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THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF THE VISIONS OF DANIEL





Kings of the Neo-Babylonian Empire



Nabopolassar = Nabu-apal-utsur, 626-605 BC.

Nebuchadnezzar (or Nebuchadrezzar) II = Nabu-kudurri-utsur, son of Nabopolassar, 605-562 BC.

Evil-Merodach = Awel-Marduk, son of Nebuchadnezzar II, 562-559 BC.

Neriglissar = Nergal-shar-utsur 559-556 BC.

Labashi-Marduk, son of the daughter of Nebuchadnezzar II by Neriglissar, 8 months in 556 BC

Nabonidus = Nabunaid, also called Labynetus (I) by the Greek chroniclers, 556-539 BC



Nabonidus, 556-539 BC. Belshazzar, the son of Nabonidus, known as Labynetus (II) by the Greek chroniclers, reigns as co-regent in Babylon whilst his father is absent in Tema in Arabia. Nabonidus returns shortly before the Persians under Cyrus invade Babylonia. Belshazzar is slain by the Persians, and Nabonidus is captured by Cyrus in October 539 BC. Nabonidus is given the kingdom of Carmania as his personal “residence” and “domain” by Cyrus. He is “partly” driven out thereafter by king Darius (the Mede) and dies in the same territory.



Cyrus’ first year 538/537 BC. First year of Darius the Mede (otherwise known as Cyaxares II) 538/7 BC.



Nebuchadnezzar advanced against Jerusalem when he was commander of the Babylon forces under his father Nabopolassar in 606 BC and in his first year as king (605 BC), the third year of Jehoiakim king of Judah (Daniel 1.1a). He reduced the latter to servitude in Jerusalem at that time for three years (II Kings 24. 1), and later besieged (Daniel 1. 1b) and captured Jerusalem in his seventh year (597 BC), following Jehoiakim’s rebellion against him. He first enclosed Jehoiakim in that siege, then took his son Jehoiachin king of Judah prisoner, along with other captive Jews, and removed “a portion” of the vessels out of the Temple to Babylon (Daniel 1. 2, Jeremiah 27. 19ff.). The Babylonian Captivity of the Jews commenced, therefore, in 606/5 BC, and the first physical removal of Jewish captives to the city of Babylon in 597 BC. Subsequently in his nineteenth year (586 BC) Nebuchadnezzar utterly destroyed the city and the Temple, when the new puppet-king of Jerusalem, Zedekiah, similarly rebelled. It was following the removal of the “portion” of the Temple treasures, and the captive Jews, that is, after Nebuchadnezzar’s seventh year, 597 BC, as Daniel chapter 1 goes on to tell us, that Daniel was trained up amongst the soothsayers in the city of Babylon for a continuous three years (Daniel 1. 5, 18). After three years of training in Babylon, Daniel was already in his fourth year of physical captivity in the city, at least, when he ministered before Nebuchadnezzar, therefore his first active ministry in the court of Babylon could not, on any reckoning, have transpired earlier than the fourth year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. However, the “second year” of Nebuchadnezzar’s “reign” or “commencement of reign” is mentioned subsequently in Daniel 2. 1, as the year when Daniel interpreted the king’s dream, long after these earlier episodes. The reference to the “reign” or “commencement of reign” in Daniel 2. 1, a considerable time later than the first mention of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 1. 1, in itself implies a new era is indicated at this point. It is widely accepted that this new era commenced when Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem and “became king” of the Jews in place of the native Judaean kings. This was the “times of the Gentiles” referred to in the New Testament, when Israel was under Gentile dominion. From this point on, the Bible, in the Old as well as in the New Testament, dates events to the year of a Gentile king, e.g. Nebuchadnezzar, Artaxerxes, Augustus, Tiberius etc., instead of by a native Israelite king. This Biblical practice commenced with the destruction of Jerusalem and the removal of the last Judaean king, Zedekiah, by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC. Daniel 2. 1 refers to the “second year” of Nebuchadnezzar, therefore, as king over the Israelite nation.

To justify their belief that the “second year” of Daniel 2. 1 was absolutely the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign over Babylon, some have imagined there must have been a siege of Jerusalem and a removal of Jewish prisoners to Babylon, including Daniel, in 605 BC (the third year of Jehoiakim), and have therefore interpreted Daniel 1. 1 in such a way as to make the siege of the city mentioned in the latter part of that verse to have occurred in the same third year of Jehoiakim as Nebuchadnezzar’s advance toward Jerusalem mentioned in the first half of it. Such a siege in 606-605 BC is not known to secular history and does not feature anywhere in the Books of Kings and Chronicles in the Bible. It is a forced interpretation of Daniel 1. 1 aimed at explaining away Daniel’s presence in Babylon already in Nebuchadnezzar’s second year. Others have thought perhaps Nebuchadnezzar had his dream in his second year, but Daniel interpreted it later. However, Daniel’s ministry in the court did not start before his fourth year in Babylon, therefore, even if Daniel had been taken captive to Babylon, as imagined, in the first year of Nebuchadnezzar, he still could not have interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in the king’s second year, as Daniel 2. 1 says he did. Neither can the alternative theory, of an interval between the dream itself and its interpretation, solve the difficulty. There would have to have been an interval of not less than two years before the dream (in the king’s second year) and its interpretation by Daniel (not earlier than his fourth year), which contradicts the narrative of Daniel chapter 2: there Nebuchadnezzar impatiently threatens, and begins immediately to execute, judgment against the soothsayers of Babylon, until Daniel is found to give him his interpretation, and thus prevent the slaughter. An interval as great as two years is nowhere envisaged in, and, in fact, destroys the whole sense of, the narrative.

Further evidence that the “second year” of Daniel 2. 1 occurred later within the reign of Nebuchadnezzar is found in the statement in Daniel 1. 21, placed immediately before the reference to the “second year”, that “this [preeminent royal soothsayer] was Daniel’s status till the first year of Cyrus”. The first year of Cyrus was 538 BC, many years later than the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, in fact, at the very end of the Babylonian Empire. If Daniel had been preeminent amongst the soothsayers from the second year of Nebuchadnezzar as king of Babylon till the first year of Cyrus, that would have been all the way from 603 BC to 538 BC a total of 65 years of active, mature, ministry, covering the successive reigns of Nebuchadnezzar, Evil-Merodach, Neriglissar, Labashi-Marduk, Nabonidus and Belshazzar. Yet all the events mentioned in Daniel’s Babylonian ministry in the Book of Daniel occurred during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar only, apart from a single event (the interpreting of the Writing on the Wall) in the very last day of the reign of Belshazzar, just before Cyrus took over. What was Daniel doing in the intervening reigns? All this, however, is perfectly understandable if Daniel rose gradually to his preeminent position towards the end of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, and through the few years of the intervening reigns of Evil-Merodach, Neriglissar, Labashi-Marduk, and then, having achieved his preeminence, ministered before Belshazzar just before he was succeeded by Cyrus. The greater part of Daniel’s ministry, in other words, transpired in the middle and latter years, rather than at the beginning, of the Babylonian Empire, with a few events occurring in the first few years of the Persian Empire. This is the natural import of Daniel 1. 21.

