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by Daniel Whedon
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
I. HISTORY OF THE DANIEL BOOK:
1 . Manuscripts and Versions
2. The Daniel Book among the Jews
3. History of the Book in the Christian Church (Course of Modern Criticism)
II. ORIGIN, CHARACTER, AND CONTENTS:
1. Standpoint and Method
2. The Daniel Book Contains True Prophecy
3. It is Not a History but an Apocalypse
4. Was the Book Written in the Sixth Century Before Christ?
5. Ancient Materials Used in the Daniel Book
6. Its Unity and Authorship
7. Its Linguistic Peculiarities
8. Alleged Historical Inaccuracies
9. Its Theological Character
10. The Great Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks (Daniel 9:24-27)
III. HERO AND HISTORICAL BACKGROUND:
1 . The Man Daniel
2. International Intercourse in Nebuchadnezzar’s Time and Earlier
3. The Kings Mentioned in the Book of Daniel
(2) Immediate Successors of Nebuchadnezzar
(3) Nabonidus, the Father of Belshazzar
(5) Darius the Mede
(6) Cyrus the Persian
4. Babylon and its Fall
5. Comparative Chronological Tablet of Critical Events
ANALYSIS OF THE BOOK
NOTES AND COMMENTS
INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF DANIEL.
MANY important problems connected with this book, on which entire libraries have been written, cannot be discussed in the notes. We will now make a brief statement of some of these problems and of what we think to be the most reasonable attempts to solve them. We will discuss, first, the History of the Book; secondly, its Origin, Character, and Contents; thirdly, its Hero and Historical Background.
I. History of the Daniel Book.
1 . MANUSCRIPTS AND VERSIONS. No complete Hebrew manuscript of Daniel or of any other Old Testament book more than one thousand years old is now known. These comparatively late copies rest, however, as all admit, upon ancient originals now worn out or destroyed; and notwithstanding the multitude of variants and interpolations arising during the centuries, through the methods of copying and transmission, it may be said of the Bible books generally that the Hebrew text has remained substantially the same. (See especially Konig, Einleitung, 1893.*)
[* Dr. Kuenen, upon comparison of the Hebrew Pentateuch with the Samaritan which had been in the hands of enemies of the Jews for millenniums was surprised to discover that the difference between these two texts was immaterial. Recent discoveries have also proved the accuracy with which the text of ancient classics like the Iliad was preserved and transmitted for centuries. It is also suggestive that the oldest manuscript of the Avesta is of the thirteenth century A.D., and the oldest manuscript of the Rig Veda even younger. Max Muller believed that these books were transmitted orally for fifteen hundred years, without essential modification, before they were ever written.] The variations in the different Daniel manuscripts, and especially those between the Hebrew and the Greek texts, are about as numerous in Daniel as in Jeremiah or Ezekiel. The Book of Daniel was not read in the synagogue, and would not, therefore, receive the same scrupulous care in copying and transmitting that the Jews gave to the Law and the Prophets.
Scholars agree that the LXX. version of Daniel was made not later than 100 B.C. (Compare, for example, Daniel 12:11, with 1Ma 1:54 .) This differs from the Hebrew text in a particularly marked degree in Daniel 3:1 to Daniel 6:11. The present Greek text also contains additional stories of an especially fabulous character Susanna, Song of the Three Children, Bel and the Dragon although in the oldest Greek codex extant these are indicated as later additions, not belonging to the original text. It is also noticeable that the original LXX. (the Codex Chisianus) and, in a less degree, the Greek version of Theodotion (180 A.D., or earlier) contain a number of passages in a much briefer and less rhetorical form than that in which they appear in our present Hebrew text; which would suggest that an older and purer original lies behind these, probably independent, recensions. Riessler, Das Buch Daniel (1899), shows that the LXX. is based upon an original Hebrew text, while Gaster has traced the apocryphal additions to the oldest Aramaic original ( S.B.A., November 6, 1894).
Antiochus Epiphanes made a direct attack upon the Jewish holy books ( 1Ma 1:56 ; 1Ma 3:48 ; 2Ma 7:24-30 ; Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, book xii, chaps. 3, 4), which was followed in later times by other persecutions of like character in which all copies of the Scriptures which could be seized were destroyed. This may account for the peculiar fact, equally inexplicable upon any theory of the origin of the book, that part of our present Daniel is written in Hebrew and part in Aramaic (Introduction, II, 7).
The early fathers, including Hippolytus (cir. 200 A.D.), commonly used the version of Theodotion, which finally became so popular that it replaced that of the earlier text in the LXX., and is so printed to this day.
The Peshito (second century A.D.), the Vulgate (390-405 A.D.), and the later Coptic and Arabic versions differ very slightly from our received text.
2 . THE DANIEL BOOK AMONG THE JEWS. Possible references to the Book of Daniel have been seen in Zechariah 1:18 (compare chap. 8), and in Nehemiah 9:0 (compare chap. 9), and possibly also in Malachi 3:16 (compare Daniel 12:1); but the earliest undisputed reference in literature is the celebrated passage in the Sibylline Oracles (iii, 396-400):
Having given forth one sucker, which the destroyer of men shall cut off
From ten horns, he shall plant another sucker beside,
He shall cut off the warrior, father of the purple race,
And himself by sons whom he shall receive into equal rule be slain, and then
shall the horn planted by him rule.
All critics see in this passage, which Thomson dates 170 B.C., and Bevan and Prince admit to be about 140 B.C., a distinct allusion to Antiochus Epiphanes and the “ten horns” of Daniel 7:7; Daniel 7:20; Daniel 7:24.
The next clear reference is in the Book of Enoch, in passages (dated 170-160 B.C. by the latest critical editor, R.H. Charles) which speak of the four great world powers, a resurrection of righteous Israelites and everlasting blessedness, the judgment upon the wicked when “He comes with ten thousands of his holy ones,” and in which many figures such as the “ram,” “horns,” “a great horn,” etc., and many phrases such as “the glorious land,” cause the reader to immediately think of the visions and language of Daniel.
Following closely upon this is 1Ma 2:49-69 (cir. 100 B.C.), in which the dying Mattathias (B.C. 166) encourages his sons by reciting the then evidently well-known stories of the three Hebrew children in the flames and Daniel in the lions’ den.
After this period the influence of the Book of Daniel is undisputed and almost immeasurable. No sacred book was more prized by the Jews, and every later Jewish apocalypse was modeled after it or greatly influenced by it. No one doubts that the Jews, including all the writers of the New Testament, accepted this book as canonical Scripture at the beginning of the Christian era. How long previously it had been thus honored is doubtful. Josephus probably expressed correctly the opinion of the Jewish people of his day, that no book later than the days of Artaxerxes had been received into the canon ( Against Apion, Daniel 1:8); but this must not be accepted as a clear proof of the fact. Ben Sirach (cir. 130 B.C.) gives the same divisions of the canonical books which prevailed ever thereafter: (1) The Law ( Torah), (2) The Prophets ( Nebeim), (3) “The Other Writings” ( Kethubim), or Hagiographa. It is indeed just possible that Ben Sirach did not regard this third section as canonical (Buhl, The Canon, 1892), but certainly in the next generation books which were in this section were thus regarded ( 1Ma 2:59-60 ). The main doubt is whether Ben Sirach reckoned Daniel among “The Other Writings.” He does not mention Daniel by name or give a complete list of the contents of this third division of the sacred books.*
[* No such conclusion is permissible here as Thomson draws concerning the necessary fixity of the canon at this time ( Pulpit Commentary, 1897, xxxv), None of the references up to this time distinctly mention the Daniel book.] The Talmud not only places Daniel above all the wise books of the heathen, but says, in its customary hyperbolic language, that it is to be preferred to all other prophets ( Joma, 77, a, quoted by Behrmann).
Josephus, at the beginning of the Christian era, speaks in the highest terms of the Daniel book, and gives it as one of the national memories though this is not given credence by modern scholars that Alexander the Great was won to honor the Jewish people because of the prophecy concerning himself which he had been shown in this ancient book ( Antiquities, Daniel 11:8 ; Daniel 11:5).
That Daniel’s “Son of man” referred to a personal Messiah seems not to have been doubted for many centuries by the Jews. The common use of this term, and other leading ideas borrowed from the Daniel apocalypse in New Testament literature, proves how thoroughly the entire Jewish people were acquainted with the book.
After the rise of Christianity some Rabbis even tried to interpret Daniel’s little horn, with a mouth speaking great things and forsaking the God of the fathers (Daniel 7:8; Daniel 7:25), as a polemic against the Christians; but when the “time, times, and fragment of a time” had passed, and Christianity still retained its strength, they began to look with less favor upon the book, and at last gave up almost entirely the use of the ancient name “Son of man” as a Messianic title.
The mediaeval Jewish commentators (Saadia, tenth century; Rashi, eleventh century; and Ben Ezra, twelfth century) are full of curious and fantastical explanations of Daniel’s prophecies, while the leading Jewish scholars of the present day have utterly given up their Messianic hope and explain naturalistically all such passages in Daniel, as they do also the Messianic references in other prophets.
3 . HISTORY OF THE BOOK IN THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH (COURSE OF MODERN CRITICISM). It is admitted by all that for about two thousand years Daniel held a place of honor in the Christian Church rarely, if ever, given to a holy book. Its “philosophy of history” reigned supreme down to very modern times. (Compare even Professor Schlottmann, Kompendium, 1889, p. 67.) Great scientists, like Sir Isaac Newton, vied with the greatest of earth’s historians and theologians in studying its prophecies and explaining them by the “signs of the times.”
True, Porphyry (233-304 A.D.), a Neoplatonic philosopher of Tyre, had written a treatise against Christianity, in the twelfth book of which he had proposed a series of objections to the antiquity of Daniel, declaring that internal evidence proved that it was written by a Palestinian Jew in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes, that the miracles which it recounted were grossly improbable, and its historic statements very unreliable; but in those days of the Church, when martyrs were plenty but Hebrew scholars were scarce, his criticisms made but little impression, especially as several of the most celebrated early fathers (Jerome, Methodius, Eusebius, Apollinarius, and Hieronymus) were able to answer his objections to their own satisfaction, and, so far as can be learned, to that of all their readers.*
[* As his strongest criticisms dealt with the apocryphal account of Susanna, these replies still remain conclusive in so far as they confirmed the unauthenticity of the sections of the book he chiefly assailed.] The earliest commentator was Hippolytus (cir. 200 A.D.). He called Daniel that “blessed prophet who recorded what was revealed to him in visions by the Spirit.” He explained the fourth animal to be the Roman kingdom; the little horn of Daniel 7:8; Daniel 7:20, to be antichrist; that of Daniel 8:11-12, was Antiochus Epiphanes, while the “anointed one” of Daniel 9:24, was Joshua, the son of Josedech. It is interesting to notice that many of his explanations of times and events correspond with modern decisions. He especially warned his contemporaries against the calculations which were even then being made to prove from Daniel that the end of the world was at hand.*
[* A certain Judas, 202 A.D., had supposed himself able to prove perfectly that the end of the world was just a few years distant, and the persecution under Septimus Severus had aroused much faith in this calculation.] All the commentaries and criticisms which followed for some fifteen hundred years were equally “orthodox” with that of Hippolytus. But in the eighteenth century certain writers like Collins, Spinoza, and Hobbes revived the main criticism of that early opponent of Christianity, that the book showed such definite and extensive knowledge of the times of Antiochus Epiphanes, and such slight acquaintance with the ages preceding and following all the narratives being filled with “such stupendous and unique miracles” that it was hardly to be believed it was written by a prophet of the sixth century B.C. or one of his contemporaries.
It is quite probable that this renewed criticism would have caused a deeper examination of the contents of the book and more respectful replies had it not been for the well-known skeptical views of the writers. However, the works of J.D. Michaelis (1772), Eichhorn (1787-1804), and especially that of Bertholdt (1806-1808), brought the scholarship of every nation to bear upon the serious problems of the credibility, authenticity, and unity of Daniel. These scholars did not, as is so often claimed, merely repeat the ancient objections of Porphyry (see, for example, Pilloud, Daniel et le Rationalisme Biblique, 1890, chap. i), but each one made some new contribution toward the final settlement of the question. The last writer especially was very thoroughgoing in his criticism of the common view, which recognized the entire work as coming from the pen of Daniel, but none of them ventured to declare it to be entirely the work of a Maccabean author. Michaelis pointed out that certain chapters (iii-vi) were plainly not from the Daniel era. Eichorn put the last six chapters shortly after the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, while allowing chaps. ii-vi to be passages from an older record which this modern compiler had found. Bertholdt divided the book among nine authors, the divisions corresponding very nearly to the division of chapters, excepting that the eighth author was supposed to write chaps. viii and ix, while the last three chapters were assigned to the final compiler; the first author living in Persian times, the second under Ptolemy Philadelphus, while the others flourished under the Maccabees.
This division of the book into fragments was protested against by Gesenius (1816), Bleek (1822), and De Wette (1832), who made very strong arguments, which, from the radical standpoint, are still regarded as conclusive against the necessity of yielding even a part of the book to ancient authorship.*
[* Corrodi was the first to direct his attack against the entire work, but these greater books have caused his to be almost forgotten.] These latter critics carried their negations to the extreme point of even doubting whether any such person as Daniel ever lived, satirizing the “stupid blunders” with which the entire narrative was filled, and the very “substantial belief” of the critics who, like Hengstenberg, could venture to defend such accounts as true and even as inspired.
From the beginning of the controversy a number of orthodox scholars had taken up arms against these “enemies of Daniel,” and in 1831 Hengstenberg, whose vast learning and ability everyone acknowledged, made an exhaustive reply to all previous critics, which was followed by Havernick in the next year, both maintaining that Daniel was the author of the entire work which had for so many centuries gone by his name, and pointing out various misstatements of fact as well as the striking inconclusiveness of many of the arguments which had been advanced by the defenders of the new view. These great volumes have furnished a treasury of argument for all their successors who have written from the same standpoint. Notable contributions maintaining essentially this position have been made by Stuart (1850), Tregelles (1852), Auberlen (1857), Pusey (1864), Kliefoth and Kranichfeld (1868), Fuller (1864, 1876), Keil (1869), and many others.
Lengerke (1835), Ewald (1841-1867), Hitzig (1850), Graf (1869), Hoffman (1873), and Cheyne (1878) replied with vigor to these arguments; most of these critics, however, admitting that a man by the name of Daniel might have actually resided in Babylonia or Assyria at a time considerably earlier than that at which Ezekiel referred to him (Ezekiel 14:14; Ezekiel 14:20), and also admitting that the orthodox position that the book was “certainly a unity” was probably true, though maintaining with ingenuity and enthusiasm its Maccabean date and its historic unreliability. So thoroughly did these great scholars on both sides fortify their position that Noldeke ( Alt. Test. Lit., 1868) prophesied that no new results could henceforth be reached, excepting in very subordinate details, in the criticism of this “poetical phantasy.” This prophecy, however, has not met a much better fate at the hands of modern critics than some of the prophecies of ancient seers.
While, indeed, the general line of battle is much the same today as it was when Noldeke spoke, yet the issues have changed to some extent, as well as the methods of attack on both sides, while some new and intensely interesting archaeological discoveries have thrown unexpected and brilliant light upon an era which at that time was shrouded in clouds and darkness.
The Hebrew and Aramaic text of the prophecy has yielded some new and valuable returns to the labor expended upon it by Cornill, Bevan, Marti, and others, and the LXX. has been examined afresh by Bludau (1891) and Riessler (1899), while the deeper study of the whole question of prophecy and its development in Israel, and the divine method of revelation as traced in the history of the chosen people and in its sacred literature, has led scholars on both sides of the question to use a more judicial tone in discussion and to be less ready than in a former generation to attribute unchristian motives or crass ignorance to all their opponents.*
[* Pastor Rupprecht, on one side of the controversy, is an unfortunate survival of this class of critics, while on the other side I regret to feel that even Dr. Farrar has occasionally stepped beyond the bounds of respectful dialectics.] It is scarcely too much to say that since Noldeke wrote those words the standpoint of universal scholarship has changed, and every Old Testament problem must now be viewed under new relations. The necessary human element in all prophecy side by side with a divine superintending and protecting Providence is now recognized by the most evangelical scholars, and very few, if any, would now attempt to cut off critical discussion by an a priori dictum as to the necessary method of a divine revelation or by an appeal to the words of our Lord; as if his homiletic references to the law of Moses, the Psalms of David, to Jonah or to Daniel, should be considered as a divine authentication of the traditional origin and authorship of every passage in those writings.*
[* Both Hengstenberg and Auberlen almost apologized for offering any argument at all on the authorship of Daniel; since the divine “Word” had spoken, and therefore, as they supposed, to deny that the book was written by Daniel was to deny the veracity of the Christ, and therefore to strike at the very foundation stone of Christianity. This contingency is seldom presented now by men of good scholarship who have kept abreast of present-day discussions. It is now seen that Christ, as a wise teacher and for pedagogical reasons alone, would have refrained from confusing his hearers by introducing any critical questions of date or authorship. As the great pattern Teacher of the common people he could not have done otherwise than refer to the scriptural books under the titles by which they were commonly known. It did not commit him to any critical position any more than our references to Solomon’s Song, or the books of Job or Jonah or Jude, or the mention of Homer or Shakespeare would commit us to the traditional views concerning the authorship of these well-known works.] The new standpoint from which the composition of all the Old Testament books is now viewed is chiefly responsible for the fact that so few scholars of international reputation are today defending the same thesis, concerning the unity and entire authorship of the Daniel book by Daniel himself and its immaculate historic perfection, which Hengstenberg, Pusey, etc., felt to be so necessary to the maintenance of Christian faith. With the assistance of the new archaeological discoveries which are almost all on the side of the old views, notwithstanding Professor Sayce’s virile phraseology ( Higher Criticism, 1894) a very much better defense of the historic statements could now be made than that which was attempted by Pusey, or even by Lenormant; but infallibility of speech, memory, or historic knowledge is not now felt by most theologians to be the absolutely necessary qualification of a holy prophet.
Therefore, while in former generations it was usually those who doubted whether miracle or true prediction were possible who were the almost exclusive advocates of the “fly-leaf” theory (according to which various sections of the Daniel book had been in existence from ancient times but were brought together and edited in the Maccabean era, with certain modifications of the original materials), this has now become the most popular, as from the conservative critical standpoint it is in connection with the view which makes the entire writing an inspired apocalypse the strongest position of the most evangelical defenders of a divine revelation. Pastor Rupprecht, one of the few German writers who still retains the old standpoint, when he published in 1894 his Der Pseudodaniel was able to number only Professor Green, of America (whom he counted the greatest of all), Bohl, A. Zahn, Klostermann, and Kohler as those who were defenders of the views which he favored. Even this list contains the name of at least one scholar who could hardly, with justice, be counted; for Kohler, that most orthodox of the orthodox, in his Lehrbuch, ii, p. 537 (1893), accepts the modern theory of a Maccabean editor for the Daniel book, only emphasizing the point that the visions had really come from the prophet Daniel himself, and that the modern editor had published these without change, except for short superscriptions introducing each vision, and an historic introduction in which he put together what was known by him concerning Daniel and his friends.
A few other names might, however, have been added by Rupprecht such as Fuller (1876), Pilloud (1890), and Knabenbauer (1891), to which might now be added Anderson (1895), Urquhart and Alberts (1896), Thomson (1897), and Kennedy (1898) but it is a significant fact, which he and his friend Adolph Zahn acknowledge, that all the German universities excepting Erlangen and Kiel have yielded to the new criticism. And what is true of Germany is equally true of England, and almost equally true of America.
