Historical and chronological ramifications of inaccurately interpreting Daniel chapter 9

Image result for daniel chapter 9 


 Damien F. Mackey


“And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing.

And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.

Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed”.

 Daniel 9:26


Part One:

A Jewish scholar clarifies the main terms




Daniel’s famous prophecy of the Seventy Weeks “has been”, according to J. Paul Tanner, “one of the most notorious interpretive problem passages in Old Testament studies” (“IS DANIEL’S SEVENTY-WEEKS PROPHECY MESSIANIC?”).


Many see this prophecy as referring to Jesus Christ the Messiah, his Death and Resurrection, and thereby regard it as a most important piece of chronology for dating the era of Jesus Christ, based on Daniel 9:25: “ … from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks …”.

That is, 434 years (for the “sixty-two weeks”).


And this is precisely how I have long regarded, and have calculated, this prophecy.


In more recent times though, however, I have come to reject the notion that the prophet Daniel’s periods of “Weeks” are meant to be taken as chronological projections well into the future. And, with this, has inevitably come about the new conclusion of mine that the “cut off” Messiah can by no means be a reference to Jesus Christ himself.

On the contrary, the person to whom I believe Daniel’s prophecy is here pointing was actually a most wicked biblical character who was, in the end – and as according to this prophecy – left with “nothing” (with no descendants). 


Not least of my reasons for rejecting that there could have been approximately 500 years (Daniel’s “Seventy Weeks”) between the era of Daniel and that of Jesus Christ is the fact that: 


Medo-Persian History [is] Archaeologically Light. Part One: Introductory




For more, read this multi-part series.


In my related article:


Persian History has no adequate Archaeology




I began with the following quotation: The very existence of a Median empire, with the emphasis on empire, is thus questionable” (H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, “Was there ever a Median Empire?”). Although there was a Medo-Persian empire, it was far briefer, with far fewer kings, than according to the textbook estimates.


Scholars down through the centuries have not been unanimous in their interpretations of the meaning of the Daniel 9 text.

Whilst many have regarded it as being Messianic (with reference to Jesus Christ), others have not. And even the Church Fathers, who generally tended to relate it to Jesus Christ, were by no means unanimous in their explanations of the various details of the prophecy.

This is apparent from J. Paul Tanner’s introduction to the subject:



THE SEVENTY-WEEKS PROPHECY IN DANIEL 9:24–27 has been one of the most notorious interpretive problem passages in Old Testament studies. As Montgomery put it, “The history of the exegesis of the 70 Weeks is the Dismal Swamp of O.T. criticism.” 1 Early church fathers commonly embraced a messianic interpretation of the passage and sought to prove a chronological computation for the time of Messiah’s coming based on this prophecy. This approach has been favored by many conservatives—both premillennial and amillennial—down through the centuries. Advocates of the messianic view differ over the details of interpretation (e.g., the number of times Messiah is referred to in the passage, the termini of the calculations, or how the final seventieth week relates to the first sixty-nine), but they agree that this passage is one of the most astounding references to the Lord Jesus Christ and the time of His first advent.


On the other hand some writers see no reference to Messiah in this passage. This includes most critical scholars, who typically favor a Maccabean fulfillment (i.e., in the second century B.C.), and Jewish exegetes, who—although differing about various details—tend to see the fulfillment of this passage with the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70 and/or its aftermath. ….

[End of quote]


I have noted in past articles (particularly relating to early Genesis) how a superficial reading of a given biblical text, without one’s really coming to grips with the proper meaning of the Hebrew words or with the intentions of the ancient scribe(s), can lead to weird and wonderful interpretations of the Bible that such interpreters will then insist is the infallible Word of God. A classic case in point is the great Noachic Flood, which has become, in the hands of sincere Fundamentalists, or ‘Creationists’, a global Flood complete with a Queen Mary sized ship, that I think would have been a complete surprise to Noah and his family.

And the same situation has occurred, I believe, with Daniel 9, which has had all of its Jewish meaning emptied out of it, thereby ‘enabling’ for a marvellous long-range Messianic prophecy, culminating in Jesus Christ himself.

And, in the process, the historical chronology of the ancient world has been totally mangled.


Thankfully, there is a Jewish scholar at hand to clarify certain meanings.

I refer to Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz’s (“Daniel 9 – A True Biblical Interpretation. A brief explanation of Daniel Chapter 9”):


in which article I find some important lessons pertaining to the Hebrew words – though I would not accept the Rabbi’s conventionally-based chronology and dates.

Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz writes:


The book of Daniel is filled with Messianic illusions and calculations that even left Daniel pondering their meanings. …. Is there something about the Jewish Messiah?


Daniel Chapter 9


The ninth chapter has been of particular interest to both Jews and Christians. The message of a merciful God communicated in verse 18, “for not because of our righteousness do we pour out supplications before You, but because of Your great compassion.” has been a foundation of a Jews personal and spiritual relationship with God. Christians, on the other hand, tend to focus on verses 24 -26. The following is the Christian translation of those verses:


24) Seventy weeks are determined upon your people and upon your holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

25)Know therefore and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again with plaza and moat but in troubled times.
26) Then after sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off but not for himself and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.”


Many Christians assert that these passages are a prophecy that predicts the exact dates that the Messiah will come and also die. They believe that Jesus fulfilled these predictions. Before examining these verses it is important to point out that: 1) Based on the Hebrew original and context, Jews have very valid reasons for rejecting the Christian interpretation and 2) the New Testament authors never quote these passages and calculations as a proof-text.


To understand this chapter, we must begin with an explanation of the term “weeks.”


Daniel chapter 9 uses the Hebrew word (שבעים ~ Shavuim) to represents a period of time multiplied by seven. For various reasons this word is translated as “weeks” and means a multiple of seven years rather than a multiple of seven days.


  1. a) We see a similar use in the verse, “You shall count~ שבע שבתת השנים) seven Shabbaths of years), seven years seven times… forty-nine years.Leviticus 25:8
    b) A Shabbath is a period of seven days and shares the same Hebrew root for the word (שבועה~Shavuah) that means “week”.
  2. c) Normally the plural of week would be (שבעות ~ Shavuot) in Daniel it uses the masculine “ים” ending for ( שבעים~ Shavuim) similar to (years ~ שנים) This indicates that (שבעים~ Shavuim) is referring to a multiple of seven years
    d) Both Jews and Christian agree that this is referring to a multiple of years.


Therefore in Daniel chapter 9, each week is a period of seven years.


Christian polemicists interpret these passages in the following way. These passages are being spoken by Daniel after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by the evil Babylonian empire. At some point after the destruction, there will be a “decree” issued to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. Starting from the issuing of that decree, 7 and 62 weeks totaling 69 weeks of years (483 years), will pass and then the Messiah will come and in that same seven year period “week” he will be cut off, but not for himself, but for the sins of mankind. Then the city and sanctuary will be destroyed. Christian assert that their calculation proves that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy to the exact day.


After the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem, any Jews that survived the Babylonian slaughter were exiled from their land. Daniel, for example, lived in Babylon. Eventually, the Babylonians were conquered by the Persian Empire. Christians claim that the decree mentioned in Daniel 9:25 was issued by the Persian King Artaxerxes in the year 444 BCE, based on Nehemiah 2:1-8. These passages speak about the king giving Nehemiah “letters” (אגרות ~ Iggrot) for safe passage and permission to rebuild the Temple.


Mackey’s comment: But see my identification of this King “Artaxerxes” with the Chaldean king Nebuchednezzar II in my multi-part series:


Governor Nehemiah’s master “Artaxerxes king of Babylon”.


especially Part Two: “‘Artaxerxes’ as king Nebuchednezzar”



The Rabbi continues:


The building of Jerusalem was started and halted several times, and there are three additional decrees mentioned earlier in the Bible.

1) In Ezra 1:1-4, King Cyrus issues a proclamation (קול ~ Kol) and writings (מכתב ~ Michtav) granting the Jews permission to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple.
2) Ezra 6:12-13, King Darius issues a decree (טעם ~Taam) granting permission to rebuilt the Temple.

3) Ezra 7:11-16, Artaxerxex, issues a decree (טעם ~Taam) granting permission to rebuilt the Temple. (Artaxerxex is a Persian title of royalty and can refer to different leaders. This is similar to the way Pharaoh is the title of rulers of Egypt)


We will see latter that it is significant that in these verses there are four different words used to describe these proclamations, and none of them match the Hebrew word used in Daniel 9 which is (דבר ~ Devar) that means “word.”


With four different proclamations, there is no historical justification to choose the one mentioned in Nehemiah 2 and there is no reliable source stating that it occurred exactly in 444 BCE. It seems that Christians picked this passage out of convenience and assigned it this specific date, because if you start at 444 BCE and count 69 weeks of years (483 years) you reach 39 CE. Whatever their reason for choosing Nehemiah’s reference and attributing it as having occurred in 444 BCE it is still seven years off from the year 32 CE when Jesus supposedly died.


This seven-year discrepancy is resolved by Christian theologians who redefined the definition of a “year.” They claim that prophecies like Daniel’s are to be understood in “Prophetic years” that have 360 days rather than 365 ¼ days. The argument that Daniel might be speaking to Babylonians who may have had a 360 year is unsubstantiated and refuted by the fact that this particular passage is spoken in Hebrew to Jews who had a different calendar then and Babylonians who spoke Aramaic.


Prophetic Year vs Solar Year


One Christian attempt to prove this concept of Prophetic years is from the New Testament: “They will tread underfoot the holy city for 42 months, and they will prophesy for 1260 days.Revelations 11:2-3


By dividing 1260 (days) by 42 (months) you get 30 days per month, they claim that each month is 30 days and a Prophetic Biblical year would therefore be being 360 days (30×12=360). An additional proof-text utilizes the events surrounding the flood. The following verses are quoted to show how biblical months were periods of 30 days,


the water prevailed upon the earth 150 daysGen 7:24 and

the flood started on,

the 17th day of the second monthGen 7:11, and ended on,

the 17th day of the seventh month.” Gen 8:4.


They argue that by taking this exact five month period and dividing it into the 150 days, you will see that there must be five months of 30 days each and therefore a year would be 360 days. The Christian argument continues that the difference between a solar year of 365 ¼ days and the so-called prophetic year of 360 days is what caused the seven-year discrepancy in their interpretation of Daniel 9, and the resolution of the problem is accomplished by converting the time period from “biblical” years to solar years.


They argue that that by multiplying 360 days by 483 years (69 weeks of years) you get 173,880 prophetic days. To convert this to solar years, you divide the 173,880 days by 365 1/4 (days), and you will get 476 years. 444 BCE plus 476 years will give you the year 32 CE, which they claim is the year that Jesus not only made his triumphant entry into Jerusalem (Messiah’s arrival) but was also crucified (cut off ).


Before explaining why this line of reasoning is absolutely false and a simply an act of desperation to resolve their 7 year miscalculation, we must explore the correct meaning of Daniel 9 and the concept of a Jewish calendar year.


Translating Daniel Correctly


It is essential to a correct understanding of Daniel 9, to point out that it is incorrect to read this passage as if it were speaking about the Messiah. This may appear obvious to Christians since their translations has the word “Messiah” mentioned twice in this chapter; however this is the result of a blatant and intentional mistranslation of the Hebrew word (משיח ~ Moshiach”).


This word literally means “anointed” and is an adjective as in the 1 Samuel 10:1-2 where the word clearly means an act of consecration. It is not a personal pronoun that refers to a particular individual called “The Messiah.” The word (משיח ~ Moshiach”) is used throughout Jewish Scriptures no less than 100 times and refers to a variety of individuals and objects. For example:


Priests: Leviticus 4:3

Kings: 1 Kings 1:39

Prophets: Isaiah 61:1

Temple Alter: Exodus 40:9-11

Matzot ~ Unleavened Bread: Numbers 6:15

Cyrus ~ a non-Jewish Persian King: Isaiah 45:1


Even in Christian translations, the word Moshiach is translated 99% of the time as “anointed.” The only exception is twice in Daniel 9 verses 25 and 26. This inconsistency is even more blatant since Christian translators translate the word (משיח ~ Moshiach) as “anointed” one verse earlier when it is used in Daniel 9:24. In this instance, it is referring to anointing the innermost chamber of the Holy Temple known as the “Holy of Holies,” (קדשים קדש ~ Kodesh Kedoshim). It is incorrect to translate this, as some missionaries do, to mean the “most holy one” in an attempt to have this refer to the Messiah rather than a place.


Therefore, in Daniel, the passages should be correctly translated as:


Daniel 9:24Until an anointed prince” and not as “Until Messiah he prince.”


Daniel 9:25 “an anointed one will be cut off” and not as “the Messiah will be cut off.”

Additionally, in verse 25 there is no definite article (Hey ~ ה) before the word (משיח ~ Moshiach), and it is incorrect to translate this as “the Messiah” or “the anointed one” as if it were speaking about one exclusive individual. When translating correctly as an “anointed individual,7” the passages could be referring any one of a number of different individuals or objects that were anointed and not necessarily “the Messiah.”


A careful examination of Daniel 9 will lead to a clear understand of exactly to whom and what this chapter is referring. An additional mistake made by Christians is the translation of 7 and 62 weeks as one undivided unity of 69 weeks. The Christian version makes it sound as if the arrival and “cutting off” of the “Messiah” will take place sixty-nine weeks (483 years) after a decree to restore Jerusalem. They add the 7 and 62 weeks together and have one person (the Messiah) and two events occurring towards the end of the 69th week.


Actually, according to the Hebrew the 7 and 62 weeks are two separate and distinct periods. One event happens after seven weeks and another event after an additional 62 weeks. Simply put, if you wanted to say 69 in Hebrew you would say “sixty and nine.” You would not say “seven and sixty two.”


Furthermore, in Daniel it is written “7 weeks and 62 weeks rather than “7 and 62 weeks.” The use of the word “weeks” after each number also shows that they are separate events. The use of the definite article (ה ~ Hey) that means “the” in verse 26, “and after the 62 weeks shall an anointed one be cut off,” is sometimes deleted in Christian translations, but it’s presence in the Hebrew original clearly indicates that the 62 weeks is to be treated as separate period of time from the original 7 weeks.


The correct translation should be: “until an anointed prince shall be 7 weeks (49 years),” “then for 62 weeks (434 years) it (Jerusalem) will be built again but in troubled times.” Then after (those) the 62 weeks shall an anointed one will be cut off.Daniel 9:24-25


Two separate events and anointed ones, 62 weeks (434 years) apart.


Christians also incorrectly translated the Hebrew (V’ayn Lo ~ לו ואין), at the end of Daniel 9:26. They translate it that he will be cut off “but not for himself,” as if it refers to someone being cut off not for himself but cut off for us and indicating a form of vicarious attainment. However the Hebrew original means “and he will be no more” literally “and no more of him” and indicates the finality of his demise. Interestingly the Hebrew word (kares ~ כרת) translated as “cut off” biblically refers to someone who has sinned so grievously that they are put to death by heavenly decree as a divine punishment for their own transgressions.


Mackey’s comment: As I wrote above, “… the person to whom I believe Daniel’s prophecy is here pointing was actually a most wicked biblical character who was, in the end – and as according to this prophecy – left with “nothing” (with no descendants)”. 

The Rabbi continues:


An awareness of these eight mistranslations is essential to understanding the ninth chapter of Daniel. To recap:


  1. (קדשים קדש) mean “holy of holies” not the “most holy one
  2. (דבר ~ Devar) that means “word” not decree.
  3. (משיח ~ Moshiach”) means “anointed” not “Messiah” verse 23
  4. (משיח ~ Moshiach”) means “anointed” not “Messiah” verse 24
  5. seven weeks and sixty-two ” means two events one at 7 weeks and the other

62 weeks later not one event after a cumulative 69 weeks

  1. (Hey ~ ה) mean “the
  2. (V’ayn Lo ~ לו ואין) mean “will be no more” not “not for himself
  3. (kares ~ כרת) means death to a transgressor the cuts off their relationship to God.


Jewish Calendar Years


In addition to … these eight mistranslations Christians, as mentioned above, manipulate their calculation of the 69 weeks in Daniel 9 in an attempt to have them coincide with the arrival and death of Jesus in Jerusalem.


Christians based their understand with a belief that the starting point of the prophesy begins in 444 BCE with the decree issued by King Artaxerxex (Ezra 7:ll-16). Sixty–nine weeks (483 years) would bring you to 39 CE. This is 7 years off the commonly accepted date of 32 CE being the year Jesus was put to death. As mentioned above they attempt to resolve this issue by transforming “prophetic years” into solar years. The problem is that according to Jewish tradition and scriptures there is no such thing as a prophetic year of 360 days.


Jewish scripture clearly teaches that the Jewish calendar is both Solar and Lunar. As early as Genesis 1:14, that deals with the creation of the sun and the moon, we are told that “Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven to divide the day from the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years” Both luminaries are used to determine our calendar.


A solar year is 365 1/4 days and a lunar year is 11 days shorter, 354 days long. Unlike the Gentile’s year where the length of the months is set by convention rather than a relationship to the lunar calendar, a Biblical Jewish calendar must coincide with both the sun (for seasons) and the moon. When God, commanded the people of Israel to sanctify the months he established the month that the Exodus took place as the first of the months. Exodus 12:1. God also commanded to observe Passover in the springtime as is says, “Observe the month of springtime and perform the Passover for God, for in the month on springtime God took you out of Egypt.” Deut 16:1.


In other words, a biblical calendar must coincide the months with the seasons creating a Solar-Lunar calendar.


There is an eleven day difference between a solar and lunar year. If Jewish holidays were established solely by a lunar year the holidays would move further and further away from their original seasons. This happens all the time with the Muslim Lunar calendar with Ramadan falling in a variety of seasons. A biblical Solar/Lunar calendar corrects this by adding a 13 month leap year approximately every 4 years. Some years have 12 months and the leap year has 13. The fabricated “prophetic year” of 360 days could not exist because it would not allow Jewish holidays to coincide with both months and seasons.


Understanding Daniel


Now we can return to the beginning of Daniel 9 and establish the correct starting point for Daniel’s prophesy. The Christian major error in establishing the starting point of Daniel prophesy is caused by their mistranslation of the verse, “know therefore and discern that from the going forth of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.” Daniel 9:25


Since their translation asserts that the starting point of this prophesy is from the issuing of a certain decree to rebuild Jerusalem, they incorrectly assume that it is the decree of King Artaxerxex. However, as mentioned above, there were a number of different decrees made concerning returning and rebuilding Jerusalem.


In Daniel 9:25, the original Hebrew used the word (דבר ~ Devar) which is significantly different from a human decree. The word (דבר ~ Devar) refers to a prophetic word. In the beginning of Daniel 9 verse 2, this word is used when Daniel says that he wants to understand “the word of the Lord to the Prophet Jeremiah.”


As mentioned above, in all of the passages that mention some form of decree or proclamation concerning Jerusalem, none of them use the Hebrew word (דבר ~ Devar).


The correct translation of Daniel should be: “Know therefore and discern that from the going forth of the word to restore and rebuild JerusalemDaniel 9:25


Therefore the correct starting point of Daniel’s prophesy must be associated with the issuing of a prophetic word and not a human decree. The word (דבר ~ Devar) is used in the beginning of Daniel chapter 9. A careful reading of the beginning of this chapter clarifies the correct meaning of the reference to the “word to restore and to build Jerusalem” mentioned in Daniel 9:25.


Chapter 9 begins as follows: “I Daniel considered (or contemplated) in the books the number of the years which the word (דבר ~ Devar) of G-d came to Jeremiah the Prophet that would accomplish to the destruction of JerusalemDaniel 9:2


Here Daniel uses the word (דבר ~ Devar) when pondering the numbers of years that Jeremiah had spoken about. Jeremiah had twice prophesied concerning a 70 year period.


Once Jeremiah said: “and these nation shall serve the King of Babylon 70 years and it shall come to pass when seventy years are accomplished that I will punish the King of Babylon and that nation … and make it everlasting desolation Jeremiah 25: 11-12


This prophesy states that Babylon would dominate Israel for a total of 70 years.


Jeremiah also says: “After 70 years are accomplished to Babylon I will take heed of you and perform My good word towards you in causing you to return to this place.” Jeremiah 29:l0


This prophesy states, that after the 70 years, in addition to the end of Babylonian domination, the Jews would also return to Jerusalem from the Babylonian exile. There are two Jeremiah prophesies concerning: 1) subjugation, and 2) return to Jerusalem.


Jeremiah’s 70 years start from the initial subjugation of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. This took place 18 years before the destruction of Jerusalem, as demonstrated by the following passages, We know that the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in the 19th year of King Nebuchadnezzar. As it says:


In the 19th year of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuzaradan the chief executioner was in service of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem… and destroyed the Temple of GodJeremiah 52:12-13


The 19th year means that 18 full years had already been completed. Nebuchadnezzar started to subjugate Jerusalem in his first year of his rule; this can be derived from the following verses;


in King Yehoyakim’s third year (three completed years) Nebuchadnezzar came to besiege JerusalemDaniel 1:1


in the fourth year (three completed years) of Yehoyakim which was the first year of NebuchadnezzarJeremiah 25:1


These verses demonstrate that Nebuchadnezzar started to besiege Jerusalem in his first year and the destruction of Jerusalem took place in his “19th” year. Therefore, 18 complete years had passed from the beginning of the siege until the destruction of Jerusalem. During these 18 years Jerusalem was laid siege and completely surrounded. Scriptures also indicate that the 70 years of Jeremiah were completed with the advent of Cyrus the King of the Persian Empire. As it says:


Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled.” Ezra 1:1-3


“Those who survived the sword he exiled to Babylon, where they became slaves to him and his sons until the kingdom of Persia began to reign. This was the fulfillment of the word of God to Jeremiah, until the land would be appeased of its Sabbatical years, all the years of its desolation it rested, to the completion of 70 years. In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, upon the expiration of God’s prophesy spoken by Jeremiah. God aroused the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia and he issues a proclamation… to build God a Temple in Jerusalem.” 2 Chronicles 36:20-23


In addition to the Babylonian rule ended in fulfillment of Jeremiah 25:11-12, Cyrus also gave permission, in fulfillment of Jeremiah 29:l0, to the Jews to return to Jerusalem, as it says;


Whoever is among you all his people, let his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord G-d of Israel.” Ezra 1:4


It is important to remember that from the beginning of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, 18 years before the fall of Jerusalem, until the fall of the Babylonian Empire, when Cyrus came into power, 70 years had elapsed. By subtracting the 18 years subjugation before the destruction of the first Temple from the total of 70 years we are left with 52 years. This proves that King Cyrus arose to power and fulfilled Jeremiah’s prophesy 52 years after the destruction of Jerusalem.


Mackey’s comment: This “52 years” is, I believe, too large a figure for the period in question.

I think that Jeremiah’s “70 years” ought instead to be dated from the 13th year of king Josiah, which was 23 years from the 1st year of Nebuchednezzar, as according to this most important of OT chronological entries (Jeremiah 25:1-3):


The word came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. So Jeremiah the prophet said to all the people of Judah and to all those living in Jerusalem: ‘For twenty-three years—from the thirteenth year of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah until this very day—the word of the Lord has come to me and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened’.


