Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Book of Daniel (Opposition)

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Hello friends, The following is evidence of The Accuracy In The Holy Bible's Book of Daniel. 
I will first present a quick introductory article and then i will post a quick article on the, "Babylonian Chronicles" which are ancient tablets that provide us with the accuracy of The Book of Daniel's writings.
Then i will show you an article on the, "Darius the Mede" controversy which some say is proof that The Book of Daniel is not accurate, forgetting all of the other evidence and not looking for an explanation as to why Darius the Mede has not been found (King Cyrus and Darius could be the same person. King Cyrus has been proved archaeologically)
And i will end this topic with an article titled, "Israel restored,
Biblical Archaeology following the Babylonian Captivity" which is a very thorough article on lots of Archaeological discoveries, including possible evidence for Daniel's friends :) and much more ^___^
The following evidence is quite extensive and there is more that isn't covered on this page :D


1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.
2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.
3 And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king's seed, and of the princes;
4 Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.
5 And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.
6 Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:
7 Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego. 
8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. 
9 Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs. 
10 And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king. 
11 Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 
12 Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. 
13 Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king's meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants. 
14 So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.

15 And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat.

16 Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.

17 As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
18 Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar.
19 And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king.
20 And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.
21 And Daniel continued even unto the first year of king Cyrus.

Praise The Lord JESUS CHRIST!!!

Historical Evidence For The Book of Daniel

THE BIBLE in Daniel 1:1-2 states:

"In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.
And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the articles into the treasure house of his god."
The fact that Nebuchadnezzar pillaged lands which included Israel during his first year as king is recorded on Babylonian tablets known as the Babylonian Chronicles.
They record that kings from the territory known as Hatti-land came before him and offered him heavy tribute. Those cities which did not submit to him, he came against and carried its spoils back to Babylon.
According to the Bible in Daniel 1:3-4, During the invasion of Jerusalem in 606 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon instructed Ashpenaz the Master of his eunuchs, to bring back some of the children of Israel to serve in the king's palace and to teach them the language and literature of the Chaldeans.
He picked Daniel along with his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.

Remarkably the Babylonian office of Master of the Eunuchs has been confirmed by Archaeology. In the British Museum is a clay tablet with the words "Rab-Saris" inscribed on it. In Aramaic, the word Rab interpreted means Master and Saris (saw-reece') means Eunuchs.
Another amazing fact about the book of Daniel is that in 1947 the first of the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered. They contained fragments of all the books of the Old Testament except the book of Esther. Among them is a copy of Daniel. Chapters 2:4 through chapters 7:28 are written in the ancient Aramaic language known as Chaldee (the language of Babylon), the same language used in documents of the 7th century B.C..
This is another confirmation of the fact that the events spoken of in the book of Daniel were written down by Daniel during the time of his captivity in Babylon.
One of the greatest stories in the bible is found in Daniel chapter 2, where Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has a dream which troubles him greatly.
He calls on all the wise men of Babylon to interpret his dream. But since he doesn't trust his wise men, Nebuchadnezzar refuses to explain the dream to them.
Since not one of his wise men could tell the king what he dreamed, he gave a decree to put all of them to death.
Daniel, along with his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, prayed to God that night, that he would reveal the dream to them so that their lives might be spared.
During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision, and Daniel praised the God of Heaven.
The next morning Daniel goes to Nebuchadnezzar and explains to him his vision. The Bible records the following in Daniel 2:31: 

"You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome. "This image's head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, "its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay.

"You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. "Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

Daniel told him that the head of gold represented

Nebuchadnezzar (The kingdom of Babylon.) 

The chest arms of silver would be another kingdom that would arise after him that would be inferior to his gold kingdom. (The Medo-Persian Empire) 
Then a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. (Alexander the Great's Empire of Greece) 
And the fourth kingdom that with legs as strong as iron, in that iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others. (The Roman Empire)
And a fifth kingdom that will arise with ten toes (comprised of ten nations), a kingdom that shall be divided; the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. (The final Empire that will arise before the second coming of Jesus Christ) 


"And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. "Inasmuch as you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it
broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure."
Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face, prostrate before Daniel, and commanded that they should present an offering and incense to him. The king answered Daniel, and said, "Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret." Daniel 2:44-47


"let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.
"This is the STONE which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.'
"Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:10-12


Part of the Babylonian Chronicle

Are the events in Babylonian inscriptions in harmony with the events in the Bible?

This clay tablet is a Babylonian chronicle recording events from 605-594BC. It was first translated in 1956 and is now in the British Museum. The cuneiform text on this clay tablet tells, among other things, 3 main events.

The Babylonian Chronicle records events in ancient Babylon dating from about 750 BC to 280 BC. This tablet is part of that chronicle and records events from 605-594 BC including Nebuchadnezzar II's campaigns in the west, where Jerusalem is. It also records the defeat of the Assyrians and the fall of the Assyrian Empire and the rising threat of Egypt. It records the Battle of Carchemish where Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon defeated Pharaoh Necho of Egypt in 605 BC. It records Nebuchadnezzar's rise to power, it records the removing of Jehoiachin, king of Judah and inserting Zedekiah as king in his place, as recorded in Scripture, and it records the capture of Jerusalem on the 16th of March, 598 BC. The discovery of this part of the Babylonian Chronicle is important in the study of Biblical Archaeology because it contains several events mentioned in the Bible that are in harmony with one another.

"Is this not Babylon that I have built…" –Daniel 4:30 

"Modern research has shown that Nebuchadnezzar was the greatest monarch that Babylon, or perhaps the East generally, ever produced. He must have possessed an enormous command of human labor, nine-tenths of Babylon itself, and nineteen-twentieths of all the other ruins that in almost countless profusion cover the land, are composed of bricks stamped with his name. He appears to have built or restored almost every city and temple in the whole country. His inscriptions give an elaborate account of the immense works which he constructed in and about Babylon itself, abundantly illustrating the boast, 'Is not this great Babylon which I have built?'" - George Rawlinson, Historical Illustrations of the Old Testament

"And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which is the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem: And he burnt the house of the LORD, and the king's house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man's house burnt he with fire." 2 Kings 25:8

Material - Cuneiform Clay Tablet 


Date: 550-400 BC

Length: 8.25 cm 

Width: 6.19 cm 


Babylon, southern Iraq

Excavated by: Robert Koldeway 1899-1914

Location: British Museum, London

Item: ANE 21946

Room: 55, Later Mesopotamia, case 15, no. 24

British Museum Excerpt

Cuneiform tablet with part of the Babylonian Chronicle (605-594 BC)

Nebuchadnezzar II's campaigns in the west

This tablet is one of a series that summarizes the principal events of each year from 747 BC to at least 280 BC. Each entry is separated by a horizontal line and begins with a reference to the year of reign of the king in question.

Following the defeat of the Assyrians (as described in the Chronicle for 616-609 BC), the Egyptians became the greatest threat to the Babylonians. In 605 Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian crown prince, replaced his father Nabopolassar as commander-in-chief and led the army up the Euphrates to the city of Charchemish. There he defeated the Egyptians. Later that year Nabopolassar died and Nebuchadnezzar returned to Babylon to be crowned. Over the next few years he kept his control over Syria and extended it into Palestine. In 601 BC he marched to Egypt, but withdrew on meeting the Egyptian army. After re-equipping his army, Nebuchadnezzar marched to Syria in 599 BC. He marched westwards again, in December 598 BC, as Jehoiakim, the king of Judah, had ceased to pay tribute. Nebuchadnezzar's army besieged Jerusalem and captured it on 15/16th March 597 BC. The new king of Judah, Jehoiachin, was captured and carried off to Babylon. A series of expeditions to Syria brings this Chronicle to an end in 594 BC. 

