The Book of Daniel Defended
[Introduction: Critics on Daniel] [Placement in Canon] [Jesus Ben Sirach] [Historical Issues] [Linguistic Issues] [Indications of Early Date] [The 4 Kingdoms Issue] [Conclusion]

Outside of the Pentateuch, no book of the OT has been subjected to as much scrutiny as the Book of Daniel. The detailed and accurate prophecies contained in that book have motivated many, Skeptic and professed believer alike, to subscribe to the theory of a late date of composition for Daniel in the time of the Maccabees.

Generally, the Maccabeean theory holds that the Book of Daniel was written around 168-165 BC. Most modern radical critics hold that the book was completed in its final form at that time, but some allow for parts of Daniel (mainly chapters 1-6) to have an earlier date prior to 168-165. Some say the editor in the 2nd century used certain traditions to compose the final form of Daniel.

Others have said that the book has many authors (one scholar says that there were six authors). All of them agree, however, that the final form of the book was completed around 165 BC. We will show that such late date hypotheses are NOT indicated by the evidence.

A word to begin, relative to the state of the question at hand. In many cases we shall cite an argument originally used by a critic who wrote at the beginning of this century, S. R. Driver. Since Driver first wrote, the arguments about Daniel have barely changed (Eccl. 1:9) - indeed, some of the arguments that Driver later retracted are still in use by some critics.

We shall see especially that, even as some liberal scholars slowly come to a more traditional outlook on some aspects of Daniel, Skeptics of the lower rank like Bernard Katz, and most recently Tim Callahan, continue to use long-refuted arguments against this important book.

Limitations of this Study

We will focus here upon arguments relative to the historicity and dating of Daniel, and as related, the fulfillment of its political prophecies. We will not be looking at the seventy weeks prophecy or anything having to do with prophecies commonly thought to be in our own future. On that issue see link 1 below.

Canon Fire: A Fair Prophet?

Our first set of arguments relates to the placement of Daniel in the OT canon.

First, a technical objection is sometimes made that Daniel was placed in the "Writings" and not the "Prophets." Hamner [Hamn.Dan, 1; see also DilHart.BDan, 25] writes:

The Hebrew canon consists of three divisions, the 'Law', the 'Prophets', and the 'writings', and Daniel is included in the third and last division. This suggests that the book was not known by 200 B.C. , about the time when the collection of prophetic writings was assembled.

And Driver [Driv.BD, xivii-xiviii] said earlier:

...there are strong reasons for thinking that the threefold division represents three stages in the collection and canonization of the sacred books of the O.T.,--the Pent. being canonized first, then the 'Prophets' (in the Jewish sense of the expression), and lastly the Kethubim. The collection of the 'Prophets' could hardly have been completed before the third century B.C.; and had the Book of Daniel existed at the time, and been believed to be the work of a prophet, it is difficult not to think that it would have ranked accordingly, and been included with the writings of the other prophets.

In response to this objection, Archer [Arch.DEx, 7-8] writes:

As for the placement of Daniel in the Masoretic arrangement of the canon, this is completely without evidential force. Writing in the east first century A.D. Josephus made the following statement concerning the Hebrew canon (Contra Apion I, 38-39 [8]): 'We do not possess myriads of inconsistent books, conflicting with each other. Our books, those which are justly accredited, are but two and twenty, and contain the record of all time.' He then broke these twenty-two books down into three categories: five books of Moses (ie., the Pentateuch), thirteen books of the Prophets, and the remaining four books that 'embrace hymns to God and counsels for men for the conduct of life.' The four books of poetry and wisdom were unquestionably Psalms, Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes. These four constituted the entire third division of the canon---the Writings---in Josephus's day, rather than the thirteen assigned to it by the Masoretes of the late first millennium A.D.
As for the thirteen books of the Prophets, as recognized in the first century A.D., they were apparently the Former Prophets, including Joshua, Judges-Ruth, the two books of Samuel, the two books of Kings, the two books of Chronicles, Isaiah, Jeremiah-Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel (which were classified by the second century B.C. LXXs Major Prophets), the Twelve Minor Prophets as one volume (since they could all be included in one large scroll), Song of Solomon, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Esther. There is no possibility that Josephus could have regarded Daniel as belonging to the Writings. Very clearly he included it among the Prophets, along with Solomon's prophetic parable of love (S of Songs) and the exilic and postexilic books of history, all of which were composed from a prophetic perspective. Therefore, we are forced to conclude that the Masoretic division of the canon, coming as it did six or seven centuries after Flavius Josephus, has no bearing whatever on the date of Daniel's composition or on its status as a truly prophetic work.

And Whitcomb [Whit.BD, 15-6] adds:

Most conservative Old Testament scholars believe that Daniel was not placed among the prophets in our present Hebrew Bible because he served in a foreign court, did not prophesy directly to the people of Israel, and included much historical material in the book. But, significant evidence is available that Daniel was originally counted among the prophets and was only shifted to another category of canonical books of Hebrew scribes in the fourth century A.D.
First, Daniel was listed among the prophets in the Septuagint translation (hence the position of our English Bibles through the medium of the Vulgate). Second, Josephus (first century A.D.) listed Daniel among the prophets. Third, Melito, bishop of Sardis (A.D.70), did the same. Fourth, Origen (d. A.D. 254) listed Daniel before Ezekiel and the twelve prophets. R. Laird Harris thus argues not only for the full canonicity of the book of Daniel but also its inclusion among the prophetic books in the most ancient Hebrew collections.

And Archer says elsewhere [Arch.SOT, 388-9]:

The Masoretes may have been influenced in this reassignment by the consideration that Daniel was not appointed or ordained as a prophet, but remained a civil servant under the prevailing government throughout his entire career. Second, a large percentage of his writings does not bear the character of prophecy, but rather history (Chap.1-6), such as does not appear in any of the books of the canonical prophets. Little of what Daniel wrote is couched in the form of a message from God relayed through the mouth of His spokesman.

These findings are confirmed by Koch [Koch.DanP], who points out that Daniel was regarded as being among the prophets in the NT, in the LXX, and at Qumran. The shift to the Writings, he says, was not until the 5th-8th century AD.

Canon Fire II: Ben Sirach

The second canon-related objection observes that Jesus Ben Sirach - whose writings are often called upon to verify the state of the OT canon - quotes all the Prophets except Daniel in 170 BC. This is taken to mean that Sirach was unaware of Daniel; hence, it was written after 170 BC. A coherent form of this objection was made by Driver [Driv.BD, xivii; see also Lacq.Dan, 7]:

Jesus, the son of Sirach (writing c. 200 B.C.), in his enumeration of famous Israelites, Ecclus. xliv--1., though he mentions Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and (collectively) the Twelve Minor Prophets, is silent as to Daniel. In view of the remarkable distinctions attained by Daniel, and the faculties displayed by him, according to the Book, the statement in Ecclus. xlix. 15 that no man had ever been born 'like unto Joseph,' seems certainly to suggest that the writer was unacquainted with the narratives respecting Daniel.

Archer [Arch.SOT, 389] responds:

But it should be pointed out that other important authors like Ezra received no mention either. Nor for that matter did he make mention of such key figures in Hebrew history as Job, or any of the Judges except Samuel; Asa, Jehoshphat, and Mordecai. How can such omissions furnish any solid ground for the idea that these leaders were unknown to Jesus Ben Sirach?

In this regard, it should be noted that Ecclesiasticus failed to mention people outside of Israel. The writer was very Sadducean and nationalistic; he selected personalities to feature according to his own ideas. He pays no attention to those outside Israel: Jonah at Nineveh, Daniel at Babylon, and Mordecai in Persia. Thus, aside from being an argument from silence, pointing out that Sirach did not mention Daniel is irrelevant.

Some do, however, find allusions to the Book of Daniel in Sirach's work, which would make the point moot - SRM.Dan, 25-6.

As for one "not being like Joseph," it should be noted that, unlike Joseph, Daniel did NOT save the entirety of Israel from extinction and did not do anything to raise the Jews as a whole to prominence. Far too much emphasis is placed on the fact that both received dreams as a prophetic tool; the differences between these two personages tend to be ignored.

Historical Issues



[Introduction] [The Siege of Daniel 1:1] [The Chaldeans] [Belshazzar] [Darius the Mede] [Daniel in Ezekiel] [Nebuchadnezzar: Spelling of Name] [Nebuchadnezzar: Madness] [Satraps] [Where Was Daniel at Furnace-Time?] [How Found Ten Times Better?] [The Watchers]

With this section we get into the "meatiest" objections against the Book of Daniel - and the place where we have the most controversy.

The Siege

Critics observe historical inaccuracies in Daniel 1:1 and the lack of a contemporary account of a siege of Jerusalem [see Call.BPFF, 152; DilHart.BDan, 34]. Driver [Driv.IOT, 498] complained:

That Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem, and carried away some of the sacred vessels in 'the third year of Jehoiakim' (Dan.1), though it cannot, strictly speaking, be disproved, is highly improbable: not only is the Book of Kings silent, but Jeremiah, in the following year (c.25) speaks of the Chaldeans in a matter which appears distinctly to imply that their arms had not yet been seen in Judah.

In response, Archer [Arch.DEx, 14] notes:

Daniel 1:1 states that Nebuchadnezzar's first invasion of Judah and siege of Jerusalem took place in the third year of Jehoiakim, whereas Jeremiah 46:2 dates the first year of Nebuchadnezzar in the fourth year of Jehoiakim. This objection was raised before modern scholarship understood the complexity of ancient Near-Eastern dating systems. We now know that in Judah the non-accession-year system was followed, whereby the calendar year in which a new king acceded to the throne was reckoned as the first year of his reign (which in the case of Jehoiakim would have been 608 B.C.). But in the northern kingdom (which, of course, came to an end in 722 B.C.) and in Babylon, the accession-year system prevailed. According to this reckoning, the year when the new king came to power would be called simply his accession year. The first year of his reign would not begin until the commencement of the next calendar year. Thus, by the Babylonian reckoning, Jehoiakim's first year was 607; therefore Nebuchadnezzar's invasion in 605 was Jehoiakim's third year. Who can fault Daniel, living in Babylon, for following the Babylonian reckoning? Therefore this argument turns out to be not only worthless but a confirmation that the author of Daniel wrote from a Babylonian perspective.

