Pamphylia and his journey into the realm of the dead. In his journey he was shown how Souls were judged, how they had to pay back 10 fold for all that they did on earth. Halliwell introduces the myth.

The myth of Er belongs to a great ‘family’ of Platonic eschatological visions, whose other members are the myths found in the Gorgias; Phaedo, and Phaedrus… Few will dispute that the interpretation of all these passages must take as primary frame of reference Plato’s own attitudes to myth …Yet the myth of Er contains an especial number of elements ­- starting with Er’s name itself – which stimulated inquiries into Plato’s sources” (Halliwell 1988,169) “the rewards and punishments experienced during human life cannot compare with those which await us after death. Socrates explains the nature of these by relating the story of Er, a Pamphylian soldier who returned to life and told of what his soul had witnessed in the other world” (Halliwell 1988, 169).

Having seen many Er comes to the place where the souls were permitted to choose their next life on earth. This process was overseen by ones who were called the three daughters of Necessity (Thugateras tees Anagkees), being Lachesis, Clotho and Atropos who can be seen in the writings of Hesiod and Pindar. They were first named by Hesiod (Ferguson, 118). They were singing in tune with a Siren which was making a single sound. Lachesis sung of the past, Clotho of the present and Atropos of the future. Our main interest is in Lachesis as it is her words which Justin quotes. She is called the Disposer of Lots or She who allots. Her name can also be an appellative for lot or destiny as in Herodotus (LS 1978, 466). Lachesis sang of the past and when it was time for souls to choose their next life on earth, they would be lined up by a prophet to appear before Lachesis. They could choose their life in order of the lots they received. They would each choose a daimon to go through their life with them. A daimon is sometimes synonymous with a god as in Homer, but sometimes considered inferior as in Hesiod where it is between God and man. In the myth of Er they are attendant (Ferguson, 120) or guardian spirits. We will let Socrates relate the rest of this event:

From the lap of Lachesis he (the prophet) took numbers for drawing lots and patterns of lives. Ascending a high platform (beema), he began to speak:

“The word of the maiden Lachesis, daughter of Necessity. Souls, creatures of the day, here begins another cycle of mortal life and death it brings. Your guardian spirit will not be given to you by lot. You will choose a guardian spirit for yourselves. Let the one who draws the first lot be the first to choose a life. He will then be joined to it by Necessity. Virtue knows no master. Your respect or contempt for it will give each of you greater or smaller share. The choice makes you responsible God is not responsible” -Aitia elomenou. Theos anaitios ….

It is the last four words spoken by the prophet as the word of Lachesis, which Justin Martyr quotes to indicate Plato took them from Moses and uttered {eipe} them.

These then are the four words under investigation. …. Justin’s claim that these four words came from Moses to Plato.

[End of quote]

 

The discussion after this goes beyond our interest. I inserted a part of it here simply to demonstrate that a Platonic Myth, whose origin I think might lie with the prophet Ezekiel, was discussed by Justin Martyr in terms of a possible Hebrew-biblical connection.

There is also an interesting – but rather difficult and perhaps occasionally far-fetched – article in which comparisons are made of the mathematics of Plato and that attributed to Ezekiel:

 

The forgotten harmonical science of the Bible

 

Ernest G. McClain

 

Here is a portion of it (# 3):

 

Both Ezekiel and Plato project their arithmetic into similar concentric circles, “a wheel in a wheel,” functioning as the throne of an idealized heaven. Plato’s analysis of 5,040 fits many of Ezekiel’s metaphors and thus facilitates decoding the sameness and difference between nascent Greek science and traditional Jewish wisdom. This is the cross-cultural ambiance in which Philo was educated and about which he wrote with equal passion for Greek learning and for his own religion, which shared the same models. The music of the synagogue embodied their union and freed his soul to roam where it would. The two musical modes decoded from Bible numerology have proved to be associated historically with the mode of the Torah (Greek Dorian) and the mode of the Prophets (Greek Phrygian) in ways Philo helps us understand; they are the two modes Plato admitted in model cities.16,17

The importance of the priestly 7-year calendrical cycle is emphasized in Ezekiel 39:10 where God insists that after his destruction of Israel’s enemies the country will have no “need to take wood out of the field or cut down any out of the forests” for a period of seven years, “for they will make their fires of the weapons” of warfare. I analyze the tonal content in 5,040 “days plus nights” as furnishing Jewish “weapons” of spiritual warfare not merely on this circumstantial biblical evidence but because this also follows Jewish philosophical precedent.