It is noticeable that in Chapter 3 of Daniel describing Nebuchadnezzar’s construction of an idol and the deliverance of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego from the fiery furnace, no mention is made of Daniel. He seems not to have been in Babylon at the time. After Daniel interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, Nebuchadnezzar offered him the governorship of the province of Babylon itself. However, Daniel requested, and obtained, from the king the much more modest post of “sitting in the king’s gate”, that is of royal adviser and counselor. Doubtless Daniel’s determination was to avoid the idolatrous ceremonial he would be forced to participate in if he held high political office in the city. As counselor and adviser, Daniel would nevertheless be on call to give spiritual assistance to Nebuchadnezzar when required. Similarly, at the request of Daniel, his three friends were granted posts in a minor official capacity in Babylon. Even so, they came to be singled out subsequently as persons who refused to participate in the cult of Nebuchadnezzar’s new image. Since Daniel appears not to have been present in the city during that episode, it may have been the occasion when, as reported by Josephus (Antiq. 10. 264f. = X. xi. 7), he arranged for the building of a notable tower in Ecbatana (Hamadan) in the land of the Medes, to the east of Mesopotamia: this survived in pristine condition till Josephus’ own day, and was employed then as a burial chamber for kings of the Medes, Persians and Parthians. In the latter part of his life, similarly, as will be described hereafter, Daniel seems to have excused himself from the court in Babylon, and to have retired to Susa in the land of the Medes. In that era the Iranian tribes of Media and Persia were in the process of adopting and absorbing Zoroastrian religious concepts which had spread westwards over the two preceding centuries from Balkh in Afghanistan. These were not only expressed in an Aramaic script and vocabulary, but also incorporated elements of Hebrew monotheism, borrowed by their prophet in the ninth century BC from the circle of Elijah in Syria, and subsequently established by him in Balkh at the frontier of the middle Asian zone.

In the Book of Daniel, three episodes center round Nebuchadnezzar. The first is the dream of the image in Nebuchadnezzar’s “second year” (Daniel 2). The next is the construction of the idol and the deliverance of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego from the fiery furnace (Daniel 3). The third is Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the cutting down of the tree, which was a prophecy of his insanity lasting “seven times” (Daniel 4). The last two events are not dated in the Hebrew Scriptures, but in the Old Greek Septuagint, the construction of the idol is dated to Nebuchadnezzar’s eighteenth year, and, similarly, the introductory statement to the third event in the account in the Book of Daniel (that Nebuchadnezzar was “at ease” in his home environment before he had his dream of the tree, Daniel 4. 4) is dated to his eighteenth year. Though many modern commentators assume these chronological notes relate to the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar’s total rule over Babylon (the eighteenth year being the year he besieged Jerusalem, and perhaps, therefore, fell under God’s displeasure), the context itself implies something different. It would be more probable the chronological scheme would follow the pattern set in Daniel 2. 1: there the “second year” is the second year following the capture of Jerusalem, and consequently the two following events may be presumed to have been dated from the same event in the Septuagint. Nor would it have even been possible for Nebuchadnezzar to have constructed an idol in Babylon, or to have been “at ease” in his domestic environment, when he was in the midst of a foreign campaign, besieging Jerusalem, in his eighteenth year (II Kings 25. 1, 6, 8, 20f.). Accordingly, the Greek ecclesiastical tradition preserved in the Chronography of Syncellus (ed. Mosshammer p. 274 = ed. Dindorf p. 436) dated both the latter events, the construction of the idol and the dream of the tree, to Nebuchadnezzar’s eighteenth year following the capture of Jerusalem.

This is an advance on the earlier chronological assumption. However, the selection specifically of the eighteenth year seems to have been dictated by exegetical, rather than historical, considerations: Nebuchadnezzar’s seven years of insanity must have fallen at the very end of his reign, according to this construction, and he reigned 25 years in all after the capture of Jerusalem. Seven years prior to his final 25th year, would be, then, his 18th year. Presumably a short period in his final year was envisaged for a restoration to normal mental health, when the seven years were over, and then, as the interpretation of the dream foretold, the kingdom was put once more at his disposal (Daniel 4. 26, 36), if only for that very short period of time.

The pagan tradition certainly dated Nebuchadnezzar’s decline in mental health to the end of his reign. The following is the account of Megasthenes, as preserved by Abydenus, and reproduced by Eusebius (in the Armenian translation of Eusebius’ Chronicle, trans. Bedrosian, online at http://rbedrosian.com/euseb2.htm, page numberings in the original indicated by the symbols g58 etc.):

“Now listen to what Abydenus says [about Nebuchadnezzar] being stronger than Heracles. Here is his account. Megasthenes says that [g58] Nebuchadnezzar, who was stronger than Heracles, levied troops and went to Libya and Iberia, which he conquered. He took and settled some of them on the fore part of the Black Sea coast. He subsequently relates from the Chaldeans’ [accounts] that when he had returned to the royal court, some deity took control of his mind and spoke [through him] in this manner: “Oh brave Babylonians, I, Nebuchadnezzar, I predict that grief [g59] will befall you.” He continues on in this vein for a while and then the historian [tells us] that after this eloquent speech he suddenly disappeared from sight. Then [Nebuchadnezzar’s] son, Amilmardochus {Evil-Merodach}, ruled. The latter was slain by his son-in-law, Niglissarus {Neriglissar}. [Amilmardochus] left a son named Labossoracus {Labashi-Marduk}, who also met with a violent [g60] end. Then Nabonedochus {Nabonidus} was invited to take the throne, although it was certainly not his [by right]. When Cyrus captured Babylon, he granted [Nabonedochus] the marzpanate of the land of Carmania. King Darius partly expelled him from that land. All this coincides with Hebrew accounts. For Daniel, in his account of Nebuchadnezzar, relates how he declined mentally. There is really nothing peculiar about the fact that the Greeks or Chaldeans disguised his madness by saying that the gods or a demon (Arm. dew) entered his body and took it over. It is their custom to claim that such things are caused by gods whom they call demons. All this is [from] Abydenus [g61].”

