Historical and chronological ramifications of inaccurately interpreting Daniel chapter 9



 Damien F. Mackey



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

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

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

 Daniel 9:26



Part One:

A Jewish scholar clarifies the main terms





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


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

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


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


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

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


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


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




For more, read this multi-part series.


In my related article:


Persian History has no adequate Archaeology




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


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

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

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



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


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

[End of quote]


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

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

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


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

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


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

Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz writes:


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


Daniel Chapter 9


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



The Rabbi continues:


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

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

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


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


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


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


Prophetic Year vs Solar Year


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


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


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

the flood started on,

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

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


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


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


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


Translating Daniel Correctly


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


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


Priests: Leviticus 4:3

Kings: 1 Kings 1:39

Prophets: Isaiah 61:1

Temple Alter: Exodus 40:9-11

Matzot ~ Unleavened Bread: Numbers 6:15

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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

The Rabbi continues:


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


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

62 weeks later not one event after a cumulative 69 weeks

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


Jewish Calendar Years


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


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


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


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


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


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


Understanding Daniel


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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



Part Two:

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



This is what the Lord says:

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


Jeremiah 22:30



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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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


King Amon’s descent into Aman (Haman)




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

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

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


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




Part Three:

The ‘terminus ad quem’ of Daniel 9



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

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

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


Daniel 9:27


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


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


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

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


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

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


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


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

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


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


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


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

Responsibly Interpreting the Visions in Daniel 9 (part 3)


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


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

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


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


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

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

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



King Amon’s descent into Aman (Haman)

Image result for haman the wicked


Part One: Honing in on the ever malevolent king Amon




 Damien F. Mackey



“[Amon] … did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, as did Manasseh his father:

for Amon sacrificed unto all the carved images which Manasseh his father had made,

and served them; and humbled not himself before the Lord, as Manasseh his father

had humbled himself; but Amon trespassed more and more”.

  2 Chronicles 33:22-23



How could this young king of Judah have managed to achieve such a degree of wickedness, when, as according to v. 21: “Amon was two and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned two years in Jerusalem”?

Not very long a reign, not very old in years, for Amon to have outpassed his father, Manasseh, who “reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years”.


My Revised Amon


My explanation for how king Amon of Judah was able to amass such an appalling record of “evil in the sight of the Lord” would be that the count of his reign had continued into a long period of captivity. I would take as an example of this king Jehoiachin of Judah, who, having “reigned in Jerusalem three months” before having been taken captive to Babylon by Nebuchednezzar (2 Kings 24:8-12), continued to have his regnal years counted there in exile, so that we read further on (25:27): “In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the year Awel-Marduk became king of Babylon …”.

King Jehoiachin is a particularly apt comparison – at least according to my revision – because he would continue in his evil ways (“trespassed more and more”) culminating in his rôle as the terrible Haman during the Medo-Persian era. See e.g. my:


If King Belshazzar made Daniel 3rd, who was 2nd?




But king Jehoiachin now – in my steps here towards a deeper revision – becomes even more apt given that his alter ego, Haman, enables for a virtual name comparison with Amon, leading to my proposed new identification of (Jehoiachin)-Haman with Amon king of Judah.

Haman is in fact called Aman (even closer to the name, Amon) in a version of Tobit 14:10, where he has been confused with Nadab (or Nadin), which is the correct reading.


{Haman and Nadin, my ‘Holofernes”, belong to two entirely different eras}


My new suggestion (Haman = Amon), which does affect certain biblical sequences as we currently have them (e.g. Amon can now no longer be the father of king Josiah) – as well as affecting information pertaining to who was the mother of Amon – can be only tentative at this stage.

If Haman is Amon, then that would account for the origin of the name Haman, which I had previously imagined must have been Jehoiachin’s Persian name. For instance, the famous Persian name Achaemenes can be rendered as Hakhamanish (containing the element haman). Amon itself, though, is very much an Egyptian name, and we know that pharaoh Necho, at about that time, had a certain influence in naming young kings of Judah (2 Kings 23:34).


