The Book of Daniel

C.) Early References to the Book of Daniel in Other Works

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C.) Early References to the Book of Daniel in Other Works
Ezekiel prophesied only about fifteen years after Daniel was taken to Babylon and after the initial historical events recorded in the book of Daniel had taken place. His writings testify to the man Daniel’s righteousness and God-given wisdom, providing exactly the sort of evidence one would expect as validation of Daniel’s historicity. In Ezekiel’s Old Testament book, composed between 592 and 570 B. C.,58 the prophet plainly refers to his contemporary59 Daniel as a famous person of history known to his countrymen, one whose righteousness and wisdom stood in stark contrast to the majority of his rebellious and ungodly nation:

Ezek. 14:14 Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD.

Ezek. 14:20 Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness.

Ezek. 28:3 Behold, thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee:

Ezekiel refers to Daniel’s great wisdom (28:3), even as the Book of Daniel indicates that “God gave . . . Daniel . . .wisdom” (Daniel 1:17), and the book of Daniel clearly evidences Daniel’s righteousness (cf. 6:16, 20; 12:2-3, 13). The evidence is clear: Ezekiel, in the sixth century B. C., could hardly refer to Daniel as the real person described in the book of Daniel were he a fiction invented centuries later. The book of Ezekiel authenticates the legitimacy of Daniel and his Biblical book.60

Early non-canonical works, as well as other books of the Old Testament itself,61 provide further evidence that the Book of Daniel existed far before an anti-supernatural dating system allows.62 The book of Tobit, probably the oldest composition in the Apocrypha, is dated by scholars to the third century B. C., and it necessarily predates the Maccabaean period,63 in which anti-supernaturalists must date Daniel. However, Tobit contains clear verbal allusions to Daniel.64 Likewise, the Book of Watchers, the first part of the pseudepigraphical Book of Enoch, is dated to the third century B. C. and necessarily predates the Maccabean era,65 as the early dates for the copies of the book found at Qumran66 verify. Furthermore, the “Hellenistic Jewish historian Demetrius . . . had already . . . drawn up . . . [a] chronology” of the seventy-weeks prophecy in Daniel 9 “in the late third century B. C. . . . [in] his own time, which was the reign of Ptolemy IV Philopator.”67 It would have been impossible to make chronological calculations based on Daniel 9 many years before the book was supposedly forged in the following century. The apocryphal book of Ecclesiasticus or Ben Sirach was composed, at the very latest, between 200-175 B. C., and has even been dated to the fourth century B. C.; it can by no means be dated to the Maccabean period.68 Nevertheless, Ecclesiasticus clearly refers to Daniel and contains a prayer that the prophecies of Daniel would be fulfilled soon.69 Likewise, the book of Baruch predates the Maccabean era but contains clear allusions to Daniel.70 Similarly, 1 Maccabees records Matthias on his deathbead counselling his sons to emulate the example of “Daniel[,] [who] for his innocency was delivered from the mouth of lions.” Matthias likewise challenges his sons to follow the example set by Daniel’s three Hebrew friends, who “because of their faith were saved from fire.”71 However, the anti-supernaturalist dates Daniel after the death of Matthias. 1 Maccabees also contains verbal allusions to the LXX of Daniel, further requiring the existence of the book both in the original language and in translation.72 Finally, 3 Maccabees records the following prayer: “When the three companions in Babylonia willingly gave their lives to the fire so as not to serve vain things, you sprinkled the scorching furnace and rescued them unharmed, even so far as a hair, and sent the flame upon all their enemies. When Daniel, through envious slander, was thrown to the lions below the earth as food for wild beasts, you brought him up to the light unscathed” (3 Maccabees 6:6-7). The authors of 1 and 3 Maccabees had no doubts about the genuineness of Daniel, and since 1 Maccabees is recognized by scholars as “a very accurate and excellent history,”73 there is every reason to believe its accuracy when it records Matthias’s speaking about the book of Daniel prior to the date the anti-supernaturalist must assign it.
D.) Manuscript Evidence Supporting Daniel’s Authorship
What is more, the evidence of early Hebrew manuscripts of Daniel and of the translation of Daniel in the Septuagint strongly militates against the late anti-supernaturalist date for the book. The evidence from the copies of Daniel found at Qumran makes a late date highly problematic:

[A] date for Daniel in the 2nd cent. B. C. is absolutely precluded by the evidence from Qumrân[.] . . . the dating of Daniel can now be settled at least negatively as a result of MS [manuscript] discoveries from the Dead Sea caves from 1947 onwards. Fragments from 1Q, along with some complete scrolls of Daniel from other caves, have testified to the popularity of the work at Qumrân. A florilegium recovered from 4Q spoke, like Mt. 24:15, of “Daniel the prophet,” furnishing eloquent second-century B. C. testimony to the way in which the book was revered and cited as Scripture. Since all the Qumrân fragments and scrolls are copies, the autograph of Daniel and other OT canonical works must of necessity be advanced well before the Maccabean period if the proper minimum of time is allowed for the book to be circulated and accepted as Scripture . . . the autograph of Daniel also must be several centuries in advance of the Maccabean period. . . . It is now clear from the Qumrân MSS that no part of the OT canonical literature was composed later than the 4th cent. B. C. This means that Daniel must of necessity be assigned to some point in the Neo-Babylonian era (626–539 B. C.), or a somewhat later period. If, following Near Eastern annalistic practices, the events and visions were recorded shortly after their occurrence, the book may well have been written progressively over a lengthy period of time, being finally collated by Daniel in the closing phases of his life[.] . . . There can no longer be any possible reason for considering the book as a Maccabean product.74

The traditional date for Daniel’s authorship of his book fits the manuscript evidence at Qumran far better than the late, anti-supernatural date. The Hebrew manuscripts of Daniel found at Qumran are too early for the anti-supernaturalist position.

Furthermore, the letter of Aristeas75 indicates that the common Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, the Septuagint or LXX, was translated in Egypt during the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus (285–247 B. C.).76 It is generally recognized by scholars that the translation indeed originated in the third century B. C.77 However, the letter to Aristeas is clear that the entire Old Testament, not only a portion such as the Pentateuch,78 was translated into Greek. The letter states that “the president of the king’s library received vast sums of money for the purpose of collecting together, as far as he possibly could, all the books in the world. By means of purchase and transcription, he carried out, to the best of his ability, the purpose of the king.” On this account the Jewish holy books were said to be “worth transcribing” as worthy of “a place in [the] library.”79 What was acquired was a plural number of “books,” and not the “Law” in the strict sense of the Pentateuch alone, but also “others” of the holy Jewish books to be translated.80 An attempt to build a library with “all the books in the world” would not translate only a portion of the Hebrew Scriptures while leaving the rest untranslated. Furthermore, Aristeas teaches that “the whole law” with its plural “books” was translated, and that to this translation there was to be “no alteration . . . either by adding anything or changing in any way whatever any of the words that had been written or making any omission,” with a “curse” pronounced upon anyone who would dare to do so, in order that “the book might be preserved for all the future time unchanged.”81 Such an explanation only makes sense if the entire Old Testament was in view. The people were not putting a curse upon anyone who would translate the book of Joshua or Isaiah right after rejoicing that the Pentateuch had been translated. The letter to Aristeas teaches that the entire Old Testament was translated into Greek in the third century B. C. This conclusion was recognized by later writers commenting on the creation of the LXX. Josephus indicates that under Ptolemy, not the Pentateuch only, but “many books of laws among the Jews . . . [were] translated into the Greek tongue,”82 including all “the Jewish books,”83 that is, “the books of Jewish legislation with some others,”84—a description which includes, at a minimum, the entire Old Testament. There is no extant evidence supporting the translation of the Book of Daniel late enough to support the anti-supernaturalist contention on the Book’s origin. On the contrary, all the extant external evidence supports the idea that Daniel was translated into Greek before the time that many of its predictions were fulfilled.

E.) The 6th Century Hebrew and Aramaic Language of Daniel
The Hebrew and Aramaic of Daniel fit the lifetime of Daniel in the sixth century B. C.,85 rather than the Hebrew and Aramaic of the second century when anti-supernaturalists affirm that the book was written. Concerning the Hebrew, Archer notes:

So far as the Hebrew of Daniel is concerned, we have already seen that it contains a significant number of Persian governmental terms, indicating its origin during the period of Persian domination. There is no trace whatsoever of Greek influence on the language. It is interesting to observe that the Hebrew text of Ecclesiasticus, dating from about 200–180 B. C., shortly before the Maccabean period, furnishes us with a fair sample of the type of Hebrew which would have been current at the time Daniel was written—according to the late-date theorists. . . . [I]t is quite striking that Ecclesiasticus exhibits later linguistic characteristics than Daniel, being somewhat rabbinical in tendency. Israel Levi in his Introduction to the Hebrew Text of Ecclesiasticus (1904) lists the following: (a) new verbal forms borrowed mainly from Aramaic, (b) excessive use of the hiphil and hithpael conjugations, and (c) peculiarities of various sorts heralding the approach of Mishnaic Hebrew. . . . So far as the Qumran material is concerned, none of the sectarian documents composed in Hebrew (The Manual of Discipline, The War of the Children of Light Against the Children of Darkness, The Thanksgiving Psalms) in that collection show any distinctive characteristics in common with the Hebrew chapters of Daniel.86

Concerning the Aramaic of Daniel, Kitchen notes:

The form or stage of language of Aramaic used in Ezra and Daniel is precisely that used in the Neo-Babylonian and Persian period (sixth to fourth centuries), and is currently termed Official Aramaic. . . . There is no good reason to deny the authenticity of the biblical Aramaic correspondence and other usages that we find in the biblical books relating to this period. . . . Several features of the Aramaic of Ezra and Daniel virtually preclude it having originated any later than the third century b. c. at the extreme; the fifth century fits better. The Hebrew is consistent with this[.] . . . The huge input of Greek military and cultural involvement in the Levant and beyond from the seventh to the fourth century b. c., long efore Alexander, negates completely . . . a Hellenistic date for the book of Daniel. That dating rests entirely on particular [anti-supernaturalist] . . . a priori assumptions about . . . certain passages in Daniel[.] . . . There is much authentic Neo-Babylonian and Old Persian cultural content in the book of Daniel that links it with those periods, and needs to be taken into account.87

Summarizing the evidence from both languages, Archer notes:

[I]n the light of the linguistic evidence from Qumran . . . the language in which Daniel was written could not possibly date from the second century B. C. . . . [O]n the basis of a comparison with the Aramaic Genesis Apocryphon . . . the Aramaic chapters in Daniel represent a state of the language centuries earlier than the Apocryphon itself[.] . . . Since the latter is dated by the editors themselves as a first century B. C. copy of a work composed a century or two earlier, this evidence absolutely excludes the possibility of a Maccabean date for the Aramaic of Daniel. To this we now add an analysis of the Hebrew chapters of Daniel from the standpoint of vocabulary and grammar as compared with the sectarian Qumran documents from Qumran Cave One . . . in these [Qumran] writings we have an authentic sample of second-century Hebrew[.] . . . Distinct Aramaic traits appear in these scrolls which are not observable in Daniel’s Hebrew. . . . [Post-Biblical] syntax and morphology [presents a] most striking contrast[.]. . . [T]here is such a substantial number of words in common use in post-biblical times discoverable in the pages of the Qumran writings as to point very strongly toward a date of authorship considerably later than the time in which Daniel was written. . . . [T]he [Qumran] sectarian documents . . . point to the evolution of a new type of orthography that became standard in the later Mishnaic and Rabbinical Hebrew . . . [absent from] the biblical texts themselves . . . strongly suggest[ing] an entirely different period of composition for the Qumran second-century writings as compared with the date of Daniel[.] . . . Post-biblical Hebrew words . . . syntax and morphology . . . pronunciation and spelling . . . [and] words used with a post-biblical meaning . . . [render it] abundantly clear that a second-century date for the Hebrew chapters of Daniel is no longer tenable on linguistic grounds. In view of the markedly later development exhibited by these second-century documents in the areas of syntax, word order, morphology, vocabulary, spelling, and word-usage, thereis absolutely no possibility of regarding Daniel as a contemporary. On the contrary the indications . . . of all the data . . . are that centuries must have intervened between them. . . . [N]othing in the linguistic data . . . militate[s] against a late sixth-century composition by the ostensible author himself[.] . . . In other words, we cone out to the same result as in the Aramaic chapters of Daniel as compared with the Genesis Apocryphon. Otherwise we must surrender linguistic evidence altogether and assert that it is completely devoid of value in the face of subjective theories derives from antisupernaturalistic bias. But any fair-minded investigator when faced with such an overwhelming body of objective data pointing to the interval of centuries between the two bodies of literature must conclude that a second-century date for the book of Daniel is completely out of the question. This verdict carries with it some far-reaching consequences. The possibility of explaining the predictive portions of this work as mere prophecy after the event is completely excluded. . . . The complete absence of Greek loan-words, apart from musical instruments of international currency, points unmistakably to a time of composition prior to the Alexandrian conquest. It is utterly inconceivable that after 160 years of Greek overlordship (as the Maccabean theory insists) there would be a complete absence of Greek terms pertaining to government and administration, whether in the Aramaic chapters or in the Hebrew, in a literary product of the 160’s B. C. But now that the considerable body of new documentation exhumed from the First Qumran Cave has been published and subjected to thorough analysis, it becomes patently evident that the Maccabean-date theory, despite all of its persuasive appeal to the rationalist, is altogether wrong.88