Here Nebuchadnezzar is said to have “disappeared from sight” at the end of his reign, and this is what one would expect, in light of the Scriptural account of his madness, as Eusebius observes. Unlike the ecclesiastical chronological tradition preserved by Syncellus, Megasthenes represents the seizure of Nebuchadnezzar as having occurred at the very end of his reign, rather than seven years before its end. Evil-Merodach (“Amilmardochus”) is said to have taken over immediately when Nebuchadnezzar disappeared from public sight. This was the common Rabbinic tradition, too. Post-Biblical haggadah related that Nebuchadnezzar’s period of insanity was coincident with the reign of Evil-Merodach. The ecclesiastical tradition preserved by Syncellus seems to have been an artificial construction intended to allow for a short period of restoration for the king at the end of the seven years, since this was predicated in the Biblical account. That it contradicts the historical chronology is suggested by the fact that some chronographers, as also noted by Syncellus (ut cit. supra), extended the five-year reign of Evil-Merodach retrospectively by seven years, to cover the last seven years of Nebuchadnezzar’s madness, making Evil-Merodach reign twelve years in all: seven years to cover for his father’s insanity, then five years of his independent reign. The archaeological findings of modern researchers confirm the shorter duration of the reign of Evil-Merodach (Awel-Marduk). Since, with the onset of Nebuchadnezzar’s madness taken to have fallen at the very end of his reign in 562/1 BC, the years comprising the reigns of the three immediate successors of Nebuchadnezzar were complete before the initial twelve months (mentioned in Daniel 4. 29) and the seven years’ insanity had run their course, it might be expected Nebuchadnezzar should have recovered in the early years of the reign of the next king Nabonidus. The precise year of recovery would be 553 BC, and that was the third year of Nabonidus: the last year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign was 562/1 BC, the first year of insanity was complete by 560 BC, the 2nd year of insanity by 559 BC, the 3rd year by 558 BC, the 4th year by 557 BC, the 5th year by 556 BC, the 6th year by 555 BC, and the 7th year by 554 BC, the first full year of recovery being 553 BC. There is evidence that Nebuchadnezzar was, in fact, restored at that very time (see further infra).

The tablet from which the following extract is taken is in the British Museum (BM 34113 [sp 213], published by A. K. Grayson, Babylonian Historical-Literary Texts, Toronto Semitic Texts and Studies No. 3, University of Toronto Press, 1975, pp. 87-92). The text is in a fragmentary condition, but seems to refer to a deterioration in the mental condition of Nebuchadnezzar and an interest in this on the part of his son Evil-Merodach:

“............

2. [Nebu]chadnezzar considered

3. His life appeared of no value to [him, ......

................

5. And (the) Babylon(ian) speaks bad counsel to Evil-merodach [....]

6. Then he gives an entirely different order but [. . .]

7. He does not heed the word from his lips, the cour[tier(s) - - -]

...............

11. He does not show love to son and daughter [. . .]

12. ... family and clan do not exist [. . .]

.............

14. His attention was not directed towards promoting the welfare of Esagil [and Babylon]

...............

16. He prays to the lord of lords, he raised [his hands (in supplication) (. . .)]

17. He weeps bitterly to Marduk, the g[reat] gods [......]

18. His prayers go forth to [......].”

Though it is impossible to be definite about the historical events described here, because of the fragmentary state of the text, it could be, and has been, understood as referring to symptoms of the insanity which fell on Nebuchadnezzar. A caveat is that the condition had clearly not deteriorated to the level of beast-like behavior lasting “seven times”, which represented its final stages in the Book of Daniel. The Aramaic word for “times”, when used of a tree, as in this instance with reference to Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, means “times when new buds appear”, and hence “years”. However, Daniel 4. 29 refers to an initial period of twelve months, preceding the final lapse (comprising seven years), and the signs noticed in the fragmentary Babylonian text match what one would expect to have occurred during this initial phase. Perhaps Nebuchadnezzar was attempting to “break off his sins by righteousness”, as he was advised to do by Daniel (4. 27). This would explain the erratic and anti-social behavior described in the text, which would have seemed such to the average pagan Babylonian. According to this interpretation, Evil-Merodach was made aware of Nebuchadnezzar’s strange behavior by an officer. Nebuchadnezzar considered life worthless, gave contradictory orders, refused to accept advice from his courtiers, showed no affection for his children, and neglected his family affairs. He no longer performed the official duties required of the king with regard to the Babylonian cult of Bel Marduk and his principal temple, Esagil. Line 5 could be understood as referring to an officer who advised Evil-Merodach, in light of the deterioration of Nebuchadnezzar’s mental condition, to take appropriate measures, though these are not defined in the extant fragments. Lines 6ff. will represent the description of Nebuchadnezzar’s behavior given to Evil-Merodach by his officer. The advice may have been considered “bad” (line 5), because it resulted in a period of political instability, beginning with the short reign of Evil-Merodach, ending in his overthrow by Neriglissar, and the removal, in turn, of Neriglissar and Labashi-Marduk in the coup which brought Nabonidus to power. Nabonidus neglected the cult of Marduk in a very public and blatant manner, and this would explain the antipathy of the writer of this text (probably a priest of Marduk) to the whole process by which Evil-Merodach came to power.

Belshazzar, the Babylonian Bel-shar-utsur, formed a conspiracy with other Chaldaean noblemen to overthrow the House of Nebuchadnezzar, and destroy Nebuchadnezzar’s young ruling grandson, Labashi-Marduk, in 556 BC. The coup succeeded, and the conspirators elected the elderly commoner Nabonidus as the new king of Babylon.

That the former family-line of Nebuchadnezzar was completely extirpated at this juncture is proven by the prophecy uttered before the Jewish Captivity by Jeremiah the prophet (Jeremiah 27. 7): “And all nations shall serve him [Nebuchadnezzar], and his son, and his son’s son, until the very time of his land come: and then many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of him.” Here the family-line of Nebuchadnezzar is promised only to survive through two generations, one son and a grandson, of Nebuchadnezzar himself, then, following that, his Empire would be destroyed by foreign nations. Note, however, the reference to “all nations serving themselves of him [meaning of Nebuchadnezzar]” following the intervening reigns of his son and son’s son, which strongly implies the survival of Nebuchadnezzar himself beyond those reigns, in accord with the reconstruction suggested here. The son of Nebuchadnezzar was Evil-Merodach, who reigned immediately after Nebuchadnezzar, his son-in-law was Neriglissar, the next king following Evil-Merodach, and his “grandson [son’s son]” by his daughter (the wife of Neriglissar) was Labashi-Marduk, and both these ruled as kings, then truly Nebuchadnezzar’s family-line ceased, when the coup took place, and the succeeding dynasty was removed by foreign powers, as foretold. These intervening kings reigned from 562/1 BC through 556/5 BC, in the interval between Nebuchadnezzar and Nabonidus.

