Cambyses also named Nebuchadnezzar?

Image result for army of cambyses



 Damien F. Mackey


“The Chronicle of John of Nikiu who wrote of Cambyses[’] exploits after his name change to Nebuchadnezzar. He wrote of how Cambyses under his new name Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and desolated Egypt. It becomes apparent therefore that John gave credit to Cambyses for what Nebuchadnezzar accomplished”.


Previously I wrote, regarding likenesses I had perceived between Cambyses and my various alter egos for king Nebuchednezzar II (including Ashurbanipal and Nabonidus):

Common factors here may include ‘divine’ madness; confounding the priests by messing with the Babylonian rites; and the conquest of Egypt and Ethiopia.


I was then totally unaware of this name claim about Cambyses by John of Nikiu.

Part Two:

Named Nebuchednezzar, and can be Nebuchednezzar


… my enlargement of the historical Nebuchednezzar II, through alter egos,

to embrace Ashurbanipal and Nabonidus – and now, too, Cambyses – provides

a complete ‘profile’ of the biblical king that ‘covers all bases’, so to speak.


For some time, now, I have suspected that the mad but powerful, Egypt-conquering Cambyses had to be the same as the mad but powerful, Egypt-conquering Nebuchednezzar II.

And now I learn that the C7th AD Egyptian Coptic bishop, John of Nikiû (680-690 AD, conventional dating), had told that Cambyses was also called Nebuchednezzar.

This new piece of information has emboldened me to do – what I have wanted to – and that is to say with confidence that Cambyses was Nebuchednezzar II.

That Nebuchednezzar II also reigned in Susa is evidenced by (if I am right) my identification of him with the “king Artaxerxes” of the Book of Nehemiah, who was a “king of Babylon”.

See my series: “Governor Nehemiah’s master “Artaxerxes king of Babylon”,”, especially Part One:

and Part Two:

 Whilst critics can argue that the “king Nebuchednezzar” of the Book of Daniel may not necessarily be a good match for the historico-biblical Nebuchednezzar II, but that he seems more likely to have been based on king Nabonidus, my enlargement of the historical Nebuchednezzar II, through alter egos, to embrace Ashurbanipal and Nabonidus – and now, too, Cambyses – provides a complete ‘profile’ of the biblical king that ‘covers all bases’, so to speak.

Part Three:

‘Sacred disease’ (read madness) of King Cambyses


“In view of all this, I have no doubt that Cambyses was completely out of his mind;

it is the only possible explanation of his assault upon, and mockery of,

everything which ancient law and custom have made sacred in Egypt”.



When subjecting neo-Babylonian history to a serious revision, I had reached the conclusion that Nebuchednezzar II needed to be folded with Nabonidus, and that Nebuchednezzar II’s son-successor, Evil-Merodach, needed to be folded with Nabonidus’s son, Belshazzar.

That accorded perfectly with the testimony of the Book of Daniel that “Nebuchednezzar” was succeeded by his son, “Belshazzar”.


One of the various traits shared by Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar” and King Nabonidus was madness.

Useful in a discussion of this subject, I found, was Siegfried H. Horn’s article, “New light on Nebuchadnezzar’s madness”, which helpfully provided some possible evidence for madness in the case of Nebuchednezzar II.

Horn also proved useful in paving the way for my parallel situation of Evil-Merodach son of Nebuchednezzar II, and Belshazzar son of Nabonidus, when writing of Evil-Merodach’s possibly officiating in the place of a temporarily incapacitated king (as Belshazzar is known to have done in the case of Nabonidus).

Thus Horn wrote:


…. 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.




Books, articles and classics have been written about the madness of King Cambyses, he conventionally considered to have been the second (II) king of that name, a Persian (c. 529-522 BC), and the son/successor of Cyrus the Great.

The tradition is thought to have begun with the C5th BC Greek historian, Herodotus, according to whom (The Histories)


[3.29.1] When the priests led Apis in, Cambyses–for he was all but mad–drew his dagger and, meaning to stab the calf in the belly, stuck the thigh; then laughing he said to the priests: [3.29.2] “Simpletons, are these your gods, creatures of flesh and blood that can feel weapons of iron? That is a god worthy of the Egyptians. But for you, you shall suffer for making me your laughing-stock.” So saying he bade those, whose business it was, to scourge the priests well, and to kill any other Egyptian whom they found holiday-making. [3.29.3] So the Egyptian festival ended, and the priests were punished, and Apis lay in the temple and died of the wound in the thigh. When he was dead of the wound, the priests buried him without Cambyses’ knowledge.

[3.30.1] But Cambyses, the Egyptians say, owing to this wrongful act immediately went mad, although even before he had not been sensible. His first evil act was to destroy his full brother Smerdis, whom he had sent away from Egypt to Persia out of jealousy, because Smerdis alone could draw the bow brought from the Ethiopian by the Fish-eaters as far as two fingerbreadths, but no other Persian could draw it.

[3.30.2] Smerdis having gone to Persia, Cambyses saw in a dream a vision, in which it seemed to him that a messenger came from Persia and told him that Smerdis sitting on the royal throne touched heaven with his head.

[3.30.3] Fearing therefore for himself, lest his brother might slay him and so be king, he sent Prexaspes, the most trusted of his Persians, to Persia to kill him. Prexaspes went up to Susa and killed Smerdis; some say that he took Smerdis out hunting, others that he brought him to the Red Sea (the Persian Gulf) and there drowned him. ….


[End of quote]




Herodotus’ Comment on Cambyses’ Madness


[3.38] In view of all this, I have no doubt that Cambyses was completely out of his mind; it is the only possible explanation of his assault upon, and mockery of, everything which ancient law and custom have made sacred in Egypt.

[End of quote]



Scholarly articles have been written in an attempt to diagnose the illness of Cambyses, sometimes referred to – as in the case of Julius Caesar’s epilepsy – as a ‘divine’ or ‘sacred’ disease.

For example (


Arch Neurol. 2001 Oct; 58(10):1702-4.


The sacred disease of Cambyses II.


York GK1, Steinberg DA.



Herodotus’ account of the mad acts of the Persian king Cambyses II contains one of the two extant pre-Hippocratic Greek references to epilepsy. This reference helps to illuminate Greek thinking about epilepsy, and disease more generally, in the time immediately preceding the publication of the Hippocratic treatise on epilepsy, On the Sacred Disease. Herodotus attributed Cambyses’ erratic behavior as ruler of Egypt to either the retribution of an aggrieved god or to the fact that he had the sacred disease. Herodotus considered the possibility that the sacred disease was a somatic illness, agreeing with later Hippocratic authors that epilepsy has a natural rather than a divine cause. ….

[End of quote]


The character of Cambyses as presented in various ancient traditions is thoroughly treated in Herb Storck’s excellent monograph, History and Prophecy: A Study in the Post-Exilic Period (House of Nabu, 1989).


Messing with the rites


As was the case with King Nabonidus (= Nebuchednezzar II), so did Cambyses apparently fail properly to observe established protocol with the Babylonian rites.


Regarding the rebellious behaviour of King Nabonidus with regard to the rites, I wrote previously:


Confounding the Astrologers


Despite his superstitious nature the “Nebuchednezzar” of the Book of Daniel – and indeed his alter egos, Nebuchednezzar II/Nabonidus – did not hesitate at times to dictate terms to his wise men or astrologers (2:5-6):


The king replied to the astrologers, “This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble.  But if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. So tell me the dream and interpret it for me.”


And so, in the Verse Account, we read too of Nabonidus’ interference in matters ritualistic in the presence of sycophantic officials:


Yet he continues to mix up the rites, he confuses the hepatoscopic oracles. To the most important ritual observances, he orders an end; as to the sacred representations in Esagila -representations which Eamumma himself had fashioned- he looks at the representations and utters blasphemies.

When he saw the usar-symbol of Esagila, he makes an [insulting?] gesture. He assembled the priestly scholars, he expounded to them as follows: ‘Is not this the sign of ownership indicating for whom the temple was built? If it belongs really to Bêl, it would have been marked with the spade. Therefore the Moon himself has marked already his own temple with the usar-symbol!’

And Zeriya, the šatammu who used to crouch as his secretary in front of him, and Rimut, the bookkeeper who used to have his court position near to him, do confirm the royal dictum, stand by his words, they even bare their heads to pronounce under oath: ‘Now only we understand this situation, after the king has explained about it!’


[End of quote]


Paul-Alain Beaulieu, in his book, The Reign of Nabonidus, King of Babylon, 556-539 B.C. (1989), gives another similar instance pertaining to an eclipse (Col. III 2), likening it also to the action of “Nebuchednezzar” in the Book of Daniel (pp. 128-129):


The scribes brought baskets from Babylon (containing) the tablets of the series enūma Anu Enlil to check (it, but since) he did not hearken to (what it said), he did not understand what it meant.


The passage is difficult, but its general implications are clear. Whether Nabonidus had already made up his mind as to the meaning of the eclipse and therefore refused to check the astrological series, or did check them but disagreed with the scribes on their interpretation, it seems that the consecration of En-nigaldi-Nanna [daughter of Nabonidus] was felt to be uncalled for. This alleged stubbornness of the king is perhaps reflected in the Book of Daniel, in the passage where Nebuchednezzar (i.e. Nabonidus), after having dismissed the plea of the “Chaldeans”, states that the matter is settled for him (Daniel II, 3-5) ….


But this does not imply that Nabonidus was necessarily wrong in his interpretation of the eclipse; on the contrary, all the evidence suggests that he was right. However, he may have “forced” things slightly ….

[End of quote]


According to Encyclopaedia Iranica on Cambyses II:


A badly damaged passage in the chronicle of Nabonidus contains a report that, in order to legitimize his appointment, Cambyses partici­pated in the ritual prescribed for the king at the traditional New Year festival on 27 March 538 B.C., accepting the royal scepter from the hands of Marduk in Esagila, the god’s temple in Babylon (III. 24-28; Gray­son, p. 111). A. L. Oppenheim attempted a reconstruc­tion of the damaged text (Survey of Persian Art XV, p. 3501); according to his version, Cambyses entered the temple in ordinary Elamite attire, fully armed. The priests persuaded him to lay down his arms, but he refused to change his clothes for those prescribed in the ritual. He then received the royal scepter. In Oppenheim’s view Cambyses thus deliberately demon­strated “a deep-seated religious conviction” hostile to this alien religion (Camb. Hist. Iran II, p. 557).

[End of quote]

Part Four:

King Cambyses’ wanton treatment of Egypt-Ethiopia


“A Jewish document from 407 BC known as ‘The Demotic Chronicle’ speaks of

Cambyses destroying all the temples of the Egyptian gods”.


Of Nebuchednezzar II’s conquest of Egypt, well-attested in the Bible, it is extremely difficult to find substantial account in the historical records.

Not so with the conquest of Egypt and Ethiopia by Cambyses.


Nebuchednezzar II was, very early in his reign, militarily involved against Egypt – with greater or lesser success.


Early in 605 B.C. he met Necho, the king of Egypt, in battle and defeated him at Carchemish. A few months later Nabopolassar died, and Nebuchadnezzar hastened home to claim his throne. He soon returned to the west in order to secure the loyalty of Syria and Palestine and to collect tribute; among those who submitted were the rulers of Damascus, Tyre, Sidon, and Judah.


Nebuchadnezzar’s Conquests


In 601 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar attempted the invasion of Egypt but was repulsed with heavy losses. Judah rebelled, but Jerusalem fell in March 597 B.C., and the ruler, Jehoiakim, and his court were deported to Babylon. Eight years later another Jewish rebellion broke out; this time Jerusalem was razed and the population carried into captivity.


[End of quote]


This article then follows with an intriguing piece of information: “Expeditions against the Arabs in 582 B.C. and another attempt at invading Egypt in 568 B.C. receive brief mention in Nebuchadnezzar’s later records”.


But sceptics say that Nebuchednezzar II never actually succeeded in conquering Egypt, hence the Bible is wrong, and that it was Cambyses instead who conquered Egypt. For instance:




The Bible never says Nebuchadnezzar the Second (hereafter Neb-2) conquered Egypt.  The idea Neb-2 conquered Egypt would never have been considered a serious historical possibility, but for 4 facts:


  1. Jeremiah & Ezekiel both predicted that Neb-2 would conquer Egypt.
  2. Jeremiah & Ezekiel are both considered true prophets.
  3. According to Deut. 18:22, true prophets are never wrong about a prediction.
  4. Jesus said (Mat 5:18) “One jot or one tittle shall in no way pass from the law until all be fulfilled.” b.  Paul said (2Tim 3:16) “All scripture is given by inspiration of God,” Both of these verses are erroneously interpreted by many Christians as meaning the entire Bible contains no errors.


If you disagree with the preceding statement, the rest of this essay will be irrelevant to you, because you will be judging all historical evidence by its conformity to the Bible. This makes you literally not worth talking to outside of the company of others who do the same. Such Christians to try to muddy historical evidence that contradicts the Bible. e.g. One proposed that there were two Nebuchadnezzars, the second being Cambyses: (Actually there were two Nebs, but the first ruled Babylon c.1124-1104BC.)  This essay is based on the assumption that the historical parts of the Bible should be judged for accuracy by the same rules as any other ancient historical document.


Unlike any supposed conquest by NEB-2, the conquest of Egypt by CAMBYSES-2 is well attested.

[End of quote]



Cambyses in Egypt


The above article is correct at least in its final statement quoted here: “… the conquest of Egypt by CAMBYSES-2 is well attested”.


The article goes on to tell of the various ancient evidences for this great conquest:




We possess the autobiography of the admiral of the Egyptian fleet, Wedjahor-Resne.  It is written on a small statue now in the Vatican Museums in Rome.  After the conquest of Egypt, Wedjahor-Resne was Cambyses’ right-hand man.

“The great king of all foreign countries Cambyses came to Egypt, taking the foreigners of every foreign country with him. When he had taken possession of the entire country, they settled themselves down therein, and he was made great sovereign of Egypt and great king of all foreign countries.  His Majesty appointed me his chief physician and caused me to stay with him in my quality of companion and director of the palace, and ordered me to compose his titulary, his name as king of Upper and Lower Egypt.”

In an inscription on the statue of Udjadhorresnet, a Saite priest and doctor, as well as a former naval officer, we learn that Cambyses II was prepared to work with and promote native Egyptians to assist in government, and that he showed at least some respect for Egyptian religion:


“I let His Majesty know the greatness of Sais, that it is the seat of Neith-the-Great, mother who bore Re and inaugurated birth when birth had not yet been…I made a petition to the majesty of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Cambyses, about all the foreigners who dwelled in the temple of Neith, in order to have them expelled from it., so as to let the temple of Neith be in all its splendor, as it had been before.  His Majesty commanded to expel all the foreigners who dwelled in the temple of Neith, to demolish all their houses and all their unclean things that were in the temple. When they had carried all their personal belongings outside the wall of the temple, His Majesty commanded to cleanse the temple of Neith and to return all its personnel to it…and the hour-priests of the temple.  His Majesty commanded to give divine offerings to Neith-the-Great, the mother of god, and to the great gods of Sais, as it had been before.  His Majesty knew the greatness of Sais, that it is a city of all the gods, who dwell there on their seats forever.”




Herodotus (who, to my knowledge, never mentions Nebuchadnezzar by name) describes his Hanging Gardens, but never mentions him in relation to Egypt, though Herodotus does talk about pharaohs Necho, Hophra, Ahmose, & Psamtik.  [Necos, Apries, Amasis, and Psammis] and of course, Cambyses.

Herodotus notes how the Persians easily entered Egypt across the desert.  They were advised by the defecting mercenary general, Phanes of Halicarnassus, to employ the Bedouins as guides.  However, Phanes had left his two sons in Egypt.  We are told that for his treachery, as the armies of the Persians and the mercenary army of the Egyptians met, his sons were bought out in front of the Egyptian army where they could be seen by their father, and there throats were slit over a large bowl.  Afterwards, Herodotus tells us that water and wine were added to the contents of the bowl and drunk by every man in the Egyptian force.

“When Cambyses had entered the palace of Amasis, he gave command to take the corpse of Amasis out of his burial-place. When this had been done, he ordered [his courtiers] to scourge it and pluck out the hair and stab it, and to dishonor it in every other possible way.  When they had done this too, they were wearied out, for the corpse was embalmed and held out against the violence and did not fall to pieces.  Cambyses gave command to consume it with fire, a thing that was not permitted by his own religion.  The Persians hold fire to be a god and to consume corpses with fire is by no means according to the Persian or Egyptian custom.” [Histories 3.16]


MANETHO lists the pharaohs of the 26th dynasty, then cites the Persians as the 27th dynasty.

“Cambyses reigned over his own kingdom, Persia, five years, and then over Egypt one year.”




According to king, Darius I’s BEHISTUN INSCRIPTION, Cambyses, before going to Egypt, had secretly killed his brother, Bardiya, whom Herodotus called Smerdis.  The murdered prince was, however, impersonated by Gaumata the Magian, who in March 522 seized the Achaemenid throne.  Cambyses, on his return from Egypt, heard of the revolt in Syria, where he died in the summer of 522, either by his own hand or as the result of an accident.