And at this point we can leave the Rabbi’s excellent and most helpful discourse as, from now on, his identification of Medo-Persian kings begins greatly to confuse matters – at least according to my own arrangement and identification of these monarchs.



Part Two:

The “cut off” one was an evil king of Judah



This is what the Lord says:

‘Record this man as if childless,
a man who will not prosper in his lifetime,
for none of his offspring will prosper,
none will sit on the throne of David
or rule anymore in Judah’.


Jeremiah 22:30



We learned from PART ONE about Daniel 9, following Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz’s helpful account of the proper meanings of the key Hebrew words therein, that commentators have long been foisting their artificial translations upon the ancient text, usually for the purpose of ‘making’ it culminate with Jesus Christ the Messiah.


I also suggested that a flaw in the Rabbi’s own interpretation of Daniel’s text, chronology wise, pertained to the inevitable difficulties associated with accepting the standard Babylonian to Medo-Persian succession of kings. According to the Rabbi:


It is important to remember that from the beginning of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, 18 years before the fall of Jerusalem, until the fall of the Babylonian Empire, when Cyrus came into power, 70 years had elapsed. By subtracting the 18 years subjugation before the destruction of the first Temple from the total of 70 years we are left with 52 years. This proves that King Cyrus arose to power and fulfilled Jeremiah’s prophesy 52 years after the destruction of Jerusalem.


That would be according to the conventional arrangement of neo-Babylonian kings


Ruler Reigned Comments
Nabu-apla-usur (Nabopolassar) 626 – 605 BC Took control of Babylonia from Sinsharishkun of Assyria, ejected Assyrian armies from Babylonia in 616 BC. Entered into alliance with Cyaxares and destroyed Assyrian empire.
Nabu-kudurri-usur (Nebuchadnezzar II) 605 – 562 BC Chaldean king. Defeated the Egyptians and Assyrians at Carchemish. Is associated with Daniel in the Bible.
Amel-Marduk (Evil-Merodach) 562 – 560 BC Released Jeconiah after 37 years in captivity.
Nergal-shar-usur (Nergal-sharezer/Neriglissar) 560 – 556 BC Son-in-law of Nebuchadnezzar II. Murdered Amel-Marduk.
Labashi-Marduk 556 BC Son of Neriglissar. Murdered after being deemed unfit to rule.
Nabu-na’id (Nabonidus) 556 – 539 BC Last Mesopotamian king of Babylon, originated in Harran in Assyria. Was not a Chaldean, often left rule to his son Belshazzar in a co-regency arrangement.


which, unfortunately, has several too many kings, Nebuchednezzar II being in fact the same as Nabonidus; Evil-Merodach being the same as the biblical “Belshazzar” (Bel-shar-usur), who is most likely the same, again, as Nergalsharezer (Nergal-shar-usur).  


Given that 23 years of the prophet Jeremiah’s count of 70 years of captivity had already expired by the 1st year of Nebuchednezzar (refer back to Part One), then about (23+18 =) 40/41 years must have expired when the Temple was destroyed by the Chaldeans. That means that there could have been only about 30 years, rather than the Rabbi’s “52 years”, until the 1st year of Cyrus. Those 30 years would now be made up of a remaining 25 years for Nebuchednezzar, plus 3-4 of his son-successor Belshazzar, plus the first year for Cyrus (25 + 4 + 1 = 30).

{This is only an approximate calculation on my non-mathematically inclined part}.

There is no room here as well for the approximately 4 years of Nergalsharezer, the 1 year of Labashi-Marduk (whoever he was), or the 17 years of Nabonidus (4 + 1 + 17 = 22), from which conventional estimate Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz would have obtained his (30 + 22 =) “52 years”.  


My choice for the “cut off” anointed one of Daniel 9 has to be king Jehoiachin of Judah.

He is “cut off” even in name in the Book of Jeremiah, which reduces his name, sans theophoric, to “Coniah” (Jeremiah 22:24-28):


‘As surely as I live’, declares the Lord, ‘even if you, Coniah son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, were a signet ring on my right hand, I would still pull you off. I will deliver you into the hands of those who want to kill you, those you fear—Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the Babylonians. I will hurl you and the mother who gave you birth into another country, where neither of you was born, and there you both will die. You will never come back to the land you long to return to’.

Is this man Jehoiachin a despised, broken pot,
an object no one wants?
Why will he and his children be hurled out,
cast into a land they do not know?


King Jehoiachin I have previously identified with the wicked Haman of the Book of Esther, and, more recently, with king Amon of Judah, from whom, indeed, we must get the name “Aman” (or Haman). See my article:


King Amon’s descent into Aman (Haman)




As Haman, he was childless alright, all ten of his sons having been killed by order of king “Ahasuerus” (i.e., Cyrus) soon after his own violent death (Esther 7:10): “So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the wrath of the king abated”.

Such was the ugly demise of the very evil and extremely long-reigning (but only in captivity) former king of Judah, Jehoiachin (Jeconiah-Coniah)/Amon/Aman (Haman).

The aged king of Judah had even been revered by the Persians as “father” (Esther 16:11-12):


[Haman] … found our humanity so great towards him, that he was called our father, and was worshipped by all as the next man after the king: But he was so far puffed up with arrogancy, as to go about to deprive us of our kingdom and life.




Part Three:

The ‘terminus ad quem’ of Daniel 9



“… he will put an end to sacrifice and offering.

And at the Temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation,

until the end that is decreed is poured out on him”.


Daniel 9:27


For those who interpret Daniel 9 as being a Messianic prophecy pertaining to Jesus Christ, then its culminating two verses (vv. 26-27):   


The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the Temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him [,]


can only be a description of the complete destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple in 70 AD (conventional dating).

Though who the “he” might be in this case could be problematical.


Not so, however, according to my revision, in which the “he” can be one, and only one, person, following on from my identification of the “cut off’ anointed one of the previous verse (v. 25) with Haman of the Medo-Persian period. The “he” can then only be that terrible persecuting king Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’ of “the [Macedonian] people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary”.

For, as we read in 1 Maccabees 1:20-24:


In the year 143, after the conquest of Egypt, Antiochus marched with a great army against the land of Israel and the city of Jerusalem. In his arrogance, he entered the Temple and took away the gold altar, the lampstand with all its equipment, the table for the bread offered to the Lord, the cups and bowls, the gold fire pans, the curtain, and the crowns. He also stripped all the gold from the front of the Temple and carried off the silver and gold and everything else of value, including all the treasures that he could find stored there. Then he took it all to his own country. He had also murdered many people and boasted arrogantly about it.  


Then, just two years later (vv. 30-32): “… he suddenly launched a fierce attack on the city, dealing it a major blow and killing many of the people. He plundered the city, set it on fire, and tore down its buildings and walls. He and his army took the women and children as prisoners and seized the cattle”.

Next, came the Abomination (vv. 54-57):


King Antiochus set up The Awful Horror [Abomination] on the altar of the Temple, and pagan altars were built in the towns throughout Judea. Pagan sacrifices were offered in front of houses and in the streets. Any books of the Law which were found were torn up and burned, and anyone who was caught with a copy of the sacred books or who obeyed the Law was put to death by order of the king.


My identification of the “cut off’ one also necessitates now that the long count of the approximately 434 years of Daniel 9:26 must be retrospective – and not looking forwards – in relation to the era of Daniel, for as we read there: “After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ an Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing”.


The author of the following blog article has likewise rejected the “anointed” one of Daniel as being Jesus Christ, whilst correctly also (I believe) connecting the Abominator with Antiochus. His/her identification of the “anointed” one with the Maccabean high priest, Onias – which I personally cannot accept – is a view that does have some supporters as well. His/her conventional chronology of the Maccabean period is, I believe, wildly off the mark: https://dustinmartyr.wordpress.com/2016/06/17/responsibly-interpreting-the-visions-in-daniel-9-part-3/

Responsibly Interpreting the Visions in Daniel 9 (part 3)


This will be the final post on the Seventy Weeks prophecy in Daniel 9. For a recap of my thoughts on the passage’s introduction and verse 9:24, click here. Yesterday’s post regarded the exegesis of Dan 9:25 (here). Today’s post will deal with the final two verses (9:26-27) and some concluding matters of interpretation.


9:26  “And after the sixty-two weeks an anointed one will be cut off and no one will come to his aid. Then the people of the coming prince will spoil the city and the sanctuary. But his end will come with a flood unto an end; a war is being decided; desolating things.”

9:27  “He will confirm a covenant with the great ones for one week. But in the middle of the week he will remove the sacrifice and the grain offering; and upon a wing of abominations he will be desolating, up to the point of a complete destruction being decided which will be poured out upon the one desolating.” 


Quite a few remarks need to be stated in regard to this passage. I will number them for the sake of making organized conversation points:


  1. As I noted in the previous post, these two verses focus entirely upon the events after the initial two periods of history (‘seven’ weeks and ‘sixty-two’ weeks). In other words, the final week of the Seventy Weeks prophecy gets the most attention, making its events the crux of the passage’s emphasis.
  2. The beginning of this passage moves the listener over a long period of time up to this decisive moment where an anointed figure will be killed. Since there is a massive sixty-two week period separating these events from those described in 9:25, it seems obvious that the anointed figure in 9:26 is not the same individual as the one back in 9:25. It has been common ground for Christians to regard this anointed figure again as the Anointed One (i.e., Jesus Christ). Again, this argument fails to hold up to scholarly scrutiny. For one, we again have the Hebrew noun mashiach without the definite article, requiring the translation “an anointed one” rather than “the anointed one.” Sadly, many modern English translations have not been entirely honest on this point. Secondly, if this were a predictive prophecy about the death of Jesus Christ, why does the passage qualify this death with “no one will come to his aid”? Shouldn’t the passage (if it were referring to the death of Jesus) say that he will be supernaturally vindicated in glorious resurrection by God the Father? Why then does the passage actually say that no one will come to his aid? This is hardly a reference to Jesus. Furthermore, the New Testament Christians (who searched the Hebrew Bible diligently for any hint of messianic predictions) never once quote Daniel 9:26 to refer to Jesus’ death. Instead, they focus primarily upon Isaiah 53 and other verses, but never once is Dan 9:26 quoted in the New Testament to refer to Jesus. This suggests that its interpretation had an accepted reading which excluded Jesus from being its object of focus.
  3. In fact, we possess a perfect candidate for this anointed figure mentioned in 9:26. In the year 171 BCE a high priest named Onias III was in fact murdered. Unfortunately for him, none of the Jews came to help him or avenge his death. Instead his brother, the Hellenistic sympathizer Jason, took control of the temple. The actions of Jason were instrumental in the events leading up to the Maccabean Revolt.
  4. Around this time, the Seleucid Empire ruled by Antiochus IV made an agreement with some of the leading officials in Jerusalem in order to hellenize the city and its people. This agreement is the “covenant” mentioned in Dan 9:27. This is recorded in detail in 1 Maccabees:

In those days certain renegades came out from Israel and misled many, saying, “Let us go and make a covenant with the Gentiles around us, for since we separated from them many disasters have come upon us.” This proposal pleased them, and some of the people eagerly went to the king, who authorized them to observe the ordinances of the Gentiles. So they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, according to Gentile custom, and they removed the marks of circumcision, and abandoned the holy covenant. They joined with the Gentiles and sold themselves to do evil. (1 Macc 1:11-15)

  1. After the murder of the anointed high priest Onias III the Seleucid armies, commanded by Antiochus Epiphanes, came into Jerusalem. The act of circumcision was restricted and the Sabbath was profaned. But the most detestable act was the placement of a statue of Zeus upon the temple’s sacrificial altar. Jews were forced to offer sacrifices to this These offensive acts are what Dan 9:26 refers to as the “spoiling of the city and the sanctuary” and what 9:27 describes as the plural “abominations.” These events were too much for the conservative Jews who were resistant to Hellenization (thus provoking the Maccabean Revolt).
  2. As I just noted in #5, the Syrian forces led by Antiochus brought about desolating abominations upon Jerusalem and its people. Note carefully that these abominations of desolation are plural, not singular. Furthermore, they are plural objects, not persons. This is something different from what Jesus stated in Mark 13:14 (i.e., a single, personal abomination of desolation). This point should not be taken lightly; Daniel 9:24-27 refers to plural abominations as things/objects and Mark 13:14 refers to a single person who is an abomination of desolation. We should let Daniel 9 say what it wants to say and let Mark say something else (without harmonizing the two accounts). Jesus is likely reusing the terrible events of the past as a rubric to convey the future abomination of desolation.
  3. Daniel 9:26 promises that there will indeed be divine retribution upon the coming prince Antiochus. His end will come with a “flood” – a common prophetic hyperbole for a swift death (cf. Isa 8:8; 10:22; 30:28; Ezek 13:13; Nah 1:8). Furthermore, 9:27 says that a destruction has been decreed by God (divine passive). This reassures the original readers that this national catastrophe will not go unpunished by Israel’s God, encouraging them to resist the hellenizing influences in covenantal faithfulness. Antiochus IV did indeed die in the year 164 BCE.
  4. To connect some loose ends, it is important to remember that some of the significant dates need to be kept in the forefront of these discussions:
    • Onias III, the Jewish high priest, was murdered in 171 BCE. This began the agreement/covenant (1 Macc 1:11-15) between the Seleucids and the leading Jews to hellenize Jerusalem and its people,
    • The Syrian forces led by Antiochus halted sacrifices and offerings by placing an idol of Zeus upon the altar. This occurred in 167 BCE,
    • The Maccabean Revolt ended in 164 with the cleansing of the holy temple, thus removing all of the abominations from it,
    • 171 minus 164 equals 7. How many years are in a single week? Seven. When did the sacrifice and offerings cease? In the middle of this period (167 BCE).
  5. If the seventieth week deals with the events from 171-164 BCE, then prophetic schemes expecting a future seven year tribulation prior to the end of the age have absolutely no biblical basis for their theology.



Jesus Christ himself is the ‘stone’ of Daniel 2

Image result for jesus is stone of daniel 2


Damien F. Mackey


 ‘While you were watching, a stone was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were all broken to pieces and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth’.

 Daniel 2:34-35

The question of “Who/what is the stone of Daniel 2?”, as asked at, for instance:
is easily answered, because Jesus Christ told us directly to whom it refers.
“Jesus said to them [the chief priests and the Pharisees]” (Matthew 21:42):

‘Have you never read in the Scriptures:

“The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes”’?”


This was an Old Testament reference to Psalm 117:22 (Douay, otherwise Psalm 118:22).

This was a “stone” (a “rock”) that would shatter the successive pagan kingdoms of Daniel 2 that would encounter it.

Jesus continued his statement, still with reference to Daniel 2 (Matthew 21:43): ‘Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed’.


I Peter 2:7-8 explains this further, with reference, again, to the Old Testament (Isaiah 8:14): “He will be a holy place; for both Israel and Judah he will be a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare”.

I Peter 2:9 goes on to tell exactly who were Jesus’s “a people who will produce its fruit” to whom the kingdom will be given: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, to proclaim the virtues of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light”.


The article referred to above, “Who/what is the stone of Daniel 2?” (not all of which I would agree with or recommend), comes to the same conclusion about:


Who/what is a stone?

“Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, ” 1 Peter 2:7

“Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. ” Acts 4:10, 11

Answer: Jesus


Apocalyptic Apoplexy

Part One: Saving the ‘Literal’ Level


Damien F. Mackey


 The term “Antichrist” does not occur anywhere in the Book of Apocalypse (Revelation).


A friend has written, and sent to me, the following brief review of a no-doubt fascinating book by Emmet O’Regan, entitled Unveiling the Apocalypse. The Final Passover of the Church (2011):




This is my summary of the book Unveiling the Apocalypse by Emmet O’Regan


O’Regan’s basic thesis is that many of the events narrated in the Apocalypse have taken place in the 20th century but he also outlines what has not yet taken place and locates fairly exactly where he thinks we are currently positioned.  In brief he holds that around 1900 following upon Leo’s vision we had the “unbinding” of Satan after the millennium.  On this point, he notes that Augustine had two interpretations of the millennium in The City of God the first of which became largely forgotten.  The latter, more common interpretation is that the millennium represents an indeterminate amount of time following the binding of Satan at our Lord’s Passion.  The other interpretation he proposed is that the millennium stands for the Sabbath millennium i.e towards the end (but not exactly at the end) of six thousand years from creation the unbinding would happen.  In his day the Septuagint genealogical interpretation was common which meant that the Sabbath millennium would be around 500AD.  It was Bede who calculated 3992 years based on the Hebrew text – since adjusted slightly by others.  O’Regan points out that an unbinding of Satan around the time of 1900 fits with the Sabbath millennium.  Now O’Regan himself does not hold to a young age for man so he sees this as being of “prophetic” significance rather than literal but he really likes it (whereas I would take it more literally).  


Now, there has also been interesting new research done by Kevin Symonds in his new book on the St Michael prayer and Leo’s vision (which I have already recently read).  It turns out saying it happened on October 13th 1884 is one of those made up facts.  In fact we don’t know a lot for sure about the content of the vision, but Symonds concludes that we can say one took place.  The earliest accounts that place a time frame for Satan’s period of greater freedom are 50-60 years not the commonly cited 100.  O’Regan has a fascinating take on this as one of the accounts of the vision (though we must be cautious) depicts God as saying to Satan that they would “talk later.”  So for the next sixty years Satan “gathered the nations for war” as it says in the Apocalypse and we had the worst wars humanity has ever seen.  O’Regan speculates that around the mid century Satan probably re-bargained for another 50-60 years with a different strategy –  a more direct attack on the Church. Hence from 1960 everything has gone up in flames within the Church and Pope Paul himself said the smoke of Satan had entered.  This … parallels Job, a type of the Church, who was first attacked Satan by losing all his friends and property.  Satan then bargained again and sent an outbreak of sores on Job himself.  O’Regan argues that around the years 1999/ 2000 we had the casting down of Satan from heaven (which is the context of the discussion regarding the eclipse).  It appears that prior to this final casting out Satan always had some access to the heavenly court in order to accuse humanity of its sins hence “the accuser of our brethren has been cast out”.  Now, as O’Regan says, the problem most people have is after the year 2000 the situation in the world hardly began to ameliorate itself.  Hence such an idea comes across as self evidently incorrect to most (after all it was after that time that homosexual marriage became legalised everywhere etc not to mention the current situation in the Church).  O’Regan points out this is what we should expect. For it says in the Apocalypse that upon the casting out of Satan the heavens should rejoice but “woe to the earth” for in his fury at being cast down he lets forth a flood upon the earth against the woman.  O’Regan argues that is where we currently find ourselves – enduring this last outpouring of Satan’s wrath.


Now, if he is correct, this has helped me figure out another puzzle (though this is not discussed in his book).  I have had trouble figuring out Sr Lucia’s words that the battle against marriage and the family will be the devil’s last battle.  It seems clear to me after all that Antichrist is not yet here but supposedly we are in the midst of this last battle.  However, I now see from O’Regan that after Satan is cast to earth his power is then transferred to Antichrist.  So the devil’s last battle and the last battle are not the same thing.


So, what we are currently waiting for, according to this account, is the appearance of the two witnesses to restore the Church (which he says are the holy pope and emperor) and the preaching of the Gospel to all nations through them.  Towards the end of this period the Antichrist will arise and fight against them and after Antichrist is defeated then the end will come.


Mackey’s response:


Since the interpretations given here, and the associated timetable, are quite different from those that I personally favour (which does not necessarily mean that O’Regan is wrong), I should like to give my reasons for why I must disagree with O’Regan (as here summarised).


Failure to recognise the “literal” level


Whilst I myself have not read O’Regan’s book, and so am dependent upon my friend’s summary of it, I have read this type of book before, this same sort of approach to the intriguing Book of Apocalypse. That is:


“O’Regan’s basic thesis is that many of the events narrated in the Apocalypse have taken place in the 20th century …”.


The most notable book of this type that springs to mind is Fr. Herman Kramer’s engrossing The Book of Destiny (Tan, 1975).



Years ago my friends and I were completely hooked on it. What a fascinating read!

I have referred to it briefly in, for instance:


John the Evangelist and Vincent Ferrer




as follows:


Fr. Herman B. Kramer … has brought some connections between St. John and St. Vincent Ferrer in his captivating study on the Apocalypse, The Book of Destiny (Tan, 1975). According to Fr. Kramer’s interpretation of the Apocalypse, each chapter [can] be linked literally to an important era of Christian history. For instance, Revelation chapters 8 and 9 Fr. Kramer aligned with, respectively, the Great Western Schism (C14th-15th AD) and the Protestant Reformation (C16th AD).

Perhaps Fr. Kramer’s lynchpin for all this was his identifying of the Eagle, or angel of judgment, of Revelation 8:13, or 14:6, with St. Vincent Ferrer, OP. (ibid., pp. 208-9):


By a wonderful co-incidence a great saint appears at this stage [the Western Schism] in the history of the Church. His eminence and influence procured for him the distinction of an eagle flying through mid-heaven. This was the Dominican priest, St. Vincent Ferrer. When in 1398 he lay at death’s door with fever, our Lord, St. Francis and St. Dominic appeared to him, miraculously cured him of his fever and commissioned him to preach penance and prepare men for the coming judgments. Preaching in the open space in San Esteban on October 3, 1408 he solemnly declared that he was the angel of the judgment spoken of by St. John in the Apocalypse. The body of a woman was just being carried to St. Paul’s church nearby for burial. St. Vincent ordered the bearers to bring the corpse before him. He adjured the dead to testify whether his claim was true or not. The dead woman came to life and in the hearing of all bore witness to the truth of the saint’s claim and then slept again in death (Fr. Stanislaus Hogan O.P.).

[End of quotes]


With all due respect to the supposed testimony of this briefly resuscitated woman, the entire Book of Apocalypse (consisting of 22 chapters) right up to approximately the early verses of chapter 20, at least, belongs to an era – Saint John’s own era – when the old Judaïc system was still in place. I explained this in my:


Book of Revelation Theme: The Bride and the Reject



Here is a small part of what I wrote there (emphasis added):


What has exacerbated the whole exegetical problem of properly interpreting Revelation on a literal level is, I believe, the conventional opinion that St. John wrote this Apocalypse in hoary old age, in c. 95 AD, about a quarter of a century after Jerusalem had been destroyed. Hence many commentators are loath to see any relevance for Revelation in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Protestant and Catholic writers alike accept the late 95 AD date of authorship (Protestant Thomas Foster sharing this view in common with Opus Dei and Fr. Kramer).


However, with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran, there has emerged a new scholarship of great expertise as typified by Fr. Jean Carmignac, showing that the books of the New Testament literature (esp. the Gospels), were composed much earlier than was originally thought.


And the signs are that the entire New Testament, including Revelation, pre-dates 70 AD.


I believe that there is abundant evidence in the Apocalypse to indicate that it was written early. In fact the reason that prevented my writing this article initially was: Where to start? There is so much! My effort in the end had been greatly assisted by my finding Gentry’s preterist interpretation on the eve of commencing this article.