And Baldwin [Bald.Dan, 19-20] adds:

It is true that there is no mention of a siege of Jerusalem at this time in 2 Kings, though it does say that in the days of Jehoiakim, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years' (2 Kings 24:1), and Chronicles adds, 'Against him came up Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and bound him in fetters to take him to Babylon' (2 Chron. 36:6). The presence of Nebuchadrezzar in Jerusalem is thus doubly attested prior to the siege of 597 B.C., which was in Nebuchadrezzar's seventh year, just after the death of Jehoiakim in his eleventh year (2 Kings 24:6-10). The publication of the Babylonian Chronicles in the British museum made available an independent source of precise information relating to the events of Nebuchadrezzar's accession.
The following table sets out the details as they can be reconstructed from the Babylonian data for 605 B.C.
In light of this information the biblical statements begin to look probable. Jehoiakim had been put on the throne by the Egyptian Pharaoh Neco (2 Kings 23:34) and therefore Nebuchadrezzar, in taking all that belonged to the king of Egypt (2 Kings 24:7), would need to include the king of Judah. This would be the occasion when Jehoiakim became his servant and was bound in fetters to be taken to Babylon. Whether he made the journey or not we cannot know. The Bible is consistent in asserting that Nebuchadrezzar put pressure on Jerusalem and it's king; the Babylonian evidence allows time for him to do so. It is also clear why the outcome is left vague. The death of his father made the return of the crown prince imperative (he had been called king proleptically, as in Jer. 46:2); he would need to leave the army in the command of his generals and travel light with all speed back to Babylon as Berossus recounted.

This objection therefore fails.

Chaldeans

It is said that the term "Chaldeans" was not as specialized in the 6th century B.C. as it was in 2nd century B.C. The book of Daniel specializes the term to refer to magicians and astrologers. [see Call.BPFF, 166; Porte.Dan, 28] Montgomery [JM.CCBDm 73] formulates the objection thusly, finding it important enough to say:

Perhaps transcending the obvious historical difficulties recorded above is the naive use of "Basic-Chaldeans" as a class of magicians.

And Hamner [Hamn.Dan, 4] adds:

The word Chaldeans is used to describe an astrologer, but was not used in this way in the sixth century B.C. It is unlikely that Daniel would have a prefectship over the astrologers (Dan. 2:48) as this would have involved membership of the Babylonian priesthood. (Nehemiah and Esther both refer, however, to high positions held by Jews at the Persian court).

This objection is also noted by Katz [Kat.McD].

Archer [Arch.SOT, 390], however, replies:

This theory, however, fails to fit the data of the text, for the author of this work was certainly aware that Kasdim was the ethnic term for the race of Nebuchadnezzar. Thus in Daniel 5:30 Belshazzar is referred to as the king of the Chaldeans; in this case the term certainly could not refer to any class of wise men. Therefore, we must look to other explanations for the twofold use of Kasdim. Herodutus (vol. 1, sec 181-183) refers to the Chaldeans in such a way as to imply that they were speedily put into all the politically strategic offices of Babylonia as soon as they had gained control of the capital. If this was the case, then "Chaldean" may have early come into use as a term for the priests of Bel-Marduk.

And Baldwin [Bald.Dan, 28-9] adds:

Since Nebuchadnezzar was a Chaldean by race the ethnic use of the term in the book of Daniel is not surprising; its use by Herodotus as a technical term for the priests of Bel in the fifth century B.C. shows it had already by then a secondary sense. There is nothing incongruous about the use of the term in both meanings, nor need it cause confusion, any more than our use in English of the word 'Morocco' to designate both the country and the leather for which it is famous. Needless to say the Moroccan would not use the name in both these senses.

Baldwin goes on to say that although the term is used only in the ethnic sense in Assyrian records in the 8-7th centuries B.C., there is no use of the term - in EITHER sense - in Babylonian documents in the 6th century (although Diodorus Siculus indicates that the caste was around as early as the time of Nabopolassar, Nebucadnezzar's father). It is simply a presumptuous argument from silence to say that the term is an anachronism [Mill.D16, 70].

Interestingly, Lacocque admits to the earlier uses in Herodotus [Lacq.Dan, 27], but STILL insists, without any substantiation, that Daniel's use of the term would be too early.

As for Daniel being leader over this bunch, it was hardly required that he endorse all of their practices to be their leader. One must show that Daniel would have had to personally corrupt himself in order for this objection to have any force.

Belshazzar

Our third objection set concerns the personage of Belshazzar. Let us first, for a moment, that it was once argued that Belshazzar did not exist at all. With that in mind, now that critics assent to his existence, they are reluctant to grant him his due as he is represented by Daniel, saying that he was: a) not a King, and b) not a son of Nebuchadnezzar, as Daniel indicates. Hamner [Hamn.Dan, 4] writes:

Belshazzar is represented as the son of Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 5:11), although he was the son of Nabodinus. He was heir to the throne and may have acted as regent in his fathers absence, but he was never actually a King despite Dan 5:1-30;8:1.

And Driver [Driv.IOT, 498] adds:

Belshazzar is represented as king of Babylon; and Nebuchadnezzar is spoken of throughout (chap. 5:2,11,13,18,22) as his father. In point of fact Nabodinus was the last King of Babylon; he was a usurper, not related to Nebuchadnezzar, and one Belsharuzer is mentioned as his son. Belsharuzur's standing title is the 'king's son,' something like the 'crown prince.'

This objection, too, is noted by Katz. Archer [Arch.SOT, 391-2] replies to the objections:

This argument, however, overlooks the fact that by ancient usage the term son often referred to a successor in the same office whether or not there was a blood relationship. Thus in the Egyptian story, 'King Cheops and the Magicians (preserved in the papyrus Westcar from the Hyksos Period), Prince Khephren came to pass in the time of thy father, King Neb-ka.' Actually Neb-ka belonged to the Third Dynasty, a full century before the time of Khufu of the Fourth Dynasty. In Assyria a similar practice was reflected in the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III, which refers to King Jehu (the exterminator of the whole dynasty of Omri) as 'the son of Omri.'

Archer then goes on to explain that Belshazzar could have been a literal grandson of Nebuchadnezzar if Nabodinus married one of his daughters:

There is fairly conclusive evidence that Belshazzar was elevated to secondary kingship during the time of Uzziah in the kingdom of Judah--a common practice in ancient times in order to secure a peaceful succession. Recent archaeological discoveries indicate that Belshazzar was in charge of the northern frontier of the Babylonian empire while his father Nabodinus maintained his headquarters at Teman in North Arabia. Among the discoveries at the site of Ur is an inscription of Nabunaid containing a prayer for Nabunaid himself followed by a second prayer for his firstborn son, Bel-shar-usur, such prayers being customarily offered only for the reigning monarch. Still other cuneiform documents attest that Belshazzar presented sheep and oxen at the temples in Sippar as 'an offering of the king.'

Clearly, Belshazzar was regarded as a "king" in a full sense of the word - indeed, the evidence is so clear that even the liberal Lacocque admits that the cuneiform evidence "militate(s) in favor of a reign of Belshazzar." [Lacq.Dan, 92, emph. in original] The kingship is further confirmed by Xenophon, who, reporting on the fall of Babylon, says that the "king" was slain. He does not name this king, but since Nabodinus was in custody at the time (according to Berosus, he was captured and deported - MillS.Dan, 168) - and since Xenophon describes this king as "a riotous, indulgent, cruel, and godless young man" (that would be a bad description of Nabodinus) - Xenophon must be referring to Belshazzar [Ford.Dan, 122; Gold.Dan, 107].

Finally, there is this consideration: The Aramaic language did not have a word for what Belshazzar actually was: a "crown prince." Therefore, Daniel would have had to use the nearest functional word (from the point of view of the Jews, and their own concept of what a co-regency was) to describe what Belzy was doing. [Mill.DBel, 77]

As for the father/son relationship, there are many possible answers to this:

  1. Archer notes above the reference to "Jehu son of Omri." This reflects a general Oriental usage of father/son terminology. Textual (non-Biblical) evidence reveals that "son" was used at least 12 different ways in the ancient Orient, and "father" was used at least 7 different ways [Ford.Dan, 123; MillS.Dan, 149].

  2. Hints of an actual familial relationship, however, provide a more convincing solution to the problem. Indications of such are given by Herodotus, who reports that the queen mother Nitorcris, Nebucadnezzar's wife, was the "mother" of Nabodinus [Town.Dan, 70] - perhaps meaning by this, the mother-in-law.

    The realization of this kind of relationship, or something similar, is being slowly adapted even by liberal critics. Oriental monarchs who were usurpers commonly tried to legitimate their claim to the throne by marrying their predecessor's wife or daughter [Bout.IABD, 116]. This may be indicated in the case at hand by the fact that Nabodinus named one of his sons after Nebucadnezzar. Furthermore, one of Nabodinus' predecessors, Neriglissar, himself married one of Nebucadnezzar's daughters, so there would be a precedent for Nabodinus to follow.

    In light of the above, it may be suggested that Daniel shows a polemical awareness of such an attempt to legitimate the rule of Nabodinus. The repeated emphasis upon the father/son relationship of Nebucadnezzar and Belshazzar serves to highlight the fact that Belshazzar is decidedly UNlike his "father" Nebucadnezzar - he is, by comparison, grossly incompetent, sensual, worthless, and ignorant of the power of the true God.

    A very thin blood relationship may have been exaggerated, or even created out of whole cloth by the usurpers [see Meadw.ADGD, 64], to perpetrate the fiction that Nabodinus and Belshazzar were legitimate heirs of the throne - and Daniel may well be reflecting this exaggeration/court fiction in his own polemical manner.

    Note especially the implication that the queen mother was NOT invited to the banquet, and that Daniel was no longer a recognized wise man - which would fit in with the idea of a usurper "cleaning house" for his own protection, and a polemical response by Daniel. [see esp. Fewe.CSov, 82, 91-2]

Moreover, the very mention of Belshazzar is proof of an early date for Daniel. Recall, again, that it was once argued that Belshazzar never existed. Here is why, according to Archer [ibid.]:

The fact that by the time of Herodotus (ca 450 B.C.) the very name of Belshazzar had been forgotten, at least so far as the informants of the Greek historian were concerned, indicates far closer acquaintance with the events of the late sixth century on the part of Daniel than would have been the case by the second century B.C.

Archer goes on to explain that the writer of Daniel 5:16 can only promise Daniel to be 3rd ruler in the kingdom is proof of the book's veracity. Why could he not promise #2? Because Belshazzar was #2 as long as his father was still alive.