Scholars dearly wish that they knew more about Amon, given that the Bible dismisses him, qua Amon, in just a few verses. “It is rather unfortunate that so little is known of the reign of Amon, king of Judah; for he lived evidently in a critical period”.


However, if Amon has the alter egos that I have proposed for him in this article, then we can actually know quite a lot about him.

The Jewish Encyclopedia here recalls a Rabbinic comment on the extreme wickedness of King Amon of Judah:


The fact that Amon was the most sinful of all the wicked kings of Judah (II Chron. xxxiii. 23) is brought out in the Talmud (Sanh. 103b) as follows:


(Sanh. 104a)

Ahaz suspended the sacrificial worship, Manasseh tore down the altar, Amon made it a place of desolation [covered it with cobwebs]; Ahaz sealed up the scrolls of the Law (Isa. viii. 16), Manasseh cut out the sacred name, Amon burnt the scrolls altogether [compare Seder Olam, R. xxiv. This is derived from the story of the finding of the Book of the Law, II Kings, xxii. 8]; Ahab permitted incest, Manasseh committed it himself, Amon acted as Nero was said to have done toward his mother Agrippina. And yet, out of respect for his son Josiah, Amon’s name was not placed on the list of the kings excluded from the world to come.

[End of quote]


What does gel nicely – according to my revised view that Amon is Haman – is the situation of death of Amon (2 Kings 21:23): “Amon’s officials conspired against him and assassinated the king in his palace”, with the situation of death of Haman (Esther 7:9): “And Harbona, one of the eunuchs that stood waiting on the king, said: ‘Behold the gibbet which [Aman] hath prepared for Mardochai, who spoke for the king, standeth in Aman’s house, being fifty cubits high’. And the king said to him: ‘Hang him upon it’.”


Both deaths occurred violently, at the hands of officials, in the palace (house) of the offender.



In the case of Amon, we get the added note that (2 Kings 21:24): “Then the people of the land killed all who had plotted against King Amon …”.

The “land”, I believe, is Susa, and the Jews (now assisted by the Persian king) are in the midst of a major conflict, yet unresolved, with their enemies. So it may not be surprising to learn that there was a retaliation for the death of Amon-Haman, who had many friends and allies (Esther 5:10-11): “But dissembling his anger, and returning into his house, [Haman] called together to him his friends, and Zares his wife. And he declared to them the greatness of his riches, and the multitude of his children, and with how great glory the king had advanced him above all his princes and servants”.


A concluding note


New problems arise from this radical new proposal about King Amon of Judah, which places him much later in time than is usually accepted for him. I have already admitted this above. These problems will be elaborated upon, and hopefully addressed, as this series progresses.



Part Two:

Some implications of Amon’s being Jehoiachin-Haman 



“Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he was king [reigned] three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was

Nehushta daughter of Elnathan from Jerusalem”.


 2 Kings 24:8



At the end of Part One I noted that “new problems arise from this radical new proposal about King Amon of Judah, which places him much later in time than is usually accepted for him”. These “problems” are not insignificant.


First of all, this deeper revision must affect the sequence of the latter kings of Judah as currently set out in 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, etc.

For instance, Amon can no longer be the father of Josiah as recorded in various places. E.g.:


2 Kings 21:24;

2 Chronicles 33:25;

Jeremiah 1:2;

Zephaniah 1:1;

Matthew 1:10.


And, considering that the royal sequence is also set out in the New Testament, in Matthew 1:6-11, then the Genealogy of Jesus Christ as we currently have it must be affected as well. According to another version of Matthew 1:10 (ESV), though, Josiah was the son of “Amos”, not Amon: “… Hezekiah [was] the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah …”.

Bible Gateway adds the note to this: “Matthew 1:10 Amos is probably an alternate spelling of Amon; some manuscripts Amon; twice in this verse”.