(10) King Darius says: The following is what was done by me after I became king.  A son of Cyrus, named Cambyses, one of our dynasty, was king here before me. That Cambyses had a brother, Smerdis by name, of the same mother and the same father as Cambyses.  Afterwards, Cambyses slew this Smerdis.  When Cambyses slew Smerdis, it was not known unto the people that Smerdis was slain.  Thereupon Cambyses went to Egypt.  When Cambyses had departed into Egypt, the people became hostile, and the lie multiplied in the land, even in Persia and Media, and in the other provinces.




A Jewish document from 407 BC known as ‘The Demotic Chronicle’ speaks of Cambyses destroying all the temples of the Egyptian gods.

Greek geographer STRABO of Amasia visited Thebes in 24 BC and saw the ruins of several temples said (by local priests) to have been destroyed by Cambyses.


[End of quote]


Part Five: Cambyses – in your dreams


 “Cambyses has a “Nebuchednezzar” like dream-vision

of a king whose head touched heaven”.



Our neo-Babylonian king, Nabonidus, was, true to form (as an alter ego for Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar”), a frequent recipient of dreams and visions.

For example, I wrote previously:


Nabonidus was, like “Nebuchednezzar”, an excessively pious man, and highly superstitious. The secret knowledge of which he boasted was what he had acquired through his dreams. Another characteristic that Nabonidus shared with “Nebuchednezzar”. Nabonidus announced (loc. cit.): “The god Ilteri has made me see (dreams), he has made everything kno[wn to me]. I surpass in all (kinds of) wisdom (even the series) uskar-Anum-Enlilla, which Adap[a] composed”. ….

[End of quote]


In Beaulieu’s book … we read further of King Nabonidus:


“I did not stop going to the diviner and the dream interpreter”.


And of King Nebuchednezzar II – with whom I am equating Nabonidus – the prophet Ezekiel writes similarly of that king’s omen seeking (21:21): “The king of Babylon now stands at the fork, uncertain whether to attack Jerusalem or Rabbah. He calls his magicians to look for omens. They cast lots by shaking arrows from the quiver. They inspect the livers of animal sacrifices”.

[End of quote]


Ashurbanipal, likewise – he being yet another alter ego – gave immense credence to dreams and used a dream book. Ashurbanipal was, like Nabonidus, more superstitious, if I may say it, than Nostradamus being pursued by a large black cat under a ladder – on the thirteenth.

Karen Radner tells of Ashurbanipal’s reliance upon dreams, in Of God(s), Trees, Kings, and scholars (p. 224):


In the Biblical attestations, especially in the stories of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and Joseph in Egypt, the arummîm17 [wizards] figure prominently as experts in the interpretation of dreams, and it may be this kind of expertise which the aribē offered to the Assyrian king; dream oracles were certainly popular with Assurbanipal who used dreams … to legitimise his actions in his royal inscriptions … and whose library contained the dream omen series Zaqīqu (also Ziqīqu). ….

[End of quote]


Now, what of Cambyses in this regard?

Well, according to Herodotus (


[3.30.1] But Cambyses, the Egyptians say, owing to this wrongful act immediately went mad, although even before he had not been sensible. His first evil act was to destroy his full brother Smerdis, whom he had sent away from Egypt to Persia out of jealousy, because Smerdis alone could draw the bow brought from the Ethiopian by the Fish-eaters as far as two fingerbreadths, but no other Persian could draw it. [3.30.2] Smerdis having gone to Persia, Cambyses saw in a dream a vision, in which it seemed to him that a messenger came from Persia and told him that Smerdis sitting on the royal throne touched heaven with his head. [3.30.3] Fearing therefore for himself, lest his brother might slay him and so be king, he sent Prexaspes, the most trusted of his Persians, to Persia to kill him. Prexaspes went up to Susa and killed Smerdis; some say that he took Smerdis out hunting, others that he brought him to the Red Sea (the Persian Gulf) and there drowned him.

[End of quote]

This is actually, as we shall now find, quite Danielic.

Cambyses has a “Nebuchednezzar” like dream-vision of a king whose head touched heaven. Likewise, “Nebuchednezzar” had a dream of a “tree … which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky” (Daniel 4:20).

Now, given that this “tree” symbolised “Nebuchednezzar” himself, who was also according to an earlier dream a “head of gold (Daniel 2:38), then one might say that, as in the case of Cambyses dream-vision of a king whose head touched heaven, so did “Nebuchednezzar” touch the sky (heaven) with his head (of gold).


How did Nebuchednezzar manage to tear offenders limb from limb?

Image result for assyrian lion hunt


 Damien F. Mackey


The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, ‘The word from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you shall be torn limb from limb,

and your houses shall be laid in ruins’.

 Daniel 2:5


Did the Chaldean king have at his disposal, like the god Dionysus, a devoted group of frenzied maenads (females), whose specialty was tearing men limb from limb?

… [the maenads] were also known for being most cruel against the enemies of the god they worshipped. For being possessed by the unusual strength that came from bacchic frenzy, they could tear apart whoever came in their way, as it happened to King Pentheus 1 of Thebes, who was torn limb by limb by them. And they could rout armies, for they could not be wounded when touched by enemy weapons, but they inflicted casualties on their opponents by hurling the thyrsoi at them. It is also said that they could carry heavy objects on their shoulders without holding them with bounds, and that they carried fire on their locks without being burned. So, possessing such amazing qualities, they could fall upon towns, turning everything upside down, for no one could resist them. And yet it is told that the MAENADS were imprisoned by King Lycurgus 1 (known for being fond of cutting people to pieces, and for decorating his gates with their extremities), the first to oppose Dionysus 2, some say in Thrace.


The key to this, I think, must be “the lions’ den” about which one reads in Daniel 67-27, and, again, in the tale of Bel and the Dragon, which two accounts relate to the one incident according to my article:


Was Daniel Twice in the Lions’ Den?

This incident occurred just a few years after the death of Nebuchednezzar, the king being, now, Darius the Mede (Daniel 6), who is named Cyrus in Bel and the Dragon.

The Medo-Persian king’s opponents were indeed torn limb from limb – as lions are wont to do (Daniel 6:24; cf. Bel, v. 42): “And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones”.


Ashurbanipal, rather than Nebuchednezzar II, would be considered to have been the great hunter of lions:

From the great frieze in the British Museum, this detail depicts the royal lion hunt of the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal. It is part of the palace at Nineveh and dates to about 645-635 BC. Captured lions, which had been a menace to domestic animals as well as to men, were released one-by-one from cages into an arena surrounded by dogs and soldiers with tall shields to keep any from escaping. They then were shot by the king from his chariot.


But that does not matter, given my identification of this Ashurbanipal with Nebuchednezzar (= Nabonidus):

Ashurbanipal and Nabonidus

Having these alter egos for king Nebuchednezzar II serves a most useful purpose.

In relation to the biblical “Nebuchednezzar”, as a king of dreams, it helps to have the very dream-obsessed Nabonidus as an alter ego.

It helps, too, to have Nabonidus’s phase of madness, and his absence from Babylon.


Ashurbanipal, too, helps in various ways.

He, we have found, had a lions’ den.

He also used a burning fiery furnace – he placed his own brother therein. And Ashurbanipal’s Egyptian campaigns are the missing link for those attributed to Nebuchednezzar in the OT, but so poorly attested in the historical records.



Early parts of Book of Daniel clearly based upon Nabonidus


Part One:

Failure by scholars to make right connections



Damien F. Mackey


“Clearly these events from the «reign» of Belshazzar create a historical problem since we know from the ancient Near Eastern descriptions he was never truly the king of Babylon. Additionally, five times the book of Daniel refers to Nebuchadnezzar as Belshazzar’s father (5, This clearly contradicts the cuneiform sources that record Nebuchadnezzar as having only one son who assumed the throne (Amel-Marduk) and state that Nabonidus was the father of Belshazzar”.

Amanda Davis Bledsoe


A view such as Bledsoe’s here must also take into account the Book of Baruch, however, which, too, names Nebuchednezzar as the father of Belshazzar (1:11): “ … and pray for the life of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, and for the life of his son Belshazzar …”.


Historians and archaeologists can be peculiar in that, when they uncover an historical scenario that perfectly mirrors a significant biblical event – like, for instance, the catastrophic fall of ancient Jericho at the end of Early Bronze III (c. 2200 BC) – they must reject it as corresponding with the biblical incident (c. C15th BC) on the grounds that the dates of the ‘two’ by no means coincide – instead of their considering the possibility that the received dating system may indeed be seriously flawed. 


A case somewhat parallel to the Jericho one can be found, for instance, with King Nabonidus, who – given his uncanny likenesses to the Book of Daniel’s king “Nebuchednezzar” – is thought to have been the Chaldean king, rather than Nebuchednezzar (II) himself, upon whom the author of Daniel must have based his “Nebuchednezzar”.


In previous articles I have considered some of the significant parallels that scholars have discerned between “Nebuchednezzar” and Nabonidus – for instance, Carol A. Newsom, in my:


Does King Nabonidus Reflect Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar”?


and, again, John A. Tvedtnes in my:


Ashurbanipal and Nabonidus


Now, too, Amanda Davis Bledsoe has, in her article, “The Identity of the “Mad King” of Daniel 4 in the Light of Ancient Near Eastern Sources”, drawn further amazing parallels between Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar” and Nabonidus.

It has apparently not occurred to any of these three scholars though, unfortunately, that Nabonidus might therefore be Nebuchednezzar, and that Nabonidus’s son, Belshazzar, might therefore be Daniel’s (and Baruch’s) “Belshazzar”.



For more on what I consider to be the necessary streamlining of neo-Assyrian/neo-Babylonian history, against that of Judah and a revised Egypt, see my series:

Ashurbanipal, Manasseh, Necho I-II, Nebuchednezzar. Part One: Questions in need of new answers

Ashurbanipal, Manasseh, Necho I-II, Nebuchednezzar. Part Two (i): Ashurbanipal as Nebuchednezzar


Ashurbanipal, Manasseh, Necho I-II, Nebuchednezzar. Part Three: Comparing Ashurbanipal and Nebuchednezzar II (= Nabonidus)


Part Two:

“Nebuchednezzar” and king Nabonidus entwined


“… while Nabonidus was in Teima he had a frightening dream, after which he returned to Babylon. The designation, «frightening», is a remarkable parallel between this text and Daniel 4:5”.

Amanda Davis Bledsoe


In Part One: we touched upon the perverse tendency of certain scholars, who, whilst identifying an historical-archaeological situation that very much mirrors one recorded in the Bible, do not even consider that there may be a need to reform the conventional dating (historical-archaeological), in order to bring that scenario right into line with the biblical one.

Or, perhaps the kings listed in some dynasties might have been duplicated, meaning that there is a need to truncate that particular dynasty.


The knee-jerk reaction seems almost universally to insist that the biblical story is fictitious, but is loosely based upon some real historical incident of a different time.


Again, some kings are in need of alter egos.

King Nebuchednezzar II himself, for instance, needs to be filled out with the equally long reigning Ashurbanipal, in whose records is the missing evidence for Nebuchednezzar’s destructive path through Egypt – which neither Jeremiah nor Ezekiel miss, however.

Now Amanda Davis Bledsoe whom we met in Part One, whilst noting that “… it is clear that, like Nebuchadnezzar, Nabonidus completed extensive building projects throughout Babylon”, thinks nevertheless that: “However, unlike Nebuchadnezzar, Nabonidus was a very controversial figure. He is said to have broken from the earlier customs in every way: he disregarded his religious and festal duties; he neglected his rule in Babylon residing instead in the desert oasis of Teima …”.

Still, a Nebuchednezzar-enhanced-with-Ashurbanipal might be found to be more Nasbonidus-like. On this, I have written previously:


Nabonidus is somewhat like an Assyrian king. He adopts Assyrian titulature and boasts of having the Assyrian kings as his “royal ancestors”. There is nothing particularly strange about his supposed long stay in Teima in Arabia. This was a typical campaign region adopted by the neo-Assyrian kings. There is nothing particularly remarkable about his desire to restore the Ehulhul temple of Sin in Harran. Ashurbanipal did that.


Nabonidus is said to have had two major goals, to restore that Sin temple and to establish the empire of Babylon along the lines of the neo-Assyrians. Once again, Ashurbanipal is particularly mentioned as being his inspiration.


Nabonidus was not singular in not taking the hand of Bel in Babylon for many years, due to what he calls the impiety of the Babylonians. Ashurbanipal (and now you will notice that he keeps turning up) could not shake the hand of Bel after his brother Shamash-shum-ukin had revolted against him, barring Babylon, Borsippa, etc. to him. He tells us this explicitly.


Nabonidus is not singular either in not expecting to become king. Ashurbanipal had felt the same.


…. They share many Babylonian building works and restorations, too.

[End of quote]


We follow Amanda Davis Bledsoe now in some of her comparisons of Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar” with Nabonidus:



Chapters one through six of the book of Daniel have been loosely woven together by a later editor [sic], each chapter representing a complete and distinct story that can stand on its own.

Of these six chapters, the first four are attributed to the reign of Nebuchadnezzar and the latter two to the reign of Belshazzar. Clearly these events from the «reign» of Belshazzar create a historical problem since we know from the ancient Near Eastern descriptions he was never truly the king of Babylon. Additionally, five times the book of Daniel refers to Nebuchadnezzar as Belshazzar’s father (5, This clearly contradicts the cuneiform sources that record Nebuchadnezzar as having only one son who assumed the throne (Amel-Marduk) and state that Nabonidus was the father of Belshazzar.


Mackey’s comment: How about Belshazzar = Amel-Marduk?

Amanda Davis Bledsoe continues:


These instances begin to show how the narratives concerning Nebuchadnezzar and Nabonidus are entwined in the biblical account. I will now examine each of the three subsections of Daniel 4: the king’s dream, his affliction, and his repentance and restoration, and look at the parallels between each of these sections and the cuneiform sources describing the reign of Nabonidus. ….


The King’s dream (Dan 4,1–15 MT/4,4–18 NRSV)


The first section begins with a narration by the king describing his dream and his reaction. He asserts that, «I saw a dream that frightened me; my fantasies in bed and the visions of my head terrified me»(Dan 4,5 NRSV). The king then summons all the wise men of Babylon to decipher the dream and tell him its meaning, but none are able except Daniel.


There are two important elements in this section of the narrative which I will examine: (1) the king’s frightful dream and (2) his seeking an interpreter, which I will examine separately.2.1.


The Frightful Dream


Nabonidus has been referred to as «the only known Babylonian dreamer».

That he had a strong preoccupation with dreams is indicated in several cuneiform documents. One such text was discovered in the royal palace at Babylon.

This inscription begins with a historical prologue briefly detailing the reigns of the Neo-Babylonian kings. Beginning in column V, it turns to Nabonidus’s reign and his accession to the throne. Columns VI-VII report dreams and visions Nabonidus in which Nebuchadnezzar and two Babylonian gods appear to him, showing their approval of his rule.

Another inscription, whose location and date of discovery are unknown, was recorded on a bead originally inlaid in a dagger. Here too, there is a report of a dream Nabonidus had where the god, Sîn spoke to him and requested a dagger.

The most important text for our discussion of Nabonidus’s fixation with dreams is the Harran stela.

This inscription recounts the reign of Nabonidus and his restoration of a temple. Most importantly, it records that while Nabonidus was in Teima he had a frightening dream, after which he returned to Babylon. The designation, «frightening», is a remarkable parallel between this text and Daniel 4:5. Though in this inscription Nabonidus had the dream in Teima (as opposed to Babylon) and it caused him to return to Babylon (rather than to leave), it is still clear that in each case the dream serves as the cause for the king’s movements, explicitly linking his sojourn outside of Babylon with his having a frightening dream.

Though there is no specific locale mentioned in Daniel for where the king went, only that «he was driven away from human society», we can relate this event to Nabonidus’s absence from Babylon and his residence in the small oasis city of Teima as recorded in the cuneiform inscriptions. It seems certain that the population living in the massive capitol city of Babylon would have viewed this remote desert oasis as far from «human society». As for the animalistic descriptions of the king’s affliction in Daniel 4, though there are no exact parallels in the cuneiform sources relating to Nabonidus’s reign, there are many ancient Near Eastern mythological texts which attest the tendency of the urban population to view «groups living outside of the civilized urban centers» as extremely primitive, «living like and amidst wild animals».

An ex-ample of this is seen in Tablet I of The Epic of Gilgamesh, where the character, Enkidu is transformed «from wild beast to civilized man» as a result of his sexual encounter with a prostitute.

Of additional importance is Berossus’s reflection of primordial men where, drawing on a Sumerian text, he says, «He does not know how to eat bread or to wear garments. Instead, he eats grass like the animals, and drinks water from the watering places».

These so-called «naturalistic descriptions of uncivilized peoples,» are a running motif in ancient Near Eastern mythology, found in Sumero-Akkadian spells, poems, and prayers.

In a recent article, Christopher Hays shows how these texts associate animal imagery or transformation with chains or fetters and divine judgment, thus corresponding to the king’s transformation in Daniel 4. It is also not difficult to imagine that this same imagery could have been invoked by the Babylonian population and applied to Nabonidus and his abandonment of the capitol city.


