Even more to Daniel than may meet the eye

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Part One:

Nehemiah and that ‘broken down wall’

 

 

by

 Damien F. Mackey

  

 

Hence, in answer to my previous question: “Could this “Artaxerxes” have actually been a king of Babylon, but choosing Susa as, say, his (autumnal)-winter residence?”, I am inclined to answer, Yes. And the odds must now lie heavily in favour of Nehemiah’s “Artaxerxes king of Babylon” being Nebuchednezzar II ‘the Great’ himself.

 

 

Nehemiah is traditionally thought to have served under a Persian king named “Artaxerxes” – with some preferring Artaxerxes I (d. 424 BC, conventional dating), whilst others would opt for Artaxerxes II (d. 358 BC, conventional dating).

According to Nehemiah 1:1, the location was in Susa during this particular king’s 20th year: “In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa …”.

 

Why, then, is the king (and his location) referred to in this king’s 32nd year as “Babylon”?

 

Could this “Artaxerxes” have actually been a king of Babylon, but choosing Susa as, say, his (autumnal)-winter residence?   

 

Prior to the tumultuous time of the Maccabees in their revolt against the Macedonian Greeks, the only recorded occasion of an enemy destroying the walls of Jerusalem was when the Chaldeans (Babylonians) did this in the 19th year of king Nebuchednezzar II ‘the Great’.

The incident is clearly spelled out, for instance, in Jeremiah 52:12-14:

 

On the tenth day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard, who served the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He set fire to the Temple of the Lord, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down. The whole Babylonian army, under the commander of the imperial guard, broke down all the walls around Jerusalem.

 

The era of Maccabean troubles was, for its part, of course, far too late for Nehemiah still to have been acting in any official capacity to a king. Although I have left open the possibility that Nehemiah himself may still have been alive even in Maccabean times.

See e.g. my articles:

 

Nehemiah bridges Persia and Greece

 

https://www.academia.edu/36727668/Nehemiah_bridges_Persia_and_Greece

 

Did governor Nehemiah die the death of Razis?

 

https://www.academia.edu/37089549/Did_governor_Nehemiah_die_the_death_of_Razis

 

And regarding the plethora of kings “Artaxerxes”, see my cautioning series beginning with:

 

Medo-Persian History Archaeologically Light. Part One: Introductory

 

https://www.academia.edu/31090097/Medo-Persian_History_Archaeologically_Light._Part_One_Introductory

 

So, although, conventionally speaking, Nehemiah would have lived 200-300 years before the Maccabean era, my radical revision of neo-Assyrian/Babylonian history:

 

Ashurbanipal the Great

 

https://www.academia.edu/33679189/Ashurbanipal_the_Great

 

and of Persian history (see “Medo-Persian History” article above), would mean that Nehemiah’s lifetime can now be massively re-set historically.

 

Now, Fr. Robert North (S.J.) will immediately reflect back to the Chaldean destruction of Jerusalem when commenting upon Nehemiah 1:1-3, which reads:

 

In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. They said to me, ‘Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire’.

 

Fr. North writes (The Jerome Biblical Commentary, 1968, 24:102): “The walls of Jerusalem had been destroyed by Nebuchednezzar 150 years earlier. Surely Nehemiah knew all about that”.

Surely, indeed.

Then why did Nehemiah make such a fuss (v. 4): “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven”?

This was obviously fresh news to Nehemiah. Otherwise, it would have been like a ridiculous situation of, say, a Frenchman in 1965 being told of Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo 150 years earlier, and reacting similarly to Nehemiah.

 

The above scenario can only mean (I think) that Nehemiah was a young man serving a king even as early as during the Chaldean era, and that his “Artaxerxes”, in “Babylon”, was, not a Persian king, but a Babylonian one.

Hence, in answer to my previous question: “Could this “Artaxerxes” have actually been a king of Babylon, but choosing Susa as, say, his (autumnal)-winter residence?”, I am inclined to answer, Yes.   

And the odds must now lie heavily in favour of Nehemiah’s “Artaxerxes king of Babylon” being Nebuchednezzar II ‘the Great’ himself.

 

Part Two:

“Artaxerxes” as king Nebuchednezzar

 

 

“Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, ‘How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?’ It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time”.

 

Nehemiah 2:6

 

 

 

 

In Part One of this new series:

https://www.academia.edu/37223770/Governor_Nehemiahs_master_Artaxerxes_king_of_Babylon_._Part_One_Nehemiah_and_that_broken_down_wall_ a totally different-from-usual historical scenario was proposed for Nehemiah in his partnership with king “Artaxerxes”.

 

Instead of a late-ish Medo-Persian era – in which the drama has always conventionally been set – I suggested that it had occurred instead smack bang within the Chaldean era.

That was the only time that made sense to me for the Jew, Nehemiah, to have wept and fasted over news of the walls of Jerusalem having been destroyed.

 

The aggressor against Jerusalem is not actually named by Nehemiah.

That would presumably be tact (but also fear, see below: “I was very much afraid …”) on Nehemiah’s part when standing before so great and forbidding (not to mention, mad) a king.

 

Now, it was not until about four months after Nehemiah had received the devastating news about Jerusalem that “Artaxerxes” noticed his servant’s uncharacteristic sadness (2:1-3):

 

In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, so the king asked me, ‘Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart’.

 

If this “Artaxerxes” were Nebuchednezzar himself, as I now believe he must be, then it was a most awkward situation for Nehemiah. Had not Nebuchednezzar been the very perpetrator of the destruction of Jerusalem – even though he was not personally present at Jerusalem when the city was destroyed, but was represented there (as we read previously) by Nebuzaradan?

Hence Nehemiah confesses (v. 2): “I was very much afraid …”.

But Nehemiah, who had been praying and fasting for months about this situation, then felt emboldened to add (v. 3): “… but I said to the king, ‘May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?’

Notice that Nehemiah addresses the king in the same type of language as was customarily addressed to king Nebuchednezzar (e.g. Daniel 2:4): “O king, live forever”.

 

The chronology fits well, too.

Nehemiah learned of the destruction of Jerusalem – which had been perpetrated by the Chaldeans in the 19th year of Nebuchednezzar – in the king’s 20th year.

The news had to travel all the way from Jerusalem to Susa (at that stage), some 850 miles.

 

 

 

 

A note on “the queen” of Nehemiah 2:6

 

 

 

With the possibility – according to the conventional Medo-Persian setting – of Nehemiah’s “Artaxerxes” being a Medo-Persian king, then the suggestion is not infrequently made that “the queen” said to have been seated next to the king could be the biblical Queen Esther herself.

 

That pleasant thought would now disintegrate, though, according to my new Chaldean setting.

For the Chaldean era would be far too early by my estimation for the drama of Queen Esther and her king, “Ahasuerus”.

 

But it may yet be possible to give a name to this “queen” of Nehemiah 2:6.

 

Given my identification of Nebuchednezzar II with Ashurbanipal, refer back to Part One:

https://www.academia.edu/37223770/Governor_Nehemiahs_master_Artaxerxes_king_of_Babylon_._Part_One_Nehemiah_and_that_broken_down_wall_ then I think that we may be on the right track if identifying “the queen” as Libbali-sharrat, Ashurbanipal’s queen, who, as we see in the “Garden Scene” bas-relief, is indeed seated beside the king.