[End of quote]

 

The Greeks often absorbed Hebrew and Near Eastern culture and civilization, mythology and folklore, and re-presented it as their own. Every later generation does this sort of thing, of course. Perhaps it is more true to say that western scholars have given credit to the Greeks – the civilization with which they especially identify (we find Socrates and his friends holding gentlemanly-like discussions, ‘My dear chap …’) – for culture, ideas, inventions, philosophies, laws, you name it, that actually arose from the more ancient nations of the Fertile Crescent (Egypt, Syro-Palestine, Mesopotamia).

Much has been attributed to the Greeks that did not belong to them. Take architecture, for example. Egyptologist Sir Henry Breasted made the point that Queen Hatshepsut’s marvellous temple structure, “The Most Splendid of Splendours” at Deir el-Bahri, near Thebes, was a witness to the fact that the Egyptians developed architectural styles for which the later civilization of Greeks would be accredited as the originators (A History of Egypt, 1924, p. 274).

 

The Historical Daniel

 

by

Damien F. Mackey

  

With Daniel’s governorship of Babylon enduring for possibly about half a century, then it should not be so terribly difficult to find some traces of him in the Neo-Babylonian history.  

  

 

Introduction

 

From the details given in the Book of Daniel it may be argued that Daniel’s floruit as the governor of Babylon extended from the early reign of Nebuchednezzar II until the early reign of Cyrus. In conventional terms, this would be, in round figures, from 600 BC to 540 BC – approximately 60 years. King “Nebuchednezzar”, in awe of Daniel’s wisdom after the Jewish sage had recalled and interpreted the king’s dream, had made Daniel the ruler of Babylon (Daniel 2:48): “Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men”. V. 21: “And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus”.

The last date that the Book of Daniel gives us for its hero is the third year of King Cyrus (10:1): “In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, a revelation was given to Daniel (who was called Belteshazzar). Its message was true and it concerned a great war. The understanding of the message came to him in a vision”.

Daniel may have died at about that stage, or he may simply have retired from official business. Whatever be the case, it should be possible to find in the Neo-Babylonian records a governor of Babylon of long duration, who had continued until the early reign of Cyrus.

Less optimistic about the possibility of finding any such sort of account of Daniel (Belteshazzar) in the historical records , however, is Robert D. Wilson (Studies in the Book of Daniel, Vol. 2) http://www.biblicalresearch.info/page9d.html

 

Was Daniel An Historical Character?

 

There are those who doubt the historicity of Daniel upon the grounds that his name does not appear in the records of the period of the exile. One noted critic stated the case thus: “It is natural that we should turn to the monuments and inscriptions of the Babylonian, Persian, and Median Empires to see if any message can be found of so prominent a ruler, but hitherto neither his name has been discovered, nor the faintest trace of his existence.”

Dr. Wilson discusses this phase of the question thoroughly, looking at the various types of inscriptions that have come to us and showing that it is most unreasonable to base an argument upon the kind of data that we have, especially upon the lack of evidence. After setting forth the case in an impartial manner and discussing pro and con every possibility, Dr. Wilson draws this conclusion:

“Inasmuch, then, as these inscriptions mention no one filling any of the positions, or performing any of the functions or doing any of the deeds, which the book of Daniel ascribes to its hero Belteshazzar; how can anyone expect to find in them any mention of Daniel, in either its Hebrew or its Babylonian form? And is it fair, in view of what the monuments of all kinds make known to us, to use the fact that they do not mention Daniel at all as an argument against his existence? “What about the numerous governors, judges, generals, priests, wise men writers, sculptors, architects, and all kinds of famous men, who must have lived during that long period? Who planned and supervised the building of the magnificent canals, and walls, and palaces, and temples of Babylon? Who led the armies, and held in subjection and governed the provinces and adjudged cases in the high courts of justice, and sat in the king’s council? Who were the mothers and wives and queenly daughters of the monarchs who sat upon the thrones of those mighty empires? Had the kings no friends no favorites, no adulatory poets or historians, no servile prophets, no sycophantic priests, no obsequious courtiers, who were deemed worthy to have their names inscribed upon these memorials of royal pride and victory; that we should expect to find there the name of Daniel, a Hebrew captive, a citizen of an annihilated city, a member of a despised and conquered nation, a stranger living on the bounty of the king, an alien, a slave, whose very education was the gift of his master and his elevation dependent on his grace? Let him believe who can. As for me, were the documents multiplied tenfold, I would not expect to find in them any reference to this humble subject of imperious kings.”