The British Museum

This clay tablet is a Babylonian chronicle recording events from 605-594BC. It was first translated in 1956 and is now in the British Museum. The cuneiform text on this clay tablet tells, among other things, 3 main events:

1. The Battle of Carchemish (famous battle for world supremacy where Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon defeated Pharoah Necho of Egypt, 605 BC.),

2. The accession to the throne of Nebuchadnezzar II, the Chaldean, and

3. The capture of Jerusalem on the 16th of March, 598 BC.

We are going to compare the record of this Babylonian clay tablet, as translated into English by scholars, with the account recorded in the Bible. About the capture of Jerusalem the clay tablet reads:

"In the seventh month (of Nebuchadnezzar-599 BC.) in the month Chislev (Nov/Dec) the king of Babylon assembled his army, and after he had invaded the land of Hatti (Syria/Palestine) he laid seige to the city of Judah. On the second day of the month of Adara ( 16th of March) he conquered the city and took the king (Jehoiachin) prisoner. He installed in his place a king (Zedekiah) of his own choice, and after he had received rich tribute, he sent (them) forth to Babylon."

And now we will look at the record of the Babylonian invasion in the Book of II Kings and compare the two:

II Kings 24:7-17 And the king of Egypt did not come out of his land anymore, for the king of Babylon had taken all that belonged to the king of Egypt from the Brook ofEgypt to the River Euphrates. Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother's name was Nehushtathe daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father had done. At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against Jerusalem, and the city was besieged. And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came against the city, as his servants were besieging it.

Then Jehoiachin king of Judah, his mother, his servants, his princes, and his officers went out to the king of Babylon; and the king of Babylon, in the eighth year of his reign, took him prisoner. And he carried out from there all the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king's house, and he cut in pieces all the articles of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the LORD, as the LORD had said. Also he carried into captivity all Jerusalem: all the captains and all the mighty men of valor, ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths. None remained except the poorest people of the land. 

And he carried Jehoiachin captive to Babylon. The king's mother, the king's wives, his officers, and the mighty of the land he carried into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon. All the valiant men, seven thousand, and craftsmen and smiths, one thousand, all who were strong and fit for war, these the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon. Then the king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin's uncle, king in his place, and changed his name to Zedekiah.

May we as believers in Jesus Christ give Him praise for His marvelous revelation in the Scriptures. The Bible is a Book that compels us to stand in awe of the wonderful works of an Almighty Creator. The Bible is God's great creation and is to be treasured above all, as men of God testified throughout the Scriptures:

Ps 119:24 "Your words also are my delight and my counselors."

Job 23:12 I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.

Ps 119:103 How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

The Babylonian Chronicles are many series of tablets recording major events in Babylonian history. They are thus one of the first steps in the development of ancient historiography. The Babylonian Chronicles were written from the reign of Nabonassar up to the Parthian Period, by Babylonian astronomers ("Chaldaeans"), who probably used the Astronomical Diaries as their source. Almost all of the tablets are currently in the possession of the British Museum. [Wikipedia]

Stamped Brick of Nebuchadnezzar II from Koldeway

In the south-east corner of the Kasr the earliest brick stamps of Nebuchadnezzar occur, and the king appears to have begun his new building here. These stamps have six lines of inscription, ending with the words "am I," anaku (Figs. 48, 51). In general the legends on these different varieties of stamps are the same: "Nebuchad-' nezzar, King of Babylon, fosterer of Esagilaand Ezida, son'' of Nabopolassar, King of Babylon." There are 6Jined,! 4-lined, 3-lined, and 7-lined stamps, and one single specimen is 5-lined. The 4-, 3-, and 7-lined stamps substitute for the old simple "son," maru, the more detailed "first-born son," aplu asaridu, after which the name of the father that follows is introduced with fa, which does not occur on the 6-lined stamps. 

We can distinguish three methods by which the working stamps were produced. In the first the original inscription was produced in terra-cotta, in which the signs were most carefully and beautifully written, and the strokes show the regular three-cornered section. From this original inscription the working stamp could then be struck in clay and baked. These we call "pottery stamps." In them the rows of cuneiform writing are separated from each other by ruled lines. In the second sort the signs were cut out separately in wood, joined together in one block, and then moulded in sand. From this mould the working stamp was apparently cast in bronze. The strokes of these are of roundish section. Of this "metal stamp" the impressions are fine and deep, but, on the other hand, the ground between the strokes easily becomes clogged during the stamping, and thus on the bricks the signs frequently appear only in outline, while the wedges are confused and flattened. Lines between the rows of writing in these metal stamps are

rare, and it is possible there was some difficulty in producing them. With the third method the original inscription is produced in stone, undoubtedly by grinding. In this way the wedges acquire a scratched appearance, as is more especially the case with the stone objects bearing votive inscriptions of the time of the Kassite kings. The working stamp made from this may have been taken either in bronze or in pottery. We have found no actual working stamp, but this is not surprising, considering that in the course of our excavations we have not yet met with a brick-kiln, and it is of course possible that the method of production was very different from what I have suggested. In the meantime it is important to describe the technical characteristics of the different kinds of stamps as they exist, and to give a concise name to each of them. The 6- and 7-lined stamps occur both as pottery and metal stamps, never as " Kassite," the 4-lined are almost exclusively pottery, and the 3-lined are never metal, but either pottery or "Kassite." [The excavations at Babylon By Robert Koldewey]

Sketch of the Cuneiform on the Brick Stamps of Nebuchadnezzar

Sketch of the Cuneiform on the Brick Stamps of Nebuchadnezzar

Neo Babylonian Empire. Under Nabopolassar, Babylon threw off Assyrian rule in 612 BC and became the capital of the Neo-Babylonian (sometimes and possibly erroneously called Chaldean) Empire. With the recovery of Babylonian independence, a new era of architectural activity ensued, and his son Nebuchadnezzar II (604–561 BC) made Babylon into one of the wonders of the ancient world.[13] Nebuchadnezzar ordered the complete reconstruction of the imperial grounds, including rebuilding the Etemenanki ziggurat and the construction of the Ishtar Gate – the most spectacular of eight gates that ringed the perimeter of Babylon. A reconstruction of The Ishtar Gate is located in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. All that was ever found of the Original Ishtar gate was the foundation and scattered bricks. Nebuchadnezzar is also credited with the construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world), said to have been built for his homesick wife Amyitis. Whether the gardens did exist is a matter of dispute. Although excavations by German archaeologist Robert Koldewey are thought to reveal its foundations, many historians disagree about the location, and some believe it may have been confused with gardens in the Assyrian capital, Nineveh. Chaldean rule did not last long and it is not clear if Neriglissar and Labashi-Marduk were Chaldeans or native Babylonians, and the last ruler Nabonidus and his son and regent Belshazzar were Assyrians from Harran. [Wikipedia]

"For I will rise up against them," says the LORD of hosts, "And cut off from Babylon the name and remnant, And offspring and posterity," says the LORD. "I will also make it a possession for the porcupine, And marshes of muddy water; I will sweep it with the broom of destruction," says the LORD of hosts. Isaiah 14:22-23

The Ishtar Gate (Arabic: بوابة عشتار‎) was the eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon. It was constructed in about 575 BC by order of King Nebuchadnezzar II on the north side of the city. Dedicated to the Babylonian goddess Ishtar, the gate was constructed using a rare blue stone called lapis lazuli with alternating rows of bas-relief mušḫuššu (dragons) and aurochs. The roof and doors of the gate were of cedar, according to the dedication plaque. Through the gate ran the Processional Way, which was lined with walls covered in lions on glazed bricks (about 120 of them). Statues of the deities were paraded through the gate and down the Processional Way each year during the New Year's celebration. Originally the gate, being part of the Walls of Babylon, was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the world until, in the 6th century AD, it was replaced by the Lighthouse of Alexandria. A reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate and Processional Way was built at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin out of material excavated by Robert Koldewey and finished in the 1930s. It includes the inscription plaque. It stands 47 feet high and 100 feet wide (14 meters by 30 meters). The excavation ran from 1902–1914, and, during that time, 45 feet of the foundation of the gate was uncovered. The gate was in fact a double gate. The part that is shown in the Pergamon Museum today is only the smaller, frontal part, while the larger, back part was considered too large to fit into the constraints of the structure of the museum. It is in storage.. [Wikipedia]

The Identity of Darius the Mede
He is a man who is unknown to history outside of the book of Daniel. He is shown as the depicted as the one who conquered the Babylonian empire and became king. His name is given as “Darius the Mede.” The absence of knowledge about him outside of the Bible has lead most historians and scholars to assume that he never existed. Also, the description that Daniel gives about him may have also lead others to believe that the writer of Daniel had confused Darius I with Cyrus the Persian. — Alongside the doubts of his existence, there are also theories that attempt to identify him. Many speculate that he was a governor and others believe he was a king. Many prefer to believe that the Bible is just an inaccurate collection of myths and illustrations told to get a certain point across.