Baldwin [Bald.Dan, 22-3] adds these words, in line with what has been said above, and serves as a summary:

Five times in chapter 5 Nebuchadrezzar is referred to as his father, and Belshazzar is called his son (5:22). The assumption has often been made that the author's knowledge was so defective that he thought Belshazzar was literally son of Nebuchadnezzar, whereas we know that his father was Nabodinus, son of a Babylonian nobleman, Nabu-alatsu-iqbi. It needs to be borne in mind that the terms 'father' and 'son' are used figuratively in the Old Testament. Elisha called Elijah 'my father' (2 Kings 2:12); 'sons of the prophets' were their disciples, and there is some evidence that outstanding kings gave their name to successors who were not of their dynasty. There is in Esdras 3:7, 4:42 an interesting example of a king bestowing as a prize the honour of being called his kinsman, or cousin. Nevertheless the constant repetition of the father-son theme in Daniel appears to imply more, as though the legitimacy of the king might have been under attack.

Baldwin goes on to explain, too, that Belshazzar could be the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar (a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar could have carried Belshazzar's father, thus making it very literal).

Darius the Mede

Our fourth objection set concerns another personage in the Book of Daniel - Darius the Mede. Darius the Mede is regarded as a fictional character, or at very best a confusion based on Cyrus' third son - who was not a Mede, but a Persian. Again, Hamner [Hamn.Dan, 4]:

The book also regards 'Darius the Mede' (Dan. 5:31; 6:25) as responsible for the conquest of Babylon and its first ruler. Persian records refer to the conquest by Cyrus and to the governorship of Gubaru (Gobryas), a Persian.

This objection is alluded to by Katz [Kat.McD].

Admittedly, this is by far the most difficult historical problem in the book - albeit not "insurmountable" as Lacocque [Lacq.Dan., 109] suggests. There are two major responses to this problem. One is a proposal by John Whitcomb that Darius the Mede is to be identified with Gubaru, the provincial governor of Babylon. Whitcomb's work, we may note, is conspicuously absent from the bibliographies of, or is never cited by, Lacocque and others who regard the problem as "insurmountable".

The other is a proposal by Donald Wiseman (supported by Shea, Shea.DMedePB, and Colless, Coll.CPDMede) that Daniel 6:28 should be translated, "Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius even the reign of Cyrus the Persian," i.e., taking the former name as a throne name - so that Darius the Mede is, in fact, Cyrus the Persian. Both interpretations have attractive features.

Let us first consider the case for the Gubaru equation. Whitcomb suggests that "there is one person in history, and only one who fits all the Biblical data concerning Darius the Mede. He is never mentioned by the Greek historians, but appears in various sixth century B.C. cuneiform texts under the name of Gubaru." [Whit.DMede, 10-16] The central feature of this view is to distinguish Gubaru form Ugbaru, both of whom are called Gobryas in some translations of the Nabodinus Chronicle.

Whitcomb shows that Ugbaru died within weeks of his capture of Babylon, while the latter continued as governor of Babylon for at least fourteen years. About the significance of the confusion between Ugbaru and Gubaru, Whitcomb writes, "...many were led to assume that Ugbaru and Gubaru were the same person and were to be identified also with the "Gobryas" of Xenophone's Cyropaedia. This effort to identify Darius the Mede with a composite 'Gobryas' was clearly unsatisfactory, and opened the door for critics to deny any possibility of an historical identification for Darius the Mede." [ibid., 24]

According to Whitcomb's theory, Gubaru was born in 601 B.C. to Ahasuerus, a Mede, and was appointed by Cyrus as governor over Babylon and the "Region beyond the River." He assumed the kingship over this territory when Cyrus himself withdrew from Babylon, and appointed his own supervisors over his dominion, holding the power of life and death over them.

But now to the Cyrus equation. Wiseman translates Daniel 6:28, "Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, even (namely, or i.e.) the reign of Cyrus the Persian." And he continues to support his case: "Such a use of the oppositional or explicative Hebrew waw construction has long been recognized in 1 Chronicles 5:26 ("So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria even the spirit of Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria") and elsewhere."

This seems to be supported by the Septuagint and Theodotion which translates Daniel 11:1 the "first year of Cyrus" rather than the "first year of Darius". It could be that Darius the Mede had dual names; this sort of argument is advanced by Colless [Coll.CPDMede, 113], who (though he accepts a late date for Daniel) believes that the double-naming of Cyrus was a reflection of the propensity of the Daniel author to use "double names" for characters (i.e., Daniel/Belteshazzar) - and asserts that Daniel 6:28 was expected to be understood by the reader as making the Darius/Cyrus connection.

Another explanation of this sort suggests that Daniel was emphasizing Cyrus' Median bloodline - his father was a Persian, but his mother was a Mede [Shea.DMedePB, 251; Gold.Dan, 51] - in order to demonstrate the exact fulfillment of earlier OT prophecies of victory by a Mede.

Other indications of this equation may be called upon. The apocryphal story of the Three Guardsmen seems to indicate that Darius the Mede was Cyrus, as does the story of Bel and the Dragon [Bald.Dan, 27; MillS.Dan, 176]. The personal data recorded in Daniel seems to lend support to either identification - Gubaru or Cyrus. Darius the Mede was said to have been 62 when he assumed power; this would fit either Gubaru or Cyrus from what we know. (Cicero tells us that Cyrus died at age 70; cuneiform texts say that Cyrus ruled 9 years after Babylon was captured - the math works out. MillS.Dan, ibid.)

Critics have said little that is substantial in regards to these proposals. One Skeptic merely objects that there is no direct evidence of either of these men being called Darius the Mede -- a form of objection which renders all historical study and detective work useless.

He then discounts Colless' "double identity" thesis by objecting that it is not as "clear" as other places where double-identity is indicated.

There is an obvious reason for this -- in the case of Daniel and his friends, the double-name is imposed upon them; not so with Cyrus. Further emphasis concerning Daniel, with respect to his interpretation of the dream before Nebucadnezzar and Belshazzar, serves a rhetorical purpose: Nebucadnezzar calls Daniel by his pagan name, but only God has the power to offer the interpretation, and the god Nebucadnezzar named Daniel after is worthless -- whereas the God Daniel is named after (his name means "judge of God") knows what he is doing.

On the matter of the waw construction, our Skeptic first makes the point that this was often done with a different Hebrew word, which doesn't prove anything or have any relevance.

Second, he tries to defuse the 1 Chronicles parallel by saying that this part of Daniel was in Aramaic while 1 Chr. was in Hebrew. He admits, however, that he has never studied Aramaic, so is left merely to argue apart from knowledge, in a case against those who are specialists in ANE languages.

Another such specialist provided an example of such usage at Daniel 4:13: "I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven..." Our Skeptic claims that "watcher" and "holy one" are used not as synonyms but as compliments, like "gentleman and a scholar."

The analogy is a false one: The point is not that they are full synonyms, for "Darius" and "Cyrus" are not either. They are, by the argument being made, different names for the same person, but from differing perspectives. One emphasizes Cyrus' Median heritage; the other, his Persian rule. This is not "verbal gymnastics" but an artifact of the language and culture of Daniel's time.

Grabbe [Grab.DMede] offers the largest response, but fails to take either proposal seriously. He gives Whitcomb's case the short shrift, describing his work as being in "the form of a religious tract". Attempts to identify Darius are summarily dismissed as "theological special pleading" and an "exercise in apologetics." And yet, Grabbe does his own "special pleading" to substantiate his own view of Daniel as a late work.

Finally, Grabbe misinterprets the evidence for Gubaru, saying that he did not start to reign until the fourth year of Cyrus' reign; but the texts he mentions only REFER TO Gubaru at that time; they do not say that it was Cyrus' fourth year when he started to rule. The Nabodinus Chronicle indicates that Gubaru began to rule Babylon immediately.

Although it is true the present evidence does not tell us who Darius the Mede was in an explicit way, it does seem plausible that the first of these two explanations is correct. More archeological evidence may come in the future concerning this like the Belshazzar problem - and the data and propositions that we do have ought to be dealt with seriously and on the same terms as all other historical detective work.

Related to Darius, there are other objections as well. Callahan [Call.BPFF, 155] finds these faults:

  1. Darius is called a "king" when he certainly could not have been, and his realm is called a kingdom.

    Of course, if Darius was Cyrus, then we have no problem here: He was indeed a king.

    But what if it were Gubaru? It still works: Not only did Gubaru have kingly power within his gubernatorial realm; there is also definitive evidence that officials of lower rank were referred to as "king." The term did not necessarily connote an absolute monarch. [Ford.Dan, 123]

    Further, Whitcomb [Whit.DMede, 23-4] notes that:

    • Inscriptions referring to Gubaru use his name as "a final warning to criminals" - not Cyrus the Persian king; not Cambyses his son, but Gubaru is portrayed as the final authority.
    • Whitcomb quotes a secular historical authority as saying that Gubaru "ruled almost as an independent monarch." He adds that within their own sub-realm, rulers the rank of Gubaru were permitted to rule as they pleased - provided they kept the peace and followed Medo-Persian law. [ibid., 39]
    • The Behustin Inscription by Darius Hystapes, a Persian king after the time of Daniel, refers to "kings" who had rebelled against Darius, who had been rulers over districts that ALREADY belonged to him. Here the term "king" is clearly used to refer to a subordinate ruler - just like Gubaru.

    So, there is absolutely no problem with Gubaru being called a "king," if indeed it was he and not Cyrus who was the Darius of Daniel. But let it be added that Darius is recorded as having been "made king" and having "received" the kingdom - perhaps indicating that he was beholden to a HIGHER power for his kingship.

    If Darius was Gubaru, then it may be said that he was not necessarily intended to be seen as a universal monarch, as he would have been seen had he been a confused memory of a later Darius. (Proponents of the Cyrus theory take this verse to mean either that the word "received" in meant in only a general sense, or perhaps that Cyrus "received" the kingdom from his provincial governor in Babylon who held the city for him until he arrived later on [Shea.DMedePB, 244].)

  2. His edict of prayer would not have suited the religious toleration offered by the Persians, and would have fomented rebellion.

    It should first be pointed out that there have been some unwarranted "overreadings" of this edict. Contra Towner [Town.Dan, 82, 86], there is no indication of this edict as "divinization by decree" - this was a case only of making petitions, not asking for divine prayer [Fewe.CSov, 148] - and there is also no indication that ALL 120 satraps were involved in the conspiracy against Daniel, which would indeed have resulted in Darius' punishment being an "overkill" (albeit one not necessarily out of line for an oriental despot).

    This general objection is also noted by Walton [Walt.DDMede, 282], who thinks that such a decree, as commonly interpreted, would be "unenforceable and politically suicidal."

    However, while the first is correct (as we shall note), the second is far from necessarily true; and there are several ways of seeing how this could be so:

    1. The proposal for the edict was presented to Darius/Gubaru?/Cyrus? BY the very officials he had appointed to take care of the people. These officials were supposed to know what the people would or would not want or tolerate - so that, when they presented Darius with the edict, it would have been with the indication that it would NOT be unpopular, and might indeed be helpful and desirable.