 

[End of quotes]

 

Let us not give up so easily.

 

A Possible Candidate for Daniel

 

If my recent revision of Neo-Babylonian history is correct, then this should affect somewhat – but also assist, hopefully – the search for the historical Daniel. Given my argument that some of the Neo-Babylonian kings have been duplicated, and perhaps even triplicated:

 

Neo-Babylonian Dynasty Needs ‘Hem Taken Up’. Part One: Seven Kings Become Four

 

https://www.academia.edu/22954569/Neo-Babylonian_Dynasty_Needs_Hem_Taken_Up_._Part_One_Seven_Kings_Become_Four

“This article will be an attempt to streamline the Neo-Babylonian (or Chaldean) Dynasty according to the author’s view that its present arrangement may contain duplications”.

 

Neo-Babylonian Dynasty Needs ‘Hem Taken Up’. Part Two: How the Kings Line Up

 

https://www.academia.edu/22962577/Neo-Babylonian_Dynasty_Needs_Hem_Taken_Up._Part_Two_How_the_Kings_Line_Up

 

this series being supplemented by another article:

 

“Nebuchednezzar” of the Book of Daniel

 

https://www.academia.edu/23886406/_Nebuchednezzar_of_the_Book_of_Daniel

 

 

then one might expect the potential 60 years of floruit for Daniel as governor of Babylon to be somewhat reducible.

Whilst there may not be any known governor of Babylon from the early reign of Nebuchednezzar II until the first few years of Cyrus – as I’d anticipate from the Book of Daniel that there should be – with my new identification of Nebuchednezzar II (and Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar”) with King Nabonidus, then such an official comes right into view. He is Nabu-ahhe-bullit, who was governor of Babylon from at least Nabonidus’s 8th year until the 3rd year of Cyrus. Thus we read in the following article

(http://disc.yourwebapps.com/discussion.cgi?id=177754;article=15087;

 

From the contemporary cuneiform contract tablets, we know that Terike-sarrutsu was the governor (shakin mati) of Babylonia in Year 1 Nabunaid [Nabonidus] (555/4 BC).

Nabu-ahhe-bullit succeeded him as office holder by Year 8 Nabunaid (548/7 BC). This man remained in office down to Year 3 Cyrus but became a subordinate of the governor Gubaru, the appointee of Cyrus, when Babylon was captured by the army of Cyrus in 539 BC. He is not to be confused with Ugbaru.

[End of quote]

 

Rather than Daniel’s having at this stage become “a subordinate” of Gubaru’s, though, he may have departed (one way or another) from the political scene.

By now Daniel would have been in his 60’s or 70’s.

This is how I would tentatively reconstruct the chronology of his governorship:

 

Daniel, as Nabu-ahhe-bullit, had been appointed governor of Babylon close to the third year of Nebuchednezzar II (= Nabonidus), who reigned for 43 years. That is a service of four decades.

He continued on through the 2-3 years of Belshazzar, son of Nabonidus, envisaging himself in Susa (Daniel 8:1-2): “In the third year of King Belshazzar’s reign, I, Daniel, had a vision, after the one that had already appeared to me. In my vision I saw myself in the citadel of Susa in the province of Elam …”.

He was still in Babylon in the 1st year of Cyrus, but then moved to Susa, Cyrus’s capital, and served the king until his 3rd year.

 

The Name

 

It is thought that the Babylonian name that “Nebuchednezzar” gave to Daniel, Belteshazzar, is not actually a Bel name, as definitely is Belshazzar (Bel-sarra-usur), “Baal protect the King”.

That Belteshazzar is more of a balatu (“life”) type of name. Correspondingly, we read at (http://biblehub.com/commentaries/expositors/daniel/): “Thus the name Belteshazzar seems to be connected in the writer’s mind with Bel [sic], the favourite deity of Nebuchadrezzar; but it can only mean Balatu-utsur , “his life protect,” which looks like a mutilation”.