It is a significant fact, also, however it may be explained or regretted, that the very men who in the last generation in Germany did the best work in exposing the weakness and falsity of the positions of the radical and destructive “Higher Critics,” and who to-day are the pride and strength of the evangelical Church firm believers in God, miracle, true prophecy, and a supernatural revelation which was consummated and fulfilled in Christ Jesus are the men who, while still maintaining that the Book of Daniel contains a true prophecy worthy of the spirit of the ancient Daniel, yet admit that the ancient materials, whether written or oral, used in the book were put into their present form by a writer of the Maccabean era. The mere mention of such names as Orelli, Halevy, Konig, Von D.W. Fr. Gess, Marcus Dods, George Adam Smith, C.H.H. Wright, and Professor Robertson and this list could easily be increased tenfold ought to be more convincing than an extended argument in showing the far-reaching influence of the new view among scholars of the most conservative and evangelical spirit.
It perhaps also should be added that many of the most celebrated “defenders of the faith” who a generation ago were the chief leaders of the Church in maintaining the old view concerning Daniel have in their later works taken their places with the majority of evangelical scholars; for example, Delitzsch, Zockler, Strack, Kahnis, Kohler, etc.*
[* This ought forever to dispose of such statements as that of Ebrard, echoed by so many others, that the new view concerning Daniel “has for its sole support only theological doubts of the possibility of prophecy in general, and of a prophecy so minute in particular.”] Among recent commentaries from scholars occupying this middle ground, though more radical than several of the authors named above, may be especially mentioned those of Meinhold (1889), Terry (1893), Behrmann (1894), Boehmer (1899), while the “Introductions” of Driver (1891) and Konig (1893) take the same position. In contradiction to these stand the more radical writers who think the whole book is an original composition of an unknown writer, 168-164 B.C., who wrote from political motives and whose prophecies are as unreliable as his history. Kuenen has been the leader of this school. (See especially Onderzoek, 2:1891.) His critical conclusions are accepted in the main by many writers, including Reuss (1890), Ryle aud Bevan (1892), Kamphausen (1893), Farrar (1895), and Prince (l899), although many scholars who agree with him in his estimate of the Daniel book by no means accept his negative views concerning prophecy in general. The tendency at present, among even rationalistic critics, seems to be toward a more respectful and even reverent treatment of this “blessed prophecy.”*
[* Professor Driver’s commentary on Daniel, in the Cambridge Bible, published too late to be used in this work, should be added to the list of recent valuable discussions on this book.] II. Origin, Character, and Contents.
That which is too difficult for thee, why shouldest thou know?
That which is deeper than Sheol, why shouldest thou search out?
Attend to that which is permitted to thee,
thou hast no business in hidden things.
Take sixty counselors, but the counsel of thy heart do not abandon.
Ben Sira (New Manuscript).
Particularly during the last half century all the critical tests of modern scholarship have been applied to this book in order to determine the meaning of these narratives and prophecies, as well as their age, authorship, credibility, and canonicity. While there is now practical unanimity among scholars on several of these points, on others there is still great diversity of judgment. Concerning no other biblical book have such utterly contradictory conclusions been expressed with such happy confidence and with such intemperate scorn of all opposing views.
1 . STANDPOINT AND METHOD. In every historic and theological investigation much depends upon one’s standpoint and presuppositions. Nowhere has this truth been illustrated in a more vivid and startling way than in the criticism of this book.
(1) Some critics have had their conclusions determined for them, even before the investigation began, because of their conviction that any other conclusion than that which the “Church” had generally held in past time concerning the age or authorship of a biblical book ought not to be reached by any true “son of the Church.” To obtain any other conclusion would be to prove oneself a “heretic,” “infidel,” “blasphemer.” He who writes upon the Book of Daniel from such a standpoint might as well announce his conclusions before beginning his study as afterward. Such works are of no scientific value, because they are too rich in the “treasures of knowledge and divination.”
(2) Others, because of their a priori denial of miracles and all supernatural foresight of the future, are compelled necessarily to place the Daniel book after the events predicted and sufficiently far from the supposed time when the miracles occurred to allow for the growth of such fabulous stories or myths. Holding it as an assured fact that the same scales were upon the eyes of the prophet as on the eyes of other men, such a critic must necessarily affirm that if a clear and definite reference is made in the prophecy to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, for example, that of itself proves unmistakably that the supposed prophecy cannot be dated earlier than that time; that is, they are compelled to say that if a prediction of the far future has been proved to be true it is for that very reason proved to be a late fabrication and thus their conclusions are infallibly determined beforehand by their presuppositions. Free criticism is as impossible for such scholars as for those handicapped by dogmatic prejudices.*
[* Many of the critics whose decisions concerning Daniel seem to be considered authoritative by some evangelical scholars could not reach any other conclusions without a total change in the fundamental tenets of their philosophy and theology. It is not simply the Book of Daniel that is a late fiction and the product of deceit, but “the whole is tainted” (Wellhausen). Marquart ( Geschichte, 1896) bluntly expresses the standpoint of many German commentators when he writes that “it is taken as a ground assumption that the whole of Hebrew history, as we now have it, so far as form and arrangement are concerned, does not belong to the time nor to the writers to which it is attributed, and may therefore be classed as apocryphal.” Kuenen plainly says that if he could not explain away any supposed fulfillment of prophecy, and was forced to put the utterance before its fulfillment, he would be obliged to explain the phenomenon by “presentiment” or “magnetic vision” ( Prophets and Prophecy, p. 325). Zockler was correct when he declared that the radical critics had kindled a fire which, if it ran its course, would burn down all the Prophetic literature ( Evan. Kirch. Zeitung, January 24, 1891). Montefiore, Hibbert lecturer for 1892, has boldly said that all prophecy is pseudepigraphic, and ventures to affirm that “it will not be long before the miracles of the New Testament are discredited like those of the Old Testament.”]
(3) Others, still, though not denying a supernatural and divine element in history and revelation, yet hold as a basal critical principle that the ancient belief concerning the age, authorship, and historic credibility of the various Old Testament books is valueless and should be ignored in the discussion. The claims of each book, and of each statement of fact contained in it, should be examined de novo. The questions of date, credibility, etc., should be considered as absolutely open questions, to be determined solely in the light of existing evidence.
This principle that no book or section of a book shall be assigned to any age or author earlier than that in which it can be proved to be written by evidence now in existence, and that each statement of fact must be received with doubt unless otherwise corroborated is the one accepted to-day by many of the most honored biblical scholars.
Yet this is a principle which ought not to go unchallenged. It was critical adherence to this very principle which caused the best scholarship of the world, a generation or more ago, to give decisions concerning the Iliad of Homer, and the early traditional history of Egypt and Babylon, which to-day seem most absurd in the light of our present archaeological knowledge. It was denied, and proof to the contrary was challenged, that there was ever in existence such an individual as Moses, or that Beni Israel had ever been in Egypt, or that any such nations as the Hittites or the Sabeans had ever lived in Palestine or Arabia, or that any such city as Nineveh was ever located on the Tigris, or that any such ruler as Pul was ever king of Assyria, while Daniel and Belshazzar were counted equally mythical, and the New Testament history was considered a late and rather fabulous production.
In oriental history and in New Testament criticism these conclusions have all been rendered ridiculous by the new discoveries. But it is not yet clearly seen that the basal principle of the investigation which led to such conclusions was unjust. An illustration of results obtained by energetically carrying out this principle has recently been given by the eminent scholar M. Havet, who, in his Le Judaisme, 1891, dates the Hexateuch about the beginning of the fourth century B.C.; no one of the prophets being earlier than 200 B.C. and most of them later than this; Tiglath-pileser, Sennacherib, Nebuchadnezzar, and all the other celebrated kings of whom Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel are supposed to speak, being only name masks for Antiochus Epiphanes, or Herod, or some other Maccabean or later hero! The reply of Kuenen ( Revue de l’Histoire des Religions, 1894) is convincing as far as it goes; nevertheless Darmesteter is right when he says that Havet has given to the more radical critics an important “lesson in method” ( Les Prophetes, 1892).
(4) We hold that no ancient occupant of any place of honor should be compelled to produce instanter his title deeds at the peril of losing the inheritance which has been his from immemorial time. The only just thing would be to prove that he had falsely possessed it, before asking for his ejection. No statement in these ancient Scriptures should be counted false until proved by outside testimony to be true. Rather the burden of proof should always be placed upon the critic who challenges the age of the author or his truthfulness, and unless he can prove his contention he must lose his case.
We hold also, however, that there is nothing more impious than the denial of a proved fact. Facts are as sacred as the tables of stone graven by the finger of Jehovah. He who attempts to uphold the “ark of the Lord” by denying, ignoring, or glossing over any fact which seems adverse to the ancient claims of any scriptural book, or which seems to contradict its statements, is thereby proving his lack of faith in God and in the Holy Oracles. God can take care of his own word, and no fact, or series of facts, can do permanent harm to the truth. We may have to revise our opinions concerning inspiration and the divinely chosen methods and channels of revelation, but God will not let the truth kill any doctrine or faith which he thinks worth while to keep alive.*
[* Reuss, in his History of the Canon, has this reference to free criticism, which ought to be widely repeated: “Criticism is no longer the weapon or the privilege of a party; it is not now a weapon at all unless against historic error. It is a method for finding the truth of facts, a method for the use of all, indispensable to all, suspected only by ignorance, neglected or denied solely by those who tremble instinctively for what they had previously learned, and who, for that reason, wish facts to bend to their theories instead of basing their theories on facts.”]
(5) Since one cannot examine the Book of Daniel as a separate and isolated production, but must consider it in relation to the whole scheme of Hebrew history and prophecy, every commentator must be influenced in his decision concerning the various perplexing questions which arise by his general views of Hebrew history, and of its origin, meaning, manifestations, development, and culmination in Jesus Christ. It may be well, therefore, to state that we accept unreservedly the modern methods of biblical criticism, and the conclusions of what may be called the middle school of evangelical scholarship concerning the age and authorship of the Old Testament historical and prophetical books; laying, however, a greater emphasis on the absolute trustworthiness of Israel’s historical recollections than many others (see, however, a notable article by Konig, Expository Times, May, 1898); believing that while those historical writers may not have possessed infallible memories or infallible scientific knowledge, they were honest and intelligent men whose judgment concerning the past of their own nation was worth considerably more than that of any modern critic, and believing that the prophets were holy men of God who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost men who were “forth-tellers,” interpreters of the present rather than “fore-tellers” of the future, and yet “men of the spirit” (Hosea 9:7), who sometimes proved their divine call by predictions which would have been impossible to others (Deuteronomy 18:9-22), and who particularly had such an “open vision” into the Messianic era as could only come from special divine illumination.
That a development in doctrine and faith can be traced in the prophets is certain, yet even Alexander Duff in his most masterly work has failed to recognize sufficiently that even the earliest prophet, Amos, expresses the most exalted spiritual conceptions showing that not only the upper classes in Jerusalem, but even the goat herders of that era in country towns, had fallen heirs to a marvelously rich religious inheritance (Amos 1:1) while there is no hint or proof that, because an early prophet does not emphasize any certain faith or duty which some later prophet does, therefore the recognition of this belief or obligation was a novelty in Israel until the later prophet startled the people with its enunciation. Oriental students have discovered that Egypt, Babylon, and Arabia possessed, 1400 B.C., no inconsiderable body of faith and doctrine. If the “chosen people” were cared for as well as were the “heathen” by the one Father, then the Mosaic legislation, which began a new era of religious enlightenment and growth, must have rested upon a national faith and religious custom which were already ancient.*
[* We agree with Zockler that the heel of Achilles, in modern negative criticism, is the failure to take into account the connection of Israel with neighboring nations.] 2. THE DANIEL BOOK CONTAINS TRUE PROPHECY. It is not correct to say that all revelations concerning the future in this book end with Antiochus Epiphanes. In no other biblical book are the Messianic prophecies more sublime than in these passages which so jubilantly announce the coming of a kingly Messiah (e.g., Daniel 7:13-14; Daniel 7:27). These texts are not interpolations, nor is our interpretation of them a late imagination; for as we have seen (Introduction, 1, 2) the Jews possessed this book and referred these very passages to a coming personal Messiah. Whatever be its date, therefore, and whoever wrote it, it is a book of true prophecy.†
[† As Delitzsch said of later Isaiah, if we only allow that the prophet really was a prophet it is of no essential consequence to what age he belonged. It was the failure to recognize this truth which caused Renan, when he felt himself compelled to give up his childhood faith that Daniel was a trustworthy history written by a prophet of the sixth century B.C., to give up also his faith in all true prophecy, and finally his faith in the Gospel and the whole scheme of salvation ( New World, 1893, p. 493).] The latest date ever assigned to it is more than a century and a half earlier than that of the great world-transforming event which it foretold.
Nor does our conclusion depend upon any twist of Hebrew syntax or any mystical interpretation of questionable proof texts. No one, even of the most radical critics, denies that, if we can find true Messianic prophecy anywhere, we can find it here. This was recognized by the entire Jewish Church, and no prophecy in the whole collection was more evidently designed by the divine Providence which governs history to be a preparation for the coming of the “Immortal King.” This was the John the Baptist of prophecy which prepared the way of the Lord and made his paths straight, even its enemies being the judges.
Reuss admits that the Gospel of Christ found its first and most willing adherents from those who had obtained from this book their hope of the coming of the King to his eternal dominion, and says, “Upon no other Old Testament book more than upon this did the faith of those primitive Christians take its hold,” while Noldeke calls it “one of the most important appearances in Hebrew literature,” and Schlottmann dares to name it as the “greatest of all prophetic compositions.” Every student of prophecy and history must agree that “the original content of this prophecy is from the same source as the Old Testament revelation in general. This is proved by the fruit which the book bore, not only for the Judaism of that time, but also in the origin and development of Christianity” (Behrmann).
If the Messiah did not come, no prophecy is anything more than an unrealized dream and humanity is still without a Saviour. If the Messiah did come, the author of Daniel stands the peer of any in the holy volume in his sublime vision of the future. As a matter of history our Christian religion is vitally connected with this prophecy. It encouraged the Maccabees in their heroic struggle against heathendom; it prepared a chosen flock of believers to receive with gladness the New Testament of promise; it inspired the martyrs of the early Christian centuries with courage and eternal hope; it gave to the apostles and evangelists some of their most powerful arguments; it even offered to Jesus himself his favorite Messianic title, while from this prophecy he himself chose the proof text of his divine Sonship.*
[* It cannot be doubted that Jesus used “Son of man,” at least on certain particularly solemn occasions, in the Messianic sense which Daniel’s use had made most familiar to his countrymen (Matthew 16:13; Matthew 16:27; Matthew 24:30; Matthew 25:31; Matthew 26:64).] Let not this choice of our Lord be lightly esteemed. It was he, while in the power of the Spirit, who made Daniel’s proclamation of a coming “kingdom” the keynote of the preaching of his everlasting Gospel (Matthew 4:17). It was he who fixed upon a passage from this same Old Testament book as typically descriptive of the Messianic era (Matthew 24:15), while it was upon a passage from this prophecy that he rested his claim to be “the Messiah, the Son of God,” when he stood before the high priest, and when he affirmed under oath that he himself was the very “Son of man” whom “Daniel the prophet” had seen in vision, centuries before, “coming in the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26:63-64).
The Master did not, indeed, raise at that time the question of date or authorship, but he did positively affirm the truthfulness of this apocalyptic vision and its fulfillment in himself. That question is settled forever. He who was himself “The Truth” has authenticated this book as one of the most sacred chambers in the holy temple of prophecy. Any discussion as to the name of the builder, the plan of the architect, and the time of its construction cannot materially affect the value of the building on whose walls, long before the Christian era, the fingers of an unseen hand had written “the times” of the Son of man, and placed upon its corner stone the divine inscription, “His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (vii, 14).
3 . IT IS NOT A HISTORY BUT AN APOCALYPSE. All scholars now agree that the Book of Daniel is not a biography of the prophet Daniel, it says nothing of his birth or death, and relates very few of his doings in Babylon or elsewhere; nor is it a history of the times in which he lived, for the author only mentions a few of the kings who reigned between Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus and omits many of the most striking and epoch-making events of that exciting period. It is an apocalypse.*
[* This is certainly true of the last six chapters, to which the narratives of the first six chapters furnish a fitting introduction. Whether the historical scenes were also revealed to a later Daniel in apocalyptic vision (as the scenes of creation to Moses), or whether these were historical memories attached to the visions, can be considered later.] In every apocalypse history is idealized and glorified, and national or biographical material is used only as it adds vividness or perspective to the vision. Scholars of every school agree in this. Mr. Thomson, author of the last important work in defense of the Daniel authorship and historic immaculateness of this work, has nevertheless declared that “the Book of Daniel represented a new departure in the sacred literature of the Hebrews. It is the earliest example, and the only one in the Old Testament canon, of apocalypse.… Apocalypse is the philosophy of history in the mythic stage. But, while it is philosophy, it is philosophy in picture in symbols of the imagination, not in propositions of the understanding. The symbols used show it is Eastern philosophy that is so adumbrated a philosophy which drew its symbols from the grotesque combinations, human and bestial, which so liberally adorned the walls of the Assyrian and Babylonian palaces” ( Pulpit Commentary).
This book, then, as all agree, is not a history, or a biography, but rather a “heavenly vision” in which the mysteries of present, past, and future were unveiled in symbolic pictures. It gives “God’s view of things.” The seer spoke of principalities and powers; of things present and things to come “as they appear before the throne of God.” (See introduction to Biblical Apocalyptics, 1898, by Milton S. Terry, D.D.) The biblical apocalypses do not always, or generally, deal with matters of actual history, but, unless Daniel be an exception, they always declare God’s purposes of judgment and of salvation in imaginative pictures of a more or less startling nature.
No one now maintains that the candlestick and olive trees and flying roll of Zechariah, or the six-winged seraphim of Isaiah, or the horses, the great red dragon, the lamb with the sword in his mouth, the tottering heavens and falling stars of St. John’s revelation, represent actual existent literalities. They represent realities but not literalities. The picture of the new Jerusalem by the seer of Patmos was really and gloriously true, but it was truth expressed in symbolic picture. No one now believes that the height of the walls of the celestial city, and its area, and the materials of which its foundations and gates are said to be made (Revelation 21:0), and the total number of its inhabitants (Revelation 7:0), can be taken in the same literal sense in this vision as if found in some government survey or census report, while very few scholars, if any, believe that the cherubim, the supernatural trees, and speaking serpent in the “Edenic apocalypse” are to be interpreted in terms of earthly botany or reptilology, or that the “days” of creation were twenty-four hours in length, each hour of which consisted of sixty seconds as ticked off by a modern Elgin watch or electric clock. It is now seen that inspired poetry or parable or apocalypse is equally profitable with inspired history.
According, then, to the modern view this is an apocalypse; a vision in which the past is opened and made to live again, in which the ancient prophet speaks as if still alive, and in which the future is made to glow under the light of a prophetic illumination which comes straight from God. Considered thus, many difficulties disappear which have been thorns in the flesh heretofore to every devout commentator. For example, even if the historic background should be proved inaccurate in some important particulars, this would not materially affect its value as a “heavenly vision.” The historic background in the Book of Job and in many of the parables of our Lord might be considered fictitious without in any degree detracting from the spiritual power of those inspired productions.