 

https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/art-and-immortality-in-the-ancient-near-east/royal-destiny-the-garden-scene-of-ashurbanipal-revisited/1EF2EF45F6B01BE433810E60FCE0D3EA/core-reader

 

The “Garden Scene” is a relief slab thought to have fallen from the upper level of Room S in the North Palace of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh. It was evidently the centerpiece of a larger composition, the main theme of which was the Assyrian victory against the Elamites.6 The series is known only partially with the help of drawings by William Boutcher.7 Arranged in three registers and covering at least five slabs, it may have decorated a long wall of the room above Room S.8 The subject of the centerpiece is the king’s celebratory banquet with his consort, apparently associated with the defeat of Elam. The exact historical instance represented and its location are not entirely clear, but the setting is often thought to be the private gardens of Ashurbanipal’s queen, Libbali-sharrat, primarily on the basis of the presence of an all-female body of attendants and musicians surrounding the royal couple ….

 

 

 

 

Part Three:

Does this mean Nehemiah is Daniel?

 

 

 

“[Nebuchednezzar] advanced Daniel to a high post, gave him many generous presents, made him ruler of the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon”.

 

Daniel 2:48

 

 

 

I think that the startling conclusion now has to be drawn that Nehemiah, chief Cup-bearer to the Great King now identified as Nebuchednezzar, during the mid-phase of that king’s reign, and apparently indispensable to the Great King (Nehemiah 2:6): ‘How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?’, is the same as the wise Jewish sage and prophet, Daniel.

 

I have tentatively identified Nehemiah as a priest, as:

 

Ezra the Scribe Identified as Nehemiah the Governor

 

https://www.academia.edu/36726699/Ezra_the_Scribe_Identified_as_Nehemiah_the_Governor

 

and, in the Septuagint version of Bel and the Dragon, Daniel is called a priest, the son of Habal.

Habal is not far at all from the name of Nehemiah’s father, Hakal-iah (Nehemiah 1:1).

 

Daniel and Nehemiah are compatible chronologically (now revised), and also with regard to high official position.

Daniel and Nehemiah, we find, customarily pray and fast – praying every time, for instance, before confronting the Great King.

 

Admittedly, it is never ideal to have a multiplicity of names for the one proposed character.

In this case: (i) Daniel, (ii) Nehemiah (= (iii) Ezra), three names, plus the given Chaldean name, Belteshazzar (Daniel 1:7).

But I would suggest that the name Nehemiah is a Hebrew version of the official’s Persian name, Mehuman (var. Nehuman = Nehemiah), who seems to occupy the same position as Nehemiah as chief wine server (Esther 1:10): “On the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him—Nehuman …”.

This was “in the third year” of the reign of king Ahasuerus (1:3), whom I have identified with king Cyrus.

And this accords well with Daniel’s still receiving revelations in the 3rd year of king Cyrus (Daniel 10:1): “In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision”.

 

 

Part Four: Did Sirach omit Daniel, Ezra from his list of “famous men”?

 

 

“… Ecclesiasticus … ends with a rhapsody in praise of “famous men.”

This panegyric … omits the name of Daniel. …. Sirach ignores also not only such worthies as Abel, and Melchisedec, and Job, and Gideon, and Samson, but also Ezra … who also gave his name to one of the books of the Canon”.

 

Sir Robert Anderson

 

 

The prophet Ezekiel challenged the proud king of Tyre with this (28:3): “Are you wiser than Daniel? Is no secret hidden from you?” Daniel, as we know, not only interpreted the king’s Dream, but was able to reveal it without the king telling him what the Dream was (chapter 2).

It goes without saying that I do not accept the fanciful view that Ezekiel’s Daniel was a pagan figure, Dan’el, of Ugaritic literature:

 

Identity of the ‘Daniel’ in Ezekiel 14 and 28

 

https://www.academia.edu/29786004/Identity_of_the_Daniel_in_Ezekiel_14_and_28

 

 

http://planetpreterist.com/content/did-ezekiel-know-daniel-prophet

The references to Daniel in Ezekiel occur in 14:14,20 and 28:3. The theme of Ezekiel 14 is the inescapability of God’s judgment upon the unrighteous, including the residents of Jerusalem. In both verses 14 and 20, the word of the LORD informs Ezekiel that if He should find a country so sinful as to justify the extermination of its inhabitants, even if Noah, Daniel, and Job should happen to be dwelling there, these men would be able to save only themselves by their righteousness. At the conclusion of the chapter, however (v.21-23), the prophet indicates that through God’s grace, not their own merit, a remnant of Jews would be spared.

 

Ezekiel 28 contains a prophecy against the king and city of Tyre. After denouncing the king for claiming to possess godlike qualities, including great wisdom, Ezekiel rhetori-cally asks in verse 3 “Are you wiser than Daniel? Is no secret hidden from you?” (NIV, italics added). The prophet then issues a denunciation of both the king and his city that closes with the famous prophecy (v.18-19) that Tyre would be reduced to ashes “and will be no more.”

 

The prophet Daniel was an absolute legend amongst the Jews.

For a massive and comprehensive list of the many NT references to Daniel, or texts in which a NT writer probably had Daniel in mind, see pp. 3-28 of Frank W. Hardy’s “New Testament References to Daniel”: http://www.historicism.org/Documents/Jrnl/DanNT.pdf

 

However, it is generally assumed that Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) failed even to mention Daniel, but also Ezra, amongst his “famous men”. Thus Sir Robert Anderson writes about this in “The Coming Prince”: http://www.historicism.org/Documents/Jrnl/DanNT.pdf

 

… Ecclesiasticus … ends with a rhapsody in praise of “famous men.” This panegyric, it is true, omits the name of Daniel. But in what connection would his name be included? Daniel was exiled to Babylon in early youth, and never spent a single day of his long life among his people, never was openly associated with them in their struggles or their sorrows. The critic, moreover, fails to notice that the Son of Sirach ignores also not only such worthies as Abel, and Melchisedec, and Job, and Gideon, and Samson, but also Ezra, who, unlike Daniel, played a most prominent part in the national life, and who also gave his name to one of the books of the Canon. ….

 

Frank W. Hardy, again, has advanced the unique theory that Sirach omitted Daniel because Daniel was a dreamer, with which suggestion I have had cause to disagree in:

 

Daniel’s ‘dreaming’ not a good reason for Sirach to omit him

 

https://www.academia.edu/36757105/Daniels_dreaming_not_a_good_reason_for_Sirach_to_omit_him

 

Now, at the conclusion of this article I had hinted at what I have since presented in this new series: “Clever though all this may be, I shall be looking amongst Sirach’s ‘praises of famous men’ for a worthy alter ego for the great and famous prophet Daniel, who had miraculously told the King’s Dream”.

And that is what I have done in this series, identified Daniel, as Ezra, as Nehemiah, who was certainly praised by Sirach (49:13):

 

Nehemiah’s memory is lasting;
he who raised our fallen walls,
set up gates and bars,
and rebuilt our buildings.

 

 

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

Image result for ezekiel 4

 

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

 

 

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

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

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

 Ezekiel 4:5-6

 

 

  

 

Israel’s period of Monarchy

likened to servitude in Egypt

 

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

The Jews are to undergo a “second Exodus”.

Thus Fr. Tkacik writes (21:24):

 

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

 

 

Building a chronology

around the 430 years

 

Dr. John Osgood has, in his most important article “The Times of the Judges — A Chronology” (EN Tech. J., vol. 1, 1984), arrived at basically the same span of time in relation to the history of Israel as had Fr. Tkacik. Dr. Osgood writes on p, 156, in support of his view for a shorter-than-usually-accepted reign for king Saul (Osgood’s BC dates here are not necessarily mine): https://creation.com/images/pdfs/tj/j01_1/j01_1_141-158.pdf

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

Daniel’s ‘dreaming’ not a good reason for Sirach to omit him

Image result for prophet daniel dreams

  by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

“This raises the question of what reason Ben Sira might have had for not wanting to mention Daniel or single him out for special praise. As it happens, a very plausible and straightforward answer to the above question is available, but it has nothing to do with when the book of Daniel was written. Ben Sira [Sirach] held the opinion, and stated it in so many words, that dreamers and dreams were fools and foolishness, respectively”.