I have already studied the identity of this mysterious man named “Darius the Mede” in a previous post (see “Defending the Book of Daniel“) but what I plan to do now is make a more detailed study about who he may be and what sceptics think about him.
The Ugbaru Theory

One of the most widely referenced theories that many Christians cite is that Darius was a general under Cyrus. The Ancient Chronicle of Nabonidus found in the middle east gives detailes about the kings of Babylon from the year 556 B.C. to 539. In it, there is a general mentioned that is said to have conquered Babylon. He is called Gobryas or Ugbaru. In the text, he is described as doing certain things that Daniel 6:1 claims that Darius had done (i.e appointing sub governors immediately.) Then on October 29 of 539 B.C. Cyrus finally entered Babylon .

Chris Sandoval in his paper “The Failure of Daniel’s Prophecies” doesn’t buy into the theory thatGobryas the governor could be Darius on the grounds that:
His royal edicts were irrevocable according to the laws of the Medes and Persians(Daniel 6:8,12,15). Darius had the power to decree that he was the only god or man in the empire to whom petitions might be made (Daniel 6:7)–a foolish move to make indeed if he were just a governor or puppet king who owed allegiance to Cyrus and the Persian Empire.
He then insists that “contemporary documents prove the nonexistence of Darius the Mede beyond reasonable doubt.” He says that since Cyrus’ documents never mention him that therefore he never existed. But even later he then admits it is possible he existed, but only “barley.”
He then admits that arguments from silence which he makes in the case of Darius the Mede “must be used with caution” but later says that “silence carries even more weight as evidence if positive facts get in the way,” again basing his arguement on the lack of any mention of Darius in documentation saying they “leave no room for Daniel’s Darius the Mede as the sole sovereign of Babylon, thereby proving his nonexistence at that time beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Also, Farrell Till (in Darius the Son of Ahashuerus?) argues against the theory that Gobryas is Darius says that “there are no records that Gubaru was ever made the ‘king of Babylon.’”Again, the argument is based on silence. And in “Darius the Mede: An Actual Historical Character?,” another of his posts he argues:
Gobryas, which was literally Ugbaru, died on March 4, 538 BC, just a few months after the conquest of Babylon in October 539 BC. Hence, if this information is correct Gobryas orUgbaru could not have been “Darius the Mede,” because Daniel referred to the “first year of the reign of Darius” (9:1-2; 11:1), which implies that Darius had reigned longer than a year and certainly longer than just five months.
I’m now going to make some concessions: I agree with Chris Sandoval that the description of Darius in the book of Daniel seems to indicate a monarch and not a mere governor because of his ability to legislate irrevocable laws. But my bigger problem with this particular theory is the lifespan ofGobryas as described in the Chronicle of Nabonidus: “In the month of Arashamnu, on the night of the eleventh, Gobryas died [November 6].” That’s just a very few days after the Persians conquered Babylon, so it would have been an extremely tight fit for Daniel. Not that it’s impossible, but it is very unlikely.
And also, the date given by the Nabonidus Chronicle differs from the date Till gives for the death ofGobryas which is actually November 6, and not March 4. However, the date he gives is still supported by a reliable link he gives, so I will cut him some slack here.
But as for his protests that Gobryas cannot be Darius the Mede because of the time shown in historical records and the Bible only referencing “the first year” of Darius the Mede and no more, Till shows his ignorance of the Babylonian-Persian calender system called the “accession year.” — TheBerytus Archeological Studies of the American University of Beirut shows:
The Achaemenidae, having introduced in the Persian Empire the same Babylonian system of time-reckoning, used the device of the “accession year.” The last civil year of a previous ruler was identified with the “year of the beginning” of his successor, and “year 1″ of the latter started at the next Nisanu 1 only. Under the Macedonian rulers the natives of Asia continued to reckon regnal years from Nisanu 1.
So, using this system, though Gobryas‘ life ended really soon, his reign over Babylon as governor (or possibly Satrap) under Cyrus would have officially lasted a year starting on the first day of the next year. So, on that basis alone, there is no problem.
But, where I disagree with Sandoval and Till is obvious: I do not believe that the lack of a mention of Darius’ name in ancient records in anyway disproves or undermines his existence beyond a reasonable doubt. It would be to much of an oversimplification to believe that it did. After all, scholars used to doubt the existence of Belshazzar because of the lack of any mention of him, however he had been identified in the 19th century when inscriptions bearing his name were found (Commentary Reference Series vol 8, Pages. 127-250 & 255)
The Cyrus-Darius Theory

Another theory is mentioned in D. J. Wiseman’s Some Historical Problems in the Book of Danielwhich he advanced in 1957 that Darius the Mede may, in fact, be Cyrus the Persian. He says:

The basis of the hypothesis is that Daniel 6:28 can be translated ‘Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, even (namely, or i.e.) the reign of Cyrus the Persian.’ Such a use of the appositionalor explicative Hebrew waw construction has long been recognized in Chronicles 5:26 (‘So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria even the spirit of Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria’) and elsewhere.
In this particular verse the term “waw” is usually rendered as “and.” –But Mentioning Pul and Tiglath-Pileser as an example to prove his point is important, because the two of them were the same person . Pul was a title name, and Tiglath-Pilaser was his real name. His translation of 1 Chronicles 5: 26 emphasise that they were one and the same, though with different titles. Even though some translations like the New American Bible translate this verse as “God of Israel incited against them the anger of Pul, king of Assyria, and of Tiglath-pileser” phrasing the verse as if they were different persons, many modern translations, like the New King James Version, phrase it as “the spirit of Pulking of Assyria, that isTiglath-Pileser king of Assyria” showing they are the same individual, which they are, and also because it was a possible translation. — So, obviously, this verse can belegitimently translated both ways.
He then points out that his verse is structured similarly to Daniel 6: 28, hence it would then be possible that Cyrus and Darius were the same. *One name would be a given name and the other might possibly be a title.*
Well, of course, this solution has been attacked by overly skeptical critics. In his post entitled “Darius the son of Ahashuerus?” Farrell Till argues:
I have checked various translations, and I can find none that support Wiseman’s hypothesis. The translation of the Jewish Publication Society renders this verse the same as do other translations: “Thus Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and during the reign of Cyrus the Persian.”
Till’s objection has two major problems: 1) The over reliance on Bible translations to rule out how a Biblical verse can or cannot be translated is very unscholarly and crossing the line to being pathetic. And 2) In his search of “support from translations” for Wiseman’s suggestion he obviously hasn’t checked enough translations because in several of them (in the footnotes) similar readings are accepted as a legitimate alternative translation. These Bible versions are the New International Version, the New Living Translation, the Holman Christian Standard Bible, and the Today’s New International Version. It is given as, ” . . . Darius, that is, the reign of Cyrus,” or as “Darius, even . . .”
So Wiseman didn’t make this up. The verse can be translated as ” So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius, that is, the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” It doesn’t just have to say ” . . . during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus” as Till keeps on insisting. The “that is” or “even” point to the reigns of both Cyrus and Darius as being one and the same, like King Pul’s anger or spirit being the same as Tiglath-Pileser’s. So, the truth is that Wiseman’s hypothesis does, in fact, have support. — So, even with this evidence that any novice, including Till, can access I think this renders any protests against the alternate translation of Daniel 6:28 as irrelevant. However, this isn’t the end of the end of the Cyrus-Darius debate.
Cyrus’s Possible Origins

Something very important to the Cyrus-Darius debate is where Cyrus came from and what his origins are. It would be understandable for people to reject the theory that Cyrus is Darius on the basis that Cyrus is called a Persian and Darius is called a Mede. However, that would be to forget Cyrus’s heritage. — Cyrus was possibly half-Mede, the grandson of Astyages who was the last king of the Medes.