That does not mean that the name given to Daniel would have lacked reference to a deity. For “Nebuchednezzar” specifically said (Daniel 4:8): “Finally, Daniel came into my presence and I told him the dream. (He is called Belteshazzar, after the name of my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.)”. From this it might be expected that Daniel was given the name of the god whose name was held likewise by the king (Nebuchednezzar/Nabonidus): namely, Nabu.

Appropriately, in the name of the long-lived governor of Babylon, Nabu-ahhe-bullit, we have both the Nabu element and the balatu -like element in bullit. This element, bullit, at least, is an appropriate one for the first part of the name, Belte-shazzar.

However, there is also the Nabu-ahhe-bullit like name, Nabubullitsu (e.g. in Sir W. Budge’s Babylonian Life and History, Index, p. 159), that comes yet closer to Belteshazzar, which is, after all, a foreign transliteration of an originally Babylonian name.

 

Finally, now with my revised Neo-Babylonian history, we have virtually a perfectly matching chronology for Daniel and his proposed alter ego, Nabu-ahhe-bullit.

 

 

 

The Book of Daniel Makes Historical Sense

 

by

Damien F. Mackey

  

 

The Book of Daniel is commonly charged with all sorts of historical inaccuracies, a fault more likely of the perceived history, as we are finding, rather than of the book itself.

  

 

Introduction

 

Siegfried H. Horn has identified, in his article “New light on Nebuchadnezzar’s madness”, https://www.ministrymagazine.org/archive/1978/04/new-light-on-nebuchadnezzars-madness

“six main arguments” that critics toss up as ‘evidence’ that the Book of Daniel is historically inaccurate and a late product. Thus he writes:

 

In 1870 higher criticism dominated Biblical scholarship in Germany. Most scholars believed that the book of Daniel was a product of the Maccabean period of the second century B.C. But some German scholars dissented. One of these was Otto Zockler, who in his commentary on the book of Daniel published in J. P. Lange’s Bible Commentary …. capably defended the authenticity, historicity, and sixth-century origin of Daniel.

Confronting Zockler were six main arguments that critical scholars considered to be proof of a late-origin Daniel. These were as follows:

 

  1. Aramaic, in which parts of the book of Daniel were written, was a late Semitic language not used in literature of the sixth century B.C.
  2. Existence of three Greek words in Daniel 3 indicates that the book was written in the Hellenistic period, after Alexander the Great had brought Greek culture and language to the Oriental world.
  3. Chronological contradictions between Daniel 1:1 and Jeremiah 25:1 show that the writer of Daniel was so far removed from the historical events he described that he made mistakes.
  4. Mention of Belshazzar as last king of Babylon proves that the story is legendary. All ancient sources present Nabonidus as Babylon’s last king and never even mention Belshazzar.
  5. Ancient historians never mention Darius the Mede as king of Babylon, as Daniel 6 does; thus the book of Daniel is not a trustworthy historical source.
  6. Nebuchadnezzar’s madness of seven years, recorded in Daniel 4 but in no other ancient source, is further proof of the legendary nature of the book.

 

Today, the first four arguments no longer pose problems for the conservative Bible scholar. The solutions, however, obtained through archeological discoveries, are different than Zockler thought they would be. ….

[End of quote]

 

Horn’s last comment here, if meant to be considered within the context of the standard Neo-Babylonian history, may be rather optimistic. The Book of Daniel, like other biblical books, cannot be properly explained, historically, within a seriously faulty conventional history.

The critics are entirely right within conventional terms: There is no last king, Belshazzar!

I have recently begun to write a series (yet incomplete) according to which the:

 

Neo-Babylonian Dynasty Needs ‘Hem Taken Up’. Part One: Seven Kings Become Four

https://www.academia.edu/22954569/Neo-Babylonian_Dynasty_Needs_Hem_Taken_Up_._Part_One_Seven_Kings_Become_Four

“This article will be an attempt to streamline the Neo-Babylonian (or Chaldean) Dynasty according to the author’s view that its present arrangement may contain duplications”.

 

Neo-Babylonian Dynasty Needs ‘Hem Taken Up’. Part Two: How the Kings Line Up

 

https://www.academia.edu/22962577/Neo-Babylonian_Dynasty_Needs_Hem_Taken_Up._Part_Two_How_the_Kings_Line_Up

 

The series is supplemented by another article:

“Nebuchednezzar” of the Book of Daniel

https://www.academia.edu/23886406/_Nebuchednezzar_of_the_Book_of_Daniel

 

Horn continues:

 

But what of the last two arguments for a late-dated Daniel? Have no discoveries been made that shed light on Darius the Mede or Nebuchadnezzar’s madness?