Frank W. Hardy

 

 

Might not the reason why Sirach (“Ecclesiasticus”) seemingly failed to refer to the great prophet Daniel – not to mention Ezra the scribe, the very “Father of Judaïsm” – in his “praises of famous men”, beginning with 44:1:

 

“Let us now sing the praises of famous men,

our ancestors in their generations”,

 

be because Daniel was – Ezra was – referred to in the Book of Sirach under some other name?

It was common for the ancients to have more than the one name. To give just one example, from I Maccabees 2:2-5: “John surnamed Gaddi, Simon called Thassi, Judas called Maccabeus, Eleazar called Avaran, and Jonathan called Apphus”.

And I have already suggested that:

Ezra the Scribe [be] Identified as Nehemiah the Governor

https://www.academia.edu/36726699/Ezra_the_Scribe_Identified_as_Nehemiah_the_Governor

 

which, if this be the case, would mean that Ezra was included by Sirach, when he wrote (49:13): “The memory of Nehemiah is also great. He rebuilt the ruined walls of Jerusalem, installing the gates and bars. He rebuilt our homes”.

 

Other inspired scribes did not fail to mention Daniel. Nor could they have?

Ezekiel, for example, mentions Daniel three times (14:14 and 20): “Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord God”.

And 28:3: “Are you wiser than Daniel? Is no secret hidden from you?”

Whilst Mattathias, the father of the five Maccabean sons, encouraged them with the examples of holy men such as Daniel (I Maccabees 2:60-61): “Daniel was a man of integrity, and the Lord rescued him from the mouth of the lions. Take each of these ancestors of ours as an example, and you will realize that no one who puts his trust in the Lord will ever lack strength”.

 

It is likewise quite inconceivable that Sirach could possibly have omitted reference to Ezra. Henry Englander has, in his article “Ezra the Scribe” (Journal of Jewish Lore and Philosophy

Vol. 1, No. 3/4 (JULY/OCTOBER 1919)), written, with reference to “H. P. Smith, following Torrey” (p. 322-323):

 

[Smith] notes that Ezra was unknown to Jesus ben Sirach the author who lived in the early part of the second century before the common era …. It is impossible, he believes, that ben Sirach would have ignored Ezra in his praise of Israel’s worthies had he been known to him. But, the omission of any reference to Ezra does not necessarily mean that he was the creation of the Chronicler. This omission, however, calls for an adequate explanation on the part of those who hold Ezra to be historical. If it could be shown that the identification of Ezra with “Malachai” [Malachi] … was current in the time of ben Sirach then it could be said that Ezra was included in his praise of the Minor Prophets.

 

On the possible identification of Ezra with Malachi, see my article:

 

“By the hand of Malachi … whose name is called Ezra the scribe”

 

https://www.academia.edu/36727857/_By_the_hand_of_Malachi_…_whose_name_is_called_Ezra_the_scribe_

 

I think that the alter ego explanation for Sirach, in the case of Daniel – of Ezra – is far preferable to the following version (whose BC dating I may not accept either) as given by Frank W. Hardy in his article, “Ben Sira’s Silence Concerning Daniel” (2008):

http://www.historicism.org/Documents/Jrnl/BenSira.pdf

 

Jesus Ben Sira … was a Jew from Jerusalem who, in approximately 190 or 180 B.C. … wrote a book of religious wisdom and pious advice on a variety of topics. In 132 B.C.—the thirty-eighth year of Ptolemy Physcon VII Euergetes II (170-164, 147-117 B.C.)–Ben Sira’s grandson went to live in Egypt and sometime after the death of Euergetes II, i.e., sometime after 117 B.C., translated his grandfather’s book from Hebrew into Greek. Although translations were subsequently made into Latin, Syriac, and a number of other languages it is primarily in its Greek form–with the Latin title “Ecclesiasticus”–that the book has come down to us as one of the deuterocanonicl books of the Septuagint. ….

 

In Ben Sira chaps. 44-49 the author comments on the outstanding lives of some 28 individual Old Testament heroes … along with the judges as a group (46:11) and the twelve minor prophets (49:10). This long section ends with the following summary: ….

 

No one like Enoch has been created on earth, for he was taken up from the earth. And no man like Joseph has been born, and his bones are cared for. Shem and Seth were honored among men, and Adam above every living being in the creation. ….

 

The significance for Daniel research of Ben Sira’s “Praise of the Fathers” lies in what he

does not say. Throughout this extended section of six chapters Daniel is passed over in silence; there is no mention of him at all. Such an omission is conspicuous when compared with 1 Maccabees, written somewhat later at around 100 B.C. Daniel appears at the end of a passage that mentions a number of ancient heroes.

 

(51) “Remember the deeds of the fathers, which they did in their generations; and receive great honor and an everlasting name. (52) Was not Abraham found faithful when tested, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness? (53) Joseph in the time of his distress kept the commandment, and became lord of Egypt. (54) Phinehas our father, because he was deeply zealous, received the covenant of everlasting priesthood. (55) Joshua, because he fulfilled the command, became a judge in Israel. (56) Caleb, because he testified in the assembly, received an inheritance in the land. (57) David, because he was merciful, inherited the throne of the kingdom for ever. (58) Elijah because of great zeal for the law was taken up into heaven. (59) Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael believed and were saved from the flame. (60) Daniel because of his innocence was delivered from the mouth of the lions” (1 Macc 2:51-60).

 

The fact that Ben Sira, writing early in the second century B.C., says nothing about Daniel, while the author of 1 Maccabees does refer to him, writing at the end of the second century B.C., is taken by some scholars to indicate that the book of Daniel originated sometime in between Ben Sira and 1 Maccabees–i.e., in the mid-second century B.C. …. Eissfeldt evaluates the evidence from Ben Sira as follows, as it bears on the dating of Daniel:

 

We may leave the matter there, with the broader period 167-163 in mind. This dating [for Daniel] is then supported by a whole series of further observations. The fact that the book was not included in the canon of the prophets (p. 565) shows already that it can only have been composed very late. This is confirmed by the fact that Ben Sira, writing in about 190, does not mention it in his Praise of the Fathers (xliv-l) whereas 1 Maccabees, compiled probably in about 100 B.C., has in ii,59-60 a reference to it, more precisely to i, iii and vi. . . . ….

 

But Eissfeldt’s conclusion is not required by the evidence. There is no reason—even under preterist presuppositions–why Ben Sira should not have been well informed concerning the main events of Daniel’s life. Mertens shows that the claim that Daniel was written entirely within the second century B.C., with no sources or fragments coming from an earlier time, is a minority view even among critical scholars and one which he considers extreme. ….

 

According to F. Nötscher the substance, content and even formulation of individual reports go back to the time of the exile; similarly J. Goettsberger; H. Schneider also takes the position that the oldest parts of the book of Daniel derive from the sixth century B.C. ….

 

Thus, the claim that Ben Sira did not mention Daniel because the book of Daniel was not

written until after Ecclesiasticus requires one to assume that Rowley’s view of how Daniel originated was substantially the correct one. Rowley held that a single author produced the entire work in the second century B.C. …. There are no preterist scholars at present, however, who would accept this assumption or defend it. I submit that, whether one proceeds under preterist or historicist assumptions, Ben Sira could not have been unaware of Daniel’s life story when he wrote his book.