The Historian George Grote says that Cyrus’ childhood may be legendary as the Historian Herodotus tells it. He says:
According to the legend, Astyages, the king of the Medes and overlord of the Persians, gave his daughter in marriage to his vassal in Persis, a prince called Cambyses. From this marriage Cyrus was born.
This shows that is possible that Cyrus was Half-Mede, though some historians think it is legend. And Ferrell Till is very sure to say that this relationship to the Medes by Cyrus “is by no means historically certain.” Till continues to say:
Let’s assume that Cyrus’s mother was a Median princess. Why would that have made the son of a Persian king, born in Persia, “a Mede by birth”? That kind of logic would have made Obed, the grandfather of David, a Moabite, because his mother Ruth was a Moabitess (Ruth 1:3-4; 4:13-21) [ . . . ] According to 1 Chronicles 3:1-3, the mothers of three of David’s sons were foreigners, so the same logic that inerrantists use to make Cyrus a Mede would make these sons of David the same ethnicity as their mothers.
Till is trying to show the saying that Cyrus was Mede as problematic based on certain Biblical examples of Half-blood Isrealites. He apparently thinks that these children could not have identified, at least in part, as part of their mothers’ race. As someone who is biracial himself I find this assumption absurd. — There is no reason why Obed, a son of an Isrealite man mentioned by Till in his examples, couldn’t have admitted to being of the “seed” of a Moabite. And as for his examples of David’s sons: It wouldn’t be said that they were actually “foreigners” because they were the sons of an Isrealite, but they did have foreign blood in their veins from their mother, so the same thing goes for them. So again, Till’s reasoning is absurd and I think barley even worth mentioning.
Now, back to the prossible relationship between Astyages and Cyrus: Some historians, in fact accept that it is “possible that the story of Cambyses‘ Median marriage was invented to justify Cyrus’ rule.” – However, they also say that such a relationship between the two men “would explain why the Medes accepted Cyrus’ rule; he was one of them.” — In other words, it is possible one way or the other, and such a relationship of Cyrus the Persian to the Median royal family should not be ruled out. And to do so would be bad scholarship.
Also, if the Medes indeed did accept Cyrus as “one of them” because of the blood relation through his mother, then that would be full justification for also labeling him as a Mede. — Also, that assertion shows that scholars don’t agree with Till when he claims that even if Cyrus were the grandson of the last Median King and the son of a Mede princess that he wouldn’t be of the “seed of the Medes.” But apparently, nothing is good enough for Farrell Till:
Cyrus was not “of the seed of the Medes” or “by birth a Mede.” He was a Persian, and the writer of Daniel described him as such when he was unequivocally referring to his ethnicity (Dan. 6:28). As noted above, the author of Daniel specifically said that “Darius the Mede” was “by birth a Mede,” so he was obviously emphasizing his ethnic origin; therefore, if Miller’s spin on Daniel 6:28 is correct, it would have this verse meaning: “So Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius [the Mede], even in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” Only a desperate biblical inerrantistwould say that this interpretation of the verse makes any logical sense, because a more plausible interpretation is that the writer was emphasizing that Cyrus was a Persian as opposed to Darius, whom he had just identified as a Mede.
This arguement that, dispite potential authentic historical possibilities, shows how closed minded Till is. There is no way he can actually say with certainty that Cyrus was not of Median origins. But since it hurts his anti-Biblical position, he decides to pretend it is impossible. And that, as I said, is bad scholarship. — And as for his protest for the alternate translation of Daniel 6: 28, I think I have already made my point.
The Meaning of “Darius the Mede

A logical question could potentially be: If Daniel meant that Darius the Mede is Cyrus the Persian, then why not simply call him “Cyrus?” Several Christian scholars and apologists have noted that certain pre-Daniel Biblical prophesies that predicted that the Medes would have a hand in Babylon’s downfall. A notable example, in the context of a fall of Babylon is Isaiah 21:2:

A dire vision has been shown to me: The traitor betrays, the looter takes loot. Elam, attack Media, lay siege! I will bring to an end all the groaning she [Babylon] caused. (TNIV, Brackets mine)
Another example is Isaiah 13: 17,19:
See, I will stir up against them the Medes, who do not care for silver and have no delight in gold. Their bows will strike down the young men; they will have no mercy on infants, nor will they look with compassion on children. Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the pride and glory of the Babylonians, will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah. (TNIV)
So for a Jewish prophet, it would only be natural to emphesis the fullfilent of this certain prophesy in his lifetime. Hence, we get the Median side of Cyrus. As a matter of fact, Daniel personally may haveprefered calling him a Mede over a Persian. For modern readers, this is misleading, but it wouldn’t have been for Daniel’s first readers.
Farrel Till, always scratching for something wrong, insists that these verses are a basis that a misinformed Jew from the second century B.C. used to come to conclusion that the Persians didn’t conquer Babylon, but rather the Medes instead. (I’ll talk about this a little later)
I have another contention about the name “Darius” as far as Cyrus is concerned. According to theEncyclopedia of the Orient “It is not known whether Cyrus was a title or a personal name.” — So if “Cyrus” is indeed a title then his real name would be unknown. But then if he and “Darius the Mede” are indeed one and the same as Daniel 6:28 seems to show, then that could mean that Daniel himself that he preserved his name (Darius) which is otherwise historically unknown.
The Son of Ahasuerus

According to Daniel 9:1 Darius the Mede is called the son of Ahasuerus (or Xerxes). The main point of Farrel Till’s Darius the Son of Ahashuerus? is to slam this statement. He claims that this makes a chronological problem:

Ahasuerus was the Xeres of the book of Esther, who reigned over the Persian empire from 485-465 BC. How, then, could Darius the Mede, who conquered Babylon in 539 BC and allegedly ruled over it, have been the son of a king who didn’t reign till 54 years later? The sensible explanation is that the writer of Daniel, who lived centuries after the events he was writing about, was confused about when and where certain 5th- and 6th-century BC rulers had lived.
One could understandably agree with Till that this is a “chronological problem” as he puts it. Till then mocks assertions by Christian apologists that “Ahasuerus” could be a title instead of an actual name. By this he says that making “Ahasuerus” a title for Darius’ father would cause confussion to the ancient readers of the Hebrew Bible. He then cites verses from the books of Esther, Ezra as well as other verses which mention the Persian “Ahasuerus.” — He continues after citing an extremely long Biblical passage which mentions many kings:
This passage, which described conflict that the returning Jewish exiles had with the inhabitants of the region, mentioned five kings: Esar-Haddon of Assyria, Cyrus of Persia,Darius of Persia, Ahasuerus of Persia, and Artaxerxes also of Persia. Werethese names or just “royal titles”? Will inerrantists try to argue that Esar-Haddon was not the name of an Assyrian king, that Cyrus was not the name of a Persian king, that Darius was not the name of a Persian king, and that Artaxerxes was not the name of a Persian king? In each case, the “royal title” king was used in reference to these monarchs, so if inerrantists argue that Ahasuerus was just a “royal title,” they will be arguing that Ezra used the specific names of four different kings in this passage but referred to the fifth one by just a “royal title.” How likely is that? (Emphasis his)
For the record, as I mentioned earlier, “Cyrus” may indeed be a title. But apparently Till doesn’t know that. — And also, to compare Daniel’s style of writting to that of others is a flawed approach because obviously Daniel doesn’t have to write in the same manner as Ezra or any other prophet.Different people have different writing styles, and that’s a fact. — Till is assuming way to much in believing that the “Ahasueras” of Esther and Ezra really has to be the one mentioned in Daniel.
I don’t pretend to actually know who this “Ahasueras” really was, but I do have a really good idea as to his identity. I think it would be a huge mistake to identify him as Cambyses (Cyrus’ birth-father). So I’d say that leads to the maternal side of the family which would identify him as King Astyages the Mede. — Besides my assumption, there is historical evidence to back it up: The ancient Jewish historian Josephus, although he doesn’t identify Darius as Cyrus, says that, “[Darius] was the son of Astyages, and had another name among the Greeks.” (Antiquities of the Jews, 10,11, 4) — This identification of Darius’ father as Astyages is extremely important because Josephus would have known that Daniel called Darius’s father “Ahasueras.” So he likely saw them as one and the same.
Also, I should mention that if, as mentioned before, that Daniel focused on the Median ethnicity of Cyrus to show that Biblical prophesy had been fulfilled through him, then Astyages is the safest bet to identify “Ahasuerus.” — I have no opinion of which of the two names (”Astyages” or “Ahasuerus”) are titles or actual names as some other Christians do.
To the Medes or the Persians?