Again, viewed as an apocalypse, no one can declare, as so many have hastily done in the past, that unless Daniel wrote the book in toto not later than the reign of Cyrus it must be a “wicked forgery,” or a “pure romance” expressing “the mere ravings of a fanatic.” According to one recent theory the ancient Daniel may have written down and hidden away these visions (Daniel 12:4), which a later prophet found and published, much as the Jews and the early fathers always supposed Ezra and Nehemiah to have published in their day the books of the law, the Psalms, and the greater prophets (compare Von Gess, Die Inspiration, 1892); but it does not at all detract from the value of this apocalypse if the more common view among modern evangelical scholars be adopted, that a holy seer of the Maccabean era was shown a picture of the past as Moses was shown a picture of creation while he was also inspired by the “spirit of prophecy” to spiritually interpret the distracting events of his own exciting era and to calm and uplift his fainting countrymen by a splendid vision of the future triumph of the coming Messiah.
That this was a true prophecy has already been proved (Introduction, II, 2). Delitzsch, who for many years brought the full strength of his intellect and vast learning to the defense of the older view, finally came, after the most profound study of these prophecies, to the conclusion that “the book as an apocalypse of the Seleucidae time has more right to canonicity than though it were a product of the Achaemenidae time which had become estranged from its original form by later hands.”
According to this view Daniel would not be the author but the hero of the book bearing his name. And just as the Song of Solomon becomes no less rich in spiritual lessons if Koheleth should be not Solomon himself, but if a later prophet has put his own words into the lips of this wise king, so the place of Daniel in the canon and among the most sacred of the inspired records would not be disturbed if this name were a mere nom de plume.*
[* No one supposes that the books of Ruth, Esther, and Samuel were written by the famous Moabitish maiden or the Persian queen or the prophet whose names they bear. It is a suggestive fact that every historical book of the Bible, with perhaps one single exception, is anonymous.] This would not mean, as some have supposed, that the real seer of this apocalypse, if he lived in the Maccabean era, was a “liar,” or a “forger,” or an “impostor.” Not so; he received this apocalypse of Daniel as St. John received the “Apocalypse of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:1). Our Lord did not write this revelation, but it was his “apocalypse.” Just so this wonderful vision concerning Daniel burst upon this nameless prophet at the time when the world most needed to see it. The prophecy which Jesus approved was not written by some Anonymous the Little who told lies in order to spiritually encourage his countrymen to live a life of truth. Rather, if this almost universally accepted view of the book as an apocalypse of the second century B.C. be correct, it must be considered as an inspired reformulation and adaptation of an older history to new needs by a true prophet of Jehovah.*
[* We might say that Daniel expounds history homiletically, as, according to recent views, Deuteronomy expounds the law Mosaically. (Compare Driver’s words concerning Deuteronomy and Chronicles, Introduction, pp. 85, 500, and Robertson’s Early Religion of Israel, p. 424, etc.). Professor Candlish ( Expositor, iv, pp. 90, 262) has shown that the assumption of Noldeke, followed by Farrar and others, that “anyone who felt himself capable of writing in the spirit of the old prophets felt justified in usurping their names and attaching them to their books,” cannot be sustained. Both Celsus and Origen, for example, admitted that if any late oracles had been secretly slipped in as additions to the Sibyl, he who did this was morally guilty. But “pseudepigraphy” is not the same as forgery, and does not involve the idea of deception. (Compare Tasso and Vergil, and see Deane, Pseudepigraphy, 1891.)] He was not an “audacious impostor” who published his own lucubrations under a false name as Voltaire published skeptical tracts under the name of Christian savants, or had them bound as Psalters or Prayer Books (L’Abbe d’Envieu) but rather was he a “man of the spirit,” above whom, as truly as above Ezekiel, “the heavens were opened” and he saw “visions of God” (Ezekiel 1:1), and when the hand of the Lord God was upon him he was “brought in the visions of God” to Babylon, or Shushan, or whithersoever the Spirit moved (Ezekiel 8:3; Daniel 8:1).†
[† in the first six chapters of this book Daniel is always spoken of in the third person. He is not the speaker; he is talked about. But in the visions, the apocalypse proper, the first person is used. This has been supposed to be an unanswerable proof that Daniel himself wrote the book or that some later writer forged his name to it. The theory elaborated above relieves us of this dilemma. The “I” of Daniel in the Daniel apocalypse is made little more emphatic than the “I” of Jesus in the “apocalypse of Jesus Christ.” Yet John was the penman of this apocalypse concerning Jesus Christ, as we suppose a later prophet to be the penman of this apocalypse concerning Daniel This is not deception. This is the common literary style of all apocalypses.] 4. WAS THE BOOK WRITTEN IN THE SIXTH CENTURY BEFORE CHRIST? The former supposition of Christian scholars, that the Book of Daniel had been in existence and honored in the Jewish Church from the sixth century B.C., and that we possess the book now as it was originally written with the exception of such modernizations of the text and marginal annotations as would naturally come to any ancient book in the course of centuries, is held to-day by very few Old Testament scholars of distinguished reputation. The death of Dr. William Henry Green, of Princeton, removed the one conspicuous Hebraist who continued to defend without modification the old position even down to the present decade. In favor of this view it is said that the Christian Church and the Jewish Church for at least two thousand years have accepted the book as a work written about 536 B.C. by Daniel himself, and the fact that it was received into the Jewish canon, translated into the LXX., used by all the early apocalyptics, and enlarged by fanciful additions both in the LXX. and the Talmud which shows that the original Daniel had been long before the public before these late exaggerations could have been added this proves its antiquity, while the testimony of our Lord proves its prophetic authority; and the exceeding accuracy of its historic background and its occasional Persian and Babylonian phraseology show that it could not possibly be a composition of the second century B.C. It is also claimed that every single objection to its authorship by Daniel can be answered or put aside as inconclusive.
To this it is replied that the Church has been compelled to revise its judgment concerning the authorship of other books, such as the Song of Solomon, Jude, etc.; that there is no proof that the third section of the Jewish canon, in which Daniel appeared, was considered as Holy Scripture much, if any, earlier than 100 B.C., or that Daniel was in the collection previous to that time; that there is no proof that the LXX. translation of Daniel was made before 100 B.C.; that the Jewish apocalyptics formerly supposed to be very ancient are now proved to be comparatively modern, while additions to the LXX. and Talmud must probably be dated into the Christian era; that the prophetic authority of the book need not be denied, at whatever period it was written, and that the argument from language and historic background is against, not in favor, of the book’s direct authorship by the ancient Daniel.*
[* The fathers generally accepted the Daniel Apocrypha as well as our Daniel. They are not very good authorities on the canon. The fact that the LXX. contains the apocryphal additions suggests that the contents of the Daniel book were not fixed at the time these originated.] It is also urged that the excessive praise of Daniel (Daniel 2:21; Daniel 2:23; Daniel 5:12, etc.) and other references to him (such as Daniel 1:17; Daniel 1:19-20, and especially Daniel 1:21; Daniel 6:28) seem inconsistent with the theory that Daniel himself wrote the book, as is also the form in which the extraordinary number of edicts from various Babylonian kings appear (so very Jewish in spirit and so strikingly different from the original state papers, multitudes of which have been recently discovered dating from the reigns of Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus), while it is also pointed out that if this book had been in existence in the sixth century B.C., and had been recognized then as the work of Daniel, it would almost certainly have been classed by the Jews among the “Prophets,” instead of in the “Hagiographa,” or “Other Writings,” which was undoubtedly a later collection; that the language of the book is that of the second century rather than of the sixth century B.C. (see this Introduction, II, 7); and that the book seems to show far less familiarity with the times in which Daniel is supposed to have lived than with those of the Maccabean era, etc.*
[* Recent writers on the canon, with the single exception of Green, have concluded that of the three divisions of the holy books made by the Jews, the “Law” first received canonization; then long afterward, somewhere about 300 B.C., or even later, the “Prophets;” and very much later still the “Hagiographa,” in which Daniel stood. Green admits that we have no positive information when or by whom the sacred books were collected and arranged. The fact so often mentioned, that the distinction between the “Prophets” and “Hagiographa” is abolished in the Alexandrine Canon, has no bearing on this discussion; but it is to the point to remark here that there may very likely have been other reasons than that of age for placing the Daniel book in the third division of the holy writings. The fact that it was an apocalypse, and not a prophecy, might have been a sufficient reason for this at whatever date composed.] Perhaps the most impressive argument for the late date of Daniel is that if it had really originated in the sixth century it would, like other prophecies, have almost certainly dealt with the needs of the age in which the prophet lived, and would not, on the contrary, have given the greatest attention to the downfall of a prince ruling over a nation not yet in existence, and describe the days of that prince in the smallest detail. That God should have inspired an ancient prophet to thus foretell the minute circumstances connected with the politics, movement of armies, treaties, and royal marriages of a princely family which was not to come to the throne until four hundred years afterward (all parties to the controversy admitting that at least chap. xi does thus minutely describe the times of Antiochus Epiphanes), this would be contrary to all prophetic analogy. That this prophecy was just suited to the needs of the second century B.C. all admit. Was it equally suitable to the sixth century B.C.? To say this, would presuppose a fixity of religious character and a failure in theological development which is disproved by other prophecies whose age is undisputed. (Compare Duff, Old Testament Theology.) Besides, if the Book of Daniel had been known all these centuries, how comes it that no quotation from this book, or allusion to it, is to be found in any of the biblical writings excepting possibly in one or two doubtful cases in books the age of which is not certain (see this Introduction, I, 2) nor in any other writings earlier than the Maccabean era, while references are frequent after the middle of the second century? The prophetic development and the growth of religious thought and doctrine in Israel for four hundred years after the Babylonish captivity were as totally unaffected by the wonderful and sublime teachings of Daniel concerning the resurrection and future judgment, and angelic intermediation between the prophet and Jehovah, as if these prophecies had not been in existence. But beginning with the latter part of the second century B.C. a whole group of Jewish writings seize upon and elaborate these ideas.*
[* If it were simply the silence of Sirach that needed to be accounted for, we could reply that he might not have known the book, though others of his contemporaries did, or that, for some reason, he did not like it; but it is the silence of all other writers during these centuries which needs explanation, and the total absence from their works of any sign that they had ever heard of these striking narratives and thrilling doctrines and figures of speech. With 1Ma 2:59-60 , Daniel and the three Hebrew children for the first time take their places in Hebrew literature. This is not an argument against the existence of the prophet Daniel, for Moses is only mentioned three times in all the prophets, Jeremiah is not mentioned in Kings, and Ezra does not occur in Ben Sirach’s list of great Hebrews (see also Biblical World, July, 1893); but it does seem to show that the book containing these sensational predictions and glorious revelations of the Messianic kingdom was not known to Ezekiel, Zechariah, Haggai, Malachi, and their countrymen, whose teachings concerning the “last days” fall incomparably below the Daniel ideal.] While some arguments for the late date of the Daniel book, such as the presence of foreign words and its supposed historical inaccuracies, have lost much of their force through recent research, this argument, drawn from prophetic analogy and from the total absence of any Danielic influence on Jewish literature before the second century, corroborated, as it is, by a powerful cumulative, linguistic, historical, and circumstantial evidence, has so strongly appealed to biblical students as to win the respect and acceptance of the most conservative and evangelical scholars.*
[* Any one of the above objections to the early date of the book might possibly be answered and seemingly overthrown by opposing considerations, but it is the force of this cumulative evidence which has won the evangelical scholars to this position.] With the single exception of Dr. Green almost all evangelical scholars whose opinions are of international importance agree that the book as we now have it is a composition or compilation of an age later than that of Nebuchadnezzar or Cyrus.
The fact that this book had an assured place in the Jewish canon probably as early as 100 B.C., and certainly at the opening of the Christian era being received by the Jews as a sacred book, without discussion, so far as we know, although the old and noble Book of Ecclesiasticus was not admitted makes it impossible to believe that the Daniel story was invented cir. 164 B.C., and makes it very probable that at least a portion of the volume which reached such popularity in the second century B.C. had been previously well known to the Hebrews, having been handed down from their forefathers, either in oral or written form, as a trustworthy memory of the great exilic prophet. In any case, however, it must be admitted that the book as we have it cannot be proved to have come from the pen of the exilic Daniel; for it can be traced back historically no farther than the second century B.C., and shows many signs of having been touched by some hand at an era later than the Exile. Even Dr. Strack, after urging many points with great strength and enthusiasm in favor of the old view in a somewhat modified form ( Einleitung, 1888), admits that the contents of the book so thoroughly fit into the needs of the Maccabean times that “if a writer of that era had been composing a book to console his countrymen, he would have written it very little differently.”†
[† While the present agreement of Christian theologians may be no proof of a “permanent equilibrium,” yet the criticism which at last won the adherence of Strack and Delitzsch must not be lightly esteemed or mocked at. Such statements as those of Kaulen ( Einleitung, 1893), that these arguments against the Daniel authorship “have no foundation,” or of Rupprecht (1894), that they only show the “absolute emptiness of this bloated negative criticism,” do harm rather than good to the cause which they seek to defend.] It is not indeed proved that Daniel did not, in the sixth century B.C., write an original history and prophecy, but (even if it could be proved that he did this) certainly the book which we have is, as all admit, not the book which the ancient Daniel wrote. Any reasonable confidence that our present Daniel correctly reproduces any part of an ancient book or ancient materials must necessarily rest largely upon the assured integrity of the later author or editor. [Compare Introduction, II, 6, (3), (4).] The argument that this book is from God, based upon an attempt to prove that it originated in the age of Cyrus, must always remain inadequate and inconclusive; but, on the other hand, the fact that the most wonderful prophecies of the book have been fulfilled proves that the modern prophet, through whom the book as we now have it certainly reached the reading public, did his work under divine guidance.
5 . ANCIENT MATERIALS USED IN THE DANIEL BOOK. While almost all modern expositors agree that the Book of Daniel reached its present form in the Maccabean era (see this Introduction, I, 3; II, 3, 4), yet, as we have found, most scholars see various signs of antiquity in the book which they do not believe would be natural, or even possible, in an original work by an uninspired writer of the second century.
(1) Many have pointed out, especially since Lenormant, that the representation of Babylonian conditions in the sixth century B.C. is so correct and so extensive that no erudite Jew, writing 168-164 B.C., would have been able to reconstruct so vividly that misty, far-away past which even Josephus was not able to make live again. Notwithstanding the criticisms of Professor Sayce and others which, however, do show that this Babylonian material is not so extensive and definite as has sometimes been represented this proposition can still be maintained with force as against the theory of the narratives of Daniel being a fictitious invention of the age of Antiochus Epiphanes. It should be noticed, however, that, granting all that can be said in favor of the truthfulness and naturalness of the narratives, this does not necessarily prove their origin at that early period, but only that the author, whenever he lived, had access to trustworthy records or memories of that ancient time, or that the spirit of prophecy brought to his remembrance such circumstances of the Nebuchadnezzar era as were needed to introduce the apocalypse or to act as its framework.
(2) But far more impressive is the proof given most extensively by Meinhold that the main narrative section (chaps. ii-vi) does not fit into the conditions of the Maccabean age, as it would certainly have been made to do were it a free invention of that period. Meinhold points out that there is no single external sign that these chapters were compiled in the time of the Maccabees, while the internal evidence is strongly against such a theory; as the exhortations and hopes and ideals expressed here are strikingly different from those of the Maccabean Jews as shown by contemporaneous literature. What ought to be mentioned on the theory of a Maccabean author is not mentioned, and what is related is not suitable. These chapters are filled with proof that the all-wise and almighty Jehovah is superior to any heathen god (for example, Daniel 3:29), but the Jew of the day of Antiochus Epiphanes would have considered that point self-evident and unworthy of argument. It is very noticeable also that in all these chapters there is not a word about circumcision, or the Sabbath, or any other of the questions in which the Maccabean Jews were most interested. Instead of the narrowness of the Maccabees, who emphasized every minutiae of Jewish ritual and hated the heathen with desperate hatred, there is here the breadth of the earlier prophets, who, like Ezekiel, believed that the mission of Israel was to help their heathen neighbors to the knowledge that the Lord he is God. These chapters teach that Daniel considered it his duty to spend his life and all his powers in the service of the heathen ruler, to guard him from danger as far as possible, to accept from him official position in the court, and even to permit himself to be made chief of the Magi! A Maceabean Jew would have scorned the honors of a heathen king and would have considered himself defiled by any association with the magicians, and if he had heard any one of his countrymen pray for the preservation of the life of Antiochus and for the destruction of the king’s enemies, he would immediately have counted him a traitor and an apostate. (Compare Daniel 4:19; Daniel 6:21, with 2Ma 9:14 .) The watchword of the Maccabees was war, regardless of consequences, and total separation from the enemy. L’Abbe d’Envieu and others, following Meinhold, have pointed out that in no part of the entire book is there any call to a holy war, nor the slightest reflection of the Jewish spirit or Greek manners of the second century; neither the standpoint, motive, nor development of the work being suitable to that era.
While certain parts of Meinhold’s argument have been answered by various writers, especially by Budde, Kuenen, Konig, Kautzsch, and Von Gall, yet it remains substantially conclusive against the theory that this book is an original romance of the second century; for no uninspired Maccabean author would have put into the book so many things distasteful to his co-patriots. It seems certain, therefore, that, at whatever time the inspired compiler or author of this book lived, he must have used ancient materials in his work.
6 . ITS UNITY AND AUTHORSHIP. While it may be impossible to settle these questions positively several points, in view of our previous conclusions, become clear.
(1) If this book were written substantially as we now have it by the prophet Daniel about 535 B.C., in Babylon (Green, Fuller, Thomson, etc.), it is necessarily a unit, although a late translator may have modernized the language, or a late editor may have added certain introductory or connecting phrases or sections.
(2) If it were an invention or original composition of a Maccabean author, with only a faint traditional rumor as its historical or visional basis (Kuenen, Cornill, etc.), then also it would, of equal necessity, be a unit, and its author anonymous and wholly unreliable.
(3) If it is, in its substantial entirety, an apocalyptic vision of a true, though later, prophet, through whom God addressed this message of consolation to the confessors and martyrs of the time of the Seleucidae through him making the far-away past to live again and the Messianic future to shine like the sun then also is it a unity, however thoroughly the prophet may have digested any Babylonian-Persian narratives or traditional prophecies of the ancient Daniel which were current at that time, and however much of this former knowledge the divine Giver of the revelation should have permitted to enter into the inspired vision.*
[* Compare Delitzsch, Old Testament History of Redemption, p. 150, etc. In Ezekiel’s visions we have constantly seen how his former information and present surroundings influenced and colored his “visions.”]
(4) If, on the other hand, we find here evidences of a body of ancient historic or prophetic material which has been collected and set in new relations (possibly with additions) by a later hand for homiletic or other purposes, or if we find here traces of two or more ancient writings or memories which have seemingly been transmitted from the past in different ways, and which have been pedagogically utilized and perhaps supplemented by a later writer, then we must declare that the book, although perhaps showing a general unity of purpose, is yet not a unit when we consider the materials of which it has been composed; difference being detectable in style, language, theme, and theological tendency.
A large majority of the evangelical scholars of this generation have taken this latter position. They all, with scarcely an exception, admit the touch of a later hand, and almost all of them agree that this hand did its work in the Maccabean era, but they insist with great energy that a larger or smaller portion of the book dates directly from the era of Cyrus or from a period perhaps a little later.