      Thus, Fewell: "The men lead the king to believe that this opinion poll is exhaustive and unanimous." [Fewe.CSov, 109] They may further have appealed to a need to overcome previous decentralization and protect against conspiracy against the new governing authority. [ibid., 109-110]

    2. Shea [Shea.DMedePB, 246-7], on the other hand, detects a different genesis for the edict, one that found its roots in the actions of Nabodinus prior to the capture of Babylon. In an attempt to protect the city of Babylon, Nabodinus had removed all of the gods from the surrounding country and had them moved into Babylon.

      This, along with his neglect of the god Marduk in preference for the moon god Sin (Nabodinus was known for pushing unpopular religious reforms, to the point that the Babylonian priesthood was all to ready to transfer their loyalty to Cyrus - DilHart.BDan, 35; Porte.Dan, 39), caused the citizens of the country no little consternation - Nabodinus had removed THEIR protection to save himself and his friends in Babylon.

      After the takeover by Cyrus, of course, the tolerant Persians would ensure that the gods would be returned to their places - but it is recorded that the process of moving the gods back to their places took at least 4 months. What about in the meantime for the protection of the citizenry?

      Shea suggests that the edict was couched in terms of Cyrus filling in the "religious limbo" that resulted from these gods being removed from their place. Being that Cyrus was hailed as a liberator when he entered Babylon - to the point that his name was even worshipped (!), it is not unreasonable to suggest that the edict, brought to him couched in terms that would set him in the role of protector while the gods were being moved back to their places, was something that he thought might be helpful or even necessary to preserve the peace.

      The general idea of the king as a mediator for the gods is not at all outrageous: The concept is found in Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Persian, and Hellenistic sources, and the Persian king was given obeisance as a god by his court functionaries - Gold.Dan, 128.

    3. Beyond these explanations, however, it is quite probable that the officials had no intention of enforcing the decree beyond the space of Daniel - they didn't really care what the rest of the populace did. Nor, for that matter, COULD they regulate anyone's private petitions to their own deity. It is quite probable that the edict had in mind PUBLIC petitions like Daniel's - with a wink and a nod towards whatever wanted to be done behind closed doors.

      A variant of this explanation is offered by Walton [Walt.DDMede, 285], who believes that the decree was intended to be enforced only within the immediate circle of the priesthood and civil service in order [so it was explained to Darius] to reign in rebellious magi. However, Walton makes a variety of unnecessary assumptions that make his explanation gratuitous.

    Finally, on this subject of Darius overall, let it be noted that:

    • One of the chief objectors to this Darius/Gubaru identification, H. H. Rowley, did so on the basis of confusion of Gubaru with two other personages, Ugbaru and Gaubarua. However, as we have noted, Whitcomb demonstrates that these were actually two separate people.
    • Confusion of Darius the Mede with some later Darius, or just plain inventing such a personage, would have been quite impossible. Ezra 4:5-6 has a listing of the Persian kings, and as Josephus' work indicates, there were many histories which would include information on the Persian Empire in circulation at the time of the Maccabees. We know some of these histories today: Herodotus, Xenophon, Berosus, and even the OT outside of Daniel (Is. 45:1, 2 Chron. 36.20-3) make it quite clear that Cyrus was the conqueror who took Babylon, and who freed the Jews and other peoples to return to their homes.

      In dealing with replies I have seen to these issues, I may note the following:

      Other matters cited, of Cyrus' decree and such, are of no relevance; one Skeptic making an offhand note that maybe Ezra was not done until the first century is merely contriving an argument based on non-evidence.

      The lack of mention of Cyrus' decree in Daniel is an argument from silence and no less a "problem" if Daniel is dated late. Likewise, it is clear from the OT that Evil-Merodach was Nebucadnezzar's immediate son and not Belshazzar (2 Kings 25:27).

      Let it be noted that such brazen inaccuracy would not have been conducive to the acceptance of Daniel's book by the Jews - much less would it have been accompanied by the rapid acceptance that Maccabeean-daters must postulate.

      A related objection is that Daniel makes Darius a son of Ahasuerus, who is thought by the very ignorant to be the Xerxes of a century later. "Xerxes" was a typical Medo-Persian name and there is nothing improbable about Darius having a father with that name -- aside from that, as noted, such confusion would be impossible.

      There is no parallel to modern Americans not knowing who was President during World War II -- the person who wrote Daniel (if in the 2nd century) would have had to have been in the most educated class (in that he was, unlike 90% of the population, literate) and could hardly be expected NOT to know this.

Not Daniel?

Although it is not required for proof, we often call upon the testimony of Ezekiel, who refers to Job, Noah, and Daniel, as an indication that Daniel was a real person who could have written his book. It is countered that this was not the OT Daniel that Ezekiel refers to, but rather a pagan wise man of mythology. [see Town.Dan, 5; Lacq.Dan, 3; DilHart.BDan, 7; Porte.Dan, 17] Burrows is cited by Katz:

Now, however, we have from Ras Shamrah (tablets which are giving us `an enormous mass of new knowledge regarding the religion and mythology of northern Syria in the age of the Hebrew patriarchs') a poem concerning a divine hero who name is exactly what we find in Ezekiel. He sits at the gate, judges the cause of the widow, and establishes the right of the orphan... In any case one can hardly doubt that the Dan'el referred to in Ezekiel is the same as the Dan'el of the text from Ras Shamrah.

Actually, one can very much doubt this. The idea that Ezekiel would appeal to a PAGAN hero who was closely associated to Baal and Annath [Will.JFK, 75; MillS.Dan, 41] and did not believe in the God of Israel, as a way of encouraging Israelites, is hardly a respectable supposition.

It is also objected that Daniel would hardly have been as famous as Noah or Job at the time Ezekiel was writing, but this too is not acceptab;e. Daniel would have been the highest-placed and most recognized of the Jews of the Exile; he would have been taken to Babylon around 605 BC, and Ezekiel started his ministry in 593 - plenty of time to get a good reputation.

Finally, the linguistic data is against the identification with the Ugaritic Dan. [MillS.Dan, 42]

Spelling the Name of the King

Callahan [Call.BPFF, 152] says that in the Hebrew portions of Daniel, Nebucadnezzar's name is ended -nezzar, as opposed to the correct -rezzar, which is the correct spelling that he feels would have been used by a member of Nebucadnezzar's court. [see also Porte.Dan, 26] However, he provides one suitable answer by admitting that the "misspelling" is also found in Jer. 27-9 - but he puts that down to later scribal glosses and interpolations. One wonders why Daniel is not given this benefit of the doubt.

Even so, Callahan is off the mark: Both spellings are found in the Hebrew throughout the OT - 31 times one way, 27 times the other [Bout.IABD, 265; Ford.Dan, 79]; and the "incorrect" spelling appears broadly, in 2 Kings, Jeremiah, Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther [MillS.Dan, 56]. This oddity is easily explained on philological grounds: It was common and acceptable in the ancient Hebrew language to change an 'r' to an 'n' when spelling [Mill.D16, 72-3].

An even more interesting (and amusing) explanation for this spelling "problem," however, has been proposed by van Selms [Gold.Dan, 4n]. The "correct" -rezzar spelling is a Hebrew adaptation from the original Akkadian version, nabu-kudurru-usur, which means, "Nabu protect(s) the eldest son" (Nabu being a Babylonian god). The -nezzar spelling used in the OT may be an adaptation from a malicious reference made by Jewish opposition groups, nabu-kudanu-usur - which translates, "Nabu protect(s) the mule"! The "misspelling" could very well have been an intentional polemical device.

Nebucadnezzar's Madness

Regarding Nebucadnezzar's madness in Daniel 4, Callahan [Call.BPFF, 152, 164] offers the most comprehensive objection, stating that the "grasping, fratricidal princes of Chaldea would have put Nebuchadnezzar to death if he had shown any sign of weakness" - citing as evidence the series of assassinations that followed Nebucadnezzar's death. In response we may note:

  1. Of course, one could then ask why these "grasping" princes did not make some efforts to take the throne while Nebucadnezzar was out on extended holiday beating up on foreign kingdoms. Even so, Callahan exaggerates badly: There were only two assassinations, and one of them was of the child-king Labashi-Marduk - a pretty tempting target for power-hungry adults, whether they are "grasping" or not.

    Also, killing Nebucadnezzar would have solved nothing for a grasping usurper: Evil-Merodach, Nebucadnezzar's son, offered a quite clear line of succession.

  2. The socio-historical context of the event in question offers more. The insane, unlike today, were thought to have been touched by the gods [Luck.Dan, 64], and kings themselves were already regarded as "the receptor par excellence for oracles." [Lacq.Dan, 37] Those Chaldean graspers would no more dare to harm Nebucadnezzar than they would dare to spit in the face of their god Merodach. A "mad king" might well have been seen as a blessing to be cherished and protected at all costs.

On the other hand, is there any positive evidence for such an affliction to Nebucadnezzar?

Commonly cited is a testimony from the historian Megasthenes [Will.JFK, 49], who reported that shortly before he disappeared, Nebucadnezzar was possessed of a spirit and uttered a prophecy against Babylon. While this is sometimes dismissed as legendary in character [Porte.Dan, 71], we may at least derive from it that there was some historical precedent for the idea that Nebucadnezzar had some psychological difficulties.

More directly, a cuneiform text provides some support for the historicity of this episode, as it "apparently refers to some mental disorder on Nebuchadnezzar's part, and perhaps to his neglecting and leaving Babylon." [Gold.Dan, 83] The balance of this evidence points towards historicity.

Josephus also affirms this madness by Nebucadnezzar; another Skeptic handles this by simply saying that both Daniel and Josephus are wrong, which is simply arbitrarily raising the bar of evidence.

Finally, can we fit this madness into the chronology of Nebucadnezzar's life? Some say yes [Bald.Dan, 108]; others say no [DilHart.BDan, 51, 178] - though we have yet to see the "nay" voters produce a chronology as a demonstration.

At any rate, it should be pointed out that the specific chronological term used, iddanin, is rather vague - it is commonly translated "years," but could mean "seasons" - and thus may reflect not a seven-year period, but a period of as little as two and a half or one and three-quarters years. [Bald.Dan, 112; Gold.Dan, 81n] This should be kept in mind if anyone does care to offer a proposed chronology.