In actual fact, the names “Amos” and “Amon” are two entirely different names.

The fact that “Amos” can appear instead of “Amon” may give me some hope now for thinking that there is a certain leeway for rejecting Amon as the father of Josiah.


And, perfectly in accord with my revised view that King Amon of Judah was also the wicked Haman of the Book of Esther is Abarim’s association of these two names:



Associated Biblical names





Other related problems that arise from my deeper revision are the different ages and reign lengths attributed to the supposedly two kings, but whom I am identifying as one, plus three different female names ‘claiming the right’ to be the king of Judah’s mother:


2 Kings 21:19:Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem two years. His mother’s name was Meshullemeth daughter of Haruz; she was from Jotbah”.


2 Kings 24:8: “Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he was king [reigned] three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Nehushta daughter of Elnathan from Jerusalem”.


Esther 3:1: “After these events, King Xerxes honored Haman son of Hammedatha …”, she being queen Hamutal (Hammutal) of 2 Kings 23:30 according to my revision.



Part Three:

Re-casting the sequence of Judaean kings




“Now after this he (King Manasseh) built a wall without the city of David, on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, even to the entering in at the fish gate, and compassed about Ophel, and raised it up a very great height, and put captains of war in all the fenced cities of Judah.”


2nd Chronicles 33:14




With King Amon of Judah identified in this present series with Haman of the Book of Esther – described as a “king” in Queen Esther’s prayer (14:10), “to magnify forever a mortal king” – and whom I have previously identified with King Jehoiachin (var. Coniah) of Judah, and hence having now detected a duplicating sequence embedded in our various lists of Judaean kings, it becomes necessary to attempt to re-cast the royal list without any such duplications.    


Let us turn again the Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah in Matthew 1, to that part of Matthew’s list from King David to Jeconiah (= Amon) (vv. 7-11):


David was the father of Solomon …

Solomon the father of Rehoboam,

Rehoboam the father of Abijah,

Abijah the father of Asa,

Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,

Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,

Jehoram the father of Uzziah,

Uzziah the father of Jotham,

Jotham the father of Ahaz,

Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,

Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,

Manasseh the father of Amon,

Amon the father of Josiah,

and Josiah the father of Jeconiah ….


As has often been pointed out, four known kings (Ahaziah, Joash, Amaziah and Jehoiakim) are missing from Matthew’s list here, making it seem to many to be artificially constructed.

  1. M. Williams, for instance, will wonder about three of these missing Judaean kings, in his “A word on the skipped generations in Matthew’s genealogy”:



But in addition to the striking features of the schema, there are some nettlesome ones as well: namely, Matthew has to skip a few kings in order to make the second block of fourteen “work” (compare, for instance, 1:8-9 with 1 Chronicles 3:11-12–what happened to Ahaziah, Joash and Amaziah?) and the final block, if you count, actually only has thirteen generations.  One question which came up in our study yesterday was basically What are we to make of this?  Are we now resting our faith on a lie?  If Jesus was not born precisely forty nine generations after Abraham, is our faith in vain?

[End of quote]


I have wondered especially about the omission of the mighty kings, Joash and Amaziah, who, though they erred, do not appear to have been so consistently bad as, say, Ahaz, or Manasseh, who are included in the list. But, in the end, I had acquiesced to arguments connecting them with the Omride queen, Athaliah – although that would apply more directly to king Jehoram (who was married to her, 2 Kings 8:18), who is not omitted from the list.   


But now, with duplications recognised (if I am on the right track), there is no longer need for Joash and Amaziah to be excluded from the list. {Though I can accept, perhaps, that their predecessor Ahaziah might be omitted as constituting a ‘lost generation’}.


Taking the first ten generations in the list, I would like to suggest the following emendations (in bold print):


David was the father of Solomon …

Solomon the father of Rehoboam,

Rehoboam the father of Abijah,

Abijah the father of Asa,

Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,

Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,

Jehoram the father of Joash,

Joash the father of Amaziah,

Amaziah the father of Uzziah,

Uzziah the father of Jotham,

Jotham the father of Ahaz,

Ahaz the father of Hezekiah ….