 

This raises the question of what reason Ben Sira might have had for not wanting to mention Daniel or single him out for special praise. As it happens, a very plausible and straightforward answer to the above question is available, but it has nothing to do with when the book of Daniel was written. Ben Sira held the opinion, and stated it in so many words, that dreamers and dreams were fools and foolishness, respectively.

 

A man of no understanding has vain and false hopes, and dreams give wings to fools. (2) As one who catches at a shadow and pursues the wind, so is he who gives heed to dreams. (3) The vision of dreams is this against that, the likeness of a face confronting a face. (4) From an unclean thing what will be made clean? And from something false what will be true? (5) Divinations and omens and dreams are folly, and like a woman in travail the mind has fancies. (6) Unless they are sent from the Most High as a visitation, do not give your mind to them. (7) For dreams have deceived many, and those who put their hope in them have failed. (8) Without such deceptions the law will be fulfilled, and wisdom is made perfect in truthful lips. (Ben Sira 34:1-8)

 

If Ben Sira believed dreamers were fools, and thought of Daniel primarily as a dreamer … one could hardly expect Ben Sira to name Daniel as one of Israel’s great and illustrious figures of the past. For Daniel to be passed over in silence would be much more consistent with the passage just quoted than prominent mention of him a few chapters later would be.

 

It is not necessary therefore to suggest that the book of Daniel came into existence after

Ben Sira wrote in order to account for the latter’s silence regarding him. Ben Sira was a man of deep convictions, some of which bordered on prejudice. …. One of these convictions was that dreams were not a dependable criterion for behaviour. …. Seeing Daniel primarily as a dreamer he was not inclined to praise him.

[End of quote]

 

Clever though all this may be, I shall be looking amongst Sirach’s ‘praises of famous men’ for a worthy alter ego for the great and famous prophet Daniel, who had miraculously told the King’s Dream.

 

“By the hand of Malachi … whose name is called Ezra the scribe”

Image result for prophet malachi

 by

Damien F. Mackey

 

 

Here I consider the view expressed in a gloss to Malachi (1:1),

in the Targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel,

that the prophet Malachi was Ezra the scribe.

 

 

Introduction

 

That Jewish tradition variously identifies the prophet Malachi as Mordecai, or Ezra, is apparent from the following piece in the Jewish Encyclopedia article, “Malachi, Book of” (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/10321-malachi-book-of):

 

—In Rabbinical Literature:

Malachi is identified with Mordecai by R. Naḥman and with Ezra by Joshua b. Ḳarḥa (Meg. 15a). Jerome, in his preface to the commentary on Malachi, mentions that in his day the belief was current that Malachi was identical with Ezra (“Malachi Hebræi Esdram Existimant”). The Targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel to the words “By the hand of Malachi” (i. 1) gives the gloss “Whose name is called Ezra the scribe.” According to Soṭah 48b, when Malachi died the Holy Spirit departed from Israel.

 

The article continues:

According to R. H. 19b, he was one of the three prophets concerning whom there are certain traditions with regard to the fixing of the Jewish almanac. A tradition preserved in pseudo-Epiphanius (“De Vitis Proph.”) relates that Malachi was of the tribe of Zebulun, and was born after the Captivity. According to the same apocryphal story he died young, and was buried in his own country with his fathers.

 

Was Malachi, Mordecai, or was he Ezra?

 

Though either person appears to have been considered a candidate for Malachi, I would definitely favour the priestly Ezra over the Benjaminite Mordecai, given Malachi’s priestly proclivities (e.g., his desire for a sincere priesthood and right Temple worship), and his lateness: “The Book of Malachi is the last in the canon of the Old Testament Prophets” (Jewish Encyclopedia, “Malachi, Book of”).

 

Mordecai belonged to the early Persian period, and Ezra, to the later Persian period.

 

It is commonly thought that Malachi (Heb: מַלְאָכִי) was not actually the prophet’s (or writer’s) name. Thus we read again in Jewish Encyclopedia (“Malachi, Book of”):

 

—Critical View:

The name is not a “nomen proprium”; it is generally assumed to be an abbreviation of (=”messenger of Yhwh”), which conforms to the Μαλαχίας of the Septuagint and the “Malachias” of the Vulgate. The Septuagint superscription is ὲν χειρὶ ἀγγήλου αὐτοῦ, for . Wellhausen, Kuenen, and Nowack consider ch. i. 1 a late addition, pointing to Zech. ix. 1, xii. 1. Cornill states that Zech. ix.-xiv. and Malachi are anonymous, and were, therefore, placed at the end of the prophetical books. Mal. iii. 1 shows almost conclusively that the term was misunderstood, and that the proper name originated in a misconception of the word.

 

Times of the Prophet Malachi

——————————————————————————–

“The Book of Malachi fits the situation amid which Nehemiah worked

as snugly as a bone fits its socket”.

——————————————————————————–

 

[BC dates used below are conventional – not necessarily the ones that I would accept]

 

Now, the prophet Malachi is considered to have been largely a contemporary of Ezra-Nehemiah: “On internal evidence the book, a collection of prophetic oracles, is usually dated c. 460 B.C. [conventional dating], shortly before the reforms of Nehemiah and Ezra” (http://www.reference.com/browse/malachi).

 

Let us look further into this.

 

We read about the likely true era of Malachi in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [ISBE] article, “Malachi”, at: http://biblehub.com/topical/m/malachi.htm

 

….

  1. The Prophet’s Times:

Opinions vary as to the prophet’s exact date, but nearly all scholars are agreed that Malachi prophesied during the Persian period, and after the reconstruction and dedication of the second temple in 516 B.C. (compare Malachi 1:10; Malachi 3:1, 10). The prophet speaks of the people’s “governor” (Hebrew pechah, Malachi 1:8), as do Haggai and Nehemiah (Haggai 1:1 Nehemiah 5:14; Nehemiah 12:26). The social conditions portrayed are unquestionably those also of the period of the Restoration. More specifically, Malachi probably lived and labored during the times of Ezra and Nehemiah. Serious abuses had crept into Jewish life; the priests had become lax and degenerate, defective and inferior sacrifices were allowed to be offered upon the temple altar, the people were neglecting their tithes, divorce was common and God’s covenant was forgotten and ignored; just such abuses as we know from the Book of Ne[hemiah] were common in his day (compare Nehemiah 3:5; Nehemiah 5:1-13). Yet, it is doubtful whether Malachi preached during Nehemiah’s active governorship; for in Malachi 1:8 it is implied that gifts might be offered to the “governor”, whereas Nehemiah tells us that he declined all such (Nehemiah 5:15, 18).

 

The Pulpit Commentary, though, takes a somewhat different view of this gubernatorial situation (http://biblehub.com/malachi/1-8.htm):

 

Offer it now unto thy governor. The word for “governor” is pechah, as in Haggai 1:1 (where see note). It denotes a ruler set over a province by a Persian king. As Nehemiah had refused to be burdensome to the people (Nehemiah 5:14-18), it is thought that Malachi must have written this when some other person was acting as governor. But Nehemiah’s generosity was exhibited in his earlier administration, and he may have thought it right to take the dues under a more prosperous state of affairs. The prophet may be putting the ease generally – Would you dare offer such things to your governor? At any rate, the question is not about provisions and dues supplied to the governor and liable to be exacted by him in his official capacity, but about voluntary offerings and presents, without which no inferior would presume to appear before his prince (see Introduction, § II.). To offer to such a one what was mean and defective would be nothing less than an insult; and yet they thought this was good enough for God.

 

Fr. C. Stuhlmueller (C.P.), writing on “Malachi” for The Jerome Biblical Commentary, regards him similarly (to rabbinical literature) as Ezra-like (23:54): “This unknown Prophet shows himself to be a patriotic Jew unable to tolerate mixed marriages lest the land become “unclean” from the “abominable” and sensuous types of worship common among the pagans (Ezr 9:11)”.