Length of Absence


Another parallel between the Danielic narrative and the cuneiform sources is the length of time given for the king’s absence. In Daniel 4, the king’s affliction lasted seven years.

Based on the cuneiform documents, we know that «Nabonidus left Babylon for Arabia from the second month of his third year and returned in the seventh month of his thirteenth year»; approximately ten years.

In the case of Daniel, it has been proposed that the number seven was used «as a round figure», a number which has tremendous significance in the biblical tradition, and this should be a close enough approximation to reflect the same tradition.

Whether seven or ten years, this is certainly a substantial amount of time for the king to be away from Babylon, something that could not have escaped notice of the cuneiform records of Nebuchadnezzar had it occurred during his reign. A further similarity between the Danielic narrative and the cuneiform sources is their employment of comparable phrases to signal the king’s exile. In Dan 4,33 it is said that «immediately the sentence was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar» and in 4,34 «when that period was over», he returned.

In column III of the Harran inscription, it is said that «fulfilled was the year, the appointed time arrived».

Both texts use the idea of a proscribed amount of time that the king was away from Babylon, serving as yet another parallel.3.3


Cause of his «madness»


The final consideration for the king’s affliction is the apparent cause of his madness. The narrative of Daniel 4 takes for granted that the source of the king’s madness is affliction by God for his excessive pride.

Dan 4,30-31 shows the king in his palace, saying «Is this not magnificent Babylon, which I have built as a royal capital by my mighty power and for my glorious majesty?» (my own emphasis). It was «while these words were still in the king’s mouth» that a voice came from heaven and the king’s sentence is carried out. An equivalent of this can be seen in the Verse Account, where Nabonidus is portrayed as exceedingly mad in his incredible prideful boasts:

He [Nabonidus] wrote upon his stel[as: «I did cause him [Cyrus] to prostrate] at my feet. I conquered his countries. I took his possessions to [my country]». He [Nabonidus] 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]…I surpass in all (kinds of) wisdom (even the series)

uskar-Anum-Enlilla,  which Adap[a] composed…» (Yet) he would mix up the rites, confuse the omens… (Verse Account, Col.V, 7-14).

That Nabonidus’s actions are associated with inciting the wrath of the deity seems to especially parallel Daniel 4, where the king is judged for his lack of humility and afflicted until he will recognize the power of the Most High.4.


The King’s prayer and restoration (Dan 4,31-34 MT/4,34-37  NRSV)


In the final sequence of events of Daniel 4, the king accepts and praises the sovereignty of God and is re-established over his kingdom. There are two central motifs at play in this section: (1) the king’s prayer and repentance and (2) his restoration and celebration.4.1


Prayer and Repentance


First, we see that the prayer of the king detailed in the last few verses of Daniel 4 serves as a repentance narrative.

Some have taken the king’s «repentance» a step further, in positing his «conversion». See M. Henze, Nebuchadnezzar, in The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism, ed. A.M. Davis ….

…. his prior transformation and absence from Babylon, the king now proclaims his reverence to the same God who caused that affliction.

I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored the one who lives forever. For his sovereignty is an everlasting sovereignty, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does what he will with the host of heaven and the inhabitants of the earth. There is no one who can stay his hand or say to him, «What are you doing?» (Dan 4,34b-35NRSV).

The various cuneiform inscriptions discovered, which exhibit Nabonidus’s promotion of the moon god, Sîn, certainly could have served as a basis for this tale of repentance in Daniel 4.

It is well attested that Nabonidus was responsible for the reorganization of the Eanna temple bureaucracy in Uruk. The extent of his devotion to Sîn is especially evident in a building inscription from Ur, likely written after his return from Teima.

This inscription cites Nabonidus’s rebuilding of the ziggurat Elugalgalgasisa of the Egishnugaltemple-complex at Ur. It is in this inscription that we see Nabonidus’s strongest exaltation of Sîn, as he prays to the deity on behalf of his son, Belshazzar. He prays, «O Sîn, lord of the gods, king of the god sof heaven and the underworld, god of gods, who dwells in the great heavens…». This is certainly a reverent invocation and it has even been said that this is «probably the highest epithet ever given to a god in the Mesopotamian tradition.  ….


King Belshazzar cannot be properly accounted for following conventional Babylonian king-list

Image result for king belshazzar



Damien F. Mackey


Before proper sense can be made of the neo-Babylonian to Medo-Persian succession of kings as set out in the Book of Daniel, it is absolutely necessary to appreciate that some of the rulers listed in the king-lists are duplicates, requiring a truncating of those king-lists.




A perfect example of what will happen when a well-intentioned commentator attempts to defend the historicity of the Book of Daniel within the structures of convention is found in the following article grappling with “The Belshazzar Problem”, at Unam Sanctam Catholicam:


Of all the books of the Bible, perhaps none has suffered so many attacks from the historical critical school as the Book of Daniel. Virtually every story in the book has been derided as a fanciful post-Exile invention. The composition of the book is usually dated to the Maccabean period, while Daniel, Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego are regarded as nationalist myths, ancient Israelite versions of Paul Bunyan and Rip Van Winkle. The Jewish protagonists are not the only characters in the book to suffer such abuse; the Babylonian king, Belshazzar, is also commonly held to be a mere fable. The reason for this is rather simple: the Book of Daniel says that Belshazzar was the last King of Babylon and that he was killed the night the Persians took the city, after the famous incident of the handwriting on the wall. Ancient historians, however, are very clear that a ruler named Nabonidus was the last King of Babylon, and that he was captured by the Persians, not killed. Thus Belshazzar has been a poster-child for the biblical skeptics who gleefully point to the clear contradiction between secular history and Scripture as proof of the Bible’s historical unreliability.

What the Scriptures Say

The Book of Daniel states clearly that at the time Babylon fell, the kingdom was being ruled by one Belshazzar, the “son of Nebuchadnezzar.” Scripture states several things about Belshazzar:

“Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his nobles: and every one drank according to his age” (Dan. 5:1).

“And being now drunk he commanded that they should bring the vessels of gold and silver which Nebuchadnezzar his father had brought away out of the temple” (Dan. 5:2).

“That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain. And Darius the Mede succeeded to the kingdom” (Dan. 5:31).

From these passages we can see that Scripture affirms three things about Belshazzar: First, that he was indeed regarded as King of Babylon; second, that Nebuchadnezzar was his “father.” Finally, that he was the last king, as he was slain on the very night that the Persians took the kingdom. These three points are undeniably attested by Scripture, and calling to mind the teachings of Leo XIII, St. Pius X, and Benedict XV that Scripture is inerrant in everything it affirms, even historical facts, we must unhesitatingly affirm the veracity of the Biblical narrative.

The Ancient Historians

The problem, ostensibly, is that the biblical narrative does not agree with what we know of Babylonian history, at least on its face. The history of the neo-Babylonian empire was well-recorded by ancient writers: Herodotus, Berosus, Abydenus, Ptolemy, Josephus and Theodoret all composed histories on the Babylonians and Assyrians. None of them mention any king named Belshazzar; in fact, they all agree that the King of Babylon at the time the city fell was not Belshazzar, whom they all fail to mention, but one Nabonidus, a son-in-law of Nebuchadnezzar. The ancient historians all agree that the succession of the neo-Babylonian empire ran thus:

1) Nebuchadnezzar

2) Evil-Merodach

3) Negrilissar

4) Labashi-Marduk

5) Nabonidus


It was during the reign of Nabonidus that the city fell to the Persians, and Nabonidus was taken into captivity by Cyrus the Persians. Neither Herodotus nor Josephus nor any of the others mention anybody named Belshazzar. This led the early biblical skeptics of the Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment German critical school to attack the historicity of the Book of Daniel.

The Nabonidus Cylinder

The Nabonidus Cylinder, British Museum

This haughty dismissal of the narrative in the Book of Daniel was thrown into doubt by the discovery of the so-called Nabonidus Cylinder in 1854. The artifact is a large clay cylinder, discovered amidst the ruins of Ur by British archaeologist J.G. Taylor and recording the deeds of King Nabonidus; later cylinders of Nabonidus were discovered in Sippar in 1888. In total, four cylinders were recovered, all depicting the activities of Nabonidus as the Babylonian Empire teetered towards collapse.

It is in the 1854 cylinder that we see the first extra-biblical reference to Belshazzar. In this cylinder, Nabonidus prays to the moon-goddess Sin that his son may be faithful to her cult:


May it be that I, Nabonidus, king of Babylon, never fail you. And may my firstborn, Belshazzar, worship you with all his heart.” [1]

So the existence of Belshazzar was proven definitively. But, the skeptics argued, the Book of Daniel also claimed that Belshazzar was the last King of Babylon, and we know for a fact that Nabonidus was the last king. This had puzzled Christian scholars prior to the 1850’s; some had tried to posit that Belshazzar was another name for Nabonidus, or attempted other means of reconciling Berosus and Herodotus with Daniel.


Mackey’s comment: Those who “had tried to posit that Belshazzar was another name for Nabonidus” were on the right sort of track. But it was Nebuchednezzar who “was another name for Nabonidus”, and the “Belshazzar” mentioned above in relation to “the 1854 cylinder” was – as according to the Book of Daniel, but also Baruch 1:11: “… and pray for King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia and his son Belshazzar” – the son of Nebuchednezzar (who was Nabonidus). See e.g. my articles:


“Nebuchednezzar” of the Book of Daniel



Ashurbanipal and Nabonidus

The Unam Sanctam Catholicam article continues:

Other cylinders in the collection shed light on this.

One passage describes how Nabonidus left Babylon for a campaign for an extended period of time and entrusted the government of Babylon to Belshazzar:

“[Nabonidus] entrusted the army to his oldest son, his first born, the troops in the country he ordered under his command. He let everything go, entrusted the kingship to him, and, himself, he started out for a long journey. The military forces of Akkad marching with him, he turned to Temâ deep in the west“[2]

It seems that Nabonidus, though technically King of Babylon, was absent from his kingdom for an extended period and left the reins of power in the hands of his son, Belshazzar. This complements the ancient historians well, for all agree that Nabonidus spent almost ten years of his reign in the Arabian oasis city of Tamya due to conflicts with the Marduk priesthood within Babylon. Thus, like Richard the Lionheart, Nabonidus was an absentee monarch who preferred to entrust actual rule to his son, just as Richard ruled through the agency of John his brother. The only difference between Richard/ Nabonidus and John/Belshazzar is that, unlike John, Belshazzar was actually invested with the plenitude of royal authority; hence the cylinder says he received “the kingship”; in Akkadian, šarrûtu, which means “kingship” or “royal power.”

This is not surprising since co-regency was common in the ancient world; students of western civilization are familiar enough with it from the examples of the ancient Spartan kings, the dual Roman consulate, and later, the practice of having multiple emperors (Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus, for example). In the ancient Semitic kingdoms it was not unheard of either; the founder of the neo-Babylonian dynasty, Nabopolassar, had shared power with Nebuchadnezzar, his son. Thus, we cannot find any cultural or historical objection why Belshazzar should not rightfully be called “King of Babylon”; he was a co-regent with Nabonidus, just as Galerius was a co-Caesar with Diocletian.


Mackey’s comment: For my different angle on Galerius and Diocletian, see:


King Herod ‘the Great’, Sulla, and Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’. Part Three: Add to the mix Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus


The Unam Sanctam Catholicam article continues, but it is now about to run into the inevitable problem of reconciling the Bible with ‘history’: “The narrative of Daniel is not safe yet, however …”.


Nevertheless, because Nabonidus was the father and Belshazzar the son, Nabonidus is given pride of place in all the king lists.

Son of Nebuchadnezzar?

The narrative of Daniel is not safe yet, however, for Daniel clearly states that Nebuchadnezzar was the father of Belshazzar, while the Nabonidus Cylinders say Belshazzar was the son of Nabonidus, who was a son-in-law of Nebuchadnezzar; this would make Belshazzar a maternal grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, but not a son, as Daniel claims.

We need not be troubled by this. Expressions of family relation in Semitic cultures are much looser than they are in the west.

Abraham and Lot are called brothers even though Lot is Abraham’s nephew; Jacob is called the brother of Laban even though he is his nephew. The Pharisees call Abraham their “father” even though he lived 1,800 years prior to their own age. All kings of the House of David are called “sons of David” regardless of how far removed from David they are; St. Joseph and our Lord Jesus Christ are both called “son of David”, meaning nothing more than that he is of the house of David.

Thus, reading that Nebuchadnezzar is called the father of Belshazzar when he is actually the grandfather should not cause alarm; to say Belshazzar is the son of Nebuchadnezzar is to say nothing more than that he is of the house of Nebuchadnezzar, which is certainly true.

The Sequence of Events

Thus, taking into account what we know from the Book of Daniel and the pagan historians, the following is the sequence of events leading up to the seizure of Babylon by the Persians:


  • King Cyrus of Persia defeated Nabonidus in battle outside the city.
  • Nabonidus fled. He later surrendered and Cyrus spared his life.
  • The Persians besieged Babylon, then under the control of Belshazzar.
  • Belshazzar, thinking himself safe behind Babylon’s famous triple-walls, did not bother with a spirited defense, but instead feasted and made merry as he was wont to do.
  • The Persians, however, diverted the Euphrates, causing the water-level in a culvert to drop. This allowed them to wade through waist-deep water into the city, and surprised the defenders.
  • The city was taken without a fight. Surprised and caught in a scuffle in the palace, Belshazzar was slain.This sequence of events is consonant with the histories of Berosus, Herodotus, et al., is faithful to what we know of Nabonidus and Belshazzar from the Nabonidus Cylinders, follows the narrative of the Book of Daniel, and is not at all implausible.

[1] Nabonidus Cylinder, iii.3-31

  • [2] Nabonidus Cylinder, ii. 18-29
  • The skeptics who claim the Book of Daniel is unhistorical will need to look elsewhere.




My Conclusion


Actually those “skeptics” have a point within the context of text book history, which is built upon highly unreliable sources such as Berosus and Herodotus who (whoever they really were) amalgamated and confused Assyrian-Babylonian and Medo-Persian history.


Before proper sense can be made of the neo-Babylonian to Medo-Persian succession of kings as set out in the Book of Daniel, it is absolutely necessary to appreciate that some of the rulers listed in the king-lists are duplicates, requiring a truncating of those king-lists.


Daniel was the wisest of the wise

Image result for wise prophet daniel



 Damien F. Mackey


Daniel was, as I have argued following Jewish Talmudic writers,

the new Moses, and he may have lived equally long as had Moses.



The usual version of the life of the prophet Daniel allows the great man far less years of life than does my revised version of him. He, beginning as a youth and captive (exile) in Babylon right at the commencement of the lengthy reign of king Nebuchednezzar II ‘the Great’ (whose reign is conventionally dated to c. 605 – c. 562 BC), is thought to have departed the official scene, at least, early in the Medo-Persian era (c. 555 BC): “The last mention of Daniel in the Book of Daniel is in the third year of Cyrus (Daniel 10:1)”:

“Rabbinic sources suppose that he was still alive during the reign of the Persian king Ahasuerus (better known as Artaxerxes – Babylonian Talmud, Megillah 15a, based on the Book of Esther 4, 5), when he was killed by Haman, the wicked prime minister of Ahasuerus (Targum Sheini on Esther, 4, 11)”.


But even that is to cut Daniel’s life far too short, at least according to my recent:


Even more to Daniel than may meet the eye


Daniel was, as I have argued following Jewish Talmudic writers, the new Moses, and he may have lived equally long as had Moses.



During the reign of Nebuchednezzar II



“Daniel and his friends refuse the food and wine provided by the king of Babylon to avoid becoming defiled. They receive wisdom from God and surpass “all the magicians and enchanters of the kingdom”.”




Whilst Daniel, qua Daniel, is not accorded a specific tribe, nor is he given a genealogy, or even a patronymic, I have concluded – following the Septuagint version of Bel and the Dragon wherein Daniel is called a priest, the son of Habal – that Daniel was a Levite, a priest.


We read a standard version of Daniel’s life in the court of kings at Wikipedia:


The Book of Daniel begins with an introduction telling how Daniel and his companions came to be in Babylon, followed by a set of tales set in the Babylonian and Persian courts, followed in turn by a set of visions in which Daniel sees the remote future of the world and of Israel.[12]


In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, Daniel and his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were among the young Jewish nobility carried off to Babylon following the capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.[8]


The four are chosen for their intellect and beauty to be trained in the Babylonian court, and are given new names. Daniel is given the Babylonian name Belteshazzar (Akkadian: … Beltu-šar-uṣur, written as NIN9.LUGAL.ŠEŠ), while his companions are given the Babylonian names Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Daniel and his friends refuse the food and wine provided by the king of Babylon to avoid becoming defiled. They receive wisdom from God and surpass “all the magicians and enchanters of the kingdom.” Nebuchadnezzar dreams of a giant statue made of four metals with feet of mingled iron and clay, smashed by a stone from heaven. Only Daniel is able to interpret it: the dream signifies four kingdoms, of which Babylon is the first, but God will destroy them and replace them with his own kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar dreams of a great tree that shelters all the world and of a heavenly figure who decrees that the tree will be destroyed; again, only Daniel can interpret the dream, which concerns the sovereignty of God over the kings of the earth. When Nebuchadnezzar’s son King Belshazzar uses the vessels from the Jewish temple for his feast, a hand appears and writes a mysterious message on the wall, which only Daniel can interpret; it tells the king that his kingdom will be given to the Medes and Persians, because Belshazzar, unlike Nebuchadnezzar, has not acknowledged the sovereignty of the God of Daniel. The Medes and Persians overthrow Nebuchadnezzar and the new king, Darius the Mede, appoints Daniel to high authority. Jealous rivals attempt to destroy Daniel with an accusation that he worships God instead of the king, and Daniel is thrown into a den of lions, but an angel saves him, his accusers are destroyed, and Daniel is restored to his position.