Ten generations now enlarged to twelve.

Conventionally, we still have yet four generations left (a total of 12+4 = 16), which would spoil Matthew’s neat sequence of fourteens:


Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,

Manasseh the father of Amon,

Amon the father of Josiah,

and Josiah the father of Jeconiah ….


We now, therefore, have 2 generations too many.

However, with Amon now folded into Jeconiah (or Jehoiachin) as according to this series, and with Amon no longer recognised as the father of Josiah, but rather one named “Amos” thus being recognised, then, finally – and what I have long wondered about – Hezekiah can now be identified with his mirror-image Josiah.

Manasseh now becomes the wicked Jehoiakim, another of those kings who has been left out of Matthew’s genealogical list.

And “Amos”, the father of Josiah, becomes Ahaz, the father of Hezekiah.

The name Amos, or Amoz, is only a consonant different from Ahaz.

This would therefore be my emended list:


Hezekiah [=Josiah] the father of Manasseh [=Jehoiakim],

Manasseh the father of Amon =Jehoiachin] ….


Fourteen generations.


If Manasseh were Jehoiakim, then that would explain, for one, why the prophet Jeremiah names Manasseh as the reason for the Babylonian enmity (Jeremiah 15:4): “I will make them abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth because of what Manasseh son of Hezekiah king of Judah did in Jerusalem”, even though Jehoiakim was just as evil and was, conventionally speaking, far closer in time to the Babylonian troubles than was Manasseh.

Again it would explain the strong tradition of the prophet Isaiah’s being martyred during the reign of king Manasseh.

“Michael A. Knibb writes: “The Martyrdom of Isaiah is a Jewish work which has come down to us as part of a larger Christian composition known as the Ascension of Isaiah”.”

http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/ascensionisaiah.html Un-mentioned in the Bible in connection with king Manasseh, qua Manasseh, this incident can (I think) be related to the martyrdom of the prophet Uriah (var. Urijah) during the reign of Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 26:23): “And they fetched forth Urijah out of Egypt, and brought him to Jehoiakim the king; who slew him with the sword, and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people”.

Uriah now becomes Isaiah.

Incidentally, the prophet Uriah was “fetched forth” from Egypt by an “Elnathan” (v. 27), who may well be the same as the father of king Jehoiachin’s mother, “Nehushta daughter of Elnathan” (2 Kings 24:8): “His mother’s name was Nehushta daughter of Elnathan …”.


Unlike king Amon/Jehoiachin, who evolved into Haman, and who “humbled not himself before the Lord [but who] trespassed more and more”, his similarly long-reigning (in captivity) father, king Manasseh/Jehoiakim, thankfully, “had humbled himself” (2 Chronicles 33:22, 23).


The conversion of King Manasseh is told in vv. 11-13:


Therefore the Lord brought against them the army commanders of the Assyrian king; they captured Manasseh with hooks, shackled him with chains, and transported him to Babylon. In his distress, he began to appease the Lord, his God. He humbled himself abjectly before the God of his ancestors, and prayed to him. The Lord let himself be won over: he heard his prayer and restored him to his kingdom in Jerusalem. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is indeed God.


As we read at the beginning, king Manasseh began the rebuilding and fortifying of Jerusalem.


I would tentatively identify king Manasseh/Jehoiakim with the “Sheshbazzar prince of Judah” of Ezra 1:8: “Cyrus king of Persia brought these out in the charge of Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah”.

“Sheshbazzar” would of course have been the king’s Babylonian name, given to him in captivity. As we do not hear any more about Sheshbazzar, he, now aged (if he were Manasseh), may well have died not long afterwards – or simply left the overseeing of the remaining building work to younger men.



Part Four:

Who was the actual mother of King Amon of Judah?



“After these events, King Ahasuerus honored Haman son of Hammedatha …”.