The problem of Darius has at least a reasonable solution, which I suggested twenty-three years ago. It has satisfied some conservative scholars, though others feel the answer lies elsewhere. Reference to the September, 1959, Ministry, page 44, or The SDA Bible Commentary, volume 4, pages 814-817, will refresh your memory on the tentative explanation of who this Darius may have been.

[End of quote]

 

Whatever Horn’s proposed solution for “Darius the Mede” may be, a consideration of that subject – which I believe will find its natural explanation in my Neo-Babylonian revision – I shall leave for another time. Where I find that Horn becomes particularly interesting and relevant is in this next section of his article, which I give here in full with occasional comments:

 

The madness of Nebuchadnezzar has been a disturbing enigma, because no extra-Biblical records mention a mental derangement of the great Babylonian king. In defense of the historicity of the story, the conservative Bible student has pointed out, of course, that very little is known of any aspect of Nebuchadnezzar’s life after his tenth year of reign. And, it might be added, it is not likely that many kings of any age would advertise such a humiliating disability.

 

Comment: The dearth of evidence pertaining to the life of Nebuchednezzar II must be due, partly, to failure by historians to recognise that he has a strong alter ego in (at least) Nabonidus. (See my “Nebuchednezzar” article above).

Horn continues:

 

Furthermore, lack of contemporary records does not mean some thing didn’t happen. For example, we have no such records of Nebuchadnezzar’s siege of Tyre a 13- year ordeal, lasting from 585 to 572 B.C.—except what Ezekiel tells us in his book (see Eze. 26:1-14; 29:17, 18). Yet five cuneiform tablets dating from 569 to 563 B.C. show that Tyre was in the hands of Nebuchadnezzar after 570 B.C. Another broken tablet with no date extant refers to food provided to “the king and his soldiers for their march against Tyre,” a likely reference to the siege, during which the Babylonians sent supplies to their troops besieging the Phoenician city. 1

Another example of the lack of documentary records of Nebuchadnezzar’s activities relates to a military campaign against Egypt in his later years. The prophets Jeremiah (43:10-13) and Ezekiel (29:19, 20) predicted such a campaign, but only a small fragment of a cuneiform tablet confirms that it occurred. The few broken lines of the fragment, owned by the British Museum, include information that in his “37th year [568/567 B.C.] Nebuchadnezzar, king of Bab[ylon], marched against] Egypt to deliver a battle. [Ama]sis of Egypt [called up his a]rm[y].” Amasis was defeated, despite his large force of chariots and horsemen, and help of allies. 2

Whatever the reason, the Babylonians did not leave us many records of their martial exploits and political accomplishments. Professor Eckhard Unger comments: “One of the most striking contrasts between Assyria and Babylonia is that the Assyrian monarchs brag with great glee about their military activities in their records while this was frowned upon by the Babylonians.

 

Comment: If so modest, then what about this accusation against Nabonidus:

 

He would stand up in the assembly (and) praise him[self]: “I am wise. I am knowledgeable. I have seen hid[den things]. (Although) I do not know the art of writing, I have seen se[cret things]. …”. [?]

 

The “Nebuchednezzar” of the Book of Daniel was no shrinking violet either.

Horn continues:

 

This Babylonian idiosyncrasy [sic] is already observed with regard to the neo-Sumerian King Gudea of Lagash . . . who was a mighty ruler . . . but whose inscriptions speak only of his pious works and building activities.

Since other documents were not existing, this king was for a long time considered as insignificant. Exactly the same could be said of Nebuchadnezzar II, if we were not in formed by outside records, especially the Bible, about his military activities, which his own records pass over in silence. This is the reason that it is difficult to check on the biblical data about Nebuchadnezzar.” 3

It should not surprise us, then, if we find no corroboration of Nebuchadnezzar’s mental illness in Babylonian records. And, when we consider the humiliating nature of the affliction, the likelihood of the royal archives’ preserving documentation of the event seems most unlikely. But the unlikely may have occurred! A recently published Babylonian cuneiform text seems to shatter the silence about Nebuchadnezzar’s illness. The tablet is in the British Museum, No. BM 34113 (sp 213), and was published by A. K. Grayson in 1975.4 Unfortunately, it is merely a fragment, and the surviving text is not as clear as we would like it to be. But the lines that may refer to the king’s illness are exciting nevertheless:

2 [Nebu]chadnezzar considered

3 His life appeared of no value to [him, ……]

5 And (the) Babylon(ian) speaks bad counsel to Evil-merodach [….]

6 Then he gives an entirely different order but [. . .]

7 He does not heed the word from his lips, the cour[tier(s) – – -]

11 He does not show love to son and daughter [. . .]

12 … family and clan do not exist [. . .]

