Problems of Daniel 1

Problems of Daniel 1 (Concluded)

In the article last month on the problems of A the I and their solution, five problems were stipulated, and we dealt with three, showing that they were no problem at all. We come now to problems 4 and 5, and their explanation.

By E. R. THIELE, Instructor in Religion, Emmanuel Missionary College

In the article last month on the problems of A the I and their solution, five problems were stipulated, and we dealt with three, showing that they were no problem at all. We come now to problems 4 and 5, and their explanation.

4. The fourth argument urged against Daniel i a is that it is in contradiction to all other contemporaneous accounts. But there are no other contemporary Babylonian, Pal­estinian, or Egyptian records in existence for this particular period ; so no contradiction to such records is possible. The Bible is not only our best source, but practically our only source, for the reconstruction of the history of this region during this period. And there is nothing in the Bible that contradicts Daniel 1:1. But if there is no contemporary material from this time that bears on this question, there is available an important statement from Josephus which he gives as a direct quotation from Berosus. This statement is as follows:

 "When Nabolassar [Nabopolassar], father of Nab­uchodonosor [Nebuchadnezzar], heard that the gov­ernor whom he had set over Egypt, and over the parts of Celesyria and Phoenicia, had revolted from him, he was not able to bear it any longer ; but com­mitting certain parts of his army to his son Nabu­chodonosor, who was then but young, he sent him against the rebel: Nabuchodonosor joined battle with him, and conquered him, and reduced the country under his dominion again. Now it so fell out that his father Nabolassar fell into distemper at this time, and died in the city of Babylon, after he had reigned twenty-nine years,

"But as he understood, in a little time, that his father Nabolassar was deadh he set the affairs of Egypt and the other countries in order, and com­mitted the captives he had taken from the Jews, and Phoenicians, and Syrians, and of the nations belong­ing to Egypt, to some of his friends, that they might conduct that part of the forces that had on heavy armor, with the rest of his baggage, to Babylonia ; while he went in haste, having but a few with him, over the desert to Babylon; whither, when he was come, he found the public affairs had been managed by the Chaldeans, and that the principal person among them had preserved the kingdom for him. Accord­ingly, he now entirely obtained all his father's do­minions. He then came, and ordered the captives to be placed as colonies in the most proper places of Babylonia ; but for himself, he adorned the temple of Belus, and the other temples, after an elegant manner, out of the spoils he had taken in this war."—"Flavius Josephus Against Apion," I :19.

This quotation from Berosus, as preserved by Josephus, is of course not a contemporary, but a late, account. It is, however, of value. The following details should be noted :

a. Celesyria, Phoenicia, etc., were already under Babylonian control during the reign of Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar.

b. A revolt took place in these regions against Babylon.

c. Nabolassar sent his son Nebuchadnezzar with an army to quell this revolt.

d. While on this expedition, Nebuchadnezzar heard of his father's death. 

e. Nebuchadnezzar committed his Jewish and Phoenician captives to a friend, and hurried back to Babylon to take the throne.

f. The throne secured, Nebuchadnezzar placed the captives in colonies in Babylon.

g. Nebuchadnezzar adorned his temples with the spoils taken in the war.

It will be seen that there are in this account some remarkable confirmatory details to the account of Daniel t. Of particular importance are the mention of Nebuchadnezzar's expedi­tion to the west during the year when he ascended the throne (which would be the third year of Jehoiakim, as stated in Daniel i :t), the seizure of Jewish captives and their transport to Babylon, and the adornment of Babylonian temples with loot taken in the western war.

Thus we find that there is no truth in the statement that Daniel 1:1 is in contradiction to all other contemporaneous accounts, and that the only Babylonian account of this event still preserved, which dates from a few centuries later, confirms the account of this text to a remarkable degree.

5. In answer to problem five, that Daniel could not have completed three years' training in Babylon by the second year of Nebuchad­nezzar, it need only be stated that any supposed difficulty vanishes when the accession-year principle and the inclusive system of reckoning then in use are taken into consideration. Daniel was taken captive during the accession year of Nebuchadnezzar and began his period of train­ing that year. This accounts for the first year. His second year of training came during Nebu­chadnezzar's first year, and his third year during Nebuchadnezzar's second year. His training completed, it would thus be altogether possible for Daniel to be included among the wise men by Nebuchadnezzar's second year.

It will thus be seen that the facts recorded in Daniel 1 stand unimpugned when faced in the light of the systein of chronology then em­ployed in Judea and Babylon, and when com­pared with the best historical testimony avail­able from that time.

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By E. R. THIELE, Instructor in Religion, Emmanuel Missionary College

September 1941

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