Throughout our entire study of these thrilling narratives and prophecies our sympathies have been given to the defenders of (4); but because of the utter impossibility of ever arriving at any satisfactory and convincing conclusion as to which particular sections of the work are the ancient sections thus being forced in the last analysis to depend in every case upon the knowledge and veracity of the later prophet who (like the writers of Genesis, Samuel, and Kings) used these otherwise unknown ancient documents according to his own best judgment, or as he was moved by the Holy Ghost we have been led nearer and nearer to (3) as our working hypothesis, feeling that it was a consistent and invulnerable position.*
[* Zockler, Strack, Meinhold, and Konig date the first half of the book as evidently the most ancient portion, while Kohler and others hold that the visions were ancient, and the late compiler added to these the historic introduction. This illustrates how the best and most learned men find it impossible to decide on the sections which are most ancient. As the prophecies are acknowledged to be peculiarly and strikingly appropriate to the days of Antiochus Epiphanes it seems to be reasonable that the book should be assigned to the era for which it was providentially intended.] That the Maccabean prophet had ancient documents before him, or at least trustworthy historical memories, need not be doubted (see this Introduction, II, 5). But the truth of the golden visions which he describes cannot be reached by any process of historic investigation, but only through a trust in the writer or compiler as a true prophet upon whose prophecies the Lord of truth has placed his divine seal (see this Introduction, II, 2, 3, 4); but that being granted there remains no special reason why this divinely inspired seer of visions should have spoken five hundred years rather than one hundred and seventy years before the coming of the Messiah whom he foretold. The fulfillment of the prophecy and the approval of Jesus prove that he spoke the truth, whether he reproduced old material or whether the visions of this second Daniel, written in the spirit of the first, were only set in an ancient framework.†
[† The essential unity of the book has been argued with great force especially by Bleek, among the older writers, and very recently by Kuenen, Kamphausen, Behrmann, and Von Gall. Professor Barton (1898) stands alone in supposing that the book was written 168-165 B.C., not by one individual, but by several who happened at the same time, at different places, to independently hit upon the happy expedient of comforting their brethren in trial by writing down for them lessons from the life of Daniel!] 7. ITS LINGUISTIC PECULIARITIES.
(1) The Hebrew of Daniel. The Hebrew of Daniel has long been a subject of deep study by specialists, and on scarcely any other matter have gret scholars in the generation past held such divergent opinions. Some masters of the language, like Gesenius, have believed it showed every indication of being a product of the age of the Captivity, resembling the Hebrew of Ezekiel in a marked degree, while others have thought it showed clear traces of youth and degeneracy.*
[* This likeness to Ezekiel has also been insisted on recently, particularly by Zunz (1873), Wettstein (1884), and Seinicke (1890), the latter being sure that the date of the one book settles the date of the other.] Although there is more unanimity now than ever before, the almost universal decision of modern philologists being that the Hebrew of Daniel is Maccabean, yet that there is still room for difference of opinion is seen from the fact that Professor Margoliouth, Dr. Levy, and a few other Hebraists have very recently been willing to defend the view that “the deep waters of the Captivity was the grave of the old Hebrew as of the old Israel,” and that a gap of centuries lies between the Hebrew of Daniel and that of Ecclesiasticus (200 to 170 B.C.), and an even greater gap between Daniel and the Targums.†
[† Although Margoliouth’s metrical theory of Ecclesiasticus upon which he built so much, and his late startling claim that the newly discovered Cairene manuscript was a modern forgery, have been rejected by Schechter and Neubauer and Konig, and almost everyone else who is competent of independent judgment on the question these scholars declaring that the Hebrew of Ecclesiasticus is more ancient than that of Daniel yet the fact that he could argue the antiquity of the Daniel text on such slight additional evidence as he supposed himself to have discovered shows how insufficient is the philological proof of its youth or age. From a private note (August 6, 1897)
I learn that, though Professor Margoliouth still holds to his opinion that there are fewer neo-Hebrew words in Daniel than in Ecclesiasticus, he has ceased to contend that the difference between the nature of the vocabularies of the two authors is very great. He now accepts the Maccabean date of the book.] The fact is that our knowledge of Hebrew is confined almost exclusively to the Old Testament, and when the age of a biblical book is in dispute there is no way of determining the question by an examination of the text as compared with other contemporary inscriptions; but the date must be fixed, when it can be fixed at all, from other considerations rather than from those of linguistic necessity.
Klostermann’s suggestion ought also to be borne in mind, that there were so many probabilities of the modernization of the Hebrew text during the centuries between the writing of a biblical book and the fixing of the Masoretic reading that any analysis or criticism of our present text, as if it were the original manuscript, must always be precarious ( Die Pentateuch, 1893).*
[* It must also be borne in mind that ancient Hebrew manuscripts were sometimes written in shorthand, which, though quicker and cheaper, would make mistakes easier, and also that according to the Babylonian system Masoretic notes were not placed on the margin, but in the body of the page. (Compare Jewish Quarterly Review, January, 1895; S.B.A., 18:2, 56.)] Arguments for the date of Daniel, therefore, drawn from the Hebrew must be considered as inconclusive until other ancient texts of this same era are discovered, though the united judgment of Hebrew experts of such varied theological opinions as Neubauer, Noldeke, Delitzsch, Kuenen, Konig, and Behrmann must meanwhile be taken as presenting the best conclusions possible to arrive at with our present knowledge.
(2) The Aramaic of Daniel. No one now doubts that Aramaic, even as early as the tenth century B.C., had spread as a commercial language as far as Egypt, while the lands east of the Euphrates and Damascus had adopted the Aramaic script. Inscriptions in this language are frequently met with in the seventh century B.C., and thereafter, on weights and seals and on the dockets of Babylonian contracts, while a short text found at Lachish, in Palestine (cir. 700 B.C.), seems as much like Aramaic as like Hebrew. Indeed the Aramaic and Hebrew of that era differed so little that it takes an accomplished expert to tell the one from the other. Professor Noldeke, one of the greatest of such experts, acknowledged that when the Sendjirli inscriptions (850-719 B.C.) were first discovered he thought, with Halevy, that they were written in Hebrew, and only after prolonged study did he become sure that they were in Aramaic ( Z.D.M.G., 1893); and Professor Sachau, in his Ausgrabungen in Sendschirli (1893), says that these texts read “like a leaf from the Bible,” and adds, “the older the Aramaic the more does it resemble the Hebrew;” while Professor Gottheil showed before the American Oriental Society (1895) that some inscriptions could be read either as Hebrew or Aramaic, many peculiarities of the biblical Aramaic which scholars had previously called “Hebraisms” being inherent in the ancient language.
The Sendjirli discovery taken in connection with the fact that Aramaic tribes from the East were thrown into Palestine in the seventh century B.C., while Palestinian captives, comprising many of the literary and noble classes who must have been well acquainted with the “commercial language” though the common people were not (Isaiah 36:11), were in the seventh and sixth centuries thrown into Babylonia makes it almost certain that there was not such a marked distinction between the eastern and western Aramaic dialects then spoken in Babylon as in later times.*
[* For these marks of distinction, with a catalogue of a few late texts from which they are drawn, see, for example, Kautzsch, Grammatik, 1884, and William Wright, Lectures on Comparative Grammar of Semitic Languages, 1890. Of course no one would now hold that the Israelites brought their western Aramaic from Babylon. As Kautzsch well says, “The Jews could not bring from Babylon a dialect which was never spoken there at all.” (See also Dalman, Grammatik, 1895.) It is a surprising statement of Westcott (Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, 1893), that Ezra and Daniel are the earliest examples of eastern Aramaic!] Why, then, may not the Aramaic of the Daniel book, although showing, as all admit, certain characteristics of the later Pales-tinian dialect, be regarded as a genuine product of the era of the Captivity, at which time such peculiarities might not unnaturally be expected in the work of a native of Palestine writing in Babylonia, especially since the two dialects had not yet probably grown very far apart? This was the question which the present writer put to himself and to every specialist in Aramaic whom he could approach as soon as the Sendjirli inscriptions were published, in 1893; for it seemed as if now, for the first time, we possessed a certain criterion by which the age of the Daniel Aramaic could be determined. But the answer to the question has not been favorable. No expert who has made a study of the newly discovered Aramaic texts in comparison with those of Ezra and Daniel has found from this examination any proof of the antiquity of the Daniel language.†
[† Professor Margoliouth writes, “I do not think that the question of the Aramaic of Daniel can be affected by these inscriptions, which are in a dialect sui generis.” Halevy, on the other hand, says, “The recent discoveries strengthen the idea that the Aramaic parts of Daniel are much more modern than the Aramaic of the Book of Esdras, which is only of the Persian epoch.”] On the other hand, the biblical Aramaic, it is said, bears a striking resemblance to the Palmyrene inscriptions (9 B.C. to 270 A.D.), though differing in even a more marked degree from the Aramaic of the Targums.
This really leaves the entire matter where it was before. It is conceded that the difference is very slight between the Aramaic of Daniel and that of Ezra; yet Noldeke dates certain portions of Ezra to the Persian period, while Professor Wright dates it as a whole to the time of Darius Hystaspes (521-486 B.C.), and Edouard Meyer (1896) claims that the Aramaic edicts in Ezra are copies of genuine official documents, proving also in answer to the criticism that they were written in western Aramaic and not in the eastern dialects common to Persia and Babylonia that the kings of Persia published their decrees in the languages familiar to the provinces to which they were sent; the decrees for eastern provinces being in Persian or Babylonian, but for Egypt in a hieroglyphic or demotic version, and for Greece in a Greek translation; so that a Persian decree in Palestine or Syria would naturally be written in western Aramaic! Of course Meyer does not deny that a few modern Aramaic words and phrases have crept into the old documents, but this is not surprising since the same is true even of the Samaritan Pentateuch, old as it is and reliable as is its text.
This difference of opinion in regard to the age of the Aramaic portions of Ezra, especially as Ezra and Daniel stand so near together in language that, judging from that alone, we “could not decide which was the earlier” (Kuenen, Onderzoek, ii, p. 493), makes it necessary for us to conclude that no very definite argument as to the date of the book can be drawn from its language although there is a remarkable consensus of judgment that this is later than the exile.
(3) Why are Two Languages Used in This Book? One of the greatest puzzles to the students of this book has been the strange phenomenon that the first half of it, with the exception of the first chapter, is written in Aramaic (2, 4-7), while the second half, with the exception of a few phrases, together with the prologue, is written in Hebrew (1-2, 4; 8-12). No altogether satisfactory reason for this has ever been given.
It has been suggested that perhaps this peculiarity may be traced to the author of the book, who wrote in a double language either because of the dual nature of his subject or because of the different needs of his readers, or possibly through accident or mere caprice. The old expositors generally held to the first of these opinions, believing that the writer of Daniel intended thus to indicate in a vivid way the divisions of his theme, the Aramaic section (chaps. 2-7) representing the development of the world power in its relation to the kingdom of God, while the Hebrew section (chaps. 8-12) represented the development of the kingdom of God and its relation to the world power; but according to this scheme chaps. ii and vii ought to have been in Hebrew instead of Aramaic, and chap. viii in Aramaic instead of Hebrew. The hypothesis that the author used different languages because he was addressing different audiences, the Hebrew portion having been written for the use of the wise ones in Israel, and the Aramaic portions for the common people, or perhaps for the heathen, also seems to be defective, for in that case chap. 7 should have been in Hebrew and chap. i in Aramaic. So also the kindred theory which would imagine that the Aramaic dialect was a secret sign to the readers of the book, that the Chaldeans were intended to represent Antiochus Epiphanes and his countrymen, breaks down when it is noticed that the chapter in which these Syrians are most minutely described (11) is written not in Aramaic, but Hebrew. Finally, some scholars have suggested that the writer was familiar with both languages, and having occasion at Daniel 2:4, to change from Hebrew to Aramaic in giving the speech of the king, which he supposed was spoken in that language, he simply kept on, either from carelessness or pure inertia, or because he found the Aramaic a little easier to write; but the reason given for the introduction of the “Chaldee” (Daniel 2:4) would have certainly induced such a scrupulously careful writer to change to Hebrew again at the end of the king’s speech, while this theory offers no explanation why, having forgotten to do this at the right time, he should have changed again to Hebrew in chap. 8.
Recently the explanation of the use of two languages has been sought more frequently in the supposed history of the book rather than in any secret purpose of the original writer. Of all such theories the “fly leaf” has certainly been most popular. This theory supposes that the narratives of the book had been written at a different time from the visions, and afterward these pamphlets (two or more of them) were joined together by an editor who may, or may not, have previously been the author or compiler of one of them, and who added chap. i as a fitting introduction.
But the thought of some disaster to the primitive text is the one now received with greatest favor. According to this view this book, like other books, was written originally in a single language, but because of the demands of a different constituency it was either rewritten by the author in the second language (as Luke rewrote the Acts, and Matthew his gospel, according to some scholars; compare also Neubauer on Ezra in Studia Biblica, 1896), or, as is more probable, was translated a little afterward by some interested party. In later times, when all complete Hebrew manuscripts of the book had been destroyed in the multitude of persecutions which fell upon the Jews, a lost portion of the book was restored from an Aramaic manuscript.
Closely allied to this theory is the one which regards the present Aramaic text not as a translation, but as a Targum, or explanatory paraphrase substituted for the original text; which, as Dr. Terry says, could have been done quite as easily as the substitution of the Theodotion Greek text for that used in the older LXX. This theory is favored by certain sections of the Greek version which are briefer and more reserved than the Hebrew.
Between these various views the reader must take his choice, as no certainty on the question is possible.
(4) The Foreign Words of the Book: Greek Words. Whatever other good reasons may be given for the late date of this book the old argument based upon the presence of Greek words ought now to be given up). Formerly scholars supposed themselves able to count up a large number of Greek words in Daniel (so even Derenbourg, as late as 1884), but Driver (1893) is sure of only three kitharis (Bib., “kitharos”), psaltarion (Bib., “psanterin”), and sumphonia (Bib., “sumphonyah”). He regards it as “incredible” that, at any rate, the two latter instruments could have reached Babylon by 550 B.C., and therefore concludes that the use of these two Greek words “demands a date for this book after the conquest of Palestine by Alexander the Great,” while Kuenen also regards these Greek words as “sufficient to place the book in the very latest history of the Old Testament.”
This argument as also that of Bevan, who, however, confines his disputation to the one word, sumphonia is based chiefly upon the late form of the words, or the fact that they are not used in the Daniel text in the same technical sense as by early Greek writers. The feebleness of this argument is evident when we remember how uncritical the Babylonians were, both in orthography and definition, when they used technical foreign terms, and when we further remember that in the transmission of this book the change of a musical term from its antique to its modern form would be not unnaturally expected. For Dr. Driver’s only additional argument, that a Greek instrument could not have reached Babylon in the sixth century B.C., because at that time “the arts and inventions of civilized life streamed into Greece from the East, not from Greece outward,” he unhappily depended upon a very old and out-of-date magazine article. Recent discoveries have proved not only that in the sixth century B.C. the Greeks were settled in Egypt and Palestine and along the coasts of the Mediterranean from which place the Babylonian kings brought so many prisoners at this era but that at this very period they directed the commerce of these countries and also of Asia Minor, even on to Babylonia itself; having succeeded in completely ousting the Phoenicians from their long supremacy on the sea, and being themselves at this time in the apogee of their power as the sole carriers, to far distant parts of the world, of the fruits and wines and other commercial commodities of their own land, as well as papyrus and linen from Egypt, gold dust from Kolchis, metals from Armenia, incense and spices from Arabia, ivory from Africa, precious stones, pearls, and silk from India and China (brought by sea to the Assyrian cities of the Persian Gulf), amber from the shores of the Adriatic, and, especially, slaves from all the known countries of the world all of which could be exchanged for the carpets and other rare fabrics from Babylonian looms. (See especially Duruy, History of Greece, 1892, 2:126-180; W. Max Muller, Asien und Europa, 1893; Gardner, Manual of Greek Antiquities, 1895; and this Introduction, III, 2.)
When we remember the special love of the Assyrians and Babylonians for new and foreign musical instruments (Amos 6:5; compare Psalms 137:2-3; Isaiah 14:11), and that musicians are mentioned as among the special treasure which Sennacherib captured from Hezekiah (Taylor Cylinder), remembering also that it was in the sixth century B.C., as we can see from the monuments, that the Babylonian love of music received a new impulse, the orchestras being much larger than ever before, remembering also that Nebuchadnezzar was dependent upon the Greeks for the curiosities and luxuries which the Babylonian monarchs most coveted, and that it is now proved that the art and architecture of the day were greatly influenced by Greek models, even the beautiful cameo portrait of Nebuchadnezzar himself having evidently been carved by a Greek artist or by one thoroughly schooled in the principles of Greek art, we will hardly feel that the mention of two Greek musical instruments in Nebuchadnezzar’s orchestra really “demands” a late date for the book.
That the Greeks had already come to Babylon as soldiers or prisoners of war cannot be doubted. That they had already come as visitors and students of Babylonian science the Greek writers of the next age admitted. That they had come as merchants the late critical historians of Greece acknowledge. But wherever the Greeks went they would take with them their instruments of music. Greece had long been celebrated for its musical proficiency. In the Iliad and Odyssey there is no feast without its musical accompaniment. In the eighth and seventh centuries B.C. great musical contests were held in which foreign musicians joined, and Asiatic, Egyptian, Phrygian, and Lydian musical peculiarities became popular. Can it be doubtful that Greek music would find its way to foreign courts? The second great epoch of Greek music lies between the years 650-527 B.C.
So great an influence did its study exert upon the Greek mind that Pythagoras (who probably himself visited Babylon, as Holm and Evelyn Abbott admit in their critical histories) made music the basis of all his philosophical speculations.
All things being considered, therefore, it would have been a most surprising thing if no Greek instruments had been used by Nebuchadnezzar at the festival in which all “nations and languages” (iii, 4) were expected to take part. The Greek words in Daniel do not furnish, therefore, any very reliable indication as to the date of the book.*
[* Prince (1899) makes the claim that the Greeks are not mentioned in any Assyrian or Babylonian inscriptions from Sennacherib to Darius Hystaspes. Even if this were granted it ought not to weigh heavily against the circumstantial evidence just adduced and which could be multiplied many fold. The royal Egyptian texts very seldom mention the Greeks at this era; but no scholar doubts they were there as soldiers, merchants, and colonists. (See this Introduction, III, 2.)] Persian Words. The same dependence is not placed by Dr. Driver upon the Persian words to be found in the Book of Daniel, as a sign of its late origin, as upon the Greek. It is admitted by all that when “Cyrus the Persian” took the throne Persian words would naturally be introduced at the court. Yet the number of the words some thirteen of them according to Driver (1893), and many more of them according to Marti (1896) and their character (not being confined at all to technical or official terms) indicate the linguistic habit of a later time rather than that of the beginning of the reign of Cyrus.†
[† This can hardly be called absolute proof. Marti finds almost as many Persian words in Ezra as in Daniel, and Ed. Meyer (1896) quotes an inscription from the reign of Cyrus in which an enormous number of Persian words appear. However, if Marti’s long list of Middle Persian as distinguished from Old Persian words in Daniel is correct and there is no better authority, especially since Dr. Andreas scrutinized this portion of the work practical certainty on this point has been reached. Meinhold has pointed out with great force the improbability of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar using Persian words in their speeches.] Assyrian and Babylonian Words. There are a few Babylonian words in Daniel, perhaps fifteen in all. Besides the proper names, which will be discussed elsewhere, several of the subordinate officers of the kingdom (Daniel 3:2), “the magicians” (Daniel 2:2), and various other words, have been proved by the inscriptions to be good Babylonian. Prince even counts up more than seventy words which can with some probability be traced to an Assyrian or Babylonian origin. These were used, however, both in late and early times in Babylonia, and many of them also in other places in Scripture, so that, while they must be mentioned as a linguistic peculiarity of the book, they unfortunately offer no sure datum of age.
8 . ALLEGED HISTORICAL INACCURACIES. From our standpoint it would not greatly matter if there were in this apocalypse certain of those defects of statement from which no human writer can hope to entirely escape unless miraculously endowed with infallibility of knowledge and of expression. Whether biblical inspiration did thus supernaturally protect every historic writer of Holy Scripture from any slip of the memory or slip of the pen must be determined by the evidence, and by the evidence alone; but, as we have seen (Introduction, II, 3), if Daniel is, as all seem to admit, an apocalypse, it might remain inspired Scripture even if its historic background were as purely imaginative or symbolic as the parable of Nathan or the revelation of St. John.