14 His attention was not directed towards promoting the welfare of Esagil [and Babylon]

16 He prays to the lord of lords, he raised [his hands (in supplication) (. . .)]

17 He weeps bitterly to Marduk, the g[reat] gods [……]

18 His prayers go forth to [……]

Let’s attempt to decipher the text. Brackets [ ] indicate which words or letters are broken from the original tablet and have been supplied by the translator. Words or letters in parentheses ( ) are supplied by the translator for better understanding of the English rendering. The numerals preceding the lines of text indicate which lines of the tablet are quoted. The missing lines are either too badly preserved to make sense or not understandable, and therefore make no contribution to a better understanding of the text as a whole. The end of every line is missing and the beginnings of lines 2 and 12 are broken off—though there is no doubt that the reconstruction of the beginning of line 2 is correct. Evilmerodach of line 5 was the eldest son of Nebuchadnezzar and his successor on the throne. He is mentioned in the Bible as having released King Jehoiachin of Judah from prison after his accession to the throne (2 Kings 25:27-30; Jer. 52:31-34). Esagil in line 14 is the name of the principal temple complex of Babylon, in which the ziggurat, a 300-foot high temple tower, stood. The temple was dedicated to the chief god, Marduk, mentioned in line 17 of the tablet.

 

The text definitely refers to Nebuchadnezzar in lines 2 and 3, but it is not certain to whom lines 6 and on refer. Professor Grayson, editor of the tablet, suggests that “the main theme seems to be the improper behaviour of Evil-merodach, particularly with regard to Esagil, followed by a sudden and unexplained change of heart and prayers of Marduk.” However, another interpretation of the poorly preserved text seems plausible, especially if read in the light of Daniel 4, which relates Nebuchadnezzar’s seven-year period of mental derangement.

 

Read lines 3, 6, 7, 11, 12, and Mas referring to strange behavior by Nebuchadnezzar, which has been brought to the attention of Evilmerodach by state officials. Life had lost all value to Nebuchadnezzar, who gave contradictory orders, refused to accept the counsel of his courtiers, showed love neither to son nor daughter, neglected his family, and no longer performed his duties as head of state with regard to the Babylonian state religion and its principal temple. Line 5, then, can refer to officials who, bewildered by the king’s behavior, counseled Evilmerodach to assume responsibility for affairs of state so long as his father was unable to carry out his duties. Lines 6 and on would then be a description of Nebuchadnezzar’s behavior as described to Evilmerodach. Since Nebuchadnezzar later recovered (Dan. 4:36), the counsel of the king’s courtiers to Evil-merodach may later have been considered “bad” (line 5), though at the time it seemed the best way out of a national crisis.

 

Since Daniel records that Nebuchadnezzar was “driven from men” (Dan. 4:33) but later reinstated as king by his officials (verse 36), Evilmerodach, Nebuchadnezzar’s eldest son, may have served as regent during his father’s incapacity. Official records, however, show Nebuchadnezzar as king during his lifetime.

 

Comment: Now this is the very same situation that we have found with King Nabonidus’ acting strangely, and defying the prognosticators, whilst the rule at Babylon – though not the kingship – lay in the hands of his eldest son, Belshazzar.

The inevitable (for me) conclusion now is that: Evil-merodach is Belshazzar!

 

Horn laments:

 

It is regrettable that this extremely important text has come down to us in such a fragmentary condition. But we can be grateful that at least a portion of it has been preserved, since it seems to shed light on a Biblical narrative otherwise unvindicated by extra-Biblical documentation. ….

 

Comment: However, once all of the bits and pieces have been properly assembled in a revised context, then we must assuredly end up with a far more complete picture of the reign of this mighty and imperialistic Neo-Babylonian monarch, Nebuchednezzar II ‘the Great’.