[End of quote]


Whilst this basically sums up the best known part of the career of Daniel (the Book of Daniel), there is significantly more now that will actually need to be added to the situation, I believe, from both a biblical and an historical perspective.


First of all I should like to recall my expansion of Nebuchednezzar II to include the alter ego of that mighty neo-Assyrian king, Ashurbanipal. This enables for, amongst other things, the historical identification of the strongly biblically-attested conquest of Egypt by Nebuchednezzar II – but which is all but missing from the Chaldean records.

King Ashurbanipal is, of course, famous for his utter devastation of Egypt, all the way down to the city of Thebes (c. 664 BC, conventional dating).


Secondly, I have recently identified the prophet Daniel with the governor, Nehemiah (despite the conventional separation here of some 150 years).

This now means that the “Artaxerxes king of Babylon” of the Book of Nehemiah was Nebuchednezzar II of Babylon, and not a later Persian king.

So, Daniel’s life during the reign of “Nebuchadnezzar” must now include, as well, the governorship of Nehemiah during years 20-32 of the reign of the king of Babylon, a phase not covered in the Book of Daniel (Nehemiah 5:14): “I was governor from the 20th year until the 32nd year that Artaxerxes was king. I was governor of Judah for twelve years”.

Already, even during the mid-reign of Nebuchednezzar II – and not some 150 years later in the Persian era (c. 440 BC) – the utterly destroyed city of Jerusalem had begun to be re-built, thanks to the intercession of Daniel-Nehemiah, a great favourite of the king of Babylon.



Young Daniel and the Susanna Incident



“As [Susanna] was being led to execution, God stirred up the holy spirit of a young boy named Daniel, and he cried aloud: ‘I am innocent of this woman’s blood’.”


Daniel 13:45-46



Another incident that belongs to the time of Daniel’s youth, in Babylon – hence also during the reign of Nebuchednezzar II – when the Jewish sage is described (in Theodotion’s version) as “a young boy [παιδαρίου] named Daniel”, is encountered in the story of Susanna.


The story reads as follows (with a few of my comments added to it):



In Babylon there lived a man named Joakim, who married a very beautiful and God-fearing woman, Susanna, the daughter of Hilkiah; her parents were righteous and had trained their daughter according to the law of Moses. Joakim was very rich and he had a garden near his house. The Jews had recourse to him often because he was the most respected of them all.


Mackey’s comment: I have identified this highly “respected” Jew, Joakim, as the Mordecai of the Book of Esther, and Susanna, his wife, as Hadassah, the future Queen Esther.

For, according to Jewish tradition, Mordecai was actually married to Hadassah (Esther).

See e.g. my:


Well-Respected Mordecai. Part Two: As Joakim, Husband of Susanna



Lovely Susanna became the great Queen Esther


That year, two elders of the people were appointed judges, of whom the Lord said, “Lawlessness has come out of Babylon, that is, from the elders who were to govern the people as judges.” These men, to whom all brought their cases, frequented the house of Joakim. When the people left at noon, Susanna used to enter her husband’s garden for a walk. When the elders saw her enter every day for her walk, they began to lust for her. They perverted their thinking; they would not allow their eyes to look to heaven, and did not keep in mind just judgments. Though both were enamored of her, they did not tell each other their trouble, for they were ashamed to reveal their lustful desire to have her. Day by day they watched eagerly for her. One day they said to each other, “Let us be off for home, it is time for the noon meal.” So they went their separate ways. But both turned back and arrived at the same spot. When they asked each other the reason, they admitted their lust, and then they agreed to look for an occasion when they could find her alone.

One day, while they were waiting for the right moment, she entered as usual, with two maids only, wanting to bathe in the garden, for the weather was warm. Nobody else was there except the two elders, who had hidden themselves and were watching her. “Bring me oil and soap,” she said to the maids, “and shut the garden gates while I bathe.” They did as she said; they shut the garden gates and left by the side gate to fetch what she had ordered, unaware that the elders were hidden inside.

As soon as the maids had left, the two old men got up and ran to her. “Look,” they said, “the garden doors are shut, no one can see us, and we want you. So give in to our desire, and lie with us.

If you refuse, we will testify against you that a young man was here with you and that is why you sent your maids away.”

“I am completely trapped,” Susanna groaned. “If I yield, it will be my death; if I refuse, I cannot escape your power. Yet it is better for me not to do it and to fall into your power than to sin before the Lord.” Then Susanna screamed, and the two old men also shouted at her, as one of them ran to open the garden gates. When the people in the house heard the cries from the garden, they rushed in by the side gate to see what had happened to her. At the accusations of the old men, the servants felt very much ashamed, for never had any such thing been said about Susanna.

When the people came to her husband Joakim the next day, the two wicked old men also came, full of lawless intent to put Susanna to death. Before the people they ordered: “Send for Susanna, the daughter of Hilkiah, the wife of Joakim.” When she was sent for, she came with her parents, children and all her relatives. Susanna, very delicate and beautiful, was veiled; but those transgressors of the law ordered that she be exposed so as to sate themselves with her beauty. All her companions and the onlookers were weeping.

In the midst of the people the two old men rose up and laid their hands on her head. As she wept she looked up to heaven, for she trusted in the Lord wholeheartedly. The old men said, “As we were walking in the garden alone, this woman entered with two servant girls, shut the garden gates and sent the servant girls away. A young man, who was hidden there, came and lay with her. When we, in a corner of the garden, saw this lawlessness, we ran toward them. We saw them lying together, but the man we could not hold, because he was stronger than we; he opened the gates and ran off. Then we seized this one and asked who the young man was, but she refused to tell us. We testify to this.” The assembly believed them, since they were elders and judges of the people, and they condemned her to death.

But Susanna cried aloud: “Eternal God, you know what is hidden and are aware of all things before they come to be: you know that they have testified falsely against me. Here I am about to die, though I have done none of the things for which these men have condemned me.”

The Lord heard her prayer. As she was being led to execution, God stirred up the holy spirit of a young boy named Daniel, and he cried aloud: “I am innocent of this woman’s blood.” All the people turned and asked him, “What are you saying?” He stood in their midst and said, “Are you such fools, you Israelites, to condemn a daughter of Israel without investigation and without clear evidence? Return to court, for they have testified falsely against her.”

Then all the people returned in haste. To Daniel the elders said, “Come, sit with us and inform us, since God has given you the prestige of old age.” But he replied, “Separate these two far from one another, and I will examine them.”

After they were separated from each other, he called one of them and said: “How you have grown evil with age! Now have your past sins come to term: passing unjust sentences, condemning the innocent, and freeing the guilty, although the Lord says, ‘The innocent and the just you shall not put to death.’ Now, then, if you were a witness, tell me under what tree you saw them together.” “Under a mastic tree,”* he answered. “Your fine lie has cost you your head,” said Daniel; “for the angel of God has already received the sentence from God and shall split you in two.” Putting him to one side, he ordered the other one to be brought. “Offspring of Canaan, not of Judah,” Daniel said to him, “beauty has seduced you, lust has perverted your heart. This is how you acted with the daughters of Israel, and in their fear they yielded to you; but a daughter of Judah did not tolerate your lawlessness. Now, then, tell me under what tree you surprised them together.” “Under an oak,” he said. “Your fine lie has cost you also your head,” said Daniel; “for the angel of God waits with a sword to cut you in two so as to destroy you both.”

The whole assembly cried aloud, blessing God who saves those who hope in him. They rose up against the two old men, for by their own words Daniel had convicted them of bearing false witness. They condemned them to the fate they had planned for their neighbor: in accordance with the law of Moses they put them to death. Thus was innocent blood spared that day.

Hilkiah and his wife praised God for their daughter Susanna, with Joakim her husband and all her relatives, because she was found innocent of any shameful deed. And from that day onward Daniel was greatly esteemed by the people.


Mackey’s comment: From this case of wise judgment, and also from the famous incident of young Daniel’s properly recounting, and interpreting, king Nebuchednezzar’s Dream, Daniel became a legend even when he was yet a boy/youth.

That is why the prophet Ezekiel can declare ironically to the pretentious King of Tyre (Ezekiel 28:3): “You are wiser than Daniel; no secret is hidden from you!”

On this, see my:


Identity of the ‘Daniel’ in Ezekiel 14 and 28


The wicked and conspiring “two elders” of the above story of Susanna may possibly be the ill-fated pair, Ahab and Zedekiah, as mentioned in Jeremiah 29:21: “Thus said the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, of Ahab the son of Kolaiah, and of Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, which prophesy a lie to you in my name; Behold, I will deliver them into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon; and he shall slay them before your eyes”.



During the reign of Belshazzar



My solution, typically, has been to shrink the conventional neo-Babylonian sequence

by identifying Nebuchednezzar with Nabonidus, and Evil-Merodach with Belshazzar.




The Book of Daniel jumps straight from the incident of the insanity of king Nebuchednezzar (chapter 4) to the termination of the reign of king Belshazzar with the famous incident of the Writing on the Wall, followed by mention of that wicked king’s death (chapter 5).

Presumably there was a fair amount of time in between, because Belshazzar, as we shall see, reigned for at least three years, and Nebuchednezzar would experience a period of greater power after his bout of madness (Daniel 4:36): “At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before”.


King Nebuchednezzar II’s son-successor is known to have been – the albeit poorly attested – Evil-Merodach (evil by name, evil by nature), or Awel-Merodach.

The name actually means “man”, or “servant, of [the god] Marduk”, nothing to do with “evil”.

But, according to the Book of Daniel, Nebuchednezzar’s son-successor was “Belshazzar” (5:1), whom, the Jewish prophet reminds (5:18): ‘Your Majesty, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and greatness and glory and splendor’.


The simple solution would be to identify Belshazzar as Evil-Merodach, considering that both were wicked and of short reign. And, historically, there was, in fact, a royal Belshazzar who post-dated Nebuchednezzar.

The only trouble is, this Belshazzar was a son of king Nabonidus, whose reign is conventionally dated to c. 556-539 BC, commencing some years after the death of Nebuchednezzar II.

My solution, typically, has been to shrink the conventional neo-Babylonian sequence by identifying Nebuchednezzar with Nabonidus, and Evil-Merodach with Belshazzar.

This conforms secular history to the sequence of kings in Daniel.


The Jews will “pray for the life of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, and for the life of his son Belshazzar, so that their days on earth may be like the days of heaven” (Baruch 1:11).


Apart from the Writing on the Wall incident in chapter 5, we learn nothing more personally about king Belshazzar. We are told in chapter 7, though, that Daniel “had a dream, and visions” in that king’s 1st year of reign (7:1-3):


In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying in bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream. Daniel said: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea.  Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea. …”.


And again, in chapter 8, Daniel experienced “a vision” in the king’s 3rd year of reign (1-4):


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; in the vision I was beside the Ulai Canal. I looked up, and there before me was a ram with two horns, standing beside the canal, and the horns were long. One of the horns was longer than the other but grew up later. I watched the ram as it charged toward the west and the north and the south. No animal could stand against it, and none could rescue from its power. It did as it pleased and became great.


Daniel, who had been exceedingly great in Babylon during the reign of Nebuchednezzar II, and who was already a legend amongst his own people, appears to have faded into the background at the time of Belshazzar. It is “the queen” who has to remind the king (5:11): “There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. In the time of your father he was found to have insight and intelligence and wisdom like that of the gods”.

And king Belshazzar asks Daniel who he is: ‘Are you Daniel …?’ (vv. 13-16):

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

During the reign of Darius the Mede


‘This is the inscription that was written:

mene, mene, tekel, parsin

Here is what these words mean:

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

Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.

Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians’.

 Daniel 5:25-28




The prophet Daniel spells it out clearly here.

The Chaldean kingdom has now come to an end, and the Medo-Persian one will take its place.

And the Book of Daniel supplies the next specific detail (5:30): “That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain, and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two”.


At first it would appear that Daniel might have been destined to live under a more serene and well-ordered ruler, after the fierce and mercurial Nebuchednezzar and his ne’er do well, son, Belshazzar. For, ccording to 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.


Here, at last, was a mature king who appeared to know what he was doing.

Unfortunately, however, the Babylonians, as we shall find, did not like their new king.

And they were jealous of Daniel.


What was Daniel’s status at this time?


As suggested in Part Three, Daniel appears to have faded into the background during the reign of Belshazzar – after his phase of high exaltation during Nebuchednezzar’s reign.

That all changed, though, when Belshazzar had, in a state of fright, promised to make Daniel ‘the third highest ruler in the kingdom’ (5:16).

That begs the question, who held the second place in the kingdom?

My solution, based on my view that king Belshazzar was the same person as Evil-Merodach, is that the exiled king of Jerusalem, Jehoiachin (or ‘Coniah’), already occupied second place.

I refer to this text from 2 Kings (27-30):


In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the year Awel-Marduk became king of Babylon, he released Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison. He did this on the twenty-seventh day of the twelfth month. He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honor higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon. So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king’s table. Day by day the king gave Jehoiachin a regular allowance as long as he lived.


This is most ominous.

Far from Daniel now settling into a period of peace and tranquility, he has been placed third in the kingdom – despite his protest (5:17) – but playing second fiddle to Jehoiachin.

And this Jehoiachin was, according to my reconstructions, e.g.:


Is the Book of Esther a Real History? Part Two


that Haman who will almost succeed in having the faithful Jews annihilated.

No doubt Haman was very much to the fore when the high officials in the kingdom, faced with the possibility of Daniel’s becoming the king’s second, organised this conspiracy (6:4-5):


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. Finally these men said, ‘We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God’.


The effect was that Daniel famously ended up in the den of lions, the king being constrained to carry out the sentence owing to the rigid Medo-Persian law (vv. 6-27).


In Daniel 14, there is another account of the prophet’s being consigned to the den of lions.

This takes place during the reign of king Cyrus, and it is usually considered to be an incident separate to the one narrated in Daniel 6.

The background is somewhat different in that it occurs after the Babylonians had become incensed with Daniel, and with Cyrus, for the destruction of their idols, Bel and the Dragon. There is no reason, however, why this situation cannot go hand in hand with the jealousy of the king’s high officials towards Daniel, as narrated in chapter 6.

The account in Daniel 14 is admittedly somewhat different from that in Daniel 6.

But, as we well know, the same tale when told by two different people will result in two quite distinctive accounts. And I have argued similarly in:


Toledôt Explains Abram’s Pharaoh


that the Book of Genesis offers to divergent accounts, emanating from two different sources, of the one tale of the abduction of Sarai (Sarah), wife of Abram (Abraham).


Is it likely that the prophet Daniel had to suffer two ordeals amongst the lions? On this, see my:


Was Daniel Twice in the Lions’ Den?


If Darius the Mede be identified with Cyrus, as I believe he must – and some expert scholars have come this conclusion as well (Wiseman, D. J. (25 November 1957). “Darius the Mede”. Christianity Today: 7–10) – then something momentous will occur in the 1st year of that king’s reign, and presumably before the den of lions’ incident.

Ezra tells of it, the return from captivity (1:1-4):


In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:

“This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:

‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them. And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem’.”


The priest-scribe Ezra I have already identified with Daniel. See e.g. my:


Even more to Daniel than may meet the eye


He, Ezra, had already, as Nehemiah, done a great work for his people during the mid-reign of Nebuchednezzar (i.e. “Artaxerxes”), when he had re-built the wall of Jerusalem.

Not surprisingly Daniel’s visitation by the angel Gabriel, in that same 1st year of Darius/Cyrus, pertained to the mater of “the desolation of Jerusalem” (9:1-3, 20-23):


In the first year of Darius son of Ahasuerus (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom— in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.


While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill— while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. He instructed me and said to me, ‘Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the word and understand the vision …’.


According to Daniel 1:21: “… Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus”.

The “there” presumably refers to Babylon. From there, Daniel would have removed to Susa. But, firstly, he (as Nehemiah) had to participate in the return of the captive Jews back to Jerusalem (Ezra 2:2-2): “Now these are the people of the province who came up from the captivity of the exiles, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken captive to Babylon (they returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to their own town, in company with Zerubbabel, Joshua, Nehemiah …”.


In the 3rd year of Cyrus Daniel will experience another revelation through a vision (chapter 10).

This was the same regnal year, the 3rd, as we read about early in the Book of Esther – in which king Cyrus is called “Ahasuerus” – when queen Vashti will be deposed (Esther 1:3): “… in the third year of his reign [Ahasuerus] gave a banquet for all his nobles and officials. The military leaders of Persia and Media, the princes, and the nobles of the provinces were present”.