The whole Book of Revelation is focussed upon the Holy Land and especially Jerusalem. The Temple; the golden altar; the 24 elders keeping watch at Beth Moked in the north from where an attack might come (and general Titus did in fact take Jerusalem from there, at the city’s weakest point); the sabbath restrictions; etc., etc.


Apart from their late dating of St. John’s Revelation preventing commentators from recognising the obvious, that “Babylon” is Jerusalem, this path they have taken leads them into other awkward anomalies as well. It is commonly believed that St. Paul had already completed his missionary activity and had been martyred well before St. John the Evangelist wrote the Book of Revelation. Paul is given the credit for having established the seven churches to which John later wrote. This view forces commentators into making such strange observations as Fr. Kramer’s: “… St. John could not have interfered in the administration of the churches in the lifetime of St. Paul” (op. cit., pp. 7-8).


Oh, no? Was St. Paul (who even refers to himself as a very late arrival on the scene, I Corinthians 15:8) greater than St. John, the Beloved Disciple of Our Lord?

St. Paul himself would answer us an emphatic: ‘No’! Of his visit to Jerusalem after his 14 year absence, he tells us: “… James, Cephas and John, these leaders, these pillars, shook hands with Barnabas and me …. The only thing they insisted on was that we should remember to help the poor …” (Galatians 2:9, 10).


St. John was by no means subservient to St. Paul; but apparently gave orders to the latter.


All the Apostles had a hand in establishing the churches throughout Judaea and Samaria, as Jesus Christ had commanded them, and then “to the ends of the earth”, which St. Paul boasted had been achieved even in his day (Colossians 1:23).

And Our Lord told the Apostles, “solemnly”, that they would not have completed “the rounds of the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes” (Matthew 10:23).


[End of quotes]


Biblical exegetes down through the centuries have noted various genuine levels of scriptural interpretation, the first (not necessarily the most important) of which being the literal (concrete) level. Now, this is the very level that many pious and, indeed, well-educated commentators, lacking a really solid grounding in the Scriptures and their era, can tend to skip over, leaving things quite vague and unreal.

Like a Theology without an underpinning solid philosophy.

I had this well in mind when I wrote, in my recent:


Isaiah 53 and the afflicted Hezekiah






The “figure” becomes far less “mysterious”, I would suggest,

if he is to be grounded in some literal flesh and blood person of Isaiah’s day.



Such Christians as those who tend to relate solely to the New Testament, having an extremely poor knowledge of – even sometimes seeming to be virtually allergic to – the Old Testament, will immediately identify Isaiah’s “Suffering Servant” as Jesus Christ the Messiah, without any consideration that the ancient prophet might have intended, directly and literally, some younger contemporary of his – such as King Hezekiah of Judah, as I suggested in the earlier section:  Hezekiah seems to fit Isaiah 53.

Now, whilst I could never accuse Pope Benedict XVI of discounting the Old Testament – he who in his book, Jesus of Nazareth (2011), is at pains show how the Old Testament prefigures and leads to the New Testament – and that Jesus Christ cannot be properly understood without the Old Testament – also writing along such lines as (p. 202):


What is remarkable about these [Four Gospel] accounts [of Jesus’ crucifixion and Death] is the multitude of Old Testament allusions and quotations they contain: word of God and event are deeply interwoven. The facts are, so to speak, permeated with the word – with meaning; and the converse is also true: what previously had been merely word – often beyond our capacity to understand – now becomes reality, its meaning unlocked [,]


– Benedict does, nevertheless, seem to bypass any possible ancient identification of Isaiah 53’s Suffering Servant in this next statement of his (I had previously quoted this):


“In Isaiah, this figure remains mysterious: the Song of the Suffering Servant

is like a gaze into the future in search of the one who is to come”.


The “figure” becomes far less “mysterious”, I would suggest, if he is to be grounded in some literal flesh and blood person of Isaiah’s day: one who also points to “the one who is to come”, who perfectly fulfils Isaiah’s prophecy, but who also re-interprets it, thereby, in the words of Benedict, ‘unlocking its meaning’.


Along somewhat similar lines, the prophet Job has remained “mysterious”, and “like a gaze”, without any known genealogy; or era; or country, unless he be “grounded” in his more historically-endowed alter ego, Tobias, son of Tobit. See my:


Job’s Life and Times




And somewhat similar again is the common tendency to lift the Book of Apocalypse (Revelation) right out of its contemporary era, and interpret it almost wholly as a prophecy pertaining to our times, without realising that its “ground” is the C1st AD, though it also “gazes” prophetically into our day with which its shares some striking parallelisms.

But by no means can Apocalypse’s literalness be applied to the modern age.



Persian History has no adequate Archaeology

Image result for persian rule of babylon


 Damien F. Mackey


“The very existence of a Median empire, with the emphasis on empire, is thus

questionable” (H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, “Was there ever a Median Empire?”, in

  1. Kuhrt, H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, eds., Achaemenid History III. Method and

Theory, Leiden, 1988, p. 212).






Professor Gunnar Heinsohn (University of Bremen) and Emmet Sweeney, historical revisionists, have, in recent times, arrived at some startling conclusions about ancient history – some of these warranting further critical examination, whilst other of their views appear to me to be extreme and well wide of the mark. In order to account for an apparent lack of due stratigraphy for, say, the Mitannians, or the neo-Assyrians, or the Medo-Persians, this pair (not always in perfect agreement) will attempt to merge any one of these with a far earlier kingdom, for instance, the ancient Akkadians to be merged as one with the neo-Assyrians. Lester Mitcham, however, was able to expose Sweeney’s choices for comparisons using firm archaeological data in his article, “Support for Heinsohn’s Chronology is Misplaced” (SIS Chronology and Catastrophism Workshop, No 1, May 1988).

The Akkadians and the neo-Assyrians were found to be two quite distinct peoples, well-separated in time, and speaking and writing quite different languages.

Mitcham demonstrated similarly the archaeological impossibility of Heinsohn’s and Sweeney’s bold efforts to fuse the Old Babylonian Dynasty of Hammurabi with the Persians – King Hammurabi supposedly being the same as Darius the Great.

Once again, different peoples, different geographies, different times.

Heinsohn and Sweeney do, however, have some degree of support for their argument that the Persian Empire, as classically presented, is seriously lacking in due archaeological strata. Heinsohn, in his far-reaching “The Restoration of Ancient History” (http://www.mikamar.biz/symposium/heinsohn.txt), refers to the results of some conferences in the 1980’s pointing to difficulties regarding the extent of the Medo-Persian empires:


In the 1980’s, a series of eight major conferences brought together the world’s finest experts on the history of the Medish and Persian empires. They reached startling results. The empire of Ninos [pre-Alexander period (3)] was not even mentioned. Yet, its Medish successors were extensively dealt with-to no great avail. In 1988, one of the organizers of the eight conferences, stated the simple absence of an empire of the Medes [pre-Alexander period (2)]: “A Median oral tradition as a source for Herodotus III is a hypothesis that solves some problems, but has otherwise little to recommend it … This means that not even in Herodotus’ Median history a real empire is safely attested. In Assyrian and Babylonian records and in the archeological evidence no vestiges of an imperial structure can be found. The very existence of a Median empire, with the emphasis on empire, is thus questionable” (H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, “Was there ever a Median Empire?”, in A. Kuhrt, H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, eds., Achaemenid History III. Method and Theory, Leiden, 1988, p. 212).


Two years later came the really bewildering revelation. Humankind’s first world empire of the Persians [Pre-Alexander Period (1)] did not fare much better than the Medes. Its imperial dimensions had dryly to be labelled “elusive” (H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, “The quest for an elusive empire?”, in H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, A. Kuhrt, eds., Achaemenid History IV. Centre and Periphery, Leiden l990, p. 264).


Xerxes something of a ‘Ghost’



This series considers what has worked, and what has not, in attempts so far to revise Medo-Persian history, by shortening it, so that it may the better accord with the dearth of archaeological strata.






Professor Gunnar Heinsohn (University of Bremen) had put forward a most controversial ‘solution’ to account for the problems of Medo-Persian archaeology by attempting to identify the Persians with the Old Babylonian Dynasty of Hammurabi – Darius ‘the Great’ being Hammurabi himself.

More recently (2002) Emmet Sweeney, who has been a supporter of Heinsohn, has sought to fuse the Persians with the neo-Assyrians and neo-Babylonians, so that, for instance, Cyrus the Great is to be identified with Tiglath-pileser III; Xerxes with Sennacherib; and Artaxerxes III with Nebuchednezzar II ‘the Great’. In the following passage, in which he claims to be following Heinsohn, Sweeney refers again to the archaeological problem associated with the Persian Empire (“Did Artaxerxes III Despoil the Temple in Jerusalem?”, C and C Review, 2002:2, p. 15):


A fundamental principle of Gunnar Heinsohn’s work is that the so-called Neo-Assyrians must be identical to the Persians. Heinsohn was forced to that conclusion for a very simple reason: Mesopotamia could provide little or no archaeology for two centuries during which it was part of the Achaemenid Empire. Indeed the absence of Persian strata is so complete that some modern scholars, most notably Heleen Sancisi-Weerdenburg of the Netherlands, have come to doubt the very existence of a Persian Empire …. This Persian disappearing act constitutes more or less a ‘dark age’ in the historiography of the ancient Near East.

[End of quote]



Some of the so-called Persian Kings

were semi-legendary, and composite


The mighty king, Xerxes, favoured by various commentators to represent “Ahasuerus”, the Great King of the Book of Esther, is most likely a composite character, a mix of real Assyrian and Medo-Persian kings. Here, for instance, we consider his likenesses to Sennacherib as pointed out by Emmet Sweeney.



The name ‘Xerxes’ is thought by historians to accord extremely well linguistically with “Ahasuerus”, the name of the Great King of the Book of Esther.

There are several kings “Ahasuerus” in the (Catholic) Bible: in Tobit; in Esther; in Ezra; and in Daniel.


As Cyaxares


The one in Tobit is usually considered to refer to the Cyaxares who conquered Nineveh. See e.g. my:


“Ahasuerus” in Book of Tobit




“But before [Tobias] died, he heard of the destruction of Nineveh, which was taken by Nebuchadnezzar and Ahasuerus; and before his death he rejoiced over Nineveh”. (Tobit 14:15)




“Ahasuerus” in Book of Tobit. Part Two: The Name “Ahasuerus”




in which I discuss the name, “Ahasuerus”.

Cyaxares, again, is probably the “Ahasuerus” mentioned as the father of Darius the Mede in Daniel 9:1: “It was the first year of the reign of Darius the Mede, the son of Ahasuerus, who became king of the Babylonians”.


As Cyrus


The “Ahasuerus” in Esther I have identified as Darius the Mede/Cyrus:


“King Ahasuerus” of Book of Esther




and, likewise, the “Ahasuerus” in Ezra:


The names, Xerxes, Ahasuerus, Cyaxares and Cyrus are all fairly compatible.



Comparisons with Sennacherib


Emmet Sweeney has done the work here, providing some striking parallels between the known historical Assyrian king, Sennacherib (C8th BC), and the historically far shakier, ‘Xerxes’. http://www.emmetsweeney.net/article-directory/item/58-xerxes-and-sennacherib.html


… In Ramessides, Medes and Persians I outlined detailed reasons for identifying Tiglath-Pileser III with Cyrus, Shalmaneser V with Cambyses, and Sargon II with Darius I. The striking correspondences in the lives of all of these, repeated generation for generation in parallel sequence, made it increasingly unlikely that the identifications could be mistaken. Yet even one striking mismatch could potentially invalidate the whole scheme. I then came to the next “pairing” – Sennacherib with Xerxes. Would these two also show clear-cut and convincing correspondences?

A random search of the internet produces the following for Xerxes and Sennacherib: “Like the Persian Xerxes, he [Sennacherib] was weak and vainglorious, cowardly under reverse, and cruel and boastful in success.” (WebBible Encyclopedia at www.christiananswers.net/dictionary/sennacherib.html). The writer of these words did not suspect any connection between the two kings, much less that they were the same person. Nevertheless, the similarities between them were so compelling that one apparently brought the other to mind.

The writer’s instincts, I shall argue, did not betray him. The lives and careers of Xerxes and Sennacherib were so similar that were the thesis presented in these pages not proffered, scholars must wonder at the astounding parallels between the two.

One of Xerxes’ first actions as king was an invasion of Egypt, which had thrown off the Persian yoke shortly after Darius’ defeat at the hands of the Greeks. This reconquest of Egypt was said to have taken place in Xerxes’ second year. Similarly, one of the first actions of Sennacherib was a campaign against Egypt and her Palestinian and Syrian allies. This war against Egypt took place in Sennacherib’s third year. The Assyrian inscriptions inform us how Hezekiah of Judah had rebelled and sought the assistance of the kings of Egypt (and) the bowmen, the chariot (-corps) and the cavalry of the king of Ethiopia (Meluhha), an army beyond counting — and they (actually) had come to their assistance. In the plain of Eltekeh (Al-ta-qu-u), their battle lines were drawn up against me and they sharpened their weapons.… I fought with them and inflicted a defeat upon them. In the melee of the battle, I personally captured alive the Egyptian charioteers with the(ir) princes and (also) the charioteers of the king of Ethiopia. (J. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts (Princeton, 1950) pp. 287-8).

Hezekiah was besieged, but not captured. Nevertheless, the outcome of this campaign was a complete victory for Sennacherib. Hezekiah sent tribute to the Great King:

Hezekiah himself, whom the terror-inspiring glamour of my lordship had overwhelmed and whose irregular and elite troops which he had brought into Jerusalem, his royal residence, in order to strengthen (it), had deserted him, did send me, later, to Nineveh, my lordly city, together with 30 talents of gold, 800 talents of silver, precious stones, antimony, large cuts of red stone … all kinds of valuable treasures, his (own) daughters, concubines, male and female musicians. In order to deliver the tribute and to do obeisance as a slave he sent his (personal) messenger.

Hezekiah would scarcely have sent this tribute to Sennacherib had his Egyptian allies not been totally defeated, a circumstance which has made many scholars suspect that he actually entered Egypt after his defeat of its army on the plain of Eltekeh. (See eg. A. T. Olmstead, History of Assyria (1923) pp. 308-9). This supposition is supported by the fact that Sennacherib described himself as “King of the Four Quarters,” a term which, as stated above, traditionally implied authority over Magan and Meluhha (Egypt), regarded as the western-most “quarter” or edge of the world. It is also supported by both classical and Hebrew tradition. Thus Herodotus spoke of Sennacherib advancing against Egypt with a mighty army and camping at Pelusium, near the north-eastern frontier (Herodotus, iii, 141), whilst Berossus, who wrote a history of Chaldea, said that Sennacherib had conducted an expedition against “all Asia and Egypt.” (Josephus, Jewish Antiquities X, i,4). Jewish tradition goes further and tells of the conquest of Egypt by the king and of his march towards Ethiopia. “Sennacherib was forced to stop his campaign against Hezekiah for a short time, as he had to move hurriedly against Ethiopia. Having conquered this ‘pearl of all countries’ he returned to Judea.” (L. Ginzberg, The Legends of the Jews (Philadelphia, 1920) Vol. VI p. 365). Talmudic sources also relate that after conquering Egypt, Sennacherib carried away from there the throne of Solomon. (Ibid. Vol. IV, p. 160)

Sennacherib’s second campaign against Egypt, not recorded in the Assyrian inscriptions, had, as is well-known, a much less favorable outcome for the Great King.

The greatest event of Xerxes’ reign was of course his momentous defeat in Greece. The story of his invasion is recorded in detail by the Greek authors, most particularly by Herodotus, and it is clear that Xerxes’ failure to overcome the Hellenes represented the great watershed in Achaemenid history. From that point on the Persian Empire entered a period of prolonged decline.

Strange then that of all the wars waged by Sennacherib, the only opponents who are said to have come near to defeating him were the Ionian Greeks. In one well-known passage Berossus tells of a fierce battle between Sennacherib and the Ionians of Cilicia. (H. R. Hall, The Ancient History of the Near East (London, 1913) p. 487). The Greeks, he says, were routed after a hard-fought hand-to-hand struggle.

The most important event of Xerxes’ latter years was without doubt his defeat of yet another Babylonian rebellion. Although our sources are somewhat vague, it would appear that there were in fact two rebellions in Babylon during the time of Xerxes, the first of which occurred in his second year, and was led by Bel-shimanni, and the second some time later led by Shamash-eriba.

How peculiar then that Sennacherib too should face two major rebellions in Babylon, the first of which came within three years or so of his succession, and was led by Bel-ibni. (C. H. W. Johns, Ancient Babylonia (London, 1913) p. 120). Rebellion number two came some years later and was led by Mushezib-Marduk. This second rebellion, one might guess, was one of the consequences of the Persian defeat in Greece, and there seems little doubt that Mushezib-Marduk of the Assyrian records and monuments is Shamash-eriba of the Persian.

Both Xerxes and Sennacherib were relatively mild in their treatment of the Babylonians after the first rebellion. However, after the second insurrection both kings subjected the city to massive destruction. But the parallels do not end there. Xerxes’ terrible punishment of Babylon was partly in revenge for the Babylonians’ murder of his satrap. (Brian Dicks, The Ancient Persians: How they Lived and Worked (1979) p. 46).

Similarly, Sennacherib’s destruction of Babylon after the second insurrection was largely in vengeance for the Babylonians’ kidnap and murder of his brother Ashur-nadin-shum, whom he had made viceroy of the city. (C. H. W. Johns, op cit. pp. 121-2). Xerxes tore down the walls of Babylon, massacred its citizens, destroyed its temples, and seized the sacred golden statue of Bel. (Brian Dicks, op cit). In the same way, Sennacherib razed the city walls and temples, massacred the people, and carried off the sacred statue of Marduk. (C. H. W. Johns, op cit. p. 122). Bel and Marduk were one and the same; and the name was often written Bel-Marduk. In memory of the awful destruction wrought by Sennacherib, the Babylonian Chronicle and the Ptolemaic Canon define the eight years that followed as “kingless.” The city, it is held, suffered no such catastrophe again until the time of Xerxes, supposedly two centuries later.

Xerxes’ despoliation of Babylon is generally believed to have been accompanied by his suppression of the Babylonian gods, and it is assumed that his famous inscription recording the outlawing of the daevas, or foreign gods, in favor of Ahura Mazda, was part of the general response to the second Babylonian uprising:

And among these countries (in rebellion) there was one where, previously, daevas had been worshipped. Afterward, through Ahura Mazda’s favor, I destroyed this sanctuary of daevas and proclaimed. “Let daevas not be worshipped!” There, where daevas had been worshipped before, I worshipped Ahura Mazda.

How peculiar then that Sennacherib too should be accused of outlawing the Babylonian gods, especially Marduk, in favor of Ashur as part of his response to a second Babylonian rebellion? “A political-theological propaganda campaign was launched to explain to the people that what had taken place [the destruction of Babylon and despoliation of Bel-Marduk’s shrine] was in accord with the wish of most of the gods. A story was written in which Marduk, because of a transgression, was captured and brought before a tribunal. Only a part of the commentary to this botched piece of literature is extant.”


Nevertheless, it is clear that Sennacherib tried to “depose” or even “outlaw” Marduk. Thus we find that, “Even the great poem of the creation of the world, the Enuma elish, was altered: the god Marduk was replaced by the god Ashur.” (Ibid.)


To summarize, then, consider the following:


Made war on Egypt in his third year, and fought a bitter war against the Greeks shortly thereafter. Made war on Egypt in his second year, and fought a bitter war against the Greeks shortly thereafter.
Suppressed two major Babylonian rebellions. The first, in his second year, was led by Bel-Shimanni. The second, years later, was led by Shamash-eriba. Suppressed two major Babylonian rebellions. The first, in his third year, was led by Bel-ibni. The second, years later, was led by Mushezib-Marduk.
The Babylonians were well-treated after the first rebellion, but savagely repressed after the second, when they captured and murdered Sennacherib’s viceroy, his own brother Ashur-nadin-shum. The Babylonians were well-treated after the first rebellion, but savagely repressed after the second, when they captured and murdered Xerxes’ satrap.
After the second rebellion, Sennacherib massacred the inhabitants, razed the city walls and temples, and carried off the golden stature of Marduk. Thereafter the Babylonian gods were suppressed in favour of Ashur, who was made the supreme deity. After the second rebellion, Xerxes massacred the inhabitants, razed the city walls and temples, and carried off the golden stature of Bel-Marduk. Thereafter the Babylonian gods were suppressed in favour of Ahura-Mazda, who was made the supreme deity.


The parallels between Xerxes and Sennacherib are thus among the closest between an Achaemenid and a Neo-Assyrian. Yet even now we are not finished. There is yet one more striking comparison between the two monarchs, a comparison so compelling and so identical in the details that this one alone, even without the others, would be enough to demand an identification.

Xerxes died after a reign of 21 years (compare with Sennacherib’s 22) in dramatic circumstances, murdered in a palace conspiracy apparently involving at least one of his sons. Popular tradition has it that the real murderer of Xerxes was Artabanus, the captain of his guard, and that this man then put the blame on Darius, eldest son of the murdered king. Whatever the truth, it is clear that Artaxerxes, the crown prince, pointed the finger at Darius, who was immediately arrested and executed. (Percy Sykes, A History of Ancient Persia Vol. 1 (London, 1930) pp. 213-4). It is said that Artabanus then plotted to murder Artaxerxes, but that the conspiracy was uncovered by Megabyzus. No sooner had Artabanus been removed than Hystaspes, another elder brother of Artaxerxes, rose in rebellion. The young king then led his forces into Bactria and defeated the rebel in two battles. (Ibid., p. 124)

Of the above information, one feature is most unusual: the eldest son, Darius, who was not the crown prince, was accused of the murder by the crown prince Artaxerxes, who then had him hunted down and killed.

The death of Sennacherib compares very well with that of Xerxes. He too was murdered in a palace conspiracy involving some of his sons. But as with the death of Xerxes, there has always been much rumor and myth, though little solid fact, in evidence. The biblical Book of Kings names Adrammelech and Sharezer, two of Sennacherib’s sons, as the killers (2 Kings 19:37). An inscription of Esarhaddon, the crown prince at the time, clearly puts the blame on his eldest brother, whom he hunted down and killed. Two other brothers are also named in complicity. (A. T. Olmstead, A History of Assyria (1923) p. 338).