The Nabonidus appointed by the conspirators as the new king after Labashi-Marduk was a commoner, though of the ruling class, and a former officer in the machinery of the State. He was the father of the Belshazzar who participated in the coup. Nabonidus is the elder “Labynetus” (a Greek way of writing the Babylonian name Nabunaid, Nabonidus) of Herodotus I. 188, possibly, but not provably, the same “Babylonian Labynetus” mentioned earlier in Herodotus I. 74. According to Herodotus (I. 188), this elder Labynetus had a son, also called Labynetus, in other words, a second Nabonidus: he was the son of the elder Labynetus by Queen Nitocris, and was ousted by Cyrus king of Persia in 539 BC. Herodotus tells us he obtained his name “from his father [or, ancestor]”, meaning the name Labynetus (Nabonidus) was a “patronymic”. Patronymics were what we would call “surnames”, adopted in addition to the personal name, and showing from what ancestor (“father”) a person was descended. The ancestor, in this case, was called Labynetus (Nabonidus). It was a kind of clan name. Thus two people called Labynetus are mentioned by Herodotus in I. 188, a father and a son, and an earlier “Babylonian Labynetus”, presumably a member of the same clan, is referred to in I. 74, if he is not the same person as the elder Labynetus of I. 188. Herodotus tells us the domain (Gk. archê) of the son Labynetus in I. 188, that is the kingdom of Babylon, was the same as that ruled by the elder Labynetus. Both the father and the son, therefore, ruled Babylon. The same is said of the one or the other Labynetus in Herodotus I. 77, though the word used there is a more loaded word in Greek: “was despot of Babylon”. According to the ancient chroniclers, as early as Megasthenes, in a quotation preserved by Abydenus, Belshazzar was called Nabonidus amongst the Babylonians, and historically Belshazzar was the son of the king commonly called Nabonidus. Both these, then, who clearly are the “Labynetus” I and II of Herodotus I. 188, the rulers known nowadays as Nabonidus and Belshazzar, had dominion over Babylon at the very end of the Babylonian Empire. Belshazzar was indeed overthrown by Cyrus, as the younger Labynetus of Herodotus I. 188 is said to have been.

If the elder Labynetus of Herodotus I. 188 is the same person as the “Babylonian Labynetus” of Herodotus I. 74, then the elder Labynetus (the king we call Nabonidus) served in official capacity as an international negotiator under Nebuchadnezzar, as early as the battle dated by the eclipse of Thales to 28 May 585 BC. If the names represent different people with the same clan-name, then a leading figure of the Nabonidus clan, related to the later king Nabonidus of Babylon, served in that capacity. The forces of Nabopolassar and Nebuchadnezzar are likely to have included, even as early as the last decade of the seventh century BC, the “Babylonian Labynetus” of Herodotus I. 74. They spent at that time considerable effort subduing Harran, which had become an outpost for the rump of the Assyrian resistance. The Assyrians were finally ousted by Nabopolassar, and it would be natural for the city to have been for a time in the control of his generals. If the elder Labynetus/Nabonidus was one of those generals, or related to one of them, then it is understandable how in later life, when king of Babylon, he showed particular attachment to Harran. He had a penchant for the cult of the moon-god Sin of Harran. The woman by whom Nabonidus was brought into the world, the rather remarkable Adda-guppi, who lived to an astonishingly great age, was, notably, a devotee of the god Sin of Harran. It would not be surprising for Labynetus/Nabonidus also to have acquired a wife with an Egyptian name (Nitocris), as he is said to have done in Herodotus I. 188, in the days of his own, or his relative’s, service under Nabopolassar at Harran, as an Egyptian garrison had been placed there prior to the Babylonian occupation to reinforce Assyrian resistance: captive Egyptian women would have been present in the city and available to the conquering officers of Nabopolassar.

Nabonidus’ term as king of Babylon was contentious. He was unpopular with his subjects, and accused of introducing a strange religion into the country (that is, the cult of Sin of Harran). The removal of Nabonidus’ dynasty by Cyrus terminated the Babylonian Empire, and commenced that of the Persians. Cyrus used Nabonidus’ unpopularity with the Babylonians themselves to bolster his own legitimacy as their new overlord.

Nabonidus retired for several years to the Oasis of Tema in the Arabian desert. During that period he left his son, Belshazzar, as co-ruler on his behalf in the city of Babylon. Nabonidus returned to Babylonia shortly before its conquest by Cyrus, and therefore, when Cyrus took the city, he removed both rulers from power. In other words, Nabonidus and his son Belshazzar, ruled at one and the same time.

Since Nebuchadnezzar had by this time recovered from his insanity, it can be concluded he, too, was present in the city of Babylon during part at least of the reign of Nabonidus and perhaps also of the vice-regency of Belshazzar. The Book of Daniel confirms the sequence of events, representing the recovery of Nebuchadnezzar as being followed immediately by the reign of Belshazzar (cp. Daniel 4. 37 and 5.1ff.). Likewise, the Apocryphal Book of Baruch (1. 11f.) depicts two rulers as present in Babylon within the time-frame described in that book contemporaneously, the first of them Nebuchadnezzar, and the second, “his son” Belshazzar. (The word “son” when used of a king’s relationship to an earlier occupant on the throne can mean “successor”, but there is more implied in this case, for which see infra.) On the standard interpretation of the historical data this situation could not have arisen, since Nebuchadnezzar died (supposedly) in 562/1 BC, and his genetic son, and son-in-law, and the latter’s son then ruled in the interval, till Belshazzar led a coup from a non-royal family, and Nabonidus and Belshazzar subsequently held power in Babylon up to the city’s capture by the Persians. At no point were Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, according to the accepted regnal sequence, associated together, and certainly not in power together, as depicted in the Book of Baruch. The relevant passage reads as follows: Baruch, 1. 9ff. (my emphasis): “9. After that Nabuchodonosor [Nebuchadnezzar II] king of Babylon had carried away Jechonias [Jehoiachin], and the princes, and the captives, and the mighty men, and the people of the land, from Jerusalem, and brought them unto Babylon. 10. And they said [that is, the exiled Jews sent this message to their brethren left in Judah], ‘Behold, we have sent you money to buy you burnt offerings, and sin offerings, and incense, and prepare ye manna, and offer upon the altar of the Lord our God; 11. And pray for the life of Nabuchodonosor king of Babylon, and for the life of Balthasar his son, that their days may be upon earth as the days of heaven: 12. And the Lord will give us strength, and lighten our eyes, and we shall live under the shadow of Nabuchodonosor king of Babylon, and under the shadow of Balthasar his son, and we shall serve them many days, and find favor in their sight.’”