Earlier, I mentioned that Farrel Till insists that the Book of Daniel says that Babylon fell to the Medes and not to the Persians:

The author of Daniel, writing long after the fact, obviously didn’t know the facts about the actual fall of Babylon, and so he theorized that the city had to have been conquered by the Medes.
The truth is there is textual evidence in Daniel itself that the author know the true history of the Babylonian fall. It can be found in the fifth capter of the book when Daniel interprates the so-called “writing on the wall.”
“This is the inscription that was written: Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin. “This is what these words mean: Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” (Daniel 5:25,28 NIV)
This may not look like proof but it should be noted that in verse 28, Daniel used “Peres” which is the singular of “Parsin.” The Alternate understandings of this term include renderings such as “half mina,” “half shekel,” and most importantly to my case it can even mean “Persia.” — In other words the evidence that Daniel know the true story of how Babylon fell is found in a pun in the term used for “divided.” Daniel did not make a mistake. However in another of his posts (See “The Linguistic ‘Evidence’”) this still isn’t good enough for Till. So, one could wonder if any evidence will ever be good enough.

The identity of Darius the Mede is indeed problematic, but not impossible to resolve. So far, there seems to be more of a possiblity for him to be Cyrus the Persian than for him to be Gobryas (or Ugbaru). The strongest bit of evidence is the alternate translation of Daniel 6:28 as, “Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, even (namely, or i.e.) the reign of Cyrus the Persian” which points in that dirrection. The rest of the evidence to identify him as such in no way goes against known history, though sometimes it is speculative in several instances. Someday this matter may be resolved satisfactually.

Israel restored
Biblical Archaeology following the Babylonian Captivity

Just as the prophet Jeremiah had warned, the city of Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians in 586 BC.
-          King Zedekiah tried to escape but was captured near Jericho and brought to Nebuchad­nezzar’s headquarters at Riblah where his sons were killed before his eyes, and then his own eyes put out.
-          Jerusalem was destroyed under an officer of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuzaradan, along with the complete destruction of the temple built by Solomon.
-          According to the Lachish Letters, all of Judah was devastated.

The discovery of the Lachish Letters (fig. 1) in 1935 of 18 ostraca (clay tablets with writing in ink), written in Hebrew script, from the 7th century BC, reveal important information concerning the last days of Judah. 
-          They were discovered at Lachish (Tell ed-Duweir) among the ruins of an ancient guardroom outside the Lachish city gate.
-          Most of the letters were dispatches from a Jewish commander named Hoshaiah who was stationed at an outpost north of Lachish, who was responsible for interpreting the signals from Azekah and Lachish.
-          These final communications confirm what the prophet Jeremiah writes in the Bible. In one of the Lachish Letters Hoshaiah writes that the signal of Azekah can no longer be seen, which suggests that this city had fallen to the Babylonian forces.
-          Jeremiah indicates that Azekah and Lachish were two of the last cities to remain before being captured by the Babylonians (Jer. 34:7).
JER 34:7 when the army of the king of Babylon was fighting against Jerusalem and against all the remaining cities of Judah, that is, Lachish and Azekah, for they alone remained as fortified cities among the cities of Judah.
Jeremiah 34:7 (NASB)


Like the Assyrians, the Babylonians took the influential people of conquered nations as prisoners.
-          With the leaders, scholars, and promising youth in captivity the conquered nation was less likely to rebel later on.
-          Another advantage was the opportunity to train the captive youth in the thought and culture of Babylon, assimilating them as valuable members of the empire.

Judah became a province of Baby­lon. There was no longer a king, but a governor appointed by Nebuchadnezzar.
-          The first governor was Gedaliah.
-          With Jerusalem destroyed, Gedaliah established a new capital at Mizpah.
-          During excavations in the city of Lachish a clay seal (fig. 2) was found in a layer of ashes containing the following words:
“Belonging to Gedaliah who is over the house.”

-          This seal is confirmation of the scriptural account in 2 Kings 25:22,
2KI 25:22 Now as for the people who were left in the land of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had left, he appointed Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan over them.
2 Kings 25:22 (NASB)

-          The people governed by Gedaliah were called “the poorest people of the land”and were left to cultivate the soil (2 Kings 25:12).
-          Gedaliah had only been governor for two months when he was assassinated by Ishmael, a member of the royal family who had fled Judah when the Babylonians were approaching (2 Kings 25:23-26; Jeremiah 40:7-41:18).

The fact that Nebuchadnezzar conquered lands, including Judah, during his first year as king is recorded on tablets known as the Babylonian Chronicles (fig. 3).
-          They record that kings from the territory known as Hatti-land came before him and offered him tribute. Those cities, which did not submit to him, he came against and carried off its spoils back to Babylon.
-          According to the Bible in Daniel 1:3-4, during the invasion of Jerusalem in 605 BC, Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon instructed Ashpenaz the Master of his eunuchs, to bring back some of the children of Israel to serve in the king’s palace and to teach them the language and literature of the Chaldeans. He picked Daniel along with his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
-          The Babylonian office of Master of the Eunuchs has been confirmed by Archaeology. In the British Museum is a clay tablet with the words “Rab-Saris” inscribed on it.  In Aramaic, the word Rab interpreted means Master and Saris means Eunuchs.

JEREMIAH (Jeremiah 40:1-6; 42:1-43:3)

Nebuzaradan, the Babylonian general, had given Jeremiah his choice of going to Babylon or remaining in the land, he had decided to stay. He took up resi­dence in Mizpah, where he could be near Gedaliah.
-          Upon the assassination of Gedaliah the people feared reprisal by Babylon.
-          Jeremiah, with God’s revelation, instructed the people to remain in the land and not to fear, for the Babylonians would not retaliate. Jeremiah warn­ed particularly against seeking shelter in Egypt.
-          The people refused to accept God’s word and made plans to go to Egypt.

The number of Judeans who made the trip to Egypt was relatively large (Jer. 43:5-6).
-          Jeremiah went to Egypt as well, probably against his will.
-          The migrants came to Tahpanhes (identified as Tell Defenneh), in the eastern Delta of Egypt. Tell Defenneh is located 27 miles south southwest of Port Said.
-          Here Jeremiah, at God’s direction, hid stones in the pave­ment at the entry of a royal palace, and delivered God’s prediction that Nebuchadnezzar would con­quer that very place (Jer. 43:8-13).
o       God’s predication was fulfilled. One of Nebuchadnezzar’s tablets tells of a successful campaign in his 37th year (568-567) against Pharaoh Amasis in this location.
o       Petrie excavated Tell Defenneh in 1883 and discovered a foundation of a palace, possibly the one Jeremiah is referring to here.