Nevertheless the historical mistakes charged upon Daniel so blithely by certain critics do not generally appear so serious when more closely scrutinized. Almost all the “blunders” counted up by De Wette (1832) are now seen, even by critics of the same school, to have been ill chosen. The large space devoted by Bevan and others to the supposed chronological slip (Daniel 1:1) where Nebuchadnezzar is said to have plundered the temple in Jerusalem in the third year of Jehoiakim, whereas from Jeremiah it seems this could not have occurred before the fourth year of Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 25:1; Jeremiah 46:2), shows what microscopic glasses are worn by many critics. (See note Daniel 1:1.)
So Oppert ( Revue des Etudes Juives, 1894, p. 43, etc.) comments upon Daniel 1:21, “Daniel continued unto the first year of King Cyrus” and points out its direct “contradiction” with Daniel 10:1 adding sarcastically, “But notwithstanding his death, Daniel prophesied still in the third year of the same king!” But surely this is not worthy of the veteran archaeologist. “Continued” is not the same word as “died,” and since it was in the first year of Cyrus that the long-prophesied edict was given by this king, allowing the Babylonian captives to return to their own land and rebuild their beloved temple, one may see why the compiler or editor, or the inspired prophet to whom was given a vision of Daniel’s long captivity might, not unnaturally, have jotted down the statement that Daniel lived long enough to see in the Babylonian court the preparations for this glad return. (See also note Daniel 1:21.)
Another mistake which is greatly magnified is that connected with Daniel’s use of the word “Chaldeans.” It is said that he makes Chaldeans synonymous with the caste of wise men; “which is a sense unknown in ancient Babylonia, only becoming common in very late times” (Schrader, Driver, Meinhold, etc.).
But while it is true that “Chaldeans” was, so far as we know, never used until the classical era as a general term for “soothsayers,” or “fortune tellers,” yet it is not certain that even in the days of Cyrus the name “Chaldean” was not used in the sense of “wise man.” According to Diodorus the ancient Babylonians gave this name to all priests of Bel Marduk, and this is not improbable. The fact that Nebuchadnezzar himself was not a native Babylonian but a Chaldean, like many of his greatest predecessors, would make it very certain that the courtiers and the sacerdotal class, including also those learned in astronomy, astrology, and all dark subjects, would be Chaldeans. It is, indeed, universally acknowledged that this race did control the language, laws, and religion of the empire. It would be quite natural, then, for the men of other races in Babylon to speak of these “wise men” as “Chaldeans,” although the cuneiform inscriptions would not so classify them, because those inscriptions were written by the Chaldeans themselves. At any rate it is by no means certain that Daniel thinks of this term exclusively in the sense of “soothsayer,” or even “wise man,” for at least in Daniel 1:4, and Daniel 5:30, he seems to use it with the larger ethnic meaning.
The most confident and voluminous charges of “historical blunders” in this book are made, however, with reference to its statements concerning the kings Belshazzar and Darius the Mede, and the circumstances connected with the fall of Babylon. These supposed mistakes will be taken up in detail in the next section of this introduction and in the notes. We will only call attention now to the inaccurate assumption of many authors that the writer of Daniel did not know any other Babylonian rulers excepting those he mentioned. The same criticism could be applied, and with equal inconclusiveness, to every Hebrew writing which deals with ancient times. Those writers were only concerned with such rulers and such events as touched, in some vital way, the people of Israel and the history of redemption. The New Testament writers equally ignored the rulers and national activities of their day, and for the same reason. The exactness of the picture of Babylonian life given in Daniel does not prove that it could not have been written by an inspired prophet of the second century B.C.; nevertheless, it is not greatly different from what a writer at the end of the sixth century B.C. might have drawn. In examining the criticisms of Daniel’s unhistoricity we have often been reminded of the words of a recent commentator on Euripides who laments the haste with which many of his predecessors have charged that great Greek poet with blundering, adding that in most cases it is their own mistakes which they have converted into so many reproaches against the author whose words they seek to explain (Virrall, Manual of Greek Tragedy).
9 . ITS THEOLOGICAL CHARACTER. Every prophet and Old Testament seer spake to his own generation and for the special needs of his own time; but every prophet, from the first to the last, took for granted as something which did not need proof a faith in God as a near presence, man’s individual responsibility and need of forgiveness, a future world, and a certain retribution for sin and reward for righteousness here and hereafter. These faiths meet us at the beginning of Scripture and stay to the end. The fact that a prophet may only emphasize a part of the universal creed by no means proves that he held no more. Every rift torn in the cloud-garment of the past points to a common ancient heritage of faith concerning God and man and duty, and to a common human conscience.
The only possible exception which could be taken to this statement would be with respect to the ancient Hebrew belief in a future world. But, if Duhm and others are right, Israel must have stood on a lower level than any other nation under heaven, and the Egyptian nabi and the Assyrian sespu had a much deeper religious insight than the great Hebrew prophets. The new discoveries have proved that in Egypt and Babylonia, and even in Phoenicia and Arabia, the nearest and most influential neighbors of Israel, a belief in a future world had existed from the earliest historic times. But this world, like the Sheol of the Hebrews, was a dark land. The difference between the heathen and the Hebrew conception of Sheol lay in the difference between their gods. Jehovah, so different from the heathen deities, was omnipresent, omnipotent, and beneficent, and ruled even in the land of the shadow of death. He could bring up the soul from Sheol, or shelter it with his wings even there (Psalms 30:3; Psalms 94:17; 1 Samuel 2:2). The future life was not denied or contradicted; it was overlooked, set aside, overwhelmed by the consciousness of the living, actual presence of God himself (Salmond, Immortality, 1895).
But the conception of God and his power to protect and save the righteous here and hereafter, as found in Daniel, surpasses the most sublime thoughts of any former prophet. All mankind is here clearly seen to be one God-family. Even heathen nations are watched over by angelic guardians, and under the eye of Jehovah, the God of the whole earth, and by his direction the destinies of all nations are dictated, and all the bestial forces of earth are compelled to work in harmony with the archangel of heaven for the bringing in of the glorious future kingdom. As Renan acknowledged, Augustine in his City of God and Bossuet in his Universal History hardly added anything essential to this picture of a world governed and controlled for a heavenly purpose by the one overruling divine Providence. The very climax of the book is reached in chap. vii, where the kingdom of God and the Son of man meet each other. (See especially Boehmer, Reich Gottes und Menschensohn im Buche Daniel, 1899.) The God-kingdom now supersedes the world-kingdoms. Heretofore the kingdoms of the world have been directed by rulers well imaged as devouring animals, but in this “time of the end” they shall all yield to the sway of the gentle, peace-loving, human, divine Prince. No such Messianic vision ever before gladdened the inward eye of Hebrew prophet. And in close connection with the triumph of this true humanity on the earth is seen also Jehovah’s triumph over Sheol and a resurrection of the righteous to everlasting blessedness. This is the most definite, the most literal, the largest expression of belief in a personal resurrection to be found in the holy book; it is the blossom and fruit of Israel’s long-cherished Messianic hope. Attempts have been made again and again (compare especially Cheyne, Jewish Quarterly Review, June-August, 1891) to trace back to Mazdaism all the most spiritual features of this picture. That Zoroastrianism taught noble doctrines concerning God, and ministering angelic spirits, and future retribution, and a spiritual divine kingdom cannot be denied. But whether these doctrines in their purest form antedate even the youngest books of the Old Testament has recently been doubted. The celebrated orientalist, M.C. de Harlez, contended years ago (1879) that the Persian monotheism was due to intercourse between the followers of Zoroaster and Jewish captives in Babylon; but with much greater force James Darmesteter, one of the best Zend scholars of the generation, has offered very impressive, if not convincing, proof that many of the doctrines of the Avesta, such as the limited duration of the world, and the resurrection of the dead, were largely borrowed from or modified by the Jewish Scriptures even the very divisions of the Bible being adopted in the Avesta! ( Sacred Books of the East, vol. 4:1895.) Whatever may be the final decision of scholars on this point, it is certain that we need not go to the Avesta for the Biblical doctrines of the judgment and resurrection. If the prophets had borrowed that much they would have borrowed much more, unless super-naturally protected, for, as has been well said, there were many “weak and beggarly elements” in Zoroastrianism which were very fascinating to the natural mind, and beneath these puerilities and absurdities its noble doctrines were well-nigh buried.* But, as even Cheyne admits, the prophets did not need to go outside of the ancient Hebrew teaching to find all the germs which sprouted into such splendid forms in this apocalypse. Ezekiel has something of this (chap. 37), the Psalms have much of it (Psalms 16:10-11; Psalms 17:15; Psalms 49:15; Psalms 73:24-28, etc.), Hosea is very explicit (Hosea 6:2; Hosea 13:14), while Duhm says that Isaiah might just as well have written the Book of Daniel as chaps. 24 to 27 (and compare Isaiah 65:17-25; Isaiah 66:24), and therefore dates those chapters long after 164 B.C.! But it will not do to make every noble doctrine of the Bible a late parasitic growth upon the Hebrew religion and date the documents to suit such a theory. It cannot be doubted that the resurrection of the dead, a judgment of eternal disgrace upon the wicked and of eternal life for the righteous were visions which certainly belonged to the earlier time.†
[* For example, no hint is to be found in Daniel or any other biblical book that the writers had ever heard of the fantastic speculations concerning the method of the resurrection which are made so much of in Zoroastrianism, the earth restoring the bones, water restoring the blood, fire the life of the departed, etc.] [† See especially Professor Schlottmann, Kompendium (1889), and compare Grabler, Theol. Studien und Kritiken (1879). Note also that there is no mention of the doctrine of the resurrection or judgment in the Book of Jubilees, Sibylline Oracles V, nor in Ecclesiasticus, the Books of the Maccabees, Tobit, Baruch, or Judith (Deane, Pseudepigraphy). This is another illustration of the precariousness of the argument that the silence of an author concerning a doctrine proves that it has not yet been originated.] But while those earlier prophets saw as in a glass, darkly, this writer of the Book of Daniel escaped from the cold and cheerless conceptions of Sheol, with which all the past had been darkened, and with open vision pictured a future life on which the full-orbed sun was pouring its light, and in which every redeemed saint was brilliant as a star. Amos taught that the righteous reached future blessedness through death, Hosea through suffering, Isaiah through a new creation, Daniel through a resurrection. And even yet, when men in moments of supreme exaltation speak of the ultimate triumph of the holy ones of the Highest One, they love to use the words of Daniel: “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever.” Happy was the generation which heard for the first time such tidings of great joy.
10 . THE GREAT PROPHECY OF THE SEVENTY WEEKS (Daniel 9:24-27). No prophecy of Scripture is more difficult to explain than this. Anyone who thinks it easy proves thereby that he does not understand it. The more confident the explanation the less likely is it to be of any value. Like all apocalyptic calculations, these have doubtless been left enigmatical on purpose if not, the aim of the writer has been sadly defeated, for scarcely two scholars of the old school or of the new school can agree as to the meaning of these various mathematical combinations. As literally tons of argument have been published on this section of the prophecy, we can only state briefly, and as fairly as possible, the various positions, with special reference to the present state of the controversy.
(1) Many have thought this to be a chronological chart of the world’s history down to the end of time. Armenian commentators of this school have read here the leading dates in the history of Constantinople with direct reference to “the dog” Theodoric; Coptic expositors have been certain that these dates touched the movements of the armies of the sons of Ishmael; while Mohammedan exegetes have seen here the very clearest reference to Godefroy de Bouillion, the accursed destroyer of mosques. European, English, and American scholars have been equally confident while holding equally diverse views. The “Antichrist” supposed to be mentioned here has been named Calvin, the pope, Wesley, Napoleon, and Boulanger, and the “time of the end” has been placed in almost every decade of the last two centuries the day and hour, and sometimes even the minute, being calculated with fine precision. An American scholar has expended enormous enthusiasm in proving that the United States is the stone “cut out of the mountain” (ii, 35, 45); and that, starting from the morning sacrifice mentioned in this passage, Daniel’s prophetical “weeks” ran out at exactly a quarter to three o’clock on the afternoon of July 4, 1776 the very hour at which the Declaration of Independence was proclaimed. This view of the prophecy is not commended by modern scholarship.
(2) Most Christian commentators have thought it necessary to make elaborate calculations in order to prove that all these chronological periods fit exactly to the great historical events in the life of our Lord. There has, however, been very little agreement as to the unit of time according to which the calculations should be made or the point from which these mysterious “sevens” should be reckoned. Various interpreters have thought these to be solar years of three hundred and forty-three days each, or Sabbath or Jubilee years of forty-nine or fifty years each, or mystical years of no definite earthly measurement. One scholar (Rosenthal, 1895) has argued that a “time” is one hundred and twenty years in length, this point being “absolutely fixed by the Lord himself” (Genesis 6:3), while a “week” must be seven thousand years, since “one thousand” years are as one day (Psalms 90:4). Another ingenious writer (Alberts, 1896) has argued that these “sevens” which are called “weeks” in the Authorized Version are not weeks of ordinary years, but since Jerusalem was to be laid waste seven “sevens,” and since this period began with Jeremiah’s letter, about 596 B.C. (Jeremiah 29:10; Jeremiah 28:1-3), and ended with the decree of Cyrus, 537 B.C., evidently these seven “prophetic weeks” must measure exactly sixty years; one week being therefore equal to eight and four sevenths years, and the sixty-two weeks to the birth of Christ measuring five hundred and thirty-one years the last week being, however, seventy-one years instead of eight and four sevenths in length, the crucifixion occurring in the middle of it. Still other interesting and even more elaborate calculations have been made based upon the proposition that the “year” in Daniel was the luni-solar year of three hundred and sixty days, as it is in St. John’s Revelation where forty-two months is made equal to twelve hundred and sixty days (Revelation 11:2-3; Revelation 12:6; Revelation 13:5). Dr. Anderson ( Blackwood’s Magazine, April, 1895), on this basis, calculates that between Tebet 10, B.C. 589, when the foundations of the temple were laid (Ezra 5:6; Haggai 1:1-2; Haggai 2:18-19) and Kislev 24, B.C. 520, when the end of the desolations came (in the second year of Darius Hystaspes) there intervenes a period of twenty-five thousand two hundred days, or exactly seventy luni-solar years; while sixty-nine “sevens” (or four hundred and eighty-three years of three hundred and sixty days each) counted from Nisan 1, B.C. 445 (at which time an edict was given to rebuild Jerusalem) brings us to the eighteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, and to the very day at which our Lord made his entry into Jerusalem and, for the first and only time, publicly proclaimed his Messiahship. Other exegetes have contented themselves with the supposition that the “seven” of Daniel was a “week” of ordinary years, but an extraordinary diversity of opinion has always been shown as to the starting point of the calculation. A few (as Neteler, 1893) have tried to find a Sabbatical year from which to compute these periods, and believing themselves to have found this 454 B.C., the first period of seven weeks would reach to 406 B.C., the next period of sixty-two weeks would reach to 29 A.D., and the middle of the next, or last, week would reach to the Easter of 33 A.D. the date formerly supposed to be that of the Resurrection. Others have calculated from the completion of Nehemiah’s reform, 420 B.C., the seventy year-weeks ending therefore with the destruction of Jerusalem, 70 A.D.; and others still from various points in the reigns of Cyrus or Darius Hystaspes all reaching by various methods some epochal date in the life of Christ or in the early history of the Church.
Perhaps the majority of orthodox commentators have, however, favored beginning the seventy-year week with the commission given by Artaxerxes to Nehemiah about B.C. 444, or to Ezra about B.C. 457 (Ezra 6:15; Nehemiah 2:1-8), finding the “end” of the sixty-nine and seventy weeks close to the date of the birth, baptism, or crucifixion of our Lord, or shortly afterward. Dr. Leathes has pointed out that if four hundred and ninety years are computed from any conceivable date between the first year of Cyrus or “Darius the Mede” (537 B.C.) and the twentieth year of Artaxerxes (444 B.C.), “the two extreme limits possible,” we are in every case brought within fifty years of the birth of Christ whether before or after, while a calculation from “the only edict in Scripture not exclusively limited to the temple (that in the seventh year of Artaxerxes, 457 B.C.)” brings us to the year of our Lord 33! ( Old Testament Prophecy, p. 230.)
Such calculations have been intensely interesting to Bible students, but because of the lack of exact knowledge concerning the dates of these edicts and other critical events (or even of the birth year of Christ until recently), and for many other reasons especially because the “word” or “commandment” of the Lord (verse 23) which is given here as the starting point of all the calculations is connected so closely with the “word” given to this very prophet Jeremiah, whose prophecies Daniel had been studying (the Hebrew term being the same in each case) many recent commentators have started their calculations from one of these divine communications to Jeremiah, and by various expedients have reached some especially important epoch immediately preceding or following the birth of Christ. There may be a slight difference of opinion as to the dates at which the “word” came to Jeremiah, but we cannot be far wrong in fixing them at about 604 B.C. (Jeremiah xxv); 593 B.C. (Jeremiah 29:0); 586 B.C. (Jeremiah 30, 31). See Kuenen’s Onderzoek, pp. 474, 475.
(3) Many Christian thinkers, however, being dissatisfied with the arbitrary suppositions which it seemed necessary to make in order to reach any significant date in the Christian era at the end of the sixty-nine and seventy weeks, have contended that these numbers were purely symbolical. Seven and seventy were common “round” symbolical numbers having a special religious meaning not only among the Jews, but also among the Babylonians (see, for example, Van Lennep, De Zeventig Jaarweken, 1888, passim, and our Introduction to Ezekiel, VIII). No numerical value is therefore to be attached to these numbers, the seventy weeks having no claim to chronological significance. As the number 3½ is a half week, and therefore symbolically means “a short time,” Song of Song of Solomon 7:0 is “a long time,’” a period known only to God, and especially terrible when it consists of persecutions and troubles. Such a period reaches its full height when it consists of ten such “times,” so that the first period, for example, which ran from the command of Cyrus, 537 B.C., to the edict of Artaxerxes, 444 B.C. (a period of almost one hundred years instead of forty-nine years) could be very properly covered by the symbolical seven year-weeks (Lohr, Kirchliche Monatschrift, 1895). The ten year-weeks (seventy years) of Jeremiah is simply the full “time of oppression.” Seven times this period is simply a divine multiplication of this time of disaster because of sin. These symbolical ten weeks of Jeremiah were literally only sixty years, while the “seven weeks” (verse 25) after which the Messiah was to come lengthened out into centuries. According as the view point changed the seer could declare that it was to be seventy weeks (verse 24) or seven weeks (verse 25) until Messiah should come, and thus St. John the revelator could use exactly the same expressions with reference to a future still more distant (Revelation 17:6. So Wolf, Die Siebzig Wochen Daniels, 1889).