Daniel, as Nehemiah, may be the Nehuman (Mehuman) serving the king of Esther 1:10.


But Daniel would be, on the occasion of his visitation by Gabriel of that same year, geographically well apart from the king enthroned “in the citadel of Susa” (Esther 1:2).

For Daniel was then “standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris” (Daniel 10:4).

Susa was apparently about 250 km (160 mi) east of the Tigris River.


It would be almost a decade before the Hamanic conspiracy in the 12th year of king Ahasuerus (Esther 3:7) took its full effect. So, between Daniel’s release from the den of lions, and Haman, and afterwards, it could be said that (6:28): “Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius … the reign of Cyrus the Persian”.


Daniel, advanced in age (I would estimate in his early seventies) by the time of Haman’s conspiratorial revolt, may now have been in semi-retirement – no longer acting in a fully official manner in the kingdom.

Thus we find the Benjaminite Jew, Mordecai, now stepping into the breach.



During the reign of Darius the Persian




… as Herb Storck well argued in 1989 (History and Prophecy: A Study in the Post-Exilic Period, House of Nabu), it logically follows that Ezra’s impressive emergence, in the 7th year of “Artaxerxes king of Persia”, must be the very year after the Temple was completed, in the 6th year, and that king Darius must be none other than Ezra’s “Artaxerxes king of Persia” (as distinct from the “Artaxerxes king of Babylon”, i.e. Nebuchednezzar, of the Book of Nehemiah).




With the passing of the Haman crisis during the reign of king Ahasuerus, and the passing, too, of Ahasuerus himself – who I take to have been king Cyrus – the way was now straight for the Jews to complete the work that Cyrus had allowed from the start, when (Ezra 1:1-4):


In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:

“This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:

‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the Temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them. And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem’.”


  1. 7: “Moreover, King Cyrus brought out the articles belonging to the Temple of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and had placed in the temple of his god”.

Nehemiah (= my Daniel), was amongst the leaders of the return (Ezra 2:2).


But, due to opposition, it was not until the reign of Darius the Persian that the project was able to be brought fully to completion (Ezra 6:1-5):


King Darius then issued an order, and they searched in the archives stored in the treasury at Babylon. A scroll was found in the citadel of Ecbatana in the province of Media, and this was written on it:


In the first year of King Cyrus, the king issued a decree concerning the Temple of God in Jerusalem:

Let the Temple be rebuilt as a place to present sacrifices, and let its foundations be laid. It is to be sixty cubits high and sixty cubits wide, with three courses of large stones and one of timbers. The costs are to be paid by the royal treasury. Also, the gold and silver articles of the House of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took from the Temple in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon, are to be returned to their places in the Temple in Jerusalem; they are to be deposited in the House of God.


Hence (v. 15): “The Temple was completed on the third day of the month Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius”.


Now, as Herb Storck well argued in 1989 (History and Prophecy: A Study in the Post-Exilic Period, House of Nabu), it logically follows that Ezra’s impressive emergence, in the 7th year of “Artaxerxes king of Persia”, must be the very year after the Temple was completed, in the 6th year, and that king Darius must be none other than Ezra’s “Artaxerxes king of Persia” (as distinct from the “Artaxerxes king of Babylon”, i.e. Nebuchednezzar, of the Book of Nehemiah) (Ezra 7:1-7):


After these things, during the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah, the son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub, the son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth, the son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki, the son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest— this Ezra came up from Babylon. He was a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses, which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given. The king had granted him everything he asked, for the hand of the Lord his God was on him. Some of the Israelites, including priests, Levites, musicians, gatekeepers and temple servants, also came up to Jerusalem in the seventh year of King Artaxerxes.


Ezra is, again (as I have argued), Daniel, and it is here that we finally encounter Daniel’s important genealogy and patronymic – as an Aaronite priest.


He is clearly the leading priest at the time.

But it appears from the Second Book of Maccabees that his time (now as Nehemiah) dips right down into the Maccabean era – quite an impossibility in conventional terms. For, according to 2 Maccabees 1:20: “Years later, when it pleased God, the Persian emperor sent Nehemiah back to Jerusalem, and Nehemiah told the descendants of those priests to find the fire. They reported to us…”.

Here is the Maccabean account of Nehemiah’s important service under the Persian king (Darius), and the miracle that then occurred – which came to the attention of the Persian king (vv. 18-36):


On the twenty-fifth day of the month of Kislev we will celebrate the Festival of Rededication just as we celebrate the Festival of Shelters. We thought it important to remind you of this, so that you too may celebrate this festival. In this way you will remember how fire appeared when Nehemiah offered sacrifices after he had rebuilt the Temple and the altar. At the time when our ancestors were being taken to exile in Persia, a few devout priests took some fire from the altar and secretly hid it in the bottom of a dry cistern. They hid the fire so well that no one ever discovered it. Years later, when it pleased God, the Persian emperor sent Nehemiah back to Jerusalem, and Nehemiah told the descendants of those priests to find the fire. They reported to us that they had found no fire but only some oily liquid. Nehemiah then told them to scoop some up and bring it to him. When everything for the sacrifice had been placed on the altar, he told the priests to pour the liquid over both the wood and the sacrifice. After this was done and some time had passed, the sun appeared from behind the clouds, and suddenly everything on the altar burst into flames. Everyone looked on in amazement. Then, while the fire was consuming the sacrifice, Jonathan the High Priest led the people in prayer, and Nehemiah and all the people responded.

Nehemiah’s prayer went something like this:

Lord God, Creator of all things, you are awesome and strong, yet merciful and just. You alone are king. No one but you is kind; no one but you is gracious and just. You are almighty and eternal, forever ready to rescue Israel from trouble. You chose our ancestors to be your own special people. Accept this sacrifice which we offer on behalf of all Israel; protect your chosen people and make us holy. Free those who are slaves in foreign lands and gather together our scattered people. Have mercy on our people, who are mistreated and despised, so that all other nations will know that you are our God. Punish the brutal and arrogant people who have oppressed us, and then establish your people in your holy land, as Moses said you would.

Then the priests sang hymns. After the sacrifices had been consumed, Nehemiah gave orders for the rest of the liquid to be poured over some large stones. Immediately a fire blazed up, but it was extinguished by a flame from the fire on the altar.

News of what had happened spread everywhere. The Persian emperor heard that a liquid had been found in the place where the priests had hidden the altar fire, just before they were taken into exile. He also heard that Nehemiah and his friends had used this liquid to burn the sacrifice on the altar. When the emperor investigated the matter and found out that this was true, he had the area fenced off and made into a shrine. It became a substantial source of income for him, and he used the money for gifts to anyone who was in his good favor. Nehemiah and his friends called the liquid nephthar which means purification, but most people call it naphtha.




In the next chapter, 2 Maccabees 2:13-14, we learn of Nehemiah’s Solomonic-like zeal for the preservation of Hebrew wisdom and knowledge (likewise befitting the wise Daniel):


Nehemiah also narrated the same things in his writings and journals. He also told how, when Solomon established a library, he gathered the scrolls concerning the kings and prophets and the scrolls of David and letters of kings regarding offerings for solemn promises. In the same way, Judas [Maccabeus] also gathered together all the scrolls that went missing because of the war, so that those documents are now in our possession. So if you need them, send messengers to carry them back.



During the reign of Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’



… Daniel, to whom “the Man clothed in linen” had said (Daniel 12:13):

‘As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance’, he would – during the reign of Antiochus IV – die a most terrible death ….



Back in the third year of king Belshazzar, just prior to the rise of the Medo-Persians under Darius the Mede, the angel Gabriel had alerted Daniel to the eventual defeat of the Medo-Persian kingdom (“the two-horned ram”) with the advent of the mighty Alexander the Great (rather unflatteringly symbolised by “the shaggy goat”) (Daniel 8:19-21):


He said: ‘I am going to tell you what will happen later in the time of wrath, because the vision concerns the appointed time of the end. The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia. The shaggy goat is the king of Greece, and the large horn between its eyes is the first king. …’.


This occurred much sooner in time than is allowed by conventional history.

For it will occur not that long after (“soon”) even “the third year of Cyrus” (Daniel 10:20): ‘Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come …’.

The long-lived Daniel would live to see all of this, and even beyond Alexander the Great to the era of (8:22): ‘The four horns that replaced the one that was broken off represent four kingdoms that will emerge from his nation but will not have the same power’.


He would live even until the time of the terrible king, Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’ (vv. 23-25):


‘In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a fierce-looking king, a master of intrigue, will arise. He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy those who are mighty, the holy people. He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power’.


And Daniel, to whom “the Man clothed in linen” had said (12:13): ‘As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance’, he would – during the reign of Antiochus IV – die a most terrible death. See my:


Ezra ‘Father of the Jews’ dying the death of Razis. Part One: Introductory section


“A certain Razis, one of the elders of Jerusalem, was denounced to Nicanor as a man who loved his compatriots and was very well thought of and for his goodwill was called Father of the Jews. In former times, when there was no mingling with the Gentiles, he had been accused of Judaism, and he had most zealously risked body and life for Judaism”.

2 Maccabees 14:37-38




Ezra ‘Father of the Jews’ dying the death of Razis. Part Two: “Razis” of 2 Maccabees likely to be an aged Ezra










Did Ezekiel inaccurately foretell the fate of Tyre?

Image result for nebuchadnezzar and tyre


Part One:

Whom did Ezekiel intend by “the king of Tyre”?



 Damien F. Mackey


“The details of this Eden story present a number of difficulties, but the central line of thought is clear enough. The prince of Tyre is compared not with Satan but with Adam”.

Andrew Perriman


Not infrequently does one find commentators expressing the view that the prophet Ezekiel had in mind Satan himself when addressing “the ruler [the king] of Tyre” (28:1, 11).

In similar fashion do many believe that Isaiah 14:12’s

“How you have fallen from heaven,
morning star, son of the dawn!”

is essentially about the fall from heaven of Lucifer (or Satan).

Cf. Luke 10:18: “Jesus answered them, ‘I watched Satan fall like lightning from heaven’.”


Whilst I believe that Satan could be intended, especially in the case of Isaiah 14, I would suggest that this can be the case only on the allegorical level, and not the literal level, which latter, in the case of Isaiah’s description, refers specifically to “the king of Babylon” (14:4).


My own view is that Isaiah was referring to a contemporaneous king, preferably an Assyrian king (v. 25): “I will crush the Assyrian in my land …”, but one who had recently become, too, by conquest, “the king of Babylon”.

More than likely, I think, that this has to be Sargon/Sennacherib, who conquered Babylon, and whose army (and his only, in fact) was crushed in the land of Israel (the Judith incident). For Sargon as Sennacherib, see e.g. my:


Sargon II and Sennacherib: More than just an overlap


And, concerning Ezekiel and “the king of Tyre”, I would suggest that the prophet was here – and somewhat differently from Isaiah – using the term generically, in that his magnificently poetic account of Tyre seems to me to cover a lengthy period of Tyrian history, from the halçyon days of king Hiram (see my):


The Bible Illuminates History & Philosophy. Part Fourteen: King David (iv): Historical Contemporaries (ii): Extending kings Hiram and Hadadezer


until the destruction of Tyre by Alexander the Great.

In such a case, Ezekiel’s “king of Tyre” would cover a series of rulers of that famous city, kings of varying degrees of morality and success.


Andrew Perriman has come to the conclusion that:


Neither the prince of Tyre nor the king of Babylon is Satan



I have never understood why the prophecy about the prince of Tyre in Ezekiel 28:1-19 and the taunt against the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14:3-23 have traditionally been interpreted as having reference to Satan. I have just come across the argument again in Greg Gilbert’s book Who is Jesus?


Gilbert accepts that the Ezekiel passage is ostensibly about the prince of Tyre but insists that it makes no sense to speak of the ruler of an obscure coastal city in the ancient Near East as an anointed guardian cherub, who was in Eden and on the holy mountain of God: “even as poetry, it would be overkill to the point of absurdity and poetic failure”.

Something else is happening here, he argues, and “the effect is almost cinematic”.

It’s as if the face of the evil king of Tyre is flickering in and out with another face—the face of one who stands behind Tyre’s evil, who drives it and encourages it and whose character it reflects.


But the basic problem is exegetical. The tradition has read into the texts something that simply isn’t there. Now, in the first place, I’m not sure that someone who is so patently under the spell of a modern “cinematic” aesthetic is fit to judge the success or failure of ancient poetry. Nor is it likely that Ezekiel would have dismissed Tyre as an obscure coastal city. But the basic problem is exegetical. The tradition has read into the texts something that simply isn’t there.


The prince of Tyre is accused of having made himself like a god, of claiming to “sit in the seat of the gods” (28:1, 6). Therefore, the Lord God will bring a ruthless nation against him, and he will die at the hands of foreigners. That will put an end to his boasting: “Will you still say, ‘I am a god,’ in the presence of those who kill you, though you are but a man, and no god, in the hands of those who slay you?” (Ezek. 28:9).


Ezekiel is then told to “raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre”:


You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared.


You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you.


In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.


Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you. By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries; so I brought fire out from your midst; it consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all who saw you. All who know you among the peoples are appalled at you; you have come to a dreadful end and shall be no more forever. (Ezek. 28:12–19 ESV)


The details of this Eden story present a number of difficulties, but the central line of thought is clear enough. The prince of Tyre is compared not with Satan but with Adam. He was originally blameless—a wise king who gained great wealth (28:3-5)—but he became proud and violent; therefore, God cast him from the garden, which is also the “mountain of God”. The fall of Adam is used as a metaphor for the corruption of a king who in the end thought he could become like a god.


The traditional association of this passage with Satan arose, presumably, because in the Hebrew Masoretic Text the king is also said to be an “anointed guardian cherub”, an angelic figure. But if the Hebrew were unpointed, we would naturally read verse 14a thus: “With a winged guardian cherub I set you”; and verse 16b: “the guardian cherub banished you from the habitat of the blazing gems”.1 This is what we have in the Septuagint:


From the day you were created, I placed you with the cherub in a holy, divine mountain…, and the cherub drove you from the midst of the fiery stones.

So the identification of the prince of Tyre with Satan renders the passage incoherent—he is both Adam and Satan—and is exegetically unnecessary. The lamentation concludes with the humiliation of the very human king, and the assurance that he “shall be no more forever”.


Illustration from Milton’s Paradise Lost by Gustave Doré


Gilbert also assumes that Isaiah 14:12-14 is a straightforward description of Satan:

How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’


But again the object of the prophet’s satire is only a human ruler who imagined that he could make himself equal to God. YHWH will eventually give his people rest from their oppressor, and they will “take up this taunt against the king of Babylon” (Is. 14:3-4). The great king, once the “Day Star, son of Dawn”, who laid the nations low, will be cut down to the ground. He will be brought down to Sheol, and people will say, “Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world like a desert and overthrew its cities, who did not let his prisoners go home?” (Is. 14:12-17).


Whereas the prince of Tyre was Adam expelled (metaphorically) from Eden, the king of Babylon is the morning star cast down (metaphorically) from heaven. Hardly a “poetic failure”. The Septuagint translated “Day Star, son of Dawn” as “Eosphoros, who makes the morning rise”, which became in the Latin Vulgate “Lucifer, you who made the morning rise”. There we have the beginnings of a Satan mythology.

[End of quote]


I think, perhaps, that the first part of Ezekiel’s prophecy about Tyre:


You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared.


may refer to that golden age when the mighty king Hiram of Tyre was in league with the wise king Solomon, and also with the Queen of Sheba. See my article:


Solomon and Sheba


Hiram was indeed then “in Eden [Jerusalem] the garden of God”, his brilliant craftsman assisting Solomon in the construction of the Temple of Yahweh and the king’s palace (and fleet of ships), “… and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings”. See also my:


Huram-Abi King of Artisans



Some have even suggested a connection with Queen Jezebel (although she was the daughter of a Sidonian king, neighbouring Tyre) in the case of passage such as: “In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you …”.


Tyre was very great again in the time of king Nebuchednezzar II, who, though having laid siege to the city for thirteen long years, failed to take it.


It was left to Alexander the Great finally to destroy the city of Tyre and thereby bring Ezekiel’s long-range prophecy to its completion.


Part Two: Prophet Ezekiel was entirely accurate   


“Ezekiel was well aware of Nebuchadnezzar’s failure to destroy the city [of Tyre].

Sixteen years after his initial prediction, in the 27th year of Johoiachin’s captivity … he wrote: “Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon caused his army to labor strenuously against Tyre; every head was made bald, and every shoulder rubbed raw; yet neither he nor his army received wages from Tyre, for the labor which they expended on it” (29:18). 

 Kyle Butt


The prophet Ezekiel can be accused – just as some of the other prophets are – of historical inaccuracies. For instance, he and Jeremiah are thought to have wildly over-stated the extent of king Nebuchednezzar’s conquest of Egypt of which there is virtually no hard evidence.