Linguistic evidence supports the conclusion that Daniel “could not possibly have been written in second-century Palestine, as the Maccabean theory demands.”89 That is:

[T]he dialect of Daniel containing, as it does, so many Persian, Hebrew, and Babylonian elements, and so few Greek words, with not one Egyptian, Latin or Arabic word, and so nearly allied in grammatical form and structure to the older Aramaic dialects and in its conglomerate vocabulary to the dialects of Ezra and Egypto-Aramaic, must have been used at or near Babylon at a time not long after the founding of the Persian Empire. . . . The evidence derived from forms and inflections and syntax is decidely, and that from the vocabulary is overwhelmingly, in favor of an early date and of an eastern90 provenience. . . . [T]here never has been a time and place known to history save Babylon in the latter half of the 6th century B. C., in which an Aramaic dialect with just such an admixture of foreign ingredients and in just such proportions could have been brought into existence.91

Imagine if someone composed a play today and claimed that it was a long lost work of Shakespeare. Imagine if, furthermore, the forger had no serious access to historical documents from Shakespeare’s day, such as Shakespeare’s other plays and the compositions of other writers of that era, to compare with his newly minted forgery. In such a situation, evidence that the forged work was not really centuries old would necessarily emerge in the vocabulary, syntax, and other lingustic features of the document, no matter how hard the forger tried. Such an analogy is comparable to the situation found in the book of Daniel. Were it created in second-century Palestine rather than in sixth-century Babylon, irrefutable evidence of that fact would necessarily appear in the document. However, on the contrary, every linguistic indication favors the sixth-century Babylonian and Persian origin of the book.

Furthermore, the translation of Daniel into Greek in the LXX indicates the book’s early date. Archer notes:

A second line of evidence [for the early date] is found in the translation errors committed by the LXX of Daniel[.] . . . If Daniel itself had been composed in second-century Aramaic, as the late-date theory maintains then there should have been no difficulty in rendering any of the technical terms into Greek. But even in the single verse of Daniel 3:2 we find that the LXX translates adargazerayya (“counselors”) by hypatous (“magnates”); gedaberayya (“treasurers”) by dioiketas (“administrators”); and tiptaye or detaberayya (“magistrates,” “judges”) by the vague, general phrase tous ep exousion (“those in authority”). It is impossible to explain how within a few decades after the alleged composition of Daniel in the 160s B.C., the meaning of these terms could have been so completely forgotten by the Alexandrian Jews who composed the LXX that they did not know how to translate them correctly.92

It is easy to see how terms common in sixth-century Hebrew and Aramaic could become obscure some centuries later when the Old Testament was translated into Greek. It strains credulity to think that Daniel was composed almost contemporaneously with the LXX but somehow already contained Hebrew and Aramaic so archaic that the Greek translator did not know its significance.

The following paragraphs summarize the bearing of modern linguistic evidence on the dating of Daniel:

The Maccabean date hypothesis was propounded long before the discovery of the Genesis Apocryphon from Qumran Cave 1. Before the publication of this scroll, there was no Palestinian Aramaic document extant from the third or second century B.C.; and it was therefore theoretically possible to date the Aramaic of Daniel as coming from the 160s B.C. But with the publication and linguistic analysis of the Apocryphon (which is a sort of midrash for Genesis), it has become apparent that Daniel is composed in a type of centuries-earlier Aramaic. . . . The Apocryphon was probably composed . . . in the third century B.C. . . . [y]et linguistic analysis indicates that in morphology, vocabulary, and syntax, the Apocryphon shows a considerably later stage of the Aramaic language than do the Aramaic chapters of Daniel.
As for the characteristic word-order, the Apocryphon tends to follow the normal sequence of Northwest Semitic—verb first, followed by subject, then object—in the characteristic structure of the clause. Beyond question this was the normal practice of Western Aramaic used in Palestine during the Maccabean period. But the Aramaic of Daniel shows a marked tendency for the verb to be deferred till a later position in the clause, often even after the noun object—somewhat like the word order of Akkadian (Babylonian and Assyrian) as used in Babylonia from the time of Sargon of Agade (twenty-fourth cent. B.C.) onward. On the basis of the word order alone, it is safe to conclude that Daniel could not have been composed in Palestine (as the Maccabean hypothesis demands) but in the eastern sector of the Fertile Crescent, in all probability in Babylon itself. . . .[P]ages [of evidence] . . . prove quite conclusively to any scholar that the second-century date and Palestinian provenance of the Book of Daniel cannot be upheld any longer without violence being done to the science of linguistics. . . .
[A] linguistic comparison between the Hebrew chapters of Daniel (1, 8-12) and the second-century B.C. Hebrew prose of lQS and 1QM, the two foremost documents composed for the Essenes of Qumran . . . contains a very large number of examples of later Hebrew morphology, syntax, and vocabulary appearing in 1QS and 1QM as contrasted with Daniel. . . . [F]rom the standpoint of linguistic science, there is no possibility that the text of Daniel could have been composed as late as the Maccabean uprising, and that there is every likelihood that the Aramaic comes from the same period, if not a century earlier, than the Aramaic of the Elephantine Papyri and of Ezra, which are admittedly fifth-century productions. It goes without saying that if the predictions concerning the period of Antiochus III and Antiochus IV (222–164 B.C.) are composed in language antedating the second-century and third-century B.C., then the whole effort to explain Daniel as a vaticinium ex eventu must be abandoned. We are still faced with the phenomenon of fulfilled prophecy, even as regards Antiochus Epiphanes. . . . [L]inguistic evidence from Qumran makes the rationalistic explanation for Daniel no longer tenable. It is difficult to see how any scholar can defend this view and maintain intellectual respectability.93

The language of Daniel indubitably and strongly supports his authorship of the book bearing his name.

F.) The Knowledge of 6th Century History Supporting an Early Date for Daniel
The book of Daniel fits perfectly into the historical milieu of its professed origin as a composition of the man Daniel, a high official in the Babylonian and Medo-Persian empires, in the sixth century B. C. Its historical accuracy is not at all what one would expect of a forgery composed some four hundred years later. Its reference to the position of Belshazzar (Daniel 5; 7:1; 8:1) in the declining days of the Babylonian empire before the overthrow of Babylon by the Medes and Persians provides remarkable evidence of a sixth-century date. For a long time, the reference to Belshazzar was viewed as clear evidence of Daniel’s inaccuracy by anti-supernaturalists, as there was no external confirmation of his existence. However, archaeology has now confirmed the accuracy of Daniel’s record:

Daniel says that Belshazzar was king of Babylon, that he was present in that city at a feast when Cyrus took the city, and was then slain. However, Berorus and Abydenus, both Babylonian historians, and Herodotus, the Greek historian, relate that Nabonidus was the last king of Babylon previous to the Persian conquest, and that instead of being at Babylon when the city was captured he had fled to the fortress of Borsippa, where Cyrus took him, and whence be banished him to Caramensa. A few years ago it was said in reference to this: “No hypothesis can reconcile this account with the other.” Recent discoveries, however, have solved the problem completely.

On the annalistic tablet of Cyrus, which was discovered by Mr. Pinches in 1880, Nabonidus makes mention of “Belshazzar (Belsarra-utsar) my first-born.” A mutilated cuneiform inscription, which was discovered amid the ruins of Babylon and which was translated in 1882 by Mr. Pinches, proved that Nabonidus had associated his first-born son, Belshazzar, with himself as king on the throne. On the annalistic tablet it is narrated that immediately before the fall of Babylon, Belshazzar was with the court and part of the army north of the city, while Nabonidus himself was south of Babylon, leading in person that part of the army which confronted the advancing host of Cyrus. It is reasonable to suppose that on the defeat and flight of Nabonidus and the retreat of his army towards Babylon, Belshazzar would advance into the city and try to join his forces with those of his father for a united stand against the invader. . . . It was undoubtedly in that struggle that Belshazzar lost his life. He is not mentioned afterward, no doubt for the reason that, as Daniel says, “on that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain.” He was king because he had been raised to that dignity by his father, and he was the only king left, as Nabonidus was either a prisoner or a fugitive. The accuracy of Daniel’s statement is thus fully corroborated. And thus we learn also why the reward offered by the king for interpreting the mysterious handwriting on the wall was the place of “third ruler in the kingdom” [Daniel 5:7, 16, 29.] Why the third? Pharaoh made Joseph the second; Nebuchadnezzar made Daniel second for interpreting the dream; Ahasuerus gave Mordecai the second place. The place next to the king was that of the highest honor. But since there were then two kings, the second place could not be given; it was occupied. The third place was the highest at the king’s disposal; and he conferred that honor on Daniel.94