(4) Very many recent commentators have undertaken to explain these numbers as referring entirely to certain historic periods which culminated near the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, the king to whom Daniel elsewhere gives the greatest attention. (See notes Daniel 7:8; Daniel 7:20; Daniel 7:24-25; Daniel 8:9-12; Daniel 8:23-25; Daniel 11:0, etc.) This position is taken not only by the destructive critics, as is sometimes claimed, but is advocated without reserve in as conservative and evangelical a work, for example, as Hastings’s Dictionary of the Bible (1898-1901). The position taken is that all the above explanations are artificial and arbitrary, and that the “natural interpretation” of the prophecy is as follows. From the rebuilding of Jerusalem, about 586 B.C., to 537 B.C., when the decree of Cyrus was given, he being the anointed prince (Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 45:1), seven weeks shall pass (verse 25). From this decree the city was being rebuilt during sixty-two weeks (four hundred and thirty-four years), after which period (verse 26) the “anointed one” (Onias III) was cut off (171 B.C.). During the next seven years the last week (verse 26) occur the havoc and ruin wrought by Antiochus. This is essentially the same explanation offered by Driver and a multitude of the latest expositors, although minor differences occur. One of the main objections to this view is the fact that the sixty-two “weeks,” which according to the theory extends from 537 B.C. to 171 B.C., is not a period of four hundred and thirty-four years (sixty-two weeks) but of three hundred and sixty-six years (only fifty-two and one third weeks). Many writers admit the discrepancy, and charge it to a lack of exact chronological knowledge on the part of the seer (compare Schurer, Hist., 2:54). Buchanan Blake has made very recently an ingenious attempt to explain this discrepancy on the theory that the “weeks” were secular weeks, each of which covered not seven year-days but six year-days, so that seventy year-weeks would equal four hundred and twenty years, or exactly the length of time between Jeremiah’s prophecy (Jeremiah 30:2), about 588 B.C., and 168 B.C., when the desolation reached its height in Jerusalem. So the seven year-weeks (forty-two years) would run from 588 B.C. to 546 B.C., when Cyrus appeared; the sixty-two year-weeks (three hundred and seventy-two years) would extend from 546 B.C. to 174 B.C., when trouble began in Jerusalem under Antiochus and Jason, and the seventieth year-week (six years) would cover the period from 174 B.C. to 168 B.C., the period from 168 B.C. to 165 B.C. being represented by the thirteen hundred and thirty-five days at the end of which triumph was expected.
This new “solution” appears almost too ingenious to be true, and yet some advocates of this theory, who accept at the same time the divine inspiration of the writer of Daniel, might be inclined to favor it rather then acknowledge that the seer had made a mistake of ten weeks in his computations. Many scholars simply wait further light on this point while accepting in general this interpretation.
(5) Still another view is possible. While accepting, in the main, the local historic periods insisted upon above as the “natural” explanation of the 7+62+1=70 weeks, we following many evangelical expositors of the highest rank may also insist, and bring the entire analogy of prophecy to our support, that such references do not exhaust the full meaning of this scripture. This was the position taken finally by such mighty defenders of the faith as Zockler and Delitzsch, and which has only recently been accepted by the distinguished Methodist commentator, Dr. Milton S. Terry (see Biblical Apocalyptics, 1898, pp. 200-205). As Bishop Westcott has written (“Daniel,” Smith’s Dictionary, 1893): “Great periods ( αιωνες ) appear to be marked out in the fortunes of mankind which answer to another, so that that divine utterance which receives its first fulfillment in one period receives a further and more complete fulfillment in the corresponding part of some later period.” It is admitted by Driver and other interpreters who hold to the above primary historico-critical explanation of these numbers that verse 24, for example, describes the Messianic age, and that many of the expressions used describe what was in fact only accomplished by Christ. Indeed, it is now universally recognized that every Messianic prophecy received its impulse and form from some event which was near to the prophet’s eye. The prophet looking at one glowing mountain peak of divine grace, not far in the distance, sees another mountain peak beyond, which gleams with a like or greater glory. The prophets could not estimate the distance between these mountain peaks. They could not see the vast canyons which sometimes yawned between them. They sometimes melted the two visions into one description until modern interpreters cannot tell when the one vision ends and the other begins (compare our Lord’s prophecies concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world). This only indicates the divine order in human history. Each generation contains the germ out of which all coming history is to step forth. The entire future may be pictured in the present by one who is divinely wise enough to see its implications. The greater battles and triumphs of the Messianic and pre-millennial future are prefigured in these Satanic persecutions by Antiochus Epiphanes and the final victory of the saints. Daniel probably did not see that far future (1 Peter 1:10-12); but being moved by the Holy Ghost he spake more wisely than he knew, and much of his prophecy never was fulfilled, and was incapable of fulfillment, except in the life and death and divine triumphs of Jesus Christ. The prophet wrote down what he saw; but God saw farther than the prophet. The seer belonged to his own day and wrote for it, and his vision was limited; but God’s vision was not thus limited. What God saw in this prophecy of Daniel the New Testament has told us. No interpretation of prophecy can be so conclusive as its fulfillment. Daniel did not see Jesus, but the Ancient of days who inspired the prophecy did.
The choice seems to be between this view and the direct Messianic interpretation. Each position has its own peculiar difficulties. To the more modern explanation it can justly be objected, as we have said, that the intermediate sixty-two weeks between the seven weeks and the last week ought strictly to be not sixty-two but fifty-two weeks. On the other hand, the older view does not supply any significant event at the close of the first seven weeks, nor explain why these should be separated from the sixty-two; nor was it historically true that Christ “confirmed his covenant with many for one week,” as his ministry lasted not more than half that time three and a half years or, if the confirmation of the covenant is supposed to continue after the crucifixion, no good reason has been offered why it should cease three and a half years after the resurrection. Dr. Terry has lately accepted without reserve what Schaff once called the “historical view” of this passage, assigning as one chief reason for doing so that it “accords with the methodic principle of apocalyptic repetition so conspicuous in the Book of Daniel, and it gives a remarkable unity and harmony to the five prophecies therein recorded” ( Biblical Apocalyptics, 1898, p. 213).
The newer view is also sustained by the judgment of the Revisers in their translation of verses 25-27, and by many more of the most evangelical expositors, who seek first to find the historic facts which were probably in the prophet’s field of vision when he penned these verses, and then look for the larger fulfillment which has been revealed in the Messianic history.
III. Hero and Historical Background.
Whether the Daniel book be literal history or idealized history we ought to read it in the light of the century in which its scenes are laid. We will, therefore, in this section seek to become better acquainted with the era of which this book treats, the kings mentioned in it, and the circumstances connected with the fall of Babylon and the triumph of Cyrus.
1 . THE MAN DANIEL All the knowledge which we possess concerning the life of Daniel is found in the pages of the book which bears his name, and in three brief references from the pen of the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 14:14; Ezekiel 14:20; Ezekiel 28:3). If this book does not contain a memory of the great actions which made the name of Daniel celebrated, then we are shut up either to the assumption that no prophet of this name ever lived which would be charging Ezekiel with an incredible blunder, and would be supposing that a purely fictitious hero could carve a name for himself among the most celebrated men of the nation, which is as unreasonable as to suppose that Hamlet will some day take his place among Danish princes or Uncle Sam among the American presidents or to the equally incredible assumption that at some era long anterior to the days of Ezekiel and Nebuchadnezzar a very celebrated Hebrew by the name of Daniel was carried away into Assyria or Babylonia, and was supposed to have lived a very wonderful life there, but that this ancient story of his life, which was known to Ezekiel, perished from the earth and a newly invented story took its place, which was accepted instead of the original by the entire Hebrew nation. Surely only men like Kamphausen, who acknowledges that he considers orthodoxy “the worst of all heresies,” would risk being impaled on either horn of this dilemma. There is no sign or sound in Hebrew history of any other “Daniel the prophet” except the one of which this book speaks. To take out of history some colossal figure like that of Abraham, Moses, or Daniel, and put in its place some unknown little man not on the ground of some newly discovered tablet which gives the national annals in a more primitive form, but on the ground of a hypothetical naturalistic evolution of history, or because of certain “incredible” accounts interwoven in the national memory with the record of these great deeds this is not to pursue historic investigations according to a true scientific method.*
[* The most forcible argument against the real existence of Daniel as an important personage in the Babylonian court is drawn from the fact that in all the hundreds of cuneiform inscriptions of this era which have been deciphered the name of Daniel (Belteshazzar) does not once appear. This is a remarkable omission; yet even the name of Belshazzar has only been found a few times, mostly in royal inscriptions (Introduction, III, 3). The king very seldom mentions any of his courtiers by name, and the records of the Magi have not been discovered. (See notes Daniel 1:20; Daniel 2:2.) Besides, the prominence of Daniel appears to have been of short duration, for Belshazzar seems not to have heard of him (v, 11.) Of course, if the entire book be regarded as an apocalypse, the above objection at once loses its force. (See Introduction, II, 3.)] From the Book of Daniel we learn that this celebrated character was born in the Holy Land during the reign of good King Josiah; was of fine physique and probably of noble birth; was carried away at an early age by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon as captive or hostage; was educated in the royal palace; was very temperate in his habits, and very obedient to the religious observances in which he had evidently been thoroughly instructed, being as careful as Ezekiel not to defile his mouth with unlawful food (Ezekiel 4:14); although Knabenbauer observes that it must have been harder for him to keep pure amidst the allurements of the heathen palace than it was for Ezekiel living in the Jerusalem temple or in a rural settlement on the Chebar. As a youth he had such agility of mind that by the end of three years of training he became more expert in all the wisdom of the Babylonians than the most learned of the king’s counselors. His supernatural understanding in visions and dreams soon gained him not only the special favor of the king, but a great reputation throughout the realm, so that Ezekiel, who had been transported to Babylonia some eight years later than Daniel, could speak of him while he was still in youth or middle life in surprising terms of eulogy. He was also a great student of former prophecies (Daniel 9:2) and deeply interested in calculating the times of their fulfillment. If Daniel were fourteen years of age when carried to Babylon boys generally being of that age when admitted to instruction in the royal household (Knabenbauer) he would be near seventeen when he finished the stipulated course of study, a man somewhere near twenty-five or thirty years of age when Ezekiel speaks of him (Ezekiel 14:14; Ezekiel 28:3), and about eighty-five when we last hear of him (Daniel 10:1).*
[* Farrar, by some unaccountable slip, says that if Daniel were carried to Babylon about 606 B.C., when he was twelve years of age, and if Ezekiel’s prophecy were uttered 584 B.C., he would then be only twenty-two years of age; if the prophecy were uttered 572 B.C., he would then be only thirty-four, whereas, according to the archdeacon’s own figures, he would in each case have been twelve years older than this. The probability is that he was above twelve years of age when carried to Babylon. The Hebrew word for “child” is often used for boys seventeen years old and older.] Only a few scenes in this long life are opened to us in the Daniel book. The later legends related of him are absolutely worthless. All that we know of his sympathy with his people, his love of prayer, his exaltation of Jehovah, his patience in tribulation, his sublime wisdom and unwavering hope, and his confidence in a glorious future for Israel and for the world, we learn from the pages of this heavenly vision. Of the last days of this great man we know absolutely nothing. But surely when he passed away there sank into the grave one of the greatest seers of the Old Covenant. The splendid Daniel visions, even if recorded by an inspired writer of a later time, must have truly represented his own visions in spirit if not in letter. And never again should those who were wise be so overwhelmed and bewildered with brilliant mysteries till in the end of days the Daniel of the New Covenant should look through the open gates of the new Jerusalem and see the same Son of man whom Daniel saw in the clouds sitting now on the throne of his everlasting dominion.
Let his great example stand,
Colossal, seen of every land,
And make the soldier firm, the statesman pure,
The Christian brave,
Till in all lands and through all human story,
The path of duty be the way to glory. Tennyson.
2 . INTERNATIONAL INTERCOURSE IN NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S TIME AND EARLIER. It is now known that Palestine was in some true sense though very different from that supposed by the mediaeval writers the center of the ancient world. This was indeed the battle ground of the great nations of antiquity, who, millennium after millennium, settled their quarrels on Syrian soil, deciding thus which was the supreme earthly power. Not only the greatest military roads, but the world’s chief highways of trade and culture ran within a few miles of the Judean capital hidden and fortressed in the mountains. Jerusalem was the meeting place of all ancient civilizations, and no doubt from the earliest dawn of history travelers and merchants as well as soldiers from the chief nations of Asia, Africa, and Europe thronged her thoroughfares. The broad street just opened in the ancient Jerusalem by Dr. Bliss, and the Israelitish seals discovered there of a time before the captivity, as well as the inscriptions found at Tel Zakariya of even earlier date, show as the Tel-el-Amarna tablets and the Tel-el-Hesy discoveries had previously done of still earlier centuries not only a degree of civilization and culture hitherto unproved in Palestine, but an intimate intercourse with the other great centers of the world’s life. It was here, as truly as in Babylon and Thebes, that century after century streams of diverse civilizations converged and mingled. Indeed, from the earliest to the latest times, every army or caravan or royal embassy which passed between Egypt and Mesopotamia, Babylonia, or Phoenicia must of necessity have passed along the Palestinian highway, close to Jerusalem, unless it chose a desert route or went by sea. Recent discoveries have absolutely disproved the old notion that there was a Chinese wall of separation between the great nations of antiquity. Instead of this, closer and closer connections are proved as more and more foreign elements are found in their language, pantheon, art, costume, literature, etc. It has been well pointed out by William Hayes Ward that seals dating between 2000-600 B.C. contain upon them the marks of so many different nationalities that even experts find it often impossible to decide whether they are Assyrian, Hittite, Syrian, Phoenician, or Mycenaean. Three Phoenician cylinders from Sidon of about 1500 B.C. are engraved in Assyrian script, but show the worshiper between two purely Egyptian deities. A Hittite seal of the same date, or earlier, though written in cuneiform characters, displays prominently the Egyptian crux ansata in close connection with a Phoenician deity ( American Journal of Archaeology, January-February, 1899). So cuneiform tablets written by Palestinian scribes about 1400 B.C. in Babylonian script were found both in Egypt and Palestine with Phoenician and AEgean pottery, while at Sendjirli inscriptions dating from the eighth century B.C. have recently been found written in Aramaic, with Phoenician letters, in Hittite style, by certain Syrian rulers who acknowledged the Assyrian king as their overlord.
There is no indication whatever that this close intercourse which has been proved between the nations which made use of the Palestinian military and trade route in early times decreased in later times. We now know by contemporaneous testimony how natural it was for Solomon to take a Phoenician wife (1 Kings 11:2) and to have trade connections not only with Tyre and Arabia, but perhaps even with Spain, India, and the far distant coasts of Africa (compare 2 Chronicles 2:17); and for Ahab, who was also a son-in-law of the king of Tyre, about 850 B.C. to have “bazaars” occupying whole streets in Damascus (1 Kings 20:34), while Babylonian sun clocks and foreign altars entered Jerusalem at least as early as the reign of Ahaz, about 735 B.C. (Isaiah 38:8; 2 Kings 16:10).
The Hebrews, as well as the Egyptians and Babylonians, always encouraged foreign immigration. Long before the days of Ezekiel and Daniel special districts for foreigners had been set apart in various great cities of Egypt, in some of which there had been erected temples to Syrian gods, while the Palestinian contingent of the Pharaoh’s army was reckoned only second to that of the native Egyptian troops; and fifty per cent of the military and civil officers in Thebes and other cities were Syrians, Nubians, or their descendants. The Israelitish and Egyptian testimonies agree, also, that in the very century of which the books of Ezekiel and Daniel speak an important Jewish population was already settled in the frontier cities of Egypt (Jeremiah 43:6-7; see publications Egyptian Exploration Fund). In the Babylonian cities also whole districts were set apart for foreign colonists, whose naturalization was made easy. The Amorites had a district named after them, while the sales and contracts of Ezekiel’s day and earlier contain many purely Hebrew names as principals or witnesses.*
[* So in Palestine there had been for centuries permanent settlements of foreigners (compare 2 Kings 17:24, where a city is named after the “two Sippars” of Babylon), the Greek influence in Ashdod being so great that about the time of Isaiah’s death a Greek even dared to head an insurrection against the Assyrian emperor (Sayce, Hommcl, etc.), and a very strong Greek influence is seen also about this same time at Lachish (Tel-el-Hesy).
It is interesting to note at this point that from “very early times the Greeks lived just as much on the Asiatic coast as on the European,” while their art was shaped and molded after Egyptian, Phoenician, and Assyrian designs. Of their two standards of weights and coinage one came undoubtedly from Phoenicia, and the other from Babylon. It was also from Babylon that they received the sun clock, the parts of the day, and probably also the leap year (Adolph Holm, History of Greece, 1894, pp. 71, 267; Ninth International Congress of Archaeologists, p. 217).] The ancient Hebrews had not the prejudice against foreigners which some of their descendants showed. The “Book of the Covenant,” as McCurdy has pointed out, gives more space to the easy naturalization of these sojourners of a foreign race than to any other rubric. Even in their sacred literature foreigners like Job, Jethro, Ruth, Lemuel, etc., occupy a prominent place. Some of the heroes most celebrated in the earliest wars of the nation, like Caleb and Othniel, were foreigners, as also some of David’s best captains (Numbers 32:12; Joshua 14:6; Joshua 14:14; 2 Samuel 15:19; 2 Samuel 23:37) and in the noble future, for which the prophets hoped, all nations were expected to flow to Mount Zion and become incorporated in the ideal Israel (Isaiah 2:2; Isaiah 19:25; Micah 4:8; <19A219>Psalms 102:19, compare McCurdy, History, Prophecy, and the Monuments, 1897, ii, p. 263, etc.).
The prophets all show exceptional acquaintance with foreign countries and customs and with international complications. Amos, in the middle of the eighth century B.C., although not belonging to the literary or traveled class in Israel being, as he confesses, only a cowherd living in a country village yet astonishes us not only with his superb use of classical Hebrew, with his high moral and religious conceptions (for example, Daniel 2:6, Daniel 3:10; Daniel 5:11-27) and his knowledge of the history of his own people, but with his evident interest in foreign kingdoms, such as Damascus, Tyre, and Edom, and his acquaintance with the “palaces” of Moab as well as those of Jerusalem. Indeed in this first written prophecy we find not only a fixed religious phraseology, a literary style, and a well-defined system of ethics, but also a grasp of national and international history and its philosophy (for example, Daniel 9:7), which speaks most loudly concerning the education and the political as well as moral culture of the “common people” (vii, 14) in this far-away epoch (775-750 B.C.).
So a little later Isaiah (740-700 B.C.) describes the fall of Babylon and of Tyre, and later still (cir. 650 B.C.) Nahum pictures the fall of Nineveh so vividly that one might think these prophets served as soldiers in the assaulting parties before whom the warriors who defended these “cities of merchants” are said to have fled like grasshoppers. It is not strange that the prophets who wrote later than this should have been well acquainted with Egypt and Babylon (see, for example, Ezekiel 29-32; Jeremiah 39-46, 50-52), for from this time the political fortunes of Israel and Judah were understood to be entirely dependent upon the relations of these two foreign countries to each other. Indeed for several generations previously Jewish captives were being constantly carried to Assyria and Jewish exiles constantly fleeing to Egypt. Shalmaneser II (842 B.C.) had exacted tribute from Jehu, as had also Ramman-Nirari III (811-783 B.C.) from the “land of Omri;” but it was Tiglath-pileser III (745-727 B.C.) who introduced the practice of transplanting the population of conquered countries and putting other captives of war from far-away regions in their places. His monuments as well as Scripture (2 Kings 15:29; 2 Kings 16:5-9) tell of his cruel treatment of Pekah, king of Israel, and his subjects, while his successor Shalmaneser IV (727-722 B.C.) laid siege to Samaria, which, after three years, was captured in 722 B.C., the northern kingdom being thus deprived of its independency and the “ten tribes” being carried away by the usurper Sargon, who followed Shalmaneser to the throne.