Esther 3:1




Having alter egos for King Amon of Judah, whilst serving to solve certain problems according to the findings of this series, also adds a few complications as I noted in Part Two:


“Other related problems that arise from my deeper revision are the different ages and reign lengths attributed to the supposedly two kings, but whom I am identifying as one, plus three different female names ‘claiming the right’ to be the king of Judah’s mother:


2 Kings 21:19:Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem two years. His mother’s name was Meshullemeth daughter of Haruz; she was from Jotbah”.


2 Kings 24:8: “Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he was king [reigned] three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Nehushta daughter of Elnathan from Jerusalem”.


Esther 3:1: “After these events, King Ahasuerus honored Haman son of Hammedatha …”, she being queen Hamutal (Hammutal) of 2 Kings 23:30 according to my revision”.


Actually, I have already partly solved the problem of ‘three mothers’ for the one king here by indicating that the otherwise unattested “Hammedatha”, of whom Haman was the “son”, was the same as the Jewish queen, Hammutal (or Hamutal).

For Hamutal was not the biological mother of the king, but was the mother of his uncles:


“There is only one Hamutal in the Bible, and she is the mother of kings Jehoahaz and Zedekiah of Judah (2 Kings 23:31, 24:18, Jeremiah 52:1)”.

{That these kings could have more than the one name is attested by Zedekiah originally having been Mattaniah (2 Kings 24:17)}


As to whether either Meshullemeth (above), said to be the mother of Amon, or Nehushta (above), said to be the mother of (Amon’s alter ego) Jehoiachin, was the actual biological mother, I have not looked into the matter yet deeply enough to make any sort of judgment.

One possibility to be considered is that Meshullemeth and Nehushta were the same person, though with different patronymics due to possible differentiation between father and grandfather.

But, whatever may be the case, we have easily managed to reduce three ‘mothers’ to two.


Differing ages and reign lengths: Amon … twenty-two years old … he reigned in Jerusalem two years; Jehoiachin … eighteen years old … he … [reigned] three months in Jerusalem, can readily be accounted for by co-regency.





Image result for army of cambyses



Damien F. Mackey



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




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

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


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


Part Two:

Named Nebuchednezzar, and can be Nebuchednezzar

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


and Part Two:


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


Part Three:

‘Sacred disease’ (read madness) of King Cambyses

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

Thus Horn wrote:


…. Since Daniel records that Nebuchadnezzar was “driven from men” (Dan. 4:33) but later reinstated as king by his officials (verse 36), Evilmerodach, Nebuchadnezzar’s eldest son, may have served as regent during his father’s incapacity. Official records, however, show Nebuchadnezzar as king during his lifetime.



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

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



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

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

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

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


[End of quote]






Herodotus’ Comment on Cambyses’ Madness


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

[End of quote]



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

For example (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11594937):


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


The sacred disease of Cambyses II.


York GK1, Steinberg DA.



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

[End of quote]


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


Messing with the rites

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


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


Confounding the Astrologers


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


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


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


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

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

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


[End of quote]


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


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


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


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

[End of quote]


According to Encyclopaedia Iranica on Cambyses II:



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

[End of quote]


Part Four:

King Cambyses’ wanton treatment of Egypt-Ethiopia


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

Cambyses destroying all the temples of the Egyptian gods”.

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

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


Nebuchednezzar II was, very early in his reign, militarily involved against Egypt – with greater or lesser success. http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Nebuchadnezzar.aspx


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


Nebuchadnezzar’s Conquests

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


[End of quote]


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


But sceptics say that Nebuchednezzar II never actually succeeded in conquering Egypt, hence the Bible is wrong, and that it was Cambyses instead who conquered Egypt. For instance: http://www.sanityquestpublishing.com/essays/BabEgypt.html




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


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


If you disagree with the preceding statement, the rest of this essay will be irrelevant to you, because you will be judging all historical evidence by its conformity to the Bible. This makes you literally not worth talking to outside of the company of others who do the same. Such Christians to try to muddy historical evidence that contradicts the Bible. e.g. One proposed that there were two Nebuchadnezzars, the second being Cambyses: http://www.biblestudyguide.org/comment/calvin/comm_vol24/htm/xiii.ii.htm (Actually there were two Nebs, but the first ruled Babylon c.1124-1104BC.)  This essay is based on the assumption that the historical parts of the Bible should be judged for accuracy by the same rules as any other ancient historical document.