And, similarly, Ezekiel can be accused of making a false prediction about the destruction of Tyre, which strong city Nebuchednezzar II – although he laid siege to it for thirteen years – never actually managed to destroy as according to Ezekiel’s poetic and dramatic prediction.


The problem does not lie with Ezekiel, however, nor with Jeremiah, nor with any of the other prophets. The problem lies rather with such historians as put faith in over-extended and unrealistic chronologies which disallow them, time after time, from making the proper historical connections.


I have argued that the conquest of Egypt of which the prophets speak in relation to king Nebuchednezzar II was fulfilled to the letter via his alter ego, Ashurbanipal, who – as no one doubts – utterly devastated Egypt.


Now, in Part One of this series:

I proposed that Ezekiel was, in the case of “the king of Tyre”, speaking generically.

That he was probably combining in this one term a whole range of kings of Tyre.

Beginning perhaps with the highly favoured Hiram, at the time of kings David and Solomon, the prophet then skirted down to his own era, when Nebuchednezzar laid long siege to Tyre, but  looking further forward beyond Nebuchednezzar to the city’s ultimate destruction.

This was accomplished by Alexander the Great, who ruled, according to my sharply revised chronologies, much closer in time to Nebuchednezzar II than would be conventionally held.



Kyle Butt seems to me to pursue a somewhat similar line of thought to this in the following:

Tyre in Prophecy


Predictive prophecy stands as one of the most viable proofs of the Bible’s divine inspiration. Ezekiel’s prophecy concerning the city of Tyre provides an excellent example of such evidence.


Ezekiel’s prophetic message is one of the easiest to place in an accurate time frame. In verse 2 of the first chapter, the prophet noted that his visions and prophecies began “in the fifth year of King Johoiachin’s captivity.” The date for this captivity is virtually unanimously accepted as 597 B.C. during the second deportation of citizens from Judea to Babylon, which is documented in detail in 2 Kings 24:10-20. Furthermore, not only is the deportation recorded in the biblical account, but the ancient Chaldean records document it as well (Free and Vos, 1992, p. 194). Since Ezekiel’s visions began five years after the deportation, then a firm date of 592 B.C. can be established for the beginning of his prophecy. The prophet supplies other specific dates such as the seventh year (20:1), the ninth year (24:1), the eleventh year (26:1), and the latest date given as the twenty-seventh year (29:17) [Note: for an outline see Archer, 1974, pp. 368-369].


Due to the firmly established dating system that Ezekiel chose to use for his prophecy, the date of the prophecy regarding the city of Tyre, found in chapter 26, can be accurately established as the eleventh year after 597, which would be 586 B.C.




According to history, the Phoenician city of Tyre, located on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, stood as one of the most ancient and prosperous cities in history. Herodotus, known as the father of modern history, lived and wrote between about 490 B.C. and 425 B.C. (Herodotus, 1972, p. i). During a visit to the temple of Heracles in Tyre, Herodotus inquired about the age of the temple, to which the inhabits replied that the temple was as old as “Tyre itself, and that Tyre had already stood for two thousand three hundred years” (Herodotus, 2:44). From Herodotus, then, it can be supposed that the city goes back to 2,700 B.C. [sic]


Due to its advantageous geographical position and good ports, Tyre became one of the wealthiest trading cities in history. Fleming noted that it “was the most important of all Phoenician cities” (1966, p. ix). During the reigns of King David and King Solomon (circa 1000 B.C.), Hiram, king of Tyre, played a major role in the acquisition of building materials for important structures such as the Israelite kings’ houses and the first temple. In numerous biblical passages, the text states that Hiram sent cedar trees, carpenters, masons, and builders to Israel (2 Samuel 5:11) because of the Tyrians’ renowned skill in timber cutting (1 Kings 5:1-18). In addition, the Tyrians were equally well known for their remarkable ability to navigate the seas during Solomon’s era. Second Chronicles documents that Hiram sent ships and “servants who knew the sea” to work with Solomon’s men in acquiring gold from foreign lands (2 Chronicles 8:18).


The city of Tyre had a rather interesting and beneficial geographical arrangement. About half a mile off the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea stood a small rocky island on which the original city of Tyre was most likely founded. Some time after the founding of this island city, the mainland city of Tyre was founded, which was called Old Tyre by the Greeks (Fleming, p. 4). Josephus cites a Phoenician historian named Dius, as reporting that the Phoenician king Hiram, who was closely connected to kings David and Solomon, built a causeway from the original island to a smaller island, connecting the two (Against Apion, 1.17).


In addition to its beneficial geographic position, the city had great confidence in its many excellent defensive advantages. Fleming noted: “As early as 1400 B.C. Tyre was not only a great city but was considered impregnable” (p. 8). The ancient historian Quintus Curtius Rufus (most likely writing in approximately A.D. 50), listed several of these defensive traits that had remained intact as late as the siege by Alexander in 332 B.C. The force of the water and the wind that prevailed on the side of the city closest to the land was said to have produced a “corrosive force of waves” that would hinder the construction of any type of bridge or causeway from the mainland (4.2.8). Furthermore, the water nearest to the walls of the city was “especially deep” and would force any would-be attackers to position any type of siege mechanisms in the unstable foundation of a ship, and the wall “dropped sheer into the sea,” which prevented the use of ladders or approach by foot (4.2.9).


During the time of Ezekiel, Tyre was well established and renowned for its building, manufacturing, and trade. Ezekiel said of Tyre: “Your builders have perfected your beauty” (27:4), and then he proceeded to list several different kinds of wood and imported materials used by the Tyrians (27:3-11). The prophet stated: “When your wares went out by sea, you satisfied many people; you enriched the kings of the earth with your many luxury goods and your merchandise” (27:33).


But Tyre’s profitable trading had done little positive for its spiritual condition. In fact, as is often the case, the riches accrued by the city had caused widespread dereliction and spiritual decay. Concerning the city, Ezekiel noted: “By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned…. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of splendor…. You defiled your sanctuaries by the multitude of your iniquities” (28:16-18). Among the sins listed by Ezekiel, one specific attitude maintained by Tyre was designated by the prophet as the ultimate reason for the city’s demise. Ezekiel noted: “[B]ecause Tyre has said against Jerusalem, ‘Aha! She is broken who was the gateway of the peoples; now she is turned over to me; I shall be filled; she is laid waste.’ Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Behold, I am against you, O Tyre’” (26:2-3). Apparently, in an attitude of commercial jealousy and greed, the city of Tyre exulted in Jerusalem’s misfortunes and expected to turn them into its own profit. Among Tyre’s list of despicable activities, the city’s slave trade ranked as one of the most profitable. The prophet Joel noted that Tyre had taken the people from Judah and Jerusalem and sold them to the Greeks so that the Tyrians could “remove them far from their borders” (Joel 3:6). These dastardly dealings with the inhabitants of Judah would not go unpunished.


In Ezekiel 26, the prophet mentioned several events that were to occur in Tyre as punishment for the city’s arrogance and merciless actions. The following is a lengthy, but necessary, quote from that chapter:



Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against you, O Tyre, and will cause many nations to come up against you, as the sea causes its waves to come up. And they shall destroy the walls of Tyre and break down her towers; I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock. It shall be a place for spreading nets in the midst of the sea, for I have spoken,” says the Lord God; “it shall become plunder for the nations. Also her daughter villages which are in the fields shall be slain by the sword. Then they shall know that I am the Lord.”

For thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I will bring against Tyre from the north Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses, with chariots, and with horsemen, and an army with many people. He will slay with the sword your daughter villages in the fields; he will heap up a siege mound against you, build a wall against you, and raise a defense against you. He will direct his battering rams against your walls, and with his axes he will break down your towers. Because of the abundance of his horses, their dust will cover you; your walls will shake at the noise of the horsemen, the wagons, and the chariots, when he enters your gates, as men enter a city that has been breached. With the hooves of his horses he will trample all your streets; he will slay your people by the sword, and your strong pillars will fall to the ground. They will plunder your riches and pillage your merchandise; they will break down your walls and destroy your pleasant houses; they will lay your stones, your timber, and your soil in the midst of the water. I will put an end to the sound of your songs, and the sound of your harps shall be heard no more. I will make you like the top of a rock; you shall be a place for spreading nets, and you shall never be rebuilt, for I the Lord have spoken,” says the Lord God….

For thus says the Lord God: “When I make you a desolate city, like cities that are not inhabited, when I bring the deep upon you, and great waters cover you, then I will bring you down with those who descend into the Pit, to the people of old, and I will make you dwell in the lowest part of the earth, in places desolate from antiquity, with those who go down to the Pit, so that you may never be inhabited; and I shall establish glory in the land of the living. I will make you a terror, and you shall be no more; though you are sought for, you will never be found again,” says the Lord God (26:1-14,19-21).


Several aspects of this prophecy deserve attention and close scrutiny. The prophet predicted: (1) many nations would come against Tyre; (2) the inhabitants of the villages and fields of Tyre would be slain; (3) Nebuchadnezzar would build a siege mound against the city; (4) the city would be broken down and the stones, timber, and soil would be thrown in “the midst of the water;” (5) the city would become a “place for spreading nets;” and (6) the city would never be rebuilt.


In chronological order, the siege of Nebuchadnezzar took place within a few months of Ezekiel’s prophecy. Josephus, quoting “the records of the Phoenicians,” says that Nebuchadnezzar “besieged Tyre for thirteen years in the days of Ithobal, their king” (Against Apion, 1.21). The length of the siege was due, in part, to the unusual arrangement of the mainland city and the island city. While the mainland city would have been susceptible to ordinary siege tactics, the island city would have been easily defended against orthodox siege methods (Fleming, p. 45). The historical record suggests that Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the mainland city, but the siege of the island “probably ended with the nominal submission of the city” in which Tyre surrendered “without receiving the hostile army within her walls” (p. 45). The city of Tyre was besieged by Nebuchadnezzar, who did major damage to the mainland as Ezekiel predicted, but the island city remained primarily unaffected.


It is at this point in the discussion that certain skeptics view Ezekiel’s prophecy as a failed prediction. Farrell Till stated: “Nebuchadnezzar did capture the mainland suburb of Tyre, but he never succeeded in taking the island part, which was the seat of Tyrian grandeur. That being so, it could hardly be said that Nebuchadnezzar wreaked the total havoc on Tyre that Ezekiel vituperatively predicted in the passages cited” (n.d.). Till and others suggest that the prophecies about Tyre’s utter destruction refer to the work of Nebuchadnezzar.

After a closer look at the text, however, such an interpretation is misguided. Ezekiel began his prophecy by stating that “many nations” would come against Tyre (26:3). Then he proceeded to name Nebuchadnezzar, and stated that “he” would build a siege mound, “he” would slay with the sword, and “he” would do numerous other things (26:7-11). However, in 26:12, the pronoun shifts from the singular “he” to the plural “they.” It is in verse 12 and following that Ezekiel predicts that “they” will lay the stones and building material of Tyre in the “midst of the waters.” The shift in pronouns is of vast significance, since it shifts the subject of the action from Nebuchadnezzar (he) back to the many nations (they). Till and others fail to see this shift and mistakenly apply the utter destruction of Tyre to the efforts of Nebuchadnezzar.


Furthermore, Ezekiel was well aware of Nebuchadnezzar’s failure to destroy the city. Sixteen years after his initial prediction, in the 27th year of Johoiachin’s captivity (circa 570 B.C.), he wrote: “Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon caused his army to labor strenuously against Tyre; every head was made bald, and every shoulder rubbed raw; yet neither he nor his army received wages from Tyre, for the labor which they expended on it” (29:18). Therefore, in regard to the prophecy of Tyre as it relates to Nebuchadnezzar’s activity, at least two of the elements were fulfilled (i.e., the siege mound and the slaying of the inhabitants in the field).

Regarding the prediction that “many nations” would come against Tyre, the historical records surrounding the illustrious city report such turmoil and war that Ezekiel’s prophecy looks like a mild understatement of the facts. After Nebuchadnezzar’s attack of the city “a period of great depression” plagued the city which was assimilated into the Persian Empire around 538 B.C. (Fleming, p. 47). In 392 B.C., “Tyre was involved in the war which arose between the Persians and Evagorus of Cyprus” in which the king of Egypt “took Tyre by assault” (p. 52). Sixty years later, in 332, Alexander the Great besieged Tyre and crushed it (see below for further elaboration). Soon after this defeat, Ptolemy of Egypt conquered and subjugated Tyre until about 315 B.C. when Atigonus of Syria besieged Tyre for 15 months and captured it (Fleming, p. 65). In fact, Tyre was contested by so many foreign forces that Fleming wrote: “It seemed ever the fate of the Phoenician cities to be between an upper and a nether millstone” (p. 66). Babylon, Syria, Egypt, Rome, Greece, Armenia, and Persia are but a sampling of the “many nations” that had a part in the ultimate destruction of Tyre. Thus, Ezekiel’s prophecy about “many nations” remains as a historical reality that cannot be successfully gainsaid.



The historical account of Alexander the Great’s dealings with Tyre adds another important piece to Ezekiel’s prophecy. By 333 B.C., Ezekiel’s prophecy that Tyre would be destroyed and its building material cast into the midst of the waters had yet to materialize. But that situation was soon to be altered. Ancient historian Diodorus Siculus, who lived from approximately 80-20 B.C., wrote extensively of the young Greek conqueror’s dealing with Tyre. It is from his original work that much of the following information on Tyre’s destruction derives (see Siculus, 1963, 17.40-46).


In his dealings with Tyre, Alexander asserted that he wished to make a personal sacrifice in the temple of Heracles on the island city of Tyre. Apparently, because the Tyrians considered their island refuge virtually impregnable, with war machines covering the walls, and rapidly moving water acting as an effective barrier from land attack, they refused his request. Upon receiving their refusal, Alexander immediately set to work on a plan to besiege and conquer the city. He set upon the task of building a land bridge or cause way (Siculus calls it a “mole”) from the mainland city of Tyre to the island city. Siculus stated: “Immediately he demolished what was called Old Tyre and set many tens of thousands of men to work carrying stones to construct a mole” (17.40). Curtius Rufus noted: “Large quantities of rock were available, furnished by old Tyre” (4.2.18). This unprecedented action took the Tyrians by complete surprise. Fleming noted: “In former times the city had shown herself well nigh impregnable. That Alexander’s method of attack was not anticipated is not strange, for there was no precedent for it in the annals of warfare” (p. 56). And yet, even though this action was unprecedented militarily, it was exactly what one might expect from the description of the destruction of Tyre given by Ezekiel hundreds of years prior to Alexander’s actions. The mainland city was demolished and all her stones, timber, and soil were thrown into the midst of the sea.

This aerial view of Tyre vividly shows the landbridge that Alexander created. Much silt and sand has accumulated over the years to widen the area of the original causeway.

In spite of the fact that the Tyrians were taken by surprise, they were not disheartened, because they did not believe that Alexander’s efforts would prevail. They continued to maintain supremacy on the sea, and harassed his workers from all sides from boats that were equipped with catapults, slingers, and archers. These tactics were effective in killing many of Alexander’s men. But Alexander was not to be outdone. He gathered his own fleet of ships from nearby cities and was successful in neutralizing the Tyrian vessels’ effectiveness.


With the arrival of Alexander’s sea fleet, the work on the land bridge moved much more rapidly. Yet, when the construction of the bridge was nearing completion, a storm damaged a large section of the mole. Refusing to quit, Alexander rebuilt the damaged structure and continued to move forward. In desperation, the Tyrians sent underwater divers to impede construction by attaching hooks to the rocks and trees of the causeway, causing much damage (Rufus, 4.3.10). Yet, these efforts by the Tyrians could not stop Alexander’s army and eventually the bridge spanned the distance from the mainland city to the island. Huge siege machines bombarded the walls of Tyre. Siculus’ description of the fight is one of the most vivid accounts of a battle in ancient history (17.43-46).


Eventually the Tyrians were defeated, their walls penetrated, and Alexander’s forces entered the city and devastated it. Most of the men of Tyre were killed in continued fighting. Siculus recorded that approximately 2,000 of the men in Tyre who were of military age were crucified, and about 13,000 “non-combatants” were sold into slavery (17.46) [Others estimate the number even higher.] In describing the devastation of the city by Alexander, Fleming wrote: “There was general slaughter in the streets and square. The Macedonians were enraged by the stubborn resistance of the city and especially by the recent murder of some of their countrymen; they therefore showed no mercy. A large part of the city was burned” (p. 63).


The secular, historical record detailing Alexander’s destruction of Tyre coincides precisely with Ezekiel’s prophecy concerning what would happen to its building materials. As Ezekiel had predicted, the stones, timber, and soil of the mainland city were thrown into the midst of the sea in an unprecedented military maneuver. For Ezekiel to have accurately “guessed” this situation would be to stretch the law of probability beyond the limits of absurdity. His acutely accurate representation of the facts remain as outstanding and amazing proof of the divine inspiration behind his message.






One of the most disputed aspects concerning Ezekiel’s prophecy is the statement that the city of Tyre would “never be rebuilt” (26:14), and “be no more forever” (28:19). The skeptic points to modern day Tyre and suggests that these statements have failed to materialize. Till stated: “In fact, Tyre still exists today, as anyone able to read a map can verify. This obvious failure of a highly touted Old Testament prophet is just one more nail in the coffin of the Bible inerrancy doctrine” (n.d.).