Satraps

Callahan also objects that the setting up of 120 satraps by Darius is not in line with Persian practice: There were, he says, never more than 20 satrapies in the Persian empire. [see also Town.Dan, 71; Coll.CPDMede, 124; DilHart.BDan, 36; Porte.Dan, 88-9]

Aside from the fact that their are other historical sources which give slightly different numbers [MillS.Dan, 177], Callahan and the other critics fail to take into account that:

  1. The text says 120 SATRAPS - not SATRAPIES. This leads to our second point:

  2. The problem may be one of terminology, not history. Two arguments may be offered:

    • The language used offered no precise terminological equivalent for the position in question, which was basically that of an overseer over territory that could encompass as little as 30 people. Daniel simply used the nearest matching word he could find in the language he had available. [Whit.DMede, 32]
    • A better answer is that this term "satrap" was used rather nebulously in the ancient world - by Xenophon, for example. The term could refer to anyone assigned to a special task - not just someone who had territory assigned to them. [Ford.Dan, 134; MillS.Dan, 177] It may be added to this that the term used to describe Daniel's own position as one of three "heads" is itself ambiguous [Gold.Dan, 127].

Where Was Daniel?

Finally, some have asked where Daniel is in Chapter 3, which features only his three friends. It is commonly answered that Daniel was away on state business [Luck.Dan, 50], but Fewell [Fewe.CSov, 140] sees another possibility: The golden statue built by Nebucadnezzar is a direct result of his dream and Daniel's interpretation in Daniel 2. Knowing that his kingdom will eventually fall, Nebucadnezzar puts together a loyalty test - which he could hardly subject Daniel to, since HE was the one who offered the interpretation, and Nebucadnezzar correspondingly thinks of him as a sort of demigod.

Incidentally, Daniel's absence here is an argument for an early date. Why would a later writer have passed up a chance to put the main hero into this story?)

Magic and Wisdom

Daniel 2:20 reads, "And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm." Here are some objections on this:

The Watchers

The word "watchers" in Dan. 4:13, 23, which is used in 2nd century BC Jewish lit but nowhere else in the OT, is taken as suggestive (but not conlusive) evidence of a late date. It is indeed inconclusive, as it is a word of Chaldean origin. We would not expect it to be found in the rest of the OT. It is just as arguable that 1 Enoch is copying Daniel, an earlier work.

Linguistic Objections



[Linguistic Data] [Persian and Greek Words] [Aramaic and Hebrew Usage]

Our next set of arguments revolve around language evidence in the Book of Daniel. First to language arguments. Driver [Driv.IOT, 508] wrote:

The verdict of the language of Daniel is thus clear. The Persian words presuppose a period after the Persian empire had been well established: the Greek words demand, the Hebrew supports, and the Aramaic permits, a date after the conquest of Palestine by Alexander the Great (B.C. 332). The Aramaic is also of the type that was spoken near Palestine. With our present knowledge, this is as much as the language authorizes us definitely to affirm; through SUMPOYAHN, as the name of an instrument (considering the history of the term in Greek), would seem to point to a date somewhat advanced in the Greek period.

We are often solemnly told about the presence of "Greek and Persian words" in Daniel that require us to late-date it - but you would never know that:

  1. the Persian words are only 15 in number, and are largely government and administrative terms;
  2. the Greek words are only THREE in number - and all refer to musical instruments (Kitharos, Psanterin, and Sumphonyah).

This is done by both Katz [Kat.McD] and by Callahan [Call.BPFF, 151], who writes solemnly of "a number of Greek and Persian words" that are "salted" throughout the text - never once telling his readers what they are, or how many there are. Is this an honest way to present one's case? [see also Town.Dan, 46; Porte.Dan, 20, 58]

Persian and Greek

So now to specifics. Regarding the Persian words, Driver [Driv.BD, ivii] wrote:

Some of them describe offices or institutions, and are not found elsewhere in the O.T., or occur only in Ezra, Esther, and other late parts of the O.T., written after the establishment of the Persian rule: the mention of 'satraps' under Nebuchadnezzar (iii. 2,3,27) is alone a remarkable anachronism...That words such as these should be found in books written after the Persian Empire was organised, and when Persian influences prevailed, is not more than would be expected; Persian words (both some of those noted here, and also others) occur in Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, and Chronicles, and many were permanently naturalized in Aramaic (both Syriac and Aramaic of the Targums); but that they should be used as a matter of course by Daniel under the Babylonian supremacy, or in the description of Babylonian institutions before the conquest of Cyrus, is in the last degree improbable.

Regarding the Persian and the Greek words, Hamner [Hamn.Dan, 5] had this to say:

The Hebrew style resembles that of Chronicles, Esther, and Ecclesiastes (all late books), and there is a higher number of Persian and Greek loan-words than in other books of the Old Testament. For example, the word raz comes from Persian, and is used to express the idea of a 'secret' or 'mystery' (Dan. 2:18; 4:9), whilst the word sumphonyah is translated as 'music' in the N.E.B. (Dan. 3:5,10,15) is Greek in origin and appears to have been used of a musical instrument only from the second century B.C.

And regarding the Greek words specifically, Driver [Driv.BD, Lviii-Lix] wrote:

Anyone who has studied Greek history knows what condition the Greek world was in the sixth century B.C., and is aware that the arts and inventions of civilised life streamed then into Greece from the East, not from Greece eastwards...
These words, it may confidently affirmed, could not have been used in the Book of Daniel unless it had been written after the dissemination of Greek influences in Asia through the conquests of Alexander the Great.

The matter of the Persian and Greek words is answered rather easily. Archer [Arch.SOT, 395] points out regarding the Persian words:

...Conservative scholars do not maintain that the book of Daniel was composed, in the final form at least, until the establishment of the Persian authority over Babylonia. Since the text indicates that Daniel himself lived to serve, for several years at least, under Persian rule, there is no particular reason why he should not have employed in his language those Persian terms (largely referring to government and administration) which had found currency in the Aramaic spoken in Babylon by 530 B.C.

Also indicative here is that of these Persian words, six are NOT found later than 330 BC, and ALL of them are what are called "Old Persian" words - which accords better with an early date. [Bald.Dan, 33]

The Greek words have a more interesting history. Archer [Arch.SOT, 396] wrote:

The last of these three (symphonia) does not occur in extant Greek literature until the time of Plato (ca. 370 B.C.) at least in the sense of a musical instrument. From this it has been argued that the word itself must be as late as the fourth century in Greek usage. But since we possess less than one-tenth of the significant Greek literature of the classical period, we lack sufficient data for timing the precise origin of any particular word or usage in the development of the Greek vocabulary. It should carefully be observed that these three words are names of musical instruments and that such names have always circulated beyond national boundaries as the instruments themselves have become available to the foreign market. These three were undoubtedly of Greek origin and circulated with their Greek names in Near Eastern markets, just as foreign musical terms have made their way into our own language, like the Italian piano and viola. we know that as early as the reign of Sargon (722-705 B.C.) there were according to the Assyrian records, Greek captives who were sold into slavery from Cyprus, Ionia, Lydia, and Cilicia. The Greek poet Alcaeus of Lesbos (600 B.C.) mentions that his brother Antimenidas served in the Babylonian army. It is therefore evident that Greek mercenaries, Greek slaves, and Greek musical instruments were current in the Semitic Near East long before the time of Daniel. It is also significant to note that in the Neo-Babylonian ration tablets published by E. F. Weidner, Ionian carpenters and shipbuilders are mentioned among the recipients of rations from Nebuchadnezzar's commissary---along with musicians from Ashkelon and elsewhere. (cf. "Jojachin Konig von Juda" inelanges Syriens, vol. 2, 1939, pp. 923-35

The exchange of trade alluded to is supported by the work of Yamauchi [Yama.DCon, 38-45], who points out that:

  1. Several Semitic words have ended up as loanwords into Greek and are attested prior to the time of Alexander (for example, gold, tunic, sesame, cinnamon, camel - and quite significantly, several musical words: harp, lute, tambourine);
  2. Greek pottery is attested in the Babylonian region c. 530 BC;
  3. The throne room of Nebuchadnezzar shows some signs of Greek influence in design.

More recently, Baldwin [Bald.Dan, 33] wrote:

Greek wares were being traded all over the Ancient Near East from the eighth century onwards; Greeks were apparently employed in Babylon in the time of Nebuchadrezzar, and there is nothing surprising about there being instruments of Greek origin and bearing Greek names in the Babylon of the sixth century B.C. What is significant is that there are so few Greek loan words in the Aramaic of Daniel.

The latter point is stressed by Whitcomb [Whit.BD, 56]:

Perhaps the most important point to consider in this controversy is that the book of Daniel would have been saturated with Greek terms if it were written as late as 167 B.C. in Palestine, where Greek-speaking (Hellenistic) governments had controlled the entire region for more than 160 years. Instead of this, we find just two or three technical terms referring to obviously foreign cultural objects.

Finally, there are these points:

The "Greek words" and "Persian words" arguments are therefore overstated. Cognizant critics [DilHart.BDan, 159] are no longer relying on them.

Aramaic and Hebrew

A third and fourth argument focuses not on any unusual language in Daniel, but upon its primary languages, Aramaic and Hebrew. It is said that, being that the Aramaic was written in the Western Dialect (indeed, the mere fact of Aramaic in the text) indicates a late date.

The mere fact of Aramaic being the language of the text means little; Aramaic was the lingua franca of a territory ranging from India to Egypt, and from Arabia to Assyria and Persia. It is the language we would expect an exile to use in the court of a foreign king [Lacq.Dan, 14].

Another feature of the book is that ch. 2.4-ch.7 is in a late(not earlier than third century B.C., perhaps second century) dialect of Aramaic, while the rest of the book is in late Hebrew.

And Driver [Driv.BD, Lix] asserted:

The Aramaic of Daniel (which is all but identical with that of Ezra) is a Western Aramaic dialect, of the type spoken in and about Palestine.

Finally, it is said that the Hebrew is more like 2nd century B.C. Hebrew than 6th century B.C. Hebrew. Again, Driver [ibid.]:

The Hebrew of Daniel is also that of a much later age than the sixth century B.C. The type of Hebrew which it mostly resembles is not that of Ezekiel, or of Isaiah xL.-Lxvi., or even of Haggai and Zechariah, but that of Esther, Ecclesiastes (to a certain extent), and especially the Chronicles (c. B.C. 300)." S.R. Driver bases this on new words in the Hebrew and the lack of fluency in style and syntax (much like Ezra-Nehemiah).