 

And again (23:56):

 

The religious abuses that Malachi excoriated are exactly the same crimes that Nehemiah and Ezra combatted and successfully stamped out ….

Jewish men were divorcing “the wives of their youth” (Mal 2:14) and marrying pretty girls of foreign extraction (Ezr 9-10). The wealthy were cheating the poor (Mal 3:5), even seeling them into slavery (Neh 5), and the scandalous cry was heard that irreligious people got along better than devout people (Mal 3:14-15). The leaders, and especially the priests, bore the greatest responsibility for the general collapse of sincere fervor (Mal 2:1-3, 8-9; Ezr 10:15-16, 18-24; Neh 13:4-13, 22, 28-31). Temple worship could not even claim to be correct externally; it was as sick as the animals offered in sacrifice (Mal 1:7-8, 13; Neh 13:15-22).

 

Returning to the ISBE article, we find that ‘snug fit’ for Malachi at the time of Nehemiah:

 

On the other hand, the abuses which Malachi attacked correspond so exactly with those which Nehemiah found on his 2nd visit to Jerusalem in 432 B.C. (Nehemiah 13:7) that it seems reasonably certain that he prophesied shortly before that date, i.e. between 445 and 432 B.C. As Dr. J.M.P. Smith says, “The Book of Malachi fits the situation amid which Nehemiah worked as snugly as a bone fits its socket” (ICC, 7). That the prophet should exhort the people to remember the law of Moses, which was publicly read by Ezra in the year 444 B.C., is in perfect agreement with this conclusion, despite the fact that Stade, Cornill and Kautzsch argue for a date prior to the time of Ezra. On the other hand, Nagelsbach, Kohler, Orelli, Reuss and Volck rightly place the book in the period between the two visits of Nehemiah (445-432 B.C.).

 

In Conclusion

 

As far as I can tell, there appears to be no major obstacle towards accepting the view of the Targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel that “Malachi”, so-called, is to be identified with the priest, Ezra (whom I have further identified with – the Malachi-like – Nehemiah the governor):

 

Ezra the Scribe Identified as Nehemiah the Governor

https://www.academia.edu/36726699/Ezra_the_Scribe_Identified_as_Nehemiah_the_Governor

 

 

Nehemiah bridges Persia and Greece

Image result for nehemiah and sanballat

 

 by

Damien F. Mackey

 

 “Years later, when it pleased God, the Persian emperor sent Nehemiah back to Jerusalem, and Nehemiah told the descendants of those priests to find the fire. They reported to us that they had found no fire but only some oily liquid. Nehemiah then told them to scoop some up and bring it to him”.

 2 Maccabees 1:20

 

 

 

This verse from Second Maccabees greatly intrigues me because, according to it, governor Nehemiah of the Persian era was in contact with priests of the Maccabean era.

 

Consider what this means from a chronological point of view.

 

Nehemiah, customarily dated to c. 445 BC, the Persian era, is said to have been personally in touch with “priests” of the Hellenistic era.

 

The “us” to whom these priests “reported” were, as we learn at the beginning of this Maccabean chapter, “the Jews of Jerusalem and Judea” (1:1), these living in “the year 169” of the Greeks (1:7), which date, we are told, “corresponds to 143 B.C”.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Maccabees+1&version=GNT

Nehemiah must have been extraordinarily old these three centuries (445-143) later!

Poor Nehemiah really gets played around with. As if three centuries of life span were not enough for him, “he” re-emerges later, supposedly – still as an agent of Persia – in the C7th AD. See my article:

 

Two Supposed Nehemiahs: BC time and AD time

https://www.academia.edu/12429764/Two_Supposed_Nehemiahs_BC_time_and_AD_time

 

Now that is really stretching things!

 

“Two Sanballats”

—————————————————————————-

“If we are to put any confidence in the story of Josephus, then there must have been at least two Sanballats, and probably two Jadduas, and at two different times a son of a high priest must have married a daughter of a Sanballat”.
—————————————————————————-

 

Conventional patterns of history are famous for having to invent extra persons of the same name (e.g. a “Sanballat” I, II and III; a “Jaddua” I and II) in order to bridge over-inflated chronological estimations. Thus we read in an article, “Ezra-Nehemiah”
http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/ezra-nehemiah/

 

…. Neither language nor style can be assigned as a ground for asserting a date later than the 5th century BC as the time of the composition of the book. A much stronger reason against placing the final redaction of the books at so early a time is the mention of a Jaddua among the high priests in Nehemiah 12:11,22, it being assumed that this is the same Jaddua whom Josephus mentions (Ant., XI, viii, 4) as having filled the high-priestly office in the time of Alexander the Great. In view of the fact that Josephus is the only source of information as to the period between 400 and 300 BC, it seems unfair to accept what he says as to the existence of this Jaddua, while rejecting substantially all the rest of the same chapter in Josephus which tells about Sanballat, Manasseh and Alexander’s meeting with Jaddua. Inasmuch as the Sachau papyri, written in the 17th year of Darius Nothus, that is, in 410-408 BC, mention the sons of Sanballat the governor of Samaria, the Sanballat who was their father must have lived about 450 BC. The same papyrus mentions Jehohanan (Johnnan of Nehemiah 12:22) as the high priest of the temple at Jerusalem, and Bagohi (Bagoas) was the Persian governor of Jerusalem in 410-408 BC. Since, according to Nehemiah 13:6, Nehemiah was governor in 434-433 BC, the 32nd year of Artaxerxes, Bagoas would be perhaps his immediate successor. If we are to put any confidence in the story of Josephus, then there must have been at least two Sanballats, and probably two Jadduas, and at two different times a son of a high priest must have married a daughter of a Sanballat. While this is not impossible, it seems better to suppose that Josephus has confused matters beyond any possibility of disentanglement, and we might be justified in throwing over entirely his account of a Sanballat, a Manasseh, and a Jaddua as living in the year 330 BC, when Alexander conquered Syria. As far, of course, as the Jaddua of Nehemiah 12:11,22 is concerned, he may well have been high priest as early as 406 BC, and have continued to serve till 330 BC. On the other hand, another of the same name, probably a grandson, may, for all we know to the contrary, have been high priest in 330 BC. ….

 

Such painful duplicating ceases to be necessary within my revision, according to which the Medo-Persian kingdom is to be greatly streamlined, enabling for Nehemiah himself to become a bridge between it and the Hellenistic period inaugurated by Alexander the Great.

 

Part Two:

Confusing the Persian and Maccabean eras?

 

 “Nehemiah ben Hushiel and his “council of the righteous” were killed along with many other Jews, some throwing themselves off the city walls. The surviving Jews fled to Shahrbaraz’s encampment at Caesarea”.

 

 

This episode concerning Nehemiah ben Hushiel and his “council”, albeit un-historical, seems to me to conflate the Persian era – biblically the time of Cyrus and Sheshbazzar (cf. Ezra 1:8), who here becomes (as previously noted) Shahrbaraz” – with the Maccabean era and the demise of the elder, Razis, who did indeed jump off a wall (2 Maccabees 14:43-46):

 

[Razis] … rushed to the wall and jumped off like a brave hero into the crowd below. The crowd quickly moved back, and he fell in the space they left. Still alive, and burning with courage, he got up, and with blood gushing from his wounds, he ran through the crowd and finally climbed a steep rock. Now completely drained of blood, he tore out his intestines with both hands and threw them at the crowd, and as he did so, he prayed for the Lord of life and breath to give them back to him. That was how he died.