Several possible solutions dissolve this alleged problem. First, it could be the case that the bulk of Ezekiel’s prophecy dealt with the mainland city of Tyre, the location of which has most likely been lost permanently and is buried under the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. This solution has merit for several reasons. In approximately A.D. 1170, a Jewish traveler named Benjamin of Tudela published a diary of his travels. “Benjamin began his journey from Saragossa, around the year 1160 and over the course of thirteen years visited over 300 cities in a wide range of places including Greece, Syria, Palestine, Mesopotamia and Persia” (Benjamin of Tudela, n.d.). In his memoirs, a section is included concerning the city of Tyre.


From Sidon it is half a day’s journey to Sarepta (Sarfend), which belongs to Sidon. Thence it is a half-day to New Tyre (Sur), which is a very fine city, with a harbour in its midst…. There is no harbour like this in the whole world. Tyre is a beautiful city…. In the vicinity is found sugar of a high class, for men plant it here, and people come from all lands to buy it. A man can ascend the walls of New Tyre and see ancient Tyre, which the sea has now covered, lying at a stone’s throw from the new city. And should one care to go forth by boat, one can see the castles, market-places, streets, and palaces in the bed of the sea (1907, emp. added.).


From this twelfth-century A.D. text, then, we learn that by that period of time the city known as ancient Tyre lay completely buried beneath the sea and a new city, most likely on some part of the island, had been erected. George Davis, in his book Fulfilled Prophecies that Prove the Bible, included a picture of Syrian fishermen under which the following caption appeared: “Syrian fishermen hauling in their nets on the probable site of ancient Tyre, which perished as predicted by the prophet” (1931, p. 11). In his monumental work on the city of Tyre, Katzenstein mentioned several ancient sources that discussed the position of “Old Tyre.” He wrote: “Later this town was dismantled by Alexander the Great in his famous siege of Tyre and disappeared totally with the change of the coastline brought about by the dike and the alluvial deposits that changed Tyre into a peninsula” (1973, p. 15, emp. added).


It very likely is the case that the specific site of ancient Tyre has been buried by sand and water over the course of the last 2,500 years and is lost to modern knowledge. That the prophet was speaking about the mainland city in reference to many aspects of his prophecy has much to commend it. It was to that mainland city that King Nebuchadnezzar directed most of his attention and destructive measures described in Ezekiel 26:8-11. Furthermore, it was the mainland city that Alexander destroyed completely and cast into the sea to build his causeway to the island city. In addition, Benjamin Tudela’s quote corresponds precisely to the statement that the prophet made in the latter part of chapter 26: “For thus says the Lord God: ‘When I make you a desolate city, like the cities that are not inhabited, when I bring the deep upon you, and great waters cover you’” (26:19, emp. added). In addition, Katzenstein noted that the scholar H.L. Ginsberg has suggested that the name “Great Tyre” was given to the mainland city, while the island city was designated as “Little Tyre” (p. 20). He further noted 2 Samuel 24:7, which mentions “the stronghold of Tyre,” and commented that this “may refer to “Old Tyre,” or the mainland city (p. 20).


Besides the idea that the bulk of the prophecy dealt with the mainland city, other possible solutions exist that would sufficiently meet the criteria that Tyre would “never be rebuilt” and would “be no more forever.” While it is true that a city does currently exist on the island, that city is not a “rebuilt” Tyre and has no real connection to the city condemned by Ezekiel other than its location. If the history of Tyre is traced more completely, it becomes evident that even the island city of Tyre suffered complete destruction. Fleming noted that in approximately A.D. 193. “Tyre was plundered and burned after a fearful slaughter of her citizens” (1966, p. 73). Around the year 1085, the Egyptians “succeeded in reducing Tyre, which for many years had been practically independent” (p. 85). Again, in about 1098, the Vizier of Egypt “entered the city and massacred a large number of people” (p. 88). In addition, the city was besieged in A.D. 1111 (p. 90), and again in April of 1124 (p. 95). Around the year 1155, the Egyptians entered Tyre, “made a raid with fire and sword…and carried off many prisoners and much plunder” (p. 101).


In addition to the military campaigns against the city, at least two major earthquakes pummeled the city, one of which “ruined the wall surrounding the city” (p. 115). And ultimately, in A.D. 1291, the Sultan Halil massacred the inhabitants of Tyre and subjected the city to utter ruin. “Houses, factories, temples, everything in the city was consigned to the sword, flame and ruin” (p. 122). After this major defeat in 1291, Fleming cites several travel logs in which visitors to the city mention that citizens of the area in 1697 were “only a few poor wretches…subsisting chiefly upon fishing” (p. 124). In 1837, another earthquake pounded the remains of the city so that the streets were filled with debris from fallen houses to such a degree that they were impassable (p. 128).


Taking these events into consideration, it is obvious that many nations continued to come against the island city, that it was destroyed on numerous occasions, and that it became a place for fishing, fulfilling Ezekiel’s prediction about the spreading of nets. Furthermore, it is evident that the multiple periods of destruction and rebuilding of the city have long since buried the Phoenician city that came under the condemnation of Ezekiel. The Columbia Encyclopedia, under its entry for Tyre, noted: “The principal ruins of the city today are those of buildings erected by the Crusaders. There are some Greco-Roman remains, but any left by the Phoenicians lie underneath the present town” (“Tyre,” 2006, emp. added).


Concerning Tyre’s present condition, other sources have noted that “continuous settlement has restricted excavation to the Byzantine and Roman levels and information about the Phoenician town comes only from documentary sources” (“Ancient Tyre…,” n.d., emp. added). Another report confirmed, “Uncovered remains are from the post-Phoenician Greco-Roman, Crusader, Arab and Byzantine times…. Any traces of the Phoenician city were either destroyed long ago or remain buried under today’s city” (“Ancient Phoenicia,” n.d., emp. added). Thus, the only connection that the present town maintains with the ancient one in Ezekiel’s day is location, and the present buildings, streets, and other features are not “rebuilt” versions of the original city. If Ezekiel’s prophecy extended to the island city as well as the mainland city, it can be maintained legitimately that the ruins lying underneath the city have not been “rebuilt.”




Some have questioned the date of the composition of Ezekiel, due to the prophecy’s amazing accuracy in regard to its predictions concerning Tyre. Yet, the book of Ezekiel has much that lends itself to the idea that it was composed by Ezekiel during the time it claims to have been written. When did Ezekiel write his material? Kenny Barfield noted that, besides a belief that supernatural revelation is impossible, no evidence supports the thesis that Ezekiel’s predictions were penned later than 400 B.C. Moreover, the book (Ezek. 1:1; 8:1; 33:1; 40:1-4) claims to have been composed by the prophet sometime in the sixth century, B.C., and Josephus attributes the book to the Hebrew prophet during the time in question (1995, p. 98).


In addition, Ezekiel was included in the Septuagint, which is the “earliest version of the Old Testament Scriptures” available—a translation from Hebrew to Greek which was “executed at Alexandria in the third century before the Christian era” (Septuagint, 1998,p. i).

Simon Greenleaf, the lawyer who is renowned for having played a major role in the founding of Harvard Law School and for having written the Treatise on the Law of Evidence, scrutinized several biblical documents in light of the procedures practiced in a court of law. He noted one of the primary laws regarding ancient documents: “Every document, apparently ancient, coming from the proper repository or custody, and bearing on its face no evident marks of forgery, the law presumes to be genuine, and devolves the opposing party the burden of proving it to be otherwise” (1995, p. 16). He then noted that “this is precisely the case with the Sacred Writings. They have been used in the church from time immemorial, and thus are found in the place where alone they ought to be looked for” (pp. 16-17). Specifically in regard to Ezekiel, that is exactly the case. If the prophet wrote it in the sixth century B.C. his work is exactly where it should be, translated in the Septuagint around the year 250 B.C., and noted to be from the proper time period by Josephus in approximately A.D. 90.


Furthermore, the scholarly world recognized the book’s authenticity and original date of composition virtually unanimously for almost 1,900 years. The eminently respected Hebrew scholars Keil and Delitzsch, who wrote in the late 1800s, commented: “The genuineness of Ezekiel’s prophecies is, at the present day, unanimously recognized by all critics. There is, moreover, no longer any doubt that the writing down and redaction of them in the volume which has been transmitted to us were the work of the prophet himself” (1982, 9:16). Indeed, Archer noted that no serious objection to the book’s integrity was even put forth until 1924 (1974, p. 369).




In regard to the objections that have been put forth, as Greenleaf noted, the burden of proof concerning the authenticity of Ezekiel lies with those who consider it inauthentic. Yet, far from proving such, they have put forth tenuous suggestions based on alleged internal inconsistencies. First, these critics have proposed that the work could not have been by one man since some sections are filled with descriptions of doom and destruction, while others resound with hope and deliverance. This alleged inconsistency holds little weight, as Miller noted:


Of course, this viewpoint is based on purely subjective considerations. No inherent reason exists that forbids a single writer from presenting both emphases. In fact, virtually all the prophets of the Old Testament announce judgment upon God’s people and/or their neighbors and then follow that judgment sentence with words of future hope and restoration if repentance is forthcoming…. One must be in possession of a prejudicial perspective before approaching Scripture to come to such a conclusion (1995, p. 138).

The second objection to the integrity of Ezekiel has little more to commend it than the first. The second “proof” of the book’s alleged inauthentic nature revolves around the fact that in certain sections, Ezekiel seems to be an eyewitness to events that are happening in Palestine, while at the same time claiming to be writing from Babylon. This objection can be dealt with quickly in a twofold manner. First, it would be possible, and very likely, that news would travel from the remnant of Israelites still free in Palestine to the captives in Babylon. Second, and more likely, if Ezekiel was guided by divine inspiration, he could have been given the ability to know events in Palestine that he did not see (see Miller, 1995, pp. 138-139). Taking the prophecy of Tyre into account, it is clear that Ezekiel did possess/receive revelation that allowed him to report events that he had not seen and that were yet to take place.


A third objection to Ezekiel’s authenticity actually turns out not to be an objection at all, but rather a verification of Ezekiel’s integrity. W.F. Albright, the eminent and respected archaeologist, noted that one of C.C. Torrey’s “principle arguments against the authenticity of the prophecy” (the book of Ezekiel—KB) was the fact that Ezekiel dates things by the “years of Jehoiachin’s captivity” (1948, p. 164). Supposedly, Jehoiachin would not have been referred to as “king” since he was captive in another land and no longer ruled in his own. Until about 1940, this argument seemed to possess some merit. But in that year, Babylonian tablets were brought to light that contained a cuneiform inscription giving the Babylonian description of Jehoiachin as king of Judah, even though he was in captivity (p. 165). Albright concluded by saying:


“The unusual dates in Ezekiel, so far from being indications that the book is not authentic, prove its authenticity in a most striking way” (p. 165).


Due to the fact that modern critics have failed to shoulder the burden of proof laid upon them to discredit Ezekiel’s integrity and authenticity, Smith rightly stated: “The critical studies of the Book of Ezekiel over the past fifty years or so have largely cancelled each other out. The situation now is much the same as it was prior to 1924 (the work of Hoelscher) when the unity and integrity of the book were generally accepted by the critics” (Smith, 1979, p. 33). Miller correctly concluded: “All theories and speculations which call into question the unity and integrity of the book of Ezekiel are unconvincing…. The most convincing view is the traditional one that sees Ezekiel as the long recognized sixth century Hebrew prophet and author of the Old Testament book which bears his name” (1995, p. 139).




So accurate were the prophecies made by Ezekiel that skeptics were forced to suggest a later date for his writings. Yet, such a later date cannot be maintained, and the admission of Ezekiel’s accuracy stands as irrefutable evidence of the prophet’s divine inspiration. With the penetrating gaze that can only be maintained by the Divine, God looked hundreds of years into the future and instructed Ezekiel precisely what to write so that in the centuries following the predictions, the fulfillment of every detail of the prophet’s words could be denied by no honest student of history. “When the word of the prophet comes to pass, the prophet will be known as one whom the Lord has truly sent” (Jeremiah 28:9). Ezekiel’s accurate prophecy adds yet another piece of insurmountable evidence to the fact that “all Scripture is inspired of God” (2 Timothy 3:16).



Albright, W.F. (1948), “The Old Testament and Archaeology,” Old Testament Commentary, ed. Herbert Alleman and Elmer Flack (Philadelphia, PA: Muhlenberg Press).

“Ancient Phoenicia” (no date), [On-line], URL:

“Ancient Tyre (Sour)” (no date), [On-line], URL:

Archer, Gleason L. Jr. (1974), A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago, IL: Moody), revised edition.

Barfield, Kenny (1995), The Prophet Motive (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).

Benjamin of Tudela (no date), “Traveling in Jerusalem,” [On-line], URL:

Benjamin of Tudela (1907), The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela (New York, NY: The House of the Jewish Book), [On-line], URL: benjamin1.htm.

Davis, George T.B. (1931), Fulfilled Prophecies that Prove the Bible (Philadelphia, PA: Million Testaments Campaign).

Fleming, Wallace B. (1966), The History of Tyre (New York, NY: AMS Press).

Free, Joseph P. and Howard F. Vos (1992), Archaeology and Bible History (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).

Greenleaf, Simon (1995), The Testimony of the Evangelists (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Classics).

Herodotus, (1972 reprint), The Histories, trans. Aubrey De Sélincourt (London: Penguin).

Josephus, Flavius (1987), The Life and Works of Flavius Josephus: Against Apion, trans. William Whitson (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).

Katzenstein, Jacob (1973), The History of Tyre (Jerusalem: The Schocken Institute for Jewish Research).

Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch (1982 reprint), Commentary on the Old Testament—Ezekiel and Daniel (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

Miller, Dave (1995), “Introduction to Ezekiel,” Major Lessons from the Major Prophets, ed. B.J. Clarke (Pulaski, TN: Sain Publications).

Rufus, Quintus Curtius (2001), The History of Alexander, trans. John Yardley (New York, NY: Penguin).

Septuagint (1998 reprint), (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).

Siculus, Diodorus (1963), Library of History, trans. C. Bradford Welles (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press).

Smith, James (1979), Ezekiel (Joplin, MO: College Press).

Till, Farrell (no date), “Prophecies: Imaginary and Unfulfilled,” [On-line], URL:

“Tyre” (2006), Columbia Encyclopedia, [On-line], URL:







Prophet Daniel the New Moses

Image result for moses and daniel



 Damien F. Mackey


“… Jewish Talmudic writers viewed Ezra … as a second Moses …”.

 Lisbeth S. Fried


Whilst this is a commonly held view, Ezra the scribe as “a second Moses” or “a new Moses”, what has it to do with the prophet Daniel?

Daniel who, according to Sir Robert Anderson, was omitted by Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) from his list of famous men because Daniel stayed well away from Israel and its “struggles”:

The Coming Prince

This panegyric [Sirach], it is true, omits the name of Daniel. But in what connection would his name be included? Daniel was exiled to Babylon in early youth, and never spent a single day of his long life among his people, never was openly associated with them in their struggles or their sorrows. ….


Well, it actually has everything to do with Daniel if I am right in my recent expansion of the great Jewish sage to embrace, in his very person, this same Ezra the New Moses. See my:

Even more to Daniel than may meet the eye

Ezra who likewise, incidentally, was not listed by Sirach – at least qua Ezra.

But Nehemiah was listed by Sirach. And Nehemiah was, according to my Daniel article above, both Ezra and Daniel. So, in other words, Sirach, in praising Nehemiah, was also praising Ezra, was praising Daniel.

And, when one reads the amazing life of Daniel as a combination (Daniel=Ezra=Nehemiah), then it could hardly be said, as Sir Robert Anderson thought, that “Daniel … never spent a single day of his long life among his people, never was openly associated with them in their struggles or their sorrows”. Daniel in fact, as Ezra-Nehemiah, carried the people of Israel.

He was the very founder of the Jewish nation, deservedly known as the “Father of Judaïsm”.


Interesting that Sir Robert Anderson should refer to the “long life” of Daniel.

For, according to tradition, Ezra may have lived for 120 years – the same life length as Moses (Deuteronomy 34:7). (Though it may be that tradition has accorded Ezra that exact time length due to comparisons of him with Moses). Ezra was certainly old. And the long time stretch has enabled me – in combination with a very radically reduced neo-Assyrian-Babylonian and Medo-Persian chronology, one  more compatible with the archaeological evidence – to identify Ezra, Greek Esdras, with the Maccabean elder Razis, also known as a “Father of the Jews” (2 Maccabees 14:37), thereby illuminating us about the great man’s extraordinary death.


Again, as Moses was “educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:22), and went into exile, before leading the Exodus out of Egypt, so was the exiled Daniel given “knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning … of visions and dreams of all kinds” (Daniel 1:17), before he (as Ezra-Nehemiah) led the new Exodus out of Babylon.


Most interesting that Pontius Pilate chose Greek before Latin

 Image result for inri inscription


 Damien F. Mackey

“This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified

was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin”.