In spite of Esarhaddon’s clear statement, there has always been much confusion about the details — so much so that some have even implicated Esarhaddon himself in the deed. In view of such a level of confusion, the detailed discussion of the question by Professor Simo Parpola, in 1980, was sorely needed and long overdue. Employing commendable reasoning, Parpola demonstrated how a little-understood Babylonian text revealed the identity of the culprit, Arad-Ninlil. (R. Harper, Assyrian and Babylonian Letters, Vol. XI (Chicago, 1911) No. 1091). A sentence of the document reads, “Thy son Arad-Ninlil is going to kill thee.” The latter name should properly, according to Parpola, be read as Arda-Mulissi (identical to Adrammelech of 2 Kings). Motivation for the murder, said Parpola, was not difficult to find. After the capture and probable death at the hands of the Elamites of Sennacherib’s eldest son and heir-designate, Ashur-nadin-sumi, the “second-eldest son, Arda-Mulissi, now has every reason to expect to be the next crown prince; however, he is outmaneuvered from this position in favor of Esarhaddon, another son of Sennacherib. This one is younger than Arda-Mulissi but becomes the favourite son of Sennacherib thanks to his mother Naqia … Eventually, Esarhaddon is officially proclaimed crown prince.” (Prof. Simo Parpola, “Death in Mesopotamia” XXVIeme Rencontre Assyriologique International,e ed. Prof. Bendt Alster, (Akademisk Forlag, 1980)).

We need hardly go beyond that for a motive. It is not clear whether Arda-Mulissi personally delivered the death blow; it seems that one of his captains was responsible.

Of this death then we note the same unusual feature. The king was murdered by or on the orders of his eldest son, who was not however the crown prince. The eldest son was then pursued and executed by a younger son, who was the crown prince. The parallels with the death of Xerxes are precise. In both cases also a second brother is named in complicity, as well as various other conspirators. In both cases too the murder was not actually carried out by the prince but by a fellow conspirator; in the case of Xerxes by Artabanus, commander of the guard, and in the case of Sennacherib by a man named Ashur-aha-iddin — a namesake of Esarhaddon. And this calls attention to yet one more parallel. In both the murder of Xerxes and Sennacherib, the crown prince himself has repeatedly been named as a suspect. Thus the Encyclopedia Britannica has Artaxerxes I placed on the throne by Xerxes’ murderer, Artabanus, (Encyclopaedia Britannica Vol. 1 (15th ed.) p. 598) whilst Parpola refers to the common suspicion that Esarhaddon had a part in his father’s death.

Such striking similarities, when placed along with the multitude of other parallels between the two kings’ lives, leave little doubt that we are on the right track. ….

[End of quote]


This works much better than any hopeful connection with the dynasty of King Hammurabi of Babylon.

It is necessary to consider ‘Xerxes’ as a ‘ghost’, a made up king based on (at least in part) a real neo-Assyrian ruler, Sennacherib.


Artaxerxes III ‘Ochus’



“By his own efforts and with the aid of such Greek generals as Mentor and Phocio of Athens, Artaxerxes thus revived the old empire of Darius. The order of the state was restored, its apparatus reorganized, the central power strengthened. Artaxerxes was energetic and restless, crafty and strong-minded. He is called cruel and violent (Diodorus 17.5.3; Plutarch, Artoxerxes 26.1) but also a fair judge (Diodorus 16.49.6)”.




Did Artaxerxes III really ‘revive the old Persian empire’, or was ‘he’, too, like ‘Xerxes’ (Part Two), a composite ‘ghost’ figure recalling real Mesopotamian/Medo-Persian kings?


The point of this series has been to try to account for the worrying lack of archaeological strata for the Medo-Persian kingdom, especially in its relation to the city of Babylon.

Conventionally, the Medo-Persian rule is considered to have endured for some three centuries:



My opinion, though, is that it was nowhere near that lengthy, and that some (if not most) of the Medo-Persian kings are duplicates.

Babylon really comes into calculations at the time of Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian. However, if I am correct in – {following other scholars} – identifying Darius the Mede as Cyrus:


Darius the Mede “Received the Kingdom”




then this would immediately cut out any purely Median archaeology for Babylon.

But how to account for the lack of Persian stratigraphy?

Well, we have read in this series that Cyrus the Great was known by various names, apart form Darius, including the names “Ahasuerus” and “Artaxerxes”. The multiple kings Darius and Artaxerxes will thus need to be reconsidered, with the possibility of at least some of these being duplicates of Cyrus.

The legendary Xerxes (a name that we found to be compatible with “Ahasuerus”) is, in part, based upon the powerful neo-Assyrian king, Sennacherib, whom I have also identified as Sargon II:


Assyrian King Sargon II, Otherwise Known As Sennacherib




We are now going to find that Artaxerxes III, considered to be a mighty Persian king, is heavily based upon the neo-Babylonian Great king, Nebuchednezzar II. This Artaxerxes III is thought to have reigned for about two decades during the mid-C4th BC. He is conventionally presented as follows (http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/artaxerxes-iii-throne-name-of-ochus-gk):


ARTAXERXES III, throne name of Ochus (Gk. Ôchos, Babylonian Ú-ma-kuš, son of Artaxerxes II and Stateira), Achaemenid king (r. 359-58 to 338-37 B.C.). About 361 he took part in a campaign against Egypt, then in rebellion under her king Tachos, and obtained that king’s surrender (Georgius Syncellus 1.486.20ff. D.). The fact that the Satraps’ Revolt, which he helped put down, was not quite ended may account for the lack of uniformity regarding the date of Artaxerxes’ accession. That event is dated to year 390 of the Babylonian Nabonassar era (beginning in November, 359 B.C.), but Polyaenus (7.17) states that he concealed his father’s death for 10 months, so that his official reign may only have begun in 358-57. On becoming king, he did away with his brothers, sisters, and other possible rivals (Justin 10.3.1; cf. Curtius Rufus 10.5.23, claiming that 80 brothers were murdered in one day).


Artaxerxes III’s objective was to consolidate royal authority and to terminate the revolts which threatened to break up the empire. He seems to have first made war on the rebel Cadusii in Media Atropatene (Justin 10.3.2); in the hard and successful fighting, Codomannus, the later Darius III, distinguished himself (Diodorus 17.6.1; Justin 10.3.3-4). Then a major campaign (ca. 356-52) was directed against such western satraps as Artabazus and Orontes who had rebelled against his father; these were now commanded to dismiss their Greek mercenaries (scholium to Demosthenes 4.19). The reconquest of Egypt was also to be carried through. Details of the campaign are unclear, but some success was achieved. Orontes was subdued, while Artabazus, banished, sought refuge with Philip of Macedonia (Diodorus 16.22.1-2, 34.1-2; Demosthenes 14.31). With the Satraps’ Revolt ended, Persian rule over Asia Minor and Phoenicia was again consolidated. Artaxerxes had acted resolutely; he obtained by threat of war the compliance of Athens, whose general, Chares, had first supported Artabazus (Diodorus 16.34.1). Actual restoration of order was accomplished by the king’s generals, especially Mentor of Rhodes, while Artaxerxes was preoccupied with Egypt (Ps.-Aristoteles, Oeconomica 2.2.28; Diodorus 16.52.1-8). For the generals’ campaign against Egypt had failed; and before the king’s massive new preparations were completed, a new revolt broke out in Syria, Phoenicia, and Cyprus in 351 which was aided by the Egyptian King Nectanebus. The rebels, led by Tennes of Sidon, were fought with indifferent success (Diodorus 16.40.5-42.9) by Idrieus (satrap of Caria), Mazaeus (of Cilicia), and Belesys (of Syria). Artaxerxes then led a large force from Babylon to Syria and soon restored matters. The rich Phoenician town of Sidon, the revolt’s center, was betrayed by King Tennes, and then destroyed by a fire set by the besieged Sidonians themselves (Diodorus 16.43.1-45.6; Pompeius Trogus, Prologus 10; Orosius 3.7.8; Georgius Syncellus 1.486.16 D.). Other towns of Phoenicia and Palestine then submitted. The expeditions of the generals Bagoas and Orophernes and the deportations of Jews ordered by Artaxerxes (Syncellus 1.486.10ff. D.) may be combined with the events recorded in the Book of Judith.


About 346-45 B.C. the king marched on Egypt. The citadels of Pelusium and Bubastis in the Nile delta were taken and by 343 the reconquest had been achieved, ending 65 years of Egyptian independence. (A seal has been interpreted as depicting this event; see J. Junge, Saka-Studien, Leipzig, 1939, pp. 63-64 n. 4.) One Pherendates was appointed satrap (Diodorus 16.46.4-51.3), while Nectanebus fled south to Nubia to maintain an independent kingdom. The Persians plundered and sacked extensively (Diodorus 16.51.2; Aelian, Varia historia 4.8, 6.8), and Egyptians were reportedly carried off to Persia. Consequently the king was vehemently hated by the Egyptians; they identified him with the ass to which he had sacrificed the Apis Bull (Aclian, 4.8).


Artaxerxes’ relations with the Greeks and Macedonians varied. Although there were occasional clashes (especially during the Satraps’ Revolt), the king sought the friendship of Athens, Sparta, and Macedonia, and he was the object of both fear and esteem (for Athens, see Demosthenes 14.7, 25, 31). In about 351 B.C. the king invited Athens and Sparta to join in a campaign he planned against Egypt; both declined but assured him of their friendship (Diodorus 16.44.1); Thebes and the Argives, however, sent him auxiliary troops (ibid., 44.2, 46.4). The first contact noted between Artaxerxes and Macedonia is a treaty of friendship with Philip II (Arrian, Anabasis 2.14.2); its details are not known. The Persian king seems to have observed it, for an Athenian legation seeking help against Philip returned empty handed (Demosthenes 9.71 ). Eventually, when Philip attacked the town of Perinthus, which dominated the Sea of Marmora, Artaxerxes perceived Philip’s real intention and intervened by sending troops into Thrace (Diodorus 16.75.1; Arrian, Anabasis 2.14.5). Alexander later pointed to this as a motive for his campaign of revenge.


By his own efforts and with the aid of such Greek generals as Mentor and Phocio of Athens, Artaxerxes thus revived the old empire of Darius. The order of the state was restored, its apparatus reorganized, the central power strengthened. Artaxerxes was energetic and restless, crafty and strong-minded. He is called cruel and violent (Diodorus 17.5.3; Plutarch, Artoxerxes 26.1) but also a fair judge (Diodorus 16.49.6). A token of his revival was the renewed building activity at Persepolis. The king erected a palace on the southwest part of the terrace, as is attested by his inscription A3Pa on a stairway (Kent, Old Persian, p. 156; F. H. Weissbach, Die Keilinsehriften der Achämeniden, Leipzig, 1911, pp. 128-29). An Akkadian tablet inscription has been found at Susa (“A3Sa,” ed. V. Scheil in MMAP XXI, 1929, pp. 99-100 no. 30).


Artaxerxes was married to a daughter of his sister (her name is read conjecturally in Valerius Maximus 9.2., ext. 7; see Justi, Namenbuch, p. 341 b) and to a daughter of Oxathres, brother of the later Darius III (Curtius Rufus 3.13.13). The latter, with three of Artaxerxes’ daughters, was captured by Alexander after the battle of Issus. The youngest of these, Parysatis, was later married to Alexander (Arrian, Annbasis 7.4.4). Also captured in the course of events was a granddaughter of Artaxerxes, who had been the wife of Hystaspes (Curtius Rufus 6.2.7-8). Of the king’s sons, only two are known by name. Arses, the youngest, succeeded his father but survived only for about two years. Bisthanes came to meet Alexander in 330 (Arrian, Anabasis 3.19.4). All the others are said to have been murdered by the Egyptian-born chiliarch, Bagoas, after poisoned the king himself in his palace intrigues (Diodorus 17.5.4; cf. Aelian 6.8 and Syncellus 1.486.14f. D.). Bagoas undoubtedly sought to be a kingmaker, but the premature death of Artaxerxes was a serious misfortune for the Persian kingdom. ….


[End of quote]


Emmet Sweeney has again (as with his Sennacherib = Xerxes) discerned some striking parallels between a Mesopotamian king, in this case Nebuchednezzar II, and a supposed Persian king, Artaxerxes III.

Emmet has written (and I do not accept any other of his Mesopotamian-Persian identifications) (http://www.hyksos.org/index.php?title=Artaxerxes_III_and_Nebuchadrezzar&oldid=4194):


Artaxerxes III and Nebuchadrezzar


In my Ramessides, Medes and Persians (Algora, 2007), I argued in detail that the rulers known to history as the Neo-Assyrians and Neo-Babylonians were in fact Great Kings of the Persians under the guise of Mesopotamians. There I demonstrated how the Neo-Assyrian Tiglath-Pileser III had to be identified with Cyrus the Great, founder of the Achaemenid line, and that the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian monarchs who followed could be identified, point by point, with the Achaemenid kings who followed Cyrus. Thus Cambyses, who reigned only six years and campaigned in the direction of Egypt, sounds like Shalmaneser V, who reigned just over seven years and similarly campaigned in the direction of Egypt. Cambyses’ successor, Darius I, was not his son; and with him a new epoch of the Persian monarchy began. In the same way, Shalmaneser V’s successor Sargon II was not his son, and with the latter there began a new age of the Assyrian monarchy. The parallels continue line by line and reign by reign, and may be schematically represented thus:

Neo-Assyrian and Achaemenid Parallels


Was the founder of a new dynasty and not the son of the previous king of Assyria. During his time Assyrian power reached the borders of Egypt. Ruled Babylon and “took the hand of Bel.”



Was the founder of a new dynasty and not the son of the previous king of Persia. During his time Persian power reached the borders of Egypt. Conquered Babylon and “took the hand of Bel.”


Reigned only six years. Campaigned in the direction of Egypt.


Reigned seven and a half years. Conquered Egypt.


Was a usurper and not the son of the preceding king. Described himself as King of the Four Quarters, implying rule from Magan (Egypt) to Dilmun (India). Defeated a major insurrection in Babylon led by Merodach-Baladan (III). Boasted of expelling the Ionians (Jaman) from their island homes.


Was a usurper and not the son of the preceding king. Described himself as King of the Four Quarters, ruling from Egypt to India. Defeated a major insurrection in Babylon led by Nebuchadrezzar (III). Cleared the Ionian islands of their inhabitants.


Reigned 22 years. Defeated two major insurrections in Babylon and destroyed the city after the second. Thereafter suppressed the Babylonian deities in favor of Ashur, who was elevated to the position of supreme god. Was murdered in a palace conspiracy involving at least one of his sons.


Reigned 21 years. Defeated two major insurrections in Babylon and destroyed the city after the second. Thereafter suppressed the Babylonian deities in favor of Ahura Mazda, who was elevated to the position of supreme god. Was murdered in a palace conspiracy involving at least one of his sons.


Was not the eldest son of Sennacherib, but was appointed crown-prince through the influence of his powerful mother Naqia, who dominated her son. Had to suppress a series of rebellions in Egypt and appointed Egyptian potentates with names like Necho and Psamtek. Began rebuilding Babylon.


Was not the eldest son of Xerxes, but was appointed crown-prince through the influence of his powerful mother Amestris, who dominated her son. Had to suppress a series of rebellion in Egypt and appointed Egyptian potentates with names like Necho and Psamtek. Began rebuilding Babylon.


Was not the original crown-prince, but was appointed to rule after the death of his brother Sin-iddin-apla. Faced rebellions in Egypt, where he honored a prince named Wenamon. During his time Assyrian control of Egypt began to weaken.


Was not the original crown-prince, but was appointed to rule after the death of his brother Xerxes II. Faced rebellions in Egypt, where he honored a prince named Wenamon. During his time Persian control of Egypt began to weaken.


Was based in Babylon and associated with that city. Appears to have been a son of Ashurbanipal, but had to fight for control of the Assyrian Empire against another son named Sin-shar-ishkun


Was based in Babylon and associated with that city. Son of a Babylonian mother and a half-Babylonian father. Upon his accession had to battle for control of the Persian Empire against a younger brother named Cyrus.


Appears to have conquered Egypt, after a second attempt, where he brought to an end the reign of Necho II. Destroyed Egypt’s ally Judah. According to the Book of Judith had a servant named Bagoas and a general named Holofernes. Was known for his savage cruelty.


Conquered Egypt after a second attempt, where he brought to an end the reign of Nectanebo II. Brought all the nations of Syria/Palestine under his control. According to Diodorus Siculus had a servant named Bagoas and a general named Holofernes. Was known for his savage cruelty.


Was not the son of Nebuchadrezzar, but from a minor branch of the royal family. Last native Babylonian king.


Was not the son of Artaxerxes III, but from a minor branch of the royal family. Last native Persian king.

In the above table we see some of the most important parallels between the penultimate Neo-Babylonian king Nebuchadrezzar and the penultimate Achaemenid king Artaxerxes III. Yet the similarities between the two kings, like those of the others, are so detailed that they cannot be adequately described in a simple table. In the pages to follow I hope to fill out the picture a little with regard to these two seminally important rulers.

When Artaxerxes II died, in 359 BC, his son Ochus was proclaimed king under the name of Artaxerxes III. To ensure his succession against any attempted rebellion, he let all of his brothers and half-brothers, eighty in number, be killed.

The new Artaxerxes regarded the reconquest of Egypt as one of his chief tasks, a task which he did eventually accomplish, though not until the sixteenth year of his reign. We know that Nectanebo I died only a year before Artaxerxes II, and that he was replaced on the throne by a pharaoh known to the Greeks as Tachos. Well aware of the ruthless nature of the new occupant of the Great King’s throne, Tachos made preparations to defend Egypt — part of which involved the recruitment of the legendary Spartan King Aegesilaus to his cause. Aegesilaus, by this time a very old man, was apparently delighted at the opportunity once again to do battle with the Persians. The Spartan veteran had been promised chief command by Tachos; but when he arrived in Egypt he found that the fleet had been placed in the hands of the Athenian general Chabrias, whilst Tachos himself retained overall supreme command. At this stage the pharaoh was in Syria, part of which had been occupied by him following the death of Artaxerxes II. In the meantime, a plot to place a nephew of his on the throne was being hatched. Aegesilaus threw his weight behind the conspirators, and effectively placed the nephew, known to history as Nectanebo II, on the throne.

When news of these developments reached Tachos in Palestine he fled northwards to the Persian king to ask forgiveness. Another two pretenders arose to challenge Nectanebo II, but these were quickly overcome with the assistance of Aegesilaus’ hoplites.

Nine years later, which was also the ninth year of the reign of Artaxerxes III/Ochus (350 BC), the Egyptians met the armies of the Great King on the borders of Egypt and threw them back towards Mesopotamia. The failure of this first expedition proved to be a major setback for Artaxerxes III, and his plan to reincorporate Egypt into the Empire had to wait another seven years (343 BC) for fruition. Thus Artaxerxes III’s second, and successful expedition against Egypt occurred in his sixteenth year.

We are told that after this reconquest Ochus plundered the country mercilessly, repeating the depredations of Cambyses. There was a general massacre of the population and a violation of the temples and religious centers, even to the extent of slaying the sacred Apis bull and serving it at a feast. All of which is believable enough, considering what we know of his character from other sources. In the words of one commentator, the “chief characteristic” of Ochus was his “savage cruelty.”1 How then does the life and military career of Nebuchadrezzar compare with that of Artaxerxes III?

Early in his reign, in his eighth or possibly ninth year, Nebuchadrezzar campaigned right to the borders of Egypt; it was then that he besieged Jerusalem, removing its King Jehoiachin and replacing him with Zedekiah. It is known that this campaign against Judah was actually but a small incident in a much greater campaign against Egypt and its allies. But if such were the case, then the campaign was at best indecisive — no conquest of Egypt is recorded. Nevertheless, it could not have been a complete disaster for the Babylonians, for Nebuchadrezzar apparently retained control of Judah until Zedekiah’s eighth year — at which point the people of Judah once again threw off the Babylonian yoke.

Thus we see that Nebuchadrezzar, like Artaxerxes III, made a first and apparently largely unsuccessful attack on Egypt in his eighth, or possibly ninth, year. But the parallels do not end there.

As we have noted, the Book of Chronicles records that in the eighth year of Zedekiah, and therefore in the sixteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar, the Babylonian king again moved against Egypt and Judah. Once again, most, if not all, of what we know of this campaign comes from the Jewish records, which were of course concerned primarily with the devastation the war brought to their own homeland. These sources report that on this occasion Nebuchadrezzar utterly destroyed Jerusalem, pulling down the temple and deporting the entire population to Babylon.

This must have been part of the campaign against Egypt and its allies recorded in a much damaged tablet of Nebuchadrezzar. What is still legible has been translated thus:

The kings, the allies of his power and … his general and his hired soldiers … he spoke unto. To his soldiers … who were before … at the way of …

In the 37th year of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon … the king of Egypt came up to do battle [?] and … es, the king of Egypt … and … of the city of Putu-Jaman … far away regions which are in the sea … numerous which were in Egypt … arms and horses … he called to … he trusted …2

The reference to the campaign against Egypt in Nebuchadrezzar’s 37th year is apparently puzzling, though it is possible, actually probable, that he was counting from his appointment as King of Babylon, a system he is known to have actually used. Whatever the case, it is certain that Nebuchadrezzar’s second campaign against Judah, and Egypt, occurred sometime between his sixteenth and seventeenth year.

Thus Nebuchadrezzar, like Artaxerxes III, made two assaults upon Egypt. The first, in the eighth or ninth year of both monarchs, was a failure; and the second, in the sixteenth or seventeenth year of both rulers, which was a success.

That Nebuchadrezzar actually conquered Egypt is suggested by a number of very powerful pieces of evidence. First of all, both Ezekiel and Jeremiah prophesied that he would do so; and since most of these “prophecies” were written in retrospect, or at least gained popular currency only after having been proved correct, we may be fairly certain that the prophesied invasion and defeat of Egypt actually took place. The conquest is predicted thus by Ezekiel (29:19-20):

Therefore thus said the Lord God: Behold, I will set Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon in the land of Egypt: and he shall take her multitude, and take the booty thereof for a prey, and rifle the spoils thereof: and it shall be wages for his army. And for the service that he hath done me against it, I have given him the land of Egypt, because he hath labored for me, saith the Lord.

Secondly, the biblical sources say that Nebuchadrezzar was able to remove the Jewish refugees in Egypt to Babylon. He could not of course have done so unless he had entered and subjugated the country.

Thirdly, Josephus tells us that he conquered Egypt. We are informed that four years after the fall of Tyre, Nebuchadrezzar invaded the country and put its King Uaphris to death, installing a creature of his own upon the vacant throne.3 Fourthly, and most importantly, artifacts of Nebuchadrezzar have actually been discovered in Egypt. These are “three cylinders of terra-cotta bearing an inscription of Nebuchadnezzar, an ordinary text referring to his constructions in Babylon … These were said to come from the Isthmus of Suez, and they apparently belong to some place where Nebuchadrezzar had ‘set up his throne’ and ‘spread his royal pavilion.’ As he only passed along the Syrian road, and Daphnae would be the only stopping place on that road in the region of the isthmus, all the inferences point to these having come from Defenneh, and being the memorials of establishment there.”4

In short, the prophecy of Jeremiah that the king of Babylon would spread his royal pavilion at the entrance of the pharaoh’s house in Tahpanheth (Daphnae) was fulfilled. There can be little doubt; Nebuchadrezzar entered and conquered Egypt.