 

Now, what makes the description of Nehemiah’s council of the righteous … [throwing] themselves off the city walls” is the fact that I have identified Razis above, from 2 Maccabees, with Ezra himself:

 

Death of Ezra the Scribe

 

https://www.academia.edu/36736367/Death_of_Ezra_the_Scribe

 

whom, in turn, I have identified (albeit tentatively) with Nehemiah:

 

Ezra the Scribe Identified as Nehemiah the Governor

 

https://www.academia.edu/36726699/Ezra_the_Scribe_Identified_as_Nehemiah_the_Govern

 

Although the Persian empire period would not actually be perfectly contemporaneous with the Maccabean and Hellenistic period, as the above mish-mash might suggest, the two periods are far closer in time (by centuries) than the conventional history would have it.

And the biblical Nehemiah may perhaps be the link. See e.g. Part One of this series:

 

Nehemiah bridges Persia and Greece

 

https://www.academia.edu/36727668/Nehemiah_bridges_Persia_and_Greece

 

And even more so now would this apply if Nehemiah were also to be identified with the Maccabean Razis, a connection I would not want to force at this early stage.

 

However, if this connection does apply, then the conventional Persian-Greek history will need to be shrunk even more radically still.

 

 

 

 

 

Ezra the Scribe Identified as Nehemiah the Governor

Image result for nehemiah

  by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

 

The books of Ezra and Nehemiah, combined with information from the Maccabees,

may necessitate a profound revision of Persian (and Greek) history.

  

 

Tracing Ezra’s Career

 

Ezra 1-2

 

When Cyrus king of Persia issued his famous proclamation in his first year of rule (Ezra 1:1) – {in c. 539 BC, according to conventional dating} – then more than 42,000 exiles returned to Jerusalem (2:64), led by “Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah … Mordecai … (2:2).

 

No mention here of Ezra (qua Ezra).

 

Now, according to my biblico-historical revision series so far for the era of this king Cyrus:

 

“King Ahasuerus” of [the] Book of Esther 

 

https://www.academia.edu/24698880/_King_Ahasuerus_of_Book_of_Esther

 

this Great King was also the “King Ahasuerus” (var. “Artaxerxes”) of the Book of Esther, whom Esther (“Hadassah”) married, and the “Darius the Mede” of the Book of Daniel.

 

Ezra 3

 

“The altar was set up on its old site” (v. 3).

And, afterwards, the foundations of the Temple of Yahweh were laid (v. 10).

 

Ezra 4

 

This chapter 4 provide us with an historical overview of the work, and the interruptions to it, from the reign of Cyrus until the Temple’s completion in the reign of Darius king of Persia.

The “Xerxes” referred to in v. 6 can still be Cyrus, as “Ahasuerus”, since the latter name is thought to equate very well with the name “Xerxes”. In “The Hadassah File”, Herb Storck has written regarding this (pp. 1-2):

 

The question as to which king is meant by the name Ahasuerus has been met with an impressive list of candidates over the centuries. Every King from Cyaxares I, ca. 600 B.C., to Artaxerxes III, ca. 350 B.C., has been advanced in solution to this dilemma. … [An assessment of these views can be found by L. B. Paton in the International Critical Commentary (ICC) “Esther”, p. 51-54].

The modern identification has fallen upon Xerxes, king of Persia from 486-465 B.C., this contention having been linguistically established. The name Ahasuerus has been demonstrated to be the equivalent of Xerxes …. [For a discussion in this connection I refer you to William H. Shea, “Esther and History”, Andrews University Seminary Studies 14 (1976) p. 227-46 and C. Moore, “Archaeology and the Book of Esther”, Biblical Archaeologist 38 (1975) p. 70]. …

 

Some versions actually replace “Xerxes” with “Ahasuerus” in v. 6: “At the beginning of the reign of Xerxes [Ahasuerus], they lodged an accusation against the people of Judah and Jerusalem”.

Moreover, since the “Ahasuerus” of the Esther story is also referred to as “Artaxerxes”, so the same king may still possibly be the “Artaxerxes” of vv. 7-8:

 

And in the days of Artaxerxes, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel and the rest of his colleagues wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the text of the letter was written in Aramaic and translated from Aramaic. Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to King Artaxerxes, as follows–…

 

Rehum and his colleagues denounce the allegedly “rebellious” Jews to King Artaxerxes in terms highly reminiscent of Haman’s denunciation (decree) in Esther 3:3-15, which may be a contemporaneous action. Consequently, by order of the Great King, the work was “stopped … by force of arms” (v. 23).

 

Ezra 5-6

 

Now in the reign of Darius the Persian, the work resumes, and is finally brought to its completion. (6:15-16): “This Temple was finished on the twenty-third day of the month of Adar; it was the sixth year of the reign of king Darius”.

 

Ezra 7

 

It is only now, in this chapter 7, that we are introduce to Ezra qua Ezra.

It is (v. 8) “the seventh year of the reign of king Artaxerxes”.

Herb Storck has argued forcibly that this particular “Artaxerxes” was Darius the Persian, and that the seventh year occurred directly after the completion of the Temple in the sixth year (History and Prophecy: A Study in the Post-Exilic Period, House of Nabu, 1989, p. 15):

 

This historical scenario seems to be fully appreciated by the author of Ezra chapter vii. There is an extraordinary preoccupation with continuity with the First Temple, and a connection with Aaron and Moses. This chapter is placed immediately after the completion of the Temple where it is both historically and logically expected. It moves from the sixth year of Darius to the seventh year of Artaxerxes without blinking. Everything is carried out with majesty, a sense of urgency and historical dynamism so reminiscent of the reign of Darius the Great. Yet the events are chronicled under a king called Artaxerxes. How is this to be explained? The best explanation is that Artaxerxes is a title for Darius ….

 

In conventional history, of course, Ezra’s Artaxerxes is well separated from Darius the Great (c. 522-486 BC) if the former is Artaxerxes I (c. 464-424 BC) – or by considerably more years if he is Artaxerxes II (c. 404-358 BC). The uncertainty about Ezra is noted in the following

(http://www.theology.edu/biblesurvey/ezra.htm):

 

When Ezra went to Jerusalem is the subject of great controversy. …. Ezra might have gone to Jerusalem about 458 BC, during the reign of Artaxerxes I, or he might have gone about 398 BC, during the reign of Artaxerxes II.

No such controversy exists for dating Nehemiah … there is enough information in the text to make it clear that it was during the reign of Artaxerxes I that Nehemiah came to Jerusalem — therefore Nehemiah was appointed governor in 445 BC.

 

Biblical scholar, A. van Hoonacker, had strongly argued for Nehemiah’s having actually preceded Ezra, as we learn in the following quotation from Fr. North again (op. cit., 24:82):

 

In his lectures at Louvain from 1880, and especially in a series of publications since 1890 (RB 33 [1924] 33-64), A. van Hoonacker dropped a bombshell into the staid fixity of exegetical preconceptions by claiming that Ezra first appeared under Artaxerxes II in 398. His arguments are reduced to eight points: 1) The wall for which Nehemiah is chiefly renowned already exists when Ezra reaches Jerusalem (9:9; qãdêr). 2) Ezra (10:1) finds Jerusalem already repopulated (by Nehemiah, 11:1). 3) Nehemiah is put before Ezra in Nehemiah 12:26; 8:1. 4) Eliashib, contemporary of Nehemiah (13:4), is (grand-?)father of Jehohanan, Ezra’s contemporary (Ezr 10:6 = Neh 12:23?). 5) The silence of Nehemiah’s memoir about Ezra’s allegedly earlier Torah promulgation is inexplicable. 6) Nehemiah (11:3) enumerates repatriates led by Sheshbazzar and/or Zerubbabel, but not those led by Ezra (8:2). 7) Ezra (8:33) makes use of a committee of four resembling that instituted by Nehemiah (13:13). 8) Nehemiah’s handling of mixed marriages, delayed until his second tour of duty (13:23), could not suppose Ezra (9:14) to have preceded.