John 19:20



Perhaps in accord with my view that Jesus Christ was born into an Hellenistic (Maccabean) – and not early Roman imperial – era:

A New Timetable for the Nativity of Jesus Christ


Pontius Pilate’s inscription about Jesus was written in Greek, before Latin.

Thus we read:



Appendix 163 To The Companion Bible.

  Each of the four Gospels gives a different wording of these inscriptions:—


1.  Matthew 27:37: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”
2.  Mark 15:26: “The King of the Jews.”
3.  Luke 23:38: “This is the King of the Jews.”
4.  John 19:19: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”


Here again the difficulty is created by assuming that these similar but differing records are identical, without noticing the exact words which are written. It is universally assumed that there was only one, and then follow the efforts to explain the alleged “discrepancies” between the different versions of it.
If we note carefully what is actually said all will be clear.


I.                   Mark 15:26 can be dismissed; for he does not say anything about a “title” (Greek titlos, John 19:19) being put on the cross or anywhere else, which any one had seen. It is a question of the Lord’s “accusation” or “indictment”, or the ground or cause of His condemnation as claiming to be “the King of the Jews”.


II.                 John 19:19 speaks of a “title” written by Pilate, before it left Pilate’s presence; for no one suggests that Pilate went to the scene of the execution and wrote anything there.
In Pilate’s writing the three languages were in this order: (1) Hebrew, (2) Greek, and (3) Latin (compare IV. below). And it was read after the cross had been set up.
This was the one which gave rise to the argument between the Chief Priests and Pilate (John 19:21, 22); and this argument took place before the parting of the garments (verses 23, 24).


III.  The inscription in Matthew 27:37 was the result of that discussion; for another “title” was brought and was “set up over his head”, after they hadparted His garments,” and having sat down, they watched Him there (verses 35, 36).

  As there could hardly have been two titles at the same time, the former must have been then taken down and the other substituted.
We are not told how long the argument lasted or when it ceased, or what was the final result of it.IV.  A further result is seen in Luke 23:38; for another was brought much later, close upon “the sixth hour” (verse 44), when the darkness fell. It was written with the languages in a different order: (1) Greek, (2) Latin, and (3) Hebrew (verse 38).¹ It was put up “over Him” (Greek epauto, verse 38), “after the revilings of the People” (compare verses 35-37, with verse 38); whereas Matthew’s (Number III) was set up before the revilings (compare Matthew 27:37 with verse 39).
The result is that:— 

1.  Mark’s was only His indictment.


2.  John’s was the first, written by Pilate himself (or by his order), in (1) Hebrew, (2) Greek, and (3) Latin, and was put on the cross before it left Pilate’s presence.


3.  Matthew’s was the second, substituted for the first, in consequence of the arguments which took place, and was set up “over His head” after the garments had been divided, and before the revilings.


4.  Luke’s was the third (and last), put up “over Him”, after the revilings (Luke 23:35), and was seen just before the darkness of the “sixth hour” (verse 44). This was written in three languages, but in a different order:¹ (1) Greek, (2) Latin, and (3) Hebrew (verse 38). Not in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin, as Number II in John 19:19.


Thus, such differences as these are marks of Divine accuracy; and, instead of being sources of difficulties, become, when rightly divided, the means of their removal.
¹ But see the texts.



Part Two: Gunnar Heinsohn claims

“The Romans were Greeks”






Mystery: Why did the Romans converse in Greek?
Answer 1: The Romans were Greeks.

Professor Gunnar Heinsohn



Professor Gunnar Heinsohn seems to me to be someone who can get things either very right, or very wrong – with the very wrong side of the scale, I think, tending to tip the heavier.

The following post of his, which probably – and typically – fluctuates between right and wrong, grabbed my interest, nonetheless, for its moving in a direction similar to this present series on Pilate and to some of my recent articles, a favouring of the Greeks over the Romans.


Heinsohn’s post also explores some serious apparent anomalies with the conventional view of Roman chronology, a standpoint with which I am in full agreement, whilst not necessarily sharing all of Heinsohn’s specific details. And so, wherever I feel it necessary, I shall add my own comments to professor Heinsohn’s post, which he has entitled: “Roman Chronology: Credibility Gap”:



The chronology of the Roman Empire is built directly upon the very shaky foundations of the Crisis of the Roman Republic which may [or may not] have lasted from 134 to 27 BC.

Unfortunately, the academics can’t agree upon whether the Crisis of the Roman Republic had an early start in 134 BC or a late start in 69 BC and whether it had an early finish in 44 BC or a late finish in 27 BC.

The Crisis of the Roman Republic refers to an extended period of political instability and social unrest that culminated in the demise of the Roman Republic and the advent of the Roman Empire, from about 134 BC to 44 BC.

The exact dates of the Crisis are unclear because “Rome teetered between normality and crisis” for many decades.

Likewise, the causes and attributes of the crises changed throughout the decades, including the forms of slavery, brigandage, wars internal and external, land reform, the invention of excruciating new punishments, the expansion of Roman citizenship, and even the changing composition of the Roman army.

Modern scholars also disagree about the nature of the crisis.


Mackey’s comment: As it happens, I have thrown out much of this supposed Republican ‘history’ in my article:


A New Timetable for the Nativity of Jesus Christ


whilst retaining the Roman Republican history as outlined in Maccabees 1-2.

Heinsohn continues:


The Crisis of the Roman Republic – an extended period of political historical unrest, from about 133 BC to 30 BC.

In it’s turn, the chronology of the Crisis of the Roman Republic is based upon the “fragmentary” and “somewhat erroneous” Chronology of Rome where AD 1 = 754 AUC.


The ancient Romans were certain of the day Rome was founded: April 21, the day of the festival sacred to Pales… However they did not know, or they were uncertain of, the exact year the city had been founded…

Ab urbe condita is a Latin phrase meaning “from the founding of the City (of Rome)”, traditionally dated to 753 BC. AUC is a year-numbering system used by some ancient Roman historians to identify particular Roman years.

It was later calculated (from the historical record of the succession of Roman consuls) that the year AD 1 corresponds to the Roman year 754 AUC, based on Varro’s epoch.

Marcus Terentius Varro (116 BC – 27 BC) was an ancient Roman scholar and writer.

The compilation of the Varronian chronology was an attempt to determine an exact year-by-year timeline of Roman history up to his time… It has been demonstrated to be somewhat erroneous but has become the widely accepted standard chronology, in large part because it was inscribed on the arch of Augustus in Rome; though that arch no longer stands, a large portion of the chronology has survived under the name of Fasti Capitolini.




The Fasti Capitolini, or Capitoline Fasti, are a list of the chief magistrates of the Roman Republic, extending from the early fifth century BC down to the reign of Augustus, the first Roman emperor.

The Capitoline Fasti were originally engraved on marble tablets erected in the Roman forum. The main portions were discovered in a fragmentary condition, and removed from the forum in 1546, as ancient structures were dismantled to produce material for the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Thirty fragments of the Fasti Capitolini were recovered, along with twenty-six fragments of the Acta Triumphalia, or Fasti Triumphales, dating to the same period and recording the names of Roman generals who had been honoured with a triumph.

Two additional fragments were discovered during excavations in the forum in 1817 and 1818. Others were discovered in excavations from 1872 to 1878, with the last discovered in the Tiber in 1888.

One peculiarity of the Crisis of the Roman Republic is the tumultuous narrative of the Roman Legions where 27 new legions are founded before “about half” of all the legions are suddenly disbanded in 31 BC.



This fine finesse helps mask the massive turmoil experienced by the Roman Legions between 59 and 31 BC when 27 Roman Legions were founded and “about half of the over 50 legions” were disbanded in 31 BC.


However, peculiarities in the Chronology of Rome are not unusual.

For example:

The history of the Roman Empire begins with the outlier reign of Emperor Augustus who rules for 40 years from 27 BC.


Augustus… was a Roman statesman and military leader who served as the first Emperor of the Roman Empire, controlling Imperial Rome from 27 BC until his death in AD 14.

The saga of the Roman Empire then proceeds with the most extraordinary sequence of Emperors that contains a multi-layered mix of man-made manipulation artefacts.


The Roman Empire was the post-Roman Republic period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterized by government headed by emperors and large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, Africa and Asia.

The imperial period of Rome lasted approximately 1,500 years compared to the 500 years of the Republican era.

The 100 Year Credibility Gap
A charitable interpretation of the data suggests the first 100 years of the Roman Empire narrative is creative fiction using characters and artefacts from the Roman Republic.


Apparently, the Roman Empire didn’t need to steadily increase the number of Roman Legions as the empire expanded towards it’s “greatest extent” in 117 AD.



Arguably, the best support for the 100 Year Credibility Gap is the Pantheon in Rome where the classical architecture of a temple providentially borrowed from before the Arabian Horizon becomes the portico to the temple built by Hadrian in 126 AD.

The Pantheon is a former Roman temple, now a church, in Rome, Italy, on the site of an earlier temple commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD).

The present building was completed by the emperor Hadrian and probably dedicated about 126 AD.,_Rome



Mackey’s comment: I am even more radical than Heinsohn here, having argued in my article, “A New Timetable” (above), for a re-dating of Hadrian as a Seleucid Greek ruler.

Heinsohn continues:


The Pantheon of Agrippa well deserves the name of the Sphinx of the Campus Martius, because, in spite of its preservation, it remains inexplicable from many points of view.

This uncertainty relates to the general outline as well as to the details of the building.

The rotunda is obviously disjointed from the portico, and their architectural lines are not in harmony with each other.

On the other hand, it is evident that the Pantheon seen by Pliny the elder, in Vespasian’s time, was not the one which has come down to us, because there is no place in the present building for the Caryatides of Diogenes the Athenian, and for the capitals of Syracusan bronze which he saw and described as crowning the columns of the temple.



Therefore, when I was asked in 1881 to write an official account of the excavations undertaken by Guido Baccelli, the Minister of Public Instruction, who freed the Pantheon from its ignoble surroundings, I began the report by stating that the veil of mystery in which the monument was shrouded had by no means been lifted by these last researches, and that perhaps it never would be.

We were far from supposing that before a few years had elapsed we should discover another, nay, two more Pantheons under the existing one, and should be able to declare that Agrippa’s name engraved on the epistyle of the pronaos is historically and artistically misleading.

The Ruins and Excavations of Ancient Rome – Rodolfo Lanciani – 1897


The Romans only developed fired clay bricks under the Empire, but had previously used “mud brick”, dried only by the sun and therefore much weaker and only suitable for smaller buildings.

Development began under Augustus, using techniques developed by the Greeks, who had been using fired bricks much longer, and the earliest dated building in Rome to make use of fired brick is the Theatre of Marcellus, completed in 13 BC.

The 200 Year Credibility Gap
A less charitable interpretation of the data suggests the entire Roman Empire narrative is creative fiction that incorporates convenient characters and available artefacts from Greek Republics scattered across Europe and around the Mediterranean Sea.

The 200 Year Credibility Gap suggests the concept of the Roman Empire was created in the 2nd millennium to validate and encapsulate the narrative of Jesus of Nazareth.


Mackey’s comment: But see my revision of the chronology of Jesus Christ as above.


Herod Antipater, known by the nickname Antipas, was a 1st-century ruler of Galilee and Perea, who bore the title of tetrarch (“ruler of a quarter”) and is referred to as both “Herod the Tetrarch” and “King Herod” in the New Testament although he never held the title of king.

He is widely known today for accounts in the New Testament of his role in events that led to the executions of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth.

After being recognized by Augustus upon the death of his father, Herod the Great (c. 4 BC/AD 1), and subsequent ethnarch rule by his brother, Herod Archelaus, Antipas officially ruled Galilee and Perea as a client state of the Roman Empire.


Persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire occurred intermittently over a period of over two centuries between the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD under Nero Caesar and the Edict of Milan in 313 AD, in which the Roman Emperors Constantine the Great and Licinius legalised the Christian religion.

Support for the 200 Year Credibility Gap is found in Alexandria [Egypt] where the Roman remains [including coins of Trajan and Hadrian] are buried deep beneath the debris layer associated with the Arabian Horizon of 637 CE.


Mackey’s comment: But see my articles arguing for the non-historicity of Mohammed.

Heinsohn continues:



Strangely enough, the 200 Year Credibility Gap resolves a few thorny issues.

Mystery: Why did the Roman Empire continue to use the SPQR emblem?
Answer: The Empire narrative providentially borrowed it from the Republic.

SPQR is an initialism of a phrase in Latin: Senātus Populusque Rōmānus, referring to the government of the ancient Roman Republic, and used as an official emblem of the modern-day comune (municipality) of Rome.

It appears on Roman currency, at the end of documents made public by inscription in stone or metal, and in dedications of monuments and public works, and it was emblazoned on the vexilloids of the Roman legions.[citation needed]

This signature continued in use under the Roman Empire.

Mystery: Why did the Romans converse in Greek?
Answer 1: The Romans were Greeks.
Answer 2: Latin, like the Roman Empire, was only invented in the 2nd millennium.

The Church issued the dogmatic definitions of the first seven General Councils in Greek.

Even in Rome, Greek remained at first the language of the liturgy and the language in which the first popes wrote.

During the Late Republic and the Early Empire, educated Roman citizens were generally fluent in Greek, but state business was conducted in Latin.

Medieval Latin was the form of Latin used in the Middle Ages

There is no real consensus on the exact boundary where Late Latin ends and medieval Latin begins.

Some scholarly surveys begin with the rise of early Ecclesiastical Latin in the middle of the 4th century, others around 500, and still others with the replacement of written Late Latin by written Romance languages starting around the year 900.



Mystery: Why do Roman cultural artefacts look Greek?
Answer: The Romans were Greeks.






A nice symmetry about Ezekiel 4:5-6’s ‘390 days’ and ‘40 days’

Image result for ezekiel 4



 Damien F. Mackey



“I have assigned you the same number of days as the years of their sin.

So for 390 days you will bear the sin of the people of Israel.

After you have finished this, lie down again, this time on your right side, and bear the sin of the people of Judah. I have assigned you 40 days, a day for each year”.

 Ezekiel 4:5-6




Israel’s period of Monarchy

likened to servitude in Egypt


 Rev. Arnold J. Tkacik (O.S.B), writing on “Ezekiel” for The Jerome Biblical Commentary (1968), has equated Ezekiel’s 430 (390 + 40) ‘years’ under monarchical rule with the 430 years of servitude experienced by the ancient Hebrews.

The Jews are to undergo a “second Exodus”.

Thus Fr. Tkacik writes (21:24):


The suggestion here [in Ezekiel 4] is that 390 years is approximately the number of years from the beginning of the monarchy to the great reform of Josiah (climaxed by the destruction of the altar at Bethel). From that point to the destruction of the Temple is another generation, or 40 years, when the second Exodus will take place from which a new people will be formed. Thus, the monarchy is compared to the servitude in Egypt, which also lasted 430 years (… Gal 3:17). The Exile is a new Exodus: “I will lead you to the desert of the peoples” (20:35).


Building a chronology

around the 430 years


Dr. John Osgood has, in his most important article “The Times of the Judges — A Chronology” (EN Tech. J., vol. 1, 1984), arrived at basically the same span of time in relation to the history of Israel as had Fr. Tkacik. Dr. Osgood writes on p, 156, in support of his view for a shorter-than-usually-accepted reign for king Saul (Osgood’s BC dates here are not necessarily mine):


… further evidence in support of a short reign by Saul is given in Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 4:5-6 the years of Israel and Judah’s ‘iniquity’ are given as 390 + 40 which is 430 years. The prophecy refers to the siege of Jerusalem which began in 588 BC (Ezekiel 24:1-2, Jeremiah 52:4-6) and continued into 586 BC.

…. The 40 years of Ezekiel 4:5-6 (the sins of Judah) must be calculated back from 10th day of 10th month of 9th year of Ezekiel, that is 588 BC. This brings us back to the 12th year of Josiah 628 BC (see Thiele, “A Chronology of the Hebrew Kings”). Significantly, in that year Josiah began to purge the whole land of Israel and Judah (2 Chronicles 34:3-7). The further 390 years of Ezekiel 4 then bring us back to the beginning of the kingdom and the inaugural year of the reign of Saul, that is, 1018 BC.

If the period of Israel’s sins was 430 years, its starting point would have been 1018 BC (measuring back from the start of the siege). This is less than a decade before David’s accession to the throne. Such a statement only seems to make sense if it refers to Israel’s KINGDOM, beginning of course with its first king, Saul. This is clearly consistent with the above interpretation of the length of Saul’s reign.


This leads Dr. Osgood into an account of the “70 years of desolation” to be found in various OT texts, and to his highly different-from-usual interpretation of an integral part of Daniel 9, namely the “62 weeks”:


These 430 years of the kingdom would then explain the strange 70 years of desolation of the land as substitution for missed years of Sabbath (Jeremiah 25:11-12, Daniel 9:2, 1 Chronicles 36:21, Leviticus 26:34), the 70-year figure being arrived at in the following manner:

430 years gives 62 Sabbath years (to the nearest Sabbath in front) or to be precise 61.5 missed Sabbath years, plus 8 (or more correctly 8.5) Jubilee years (Exodus 23:10-11, Leviticus 25:1-17), giving a total of 70 years. ….