Likewise in the Arab annalist Tabari (Persian version of Bel‛ami, trans. Zotenberg, Pt. I, ch. cvi) Cyrus is said to have found Nebuchadnezzar, the famous king who destroyed Jerusalem, present in Babylonia when he invaded the country. Tabari reports, on the basis of Persian tradition, that Nebuchadnezzar’s life was spared by Cyrus, and Cyrus sent him to the city of Balkh in Khorasan, where he was welcomed in the court of Gushtasp. Gushtasp is the native Iranian form of the Greek name Hystaspes. Evidently, Tabari’s Gushtasp is Hystaspes, the father of Darius, the next but one king of Persia after Cyrus. However, on account of the Zoroastrian belief in reincarnation, the ninth-century BC Gushtasp (and his father Lohrasp) have been relocated anomalously to this era in Tabari’s Persian tradition, and the earlier Gushtasp identified with the later Gushtasp, the father of Darius. Lohrasp and Gushtasp were historically contemporaries of the ninth-century BC prophet Zoroaster. Since some Magians believed Jeremiah and Ezra, the Hebrew prophets contemporaneous with Nebuchadnezzar, were reincarnations of Zoroaster, Lohrasp and Gushtasp were transferred, along with the spirit of Zoroaster, in their tradition to the era of Jeremiah and Ezra. Hence, for example, Lohrasp, historically the patron of the ninth-century BC Zoroaster, came to be viewed as promoting Nebuchadnezzar’s sixth-century BC assault on Jerusalem, on the grounds that the sixth-century BC prophet Jeremiah (“Zoroaster”) encouraged and supported it, even calling Nebuchadnezzar “God’s servant”, as divine punishment against the sinful political system in Jerusalem Jeremiah confronted in his day. Though the tradition has been contaminated to some degree by this Magian reworking of the historical data, a removal of Nebuchadnezzar by Cyrus to Balkh, which is not mentioned in any other source, Biblical or extra-Biblical, is credible, in light of the similar beneficence shown by Cyrus to Nabonidus. According to Megasthenes, Nabonidus was spared by Cyrus after the capture of Babylon and allowed to reside outside of Babylonia in the Iranian district the Greeks called Carmania (see infra). Nabonidus is actually mentioned a few years later in the Behistun Inscription of Darius son of Hystaspes. After the transfer of the Babylonian Empire to the Persians, two pretenders to the throne claimed to be “Nebuchadrezzar son of Nabonidus” in order to rouse rebellion against the conquering Persians and reclaim the kingdom of Babylon. Darius exterminated them and commemorated his triumph at Behistun.


A similar conclusion can be drawn from a fragmentary Aramaic document recovered from a Qumran cache (4Q242). This text has been deciphered in various, very imaginative ways, and has been trumpeted to the world as a “Prayer of Nabonidus”. If it is a prayer (and that is doubtful) it is a prayer of Nebuchadnezzar, not of Nabonidus. The name of the king (if it is a name) is not fully preserved and runs along a break in the document. It is probably not a personal name, but a verb. However, the word “king” is clear, and a little lower in the fragment two mentions are made of “seven years as a beast” and of a “Jewish seer”. The natural reading of the Aramaic here as “beast” has been completely destroyed through the treatment of the text as a “prayer” uttered in the first person. Reading the initial heth of the Aramaic word for “beast” (hevat, construct case) as a he turns the word into a form of the verb “to be” (havet, “I was for seven years ....” etc., instead of, “a beast for seven years”). Undoubtedly the text is an apocryphal account of Nebuchadnezzar’s madness. A translation of the preserved portion of the fragmentary document, avoiding conjectural reconstruction, is appended to this study. Our present interest in it is that twice in a smaller fragmentary portion of the text the word “Teman” appears. This has been identified, probably correctly, as the “Tema” of the Babylonian chronicles (whither Nabonidus retired). Since the Aramaic Qumran account relates to a point in time when Nebuchadnezzar had recovered from his insanity, it is circumstantial evidence that his period of recovery coincided with Nabonidus’ absence in Tema. This very association, of course, is what has encouraged the speculative theory that the subject of the account is Nabonidus, as well as the reading of the very unclear letters at its beginning as “nbny”, which are vocalized hypothetically “Nabunay” and treated as an Aramaic popular form of the name Nabunaid (Nabonidus). A whole literature has developed accordingly which attempts to explain how, or, alternatively, dogmatically asserts that, the Biblical account of Nebuchadnezzar’s madness arose by “error” from an historical kernel relating to the erratic behavior of Nabunaid and his absence in Tema. This immense hypothetical superstructure totters on the very feeble foundation of four fragmentary letters: “nbny”. Even if this is a personal name, and the reading of the letters is correct, who is to say it is not an abbreviation of the name Nebuchadnezzar, as would appear to be the more obvious hypothesis, in view of the contents of the main body of the text, rather than of the less famous Nabunaid? The initial words of the document are read, according to the modern consensus, “The words of the prayer which Nabunay [supposedly a form of the name Nabunaid] prayed, the king {of Babel}.” However, the word “prayer” means literally “bowing down, crouching [like an animal]”, and though it is commonly used of the posture in prayer, the same grammatical root appears later in the fragment (Fragment 1, line 7) applied to the “beast-like” posture of crouching on all fours. A similar interpretation would seem natural in the initial phrase too. The initial phrase would then read “When the king of {Babel?} had completed his time of going on all fours, for the duration of which he went on all fours and tore prey with his hands ................” etc. Here the first few letters mly, are read as the verb “he completed” rather than as the Aramaic common noun “words” (of the “prayer”). The Aramaic substantive “crouching down” is interpreted, for the reasons already given, as a reference to the king’s beast-like posture. Also, the letters nbny (supposed to be the name “Nabunay”) are read in this reconstruction, not as a personal name, but as the verb plus copulative wbzy (the letters, waw, “w”, nun, “n”, and zayin, “z”, being almost indistinguishable in this script), and the latter means “and tore prey with his hands”. Certainly it is safer, in the fragmentary state of the text here, to reconstruct the word as a common verb, rather than a very controversial name. The words found in the rest of the fragment are similar to those employed in related sections of the Biblical account, but the reference to “a seer, a Jew” is not the way an apocryphal Jewish writer would refer to the prophet Daniel, and this suggests the document is a copy of the actual testimony of Nebuchadnezzar, sent forth across the region after his restoration (Daniel 4. 1) and written in Aramaic, the lingua franca of the Near East at that period. The geographical word “Teman” is unique, and not found in the Book of Daniel. It is likely to be related to the Rabbinic and ecclesiastical traditions already referred to, which dated Nebuchadnezzar’s insanity to the reign (at least) of Evil-Merodach, and, by implication, his period of recovered health to the time Nabonidus went absent in Tema.