 

However, if Ezra were Nehemiah as I am suggesting, then the matter of precedence becomes a non issue.

Ezra is grandly introduced in chapter 7 as follows (vv. 1-6):

 

… during the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah, the son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub, the son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth, the son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki, the son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest— this Ezra came up from Babylon. He was a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses, which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given.

 

We go on to read of this most learned man as highly favoured by the Great King, whose support he had won owing to the grace of God.

It is very reminiscent of what Tobit 1:13-14 had recorded about himself in relation to king “Shalmaneser” of Assyria.

Thus Ezra (v. 6): “The king had granted him everything he asked, for the hand of the Lord his God was on him” (cf. v. 25, 27-28).

In most similarly terms will Nehemiah record (Nehemiah 2:8): “And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests”.

 

So, at this point, we can now begin our task of merging Ezra with Nehemiah.

 

Name

 

(Nehemiah 1:1): “The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah”.

Whilst Nehemiah is a Hebrew name, I have already suggested that Nehemiah may appear in Esther as “Mehuman”. That would leave open the possibility that, if Nehemiah were Ezra, then the name “Nehemiah” may have been a Hebraïsed version of his Persian name. In Ezra 7:14 we read of “the king and his seven counsellors”, which may be another connection with the Book of Esther in which the king’s seven are actually named (Esther 1:14): “ … Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, Memucan, seven heads of Persia and Media seeing the face of the king, who are sitting first in the kingdom”.

Again, “the queen” referred to in Nehemiah 2:6: “Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him …”, may be – as some have surmised – Queen Esther herself.

“Hacaliah” and other versions of the name of Nehemiah’s father’s name (e.g. “Helcias”) are, as we read in The Jerome Biblical Commentary’s article on “Nehemiah”, highly problematical. Fr. R. North tells of the situation in “Nehemiah” (The Jerome Biblical Commentary, 24:101):

 

Both Hacaliah (MT) and Halakiah [var. Helcias] (supposed by LXX) defy known Hebr. patterns. The MT reading is defended by H. Gotthard (Text des Buches Nehemia [Wiesbaden, 1958] 1, 19) along with the eunuch hypothesis. H. Ginsberg (BASOR 80 [1940] 12) doubts that Hakal-yâ is the correct reading of the Lachish letter 20. I.

 

In my revised context, “Hacaliah” would find its resolution in “[Ezra … ] son of Hilkiah”.

 

Administration

 

Ezra, like Nehemiah, will administer, command and appoint, by command of the Great King, in the province of Trans-Euphrates (vv. 21-26):

 

And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which are beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done speedily, Unto an hundred talents of silver, and to an hundred measures of wheat, and to an hundred baths of wine, and to an hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much.

Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done for the house of the God of heaven: for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons?

Also we certify you, that touching any of the priests and Levites, singers, porters, Nethinims, or ministers of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom, upon them.

And thou, Ezra, after the wisdom of thy God, that is in thine hand, set magistrates and judges, which may judge all the people that are beyond the river [var. “the province of Trans-Euphrates”], all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye them that know them not.

And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment.

 

Likewise, when we turn to 2 Maccabees, we learn that Nehemiah was in charge of the priests (1:20-21, 30):

 

But after many years had passed, when it pleased God, Nehemiah, having been commissioned by the king of Persia, sent the descendants of the priests who had hidden the fire to get it. And when they reported to us that they had not found fire but only a thick liquid, he ordered them to dip it out and bring it. When the materials for the sacrifices were presented, Nehemiah ordered the priests to sprinkle the liquid on the wood and on the things laid upon it.

…. Then the priests sang the hymns.

 

Ezra 8

 

Continuing in this same vein, of priestly and liturgical administration, Ezra tells (vv. 15-17):

 

When I checked among the people and the priests, I found no Levites there. So I summoned Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Elnathan, Jarib, Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah and Meshullam, who were leaders, and Joiarib and Elnathan, who were men of learning, and I ordered them to go to Iddo, the leader in Kasiphia. I told them what to say to Iddo and his fellow Levites, the temple servants in Kasiphia, so that they might bring attendants to us for the house of our God.

 

Some thirteen years later, now in the 20th year of this same Persian king (Nehemiah 1:1), Nehemiah (my Ezra) will again take royal instructions to the governors of Trans-Euphrates. But, whereas he formerly (as Ezra) had not been accompanied by any of the king’s cavalry (Ezra 8:21-22):

 

Then, there at the Ahava River, I proclaimed a fast; so that we could humble ourselves before our God and ask a safe journey of him for ourselves, our little ones and all our possessions. For I would have been ashamed to ask the king for a detachment of soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies along the road, since we had said to the king, “The hand of our God is on all who seek him, for good; but his power and fury is against all who abandon him.”[,]

 

he now, as Nehemiah, did have a military escort (Nehemiah 2:9): “So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me”.

 

 

 

 

Fasting

 

And, just as Ezra had proclaimed a fast at the outset “before our God” (above), so would Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:4): “For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven”. (Cf. Nehemiah 9:1)

 

Three days

 

Upon their arrival at Jerusalem, Ezra and his party (v. 32) “rested for three days”.

Likewise Nehemiah (2:11) “went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days …”.

 

Everything Recorded

 

Ezra (8:33, 34): “… we weighed out the silver and gold and the sacred articles …. Everything was accounted for by number and weight, and the entire weight was recorded at that time”.

Nehemiah 10 is a detailed record of the promises made by the community. And it, in turn, reflects Ezra 10.

 

Ezra 9

 

Ezra, shamefaced and overcome at the news that the people had been marrying foreign wives (vv. 1-7):

 

… the leaders came to me and said, “The people of Israel, including the priests and the Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices, like those of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and Amorites. They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them. And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness.”

When I heard this, I tore my tunic and cloak, pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down appalled. Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel gathered around me because of this unfaithfulness of the exiles. And I sat there appalled until the evening sacrifice.

Then, at the evening sacrifice, I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the Lord my God and prayed:

 

‘I am too ashamed and disgraced, my God, to lift up my face to you, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens. From the days of our ancestors until now, our guilt has been great. Because of our sins, we and our kings and our priests have been subjected to the sword and captivity, to pillage and humiliation at the hand of foreign kings, as it is today. …’.

 

He, as Nehemiah, will later “in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon” (13:6) face the same problem again. And this time he – still calling it ‘sin’ – will react most angrily (13:23-27):

 

… in those days I saw men of Judah who had married women from Ashdod, Ammon and Moab. Half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod or the language of one of the other peoples, and did not know how to speak the language of Judah. I rebuked them and called curses down on them. I beat some of the men and pulled out their hair. I made them take an oath in God’s name and said: ‘You are not to give your daughters in marriage to their sons, nor are you to take their daughters in marriage for your sons or for yourselves. Was it not because of marriages like these that Solomon king of Israel sinned? Among the many nations there was no king like him. He was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel, but even he was led into sin by foreign women. Must we hear now that you too are doing all this terrible wickedness and are being unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women?’