Regarding the Aramaic, however, Archer [Arch.SOT, 397] asserts:

It was formally asserted that the Aramaic of Daniel is of the Western dialect and hence could not have been composed in Babylon, as would have been the case if the sixth-century Daniel was its real author. Recent discoveries of fifth-century Aramaic documents, however, have shown quite conclusively that Daniel was, like Ezra, written in a form of Imperial Aramaic, an official or literary dialect which had currency in all parts of the Near East. Thus the relationship to the Aramaic of the Elephantine Papyri from southern Egypt is a very close one, inasmuch as they too were written in the Imperial Aramaic.

Archer goes on to explain that eastern Aramaic there was the uniform tendency to put the verb late in the clause, exactly what Daniel does. It is more free in word or and structure than the western Aramaic. In his commentary on Daniel he writes that the Maccabeean date hypotheses was given long before the discover of the Genesis Apocryphon from Qumran Cave 1. Before this publication there was no Aramaic document known from the third or second century B.C. So, theoretically it was easy to date Daniel in the second century B.C. Further [Arch.DEx, 23]:

As for the characteristic word order, the Apocryphon tends to follow the normal sequence of Northwest Semitic --- verb first, followed by subject, then object---in the characteristic structure of the clause. Beyond question this was the normal practice of Western Aramaic used in Palestine during the Maccabeean period. But the Aramaic of Daniel shows a marked tendency for the verb to be referred till a later position in the clause, often even after the noun object---somewhat like the word order of Akkadian (Babylonian and Assyrian) as used in Babylonian from the time of Sargon, twenty-fourth cent. B.C.) onward. On the basis of the word order alone, it is safe to conclude that Daniel could not have been composed in Palestine (as the Maccabeean hypothesis

It has been conceded by many scholars that the Aramaic of Daniel is much closer to the Elephantine Papyri (which date 5th and 4th centuries B.C.) and is similar to the Aramaic of Nabatean and Palmyrene Inscriptions. Meadowcroft, for example, particularly acknowledges the force of Archer's argument.

A sign of its force is also found in the fact that one of the latest trends is to admit that the Aramaic is early, but that it could have been around in that archaic form as late as the Maccabeean hypothesis requires. [Meadw.ADGD, 278n; or another Skeptic, who resorts to suggestings a "knowledgeable forger")

Conclusion: Daniel was written in Imperial Aramaic, NOT a later Western Aramaic. Even Driver eventually withdrew his conclusions on this point and admitted that the Aramaic belonged to an earlier period.

The matter of the Hebrew is a little more ambiguous. Archer says that a comparison can be done between second century Hebrew Prose of 1QS and 1QM (the two foremost documents of the Essenes of Qumran) with Daniel. The conclusion is that there are a very large number of examples of later Hebrew morphology, syntax, and vocabulary in 1QS and 1QM as contrasted with Daniel. (He shows this in an article "The Hebrew of Daniel" in The Law and the Prophets, edited by Skilton).

At any rate, it is very hard for anyone to show that Hebrew is earlier or later. Thousands of years can go by in Hebrew and nothing really changes, so it is difficult for one side to say the Hebrew dates at such and such century.

Some say, however, that this argument is irrelevant anyway, since there is evidence that the whole book was originally in Aramaic, and that the Hebrew is a later translation [Gold.Dan, xxv]. Why was this done? This may find an answer in our final question: Why does the book use two languages in the first place? Whitcomb [Whit.BD, 38] suggests:

The question as to why not only the recorded words of the Chaldeans (ch. 2:4) but also the rest of the book of Daniel through Chapter 7 is also in Aramaic has not been fully resolved. The best suggestion seems to be that these chapters deal more with the Gentile world in relation to Israel and therefore would have a wider interest than Daniel 1 and 8-12, which deal more strictly with Jewish affairs. This theory does not explain everything but seems to have the fewest difficulties.

Archer [Arch.SOT, 399] concurs:

Those portions of Daniel's prophecy which deal generally with Gentile affairs (the four kingdoms of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, the humiliation of the king of in the episode of the fiery furnace and by his seven years of insanity, and also the experiences of Belshazzar and Darius the Mede) were put into a linguistic medium which all the public could appreciate whether Jew or Gentile. But those portions which were of particularly Jewish interest (chap. 1,8-12) were put into Hebrew in order that they might be understood by the Jews alone. This was peculiarly appropriate because of the command in chapter 12 to keep these later predictions more or less secret and seal them up until the time of fulfillment (12:9).

That parts of Daniel were translated from Aramaic into Hebrew is supported by the linguistic evidence [Lacq.Dan, 13] - perhaps in order to keep the predictions under wraps, as Archer suggests. It should be noted that the fragments of Daniel found as Qumran have the portion that shows the transition from Hebrew to Aramaic in 2:4. Fragment IQDn-a. It should also be noted that one particular fragment was dated from Qumran a half century earlier than the purported date of the Maccabeean hypothesis. It has been modified to 100 to 50 B.C. [see Verm.JosDan, 149]

An objection is offered by Callahan [Call.BPFF, 151], who observes that Ch. 8 (in his own opinion) is not of Jewish interest and thus would not meet the criteria set above.

However, he is just plain wrong here: As Lacocque observes, in Chapter 8, "for the first time really, Israel moves into the foreground and therefore the use of the Hebrew is legitimate." [Lacq.Dan, 13] A simple analysis shows that over half of Ch. 8 deals directly with events related to Israel; one-quarter deals with Greece, one-eighth deals with Persia, and the rest is general transitional and narrative material.

Moreover, Ch. 8 consists of very specific prophecies of the sort that Archer alludes to, that would need to be "sealed up" in case they fell into the wrong hands. Callahan simply fails to read clearly what is right in front of him.

Finally, it may be added that Daniel uses a number of Assyro-Bablyonian words (about 20 of them). We would not expect to find these in a document written at the time of the Maccabees. [Bout., IABD, 265]

It is not enough to say maybe Daniel's author "faked" early Aramaic. This is merely revising the theory to fit the facts.

Pre-Maccabean Indicators



[The Personality of Nebuchadnezzar] [The Golden Image] [The Genre of Daniel 4] [Babylon's History] [Medo-Persian Law] [Punishment Forms/Josephus] [Writing on the Wall/List Genre] [Bureacracy/"Lord of Heaven"/Daniel's Friends/General Setting]

We now turn to some positive indications that the Book of Daniel was written early. Some critics, in an attempt to "save the theory" of a late date, admit these indicators but then attempt to divide Daniel into pieces and suggest those pieces of it with accurate historical material (generally Chs. 1-6) can be dated earlier than 167 BC. Many of the points they make end up arguing for the authenticity of Daniel.

We will not deal with the issue of the unity of the book; that the book was a unity was generally accepted before, and now that the critics want to change their minds, charges of division seem more of convenience/ However, we will look at a few of indications that the author of Daniel lived in the sixth century BC - for there are many things that it is unlikely a later author would have known.

1A) Nebuchadnezzar's Threat (Dan. 2:5) Driver [Driv.BD, 20] says, "The violence and peremptoriness of the threatened punishment is in accordance with what might be expected at the hand of an Eastern despot; the Assyrians and Persians, especially, were notorious for the barbarity of their punishments." If the wise man were able to respond to their request, they were promised "gifts and rewards and great honor." The monarch would lavish them with expensive gifts and great honor.

1B) Nebuchadnezzar's Building Activities. It is commonly agreed that Daniel correctly represents correctly Nebucadnezzar's building prowess - and his corresponding braggadocio. The East India House inscriptions in London has six columns of Babylonian writing bragging about building operations which Nebucadnezzar carried on in enlarging the beautifying Babylon. [see Bout.IABD, 65-77, 92-104; Lacq.Dan, 86]

1C) Nebuchadnezzar's "tree dream" and humble origin. Nebucadnezzar was known to have been fascinated by the tall cedars of Lebanon; the dream recorded would have been appropriate to him in that respect (although it also bears resemblance to conceptions of a "world tree" in currency - Porte.Dan, 67). His reference to himself as the "lowest of men" accords with what we know of his humble background; inscriptions by his father Nabopolassar refer to himself as the "son of a nobody." [Bout.IABD, 89-90]

The above are personal quirks of Nebucadnezzar that we would hardly expect any later writer to be so familiar with.

2) The Golden Image. (Dan 3) Montgomery [Mont.Dan, 193-5] writes: "The Persians did not worship wood and stone with the Greeks, nor the ibis and ichneumon with the Egyptians. But after some ages they introduced human images."

He also writes, "The Archaeological background of a colossal golden image is found in the classical authorities. Herodotus reports for the Babylon of his day (i. 183), 'a great golden statue of Zeus' in a temple.

Note that this does not indicate solid gold, but gold overlay. There is thus no basis for objections of impoverishing the temple with the gold statue of Daniel, no more so then for Herodotus' Zeus statue; if Daniel had wished to indicate a solid gold statue, he would have used kol, as in Zech. 4:2; note that the "bronze altar" is not solid bronze, but overlaid with bronze -- Ex. 27:2.

The statue incident itself may be connected with a revolt suffered by Nebucadnezzar between December 595 and January 594, put together as a means of testing the loyalty of his subjects, although this date would not correspond with the dates in Daniel. [Dyer.Dan3, 426n, 427; MillS.Dan, 112n] However, Shea [Shea.D3] connects the revolt with a Babylonian inscription a list of Nebucadnezzar's officials and vassals who were all installed at once -- Shea deduces, because they are names of close officials and vassal kings, that this fits hand in glove with the Daniel 3 account of an oath of loyalty being taken to Nebucadnezzar and his image by so many officials at once.

The incident is therefore found in the Babylonian archives, though it is not recorded with the same perspective, that of a Jew most offended by an image, which would be nothing special to a pagan archivist.

3) The Literary Genre of Chapter 4. It is Epistle of a King to his People. The placing of the sender's name before that of the recipient is standard practice in neo- and late Babylonian letters, but also in Persian administrative correspondense. Other stylistic indications fit an earlier period: 1:2, 3:31, and 5:8. [Lacq.Dan, 70]

4) The capture of Babylon without resistance. Herodotus (Hist. 1.191), Xenophon (Cyr. 7.5), and Cyrus' own account support Daniel in this, including the fact that the city was engaged in a riotous festival at the time of the capture. The Nabodinus Chronicle [Fewe.CSov, 145], as we have noted, records that Nabodinus brought all of the gods from the other cities into Babylon to reinforce the city's defenses - hence, the appropriateness of Belshazzar and company sitting around and praising the various gods.

Hartman and DiLella [DilHart.BDan, 191], as well as Porteous [Porte.Dan, 76], apparently with no other means to preserve their arguments, dismiss the record of the festival in Daniel, Herodotus, and Xenophon as a legendary fabrication. It is their opinion that the records of the Nabodinus Chronicle and Cyrus Cylinder, which merely says that the city was taken without battle, contradicts these accounts. One is constrained to ask how this is so; there is no battle implied in capturing drunken people.