Sargon (721-705 B.C.) carried off over twenty-seven thousand of the inhabitants of Samaria, as he himself says, bringing in foreigners from many different countries to take their places (see also Isaiah 20:1; 2 Kings 17:6; 2 Kings 17:24); punished Gaza and Ashdod, and also styled himself in his royal inscriptions “subjector of the land of Judah.” One of his inscriptions has only recently been found in Jerusalem ( Palestine Exploration Fund, October, 1890). Sennacherib (701 B.C.) made a great campaign against Phoenicia, Moab, and Edom, besieging also the forty-one fenced cities of Zedekiah, shutting up “Hezekiah the Judaite like a caged bird in Jerusalem,” carrying away with him to Nineveh, if we can trust his count, “two hundred thousand one hundred and fifty persons, small and great, male and female,” with “thirty talents of gold, eight hundred talents of silver,” and an immense treasure of other precious things (Compare 2 Kings 18:13-17; 2 Kings 18:35; 2 Kings 19:10; Isaiah 36, 37.) Esar-haddon (681-668 B.C.) conquered Phoenicia, Arabia, and Palestine, making, as he says, “Manasseh of Judah” subject to him, and putting his hook also in the nose of Tirhakah of Egypt. (Compare 2 Kings 19:9; 2 Chronicles 33:11; Isaiah 30-31 , Isaiah 37:9.) Assurbanipal (668-626 B.C.), “the scribe of Nebo,” though chiefly interested in literature and the study of antiquity, yet retained for some time his grasp upon Egypt and Palestine (2 Chronicles 33:11), putting Psammetichus on the Egyptian throne as an Assyrian vassal and settling many foreigners in Israel (Ezra 4:9-10) to take the place of the native population carried into captivity. Psammetichus, however, assisted by Ionian and Carian troops, furnished by Gyges, king of Lydia with probably the usual sympathy from Palestine, although Josiah, being under the influence of Jeremiah and other prophets, could not have directly allied himself with Egypt against Assyria succeeded finally in breaking away from his yoke, and the savage Assyrian army could not make another ruthless march through Palestine to punish him for his rebellion, because the kingdoms nearer home, especially those of Babylon and Media, had risen against these lords of Nineveh, and in 607 or 606 B.C. Nineveh was destroyed, and with it the Assyrian empire, which for centuries had terrorized the four quarters of the earth.
With the fall of Nineveh, Babylon began again its reign of power, and under Nebuchadnezzar (604-561 B.C.), at the very epoch with which the books of Ezekiel and Daniel deal, reached its greatest splendor. The first ruler of the new Babylonian empire, Nabopolassar (625-605 B.C.), with the help of the Medo-Scythian army, conquered the Assyrians and thus became master of all Mesopotamia. Nebuchadnezzar defeated Necho of Egypt at Carchemish (605 B.C.) and thus gained for himself the rule of Phoenicia, Arabia, and Palestine, as well as that of Egypt. When Pharaoh Hophra (Apries), assisted by Zedekiah, the king of Tyre, and others, resisted this sovereignty, the Babylonian king defeated the allied forces, captured and destroyed Jerusalem (587 B.C.), invaded Egypt (568 B.C.), punished the Arabs (Jeremiah 49:28-33), and besieged Tyre, though for thirteen years he failed to get the reward which the Hebrew prophets foresaw should ultimately be his (2 Kings 25:1; Ezekiel 29:17-18, note).
Evil-merodach continued during his reign (561-560 B.C.) the close relations with the far West which Nebuchadnezzar, his father, and his predecessors had favored. (See 2 Kings 25:27.) If his successor, Neriglissor (559-556 B.C.), who bore the splendid title rubu imga (the “Rab-mag” of Jeremiah 39:3; Jeremiah 39:13), and Nabonidus (555-539 B.C.), whose son, Belshazzar, has such prominent mention in the Book of Daniel, failed to swing their royal troops through Palestine, it was only because their building operations, literary researches, and, especially, the newly rising power of Cyrus the Persian, kept them too busy nearer home. The streets of their famous capital, however, were filled with travelers, soldiers, merchants, or slaves from every nation under heaven, while the vast buildings with their great libraries, containing hundreds of thousands of tablets, prove that the Babylonian astrology, medicine, magic, and religion, as well as its language, its weapons, art, and architecture, had been greatly influenced by foreign lands.
This was not an ignorant and sleepy age. Not only had the Babylonian and Jewish aristocrats for centuries given themselves to letters, but, as we have seen, even the cowherds of Israel could sometimes wield powerful pens, while as great an authority as Hugo Winckler has ventured to say, “The Babylonians were a scribbling people, they wrote more than we do” ( Geschichte Bab. und Assy., p. 322). The epoch of which the books of Ezekiel and Daniel treat was of intense political, intellectual, and literary energy throughout the whole earth, while the intercourse between nations was almost as potent and constant then as now.*
[* In this era fall such biblical works as Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, and, according to most modern chronologists, Duetero-Isaiah and perhaps Deuteronomy, while a number of the historical books were then re-edited. There was also a renaissance of art and literature at this time both in Egypt and Babylonia, and vast classical works on astrology, religion, and other subjects were being published in most beautiful and sumptuous editions. It might also be added that Confucius was born, according to the best authorities, about 550 B.C., and Buddha about 543 B.C., while Zoroaster arose as the great prophet of Ormazd in the preceding century.]
3. THE KINGS MENTIONED IN THE BOOK OF DANIEL. Several kings are mentioned by name, and others who are not personally named are given to us from the monuments.
(1) Nebuchadnezzar. The monumental name of this king, Nabium-kudurri-usur, “Nebo, protect my territory,” favors the form of Nebuchadrezzar rather than the form which Daniel constantly uses, but since this same misspelling is found in an undoubted work of Jeremiah, who himself was a contemporary of Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 49:28), as also in Ezra and the Book of Kings; considering also that the Babylonian scribes themselves spelled this name in various ways, even in official reports and contracts, we think it would not be safe to build any very solid argument for the date of this book on the difference in one letter between the biblical and cuneiform name. (Compare Konig, Einleitung, p. 56; Bezold, Oriental Diplomacy, 1893; Hilprecht, Babylonian Exploration Fund, vol. 9:1898.)
Nebuchadnezzar (604-562 B.C.), the greatest king and virtual founder of the new Babylonian empire, was vicegerent with his father, Nabopolassar, from 625 B.C., and thus for sixty years ruled a great empire and for over forty years dominated almost all the civilized world. His portrait, as seen engraved on what was probably a votive offering to his favorite temple in Babylon, shows a commanding and engaging countenance worthy the fame of this truly royal king. His conquests were vast enough to be compared with those of Ramses the Great, or even Alexander the Great, and yet thus far his military annals have not been discovered, and there are few references to these undoubted campaigns excepting in the general statement that he claimed dominion over “far-off lands and from the upper to the lower sea.” Hundreds of inscriptions, however, testify to his building operations. (See note Daniel 4:30.) That he virtually rebuilt his capital city is proved not only by his name inscribed upon almost all its bricks, but from the cuneiform records, which never weary of telling of the new streets, walls, fortifications, quays, palaces, and temples which he constructed in Babylon and Borsippa, the latter being essentially a part of the capital; and although he erected great buildings in Sippar, Kutha, Uruk, Larsa, and Ur, yet so far did the buildings of Babylon exceed these that in one inscription, in praise of Bel, the chief god of Babylon, he declares, “On no other sites excepting in thy city have I built.” He rebuilt the royal palace in Babylon from its foundations, and at least a score of temples; his chief pride, however, being in that of Bel-merodach (Daniel 4:8), which he built with precious woods, and silver, and molten gold, and precious stones, and alabaster blocks, and filled it with “abundant tribute of the kings of nations of all people” (Pinches). His name also indicates that Nebo, the god of literature, who was supposed to keep the Book of Life in the Babylonian Olympus, was a special patron deity. One of his inscriptions to Nebo reads, “Upon thy eternal tablet, which reaches round the heaven and the earth, the length of my days is recorded.”
As such vast numbers of Jews were in exile in Babylon during this reign it is not strange that Nebuchadnezzar is mentioned by name scores of times by the exilic prophets. Nor are these references bitter and antagonistic, but, on the contrary, rather complimentary. The fact is that this great monarch was far more just and merciful than his predecessors, and the Hebrews, like his other conquered subjects, were treated with humanity and were allowed privileges in Babylon perhaps equal to those which most of them had enjoyed in their home land. (See introduction to Ezekiel, VII.) It was with more truth than most oriental kings that Nebuchadnezzar could call himself “King of righteousness,… who loveth justice and righteousness, who seeketh after life,” and prays that he may have “a righteous scepter, a just staff of rule prospering the people.” (See Ball, Light from the East, p. 106, etc.; Rogers, History of Assyria, 1901.)
(2) Immediate Successors of Nebuchadnezzar. These are not referred to by name in the Book of Daniel, but are shown by the monuments to have reigned at the times mentioned. On the death of Nebuchadnezzar (August, 562 B.C., Oppert), his son Evil-merodach, “man of Merodach,” took the kingdom, but after a brief reign of about two years little of which is known, his annals not having been discovered, though Berosus does not give him as generous a character as 2 Kings 25:27-30, would indicate he was murdered by his brother-in-law Neriglissar, “Nergal, preserve the king,” a man who had been very prominent, as the inscriptions show, even in the lifetime of Nebuchadnezzar (compare Jeremiah 39:3); whose daughter he had married, and of whose four years’ reign (560-556 B.C.) nothing important is known beyond certain improvements in temples and palaces and of the water facilities in Babylon.*
[* If this king tells the truth and speaks literally when he calls himself “son of Bel-suniskum, king of Babylon,” this reign, of which the monuments have left no trace, must be placed between March 30 and August 31, 561 B.C. (Oppert, C. R. Acad. Insc., 1897, p. 495, etc.).] His son, Lavashi-merodach, came to the throne “as a youth incapable of ruling,” if we can trust the probably prejudiced statement of Nabonidus, who when the child king was assassinated, within a year of the time he was crowned, became his successor.
(3) Nabonidus, the Father of Belshazzar. Whether Nabonidus was personally implicated in the swift removal of his predecessor from the throne cannot now be told. He himself declares that he was raised to be chief ruler “by the hand of Merodach, my lord,” while the people shouted with one voice, “O father of the land.” He must have come from a noble family, as he gives his father, Nebu-balat-suikbi, very distinguished titles. He does not anywhere definitely claim to be a descendant of Nebuchadnezzar, but only calls himself his “legate.” Many hundreds of commercial tablets and historical inscriptions are preserved from this reign (555-538 B.C.) every year of which is illuminated by some dated document. While Nabonidus had been a commanding general under former kings, yet none of the cuneiform inscriptions would indicate that he maintained his military record after coming to the throne. Indeed he seemed to delegate all military operations to his eldest son while he gave himself to antiquarian researches, no doubt because of his religious veneration for the past. He rebuilt the ancient temples, seeking in the records deposited with their corner stones for all information possible concerning their first construction, and giving excessive honor to the deities which he considered most ancient. In order to rebuild and decorate worthily these already magnificent temples he called for special tribute from his world-wide dominions. For example, one text says, “I gave command to my widely distributed peoples, from the land of Gaza on the border of the land of Egypt, from the upper sea beyond the Euphrates unto the lower sea, the kings, princes, governors, and numerous peoples which Sin, Shamash, and Ishtar, my lords, had intrusted to me to build the temple of Sin, my lord.” It is most probable, as Professor Price and others believe, that this excessive devotion to the deities of a past age “detracted from his zeal for the great divinities exalted and worshiped as supreme by Nebuchadnezzar and his immediate successors” ( The Monuments and Old Testament, 1899), and thus led to the enmity of the priesthood in general, or, as the inscriptions state it, to the enmity of Merodach, through whose favor Cyrus was able to take his throne “without fighting.” The yearly record of the movements of the king shows that for some reason unstated he would not even attend the most sacred festivals of Merodach at Babylon, nor return to the city as a matter of state policy even when the Persian army was marching to capture it; though he must have known that with the capture of the capital his empire would fall. (See Histories of Assyria and Babylonia, especially those by Tiele, 1888; Friedrich Delitzsch, 1891; Winckler, 1892; and Rogers, 1901.)
(4) Belshazzar. Up to within a few years it could be said that the only mention of this king found in any ancient history or tradition was in the Book of Daniel. For this reason many scholars were confident that no such person had ever ruled in Babylon or had any connection whatever with Nebuchadnezzar’s dynasty and the fall of the great world capital. If such a ruler had actually lived, how could the great historians of Greece and the universal memory of other nations so deeply interested in this catastrophe have forgotten it? (See, for example, Kuenen, Hist. Crit., vol. ii, p. 556.)
But within a few years a number of inscriptions have been discovered in which the name Belshazzar ( Bel-sarrausur, “O Bel, protect the king”) appears as the name of the firstborn son of Nabonidus, the last historic king of Babylon, and in which he is given a place of peculiar prominence in the stirring scenes connected with the capture of this city.* (See next section of this Introduction.)
[* It is interesting to note that there is a slight difference in the spelling of the name in various cuneiform texts, as also in the Hebrew (Daniel 5:1; Daniel 7:1). The name Belshazzar has also been found in an Assyrian text as that of a ruler in North Media.] Indeed it almost appears from these inscriptions that Nabonidus had turned over not only the command of the army, but the “management of the empire,” to the crown prince. His name also occurs in numbers of the royal prayers coupled with that of his father. “No such usage as this appears in any other text” (Rogers, History of Assyria, 2:362). So practically, if not officially, he was “associated on the throne at this time with his father as companion ruler, and in great measure endowed with royal powers” (Pinches, Church Congress, 1891; Vigouroux, Dictionnaire, 1893).
Eastern monarchs previous to this had admitted their sons to the vicegerency, and it was not uncommon in later years. Sennacherib was vicegerent with his father, and perhaps Nebuchadnezzar also; so Jeremiah can call the latter “king” earlier than the date at which he became sole ruler (Jeremiah 25:1; Jeremiah 26:1).
Even if not officially vicegerent it would not be unnatural that the prince royal should be called king by anticipation. It is also to be remembered that the titles “king” and “prince” were more flexible then than now. There are a number of striking instances in which Babylonian rulers call their fathers “king” when the records prove that this was not literally true; for example, the father of Nergal-sarusur was not king of Babylon and yet he was called king by a Babylonian scribe, probably because he had royal blood in his veins and married a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar ( Babylonia and Oriental Record, 5:213), while in an inscription recently found at Nippur Asur-etil-ilani-ukini calls himself “king of Babylon” when in reality he was but a vassal of another and took the title by his sufferance ( Le Museon, June, 1894); so Cambyses was called in his cylinder “king of Babylon” while Cyrus was yet alive. Belshazzar was not the “son” of Nebuchadnezzar in any strict sense of the word, for Nabonidus, in numbers of inscriptions, speaks of him as “my firstborn son,” “fruit of my body,” etc. But, notwithstanding the strong affirmation of great scholars that “son” in this particular passage can only have a strictly literal interpretation (for example, Kuenen, Onderzoek, 2:480-482), it is now universally acknowledged that in many other passages, both in the Hebrew and Babylonian texts, the word “son” was used for grandson, nephew, relative, descendant, and even for successor or subordinate (see, e.g., Brown’s Gesenius, 1893-1899, and Revue des Questions Historiques, July, 1896). Though Belshazzar was not, so far as any text proves (compare B. and O. Record, Sept., 1896; Recueil de Travaux, Tome XVIII), related by blood to Nebuchadnezzar, yet it has always been the custom for founders of a new dynasty to claim descent from some former distinguished king. So whether the queen mother spoke accurately or not (Daniel 5:11), it is not at all improbable that she appealed to an ancestral claim which may have been the greatest pride of the family.*
[* It would have been a matter of state policy for Nabonidus to strengthen his hold on the throne by marrying a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar. If he did this which would have been merely following the examples of his predecessors then Nebuchadnezzar would really have been Belshazzar’s grandfather on his mother’s side.] Various commercial texts show that Belshazzar was a man of business as well as commander of the royal troops. In the first year of Nabonidus some property adjoining “the house of the son of the king” is legally transferred to Marduk-irba, “son of the Egyptian,” through the efforts of Bilrisua, “servant of Belshazzar, the son of the king.” In the third, fifth, and seventh years of Nabonidus other commercial transactions are recorded in which Nabu-surrausar, the scribe of Belshazzar, and others of his household take a chief part. In the eleventh year (B.C. 545) Belshazzar makes a loan to Iddin-Marduk, securing it by a mortgage on “the house of , a Persian,” and other real estate. In the twelfth year another loan is arranged and secured by farm produce. Numbers of other business transactions are recorded, the most remarkable being in the seventeenth year of Nabonidus, just before the fall of Babylon, at which time Belshazzar is said to have paid his sister’s tithe due to the temple of the sun-god at Sippar. Mr. Pinches draws the conclusion, from the fact that these funds were taken from the royal treasury, that at this time Belshazzar must have had control of the royal finances; though perhaps his position as commander in chief of the army might have given him this control of royal funds even if he were not vicegerent (Smith’s Dictionary, 1893. For other contracts see Schrader’s Keilinschriftliche Bibliothek, 1896).
In his temple inscriptions Nabonidus often showed his great regard for his firstborn son and heir. At the four corners of the foundation of one great temple which he built in Ur to the moon-god, tablets were found each containing the prayer, “Set thy fear in the heart of Belshazzar, my eldest son, the fruit of my body; let him not commit sin, and may he be satisfied with fullness of life.” Other prayers of the king begged for a long life in behalf of this cherished son; but after the fall of Babylon the tablets have nothing further to say of him. (See also in the next section of this Introduction, III, 4.)
(5) Darius the Mede. Belshazzar’s existence was denied up to the very day when the Babylonian tablet was found which proved him to be an historical character. No such tablet has yet been found mentioning Darius the Mede. There is no king of this name in the Babylonian lists of kings, and the annals are very complete for this period. If Darius the Mede be an historical character, he could have reigned as an independent king only a few months, or else Darius must be the name of some king which the lists speak of under another form; which is by no means impossible, for the Babylonian kings often had several names by which they were known on the monuments (see Society Biblical Archaeology, 18:7, 205); or Darius may, though less probably, have been merely a title, as Herodotus and Josephus seem to have thought, rather than a personal name; or Darius the Mede may have been a “companion ruler” with Cyrus, or a subordinate who either usurped the title “king of Babylon” for a brief time or had it conferred upon him by his superior.
The latter supposition, which formerly seemed almost too incredible to be seriously considered, has been rendered most probable by recent discovery. So Assur-etil-ilani-ukini calls himself king of Babylon when in reality he was only a vassal of Nabusalassur, who permitted him to take this title; and although Cyrus became really king of Babylon on his capture of that city, and is so called in one most celebrated tablet, yet the inscriptions prove that he did not retain it for himself until some years afterward. Indeed various contract tablets have recently been published which are dated “first year of Cyrus, king of countries,… Cambyses, king of Babylon” ( Keilin-schriftliche Bibliothek, 1896). This absolutely proves that after the capture of Babylon, Cyrus did allow some one other than himself, at least for a time, to assume the title “king of Babylon.” If he allowed Cambyses to do this, as he did, he might, for equally weighty reasons, have permitted Darius the Mede to do this.
Darius the Mede could not have been another name for Cambyses, or Astyages, or Cyaxares II, or for Darius Hystaspes, for no one of these agrees with the description given in the Book of Daniel of this otherwise unknown ruler, who is said to have “received the kingdom,” appointed satraps, to have been about sixty-two years old and of the seed of the Medes and the son of Ahasuerus (Daniel 5:31; Daniel 6:1; Daniel 9:1). Positive knowledge now excludes those candidates from the field, if the description given in Daniel is to be accepted as correct.