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

[End of quote]


Cambyses in Egypt


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


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




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

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

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


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




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

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

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


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

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




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

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




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

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

[End of quote]

Part Five: Cambyses – in your dreams



“Cambyses has a “Nebuchednezzar” like dream-vision

of a king whose head touched heaven”.



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

For example, I wrote previously:


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

[End of quote]


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


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


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

[End of quote]


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

Karen Radner tells of Ashurbanipal’s reliance upon dreams, in Of God(s), Trees, Kings, and scholars (p. 224): https://www.ucl.ac.uk/sargon/downloads/radner_fs_parpola_2009.pdf


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

[End of quote]


Now, what of Cambyses in this regard?

Well, according to Herodotus (http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/herodotus/cambyses.htm)


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

[End of quote]

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

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

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

How did Nebuchednezzar manage to tear offenders limb from limb?  

Image result for ashurbanipal lions



Damien F. Mackey



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

and your houses shall be laid in ruins’.

 Daniel 2:5




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


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


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


Was Daniel Twice in the Lions’ Den?



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

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


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


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


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


Ashurbanipal and Nabonidus



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

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

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


Ashurbanipal, too, helps in various ways.

He, we have found, had a lions’ den.

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



Early parts of Book of Daniel clearly based upon Nabonidus

Part One:

Failure by scholars to make right connections



 Damien F. Mackey


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

Amanda Davis Bledsoe



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


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


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


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


Does King Nabonidus Reflect Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar”?




and, again, John A. Tvedtnes in my:


Ashurbanipal and Nabonidus




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

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



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

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



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




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




Part Two:

“Nebuchednezzar” and king Nabonidus entwined


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

Amanda Davis Bledsoe




In Part One:

https://www.academia.edu/37294739/Early_parts_of_Book_of_Daniel_clearly_based_upon_Nabonidus._Part_One_Failure_by_scholars_to_make_right_connections we touched upon the perverse tendency of certain scholars, who, whilst identifying an historical-archaeological situation that very much mirrors one recorded in the Bible, do not even consider that there may be a need to reform the conventional dating (historical-archaeological), in order to bring that scenario right into line with the biblical one.

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


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


Again, some kings are in need of alter egos.

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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

[End of quote]


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




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

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


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

Amanda Davis Bledsoe continues:


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


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


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


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


The Frightful Dream


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Length of Absence


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

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

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

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

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

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


Cause of his «madness»


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

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

He [Nabonidus] wrote upon his stel[as: «I did cause him [Cyrus] to prostrate] at my feet. I conquered his countries. I took his possessions to [my country]». He [Nabonidus] would stand up in the assembly (and) praise him[self]: «I am wise. I am knowledgeable. I have seen hid[den things]. (Although) I do not know the art of writing, I have seen se[cret things]…I surpass in all (kinds of) wisdom (even the series)

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

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


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


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


Prayer and Repentance


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Image result for king belshazzar



 Damien F. Mackey


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



A perfect example of what will happen when a well-intentioned commentator attempts to defend the historicity of the Book of Daniel within the structures of convention is found in the following article grappling with “The Belshazzar Problem”, at Unam Sanctam Catholicam: http://www.unamsanctamcatholicam.com/history/historical-apologetics/79-history/402-the-belshazzar-problem.html


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

What the Scriptures Say

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

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

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

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

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

The Ancient Historians

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

1) Nebuchadnezzar

2) Evil-Merodach

3) Negrilissar

4) Labashi-Marduk

5) Nabonidus


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

The Nabonidus Cylinder

The Nabonidus Cylinder, British Museum

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

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


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

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


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


“Nebuchednezzar” of the Book of Daniel





Ashurbanipal and Nabonidus




The Unam Sanctam Catholicam article continues:

Other cylinders in the collection shed light on this.

