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2.4.1.5 - Historical Details in Daniel

Additional evidence that the book of Daniel was written in the Medo-Persian era is found when the author relates facts of his time unknown to historians until recently.

Waltke summarizes:

The author possessed a more accurate knowledge of Neo-Babylonia and early Achaemenid Persian history than any other known historian since the sixth century B.C. Even Pfeiffer, who was one of the more radical critics of Daniel, was compelled to concede that it will presumably never be known how the author learned that the new Babylon was the creation of Nebuchadnezzar, as the excavations have proved, and that Belshazzar, mentioned only in Babylonian records, in Daniel, and in Baruch (1:1), which is based on Daniel, was functioning as king when Cyrus took Babylon in 539 B.C.11


Notes

1 “Herodotus composed his History of the Persian Wars at Athens ca. 445 B.C.”—Edwin M. Yamauchi, “Herodotus (Person),” in David Noel Freedman, ed., The Anchor Bible Dictionary (New York, NY: Doubleday, 1996, c1992), 3:180.

2 “Berosus gives the Chaldean account, which suppresses all about Belshazzar, as being to the national dishonor. Had Daniel been a late book, he would no doubt have taken up the later account of Berosus.”—A. R. Fausset, “The Book of Daniel,” in Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997, 1877), s.v. “Introduction.”

3 Gleason Leonard Archer, “Daniel,” in Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 7 - Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1985), 16.

4 “The author also knew that Babylon had been rebuilt by Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 4:30+), another fact that was unknown to later historians until the excavations of more recent times.”—Peter Masters, “A Tour of Biblical Evidence in the British Museum,” in Bible and Spade, vol. 13 no. 2 (Landisville, PA: Associates for Biblical Research, Spring 2000), 54.

5 “Kitchen notes that in four of the nineteen words in question, the old Greek renderings made about 100 B.C. are hopelessly mere guesswork. He reasons: ‘If the first important Greek translation of Daniel was made sometime within 100 B.C. to A.D. 100, roughly speaking, and the translator could not (or took no trouble to) reproduce the proper meaning of these terms, then one conclusion imposes itself: their meaning was already lost and forgotten (or, at least, drastically changed) long before he set to work. Now if Daniel were wholly a product of 165 B.C., then just a century or so in a continuous tradition is surely embarrassingly inadequate as a sufficient interval for that loss (or change) of meaning to occur by Near Eastern standards.’ [Kenneth A. Kitchen, et al., ‘The Aramaic of Daniel,’ Notes on Some Problems in the Book of Daniel (London: Tyndale Press, 1965), p. 43.]”—Bruce K. Waltke, “The Date of the Book of Daniel,” in Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 133 no. 532 (Dallas, TX: Dallas Theological Seminary, October-December 1976), 324.

6 “Quite evidently the writer knew enough about the customs of the sixth century B.C. to depict Nebuchadnezzar as able to enact and modify Babylonian laws with absolute sovereignty (Dan. 2:12+f, 46), while representing Darius the Mede as being completely powerless to change the laws of the Medes and Persians (Dan. 6:8+f.; cf. Est. 1:9; 8:8). Again, he was quite accurate in recording the change from punishment by fire under the Babylonians (Dan. 3:11+) to punishment by being thrown to lions under the Persian regime (Dan. 6:7+), since fire was sacred to the Zoroastrians of Persia.”—Roland K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament (Peabody, MA: Prince Press, 1969, 1999), 1120-1121.

7 “The author shows remarkable knowledge of Babylonian and early Persian history, such as would be true of a contemporary like Daniel. In the fourth chapter, Nebuchadnezzar is presented correctly as the creator of the Neo-Babylonian empire. In the fifth chapter, Belshazzar is set for as co-ruler of Babylon, a fact recently demonstrated by archaeological research. In the sixth chapter, Darius is presented as ruler of Babylon, even though Cyrus was the supreme ruler of Persia; Cyrus is now know to have appointed one Gubaru in this capacity, with whom Darius may well be identified. In the second chapter (cf. Dan. 2:12+, 13+, 46+) Nebuchadnezzar is shown to have been able to change Babylonian laws which he had previously made (such a change is now known to have been possible in Babylonia); whereas in the sixth chapter (cf. Dan. 6:8+, 9+, 12+, 15+) Darius is presented as not being able to do this (such a change is now known to have been impossible in Persia).”—Leon J. Wood, A Commentary on Daniel (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1998), 20.

8 Gleason Leonard Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1998, c1994), 445.

9 “While the Greek historians Herodotus (1:191) and Xenophon (Cyropaedia, 3:5, 15) do not mention Belshazzar, they share with Dan. 6+ the—hardly historical—tradition that the Babylonians were engaged in revelry at the time when the Persians entered the city (corresponding to the time when Belshazzar was killed in the biblical account).”—Geoffrey Wigoder, ed., Encyclopedia Judaica CDROM Edition Version 1.0 (Keter Publishing House, Ltd., 1997), s.v. “Belshazzar.”

10 “Xenophon added that the city was invaded while the Babylonians were feasting in a time of drunken revelry [Xenophon, Cyropaedia 7.5.15,21,25], and Herodotus also related that a festival was in progress [Herodotus, Histories 1.191]. As a matter of fact, Xenophon cited the festival as the reason the Persians chose to attack Babylon on that particular night.”—Stephen R. Miller, “Daniel,” in E. Ray Clendenen, Kenneth A. Mathews, and David S. Dockery, eds., The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1994), 167.

11 Waltke, The Date of the Book of Daniel, 328-329.


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