Nabonidus removed himself from the kingdom of Babylon and retired to the Arabian Oasis of Tema for the greater part of his reign. He said he did this at the command of Sin, the Moon god. (Sin was promoted in Nabonidus’ theology as a combination of three major Babylonian gods in one, perhaps in an attempt to accommodate Nebuchadnezzar’s monotheism.) This mysterious retirement of Nabonidus in Tema will have allowed the restored Nebuchadnezzar to have the enjoyment, as though he were king, of his ancient kingdom; at the same time, it will have relieved Nabonidus (and Nebuchadnezzar) of the requirement to celebrate the Akitu New-Year festival of Bel, this being antithetical to Nebuchadnezzar’s monotheism and the would-be monotheism of Nabonidus. Cyrus later emphasized the unpopularity with the priesthood and populace of Nabonidus’ failure to celebrate the Akitu festival as a foil to Cyrus’ own piety in celebrating the Babylonian pagan cult, when he ousted Nabonidus, at the due season.

In the Nabonidus Chronicle there is mention of an important person in the State machinery who “had been sick, but recovered” earlier in the same year and immediately before Nabonidus retired to Arabia. (See infra for a translation of this part of the Chronicle.) A large break in the text makes it impossible to identify the sick person, but the year-date is precisely seven complete years plus one after the end of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. If, as ancient tradition records, Nebuchadnezzar’s insanity covered the reign of Evil-Merodach (and the combined reigns of Neriglissar and Labashi-Marduk), then this is the very year Nebuchadnezzar, having “been sick, recovered”. The fact that the same year-entry (Nabonidus Chronicle, col. i., line 15, third year of Nabonidus) contains what appears to be a personal name beginning with the element Nabu- and ending with the element -utsur, tends to confirm the suggestion that the recovered person was, indeed, Nabu-kudurri-utsur, that is, Nebuchadnezzar. The signs between the initial and final elements of this personal name (between the Nabu- element and the -utsur element) have been variously read by scholars who have studied the text. Their doubts about the reading leave open the possibility that the text is corrupt or has been misread in some way, and that the original did, in fact, read Nabu-kudurri-utsur, Nebuchadnezzar.

The relevant lines of the Nabonidus Chronicle, column i, lines 11-17 (without conjectural additions, but with the reading of the personal name in line 15 as suggested supra). The chronological location of this excerpt is in Nabonidus’ third year = 553-552 BC:

11. [.........................................m]onth Abu in the Amanus mountains

etc. ...... {lines 12-13: Nabonidus is campaigning in the Amanus region in northern Syria, then returns to Babylon. The next events occur in Babylon.}

14. [..................................................]had been sick but recovered. In the month Kislimu

his people did the king

15. [..................................................] ... and Nabu-kudurri(??)-utsur {= Nebuchadnezzar?}

16. [.....] ... of the land of the Amorites to

17. [.................................]Edom he encamped.

{Thereafter Nabonidus’ presence in Tema is mentioned regularly.}



Daniel-Belteshazzar disappears from the scene in the Book of Daniel during the reign of Belshazzar, except for the very last few days of his rule. Daniel-Belteshazzar was re-introduced to Belshazzar’s court by the Queen as the great prophet and minister to the king’s “father” Nebuchadnezzar, who was capable of interpreting the mysterious Writing on the Wall. The use of the phrase “in the days of your father” (Daniel 5. 11), meaning, in the days gone-by of Belshazzar’s “father”, Nebuchadnezzar, implies Nebuchadnezzar was by this time deceased. The term “father” can mean simply “predecessor on the throne” in Oriental phraseology, but here there may well be more implied, particularly if Nabonidus had appointed the aged, healed, and now God-fearing, Nebuchadnezzar guardianship of his dissolute son Belshazzar during his absence in Tema. Daniel-Belteshazzar successfully interpreted the Writing, and was given in consequence by Belshazzar the “third” place in the kingdom: Belshazzar himself was “second” in command, because he was co-regent whilst his father Nabonidus was away, therefore “third” place was the highest office he was entitled to give. However, Daniel-Belteshazzar did not receive the benefit of that position, because Belshazzar was overthrown by the Persians under their leader Cyrus that same night, as the prophetic Writing foretold.