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

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

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

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


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


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




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


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

Son of Nebuchadnezzar?

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

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

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

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

The Sequence of Events

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


  • King Cyrus of Persia defeated Nabonidus in battle outside the city.
  • Nabonidus fled. He later surrendered and Cyrus spared his life.
  • The Persians besieged Babylon, then under the control of Belshazzar.
  • Belshazzar, thinking himself safe behind Babylon’s famous triple-walls, did not bother with a spirited defense, but instead feasted and made merry as he was wont to do.
  • The Persians, however, diverted the Euphrates, causing the water-level in a culvert to drop. This allowed them to wade through waist-deep water into the city, and surprised the defenders.
  • The city was taken without a fight. Surprised and caught in a scuffle in the palace, Belshazzar was slain.


This sequence of events is consonant with the histories of Berosus, Herodotus, et al., is faithful to what we know of Nabonidus and Belshazzar from the Nabonidus Cylinders, follows the narrative of the Book of Daniel, and is not at all implausible.

The skeptics who claim the Book of Daniel is unhistorical will need to look elsewhere.


[1] Nabonidus Cylinder, iii.3-31

[2] Nabonidus Cylinder, ii. 18-29



My Conclusion


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


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

Daniel was the wisest of the wise

Image result for wise prophet daniel



 Damien F. Mackey


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

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



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


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


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


Even more to Daniel than may meet the eye




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



During the reign of Nebuchednezzar II



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




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


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



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


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


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

[End of quote]


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


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

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


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

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

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

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



Young Daniel and the Susanna Incident



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


Daniel 13:45-46



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


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




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


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

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

See e.g. my:


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





Lovely Susanna became the great Queen Esther




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

On this, see my:


Identity of the ‘Daniel’ in Ezekiel 14 and 28




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



During the reign of Belshazzar



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

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




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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


In the third year of King Belshazzar’s reign, I, Daniel, had a vision, after the one that had already appeared to me. In my vision I saw myself in the citadel of Susa in the province of Elam; in the vision I was beside the Ulai Canal. I looked up, and there before me was a ram with two horns, standing beside the canal, and the horns were long. One of the horns was longer than the other but grew up later. I watched the ram as it charged toward the west and the north and the south. No animal could stand against it, and none could rescue from its power. It did as it pleased and became great.


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

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

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

During the reign of Darius the Mede


‘This is the inscription that was written:

mene, mene, tekel, parsin

Here is what these words mean:

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

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

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

 Daniel 5:25-28




The prophet Daniel spells it out clearly here.

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

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


At first it would appear that Daniel might have been destined to live under a more serene and well-ordered ruler, after the fierce and mercurial Nebuchednezzar and his ne’er do well, son, Belshazzar. For, ccording to Daniel 6:1-3:


It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.


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

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

And they were jealous of Daniel.


What was Daniel’s status at this time?


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

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

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

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

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


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


This is most ominous.

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

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


Is the Book of Esther a Real History? Part Two




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

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


At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, ‘We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God’.


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


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

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

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

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

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


Toledôt Explains Abram’s Pharaoh




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


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


Was Daniel Twice in the Lions’ Den?




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

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


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

“This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:

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


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


Even more to Daniel than may meet the eye




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

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


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


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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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



During the reign of Darius the Persian




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




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


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

“This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:

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


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

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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


He is clearly the leading priest at the time.

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

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


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

Nehemiah’s prayer went something like this:

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

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

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




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


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



During the reign of Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’



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

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



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


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


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

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

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


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


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


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


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




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

2 Maccabees 14:37-38




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