Not only does Daniel accurately record the existence of Belshazzar, the book correctly notes the existence of a Babylonian co-regency so that Daniel could only be made the “third ruler” (Daniel 5) of the kingdom, not made second in command. Evaulating the current evidence for the historical accuracy of Daniel’s record of Belshazzar, Raymond Dougherty notes:

[O]f all non-Babylonian records dealing with the situation at the close of the Neo-Babylonian empire the fifth chapter of Daniel ranks next to cuneiform literature in accuracy so far as outstanding events are concerned. The Scriptural account may be interpreted as excelling because it employs the name Belshazzar, because it attributes royal power to Belshazzar, and because it recognizes that a dual rulership existed in the kingdom. Babylonian cuneiform documents of the sixth century B. C. furnish clear-cut evidence of the correctness of these three basic historical nuclei contained in the Biblical narrative dealing with the fall of Babylon. Cuneiform texts written under Persian influence in the sixth century B. C. have not preserved the name Belshazzar, but his rule as a crown prince entrusted with royal power during Nabonidus’ stay in Arabia is depicted convincingly. Two famous Greek historians of the fifth and fourth centuries B. C. do not mention Belshazzar by name and hint only vaguely at the actual political situation which existed in the time of Nabonidus. Annals in the Greek language ranging from about the beginning of the third century B. C. to the first century B. C. are absolutely silent concerning Belshazzar and the prominence which he had during the last reign of the Neo-Babylonian empire. The total information found in all available chronologically-fixed documents later than the cuneiform texts of the sixth century B. .C. and prior to the writings of Josephus of the first century A. D. could not have provided the necessary material for the historical framework of the fifth chapter of Daniel . . . The view that the fifth chapter of Daniel originated in the Maccabaean age is discredited. . . . [A] narrative characterized by such an accurate historical perspective as Daniel 5 ought to be entitled to a place much nearer in time to the reliable documents which belong to the general epoch with which it deals.95

The book of Daniel accurately identified Belshazzar as the co-regent of the Babylonian empire and accurately described his death at the hands of the invading Medo-Persian forces. It is difficult to believe that a second-century forger would have accurately recorded this historical narrative when Belshazzar’s name is absent from the available extant records. It is easy to see how a sixth-century historical Daniel would have accurately recorded this information. “Archaeological discoveries . . . show that the Bible is accurate in regard to its indications concerning Belshazzar. . . . [F]ar from being an error in the Scriptures, [it] is one of the many striking confirmations of the Word of God that have been demonstrated by archaeology.”96

Daniel’s description of Nebuchadnezzar as the great builder of Babylon (Daniel 4:30) supports a sixth-century date for the book. Extant ancient historians such as Herodotus, Strabo, and Pliny never refer to Nebuchadnezzar as Babylon’s builder. That “new Babylon was the creation of Nebuchadnezzar . . . [is] genuinely historical . . . [although] ignored by [extrabiblical] Hebrew and Greek historians.” On the anti-supernaturalist dating scheme, “We shall presumably never know how our author learned that the new Babylon was the creation of Nebuchadnezzar (4:30).”97 Recognizing Daniel as the author of the book bearing his name makes the explanation of his accurate information about Nebuchadnezzar’s activities obvious and natural.