From Jeremiah 44:1, 15, it appears that Judeans had taken up residence throughout Egypt. Another area of Jewish occupation outside Judah was located on the island of Elephantine (fig. 4) in the Nile River of Egypt. This island is situated at the lower end of the first cataract, about 500 miles south of the Medi­terranean.
-          Numerous papyri written in Aramaic have been found, most of them in 1903. They date from the fifth century BC and are referred to as the Elephantine Papyri.
-          This group of Jews may have descended from those who took Jeremiah with them when they fled from Judah in fear of Babylon.
-          The colony served as a southern military garrison for the Persians who were stationed in Egypt. It appears to have ceased exist­ence shortly after the beginning of the fourth century.
-          The contents of the papyri vary considerably in character. One papyrus gives a copy of the famous Behistun Inscription, placed by Darius I high on a mountainside near Ecbatana, Per­sia. Another is a marriage docu­ment.
-          These Jews also had a temple to Yahweh. This means that, though far from Jerusalem, they had not forgotten the one true God. The worship of Yahweh was not pure, for the names of at least three other deities, who were worshiped by some of the residents, have been found.
-          Elephantine letters mention persons in the biblical record such as:
o       Johanan, mentioned as high priest in Jerusalem, said in Nehe­miah 12:10-11, 22-23 to be grand­son of Eliashib, who was high priest in Nehemiah’s time (Neh. 3:1).
o       Sanballat, governor of Samaria, spoken of as father of Delaiah and Shelemaiah, and no doubt the same as the opponent of Nehemiah.
o       Rananiah who may be the same as the man Nehemiah made superintendent over Jerusalem along with Nehemiah’s brother Ranani (Neh. 7:2).


Nebuchadnezzar (605-562) ruled 43 years and maintained his country’s empire as long as he lived. Those who succeeded him could not hold what he had conquered. Under their rule the country decayed only lasting another 23 years after Nebuchadnezzar.
-          Nebuchadnez­zar was proficient in warfare.
       The siege of Tyre, during the same campaign in which Jerusalem fell, continued for 13 years at which time it fell.
       Jeremiah states (Jer. 52:30) that Nebuchadnezzar forced another depor­tation from Judah in 582 BC. In the same year he campaigned successfully in Syria, Moab, and Ammon.
       In 568 he invaded Egypt shortly after Pharaoh Amasis had re­placed Pharaoh Hophra. The time was one of weakness in Egypt, and the Babylonian ruler took advantage of it.

-          Nebuchadnez­zar was an active and successful builder.
o       He constructed an intricate system of fortifications, including Bab­ylon’s own defenses and a chain of fortresses both north and south of the capital city.
o       He built temples, palaces, canals, and streets. A processional ave­nue leading to the city’s sacred area was lined with brightly colored, enameled brick, adorned with rows of bulls and dragons in bas-relief. The street led through the famous gate of Ishtar, similarly decorated.
-          The Ishtar Gate (fig. 5) was built by Nebuchadnezzar and dedicated to the goddess Ishtar around 575 BC. It was decorated with glazed brick reliefs of dragons and bulls. It is 47 feet high and 32 feet wide.
-          The Ishtar Gate was discovered in 1899 by Robert Koldeway, disassembled, and reconstructed in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin.
-          This is the very Gate, which the Jewish captives must have passed through, including Daniel and Ezekiel.

None of Nebuchad­nezzar’s successors could maintain what he established, resulting in Babylon’s decline.
-          Amel-marduk (562-560): Nebuchadnezzar was succeeded by his son, Amel-marduk, who ruled only two years. The Bible refers to him as Evil-merodach, the one who released Jehoiachin from prison and gave a place of privilege at the Baby­lonian court (2 Kings 25:27-30; Jer. 52:31-34).
-          Nergalshar-usur (560-556): Amel-marduk was murdered by his brother-in-law, Nergal­shar-usur, who took the throne in 560 BC. This man is identified with the Nergal-sharezer of Jere­miah 39:313, who, as the official under Nebuchadnezzar, played a part in releasing Jeremiah from prison in 586 BC. As king, he is known for a major military venture across the Taurus Mountains where he suffered defeat and withdrew back to Babylon in 556 BC, shortly before his death.
-          Labashi-Marduk (556): Nergalshar-usur was succeeded by his son, Labashi-Marduk, who was assassinated only a few months later by Naboni­dus, who seized the throne.
-          Nabonidus & Belshazzar (556-539): The son of an Aramean nobleman from Haran, Nabonidus was probably the most capable ruler follow­ing Nebuchadnezzar. Nabonidus made two military campaigns: one against Cilicia (554 BC) and another against Syria (553 BC). An unusual act was his transfer of residence to Tema, southeast of Edam in the Arabian Desert. He remained in Tema for a period of 10 years, leaving the kingdom in the hands of his son, Belshazzar. Actual kingship was entrusted to the young man, which coincides with Belshazzar’s portrayal in the Book of Daniel.
       Greek historian Herodotus states that Nabonidus had been the Babylonian representative in 585 BC when a peace treaty between the Medes and Lydians had been drawn.


In Daniel chapter 5 a Babylonian king by the name of Belshazzar mocks God by throwing a party with articles taken from the Jewish temple. God passes judgment on Belshazzar by taking away his kingdom and dividing it between the Medes and Persians.
-          Some critics of the Bible point out an apparent historical error in an attempt to disprove the accuracy of the bible by saying that the last king to rule Babylon before being destroyed by the Medes and Persians, was a man by the name of Nabonidus, not Belshazzar. Secondly, Belshazzar was never a king of Babylon. And third, the Bible refers to Nebuchadnezzar as the father of Belshazzar, which he was not.
-          Is the Bible wrong? Belshazzar’s name is found on the Nabonidus Cylinder (fig. 6) where he is mentioned as the son of King Nabonidus. Some translations of the bible state that Nebuchadnezzar was his father, the Hebrew word for father can also be translated into English as meaning grandfather or ancestor. Belshazzar was a bloodline descendent of Nebuchadnezzar. The same goes for the fact that the Bible calls Belshazzar a king. Even though historical records do not mention he was a king, the Hebrew word for king can also be interpreted as governor, or prince. History records that he was both.
-          Nabonidus, who ruled Babylon from 556-539 BC, mentions his firstborn son Belshazzar on an inscription found in the city of Ur in 1853. The inscription reads:
“May it be that I, Nabonidus, king of Babylon, never fail you. And may my firstborn, Belshazzar, worship you with all his heart.”

-          Another piece of evidence for Belshazzar’s reign in the city of Babylon comes from an inscription, where he is referred to as the son of Nabonidus and is given authority to rule.
“Putting the camp under the rule of his oldest son . . . His hands were now free; He entrusted the authority of the royal throne to him.”

-          Yet even another piece of evidence comes from a tablet dating back to the sixth century in Babylon, where Belshazzar is mentioned in the same light as his father:
“In regards to the bright star which has appeared, I will undertake to interpret its meaning for the glory of my lord Nabonidus, Babylon’s king, and also for the crown prince, Belshazzar”

This archaeological evidence confirms the biblical account of Belshazzar. The evidence found confirms that Belshazzar had a co-reigning authority that was second only to his father. The Bible also supports this when Belshazzar is speaking to Daniel in chapter 5:16:
DA 5:16 “But I personally have heard about you, that you are able to give interpretations and solve difficult problems. Now if you are able to read the inscription and make its interpretation known to me, you will be clothed with purple and wear a necklace of gold around your neck, and you will have authority as the third ruler in the kingdom.”
Daniel 5:16 (NASB)

We also know that at the time the Medes and Persians captured Babylon, Nabonidus was not living in the city of Babylon, but was staying in a place called Tema in Arabia, leaving his son back home in charge of governing the kingdom. King Cyrus of Persia also refers to Belshazzar when he conquered Babylon in his writings:
“A coward was put in charge as the king of this country…With evil intents he did away with the regular offerings to the gods…and desecrated the worship of the king of his gods, Marduk.”