It is of interest to note here that the cylinders were discovered at Daphnae, one of the Hellenic centers of the Delta, a garrison settlement of the pharaoh’s Ionian bodyguard. This corresponds well enough with the contents of Nebuchadrezzar’s tablet, which speaks of the city of Putu-Jaman. Jaman of course was the Babylonian for “Ionian.”

Thus in a number of details the life and career of Nebuchadrezzar provides close parallels with that of Artaxerxes III:

Both kings were rulers of Babylon, who clashed with Egypt.

Artaxerxes III’s first war against Egypt occurred in his eighth year, and ended in failure. Nebuchadrezzar’s first war against Egypt took place in his eighth or ninth year and apparently ended in failure.

The Egyptian enemy of Artaxerxes III was known as Nectanebo II. The Egyptian enemy of Nebuchadrezzar was known as Necho II.

Artaxerxes III’s second campaign against Egypt occurred in his sixteenth year and was successful. Nebuchadrezzar’s second campaign against Egypt occurred in his sixteenth or seventeenth year and resulted in the conquest of the Nile Kingdom.

Artaxerxes III’s Egyptian enemy Nectanebo II used Greek mercenaries against the Great King. Nebuchadrezzar’s Egyptian enemy Necho II used Greek mercenaries against him.

It is fairly evident then that here, once again, we find striking parallels in the lives and careers of two characters supposedly belonging to two different epochs separated by two centuries.



1 G. Rawlinson, Ancient Monarchies Vol. 3 (London, 1879) p. 510.

2 S. Langdon, Building Inscriptions of the Neo-Babylonian Empire (Paris, 1905) p. 182.

3 Josephus, Jewish Antiquities x,9,7.

4 F. Petrie, Tanis Pt II. Nebesheh and Defenneh p. 51.







Maccabean Dynasty of Priests

Image result for maccabean priests


Damien F. Mackey


Of necessity the conventional, and much over-extended, arrangement of Persian history (with its duplicating of kings “Darius” and “Artaxerxes”), and also the over-extended Hellenistic (and Seleucid) history, must also affect the arrangement of the Jewish high priests who belonged to these eras. Just as there are now too many kings “Artaxerxes”, so, too, do we find that there are as many as four high priests, “Onias” (I-IV).


Whilst there is quite some debate and dispute about the exact succession of post-exilic high priests (Herb Stork, for instance, has discussed this in some detail in his History and Prophecy: A Study in the Post-Exilic Period, House of Nabu, 1989), a typical listing would include the following candidates (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_High_Priests_of_Israel):


After the Babylonian Exile ….


The five descendants of Joshua are mentioned in Nehemiah, chapter 12, 10f. The chronology given above, based on Josephus, however is not undisputed, with some alternatively placing Jaddua during the time of Darius II and some supposing one more Johanan and one more Jaddua in the following time, the latter Jaddua being contemporary of Alexander the Great.


  • Onias I, son of Jaddua, ca. 320-280 BC
  • Simon I, son of Onias, ca. 280-260 BC Josephus identified him as Simeon the Just[8]
  • Eleazar, son of Onias, ca. 260-245 BC
  • Manasseh, son of Jaddua, ca. 245-240 BC
  • Onias II, son of Simon, ca. 240-218 BC
  • Simon II, son of Onias, 218-185 BC
  • Onias III, son of Simon, 185-175 BC, murdered 170 BC
  • Jason, son of Simon, 175-172 BC
  • Menelaus, 172-162 BC
  • Alcimus, 162-159 BC     Thus I would anticipate, with a strong degree of likelihood, that the number of Jewish high priests “Onias” – and indeed those priests “Simon” associated with the priests “Onias” – must be reduced. Priests “Onias”, I-IV, will probably need to be at least halved: to, say, Onias I-II.   In those days arose Mathathias [Mattathias] the son of John, the son of Simeon, a priest of the sons of Joarib, from Jerusalem, and he abode in the mountain of Modin.   Simeon is used here to distinguish him from his descendant Simon.The high priest who is said to have met Alexander the Great – whether or not it is a true event – is variously given as Jaddua and Simon (Simeon). Unfortunately, though, there is now much confusion about high priest Simon, as is attested by this article from the Jewish Encyclopedia: “About no other high priest does such a mixture of fact and fiction center …”: (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/13745-simon-the-just):
  • With Mattathias an early contemporary of the Seleucid king, Antiochus (supposedly IV) “Epiphanes”, whose pagan impositions the courageous Jewish priest fiercely resisted, then Onias belongs to the period approximately between Alexander the Great and Antiochus IV, whilst Simeon would be the Simon who was contemporaneous with Alexander the Great.
  • This Maccabean text will become the matrix for my revision of the Oniad dynasty of priests, with the great Onias himself, now numbered as I, being recognised as “John” the father of Mattathias (himself a descendant of the priest, Zadok, through Joarib, or Jehoiarib) – and the father of this Onias (= John), that is, “Simeon”, also to be numbered as I, being the great-grandfather of “Simon” II (the Hasmonean).
  • I Maccabees 2:1-5
  • And he had five sons: John who was surnamed Gaddis: And Simon, who was surnamed Thassi: And Judas, who was called Machabeus [Maccabeus]: And Eleazar, who was surnamed Abaron: and Jonathan, who was surnamed Apphus.
  • Simeon I
  • then the very lengthy conventional Persian-to-Greek chronology must necessarily be shortened quite considerably.
  • https://www.academia.edu/30036548/Nehemiah_bridges_Persia_and_Greece
  • Nehemiah bridges Persia and Greece
  • We have discovered, however, that, with the great Nehemiah actually – and most surprisingly – dipping down into early Maccabean times:
  • Here we find four (I-IV) priests “Onias”.



High priest. He is identical either with Simeon I. (310-291 or 300-270 B.C.), son of Onias I., and grandson of Jaddua, or with Simeon II. (219-199 B.C.), son of Onias II. Many statements concerning him are variously ascribed by scholars to four different persons who bore the same surname; e.g., to Simeon I. by Fränkel and Grätz; to Simeon II. by Krochmal and Brüll; to Simon Maccabeus by Löw; and to Simeon the son of Gamaliel by Weiss.

About no other high priest does such a mixture of fact and fiction center, the Talmud, Josephus, and the Second Book of Maccabees all containing accounts of him. He was termed “the Just” either because of the piety of his life and his benevolence toward his compatriots (Josephus, “Ant.” xii. 2, § 5), or because he took thought for his people (Ecclus. [Sirach] l. 4). He was deeply interested both in the spiritual and in the material development of the nation. Thus, according to Ecclus. (Sirach) l. 1-14, he rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, which had been torn down by Ptolemy Soter, and repaired the damage done to the Temple, raising the foundation-walls of its court and enlarging the cistern therein so that it was like a pool (that these statements can apply only to Simeon I. is shown by Grätz, and they agree, moreover, with the Talmudic accounts of Simeon’s undertakings).

When Alexander the Great marched through Palestine in the year 333, Simeon the Just, according to the legend, dressed in his eight priestly robes went to Kefar Saba (Antipatris) to meet him (Yoma 69a), although Josephus (l.c. xi. 8, § 4) states that Alexander himself came to Jerusalem (but see Jew. Encyc. i. 341b, vii. 51b). The legend further declares that as soon as the Macedonian saw the high priest, he descended from his chariot and bowed respectfully before him. When Alexander’s courtiers criticized his act, he replied that it had been intentional, since he had had a vision in which he had seen the high priest, who had predicted his victory. Alexander demanded that a statue of himself be placed in the Temple; but the high priest explained to him that this was impossible, promising him instead that all the sons born of priests in that year should be named Alexander and that the Seleucidan era should be introduced (Lev. R. xiii., end; Pesiḳ. R., section “Parah”).


[End of quote]


We shall need clearly to distinguish between the high priest Simon (Simeon), I, who was contemporaneous with Alexander the Great, and the high priest Simon, II (“the Just”?), eulogised by Sirach (50:1-23).


Onias (= John)




In his vision, Judas [Maccabeus] saw Onias, who had been high priest and was virtuous, good, modest in all things, gentle of manners, and well-spoken. From childhood he had learned all things that properly belong to a good moral life. This man had his hands extended to pray for the entire nation of the Jews. Then … another man, noteworthy for his … dignity, appeared with astonishing and splendid glory. Onias said, ‘This man is one who loves his brothers and sisters and prays … for the people and the holy city: God’s prophet Jeremiah’.


2 Maccabees 15:12-14




That is a mystical account of the priestly Onias whom I tentatively number as I.

He is first introduced into the Maccabean history in Ch. 3, in an idyllic time of “perfect peace”, honour and glory for the Jews (vv. 1-3):


While the holy city lived in perfect peace and the laws were strictly observed because of the piety of the high priest Onias and his hatred of evil, the kings themselves honored the place and glorified the temple with the most magnificent gifts. Thus Seleucus, king of Asia, defrayed from his own revenues all the expenses necessary for the liturgy of sacrifice.


This paradisiacal harmony would eventually be interrupted by the violent attempt of Heliodorus to rob the Temple (vv. 13-40): a dramatic tale replete with pathos, the miraculous, and a complete reversal of fortune for the intruder.


But here I am particularly interested in the ancestry of Onias with an eye to identifying him with “John” the father of Mattathias (the father of Judas Maccabeus).

My source here will be The Jerome Biblical Commentary (1968), beginning with an introduction to the Oniads as provided by Frs. Wright, Murphy and Fitzmeyer in their article, “A History of Israel” (75:106): “The Oniads belonged to the family of a certain Yohanan (Honi, and in the Greek form, Onias), father of the high priest Simon II, who is so fervently praised in Sir 50:1-21”.

Whilst I would agree that it is Simon II whom Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) so greatly lauds, I shall be identifying this Simon as, not the son of Onias, but rather as the grandson.

Fr. Neil McEleney (C.S.P.) also tells of the emergence of the Oniads of the line of Zadok when writing his “Commentary on 1 Maccabees” for The Jerome Biblical Commentary (27:31):


With Alcimus a new priestly line appears. Onias III [sic], who belonged to the traditional family of high priests – who were descended from Zadok (2 Sm 8:17) by way of Joshua (I Chr 6:8-15; Hag 1:1; Neh 12:10-11) and Jaddua (Ezr 2:36) had been replaced by his brother Jason (2 Mc 4:7), then by Menelaus (2 Mc 4:23-26).

[End of quote]


Fr. McEleney will continue along similar lines in his “Commentary on 2 Maccabees” (27:62):


  1. Onias: Onias III, son of Simon II [sic] (cf. Sir 50:1-21) and grandson of another Onias [sic] (Josephus, Ant. 12. 4, 10 § 225), whose Gk. name appears (from the Hebr text of Sir) to be a contraction based on the Hebr Yoḥanan, “God is gracious”. The family of Onias were descendants, through Jaddua (Ezr 2:36; I Chr 24:7; Josephus, Ant. 11. 8, 7 § 347), of Joshua, the high-priest of the post-exilic community (Neh 12:10-11).

[End of quote]


What we learn from all this is that the name “Onias” equates to the Hebrew Yoḥanan, or Honi.

And that is the very name “John” that we are looking for, in order to identify Onias with the father of Mattathias, who was John. For, we learn (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yohanan): “The Hebrew name [Yohanan] was adopted as Ἰωάννης (Iōánnēs) in Biblical Greek as the name of both John the Baptist and John the Apostle”.






Although he was in the line of high priests, according to this series, the priestly career of Mattathias was rudely interrupted by the arrival in Syro-Palestine of the hostile pagan king, the Seleucid Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’, and his henchmen.




I Maccabees 2:1-5 introduced us to Mattathias and his five sons.

Let us return to v. 1: “In those days Mattathias, son of John, son of Simeon, a priest of the family of Joarib, left Jerusalem and settled in Modein”.

We have now identified the grandfather, “Simeon”, as the high-priest Simeon (Simon) I, at the time of Alexander the Great, and the father, “John”, as the great Onias at the time of Heliodorus. Would we not expect Mattathias, the son of Onias/John, to have followed in his father’s footsteps and to have become the next high priest?

Although he was in the line of high priests, according to this series, the career of Mattathias was rudely interrupted by the arrival in Palestine of Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’ and his henchmen. And so, “Mattathias … left Jerusalem and settled in Modein”.

He, like Job and Jeremiah, lamented the day of his birth (2:6-9):


When he saw the sacrileges that were being committed in Judah and in Jerusalem, he said:

‘Woe is me! Why was I born

to see the ruin of my people,

the ruin of the holy City—

To dwell there

as it was given into the hands of enemies,

the sanctuary into the hands of strangers?

Her Temple has become like a man disgraced,

her glorious vessels carried off as spoils,

Her infants murdered in her streets,

her youths by the sword of the enemy. …’.



Mattathias was, despite his sorrow, defiant, and he single-handedly precipitated the Maccabean revolt (vv. 19-28):


But Mattathias answered in a loud voice: ‘Although all the Gentiles in the king’s realm obey him, so that they forsake the religion of their ancestors and consent to the king’s orders, yet I and my sons and my kindred will keep to the covenant of our ancestors. Heaven forbid that we should forsake the law and the commandments. We will not obey the words of the king by departing from our religion in the slightest degree’.

As he finished saying these words, a certain Jew came forward in the sight of all to offer sacrifice on the altar in Modein according to the king’s order. When Mattathias saw him, he was filled with zeal; his heart was moved and his just fury was aroused; he sprang forward and killed him upon the altar. At the same time, he also killed the messenger of the king who was forcing them to sacrifice, and he tore down the altar. Thus he showed his zeal for the law, just as Phinehas did with Zimri, son of Salu.

Then Mattathias cried out in the city, ‘Let everyone who is zealous for the Law and who stands by the covenant follow me!’ Then he and his sons fled to the mountains, leaving behind in the city all their possessions.


Interestingly, Maccabean coins were apparently discovered in April this year at the very site of Modein (Modi’in) to where the priest Mattathias removed himself and his family (https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/69386/2100-year-old-coins-bearing-names-):


A hoard of silver coins, along with bronze coins bearing the names of the Maccabean kings, dating to the year 126 BCE in the Hasmonean period was discovered in April during an archaeological excavation near the city of Modi’in, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced on Tuesday.


The bronze coins bear the names of the Jewish kings Yehohanan, Judah, Jonathan, and Mattathias (including his title: “High Priest and Head of the Council of the Jews”) – all of the Hasmonean family that rose up against the Greek persecution in events commemorated by the holiday of Hanukkah. Images of the Selucid Greek King Antiochus IV, the villain of the Hanukkah story, appear on the silver coins unearthed.


[End of quote]


Mattathias, son of John, son of Simeon (or Simon), named his sons after his predecessors, for example (2:2-3): “John, who was called Gaddi; Simon, who was called Thassi”.

That was according to Jewish custom.



Simon II



Simon son of Mattathias, rather than the high priest Simon at the time of Alexander the Great, was the one so splendidly eulogised by Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 50:1-21.


I have skipped over two of the mighty sons of Mattathias, the (for a time) invincible warrior, Judas Maccabeus, whose heroic exploits occupy Chapters 3-9 of I Maccabees, and Jonathan, who succeeded Judas on his death, and who became a most revered High Priest (9:23-12:53).

Despite all of this, Sirach will consider Simon as being “the greatest” amongst the brothers (50:1-4):


The greatest of his brothers and the pride of his people was the High Priest Simon son of Onias, who repaired the Temple and laid the foundation for the high double wall and the fortifications of the Temple. The reservoir, as big as the bronze tank, was dug while he was in office. He made plans to protect his people from attack and fortified the city so that it could withstand a siege.


Sirach here calls Simon “son of Onias”.

Thanks to the chaotic nature of the received chronology, this can be a cause of great confusion – though it is quite common for Jewish genealogies to refer to a grandfather as if he were the father. Whilst Mattathias was, according to this series, the actual father of Simon, with Onias being the grandfather, Sirach may have opted to mention Onias instead because he – as was Simon – was a High Priest.

Mattathias, I have suggested, was prevented from becoming such due to the extreme politico-religious turmoil then raging in the land.


The Eulogies


One has only to compare the glowing account of Sirach about Simon with that of I Maccabees 14:4-15 about Simon, to appreciate that the same man is being eulogised in both cases:


The country was at peace throughout the days of Simon. He sought the good of his nation and they were well pleased with his authority, as with his magnificence, throughout his life. To crown his titles to glory, he took Joppa and made it a harbour, gaining access to the Mediterranean Isles. He enlarged the frontiers of his nation, keeping his mastery over the homeland, resettling a host of captives.

He conquered Gezer, Beth-Zur and the Citadel, ridding them of every impurity, and no one could resist him.

The people farmed their land in peace; the land gave its produce, the trees of the plain their fruit. The elders sat at ease in the squares, all their talk was of their prosperity; the young men wore splendid armour.

He kept the towns supplied with provisions and furnished with fortifications, until his fame resounded to the ends of the earth.

He established peace in the land, and Israel knew great joy. Each man sat under his own vine and his own fig tree, and there was no one to make them afraid.

No enemy was left in the land to fight them, the very kings of those times had been crushed.

He encouraged the afflicted members of his people, suppressing every wicked man and renegade. He strove to observe the Law, and gave new splendour to the Temple, enriching it with many sacred vessels.


The land was restored to the idyllic state that it had experienced under his grandfather, Onias.


However great may have been the Simeon (Simon) I, contemporary of Alexander the Great, this Simon II is the one to whom the epithet “the Just” most undoubtedly belongs.


Ezra 4’s Cyrus, Ahasuerus, Artaxerxes, and Darius



Damien F. Mackey

Here continues the task of revising ancient Persian history, with an anticipated severe reduction in the number of kings that one will find listed in the text books.

Part One: A Revised Overview


Ezra 4:4-6 is thought to give the overall range of Persian history to be covered in this chapter, from Cyrus down to Darius:

Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, and hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.

before the sacred writer(s) proceed to fill in the details – especially regarding the forced interruption of work towards the building of the Temple (vv. 6-23).

The narrative then returns to, and concludes with, king Darius in v. 24: “Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem. So it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia”.

The framework that we are given in Ezra 4, bookended by Cyrus and Darius, is as follows:

Cyrus (v. 5)

Ahasuerus (v. 6)

Artaxerxes (vv. 7-23)

Darius (vv. 5, 24)

Whilst there is not much dispute amongst commentators about the identifications of Cyrus and Darius, they can differ about who were “Ahasuerus” and “Artaxerxes”.

Generally they, following the standard list of Persian kings,

List of the Kings of Persia from 550 BC to 330 BC

Persian Kings

Period of Reign (Approx)

Cyrus II “the Great”

550-529 BC

Cambyses II

529-522 BC

Darius I

522-486 BC

Xerxes I

486-465 BC

Artaxerxes I

465-425 BC

Xerxes II

425-424 BC

Darius II

423-404 BC

Artaxerxes II

404-359 BC

Artaxerxes III

359-338 BC


338-336 BC

Darius III

336-330 BC

will regard Cambyses as both “Ahasuerus” and “Artaxerxes”.

Less commonly some commentators prefer, for the identification of “Artaxerxes”, the usurper, Gaumata, sometimes equating him with the obscure Bardiya.

The Matthew Henry Commentary, for instance, favours a double identification for Cambyses:

[Cyrus] then either died or gave up that part of his government, in which his successor was Ahasuerus (v. 6), called also Artaxerxes (v. 7), supposed to be the same that in heathen authors is called Cambyses, who had never taken such cognizance of the despised Jews as to concern himself for them, nor had he that knowledge of the God of Israel which his predecessor had. To him these Samaritans applied by letter for an order to stop the building of the temple; and they did it in the beginning of his reign, being resolved to lose no time when they thought they had a king for their purpose. ….

[End of quote]

Whilst Herb Storck (History and Prophecy: A Study in the Post-Exilic Period, House of Nabu, 1989, p. 64), accepting that “Ahasuerus” is Cambyses, thinks that “Artaxerxes” must be Gaumata/Bardiya:

The section of Ezra iv. 6-23 involves the whole reign of Cambyses and Bardiya. The subject … structure, prosopography … syntax and vocabulary … of the section naturally supports this interpretation. As the text can thus sustain this interpretation it remains only to show reasonable grounds that the sequence Cyrus, Ahasuerus (Cambyses), Artaxerxes (Bardiya) and Darius can be justified from what is known of them historically. It will now be argued that Ahasuerus can be Cambyses and that Artaxerxes may be Bardiya/Gaumata. As this thesis is almost never argued in current scholarship, it will require a careful and rather lengthy discourse. ….

[End of quote]

What I take from the Matthew Henry Commentary is that only one king is being referred to under the two names of “Ahasuerus” and “Artaxerxes”.

But I think that he is not Cambyses.


Whilst I expect to have more to say later about this idiosyncratic king and his place in history, I have already opened proceedings towards an entirely new assessment of Cambyses by drawing some parallels between him and Daniel’s King Nebuchadnezzar about whom one may read in my:

“Nebuchednezzar” of the Book of Daniel


Re my different view of Cambyses, I refer to this series of articles:

Nebuchednezzar and Cambyses

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

Nebuchednezzar and Cambyses. Part Two: 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.

Nebuchednezzar and Cambyses. Part Three: Egypt and Ethiopia

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.

Cambyses Mad Yet Great

And even, right out of left field:

Cambyses and Julius Caesar



The Book of Esther presents us with a Great King who is variously called “Ahasuerus” and “Artaxerxes”. And this is good enough for me. I have identified him as both “Darius the Mede” and Cyrus:

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


I concluded this article with:

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

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


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

Darius the Mede “Received the Kingdom”


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

[End of quote]

Darius the Great

More recently, in my article:

“Three Kings” and the “Fourth” of Daniel 11:2


I have identified:

Darius the Mede = Cyrus the Great = Darius the Great

thereby most radically shortening Medo-Persian history.

This would mean that only the one Medo-Persian kings is actually being referred to in Ezra 4.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ezra continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part Two: Darius the Great

Though the foundation of the Temple of Yahweh was laid in the second year of Cyrus, this incident has been wrongly re-dated by commentators to a presumed king “Darius”, thought to have been of several reigns later than Cyrus.


Ezra 3:8-10 makes it abundantly clear that “the foundation of the Temple of the Lord” was laid already in the second year of the return from captivity:

In the second month of the second year after their arrival at the house of God in Jerusalem, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jozadak and the rest of the people (the priests and the Levites and all who had returned from the captivity to Jerusalem) began the work. They appointed Levites twenty years old and older to supervise the building of the house of the Lord. Joshua and his sons and brothers and Kadmiel and his sons (descendants of Hodaviah) and the sons of Henadad and their sons and brothers—all Levites—joined together in supervising those working on the house of God.

When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the Lord, as prescribed by David king of Israel.

Yet the prophet Haggai’s reference to this important event, now about half a year later, in the ninth month of the second year of Darius (Haggai 2:18; cf. v. 10): “From this day on, from this twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, give careful thought to the day when the foundation of the Lord’s temple was laid”, is generally estimated by commentators (who distinguish Cyrus from Darius) to have occurred two reigns later:

Cyrus II “the Great”

550-529 BC

Cambyses II

529-522 BC

Darius I

522-486 BC

That is, almost two decades later (Cyrus 538 – Darius 521 = 17).