Belshazzar’s father Nabonidus returned to Babylonia for a short period about this time, to deal with the crisis. He first was an unsuccessful opponent of Cyrus in Babylonia, then surrendered to Cyrus in October 539 BC. According to Xenophon’s account (Cyropaedia IV. vi. 2) of Cyrus’ campaign leading up to the capture of Babylon, the “father” and royal predecessor of the king slain in Babylon when Cyrus and his ally Gobryas (Ugbaru) took the city, that is, the “father” of Belshazzar, was already “dead” at the hands of unnamed Persians or Medes when Gobryas joined Cyrus’ forces. Since Belshazzar’s literal father, Nabonidus, outlived Belshazzar himself, this can only refer to Nebuchadnezzar, who was the “father” of Belshazzar in the Biblical sense employed in the Book of Daniel. He is described by Gobryas in Xenophon’s retelling of the story as “a good man”. If Tabari’s tradition has an historical kernel, that Nebuchadnezzar was removed by Cyrus when he invaded Babylonia to the city of Balkh in Khorasan, then he must only have survived a short while there before he fell victim to unknown Iranian assailants. After Nabonidus’ surrender and the fall of Babylon in 539 BC, official records were dated to the reign of Cyrus, Cyrus’ first year being 538/537 BC. Cyrus dealt humanely with the captive Nabonidus, and, according to Berossus (in Josephus Contra Apionem 20, and in Eusebius’ Chronicle), and Megasthenes apud Abydenus, gave him Carmania, located around the Straits of Hormuz and northward into the Iranian hinterland, as his personal “residence” and “domain”. Berossus in Josephus, Contra Apionem 20: “Hereupon Cyrus took Babylon and gave order that the outer walls of the city should be demolished, because the city had proved very troublesome to him, and cost him a great deal of hardship to take. He then marched away to Borsippa, to besiege Nabonnedus {Nabonidus, Nabunaid}; but as Nabonnedus did not sustain the siege, but delivered himself into his hands, he was at first kindly treated by Cyrus, who gave him Carmania, as a place for him to dwell in, but sent him out of Babylonia. Accordingly Nabonnedus spent the rest of his time in that country, and there died.” Also Berossus apud Eusebius, ibid., trans. Bedrosian, p. g71ff.: “It was during [Nabonidus’] reign that the walls of Babylon by the river were constructed of baked brick and bitumen. Now in the 17th year of his reign, Cyrus [g72] came from Persia with an enormous army with which he conquered all the other kingdoms. Then he turned upon Babylon. When Nabonidus was informed about his invasion, he resisted him in battle with his troops. Defeated in battle, [Nabonidus] took to flight and then fortified himself in the city of Borsippa with a few of his followers. After Cyrus had taken Babylon, he ordered that the city’s outer wall be razed to the ground because of its [effective] fortification and the trouble it had presented [to him] in capturing the city. Then he went to besiege Nabonidus in Borsippa. Nabonidus surrendered right away since he could not endure a siege. Cyrus was merciful toward him and settled him in the land of Carmania [g73]. Thus Nabonidus was removed from Babylon and sent there, where he spent the remainder of his life, and died.” Finally Megasthenes apud Abydenus in Eusebius’ Chronicle, in the Armenian version of the Chronicle, trans. Bedrosian, online at http://rbedrosian.com/euseb2.htm, p. g60: “Then Nabonedochus {Nabonidus} was invited to take the throne, although it was certainly not his [by right]. When Cyrus captured Babylon, he granted [Nabonedochus] the marzpanate of the land of Carmania. King Darius partly expelled him from that land. All this coincides with Hebrew accounts.”

Persian and Median law and custom prevailed in Carmania. Abydenus and Megasthenes go on to relate that Nabonidus was driven part of the way out of the territory of Carmania by “king Darius” (Megasthenes apud Abydenus in Eusebius’ Chronicle, Bedrosian’s translation). This is the only mention in early secular chronicles of such an interaction between a “king Darius” and the last king of Babylon. But in accord with this early account, “Darius the Mede” is the king mentioned in the Book of Daniel (Daniel 5. 31) as taking up the reins of government over some undefined region in the period immediately following the removal of the last king of Babylon, that is, Belshazzar (actually one of the two last rulers of Babylon, Nabonidus and Belshazzar). It is further said in the Book of Daniel that “Darius the Mede”, or “Darius the son of Ahasuerus of the seed of the Medes” (Daniel 9. 1), received the “kingdom” or “royal power” (Daniel 5. 31) at that time, and his territory is described as being under Medo-Persian law (Daniel 6. 8, 9, 12, 15). It is not said Darius conquered a kingdom, but that he received one. It may be presumed this was by the munificence of Cyrus, who was the dominant political power then. The city of Babylon is nowhere named in the Book of Daniel, or elsewhere, as Darius’ capital, or as forming part of his kingdom. The description of Darius in Daniel 9. 1 is commonly misinterpreted as if it depicted Darius himself as king of the Chaldaeans. What Daniel 9. 1 says is that Darius the son of Ahasuerus was (literally) “of the Median seed which had been caused to rule over the Chaldaeans”. The relative pronoun “which” naturally belongs to the words “Median seed” immediately preceding it, not to Darius himself. In other words, Darius was of Median royal blood and a member of the Median aristocracy (the “Median seed”) which had been put into power (“caused to rule”) in Babylonia (“over the Chaldaeans”) by the conquest of Cyrus.

The Ahasuerus from whom Darius was descended was the great Median king Cyaxares I, who conquered, in alliance with Nabopolassar and his son Nebuchadnezzar, the Assyrian capital Nineveh. This Ahasuerus is the “Assuerus” of Tobit XIV. 15, who similarly is said to have conquered Nineveh in alliance with Nebuchadnezzar. He is clearly, also, the Ahasuerus of the Book of Esther, as he is the only king of this name known to have ruled an empire stretching from the Indus to Ethiopia in the era of the Jewish Captivity. (The term Ethiopia in ancient times included the shores of the Indian Ocean, which were within Cyaxares’ territory, though the phrase “from India to Ethiopia” in Esther 1. 1 and 8. 9 might merely mean “between India and Ethiopia”, as of the boundaries of Ahasuerus’ kingdom, and not as of territories included within it.) Cyaxares’ son was Astyages, and Astyages the father of Amytis (Amuhia), who became the bride of Nabopolassar’s son Nebuchadnezzar (the later king Nebuchadnezzar II). It was for his bride Amytis Nebuchadnezzar constructed the famed “Hanging Gardens” of Babylon. These formed an immense, elevated, artificial paradise, and were designed to alleviate Amytis’ homesickness for the cool breezes and woodlands of her mountainous native land. Astyages had a son also called Cyaxares (II). He was the uncle and father-in-law of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire. He played a principal role in the romanticized biography of Cyrus by the Greek writer Xenophon known as the Cyropaedia. According to the text of Josephus preserved by Theodoretus on Daniel 5. 31, Cyaxares was the common Greek name for the king called Darius the Mede in the Book of Daniel. He was an important member (if not the most important member) of the coalition of Median and Persian magnates who, under the overall military direction of Cyrus, overthrew the Babylonian Empire.

Darius the Mede (Cyaxares II) was sixty-two when he took up the reins of government (Daniel 5. 31). Only the “first year” of Darius is mentioned in the Book of Daniel (9. 1, 11. 1). The domain ruled by Darius is not named, but it was, as already stated, under Medo-Persian law. The tradition preserved by Abydenus and Megasthenes points to Carmania, as well as, by implication, to the neighboring areas, which certainly were Persian and Median territory. Cyrus, on the contrary, was “king of Babylon” (Ezra 5. 13). According to Xenophon (Cyropaedia VIII. v. 17), the “Median” area under the sway of Cyaxares II (Darius the Mede) was on the normal line of Cyrus’ march between Babylon and Persis, and must therefore have included Susiana. Cyrus pointed out to Cyaxares, when he met him in the course of his march, that he had provided him a house and domain in Babylon, if he wished to take advantage of them, but it is not said Cyaxares did so. Xenophon says Cyaxares had no male heir and consequently, on the contrary, gave his own domain to Cyrus as his daughter’s dowry, when Cyrus took her to wife. (Ibid. 18-20.) Darius is described in the Book of Daniel as having received his kingdom immediately after the removal of Belshazzar, and in Abydenus and Megasthenes as being “king” when he “partly” expelled Nabonidus from Carmania. Nabonidus did not long survive his partial expulsion, and disappears from the archaeological record after his capture by Cyrus. By the 3rd year of Cyrus, 536/5 BC (Daniel 10. 1, cf. 6. 28), Daniel had ceased to date events by the reign of Darius the Mede. That implies Darius’ first year (alone mentioned in the Book of Daniel), coincided with Cyrus’ first year, 538 BC. In the Greek translations of the Septuagint and Theodotion, accordingly, the first year of Darius the Mede in the Hebrew of Daniel 11. 1 is termed instead the “first year of Cyrus”.