Gubaru, the general of Cyrus whom the texts show to have been very prominent in the capture of that city, is the man who seems most nearly to fill the requirements of the case. There is comparatively little known about him, but that little is not contradictory to the above statements, and some few additional points are favorable. It is evident from the Babylonian chronicle that he received great power from Cyrus, being “practically his viceroy,” appointing for him governors in Babylon, while he was also closely connected in the history of the times with Gutium, which is generally regarded as including a part of Media and of which he is said finally to have been appointed governor by Cyrus (so Pinches in Smith’s Dictionary, 1893, and in Hastings’s Dictionary, 1898; see Halevy against this, Revue Semitique, 1894, p. 186, etc.). The well-known archaeologist Boscawen, quoted by Anderson (1895), declares distinctly that Gubaru was a Manda (“among whom were embraced the Medes”), was appointed by Cyrus “praefect of praefects,” and “seems to fulfill in every way the required conditions to be Darius the Mede.” That the Medes, who had been the ardent allies of Cyrus, should have been honored in some special way after the capture of the capital is not at all improbable.*
[* As against Sayce, who seems to deny that the Manda of the inscriptions of this era had any connection with the Medes, and who would brush aside all ancient memory on this subject as valueless ( Higher Criticism, p. 519, etc.), see McCurdy, History, Prophecy, and the Monuments, 1897, pp. 394, 416.] A few other particulars about Gubaru, who may, as Pinches says, have borne also the name Darius, or whose name might possibly have been confused by some copyist with that of Darius which it slightly resembles, will be given in the next section of this Introduction, “Babylon and its Fall.”
The Babylonian texts in several places speak of some great king appointing “kings” over certain parts of his empire, so that it is not at all impossible that this “governor” should have received the official title of king though his reign could have been but short. Esar-haddon, 680-668 B.C., having captured Memphis and led away Tirhakah, states that he “placed over the whole of Egypt kings, satraps, magistrates,” etc. This shows how easily a man could become a king by the will of a superior. Even if not possessing this title officially his countrymen might have so regarded him. In Egypt, again and again, rulers are called “king” in the inscriptions when the controlling powers merely regarded them as viceroys. That the name should not appear in the official chronicle, if he were indeed more than viceroy, might be due either to the brevity of the reign or to a disposition on the part of the scribe to exalt the Persian and depreciate the Mede. New kings are constantly being found in the cuneiform records whose reigns overlap those of some better known rulers, or who had the throne but briefly or by usurpation.
(6) Cyrus the Persian. Cyrus (558-530 B.C.), the conqueror of Babylon and ruler of an empire extending from the Mediterranean to Bactria, came, as he says, “of an enduring seed of royalty.” A text reads, “I am Cyrus, the king of the world, the great king, the king of Babylon, the king of the land of Shinar and Akkad, the king of the four quarters, son of Cambyses the great king, king of Anshan, grandson of Cyrus the great king, king of Anshan, great grandson of Teispes the great king, king of Anshan.” The kingdom of Anshan probably included the whole of Elam when Cyrus took the throne. Eight years after his accession, by his victory over the Manda prince Astyages, he became king of the Median empire and for the first time took the title “king of Parsu.” Three years later (547 B.C.), he defeated the tripartite alliance of Lydia, Egypt, and Babylon and became ruler of all Asia Minor. About the beginning of July, 539, he got possession of Babylon “through the treachery of its priests” without drawing a sword. Three and a half months later he made his triumphal entry into the city, and eight days afterward his general, Gubaru, caused the king’s son (that is, Belshazzar) to be put to death. (See next section.) In the official account of Cyrus’s entrance into Babylon he declares that he entered the city peacefully and was received joyfully by all its inhabitants: “With rejoicings and festive shouts in the king’s palace, I occupied the seat of sovereignty, my great army in the midst of Babylon went about harmlessly.” He declares that he observed this same policy of conciliation and protection in all the other captured cities, “Their sighing I stilled; their sorrow I relieved.” Of all the cities, also, which brought tribute he says, “The gods that abode in them I restored to their places and settled in an eternal abode; all their populations I gathered together and restored to their own dwelling places.” How different this was from the action of former conquerors may be seen from this wail of a native Babylonian poet:
O city of Babylon, thy grandeur is now in ruins,
Violence, vexation, incendiarism,
Prostration, horror, captivity,
Insult, blasphemy, ruin,
Tears, cries, the flowing of red blood,
Terror, rage, desolation, famine,
Tumult, overwhelming fear,
Have come of a sudden upon thy head!
The cries of murderers are in every street,
Solitude, destruction, lamentation.
Revue Biblique, January, 1897.
The difference in spirit between Cyrus and former kings may account for the fact that not only the biblical prophets could call him the servant of Jehovah, but even the priests of Babylon, whose capital city he had invaded, declared that he was Merodach’s “young servant.” One tablet specifically declares that when Merodach became wroth with Nabonidus, who had ruined the country by an unrelaxing yoke, “he looked for, yea, he sought out, he found an upright prince after his own heart, whom he took by his hand, Cyrus, king of the city of Anshan. He named his name to the kingdom of the whole earth, he called him by name.” (Compare Ezekiel 37:1-4; Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 45:1-4.) This great king was not, as was formerly supposed, a monotheist, for he offered sacrifice to the gods of every kingdom which he conquered; but he was mild and strong, and inaugurated the policy of retaining captured territory, not by force of arms, but by making friends with the conquered nobles and priests. (For “The Religion of the Achaemenian Kings” see Journal American Oriental Society, 1901, xxi, pp. 160-184.) It was in accordance with this policy that the Jews and other peoples were restored to their native land when he became master of Babylon. (See Introduction to Ezekiel, “The Exiled Jews in Babylon,” VII.) His portrait, as found engraved on a jewel, shows a face “distinctly European” (Ball), and the official records of his nine years’ rule as “king of Babylon and king of the world” prove his right to be counted, as the prophet called him, the “shepherd” of the nations (Isaiah 44:28).
4 . BABYLON AND ITS FALL. Babylon ( Bab., “Gate of God;” Akk., “Seat of Life”) had for more than a thousand years been a great city and capital of the empire; but Nebuchadnezzar rebuilt it in a most splendid way. Ancient writers describe it as a city four times as large as the present London, with fifty streets, each fifteen miles in length, lined with houses three stories in height and beautiful gardens, the whole surrounded with walls more than three hundred feet high and so broad that six chariots could drive abreast upon them; while one hundred gates of cedar covered with copper and two hundred and fifty towers, with a complex system of canals and bridges, defended its entrances. Modern excavations favor the truth of the ancient accounts. It was the father of Nebuchadnezzar who finished the erection of those mighty double defensive walls, named “Foundation of Bel” and “Bel has been Merciful” (compare Jeremiah 50:15; Jeremiah 51:53; Jeremiah 51:58); but Nebuchadnezzar added to their thickness, built another outer wall “like a mountain,” strengthened the battlements with blocks of alabaster, and protected the city with moats of incredible size, saying, “Of great waters like the waters of the ocean I made use abundantly.” It was probably he who constructed the royal canal which connected the Euphrates with the Tigris, so wide and deep that it could be used by merchant ships of the largest size. He also restored many of the great temples, giving especial favor to those dedicated to the worship of Bel, or Marduk, his patron deity. One of those most favored temples, where, on each New Year’s Day, “the future of the king was declared,” lay almost within the palace grounds. (So Pinches, and compare Daniel 5:2.) He himself speaks of his work in one of those gateway temples as follows, “The cedar of the roofing of the walls I overlaid with gold; mighty bulls of copper and dreadful serpents standing upright on their thresholds I erected; the sacred chamber of the lord of the gods, Merodach, I made to glisten like the sun; with blocks of gold large as rubblestones I made its walls brilliant; I filled its gates with splendor for the astonishment of all mankind.”
Two pictures of the royal palace of Nebuchadnezzar which were carved upon slabs, probably for wall decorations while the king was yet alive, can now be seen in the British Museum. They show the palace to have been three stories in height, with lofty ceilings, and arched windows supported upon pillars resting upon huge lions of stone or bronze. Colossal statues are seen standing in niches of the wall, and the roof of the palace is adorned with rare plants, while in the distance can be seen the magnificent hanging gardens which tradition says he erected out of love for his Median wife who was mourning for her native hills rising, terrace on terrace, like the sides of a mountain, and covered with a forest of palms and almond trees. This particular palace seems from the picture to have been built of fine blocks of cut stone, although the excavations prove that another palace was built of burnt brick of a handsome yellow color, each brick being stamped with the name and titles of the king. Many fragments of the enameled tiles, covered with sculptured pictures and historic or mythological scenes wrought in bright colors which adorned the walls, and which were accompanied by brilliant cuneiform inscriptions, have also been found.* (Compare Ezekiel 23:14.)
[* Josephus declares that this palace was built in fifteen days, and a cylinder of Nebuchadnezzar in the British Museum is supposed by some to make the same incredible statement, although other scholars understand it to speak of the hanging gardens.] The Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar was the most brilliant city of the ancient world: a “golden cup” (Jeremiah 51:7), “abundant in treasures” (Jeremiah 51:13), “the lady of kingdoms” (Isaiah 47:5), “the golden city” (Isaiah 14:4), and a “mount of destruction” (Jeremiah 51:25) among all the nations; but when the Lord Jehovah opened his armory and brought against her “the kings of the Medes” (Jeremiah 50:25; Jeremiah 51:1; Isaiah 13:17), then was the earth moved by the noise of the fall of those mighty walls (Jeremiah 50:46; Jeremiah 51:58), and Babylon, the “glory of kingdoms and the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency” (Isaiah 13:19) was overthrown, and her mighty men, taken in drunken sleep (Jeremiah 51:39; Jeremiah 51:57), were shot through with the bright arrows of her enemies or dashed to pieces by the heavy Median bows (Isaiah 13:17; Jeremiah 51:11), while the cry filled the whole earth, “Babylon is taken, Bel is ashamed, Merodach is broken in pieces” (Jeremiah 50:2).
Babylon had been conquered by Tiglath-pileser II (731 B.C.), Merodach-Baladan (722 B.C.), Sargon (721 B.C.); pillaged and destroyed by Sennacherib (692 B.C.), and again captured by Assurbanipal (648 B.C.); but no conquest of the city was so fateful as this by Cyrus and his allies (about 538 B.C.). Contemporaneous records give very full accounts of the events preceding and accompanying this great catastrophe. After Nebuchadnezzar, who had indeed proven himself a golden king upon the Babylonian throne (compare Daniel 2:38), came very inferior successors. (Compare Daniel 5:25, and Introduction, III, 3.) Nabonidus, the last independent king of the Nebuchadnezzar dynasty, seemed to have a positive distaste for arms, leaving in the hands of his son Belshazzar the command of the royal troops while he elsewhere enjoyed himself in lonely study or religious contemplation. [See Introduction, III, 3, (3), (4).] When Cyrus, therefore, who had meanwhile made himself master of most of the ancient world, marched against Babylonia, he experienced little resistance from Nabonidus, or from his subjects, who evidently disliked their unwarlike monarch. It seems most probable, also, that the priests of Babylon had become offended at the open preference which the king showed for certain ancient deities of other cities, to the disparagement of Babylon and its religious cult. It is certain from the inscriptions that this foolish king could not be induced to come to Babylon even at the new year festival. Year after year record is made in the official chronicle: “The king was in the city of Tema; the king’s son, the grandees, and his troops were in the land of Akkad. The king at Nisan to Babylon came not; Bel went not forth from his temple; the new year’s feast was omitted;” and all this time every clear-sighted statesman saw Cyrus hovering upon the edge of the empire and threatening the existence of Babylonian sovereignty. Even when Cyrus finally moved his victorious armies against Babylon, Nabonidus seems simply to have dropped his hands into his lap, as Winckler puts it, and let things take their course. Instead of resisting the invader at the borders of his kingdom, Nabonidus showed his own sense of helplessness by taking the images of his dearly loved gods out of the temples which he had built for them in many cities and hurrying them into Babylon for safety. This of itself predicted disaster. The Babylonian army did venture one engagement with the invaders, near Sippar, early in the month Tammuz (539 B.C. or 538 B.C.), but it was so thoroughly beaten that after this Cyrus marched seemingly without resistance clear up to the gates of the capital. The official Babylonian record states: “In the month Tammuz [June-July] Cyrus fought a battle at Ugu-ki [a town located about one hundred miles north of Babylon], on the river Zalzullat, against the troops of the land of Akkad. The people of the land of Akkad rose in revolt [or, he overthrew ]. Many were slaughtered. On the fourteenth day Sippar was taken without a battle. Nabonidus fled. On the sixteenth day Gubaru [ Ugbaru ], satrap of the land of Gutium, and the troops of Cyrus without a battle entered Babylon. Afterward Nabonidus, having been shut up in Babylon, was made prisoner. Until the end of the month Tammuz the shields [or, javelin throwers ] of the land of Gutium surrounded the gates of E-Saggil. Arms of no kind in E-Saggil and the sanctuaries had been stored, and no accouterments had passed in [or, a festival did not take place ]. In the month Marchesven [October], on the third day, Cyrus entered Babylon; the walls fell down before him. Peace for the city he established. Cyrus to Babylon peace to the whole of it spake. Gubaru, his satrap, he appointed governor in Babylon. From the month Kislev [November] to the month Adar [February, 538 B.C. or 537 B.C.] the gods of the land of Akkad, whom Nabonidus had brought down to Babylon, returned unto their own cities.”*
[* Edouard Meyer corrects the text by putting Tishri (September) instead of Tammuz (June) in the first line. Instead of the phrase “the walls fell down before him” Sayce reads, “dissensions were allayed before him;” Schrader, “the roads before him were black;” Halevy, “the guilty disappeared before his face.” But notwithstanding a few obscure passages, such as this, all agree as to the general sense.] The official record continues: “On the eleventh of Marches-ven, at night, Gubaru [marched] against… and the king’s son died. From the twenty-seventh of Adar [February] to the third of Nisan [March] there was lamentation in Akkad; all the people gashed their heads. On the fourth day Cambyses, the son of Cyrus, having entered the temple, House of the Giver of the Scepter of the World, the officials of the House of the Scepter of Nebo [conferred on him] the scepter.”*
[* This translation follows most closely that of Ball (1899), although instead of reading with him “the king’s consort died,” we prefer “the king’s son died.” The earlier reading of these partially obliterated signs as u-sarra imat, “‘the king died,” has been given up, and I think Halevy and Father Scheil stand alone in their reading, “Gubaru, in the presence [of the army] and of the king, died.” Schrader’s suggestion, assat sarri mita-at, “the wife of the king died,” still finds supporters; but Pinches, who has had the very best opportunity of studying the original text, and who is an unrivaled expert in deciphering such tablets, reads u-mar sarri imat, “the son of the king died,” and Schrader, Hagen, etc., have accepted this as quite possible, though Hagen and Hommel prefer translating, by a very slight correction, “and he [Gubaru] slew the son of the king.” Mr. Pinches writes me that further examination of the text confirms his former reading.] This contemporaneous account of the fall of Babylon is particularly remarkable by disproving the accounts of its siege and capture given by the Greek and Roman historians. There is no contradiction to the scriptural account. The texts show that Sippar yielded to Cyrus without resistance, and two days later Babylon was entered by Gubaru [probably the “Darius the Mede” of Daniel; see Introduction, III, 3, (5)] “without a battle,” the gates probably having been opened by treasonable allies in the city.†
[† The statement that they entered “without fighting” may be taken with a grain of allowance. (Yet compare Jeremiah 50:14-15; Jeremiah 51:30-32.) Every founder of a new dynasty desired to appear in the official records as a popular candidate for the throne. The above text seems to show the hand of Cyrus as its editor.] Nabonidus the king was taken prisoner, but the king’s son (Belshazzar) was not captured. According to the common reading Cyrus did not enter the city personally for over three months after its capture. According to a corrected text, defended with some force by Meyer ( Zeitschrift fur Alt-testamentliche Wissenschaft, 1898), it was something over a fortnight before he made his appearance there. For this length of time, while Gubaru was nominally ruler of Babylon, his most trusted soldiers are said to have been surrounding the gates of E-Saggil, the very temple which we have seen was so near the royal palace as to be virtually a part of it. Evidently Gubaru was experiencing stubborn resistance from this inner citadel. It was a little over a week after Cyrus himself entered the city and proclaimed “peace to all Babylon” before the night battle occurred in which the Babylonian text declares the king’s son was slain. It was toward the end of this siege of the royal palace that the events described in Daniel v, if such events are historic, must be placed. Mr. Pinches has pointed out that at least during this period Belshazzar must have been regarded by his Babylonian followers as “king.” Boscawen suggests that Belshazzar’s feast occurred at the time of the great annual festival, which reached its height in the middle of the month Tammuz ( Victoria Institute, 18:70-117).
That night they slew him on his father’s throne
He died unnoticed, and the hand unknown;
Crownless and scepterless Belshazzar lay,
A robe of purple round a form of clay. Sir Edwin Arnold.
It grew deathly still within the hall,
And see! and see! on the white wall
There came a shadow like a human hand
And wrote, and wrote, on the white wall
Letters of fire wrote and disappeared!
The king sat there, with staring look,
With shaking knees and deathly pale.
* * * * * * * *
The magicians came, but none would dare
Interpret the flaming script upon the wall.
That night Belshazzar died. Heine ( Werke , 15: 563).
5 . COMPARATIVE CHRONOLOGICAL TABLET OF CRITICAL EVENTS (following Kautzsch, with emendations). Some of these dates can only approximate correctness. The cuneiform lists are helpful, but as the great archaeologist, Oppert, has recently argued, they themselves sometimes need correction, and “must bow to the mathematical correctness of the Holy Scriptures” ( Society Biblical Archaeology, January 11, 1898). It must also be remembered that the Babylonians distinguished between the true year, counted from the king’s accession, sanat sattu, and the years of the palu, or “reign,” which commenced with the month Nisan of the following year. At Babylon the word “year” was employed in both senses, thus, according to Oppert, Nebuchadnezzar, who actually began to reign in May, 605 B.C., began his second year in August, 605 B.C.; and although Cyrus captured Babylon October 28, 539 B.C., his first year did not commence until 538 B.C. This naturally disturbs exact calculations, as does also the fact that an intercalary month was added every six years.
ANALYSIS OF THE BOOK.
CHAP. 1. INTRODUCTORY DANIEL PREPARED FOR HIS WORK.
CHAPS. 2-6. THE WORLD-KINGDOMS UNFITTED TO BECOME A UNIVERSAL WORLD-KINGDOM.
II. Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream of the Decline of all World-kingdoms. III. The Fate of Righteous Men under a World-kingdom.
IV. Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream of the Destruction of His Own Kingdom, and its Fulfillment.
V. Belshazzar’s View of the Doom Written by Jehovah against His Kingdom, and its Fulfillment.
VI. The Fate of a Righteous Man under another World-kingdom.
CHAP. 7. THE WORLD-KINGDOMS AND THE KINGDOM OF GOD MEET EACH OTHER, AND THE “SON OF MAN” APPEARS IN VICTORY.
CHAPS. 8-11. THE SURE TRIUMPH OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD AS THE UNIVERSAL WORLD-KINGDOM.
VIII. Daniel’s Vision of the Deadly Struggle between World-kingdoms, with a Calculation of the “Time of the End.”
IX. Daniel’s Prayer for Israel’s Deliverance from the World-kingdom, and His Vision of “Messiah the Prince,” the Time of Whose Coming is Revealed.
X, XI. Daniel’s Visions of the Struggles, Impieties, and Persecutions of the Last Great World-kingdoms.
CHAP. 12. THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE UNIVERSAL KINGDOM OF GOD AND THE TRIUMPH OF THE WISE, THE TIME BEING AGAIN REVEALED TO DANIEL OF THE GLORIOUS CONSUMMATION OF ALL THINGS.
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29