With my identification of the aged Jeremiah, post-exilic, with both Haggai and Zechariah

Complete Jeremiah


operating in “the second year of Darius” (cf. Haggai 1:1; Zechariah 1:1), I am perfectly happy not to have to extend Jeremiah’s age by a further 17 years.

Nor do I think that the evidence demands it.

Dream of king Nebuchednezzar suggests a shortened chronology

Image result for statue nebuchadnezzar


Damien F. Mackey

With Nebuchednezzar himself identified by Daniel as the statue’s “head of gold” (2:38), then we are left with only three more kingdoms symbolised on the lower parts of the statue.


Daniel recalls for Nebuchednezzar the king’s terrifying dream (Daniel 2:31-35):

‘You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening. The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth’.

Perhaps most scholars would identify this succession of four kingdoms in the following manner:

1. Head of gold – Babylon
2. Breast and arms of silver- Medo-Persia
3. Belly and thighs of brass- Hellenistic Greece
4. Legs of iron – Rome

That view, however, would not allow for the fact that Nebuchednezzar himself alone, who did not constitute the entire kingdom of Babylon, had been identified by Daniel as the head of gold. Hence
it completely rules our Belshazzar, who succeeded his father, and who also possessed a kingdom as is apparent from Daniel 5:

16 ‘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’.

and again:

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

Daniel 5:2: “Belshazzar, when he tasted the wine, commanded that the vessels of gold and of silver that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem be brought …”.

This crucial chapter 5 of the Book of Daniel, clearly outlining as it does the royal succession, from (i) Nebuchednezzar, to (ii) his son, Belshazzar, to (iii) Darius the Mede, provides us with all of the necessary information for identifying the Dream’s kingdoms 1, 2 and 3.

Nebuchednezzar is 1, the Head of Gold (as we are told);
Belshazzar is 2, Breast and Arms of Silver; and
Darius the Mede (or Cyrus) is 3, Belly and Thighs of Brass.

Daniel, after waxing most eloquent about the Golden kingdom of Nebuchednezzar (2:37-38), brushes aside Belshazzar’s Silver kingdom with merely (v. 39): ‘Another kingdom inferior to you shall arise after you …’. He is slightly more lavish with the Medo-Persian kingdom of Darius: ‘…yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth.

But what of the fourth kingdom?

In my recent article:

“Three Kings” and the “Fourth” of Daniel 11:2


I identified:

Darius the Mede = Cyrus the Great = Darius the Great

thereby most radically shortening Medo-Persian history.
And I added that Darius the Great was the one who was defeated by Alexander the Great:

But Darius would finally have to contend with “the prince of Greece [Javan]”, who was Alexander, also known as “the Great”. I Maccabees 1:1: “After Alexander son of Philip, the Macedonian, who came from the land of Kittim, had defeated Darius, king of the Persians and the Medes, he succeeded him as king. (He had previously become king of Greece.)”.
We are much, much closer to the Greek era than the conventional historians have realised.

What follows from this line of reasoning is that Daniel 2’s fourth kingdom of Iron was, not Rome, but Alexander’s Greek (Hellenistic) kingdom.

Nebuchednezzar’s Dream Statue:

1. Nebuchednezzar: Golden;
2. Belshazzar: Silver;
3. Darius (Cyrus): Bronze;
4. Alexander: Iron

Prophet Jeremiah’s “Seventy Years” of Babylonian Rule



Damien F. Mackey

Scholarly opinion differs as to what constitutes the terminus a quo and the terminus ad quem of the prophet Jeremiah’s predicted period of “seventy years” of service under Babylonian rule.

The opinion expressed here is that a revised chronology of the Neo-Babylonian empire, structured along biblical lines, is required to make mathematical sense of Jeremiah’s words.


The following list shows the conventional sequence of Neo-Babylonian (or Chaldean) kings, also known as “Dynasty XI”, naming six kings in total:

Dynasty XI of Babylon (Neo-Babylonian)

• Nabu-apla-usur 626 – 605 BC

• Nabu-kudurri-usur II 605 – 562 BC

• Amel-Marduk 562 – 560 BC

• Neriglissar 560 – 556 BC

• Labaši-Marduk 556 BC

• Nabonidus 556 – 539 BC

Instinctively, as a revisionist, one can anticipate that that will be too many kings, too many years. And, according to my Neo-Babylonian revision, which has taken seriously the biblical sequence of kings, there are too many kings. I have suggested, in fact, two too many.

The Book of Daniel, for instance, passes directly from Nebuchednezzar, to Belshazzar, to the Medo-Persian kingdom. Daniel 5:

18 Your Majesty, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and greatness and glory and splendor.

22 But you, Belshazzar, his son, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this.

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

With this in mind, I concluded in the course of my Neo-Babylonian revision:

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


The following new arrangement of the neo-Babylonian kings was suggested in Part One:


• Nabu-apla-usur [Nabopolassar]

• Labaši-Marduk

• Nabu-kudurri-usur II = Nabonidus

• Amel-Marduk = Neriglissar = Belshazzar

[End of quote]

The six kings of conventional Neo-Babylonian history (according to which the biblical king “Belshazzar” is completely omitted) have here been reduced to only four.

Now, as we shall find, the collective reign of these four kings covers very close to 70 years (to be considered a round number), just as Jeremiah had been inspired to foretell (Jeremiah 25:1-14):

The word came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. So Jeremiah the prophet said to all the people of Judah and to all those living in Jerusalem: For twenty-three years—from the thirteenth year of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah until this very day—the word of the Lord has come to me and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened.

And though the Lord has sent all his servants the prophets to you again and again, you have not listened or paid any attention. They said, “Turn now, each of you, from your evil ways and your evil practices, and you can stay in the land the Lord gave to you and your ancestors for ever and ever. Do not follow other gods to serve and worship them; do not arouse my anger with what your hands have made. Then I will not harm you.”

“But you did not listen to me,” declares the Lord, “and you have aroused my anger with what your hands have made, and you have brought harm to yourselves.”

Therefore the Lord Almighty says this: “Because you have not listened to my words, I will summon all the peoples of the north and my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon,” declares the Lord, “and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants and against all the surrounding nations. I will completely destroy them and make them an object of horror and scorn, and an everlasting ruin. I will banish from them the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, the sound of millstones and the light of the lamp. This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.

“But when the seventy years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians, for their guilt,” declares the Lord, “and will make it desolate forever. I will bring on that land all the things I have spoken against it, all that are written in this book and prophesied by Jeremiah against all the nations. They themselves will be enslaved by many nations and great kings; I will repay them according to their deeds and the work of their hands.”

A New Reckoning

Without a streamlined chronology, scholars who attempt to make mathematical sense of Jeremiah’s “seventy years” end up having to admit to more than one period of that length of time. For instance, we read this juggling Christian version of it at: http://walvoord.com/article/250

The precise prophecy of Jeremiah 25:11-12 predicts that the king of Babylon would be punished at the end of seventy years. Jeremiah 29:10 predicted the return to the land after seventy years. For these reasons, it is doubtful whether Anderson’s evaluation of Daniel 9:2 as referring to the destruction of the temple itself is valid. The judgment on Babylon and the return to the land of course took place about twenty years before the temple itself was rebuilt and was approximately seventy years after captivity beginning in 605 b.c. Probably the best interpretation, accordingly, is to consider the expression the desolations of Jerusalem, in Daniel 9:2, as referring to the period 605 B.C. to 539 B.C. for the judgment on Babylon, and the date of 538 b.c for the return to the land.

This definition of the expression the desolations of Jerusalem (Dan 9:2) is supported by the word for “desolations” … which is a plural apparently including the environs of Jerusalem. The same expression is translated “all her waste places” in Isaiah 51:3 (cf. 52:9). Actually the destruction of territory formerly under Jerusalem control even predated the 605 date for Jerusalem’s fall.

Although it is preferred to consider Daniel 9:2 as the period 605 b.c.-539 b.c, Anderson may be right in distinguishing as he does the period of Israel’s captivity from the period of Jerusalem’s destruction. Zechariah 1:12, referring to God’s destruction of the cities of Judah for three score years and ten, may extend to the time when the temple was rebuilt. This is brought out in Zechariah 1:16 where it is stated, “Therefore thus saith the Lord; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the Lord of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem.” It is most significant that the return took place approximately seventy years after the capture of Jerusalem in 605 b.c, and the restoration of the temple (515 b.c) took place approximately seventy years after the destruction of the temple (586 b.c), the latter period being about twenty years later than the former. In both cases, however, the fulfillment does not have the meticulous accuracy of falling on the very day, as Anderson attempts to prove. It seems to be an approximate number as one would expect by a round number of seventy. Hence, the period between 605 b.c and 538 b.c would be approximately sixty-seven years; and the rededication of the temple in March of 515 b.c, would be less than seventy-one years from the destruction of the temple in August of 586 b.c

What is intended, accordingly, in the statement in Daniel 9:2 is that Daniel realized that the time was approaching when the children of Israel could return. The seventy years of the captivity were about ended. Once the children of Israel were back in the land, they were providentially hindered in fulfilling the rebuilding of the temple until seventy years after the destruction of the temple had also elapsed.

[End of quote]

Or this Jewish version (in connection with Daniel 9), according to which article there were actually “three different prophesies concerning 70 years” (“Daniel 9 – A True Biblical Interpretation”) https://jewsforjudaism.org/knowledge/articles/answers/jewish-polemics/texts/daniel-9-a-true-biblical-interpretation/

Chapter 9 begins as follow:

“I Daniel considered (or contemplated) in the books the number of the years which the word (דבר ~ Devar) of G-d came to Jeremiah the Prophet that would accomplish to the destruction of Jerusalem” Daniel 9:2

Here Daniel uses the word (דבר ~ Devar) when pondering the numbers of years that Jeremiah had spoken about. Jeremiah had twice prophesied concerning a 70 year period.

Once Jeremiah said:

“and these nation shall serve the King of Babylon 70 years and it shall come to pass when seventy years are accomplished that I will punish the King of Babylon and that nation … and make it everlasting desolation” Jeremiah 25: 11-12

This prophesy states that Babylon would dominate Israel for a total of 70 years.

Jeremiah also says:

“After 70 years are accomplished to Babylon I will take heed of you and perform My good word towards you in causing you to return to this place.” Jeremiah 29:l0

This prophesy states, that after the 70 years, in addition to the end of Babylonian domination, the Jews would also return to Jerusalem from the Babylonian exile.

There are two Jeremiah prophesies concerning: 1) subjugation, and 2) return to Jerusalem.

Jeremiah’s 70 years start from the initial subjugation of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. This took place 18 years before the destruction of Jerusalem, as demonstrated by the following passages,

We know that the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in the 19th year of King Nebuchadnezzar. As it says:

“In the 19th year of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuzaradan the chief executioner was in service of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem… and destroyed the Temple of God” Jeremiah 52:12-13

The 19th year means that 18 full years had already been completed.

Nebuchadnezzar started to subjugate Jerusalem in his first year of his rule; this can be derived from the following verses;

“in King Yehoyakim’s third year (three completed years) Nebuchadnezzar came to besiege Jerusalem” Daniel 1:1

“in the fourth year (three completed years) of Yehoyakim which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar” Jeremiah 25:1

These verses demonstrate that Nebuchadnezzar started to besiege Jerusalem in his first year and the destruction of Jerusalem took place in his “19th” year. Therefore, 18 complete years had passed from the beginning of the siege until the destruction of Jerusalem. During these 18 years Jerusalem was laid siege and completely surrounded.

Scriptures also indicate that the 70 years of Jeremiah were completed with the advent of Cyrus the King of the Persian Empire. As it says:

“Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled.” Ezra 1:1-3

“Those who survived the sword he exiled to Babylon, where they became slaves to him and his sons until the kingdom of Persia began to reign. This was the fulfillment of the word of God to Jeremiah, until the land would be appeased of its Sabbatical years, all the years of its desolation it rested, to the completion of 70 years. In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, upon the expiration of God’s prophesy spoken by Jeremiah. God aroused the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia and he issues a proclamation… to build God a Temple in Jerusalem.” 2 Chronicles 36:20-23

In addition to the Babylonian rule ended in fulfillment of Jeremiah 25:11-12, Cyrus also gave permission, in fulfillment of Jeremiah 29:l0, to the Jews to return to Jerusalem, as it says;

“Whoever is among you all his people, let his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord G-d of Israel.” Ezra 1:4

It is important to remember that from the beginning of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, 18 years before the fall of Jerusalem, until the fall of the Babylonian Empire, when Cyrus came into power, 70 years had elapsed. By subtracting the 18 years subjugation before the destruction of the first Temple from the total of 70 years we are left with 52 years. This proves that King Cyrus arose to power and fulfilled Jeremiah’s prophesy 52 years after the destruction of Jerusalem.

This plays an essential role in understanding Daniel 9. Daniel yearned not only for the Babylonian Empire to cease 70 years after the subjugation of Jerusalem; he yearned to see the return to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Temple.

When Daniel begins speaking in chapter 9 it is in the first year of Darius the Median.

…. Daniel was confused because although he now witnessed that, with the advent of Darius the 70 years to the Babylonian subjugation were over in fulfillment of Jeremiah 25:11-12, Daniel had not yet seen the fulfillment of Jeremiah 29:10 that promised that after the 70 years the Jewish exiles would return and rebuild Jerusalem. He did not foresee that very shortly Cyrus world rule and fulfill this promise.

Daniel thought that perhaps, due to the sins of Israel the date had been delayed. This is why Daniel confesses for the sins of the people in verse 4-20 and says.

“Now I was still speaking and praying and confessing my sins and the sins of my people Israel and casting my supplications before the Lord My God about the holy mountain (the Sanctuary as seen in Isaiah 56:7) of my God.” Daniel 9:20

This explains why at the beginning of chapter 9 Daniel contemplated the number of years to the destruction of Jerusalem and not to the subjugation, as it says.

“I Daniel contemplated the calculations, the number of years about that which the word of God came to the prophet Jeremiah, to complete the 70 years to the destruction (לחרבות ~ L’Charvot) of Jerusalem.” Daniel 9:2

Daniel saw that the subjugation was over but he [not] only wanted to see the return to Jerusalem he wanted to know when the destruction would end with the building of the second Temple.

In fact, after one year of rule by Darius, King Cyrus took power and fulfilled Jeremiah 29 and allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem. But Daniel’s desire to understand the years of Jeremiah to the destruction of Jerusalem, result in the revelation of a new and additional understanding of Jeremiah:

There are now three different prophesies concerning 70 years.

1. 70 years of subjugation (Jeremiah 25)

2. 70 years till they return to the Jerusalem (Jeremiah 29)

3. 70 years of the destruction of Jerusalem (Daniel 9).

[End of quote]

The length of time occupied by the Neo-Babylonian empire according to my revised list of kings, from Nabopolassar to Belshazzar, was:

Nabopolassar 21 (virtually all lists seem to agree with this number);

Labashi-Marduk 1

Nebuchednezzar II 43

Beshazzar 3-4

Totalling up these numbers: 21 + 1 + 43 + 3-4, we get: 68-69. That is very close to the number 70, which is perhaps a round number, anyway, according to what we read above: “It seems to be an approximate number as one would expect by a round number of seventy”.

It could be argued that it was only during the reign of Nebuchednezzar II, and not during the two decades of rule of his father, Nabopolassar, that Judah came under the direct influence, and servitude, of Babylon. This, however, appears to be a scriptural way of putting things, like in the case of Moses’ (Exodus 12:40): “Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years”. The apparent discrepancies with the latter case are well explained at:


and summarised as follows: “As Hoehner wrote: “In conclusion, the 430 years went from Abraham’s call to the Exodus. The first 215 years was their sojourn in Palestine and the last 215 years in Egypt. The 400 years was from the weaning of Isaac to the time of the Exodus” (1969, 126:309)”.

For those 430 years, the Hebrews lived within the Egyptian realm; just as for Jeremiah’s 70 years, they lived within the Babylonian realm.

Terminus a quo

The count of the “seventy years” begins with the call of Jeremiah in the 13th year of King Josiah of Judah, which date must coincide very nearly with the beginning of the rule of Nabopolassar, the beginnings of Babylon. By the time that Jeremiah specifically refers to the “seventy years”, in a text that is heavily cross-dated:

The word came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. So Jeremiah the prophet said to all the people of Judah and to all those living in Jerusalem: For twenty-three years—from the thirteenth year of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah until this very day—the word of the Lord has come to me and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened.

“twenty-three” of those “seventy years” have already elapsed, leaving approximately 47 years.

These latter are filled up by the 40+ years of Nebuchednezzar and the 3-4 years of his son, Belshazzar.

Terminus ad quem

Ezra 1:1 tells us what is this point in time: “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 …”.

And, in that very same year, “the first year of Darius the Mede” (Daniel 9:1) – he being Cyrus – Daniel knew that the time had come to completion: “… 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”.

Now, thanks to the providential intervention of king (Darius =) Cyrus:

Cyrus as ‘Darius the Mede’ who Succeeded Belshazzar. Part One: King Belshazzar


that seemingly interminable “desolation of Jerusalem” had at last reached its terminus ad quem.

Part Two:

Zechariah and the “Seventy Years”

Not only do the testimonies of the prophets Jeremiah and Daniel necessitate a streamlining of the conventional Neo-Babylonian sequence of kings, as was argued in Part One, but also now, as we shall find, the “seventy years” of Jeremiah further point to the need for a revision of the Medo-Persian succession, even beyond the recognition of “Darius the Mede” as king Cyrus.

The life of the prophet Jeremiah did not end
with a supposed martyrdom in Egypt.

As I argued in:

Complete Jeremiah


Jeremiah re-emerges in post-exilic times, in the guise of various prophetic alter egos all designated by his office of “the prophet” (הַנָּבִיא): “This title (han-nâbî) is applied only to Habakkuk, Haggai, and Zechariah” (Ellicott’s Commentary).

Accordingly, I tentatively identified the post-exilic Jeremiah with (of interest here) Zechariah.

This identification, if correct, has some potent ramifications.

Let me briefly re-visit some of the pros and cons – as pointed out in that article – arising from an identification of Jeremiah with Zechariah:

In Favour

To identify Jeremiah with Zechariah would immediately solve this most vexed of scriptural problems: https://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=658

Who was Matthew Quoting?

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


After reporting in his gospel account about Judas’ suicide and the purchase of the potter’s field, Matthew quoted from the prophets as he had done many times prior to chapter 27. He wrote: “Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, ‘And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced, and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me’ ” (27:9-10). For centuries, these two verses have been contemplated by Christians and criticized by skeptics. The alleged problem with this passage, as one modern-day critic noted, is that “this is not a quote from Jeremiah, but a misquote of Zechariah” (Wells, 2001). Skeptics purport that Matthew misused Zechariah 11:12-13, and then mistakenly attributed the quotation to Jeremiah. Sadly, even some Christians have advocated this idea (see Cukrowski, et al., 2002, p. 40). What can be said of the matter?

“What can be said of the matter” is that Matthew was quoting Jeremiah, but in the latter’s post-exilic guise as Zechariah.

And it would also serve to fill out the duration of the ministry of the prophet Haggai, which, according to estimates based upon the Book of Haggai alone, “was short, lasting only four months”


However, the prophet was old at this stage, anyway, by my estimations, so his post-exilic ministry must of necessity have been rather brief.


Ezra 5:1 would now read as connected with a waw (וּ): “Now Haggai the prophet even Zechariah the prophet …”.

And so my explanation would enable for the integration of Haggai 1:1: “In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai …”, with Zechariah 1:1: “In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah …”. Etc.

The same prophet, operating in the very same regnal year!

It might also explain why Haggai (= Habakkuk) is accorded no genealogy, since Zechariah (1:1) will go on to supply that lack, “… Zechariah, son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo …”.


To identify Jeremiah with Zechariah would mean having to cope with an additional Hebrew name for the prophet. I have already loaded down Jeremiah with the additional names of Habakkuk and Haggai, but Habakkuk is easily explained as a foreign (Akkadian) name given to Jeremiah presumably by the Chaldeans. Haggai I take to be a hypocoristicon of Habakkuk. It was not uncommon, however, for Israelites to acquire a new name at a turning point in their lives – the well-known example of Jacob to Israel, for instance.

Another problem with my reconstruction is that, whilst Jeremiah-as-Habakkuk in the time of king Cyrus is reasonable (I have estimated Jeremiah by now to be in his mid-eighties), to stretch the prophet further to embrace Haggai/Zechariah, presumably in a later Persian phase again, would make him extremely old.

This matter, involving as it does, a fairly substantial renovation of Medo-Persian history, will need to be left to another time.

But what I am very excited about is that Zechariah 1:12, situated as it is still “in the second year of Darius” (v. 7), speaks of the culmination then of Jeremiah’s 70 years: “Then the angel of the LORD said, ‘LORD Almighty, how long will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem and from the towns of Judah, which you have been angry with these seventy years?’”

[End of quotes]

“This matter, involving as it does, a fairly substantial renovation of Medo-Persian history, will need to be left to another time”. Well, I think that that “time” has now come.

The prophet Zechariah (tentatively Jeremiah) we now find referring to the “seventy years” in the context of a Persian king, “Darius”, who is universally considered to have begun to reign some two decades after the first year of Cyrus (c. 539 BC) – which year we have determined to have brought an end to Jeremiah’s “seventy years” of Babylonian servitude:

• 539-530 – Cyrus the Great

• 529-522 – Cambyses (son)

• 522 – Smerdis (Bardiya) (brother)

• 521-486 – Darius I, the Great

Zechariah 1:7-13 reads:

On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, the month of Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo.

During the night I had a vision, and there before me was a man mounted on a red horse. He was standing among the myrtle trees in a ravine. Behind him were red, brown and white horses.

I asked, ‘What are these, my lord?’

The angel who was talking with me answered, ‘I will show you what they are’.

Then the man standing among the myrtle trees explained, ‘They are the ones the Lord has sent to go throughout the earth’.

And they reported to the angel of the Lord who was standing among the myrtle trees, ‘We have gone throughout the earth and found the whole world at rest and in peace’.

Then the angel of the Lord said, ‘Lord Almighty, how long will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem and from the towns of Judah, which you have been angry with these seventy years?’ So the Lord spoke kind and comforting words to the angel who talked with me.

This situation leads me to conclude – albeit tentatively, since it is a big call historically speaking – that this “Darius”, too, must be the same as Daniel’s “Darius the Mede”, who is Cyrus.

The prophet Jeremiah, as Zechariah, is here once again associated with those “seventy years” that had by now just recently been completed.

To identify the “Darius” of Zechariah, of Haggai (1:1), with a presumed Persian king reigning some two decades later than (Darius =) Cyrus necessitates that commentators must look for a separate “seventy years” terminating at that later point.

Next step?

The conventional Medo-Persian succession will need to be – just as was found to be necessary in the case of the Neo-Babylonians – seriously truncated.