 

Part of Ezra’s prayer on the above occasion, Ezra 9:6-15, mirrors both that of Nehemiah 9 and that which is attributed to Nehemiah in 2 Maccabees 1:24-30:

 

And the prayer was after this manner; O Lord, Lord God, Creator of all things, who art fearful and strong, and righteous, and merciful, and the only and gracious King,

The only giver of all things, the only just, almighty, and everlasting, thou that deliverest Israel from all trouble, and didst choose the fathers, and sanctify them: Receive the sacrifice for thy whole people Israel, and preserve thine own portion, and sanctify it. Gather those together that are scattered from us, deliver them that serve among the heathen, look upon them that are despised and abhorred, and let the heathen know that thou art our God.

Punish them that oppress us, and with pride do us wrong.

Plant thy people again in thy holy place, as Moses hath spoken.

And the priests sang psalms of thanksgiving.

 

Nehemiah and Ezra Named Separately?

 

In Nehemiah 8:9, one reads a verse that could distinguish Ezra from Nehemiah.

The NIV renders it as: “Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites …”. However, in The Jerusalem Bible that I have been chiefly following in this case because it had seemed to present a coherent overview, the reference to Nehemiah is given in brackets, as follows: “Then (Nehemiah – His Excellency – and) Ezra, priest and scribe … said to all the people …”. With the brackets removed, this becomes: “Then Ezra, priest and scribe … said …”.

 

Given the Hebrew use of waw consecutive, with “and” to be replaced by “even” in translation, then the sense of Nehemiah 8:9 might actually be: “Then Nehemiah … even Ezra …”.

The same comment may apply to Nehemiah 12:26: “They served … in the days of Nehemiah the governor and of Ezra the priest, the teacher of the Law”.

 

Concluding Note

 

My argument for Ezra and Nehemiah as just the one person, if legitimate, would add weight to the early view that the two separate books, Ezra and Nehemiah, were actually a unity.

 

Postscript

 

My revision of Ezra and Nehemiah re-locates the terminus ad quem for these events in the 32nd year of Darius the Great (in c. 490 BC conventional dating). The problem is that, according to 2 Maccabees, Nehemiah appears to have been communicating with priests who were actually contemporaneous with the Maccabean period. Thus 1:20:

 

Years later, when it pleased God, the Persian emperor sent Nehemiah back to Jerusalem, and Nehemiah told the descendants of those priests to find the fire. They reported to us that they had found no fire but only some oily liquid. Nehemiah then told them to scoop some up and bring it to him.

 

In conventional terms, 2 Maccabees is supposed to begin in c. 180 BC.

That is a long, long way from 490 BC! What, then, is the extent of the revision required for properly co-ordinating the Persian period and the early Greek (Macedonian) period?

 

 

Job not ‘oldest book of the Bible’

Book of Job probably dependent upon Tobit

 

Part Two:

Job not ‘oldest book of the Bible’

 

 

by

 Damien F. Mackey

“I proposed long ago that Job actually lived during the Biblical ice age …. I consider the book of Job to be the oldest book of the Bible, written no more than 700 years after the Noahic flood …”.

 

Dr Bernard E. Northrup

 

 “Most Bible scholars agree that Job is probably the oldest book of the Bible.  The timeframe of Job is probably somewhere between Noah and Moses since it does not refer to Israel, the Old Testament law or any reference to God’s covenant with Abraham”.

 

agapegeek

 

“The Book of Job is full of fascinating paradoxes: despite it’s being the oldest book of the Bible (Job 19:23), it is very badly known …”.

 

Gerard Gertoux

 

“Job is probably the oldest book in the Bible. … contains some of the most difficult and archaic Hebrew in the Bible. Even the name Job is known to be an ancient name. …. Job probably dates back to the time of the patriarchs, around 2100-1700BC”.

 

Rob Buckingham

Certainly it is true that many, if not necessarily (as above): “Most Bible scholars agree that Job is [or] probably [is] the oldest book of the Bible”. 

Despite all that, there is still a great degree of uncertainty about it as I wrote in my article:

 

Book of Job a Puzzle to Scholars

 https://www.academia.edu/29786227/Book_of_Job_a_Puzzle_to_Scholars

 

“The authorship, date, and place of composition of the Book of Job constitute some of the most keenly contested and most uncertain problems in Biblical Criticism. There is perhaps no book in the Canon of Scripture to which more diverse dates have been assigned. Every period of Jewish history, from BC 1400 to BC 150, has had its advocates as that to which this mysterious and magnificent poem must be relegated, and this criticism ranges over 1200 years of uncertainty”.

 

And if, as I concluded in Part One of this series:

https://www.academia.edu/36193236/Book_of_Job_probably_dependent_upon_Tobit the Book of Tobit would have pre-dated Job, then the Book of Job must be quite a late product – later than 700 BC (conventional dating), at least, given that: “Tobit …. Date Written: 300-200 BC. Date of Narrative: c. 700 BC” (Catholic News Agency).

Whilst my own estimation would be a date much closer to 700 BC than to 300 BC, the essential point here is that the Book of Job, post-dating 700 BC, could not possibly be “the oldest book of the Bible”.

Genesis itself, for instance, I believe to be far, far earlier. See e.g. my:

 

Structure of the Book of Genesis

https://www.academia.edu/28809452/Structure_of_the_Book_of_Genesis

The prophet Job was, according to my article:

 

Job’s Life and Times

 https://www.academia.edu/3787850/Jobs_Life_and_Times

 

the same as Tobias, the son of Tobit, the family being Naphtalian Israelite exiles in Nineveh during the C8th BC (conventional dating). This is at last a most solid biographical anchor for the otherwise mysterious Job, yet few appear to have taken it up. One reason is probably because the Book of Tobit is not yet accepted as canonical by Jews and Protestants (and the average Catholic is not very Old Testament minded). However, the following is encouraging:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Tobit [emphasis added]

 

… it could be hypothesized that some ancient Jewish rabbinic scholars considered Tobit to be historical. Midrash Bereishit Rabbah, an aggadic commentary on the Book of Genesis compiled circa 400–600 AD, includes a truncated Aramaic version of Tobit. Tobit was also considered part of the Septuagint (the Greek translation/interpretation of the Hebrew Bible).[8] In more contemporary times, a number of Jews in Israel have sought to reclaim Tobit as part of the canon.[16]

 

An important historical clue may be that holy Job’s camels were taken by a band of “Chaldeans” (Job 1:17): “The Chaldeans formed three companies [Heb: רָאשִׁ֑ים], raided the camels, captured the servants, and killed them with swords”. For, the long-lived Tobias endured into the Chaldean era.

For my condensing of the neo-Assyrian and neo-Babylonian eras, see e.g. my:

 

Ashurbanipal and Nabonidus

https://www.academia.edu/35855917/Ashurbanipal_and_Nabonidus

Added to this piece of evidence, I have previously written: “… I would suggest that the Book of Job drew heavily upon the Book of Tobit, the events in which historically, at least (leaving aside the matter of dates of composition), preceded the events as narrated in the Book of Job. This prompted me to write in:

 

Similarities to The Odyssey of the Books of Job and Tobit. Part Two: Tobit’s Dog and ‘Argus’ in Homer

 https://www.academia.edu/36181776/Similarities_to_The_Odyssey_of_the_Books_of_Job_and_Tobit._Part_Two_Tobits_Dog_and_Argus_in_Homer

“Though historically, the events described in the Book of Tobit would have pre-dated those narrated in the Book of Job, with Job, who is Tobias, now being an old man. So there may be good reason to think, instead, that the Book of Job was likely dependent upon Tobit”.

 

In this article, “Similarities to the Odyssey”, I included eight points of “similar motifs and common literary structures between the books of Tobit and of Job: as listed by JiSeong J. Kwon in Meaning and Context in Job and Tobit (JSOT; 2018 Forthcoming): https://www.academia.edu/34905218/Meaning_and_Context_in_Job_and_Tobit_JSOT_2018_Forthcoming_