5) The inviolability of the laws of the Medes and the Persians. This restriction on Darius the Mede is confirmed by data from Diodorus Siculus, who recounts a story of Darius III (335-31) - a Persian king who sentenced a man to death, but later (and before the execution) discovered that he was innocent. Nevertheless, the execution proceeded, because he could not undo what had been done by royal authority - even his OWN royal authority.

It is worth noting that Darius III's reaction was much like that of Darius the Mede's - distress and hand-wringing [contra Town.Dan, 82, who does not consider this evidence worthwhile, though for no given reason; and in agreement with Lacocque, who begrudgingly admits that such a restriction is "not impossible" in light of the story of Diodorus - Lacq.Dan, 113.

It also finds support in the Book of Esther, 1:19 and 8:8.

A contrary example cited by Collins from the report of Herodotus that a royal judge said of a case involving Cambyses marrying his sister, "the king of the Persians might do whatever he wishes," but it is far from clear that Cambyses is wanting to violate a law as opposed to a social taboo.

6) The modes of punishment. The Persians would not have used the Babylonian furnace, because it would have been an offense to the Persian fire-god Atar. [Whit.DMede, 61; Gold.Dan, 70] Darius the Mede's rush to check on Daniel reflects well a Babylonian practice (which he might sensibly carry on for the sake of unity) that torture victims who survived to the next day would receive a full pardon. The Persians were known to capture lions and keep them in cages, and did indeed punish the wives and children of male offenders along with the offenders. [Lacq.Dan., 118]

But howe did Nebucahnezzar go to the mouth of the furnace without being burned himself? The construction of ancient furnaces tells us the answer. A typical furnace had two openings: one at the top to throw the people in (and where heat and flames would shoot out), the other at the side and bottom where they threw in the wood. The top was dangerous like this, but the side door wasn't so bad, since heat rises. Nebucadnezzar could quite easily get to the door without a lot of trouble.

Note as well that Nebucadnezzar never "declared Yahweh to be the national god of the Babylonian empire" as some have argued. What Nebucadnezzar decreed does make sense if he is trying to appease the God of Israel, and feared divine retaliation, but it hardly accounts as a sincere conversion.

7) The testimony of Josephus. The Jewish historian records that Alexander the Great was shown a copy of Daniel when he passed through the Jewish realm. [see Meadw.ADGD, 189; Luck.Dan, 10] He was mightily impressed by the prophecy which referred to him, and treated the Jews kindly - as evidenced both by Josephus and otherwise known histories of the period. Josephus also affirms the content of the book of Daniel as historical and authentic[Verm.JosDan].

Of course, many critics will do as Porteous [Porte.Dan, 47] does and mere dismiss Josephus' account as biased or inaccurate, thereby once again giving the theory precednece over the facts.

8) The appropriateness of the medium of "writing on the wall." This is in perfect accord with the Babylonian belief that "the decrees of the gods were written on the tablets of fate up in heaven." [Bout.IABD, 138] This was an ideal way to get a Babylonian monarch's attention - but how would a later writer know this?

9) The origin of the "list" genre. The extensive use of lists in Chapter 3 reflects a genre used by the Babylonians. Relevant to Daniel, we find in Babylonian texts listings of government officials and musical instruments used in a literary fashion.[Coxo.LGN, 95-6]

10) Portrayal of Persian bureaucracy. Aside from the "120 satraps" problem, it is admitted that Daniel admirably reflects the political workings of the Persian bureaucracy. [DilHart.BDan, 198]

11) The use of the phrase, "Lord of heaven." This phrase used in reference to God (Dan. 2:18) would not have been considered appropriate during the Maccabeean era because of its associations with Zeus. [Gold.Dan, 47] There would have been no quicker way for Daniel to be discarded than to use this title in the middle of the Maccabeean revolt.

12) Daniel's friends found. Miller [MillS.Dan, 108] reports that the names of Daniel's three friends seem to have been discovered in a contemporary listing of 50 Babylonian officials. The clearest reference is to Hananiah (Babylonian name: Shadrach), who is listed as Hananu, "chief of the royal merchants."

Nearly equally clear is a reference to Abednego (Hebrew name: Azariah), who is listed as Ardi-Nabu, "secretary of the crown prince." The most tentative identification is with Mescach (Hebrew name: Mishel), who may be identified as Mushallim-Marduk, "overseer of the slave girls."

A full report is found in Shea [Shea.D3, 46ff]. "Hananu" is the same as "Hananiah" other than that it does not contain the Yahwistic element, as we would expect Babylonian scribes to do. Shea adds that "Hanani" is a by-form of "Hananiah" in other Biblical and extra-biblical texts. "Abednego" to Ardi-Nabu is a corruption in the opposite direction of "Abed-Nebo/Abed-Nabu," servant of Nabu; it is a Babylonian name with the divine element corrupted, as we would expect from a Jewish writer.

"Abed" in Hebrew and Aramaic means "servant" and corrsponds to the Babylonoian "ardu."

Finally, we expect the removal also of "Marduk" from Meschach's name; "Meschach" is derived from "Mushallim" by regarding the "-ach" as a shortening of Marduk, and realizing that "musallim" is a participial form of Mishel.

13) The General Setting and Atmosphere. The tales did not correspond with a late date ot the reign of Antiochus. There is no hostility towards a foreign culture or a persecuting king. The learning of foreign languages, and joining the kings court, were unlikely to have been written in Palestine at the time of Antiochus.

Pfeiffer admits in summary: "We shall presumably never know how our author learned that the new Babylon was the creation of Nebuchadnezzar (4:30), as the excavations have proved (see R. Koldewey, Excavations at Babylon 1915), and that Belshazzar mentioned only in Babylonian records, in Daniel, and in Bar. 1:11, which is based on Daniel, was functioning as king when Cyrus took Babylon in 538 (ch. 5)."


That admission speaks for itself.

The Four Kingdoms

As part of the late-date hypothesis, it is almost required that critics argue that the four kingdoms in Daniel represent a certain order. According to the Maccabeean theory, the four kingdoms are:

The key here is that the Medes and Persians are considered separate kingdoms. Historically, they were not separate. They were, in fact, unified. The Maccabeean theory holds that the writer of Daniel erred here and that he thought there were separate kingdoms. Most proponents of this view, like Callahan [Call.BPFF, 167] get their impetus from the Darius the Mede problem: It is said that Darius is represented as a king of an intermediate and independent Median empire. This view is also supported by certain OT scholars [Town.Dan, 36; Lacq.Dan, 51].

However, is this what the writer of Daniel had in mind? Did the writer of Daniel think the Medes and Persians were separate empires? There's good reason to say no:

  1. One must assume that the writer of Maccabeean writer of Daniel committed a historical error - one that would have been pretty obvious to his contemporaries.
  2. In Daniel 5:28 the writer (regarding the "Writing on the Wall") records that "your kingdom has been divided and given over to the Medes and Persians." This directly indicates a dual monarchy. And Whitcomb [Whit.BD, 78] adds: "Even more important, the emphasis is clearly upon Persians rather than Medes, for the word PERES that appeared on the wall was identical to the word PARAS (the vowels did not appear), thus providing the double meaning of 'Persians' and 'divided.' "

    It should be noted that the word for "divided" here does not imply that half goes to Media, half to Persia; the word means "split up" and corresponds to the parsing out of the old Babylonian kingdom under Persian rule.

    An interpretation adds to this argument. The indication of the entire wall message is similar to our saying, "a half dollar, a penny, and two bits." In light of the polemic against Belshazzar noted above, the references could be the same as saying, "Nebucadnezzar was worth a half dollar; you're just a penny, and an empire worth much more than you and having two components is up next". [Town.Dan, 75]

    One objection claims that there is a problem inasmuch as the inscription was written in Aramaic, the language that was spoken by Babylonians at this time, so that Belshazzar certainly wouldn't need anyone's help to read the inscriptions, and it is certainly beyond belief that the best educated class of people in Babylon could not read a four-word inscription in their native language.

    But there's more to it than that. First, it was like putting on a wall now, STOP POTS HIT BLATHERSKEIT. You can "read" it, but what's it mean?

    There's another consideration as well: Remember that we are still in an age before vowels in Aramaic and Hebrew! The inscription would read, without spaces and reading right to left, somewhat like this for our nonsense phrase above: TKSRHTLBTHSTPPTS. Can you read that? No, and likely neither could anyone else.

    Without vowels the ancients depended in part on contextual clues in order to read. Since MENE MENE TEKEL UPARSIN would have been a nonsense sentence even by itself, there were no contextual clues to follow and one could only guess at the vowels to try and make sense of the inscription.

  3. In Daniel 6:8 the writer says "in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed." This would not make any sense by saying the king would be bound by the laws of the Persians as well unless they were a composite empire. Remember, the Maccabeean theory asserts that the writer of Daniel says the Medes were conquered by the Persians. However, this would be quite strange for a Median King to say he was bound by the laws of not just the Medes, but the laws of the Persians. The conclusion is the writer of Daniel thought they were a united kingdom.
  4. Finally, note that references to the Medes and the Persians as joint rulers come BEFORE and AFTER reference to Darius the Mede. This being so, it is clear that Daniel has no illusions about an independent Median conquest, and the Maccabeean theory regarding the four kingdoms cannot be reconciled with the internal evidence of the book.

    This is contra Lacocque [Lacq.Dan, 51n], who dismisses all of this and insists that the "Darius the Mede" references are stronger than the multitude of references indicating a shared kingdom. But the references to Darius as "the Mede" are no indication of a Median kingdom. Medes were often placed in high offices in the Medo-Persian empire, and the reference to Darius as merely "the Mede" is within known practice: "Foreigners spoke regularly of the Medes and Persians; when they used the single term, it was 'the Mede.' " [Whit.DMede, 29] Well has Whitcomb remarked that, "The only place where such a (Median) kingdom has ever existed is in the mind of the critic." [ibid., 56]

    The following is a more accurate scheme representing the four kingdoms of Chapter 2, one that is supported not only the context of Daniel, but also certain historical clues:

    • Kingdom #1=Babylonian Kingdom (gold head) - All parties agree on this identification; they could hardly do otherwise, since Daniel is quite explicit about it. Note that the Babylonian kingdom was closely associated with gold. Herodotus reported an abundance of gold in Babylon, including a great golden statue of Zeus. [Bout.IABD, 25-6; Town.Dan, 49]
    • Kingdom #2=Medo-Persian Kingdom (silver chest and arms) - Here is where the disagreements begin, as we have noted. Again, Herodotus tells us some interesting information. We know that the Medo-Persian empire collected tribute in silver as a rule; even the one vassal state that paid gold (India) had its tribute reckoned in terms of the value of silver. [ibid., 27]
    • Kingdom #3=Greece (brass thighs) - This is where the "metal corollaries" become interesting: The Persian kingdom, which late-daters must insist was what was intended here, had no connection whatsoever with bronze.