“Nebuchednezzar” of the Book of Daniel


 Damien F. Mackey



The Book of Daniel is charged with all sorts of historical inaccuracies, a fault more likely of the perceived history rather than of the Book of Daniel itself. Admittedly, some of the things that the author of Daniel attributes to “King Nebuchednezzar” appear to be better suited to Nabonidus, the supposed last king of the Babylonian (Chaldean) empire. Yet there might be a good reason why this is the case. In very many ways, it seems, King Nabonidus reflects the “Nebuchednezzar” of the Book of Daniel.





Reading once again Paul-Alain Beaulieu’s book, The Reign of Nabonidus, King of Babylon, 556-539 B.C. (1989), I noticed various “Nebuchednezzar” characteristics in King Nabonidus.

Not least was the fact that, Nabonidus had, like “Nebuchednezzar”, a son named “Belshazzar”.

There was also a seeming tendency on Nabonidus’s part towards a kind of monotheism – revering Sîn, the El of the Aramaeans – and a seeming rejection of the national god, Marduk. Coupled with this was, not unnaturally, a discomfort with the Babylonian clergy and wise men.

Nabonidus, like king Nebuchednezzar II, had conquered Cilicia. We read about this at: https://www.biblicaltraining.org/library/kue “KUE ku’ ĭ (קְוֵ֕ה). An ancient name for E Cilicia (Rom.: Cilicia Pedias), in SE Asia Minor. …. A document of Nebuchadnezzar II (dated between 595 and 570 b.c.), mentions the land of Hu-m-e, pronounced Khuwe or Khwe. It also occurs in the Istanbul Stele of Nabonidus”.

One also encounters many cases of Nabonidus’s recounting his own dreams.

I found so many similarities beginning to loom that I eventually came to the conclusion that Nabonidus probably was king Nebuchednezzar (or Nebuchedrezzar) II ‘the Great’ – that what we have recorded of Nabonidus simply represents the first phase of the long reign of Nebuchednezzar II.

This revised view will necessitate that I now modify some of my previous articles on this era.

Admittedly, there appear to be some immediate problems with this unexpected new scenario. For one, there is Nabonidus’s own obvious reverence for a past king, “Nebuchednezzar”. However, my revision might be able to account for that:


Nebuchednezzar I as the ‘Babylonian Face’ of Sargon II/Sennacherib




As is apparent from Beaulieu, Nabonidus considered himself to be the successor of the great Assyrian empire – a viewpoint that would have more clout perhaps if he had ruled closer to that period (c. 605 BC) than Nabonidus is conventionally considered to have done (c. 556 BC).

Then there is Nabonidus’s strange disappearance to Teima (Tayma) in Arabia for ten years. During some of this time he was ill. It is due to this situation that scholars think that the Book of Daniel has confused Nebuchednezzar with Nabonidus. Indeed a Dead Sea Scrolls fragment tells of a protracted illness suffered by Nabonidus. We shall read about this in the next section.


The Madness of Nabonidus



Nabonidus (Akkadian Nabû-nāʾid) ….

Although his background is uncertain, his mother may have been a priestess of the moon god Sîn to whom Nabonidus was unusually devoted. He took the throne after the assassination of the boy-king Labashi-Marduk. It is not clear whether Nabonidus played a role in Labashi-Marduk’s death.

As king, Nabonidus was maligned by the priests of the chief Babylonian deity Marduk. It is believed this was caused by Nabonidus overt devotion to Sîn and his lack of attention to the city’s important New Year’s festival. During several years of his kingship, Nabonidus was absent at the Arabian oasis of Tayma. During this period his son Belshazzar reigned in his place. The reasons for his long absence remain a matter of controversy, with theories ranging from illness, to madness, to an interest in religious archaeology.


In his own inscriptions, Nabonidus himself makes no claim to known royal origins … although he refers to his otherwise unknown father, Nabu-balatsu-iqbi, as “wise prince.” His mother was connected to the temple of the moon god Sîn in Harran, but her ancestry, too, is unknown. The fact that Nabonidus makes repeated references to Ashurbanipal, the last great Neo-Assyrian king, has been cited as evidence that he may have been of Assyrian origin. However Nabonidus’ Persian successor, Cyrus the Great, also referred to Ashurbanipal, so this is hardly conclusive evidence.

In most ancient accounts, Nabonidus is depicted as a royal anomaly. He worshiped the moon god Sîn (mythology) beyond all the other gods, and paid special devotion to Sîn’s temple in Harran, where his mother was a priestess. After successful campaigns in Edom and Cilicia (modern Turkey) early in his reign, he left Babylon, residing at the rich desert oasis of Tayma, (Temâ) in Arabia, returning only after many years. In the meantime, his son Belshazzar ruled from Babylon.

Nabonidus is harshly criticized for neglecting the Babylonian chief god, Marduk and failing to observe the New Year festivals in Babylon. The Nabonidus Chronicle complains that for several years: “The king did not come to Babylon for the [New Year’s] ceremonies… the image of the god Bêl (Marduk) did not go out of the Esagila (temple) in procession, the festival of the New Year was omitted.”


Nabonidus’ stay in Tayma


Why Nabonidus stayed in Tayma for so long is a matter of uncertainty. He seems to have become interested in the place during his campaign against Edom. Tayma was an important oasis, from which lucrative Arabian trade routes could be controlled.

However, why Nabonidus stayed for so long—about ten years, from circa 553-543—remains a mystery. One theory is that he was not comfortable in Babylon, which was the center of Marduk worship, where he was expected to perform public rites centering on Marduk‘s cult during the annual New Year’s festival. On the fifth day of the festival, the king was required to submit himself to Marduk in the person of the high priest, who would temporarily strip him of his crown and royal insignia, returning them only after the king prayed for forgiveness and received a hard slap in the face from the priest. Moreover, on the eighth day, the king had to implore all the gods to support and honor Marduk, an act which may have been unacceptable to Nabonidus if he was devoted to Sin as supreme. Some have suggested that Tayma was attractive to Nabonidus as an archaeological site, where he might find sacred inscriptions or prophecies related to his own spiritual quest.


[My comment]: But it may also have been due to his sickness and madness.

This is where newworldencyclopedia introduces that Dead Sea Scrolls document:


Another possibility is that the king had become seriously ill and went to the oasis of Tayma to recover. In the Dead Sea Scrolls, a fragment known as the Prayer of Nabonidus relates that Nabonidus suffered from an ulcer, causing him to retreat from civilization and stay in Tayma until he was healed by a Jewish exorcist after praying to the Hebrew God:

I, Nabonidus, was afflicted with an evil ulcer for seven years, and far from men I was driven, until I prayed to the most high God. And an exorcist pardoned my sins. He was a Jew from among the children of the exile of Judah… During my stay at Tayma, I prayed to the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood, stone and lime, because I thought and considered them gods….

This legend may explain a confusing issue in the Book of Daniel, in which the king in question is called Nebuchadnezzar. However, this Nebuchadnezzar’s son is named Belshazzar, which was in fact the name of Nabonidus’ son, who reigned in his stead while Nabonidus was at Tayma. It may thus be the case that the Book of Daniel confuses Nabonidus with Nebuchadnezzar. However, Daniel describes its king’s disease as a type of madness, rather than an ulcer, saying: “He was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird” (Daniel 4:33).


Although Nabonidus’ personal preference for Sîn is clear, scholars are divided regarding the degree of his supposed monotheism. In the Nabonidus cylinder currently displayed at the British Museum, the king refers to the moon god as “Sîn, king of the gods of heaven and the netherworld, without whom no city or country can be founded.” Some claim that it is obvious from his inscriptions that he became almost henotheistic, considering Sîn as the national god of Babylon superior even to Marduk.

Others, however, insist that Nabonidus, while personally devoted to Sîn, respected the other cults in his kingdom, pointing out that he supported construction works to their temples and did not suppress their worship. …. In this theory, his negative image is due mainly to his long absence from Babylon during his stay in Tayma, during which the important, Marduk-centered New Year festival could not take place, a fact which deeply offended the priests of Marduk. These priests, who were highly literate, left records denigrating the king in a fashion similar to the priests of Jerusalem denigrating the Israelite kings who did not properly honor Yahweh in the Hebrew Bible. In fact, there is no sign of the civil unrest during Nabonidus’ reign, not even during his absence, and he was able to return to his throne and assert his authority with no apparent problem.

However, Nabonidus did remove important cultic statues and their attendants from southern Mesopotamia and brought them to Babylon. ….

[End of quote]



“… within the canonical book of Daniel, Daniel 4 is widely agreed to be originally a Nabonidus story”.



Carol A. Newsom has discerned some intriguing parallels between Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar” and King Nabonidus ((WHY NABONIDUS? EXCAVATING TRADITIONS FROM QUMRAN, THE HEBREW BIBLE, AND NEO-BABYLONIAN SOURCES. Emphasis added):



One of the most fruitful places for examining the transmission of traditions and the production of texts is surely the literature associated with the figure of Daniel. Even before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, scholars explored the differences between the versions of Daniel found in the Masoretic Text of Daniel and the Septuagint, with its additional narratives and poems, as well as the different version of Daniel 4–6 in the Old Greek manuscripts. The Qumran finds showed that there was an even more extensive Danielic literature, with two compositions featuring Daniel making historical and eschatological predictions in a court setting (4Q243–244, 4Q245), and two compositions

using language or motifs similar to those of Daniel 2 and 7 (4Q246, 4Q552–553).1 The longstanding suspicion of scholars that Daniel 4 was originally a narrative about Nabonidus received additional support from the discovery of 4Q242 Prayer of Nabonidus. ….

These texts are evidence both for the complexity of the Danielic tradition and the creativity of its authors, as they appropriated and recycled [sic] useful elements, combining them with usable bits and pieces from other literary and oral traditions in order to produce new compositions. Nowhere are we better positioned to examine this process than with the texts that were originally associated with Nabonidus, for in addition to the Jewish narratives, we also have an extensive neo-Babylonian literature, including both Nabonidus’ own self-presentation in his inscriptions and literary representations of Nabonidus by his enemies. …. Although this material has been intensively studied, recent research on the historical Nabonidus may shed additional light on the composition and development of the Jewish Nabonidus literature. In addition, two questions have not heretofore received sufficient attention. First, to the extent that one can peer through the Jewish Nabonidus texts to the early stages of their composition, what can one say about the motivation for their composition and their possible function as social rhetoric? Second, since important comparative material exists, is it possible to develop a model that suggests how the authors of this literature actually produced new stories from their source material?


The Corpus of Jewish Nabonidus Literature


One of the initial issues to be explored is the extent of Jewish Nabonidus literature. The Prayer of Nabonidus is the one text explicitly identified with him. But within the canonical book of Daniel, Daniel 4 is widely agreed to be originally a Nabonidus story. …. To this one can add Daniel 5, since it is a story about Nabonidus’ son Belshazzar. It has also been suggested that other compositions of the Daniel cycle may have originated as stories about Nabonidus, notably Daniel 3. Although the details of the narrative do not correspond to anything actually done by either Nebuchadnezzar or Nabonidus, the erecting of a strange image and requiring worship of it may well preserve a parodic echo of Nabonidus’ notorious championing of the moon god Sin. …. Indeed, two of his most controversial actions were the installation of a new and non-traditional cult statue of the moon god in Sin’s temple in Harran and his attempt to persuade the priests of Marduk that the Esagil temple in Babylon actually belonged to the moon god, because of the iconography of the lunar crescent found there. …. In addition, Paul-Alain Beaulieu has recently argued that the motif of the fiery furnace in Daniel 3 is actually derived from a literary topos that was part of the Neo-Babylonian school curriculum. Together, these elements strongly suggest that the basic structure of the narrative may go back to the sixth century. ….

The case for Daniel 2 as originally a Nabonidus narrative is weaker but not without plausibility. Of the Neo-Babylonian kings only Nabonidus had an interest in ominous and revelatory dreams or recorded them in his inscriptions. …. Dreams, however, are not uncommon elements in Israelite and early Jewish storytelling, as the notable parallel of Pharaoh’s dream in Genesis 41 demonstrates. Still, it is not the fact of the dream but the role it plays in the narrative of Daniel 2 that is suggestive. The narrative is dated to “the second year” of the king’s reign, and it is thus quite likely that the king’s distress at the ominous dream is intended to suggest anxiety as to the security of his reign. In Daniel, of course, the dream and its interpretation are a Hellenistic era composition [sic], since they contain references to a sequence of kingdoms, ending with that of the Greeks (vv. 36–44). Some scholars have suggested, however, that this particular dream or elements of it are secondary, since its eschatological orientation contrasts quite sharply with the way in which the narratives in Daniel 1–6 in general tend to accommodate to gentile power by representing the kings as recognizing the power of the Judean god. …. While any argument about an earlier version of Daniel 2 must be speculative, it is the case that Nabonidus, a usurper who was not part of the dynastic family, was anxious about the legitimacy of his kingship. In an inscription composed during his first regnal year, Nabonidus himself reports an ominous dream he had concerning the conjunction of the moon (Sin) and the great star (Marduk). A “young man” in the dream tells him that “the conjunction does not involve evil portents.” …. Nabonidus goes on to report that in the dream Marduk “called him by name.” The similarity to Daniel 2, which concerns an ominous royal dream interpreted by a young man in an agreeable fashion, is thus quite intriguing.


[End of quote]


Part Two (i):

A Superstitious and ‘Unjust King’



“Let his heart be changed from man’s, and let a beast’s heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him. This matter [is] by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the Holy Ones: to the intent that the living may know that The Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will, and setteth up over it the basest of men”.


Daniel 4:16-17





Young Azariah, in the heart of the Fiery Furnace, was under no illusions about the character of “Nebuchednezzar” (v. 9): ‘Thou hast given us into the hands of lawless enemies, most hateful rebels, and to an unjust king, the most wicked in all the world’.

And this sentiment is supported also by Daniel 4:17, according to which “Nebuchednezzar” was “the basest of men”.

King Nabonidus – the same person as this “Nebuchednezzar”, according to Part One: https://www.academia.edu/22779651/Does_King_Nabonidus_Reflect_Daniel_s_Nebuchednezzar_ – often considered to have been an eccentric king with a penchant for archaeology, was apparently, however, not a man of great civilisation and culture. Unlike the towering figure of Ashurbanipal, a C7th BC king of Assyria, who could boast of being able to read ancient scripts (even before the Flood) and who possessed a magnificent library, Nabonidus could not read, though he was inquisitive. So we read in Paul-Alain Beaulieu’s book, The Reign of Nabonidus, King of Babylon, 556-539 B.C. (1989), this later criticism of the king from the Verse Account (p. 215):


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


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”.



[A note: Beaulieu gives in a footnote [47.] here, “Oannes Adapa”, “Oannes” being the fish-man thought by some to have been the prophet Jonah himself. I have tentatively identified Jonah with the Rechabite, Jehonadab, the latter part of that name being phonetically close to Adapa. “Prophet Jonah and the Beginnings of a New History. Part Two: Jonah as a Rechabitehttps://www.academia.edu/17379137/Prophet_Jonah_and_the_Beginnings_of_a_New_History._Part_Two_Jonah_as_a_Rechabite].



In Beaulieu’s book (pp. 151-152), 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 also 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”.

To be fair to Nabonidus, his boastfulness, his illiteracy, and his superstitious tendencies were not peculiar to him alone amongst the ancient kings. He could never have outdone some of the Assyrian kings in their boasting and self-exaltation. And probably most of them could not read. Less common though, perhaps, was his emphasis upon his dreams – a significant factor, too, in the case of Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar”.


Some Historical Uncertainty Regarding

Nebuchednezzar II, and/or Nabonidus


Now, in the course of my reading and re-reading Beaulieu’s book on King Nabonidus, I have been struck by the uncertainties here and there with determining whether something ought to be attributed to, now Nebuchednezzar II, now Nabonidus. The very same tendency I had encountered in the case of, now Sargon II, now Sennacherib. My resolution of the latter situation had been – as here with Nebuchednezzar II, Nabonidus – to propose a merger, hence:


Assyrian King Sargon II, Otherwise Known As Sennacherib




So the thrust of this present article could likewise be rendered:


‘Babylonian King Nebuchednezzar II, Otherwise Known as Nabonidus’.


Baulieu (pp. 4-5):


Berger and von Soden suggested that another literary composition, originally called by Lambert “Nebuchadnezzar King of Justice” (Lambert 1965), might have been a piece of propaganda commissioned by Nabonidus himself (Berger 1974: 222 n. 51, and von Soden 1983: 63). According to Lambert, who published the text, there are two arguments in favor of Nebuchadnezzar II: the word nagû “region”, which occurs in this text, is attested only in the inscriptions of that king, and a large section of the text, which describes provisions made for the daily use of the gods, recalls a similar passage of the Wadi Brissa inscription of Nebuchadezzar II, with many coincidences of wording. Against Lambert’s argument one should note that the word nagû does occur in the inscription of Adad-Guppi [mother of Nabonidus] …. But the similarities with the Wadi Brissa inscription remain quite conclusively in favor of Nebuchadezzar II. ….  Therefore, as arguments in favor of Nebuchadnezzar II outweigh those in favor of other kings, it would be unwise to use it as a source for the reign of Nabonidus.

[End of quote]


Again, the building efforts of Nabonidus in relation to the wall Imgur-Enlil – but not those of Nebuchednezzar II – are completely overlooked in the Verse Account and the Cyrus Cylinder. (Ibid., pp. 38-39):


… Nabonidus undertook to repair the wall (al-Rawi 1985). Interestingly enough, according to the Verse Account and the Cyrus Cylinder, Cyrus also proceeded to repair the wall Imgur-Enlil shortly after the capture of Babylon, thus completing the fortifications of Nebuchadnezzar II:



[He (Cyrus) took up the earth] basket and completed the wall of Babylon in order to execute [the original plan of] Nebuchadnezzar of his own consent.




I (Cyrus) sought to strengthen the work of the wall Imgur-Enlil, the great wall of Babylon ….


Although these texts do not explicitly state that Nabonidus neglected the fortifications of Babylon, they certainly carry this message indirectly by stressing Cyrus’ eagerness to repair the Imgur-Enlil while ignoring Nabonidus’ own building activities here.


[End of quote]


In articles pertaining to Sargon II, Sennacherib, I have referred to the presumption of Assyriologists in, for instance, inserting the name “Sargon” where it did not originally appear.

Supposition is rife, too, with regard to the following document (“one can presume that Nebuchadnezzar is mentioned” … “Nabonidus is most likely to be identified as this ruler”). Thus Beaulieu writes (p. 41):


…. This fragment of a clay cylinder was found during the French excavations at Kish, in the surroundings of the Palace …. There is no conclusive evidence that it belongs to an inscription of Nabonidus …. However, since line 3 has lugal maḫ-ri lugal tin. tirki, one can presume that Nebuchadnezzar is mentioned as a predecessor of the king who commissioned the inscription. Nabonidus is most likely to be identified as this ruler.


[End of quote]


And, on the same page, there is reference to another “fragmentary clay cylinder”: “It can be assigned to the Neo-Babylonian period on stylistic grounds. It is usually attributed to Nebuchadnezzar II, though arguments in favor of Nabonidus seem more conclusive …”.

Also, regarding the restoration of the palace near the Šamaš-gate, similar confusion (p. 100):


The inscription is usually ascribed to Nebuchadnezzar, but there is no evidence to support this assumption. In fact, it even seems dubious that Nebuchadnezzar ever restored this palace, since it is never mentioned in those inscriptions of his which contain a list of all the building works he undertook in Babylon …. Therefore there is a strong possibility that the inscription belongs to Nabonidus, as believed by Berger (Berger 1973: 381), although he has no conclusive evidence either.

[End of quote]


Beaulieu, when discussing “The Evidence From Monumental Texts” (pp. 104-105), will exhibit further presumption when making this startling comment (my emphasis):


The first part reports on the reign of four previous kings, Sennacherib, Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar, and Neriglissar: although neither Sennacherib, nor Nabopolassar, nor Nebuchadnezzar are mentioned by name … there is no doubt from the context that they are meant.


That appears to be a very big leap in ‘faith’!



Part Two (ii):

Golden-Headed Power




In very many ways, it seems, King Nabonidus does reflect the “Nebuchednezzar” of the Book of Daniel. My explanation of this is, however, not that the author of Daniel confused two Chaldean kings, but, rather, that King Nabonidus was Nebuchednezzar II (who was also Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar”).




The King’s Imperial Ambitions


Our composite biblico-historical Chaldean king was presented in Part Two (i) of this series: https://www.academia.edu/23725556/Does_King_Nabonidus_Reflect_Daniel_s_Nebuchednezzar_Part_Two_i_A_Superstitious_and_Unjust_King_ as being a base, unjust and highly superstitious monarch. Even the extremely courteous and respectful prophet Daniel, who was most reluctant to reveal to “Nebuchednezzar” the terrible meaning of his dream (Daniel 4:19):


Then Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him. So the king said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you.” Belteshazzar answered, “My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries!”,


had felt constrained, nonetheless, to deliver to the king this reproach (v. 27): ‘Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue’.

Daniel’s assessment of the king basically reflected that of Daniel’s young compatriot, Azariah: ‘Thou hast given us into the hands of lawless enemies, most hateful rebels, and to an unjust king, the most wicked in all the world’.

I also referred to the fact that historians can tend to conclude that King Nabonidus was an eccentric king with a penchant for archaeology. More than likely, however, his undoubted antiquarian interests would differ from those of the typical modern archaeologist. The proud and superstitious king’s interest in the past may have been due, in large part, to his regarding ancient relics as talismans of power and having propaganda value – just as certain Nazis strove to discover the sacred Spear of Destiny or penetrate to the roots of Aryanism.

Paul-Alain Beaulieu, in his book, The Reign of Nabonidus, King of Babylon, 556-539 B.C. (1989), tells that (p. 5) “… during excavation of the foundations of the Ebabbar [temple at Sippar], an old statue of Sargon of Akkad is found. Nabonidus orders its restoration …”.

Now D. Petrovich has identified Sargon of Akkad with the biblical Nimrod:

https://www.academia.edu/2184113/_2013_Identifying_Nimrod_of_Genesis_10_with_Sargon_of_Akkad_by_Exegetical_and_Archaeological_Means and there is much of the rise and fall of biblical Babel in the saga of the rise and fall of the proud builder-king “Nebuchednezzar”. On p. 135 Beaulieu informs us that Nabonidus “established an oblation for it [statue of Sargon]” in the Ebabbar, and that this was done, without doubt, “in his second year”. And it was “in the second year of his reign” (Daniel 2:1) that “Nebuchednezzar” dreamed of an “awesome” statue (v. 31): “Your Majesty looked, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance”.

The highly superstitious king had similarly honoured Daniel after the young Jewish sage had interpreted his first Dream for him (2:46): “Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him”.