Darius the Mede

Daniel 5:30-31 states the following:
DA 5:30 That same night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was slain.
DA 5:31 So Darius the Mede received the kingdom at about the age of sixty-two.
Daniel 5:30-31 (NASB)

The Babylonian Chronicles (fig. 3) tell us the exact date, which Babylon fell, October 13, 539 BC.
-          According to historical records a man named Gubaru, a Mede, was appointed by King Cyrus to be ruler in Babylon at this time.  Gubaru was born in 601 BC, which would make him 62 years old when he invaded Babylon. Exactly the age found in Daniel 5:31 of Darius the Mede.
-          The Babylonian record of Darius the Mede’s conquest of Babylon is given below:
“In the month of Tashritu, at the time when Cyrus battled the forces of Akkad in Opis on the Tigris River, the citizens of Akkad revolted against him, but Nabonidus scattered his opposition with a great slaughter. On the 14th day, Sippar was taken without a fight. Nabonidus then fled for his life. On the 16th day, Gubaru the leader of Gutium along with the army of Cyrus entered Babylon without any opposition. Later they arrested Nabonidus when he returned to Babylon. On the third day of the month of Arahshamnu, Cyrus marched into Babylon, and they laid down green branches in front of him. The city was no longer at war, Peace being restored. Cyrus then sent his best wishes to the residents living there. His governor, Gubaru, then installed leaders to govern over all Babylon.”

-          This account says that Darius the Mede installed sub-governors in Babylon. The Bible says the same thing, and the prophet Daniel was one of them:
DA 6:1 It seemed good to Darius to appoint 120 satraps over the kingdom, that they would be in charge of the whole kingdom,
DA 6:2 and over them three commissioners (of whom Daniel was one), that these satraps might be accountable to them, and that the king might not suffer loss.
DA 6:3 Then this Daniel began distinguishing himself among the commissioners and satraps because he possessed an extraordinary spirit, and the king planned to appoint him over the entire kingdom.
DA 6:4 Then the commissioners and satraps began trying to find a ground of accusation against Daniel in regard to government affairs; but they could find no ground of accusation or evidence ofcorruption, inasmuch as he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption was to be found in him.
Daniel 6:1-4 (NASB)

-          As far as his name goes, historians believe that the name Darius was not a proper name at all, but a title of honor meaning “Holder of the Scepter.” In other words “The Scepter Holder (King) of the Medes.”
-          The Jewish historian Josephus also recorded that: “Darius the Mede, who along with his relative, Cyrus the King of Persia, brought an end to the Babylonian empire. Darius was the son of Astyages.”


Daniel, along with others of his age, were taken to Babylon in 605 BC to be educated (Dan. 1:4).
-          Before three years had passed, Daniel, as a result of interpret­ing a dream for Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 2:1-45), was elevated to the important position of chief of the“wise men,” upon whom the king depended for counsel. Daniel apparently retained this position for a long time, because years later Nebuchadnezzar still re­ferred to him as “chief of the magi­cians” (Dan. 4:9).
-          By the time of Belshazzar’s rule, this king needed to be reminded that Daniel was available to interpret the writing on the palace wall (Dan. 5:10-12).
-          At the time of the Persian conquest of Babylon, when Daniel could not have been less than 80 years old, he was still retained by the new regime in a position of high responsibility. In fact, he was made one of the three presidents who superintended the re­spective governors of Persia’s 120 prov­inces (Dan. 6:1-2).

According to Professor William Shea from Andrews University a Babylonian inscription may record the actual names of Daniel’s three friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. Daniel 1:6-7 states the following:
DA 1:6 Now among them from the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.
DA 1:7 Then the commander of the officials assigned new names to them; and to Daniel he assignedthe name Belteshazzar, to Hananiah Shadrach, to Mishael Meshach and to Azariah Abednego.
Daniel 1:6-7 (NASB)

-          The Istanbul Prism of Nebuchadnezzar is a clay prism found in Babylon, housed in the Istanbul museum, which gives a list of men and their titles. Three men listed on the prism have pronunciations, which are very similar to the names of Daniel’s three friends. Whether or not they are the actual men mentioned in the bible is uncertain.
-          Found on the list is the name Arbenebo, Official of the Royal Prince. This name is the equivalent to the Aramaic name Abednego and may in fact be the first mention of one of Daniel’s friends found outside of the Bible.
-          Another name found on the list is Hannunu, Commander of the king’s merchants. The name Hannunu may be the Babylonian equivalent for the Hebrew name Hananiah.
-          Another name found on the list is Meshaku, Official to Nebuchadnezzar. Meshaku is very similar in pronunciation to Meshach.
-          Each of these men held an administrative position in Babylon just as Daniel 2:49states.

Daniel chapter 4 states that Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had a dream that troubled him. So he called in the prophet Daniel to interpret his dream. Daniel told him that the following would happen to the king because of his pride:
DA 4:24 this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king:
DA 4:25 that you be driven away from mankind and your dwelling place be with the beasts of the field, and you be given grass to eat like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven; and seven periods of time will pass over you, until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.
DA 4:26 ‘And in that it was commanded to leave the stump with the roots of the tree, your kingdom will be assured to you after you recognize that it is Heaven that rules.
Daniel 4:24-26 (NASB)

-          One year latter the dream became reality. Daniel 4:30 states that the king spoke with great pride saying: “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?”
-          While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven:“King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you! ..... and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.”
-          A similar quote of Nebuchadnezzar has been found outside the bible that is almost identical to his statement in Daniel 4:30. The inscription known as The East India House Inscription (fig. 7), records Nebuchadnezzar’s building activities in Babylon and states the following:
“My name will be remembered throughout history for all time because I turned Babylon and Esagila into a mighty fortress.”

God caused this mighty ruler to go insane for seven seasons to teach him a lesson that God reigns supreme.
-          Actual Babylonian records from Nebuchadnezzar himself also record the seven season period of his insanity:
“For four years my kingdom gave me no joy. During this time, not one building of any importance did I issue to be built. And in Babylon itself, no building was erected to pay tribute to my name or to give me glory. I did not sing praises to Merodach, my god, nor did I provide his sacrificial table with offerings, nor did I clean any of the waterways.”

-          In Babylon only two seasons were counted, Summer and Winter. Thus 7 seasons equals 3 1/2 years. And Nebuchadnezzar stated he did not delight in his kingdom for 4 years.

Another amazing fact about the book of Daniel is that in 1947 the first of the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered. They contained fragments of all the books of the Old Testament except the book of Esther. Among them is a copy of Daniel.
-          Chapters 2:4 through chapters 7:28 are written in the ancient Aramaic language known as Chaldee (the language of Babylon), the same language used in documents of the 7th century BC. This is another confirmation of the fact that the events spoken of in the book of Daniel were written down by Daniel during the time of his captivity in Babylon.

Life in Babylon

The Hebrew cap­tives enjoyed freedom of movement in the land of Babylon.
-          Ezekiel even had his own house (Ezek. 8:1). The elders were also at liberty to visit him there.
-          The freedom accorded Jehoiachin, after lib­eration from prison by Amel-marduk, testifies similarly. He was given food and other provisions at the court for the remainder of his life and may even have been granted some authority to rule, for it is stated that he was given a “seat of honor” above that of other kings with him in Babylon (2 Kings 25:28).
       Cuneiform tablets (fig. 8) found by Weidner in Babylon agree with these biblical notations. They identify Jehoiachin as “King of the land of Judah,” and indicate that he and his five sons received liberal allowances of oil and food. They state further that the sons were in the care of an attendant, suggesting that servants were actually provided for the family.

The captives were also employed. Nebuchadnezzar had taken craftsmen and artisans, particularly in the captivity of 597 B.C. (2 Kings 24:14-16).
-          According to the Bible, appar­ently Nebuchadnezzar planned to put them to work in skilled trades.
-          Evidence of this is also found in the many business tablets (fig. 9) discovered at Nippur on the canal Kabari, which contain Jewish names in a context showing that they were active in business: renting, buy­ing, and selling. The tablets date from the fifth century and so repre­sent the Jewish situation after the exiles had been in Babylonia for more than a hundred years, but they imply that similar conditions had existed for some time.