      The Greeks, however, were widely connected with that metal in the ancient world: They wore bronze armor, used bronze weapons, were known for the export of bronze (cf. Ezekiel's condemnation of Tyre, where "Javan" [Ionia, or Greece] is noted as an exporter of such) - their use of bronze was so well-known that the Greeks were referred to in a pagan prophetic oracle as "brazen men." (The Persians wore soft hats, tunics, and trousers in battle.) [ibid., 29; Ford.Dan, 98]

    • Kingdom #4=Rome (iron and clay) - The Romans were the ones who slowly changed over from brazen weapons and armor to those made of iron. The iron sword and breastplate was standard for the Roman soldier. [ibid., 31]

    So the "metal corollaries" completely dispel the idea that Greece could be the fourth kingdom. In addition, consider the symbolism in Chapter 7 dealing with the four empires.

    • #1 Lion = Babylon (All scholars agree with this)
    • #2 The Bear devouring three ribs = The three major conquests of Medo-Persian empire: Lydia, Babylon, and Egypt. Note that the bear is favored on one side.
    • #3 Leopard with four wings and four heads = Alexander's kingdom divided into four parts: Macedon, Asia Minor, the Seleucid empire, and Egypt. The symbolism does not support the Persian Empire. It did not divide into four parts.

      Hartman and DiLella [DilHart.BDan, 213; see also Porte.Dan, 105] suggest that it represents that only four Persian kings listed in Ezra and Nehemiah. A 2nd-century Jew, however, would know that there had been more than four Persian kings.

    • #4 The ten horned Beast = This equals Rome or a series of empires based on Rome (this would depend on various eschatological viewpoints, which we will not got into here). There were certainly not 10 Greek empires or kings.

    Consider also the symbolism in chapter 8 dealing specifically with the middle two empires.

    • Kingdom #2 = Two horned Ram (one horn is higher than the other). Persia overshadowed Media in Cyrus' empire. (Oddly, Towner [Town.Dan, 119] recognizes this, bit still thinks that Daniel perceived an independent Median empire.) A golden rams' head diadem was held by the Persian king at the head of his troops, according to Ammianus Marcellinus [Lacq.Dan, 160], but this usage dates from the 4th century AD and may represent nothing conclusive [Luc.SDAI, 89]. The peculiar unevenness of the horns corresponds with the uneven stance of the bear in the previous vision.

      In this context, it does not matter if the word "kings" refers back to the ram or to the horns -- there is no reason to emphasize the horns unless the dual nature of the kingdom is what is being stressed. It is also misguided to demand that Daniel should have referred to a "Medo-Persian" empire -- such linguistic constructions are a peculiarity of the modern English language and would not have been found in ancient works (nor would hybrid phrases like "Greco-Roman").

      Nor is it necessary for Daniel does not state, as he does with the goat, that the ram represents a single entity. The argument made by some that the goat represents five kingdoms falls on the fact that the four horns sprout only after the original horn is broken. It is the burden of critics in this context to produce likelier interpretations, not merely object that the imagery is "not clear."

    • Kingdom #3 = the He goat, who starts with one horn (Alexander the Great), but sprouts to four (the four parts), and then a little horn arises (Antiochus). The goat was an appropriate symbol for Greece; Macedonian coins used goat symbols from 500-146 BC, and Alexander himself claimed descent from Jupiter Ammon, whose symbol was the goat [Ford.Dan, 185]. The speed of the goat in conquest corresponds with the leopard (an animal with speed) in the previous interpretation.

    (Note: The little horn of chapter 8 cannot be the same as chapter 7. The little horn of chapter seven arises out of the ten horned kingdom. While the little horn of chapter 8 comes out of the four parted kingdom [Antiochus]. We will not discuss this in detail here.)

    We may also note that there was historical precedent for Daniel's imagery. A four-kingdom metaphor, and a four-metal sequence, was in currency in both Persian and Greek sources, as early as the 8th century BC [Town.Dan, 36; Lacq.Dan, 48; Gold.Dan, 40], and from the 8th century onward, "the idea of four ages characterized by metals was current in the Eastern Mediterranean world." [Luc.O4E, 201] People of Nebucadnezzar's time would have been familiar with the motif and its general meaning, so it is fruitless for us to say that the imagery was vague or obscure. (Daniel's USAGE of the 4-metal motif as a symbol of four kingdoms was itself unique, however [ibid., 194-5; Bald.Dan, 97; Gold.Dan, 40].)

    Attempts to make Greece into the iron kingdom argue that Alexander the Great absorbed into his empire all of the territories in the Neo-Babylonian, Median, and Achaemenid (Persian) Empires, but the Roman Empire, it is said, came nowhere close to doing so, and covered much less territory, while Alexander's empire fractured quickly.

    These attempts, however, are fairly thin - almost as thin as Lacocque's attempt [Lacq.Dan, 52] to see in it allusions to Alexander's attempts at racial fusion or Jewish mixed marriages. The analysis fails because:

    • The ten toes of the statue are equitable with the ten horns in another vision later in Daniel - where clearly, Greece cannot be in mind, having already been alluded to.
    • Geographic size of empire is not at issue; this may not be arbitrarily designated this as the criteria which makes the point. Likewise, one may not simply declare that the speed of the disintegration of Alexander's empire is reflected in the iron and clay, but there is no indication that the iron and clay parts of the statue disintegrated any faster than the rest of the statue - the whole statue got rolled down at once. Speed here is merely an artifact of the metaphor.

      So what is the issue, if not geographic size? Ford has the best answer [Ford.Dan, 97]: Let us keep in mind that the recipient of the dream, Nebucadnezzar, is the person through whose eyes we should see the dream - and his Oriental, kingly mindset would see the upcoming kingdoms as inferior in terms of only one thing: Their degree of inner unity.

      As ruler of Babylon, Nebucadnezzar was an absolute despot - a situation he would call "golden." The Medo-Persian empire, with yes, a king, but also moderately independent satraps and sub-kings, would be inferior in his eyes - "silver."

      The Greeks had even more freedom, with their many kings and independent city-states; Nebucadnezzar would be even more disgusted, rating that system a "bronze." Finally, there was Rome with its republic - in Nebucadnezzar's eyes, the ultimate disgrace.

      Decision by means of election and popular votes? The concept of CITIZENSHIP? The basest metal of all - iron. And thus do the four metals perfectly represent each empire - as well as their quality in the eyes of the recipient of the vision.

Conclusion

The whole problem of the dating of Daniel really has nothing to do with evidence. The reason the Maccabeean theory was proposed was because of a prior philosophical belief that fulfilled prophecy can not happen. We are 100% certain no one would doubt the authenticity of Daniel if the prophetic aspects of Daniel were ignored - and if this were any OTHER book, without the prophecy, critics would date it early without any hesitation. It is noted, for example, that other books found at Qumran have been dated earlier thanks to those finds - but not Daniel - MillS.Dan, 38.

That this is no more than a begged question and special pleading is exemplified by Maurice Casey's response [Son of Man, 11] that "There is nothing wrong with the suggestion that it was successful quickly" [!]. If a "fundamentalist" suggested this for the Gospels they would be dismissed at once.

There is also no parallel to Jeremiah and Isaiah being accepted in their own lifetimes: the Qumran people would not know a man named Daniel from the 600s BC as Jeremiah and Isaiah's contemporaries knew them. There is also no parallel with the Book of Mormon and other works -- the BoM was accepted as a "rebellion" to an established canon.

We can't ignore the prophecies, though: They are unified with the text as a whole and the text was written prior to the second century B.C. - by evidence, in the sixth. How was the writer of Daniel able to write down the future of some of the strongest empires the western world has known before they happened in such a precise manner? We leave this to the reader to decide.

-JPH

Sources

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  17. Kat.McD - Katz, Bernard. "McDowell in the Critics' Den." The American Rationalist, July/August 1982.
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  19. Lacq.Dan - Lacocque, Andre. The Book of Daniel. Atlanta: John Knox, 1979.
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  21. Luc.SDAI - Lucas, Ernst. "The Source of Daniel's Animal Imagery." Tyndale Bulletin 41, November 1990, pp. 161-85.
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  23. Meadw.ADGD - Meadowcroft, T. J. Aramaic Daniel and Greek Daniel: A Literary Comparison. Sheffield: JSOT, 1995.
  24. Mill.D16 - Millard, A. R. "Daniel 1-6 and History." Evangelical Quarterly 49, 1977, pp. 67-73.
  25. Mill.DBel - Millard, A. R. "Daniel and Belshazzar in History." Biblical Archaeological Review, May-June 1985, pp. 73-8.
  26. MillS.Dan - Miller, Stephen R. Daniel. Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 1994.
  27. Mont.Dan - Montgomery, James. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Daniel, The International Critical Commentary. New York: Charles Scribers Sons, 1972.
  28. Porte.Dan - Porteous, Norman . Daniel: A Commentary. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1965.
  29. Shea.DMedePB - Shea, William H. "Darius the Mede in his Persian-Babylonian Setting." Andrews University Seminary Studies 29, Autumn 1991, pp. 235-57.
  30. Shea.D3 - Shea, William H. "Daniel 3: Extra-Biblical Texts and th Convocation on the Plain of Dura." Andrews University Seminary Studies 20, Spring 1982, pp. 29-52.
  31. Town.Dan - Towner, W. Sibley. Daniel. Atlanta: John Knox, 1984.
  32. Verm.JosDan - Vermes, Geza. "Josephus' Treatment of the Book of Daniel." Journal of Jewish Studies, Autumn 1991, pp. 149-60.
  33. Walt.DDMede - Walton, John H. "The Decree of Darius the Mede in Daniel 6." Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 31, September 1988, pp. 279-86.
  34. Whit.BD - Whitcomb, John C. Daniel. Chicago: Moody Press, 1985.
  35. Whit.DMede - Whitcomb, John C. Darius the Mede: The Historical Chronology of Daniel. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1959.
  36. Will.JFK - Wills, Lawrence M. The Jew in the Court of the Foreign King. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990.
  37. Yama.DCon - Yamauchi, Edwin. "Daniel and Contacts between the Aegean and the Near East Before Alexander." Evangelical Quarterly, 1981, pp. 37-47.
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