Did the discovery of Sargon’s statue that same year prompt the Dream of “Nebuchednezzar”? And, had it set “Nebuchednezzar” wondering if he might be able to emulate the greatness of the legendary Sargon of Akkad? (V. 29): “As Your Majesty was lying there [in bed], your mind turned to things to come, and the Revealer of mysteries showed you what is going to happen”. This is how Beaulieu interprets the matter of the finding of Sargon’s statue (p. 141):


Another interesting example of Nabonidus’ antiquarian interest is the discovery of the statue of Sargon in Sippar. He may have intended to connect himself with this most prestigious ruler of Mesopotamia’s past …. According to the Royal Chronicle, Nabonidus restored the statue of Sargon because of his “reverence for the gods and (his) respect for kingship”. This statement is crucial, as it provides a unique piece of evidence for assessing the nature of Nabonidus’ antiquarian interest: his restoration of Sargon’s statue was motivated not solely by religious factors, but also by a purely profane interest in the past, particularly in this case where it concerned the first great imperial period in Mesopotamian history. ….

  1. 142: “His antiquarian and historical interest may thus be explained from a political angle”.

[End of quotes]


Beaulieu gets to the heart of the ambitious yearnings of King Nabonidus, I think, when he suggests that Nabonidus “considered his own reign a resurrection of a universal empire on the Assyrian and Akkadian model …”.

His affinity for the Assyrians would perhaps make even more sense if Nabonidus were the same as Nebuchednezzar II, who had come to power (c. 605 BC, conventional dating) only about a decade after the Fall of Nineveh (c. 612 BC, conventional dating) – whereas Nabonidus is thought to have begun to rule significantly later, in 556 BC.

Beaulieu writes of the king’s pro-Assyrianism (p. 143):


Nabonidus … calls the Assyrian kings his “royal ancestors” (inscription 15), and considers the sequence of the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian states to be one of imperial continuity (inscription 1 and stela of Adad-Guppi). When … after his return from Teima [Arabia] … he even went one step further by assuming the titulary of the Assyrian kings in two of his inscriptions (inscriptions 15 and 19) …. His interest in the Sargonic [Akkadian] dynasty, which had always been remembered in literary and historical tradition as the climax of Mesopotamian power, and which undoubtedly inspired the late Sargonid [Neo-Assyrian] kings, can also be explained in the light of his imperial ambitions. In short, Nabonidus considered his own reign a resurrection of a universal empire on the Assyrian and Akkadian model, but centred in Babylon, a project which his predecessors never seemed to have contemplated, or at least one to which they never gave any political expression. ….

[End of quote]


Had not the Jewish sage, Daniel, recently revealed to the king what must have been as music to those egotistical ears: “You are the head of gold”. Thus Daniel informed the king (2:37-38):


‘Your Majesty, you are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; in your hands he has placed all mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds in the sky. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold’.


Hardly surprising, then, in light of this, to find Nabonidus early in his third year praying so ambitiously to the god Šamaš (Beaulieu, pp. 144-145):


(O Šamaš), cause the radiance of your … royal brilliance, to march at my side for plundering the land of my enemy. May I overwhelm the country of my foes. May I slay my opponents. May I take booty from my adversaries. May I bring to my country the possession of all lands. I am indeed a king provider who restores the sacred places and completes the (rebuilding of) sanctuaries forever. At the mention of my prestigious name, may all my adversaries be afraid and quiver, may they bow down at my feet, may they pull my yoke for long days, may they bring into my presence their important tribute in my city Babylon.

[End of quote]


Still on p. 145, Beaulieu likens the ambitions of Nabonidus to those of Nebuchednezzar II:


… in two inscriptions written just before the most important military campaign of his reign [to Arabia], Nabonidus made significant references to his imperial policy. Of course, these two passages are not the only examples of their kind: similar ones can be found in the inscriptions of Nebuchednezzar. ….


Indeed, they can.

All, this occurred in the early days of the ambition and power of “Nebuchednezzar”, before his madness and temporary fall from imperial grace.

  1. 144: “… Nabonidus put forward an aggressive military policy from the very beginning, and he based his legitimacy to a large extent on the need for Babylonia to be ruled by a man experienced in military matters, which is easily perceived by studying inscription 1”.

And p. 147: “… references to these same regions in inscriptions before the campaign of the third year constitute evidence that Nabonidus had been contemplating the consolidation of the Babylonian power in Lebanon and Transjordan and the conquest of Arabia since his accession year”.

Yet it is wondered why the imperialistic-minded Nabonidus appeared to have done so little militarily in the first three years of his reign.

But simply couple Nabonidus with Nebuchednezzar II, and then we get this (prior to year 4):



[Obv.1] In the twenty-first year [605/604] the king of Akkad [Nabopolassar] stayed in his own land, Nebuchadnezzar his eldest son, the crown-prince,

[Obv.2] mustered the Babylonian army and took command of his troops; he marched to Karchemiš which is on the bank of the Euphrates,

[Obv.3] and crossed the river to go against the Egyptian army which lay in Karchemiš.

[Obv.4] They fought with each other and the Egyptian army withdrew before him.

[Obv.5] He accomplished their defeat and beat them to non-existence. As for the rest of the Egyptian army

[Obv.6] which had escaped from the defeat so quickly that no weapon had reached them, in the district of Hamath

[Obv.7] the Babylonian troops overtook and defeated them so that not a single man escaped to his own country.

[Obv.8] At that time Nebuchadnezzar conquered the whole area of Hamath.

[Obv.9] For twenty-one years Nabopolassar had been king of Babylon,

[Obv.10] when on 8 Abunote[15 August 605.] he went to his destiny; in the month of Ululunote[September.] Nebuchadnezzar returned to Babylon

[Obv.11] and on 1 Ululunote[7 September 605.] he sat on the royal throne in Babylon.

[Obv.12] In the accession year Nebuchadnezzar went back again to the Hatti-land and until the month of Šabatunote[Early 604.]

[Obv.13] marched unopposed through the Hatti-land;  in the month of Šabatu he took the heavy tribute of the Hatti-territory to Babylon.

[Obv.14] In the month of Nisannu{{Spring 604.__ he took the hands of Bêl and the son of Bêl and celebrated the Akitu Festival.

[Obv.15] In the first year of Nebuchadnezzar [604/603] in the month of Simanunote[Late Spring.] he mustered his army

[Obv.16] and went to the Hatti-territory, he marched about unopposed in the Hatti-territory until the month of Kislîmu.note[End 604.]

[Obv.17] All the kings of the Hatti-land came before him and he received their heavy tribute.

[Obv.18] He marched to the city of Aškelon and captured it in the month of Kislîmu.note[End 604.]

[Obv.19] He captured its king and plundered it and carried off spoil from it.

[Obv.20] He turned the city into a mound and heaps of ruins and then in the month of Šabatunote[Early 603.] he marched back to Babylon.

[Obv.21] In the second year [603/602] in the month of Ajarunote[Spring 603.] the king of Akkad gathered together a powerful army and marched to the land of Hatti.

[Obv.22] …]  he threw down, great siege-towers he […

[Obv.23] …] from the month of Ajaru until the mon[th of …] he marched about unopposed in the land of Hatti.

[Obv.24-27] [Four lines missing]

[Rev.] [Several lines missing]

[Rev.1′] In the third year [602/601] the king of Akkad left and

[Rev.2′] in the month of […] on the thirteenth day, [the king’s brother] Nabû-šuma-lišir […]

[Rev.3′] The king of Akkad mustered his troops and marched to the Hatti-land.

[Rev.4′] and brought back much spoils from the Hatti-land into Akkad.


[End of quote]


As we read above: “Nabonidus had been contemplating the consolidation of the Babylonian power in Lebanon and Transjordan and the conquest of Arabia since his accession year”.


Now, also in conformity with the testimony of the Book of Daniel, King Nabonidus is known to have had a notable son called “Belshazzar”, famous for the ‘Writing on the Wall’ incident (Daniel 5). A now-aged Daniel will recall to the mind of this reckless king the almost limitless power and wealth of his father, “Nebuchednezzar”, prior to his bout of madness (vv. 18-20):


‘Your Majesty, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and greatness and glory and splendor. Because of the high position he gave him, all the nations and peoples of every language dreaded and feared him. Those the king wanted to put to death, he put to death; those he wanted to spare, he spared; those he wanted to promote, he promoted; and those he wanted to humble, he humbled. But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory’.


But that was not the end of the story, for as we can read earlier in the Book of Daniel, the king, now greatly humbled, would return to even greater fame and might (4:36-37):


‘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. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble’.




Part Two (iii):

Dreams, Astrologers, a Statue, Wealth




The early career of the Chaldean king, Nabonidus, may be replete with parallel likenesses to that as written about the “Nebuchednezzar” in Daniel chapters 1-5.





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]


No wonder in the Book of Daniel, then, we encounter an erratic king and his shifty servants!

Yet, the superstitious king was forever consulting his sages.

Daniel 2:2-3: “So the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed. When they came in and stood before the king, he said to them, ‘I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means’.”

Daniel 4:6-7: “So I commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be brought before me to interpret the dream for me. When the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners came, I told them the dream, but they could not interpret it for me”.

And likewise his son, Belshazzar (Daniel 5:7): “… summoned the enchanters, astrologers and diviners. Then he said to these wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing and tells me what it means will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around his neck, and he will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom”.”

Appropriately, we found that Nabonidus had an influential son named “Belshazzar”. Moreover, that Belshazzar was a contemporary of a new emperor, Cyrus.

The criticism may be raised against my view that King Nabonidus was Nebuchednezzar II ‘the Great’, that, whilst the latter is consistently given as having reigned for 43 years, Nabonidus is said to have reigned for only 17 years. Ronald H. Sack, in Neriglissar – King of Babylon. Alter Orient und Altes. Testament (1994), actually gives various figures for the length of the reign of Nabonidus.


  1. 3. A vase fragment from Uruk gives 5 years.

Other figures given by Sack are the common 17 years, but also 18 years.

  1. 17. Syncellus’s version of the Ptolemaïc Canon gives 34 years.


In other words, there is no overall consistency.

The 34 years comes much closer to what I believe to be the reality: 43 years.


Dreams, Illness, and Restoration


King Nabonidus was, like “Nebuchednezzar”, a king who experienced meaningful dreams. Beaulieu (p. 108): “In the beginning of my everlasting reign they (Marduk and Sîn) caused me to see a dream”. And, as in the Book of Daniel, “a young man” will assist the king with his dream. (P. 112): “Then a young man appeared who calmed the king’s troubled mind by giving him a favourable interpretation of his vision”.

Compare Daniel 2:16: “At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him”.

Regarding the “young man” in the case of King Nabonidus, Beaulieu makes this comment (ibid.):


The status of this young man is not specified, but there is a strong probability that he was a scholar who specialized in astrological lore: his reassuring intervention is reminiscent of the dreams reported in Ludlul bēl nēmeqi, in which two young priests successively appear to the author of the poem to assure him that his misfortunes will end soon (see Lambert 1960: 48-51).

[End of quote]


Nebuchednezzar, supposedly, had also appeared in this particular dream, there doing just what the “Nebuchednezzar” of Daniel had done, not allowing the dream to be repeated, despite the requests of the astrologers (2:5-7). Thus Beaulieu: “Nebuchednezzar did not answer the attendant’s request by merely letting Nabonidus repeat his dream, but by asking him what favourable signs he had seen …”.

Nabonidus would, like “Nebuchednezzar”, experience a terrifying dream whilst lying down. Concerning the latter, we read (Daniel 4:4-8):


 I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous.  I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me.  So I commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be brought before me to interpret the dream for me.  When the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners came, I told them the dream, but they could not interpret it for me. Finally, Daniel came into my presence and I told him the dream. (He is called Belteshazzar, after the name of my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.)


And we read in Beaulieu, citing Col. III, these words of King Nabonidus (pp. 151-152):


I l[ay do]wn [and in a] frightening night dream, with? the order […..]. Fulfilled was the year, the appointed time arrived, of [……].


In each case, the dream has a [Divine?] decree, or “the order”, with a firmly fixed time. Daniel 4:23-24:


“Your Majesty saw a holy one, a messenger, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump, bound with iron and bronze, in the grass of the field, while its roots remain in the ground. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven; let him live with the wild animals, until seven times pass by for him.’

 “This is the interpretation, Your Majesty, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king …”.


The king went away, but then, after the ordeal, returned to Babylon.

Beaulieu, p. 152: “From Teima I [proceeded? to] Babylon, [my] lord[ly] city [… …]”.

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”.

And the king was afforded a great welcome, with wealth and prosperity coming his way, for all of which he praised the deity.

Beaulieu, p. 152:


They saw and [… … … …]. They took? presents? of well-being?, to [… … … …]. The neighboring kings came up to me and kissed my feet, while the distant ones heard and revered his (Sîn’s) great godhead. The gods and goddesses who had fled to remote places … surrounded me and spoke good (things) on my behalf. And by the verdict of the diviner, my good sign was established. In abundance, plenty, and prosperity, I led my people from remote uplands and I took the road to my country in peace.


Similarly, Daniel 4:36-37:


My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.


May it not be going to far to suggest that these are accounts of the very same one incident!

In support of this may be the view that the king’s Teima sojourn had also coincided with his phase of insanity.

Beaulieu here makes another reference to the Book of Daniel (p. 153):


These ten years [in Teima] were evidently not Babylonian years, since they were counted from Tašrītu and not from Nisanu. By using the religious calendar of Ḫarran, Nabonidus showed his neglect of the Babylonian New Year’s festival, one of the main charges brought against him in the Verse Account.

Another text containing allusions to the Teima period is the “Prayer of Nabonidus” from Qumran, which ascribes a length of seven years to the king’s stay in Arabia (Milik 1956). Since this document comes from a later and foreign tradition, which is otherwise known to have undergone further distortion [sic] in the Book of Daniel, it would be unwise to credit the chronological information it gives with any accuracy: the number seven was most probably used in this case as a round figure, a meaning it often has in the Bible and in the later Jewish tradition.

[End of quote]


Beaulieu tells of another case of a dream and the king’s illness, appropriately around his third year of reign (pp. 113-114):


In another dream he beheld the goddess Gula and prayed to her until she finally looked at him, thus indicating mercy. This visit to Gula’s shrine suggests that Nabonidus may have suffered from health problems at that time ….it is further borne out by a passage of the Chronicle for his third regnal year, which seems to suggest that he suffered some ailment during his military campaign to Lebanon …. (…. [The king became] ill but recuperated).

[End of quote]


Intriguingly, Beaulieu refers to this incident of illness in a context that of time that involves the number “seven” (Cf. Daniel 4:23: “… until seven times pass by for him”). P. 168: “Then Nabonidus falls ill but recovers, and, in the month Kislīmu … after an overall stay of seven months in that region, the army moves southwards to Amurru … and encamps against Edom in southern Transjordan”.

Appropriately (p. 174): “… Jewish exiles may even have figured prominently among the people brought by Nabonidus to Arabia …”.


Another Statue


Beaulieu makes a further reference to the Book of Daniel when discussing a relief possibly depicting King Nabonidus carved on the “Teima stone”, a stela found on the site in 1880 (pp. 176-177):


Another feature of the stela is a relief carved on its edge depicting in the upper register a standing bearded figure holding a long rod and wearing a tiara. The identity of the figure is uncertain, but it has been suggested that it represents the deified Nabonidus, who would have been the god Ṣalm himself, since it is almost identical with the reliefs depicting the king on inscriptions 13 and 14 …. However, if the god Ṣalm … was Nabonidus, then the name of this deity should definitely be connected with Akkadian ṣalmu “statue”, the name under which statues of deified rulers were worshipped in Assyria and Babylonia (Hallo 1988: 63). If this is true, it is not unlikely that Nabonidus would have been influenced by the discovery of the statue of Sargon during the excavation of the Ebabbar … for which he instituted divine offerings. Perhaps his desire to link himself with great rulers of the past induced him to accept a similar form of worship of himself in his Arabian capital. The tradition preserved in the Book of Daniel (chapter 3) of Nebuchednezzar (i.e. Nabonidus) making a statue (ṣalmā’) and forcing his subjects to worship it may ultimately go back to this deed of Nabonidus.


[End of quote]


I suggest that Beaulieu would not be far wrong in this last remark of his.


Abundant Wealth


The king’s illness (temporary insanity) may have been a reason for his departure to Teima in Arabia. Whilst, according to the Book of Daniel, “Nebuchednezzar” was “driven” out (4:32): “You will be driven away from people …”, Nabonidus attributes his departure to Teima to the impiety of the Babylonians, to “the people’s disregard of Sîn’s power (Col. I, 14-27)” (Beaulieu, p. 60).

The two may well be related.

But also, as Beaulieu discusses on pp. 180-183, for instance, wealthy Arabia was strategically most important to those dreaming of empire.


  1. 181:

Nabonidus’ conquest of Arabia does not stand out as a particularly strange move: such projects were characteristic of the imperialistic policy of all major empires that gained control of the Syro-Palestinian area in the first millennium B.C. Its singularity lies rather in its having been successful, unlike other attempts.

Logically the same motives lay behind all the attempts at controlling northern Arabia, and Nabonidus should a priori be no exception to the rule. All classical authors agree on the immense wealth of the region (Briant 1982: 142-45), which was based mostly on the control of the trade routes traversing it and linking the Syro-Palestinian area to South Arabia ….

  1. 183: “The monumental inscriptions written prior to the third year make frequent allusions to the wealth coming from the western regions of the empire, and there is little doubt that northern Arabia was considered a natural extension of these regions ….


[End of quotes]


No wonder, then, that Daniel could thus extol this king (2:37-38):


“Your Majesty, you are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; in your hands he has placed all mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds in the sky. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold”.


(4:22): “You have become great and strong; your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky, and your dominion extends to distant parts of the earth”.



Part Two (iv): ‘God of gods’




Though it would be much over-stating things to claim that King Nabonidus became a monotheist, there is a definite progression in that direction in the course of his reign.





“Monotheistic Tendency” of Nebuchednezzar II


  1. Boutflower has advanced a strong argument in his book, In and Around the Book of Daniel: https://archive.org/stream/inaroundbookofda00boutuoft/inaroundbookofda00boutuoft_djvu.txt for evidence of a trend towards a Marduk (Merodach) monotheism in various inscriptions of Nebuchednezzar II:


According, then, to this authority, No. 15 is the latest of the

inscriptions of Nebuchadnezzar, and the Merodach tendency

noticed by Langdon is of necessity a monotheistic tendency, for

Merodach, who, as we have seen, is always foremost of the gods,

appears in some passages of this inscription to stand alone. Now

it is just in these monotheistic passages, these ” inserted prayers ”

and ” changes of text,” that we seem to see the work of the real

Nebuchadnezzar. Thus, immediately after the introductory

passage, which describes the position occupied by the king with

reference to Merodach and Nebo, there follows a hymn to those

divinities, col. i. 23 to ii. 39, extracted from inscriptions 19 and

  1. But in the middle of this hymn we meet with a prayer

addressed to Merodach alone : col. i. 51 to ii. 11, and this prayer,

be it noted, is an entirely original addition, not found in any previous

inscription. Jastrow remarks with reference to it, “The con-

ception of Merodach rises to a height of spiritual aspiration,

which comes to us as a surprise in a religion that remained steeped

in polytheism, and that was associated with practices and rites

of a much lower order of thought.” 2 This remarkable prayer

runs thus


“To Merodach my lord I prayed,

I addressed my supplication.

He had regard to the utterance of my heart,

I spake unto him:

‘Everlasting prince,

Lord of all that is,

for the king whom thou lovest,

whose name thou proclaimest,

who is pleasing to thee :

direct him aright,

lead him in the right path !

I am a prince obedient unto thee,

the creature of thy hands,

thou hast created me,

and hast appointed me to the lordship of multitudes of people.

According to thy mercy, Lord, which thou bestowest upon

all of them,

cause them to love thy exalted lordship :

cause the fear of thy godhead to abide in my heart !

Grant what to thee is pleasing,

for thou makest my life’.” ….


And a similar exaltation of the god, Sîn, in the case of King Nabonidus, is a central feature of Paul-Alain Beaulieu’s book, The Reign of Nabonidus, King of Babylon, 556-539 B.C. (1989).

Beaulieu has interpreted Nabonidus’s exaltation of the moon god, Sîn, as “an outright usurpation of Marduk’s prerogatives”.


Sîn is the ilu/ilani sa ilani, “the god(s) of the gods.”



Whilst I, by no means, would presume to make the suggestion that, now Nebuchednezzar II, now Nabonidus, ever became a pure monotheist, the religious reform implemented during this period of Chaldean dominance is certainly most idiosyncratic and confronting.


According to one source (http://ic.galegroup.com/ic/whic/ReferenceDetailsPage/Reference):


Theological Revisions


Yet these considerations must not lead us to treat Nabonidus as a ruler in his dotage, devoid of vision or political skill. A study of the documents associated with his reign suggests exactly the opposite. The most original aspect of his reign is his attempt to introduce a religious reform centered on the worship of Sin of Haran, thereby challenging the superiority of Marduk, god of Babylon, whose supremacy over all other gods had been a theological verity in Babylon at least since Nebuchadnezzar I, half a millennium earlier. Although we do not doubt that Nabonidus knowingly launched this religious reform, we remain in the dark about the catalyst for his own beliefs as well as the political motivation that set him on his reforming path. Nevertheless, a pamphlet written against Nabonidus after his downfall and dubbed by modern scholars the “Verse Account of Nabonidus” charges the king with worshiping an incarnation of the moon-god called Ilteri. This is a precious piece of information, for behind the cuneiform spelling “Ilteri” is concealed the name of the West Semitic moon-god Sachar, worshiped in Syria, among Aramaeans who settled in Babylonia, and among the nomadic tribes of northern Arabia. Ilteri occurs frequently in West Semitic name formations, and there is reason to believe that Sin of Haran and Sachar were equated well before Nabonidus. What may have bothered the priests of Marduk in Babylon is not that their new king had gone beyond retaining his attachment to the god of his native city, Haran, but that he was aggressively declaring that god’s superiority over Marduk.


This observation, however, should not obscure the Mesopotamian component in Nabonidus’s religion. His devotion embraced more generally the Mesopotamian triad composed of Sin, Shamash, and Ishtar, which had enjoyed widespread popularity under the last Assyrian rulers. Nabonidus may well have espoused a tradition, not uniformly represented in Mesopotamia, that made Shamash and Ishtar the children of Sin. It is telling that of the building projects and the associated commemorative inscriptions that the king sponsored, only one is unrelated to the triad Sin-Shamash-Ishtar: restoration work on the temple of Lugal-Marada, the patron god of Marad, a city in northern Babylonia. Whenever Nabonidus lavished his patronage on the sanctuaries of specific deities, they involved Sin and his consort Ningal, Shamash and his vizier Bunene, and martial avatars of Ishtar (Ishtar of Agade, Anunitum). It is significant that the Eanna temple of Uruk, the major sanctuary of Ishtar in Babylonia, did not benefit from royal patronage, since Ishtar of Uruk was identified locally as the daughter (sometimes the consort) of the sky-god Anu.


[End of quote]


Whatever be the case, one finds from a perusal of Beaulieu’s book that King Nabonidus will address Sîn in words that the “Nebuchednezzar” of Daniel will use to address the God of Israel.