Furthermore, the book of Daniel evidences knowledge of geographical divisions extant in sixth century Babylon that would have been unknown to a second-century Palestinian forger:

From the Greek and Roman historians, we learn that from Persian times Susa, or Shushan, was the capital of the province of Susiana; and Elam was restricted to the territory east of the Eulaeus River. Nevertheless we now know from cuneiform records that Shushan was part of the territory of Elam back in Chaldean times and before. It is very striking that Daniel 8:2 refers to “Susa in the province of Elam”—an item of information scarcely accessible to a second-century B.C. author.98

The geographical information in Daniel agrees with its descriptions of historical figures in dating the work to the sixth century. The cumulative weight of such facts justifies the assessment of Waltke: “It seems clear, then, from a straightforward reading of the narratives in the Book of Daniel that the author possessed a more accurate knowledge of Neo-Babylonia and early Achaemenid Persian history than any other known historian since the sixth century B.C.”99

Many other notices in Daniel evidence the sixth-century date of the book. Daniel alludes to the sexagesimal system (numbering based on 60) invented and in use in Babylon (Daniel 3:1);100 would a Palestinian Jew attempting to forge the book four hundred years later been aware of this fact? Daniel 5:5 records that the Babylonian palace walls were plastered (Daniel 5:5), a fact confirmed by archaeology.101 Would a second-century Jew have known this fact? Furthermore, Daniel accurately records the differences between Babylonian and Persian customs that he, as a historical sixth-century figure involved in both the Babylonian and Medo-Persian empires, would have been fully aware of:

We have seen, that at Babylon the wives and concubines of the king were, without any scruple, present at the feast. But in Esth. 1 we have an account of the positive refusal of queen Vashti to enter the guest-chamber of Ahasuerus. In other words, this was, and is, against the general custom of the East. How came a writer of the Maccabæan period to know this distinction between the customs of Babylon and of Persia? The author of the Sept. Version, a contemporary of this period, knows so little of such a matter that he even leaves out the passage respecting the presence of women at the feast. Why? Plainly because he thought this matter would be deemed incredible by his readers. In Xen[ophon’s] Cyrop[aedia] is an account of a feast of Belshazzar, where his concubines are represented as being present. Not only so, but we have elsewhere, in Greek and Roman writers, abundant testimony to usages of this kind, in their accounts of the Babylonish excesses. But how comes it about, that the forger of the book of Daniel, whose familiarity with those writings is not credible, should know so much more of Babylonish customs than the Septuagint translator?102


Quite evidently the writer [of Daniel] knew enough about the customs of the sixth century B.C. to depict Nebuchadnezzar as able to enact and modify Babylonian laws with absolute sovereignty (Dan. 2:12f., 46), while representing Darius the Mede as being completely powerless to change the laws of the Medes and Persians (Dan. 6:8f.; cf. Est. 1:9; 8:8). Again, he was quite accurate in recording the change from punishment by fire under the Babylonians (Dan. 3:11) to punishment by being thrown to lions under the Persian regime (Dan. 6:7), since fire was sacred to the Zoroastrians of Persia . . . . In precisely the same way the author of Daniel was acquainted with the reasons for the setting up of the image of Nebuchadnezzar in the Plain of Dura, and the injunction compelling the populace to worship before it. Archaeological discoveries have shown that . . . Nebuchadnezzar had initiated a program of religious reform that sought to modify the sensuous rituals of antiquity and permit the worshipping public to participate as a group in the sacrificial offerings. This reform of ritual is reflected in Daniel 3, which records the decree ordering the people to worship an image of the king that had been set up by royal command in the Plain of Dura in such a manner that all would have ready access to it. . . . What was there new in the king’s act? Not the setting up of a statue, because each king in turn had done the same; the novelty was the command for general worship by the public: for a ritual performed by priests the king is substituting a form of congregational worship which all his subjects are obliged to attend.103

Such knowledge of contemporary customs and actions makes perfect sense if Daniel wrote the book bearing his name in the region of Babylon in the sixth century B. C. It does not make sense if the book of Daniel is a second-century forgery composed in Palestine.

The book of Daniel declares that Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were three friends of Daniel who possessed important positions in the Babylonian court (Daniel 1:11, 19) and who were miraculously delivered from death by the Son of God (Daniel 3).104 These three names are attested as high court officials on on a clay prism found in Babylon listing the names of Nebuchadnezzar’s government c. 593 B. C.105 Is it more reasonable to think that an anonymous writer living in Judea in 165 B. C. happened to correctly guess the names of the officials king Nebuchadnezzar appointed in the distant country of Babylon over 450 years earlier, or that Daniel was a real historical figure in Nebuchadnezzar’s court who knew the names of his three fellow Jews and fellow court officials?

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