Daniel famously held office, and experienced miraculous deliverance from the lions’ den, during the reign of Darius the Mede (Daniel chapter 6). Daniel was personally present in Darius’ kingdom. Given that that kingdom included some part of Carmania and neighboring territories, and Carmania shared a border on the west with Persis (the heartland of Persia) and Susiana, it is significant that already in the third year of Belshazzar (Daniel 8. 2) Daniel is said to have been in Shushan (Susa), the capital of Susiana, when he saw the vision of the Persian Empire attacked and destroyed by Alexander of Macedon. It is probable he was resident in Shushan at that time, and summoned to the city of Babylon from there by the Queen to interpret the Writing on the Wall. Perhaps the riotous court of Belshazzar in Babylon itself had driven the holy prophet to seek a new residence in Shushan, the capital of Susiana. The stories told by Xenophon (Cyropaedia IV. vi. 3-4, V. ii. 28) of the last king of Babylon’s brutal treatment of his subordinates, including the murder of Gobryas’ son, and the castration of an officer, through mere jealousy, accord with the dissolute picture of Belshazzar painted in the Bible. Daniel will, in that case, after interpreting the Writing on the Wall at Belshazzar’s palace in Babylon, have returned to Shushan as soon as he was able, and was perhaps, even, on his way there when Belshazzar was slain. Since the domain granted to Darius may be presumed to have included parts, at least, of Persis and Susiana, as well as of Carmania subsequently, when Nabonidus was expelled from a portion of it, Shushan would be the natural capital. That Darius the Mede “received the kingdom”, following the death of Belshazzar, was, on this understanding, the particular experience of Daniel in Shushan. His status for the first two years after the capture of Babylon was as subject to that king, rather than to the more politically powerful Cyrus.

By Cyrus’ third year, the elderly Darius the Mede (Cyaxares II) may be presumed to have died, and hence Daniel dated his latest vision to that same third year of the reign of Cyrus (Daniel 10. 1), employing now Cyrus’ name for the year-date. Then Daniel was at the River Hiddekel (Tigris) west of Susa. He notices his great weakness at the time the vision struck him, which will have been mainly, as he says, a consequence of the physical debilitation caused by the tremendous visionary experience itself, but also, in part, the result of the infirmities of advanced age. Since Cyrus had recently granted the captive Jews their freedom, and some had already returned to Jerusalem, Daniel may well have been on his way back to the land of his fathers. There was an Arabic tradition, borrowed from Persian sources, that Daniel was sent back to Judah by the king of Persia (called “Bahaman son of Asfendiar”, the royal name depending on a Magian reworking of the tradition), along with Ezra, after the death of Nebuchadnezzar (d’Herbélot, Biblioth. orient., s.v. Danial), or, according to Tabari (Persian version of Belami, trans. Zotenberg, Pt. I. ch. cvii), some time following Cyrus’ death, since Daniel prior to this was retained by Cyrus. In the Lives of the Twelve Prophets (Recensio Prior, ed. Schermann, Vitae Prophetarum Fabulosae, 1907, p. 17), Daniel is said to have expired finally in the city of Babylon. This was a little further west than the Tigris, and may have been his last stop before traveling on, as intended, to the Promised Land. A 9th-century Syriac summary version of the same work says his body was laid to rest in Susan territory (Vitae, op. cit., p. 106, translated in Schermann “in Susis castro”), which had also been his last abode in this world. The more precise geographical location of his burial-place is stated to have been the “grotto of the kings [Gk. spêlaion basilikon]” (Recensio Prior ibid., Recensio Altera, p. 66, and Recensio Anonyma, p. 79): this would suit the traditional site at “Greater Daniel” on the Karun River (the River Ulai), as that is a mountainous region containing monuments of ancient Elamite kings. There are two Tombs of Daniel in the Iranian district of Khuzistan, the so-called “Lesser Daniel” in Shushan itself (Shush, Susa), and the originally more accredited, but nowadays less well-known, “Greater Daniel” near Izeh on the Karun River. (Izeh is also known as Malamir or Mala Amir, and Susan or Shusan.) It is probable the remains of Daniel were first placed in the Tomb at Izeh, but were subsequently transferred to the central, and politically more important, location in Shush. Both traditions confirm the location of Daniel, towards the end of his earthly sojourn, in Susan territory.


APPENDIX



Proposed Translation of the Qumran Aramaic Text relating to Nebuchadnezzar’s Insanity 4Q242



Fragment 1:



1. When the king of {Babel?} had completed his time of going on all fours, for the duration of which he went on all fours and tore prey with his hands ................

2. With a vile sore [of the kind found on an animal’s back], by the command of G{od....................}

3. Smitten as a beast for seven years and wh{oever? ...............}

4. And his sins were forgiven him by a seer a Je{w......................}

5. He announced and caused a document to be published and let it be proclaimed and ..................

6. Smitten as a beast with a sore [of the kind found on an animal’s back] with ...............................

7. Seven years going on all fours as a beast ............................

8. wood, stone and clay whoever(?) .................................



Fragment 2:



1. ........ x the kin{g................}

2. ......... x in Teman ...............

3. ........... were like x.............

4. ............ Jew x ...............

5. ............ to the Name of G{od ...........}

6. ............ in Teman .............



Fragment 3:



1. ......... silver and gold ..........

2. ......... which gods x ...............



Fragment 4:



1. ..... till the condition deteriorated I dreamed ....

2. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx .........

3. .... this(?) my friend I have not deceived .......

4. .... you are troubled x .......





Transcript of Fragments 1-3 Overleaf (followed by Photographic Reproduction with Fragment 4)





Transcript of 4Q242 Fragments 1-3















Overleaf: Photographic Reproduction of 4Q242 Fragments 1-4