Persia’s rise to power under Cyrus the Great (559-530), was climaxed by the conquest of Babylonia.
-          Cyrus’s father was Cambyses I, a vassal king of Median King Astyages.
-          When Cyrus took the throne after his father’s death, he began to plot the overthrow of the Median king, who was also his grandfather.
-          Naboni­dus, last king of Babylon, had ambi­tions to rebuild the temple of the moon god Sin at Haran, and he entered into an alliance with Cyrus to take the city out of the control of the Medes. With the assistance of Babylon, Cyrus re­belled against Astyages and by 550 BC had added Media to his empire.
-          Nabonidus now began to fear Cyrus and made alliances with both Amasis of Egypt (569-525) and Croesus of Lydia (560-546).
       To counter this threat Cyrus marched through northern Mesopotamia and into Cappadocia (eastern Asia Minor) and neutralized the Lydian threat. Cyrus had now ex­tended his boundaries as far west as the Aegean Sea.

-          Cyrus spent time enlarging his eastern boundary as far as India.
-          In 539 BC Cyrus marched on Babylon. Defeat came easy.
       Accounts from both the Cyrus Cylinder (fig. 10) and Nabonidus Inscriptions both confirm this.
       The decisive engagement was not fought at Babylon but at Opis on the Tigris to the north, where Cyrus was victorious. His officer, Ugbaru, was then able to take Babylon itself without a fight. This was in 539 BC.
       The Persian monarch treated Baby­lon with consideration. The city was not looted, nor were the religious or civil institutions changed. The result was that a transfer of allegiance to him was brought about with a minimum of disturb­ance.

Nearly one 160 years before king Cyrus was even born, God declared to the prophet Isaiah that he would raise up this man, a shepherd, to rebuild his city. Even though at the time of Isaiah, Jerusalem was prospering and would not be destroyed for another 100 years by Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon. God’s prophecy begins at Isaiah 44:28:
ISA 44:28 “It is I who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd! And he will perform all My desire.’ And he declares of Jerusalem, ‘ She will be built,’ And of the temple, ‘ Your foundation will be laid.’ ”
Isaiah 44:28 (NASB)

The 5th century BC, Greek historian, Herodotus (fig. 11) records the story of how Cyrus escaped death at the time of his birth and how he was brought up by a shepherd who wasn’t his father. Thus, fulfilling God’s spoken word to the prophet Isaiah. Herodotus wrote,
 “Astyages, the son of Cyaxares, became king. He had a fascinating dream concerning his daughter Mandane. In his dream he envisioned a stream of water flowing from her that flooded his capital as well as Asia. He told this vision to the Magi who had the gift of interpreting dreams, and who gave its meaning to him, whereas he became greatly terrified . . .  Learning that she was now with child and her time for giving birth was near, he sent Mandane away to Persia. When she arrived there, he put a guard over her, with plans to kill the child after she gave birth ( Isaiah 45:10-13); for when the Magi had interpreted the vision they told him that the son of his daughter would reign over Asia instead of him. To keep this from happening, immediately following the birth of Cyrus, Astyages sent for Harpagus, a man of his own house and a faithful Mede, to whom he trusted all his affairs, and addressed him saying . . . Harpagus, take the son born of my daughter Mandane, and steal him away to your house and slay him there. Then bury him as you see fit. When Harpagus had reluctantly agreed, the child was given into his hands, wrapped in the swaddling cloth of death, and he weeping went quickly to his home . . .  speaking, My hands will not carry out his will, nor do I want any part of this murder . . .  After he had said this, he sent a messenger to bring back a man named Mitradates, one of the shepherds  . . .  Coming quickly at his request, the shepherd arrived and Harpagus said to him “Astyages commands you to take this child into the wildest part of the hills, and there abandon him, that he should die a sudden death. And he told me to tell you, that if you do not kill the boy, but allow him to escape, you will be put to the death by the most painful of methods. I myself have been given orders to make sure the child dies. At this command the herdsman took the child into his arms, and traveled back the way he had come till he reached his flocks . . .  With this the shepherd uncovered the infant, and showed him to his wife, who, when she saw how fine and beautiful the child was, broke down into tears, and falling at her husbands knees, begged him not to kill the babe; . . . so the child, whom he was commanded to destroy, was handed over to his wife . . .”

-          Thus, Cyrus was raised to be a shepherd, fulfilling God’s word to Isaiah.
-          The second part of Isaiah’s prophecy states that Cyrus would declare Jerusalem and the temple to be rebuilt. According to the Bible, King Cyrus of Persia invaded the Empire of Babylon bringing its downfall.
-          The following is an account from King Cyrus, which was found inscribed on a clay barrel now on display in the British Museum, called the Cyrus Cylinder (fig. 10). He mentions how he conquered Babylon, returned exiles to their former lands, returned the articles of worship to the sacred cities, and commanded that the temples where they worshiped be rebuilt. The inscription reads:
“The number of men in his army were so great, resembling that of water in a river, which could not be counted, marched forward, their weapons stashed away. Without engaging the enemy, he was able to enter Babylon without causing any damage to the city. Into my hands, Nabonidus was delivered, the king who did not worship him . . . “To the sacred cities located on the other side of the Tigris river, I sent back to the ruins of their holy places, the articles which were used in their sanctuaries.  I also allowed to return to their homes the former citizens of the land, . . .  I also made an effort to repair their dwelling places.”

Cyrus ruled as king for nine years following his Babylonian victory. Finally, in 530 BC, while leading his army into the far north, he was fatally wounded. His body was returned to Pasargadae, the Persian capital, for burial.
-          Cyrus was buried in a stone tomb (fig. 12) outside his capital of Pasargadae in modern Iran. According to the Greek historian Strabo (1st century AD), this inscription once graced the structure, “Oh man, I am Cyrus, the son of Cambyses, who founded the empire of Persia, and was king of Asia. Grudge me not therefore this monument.”

Cambyses II (530-522): Cyrus was succeeded by his son, Cambyses II.
-          Cambyses’s great­est accomplishment was his conquest of Egypt, which he added to his already huge territory in 525 BC.
-          When en route home in 522 BC Cambyses received news that one Gaumata had seized the Persian throne, masquerading as Smerdis, the brother whom Cambyses had assassi­nated.
-          Cambyses’s sudden death at this point has given rise to numerous conflicting stories. It is frequently as­sumed that he committed suicide, al­though this is not certain.

Darius I (522 -486): One of Cambyses’s officers, Darius I, son of the satrap, Hystaspes, and a descendant of a secondary branch of the royal line of Persia, now assumed command of the army and marched home to put down the insurrection and seize the throne.
-          He was successful in both, putting the pretender to death and taking the throne for himself.
-          There was some rebellion in the empire, but within two years, he had the empire back under control.
-          He considered the overall triumph sufficiently important to have a record made of it high on a mountain cliff beside the road to Ecbatana. This inscription, which has come to be called the Behistun Inscrip­tion (fig. 13), was written in three languages and has proven invaluable in modern time for providing the key to reading Old Akkadian.
-          While he did maintain his boarders, Darius suffered a humiliating de­feat at the hands of the Greeks in the famous battle of Marathon, 490 BC. He planned revenge, but a revolt in Egypt demanded his attention for a time, and his own death came in 486 B.C. before he was able to retaliate.
-          Darius also gave permission to renew the rebuilding of the Hebrew Temple(Ezra 6:1-12), which had been discontinued for some 10 years.
-          Darius is the first of three monumental tombs (fig. 14) cut into a cliff near the Persian capital of Persepolis, Iran. The inscription on his tomb reads:
“King, whoever you are, who may arise after me, protect yourself well from lies. Do not trust the man who lies. … Believe what I did and tell the truth to the people. Do not conceal (it). If you do not conceal these matters, but you do tell the people, may Ahura Mayda protect you.”

-          There are three other tombs at this site, thought to be those of the Persian kings Xerxes (486-465 BC), Artaxerxes I (465-425 BC), and Darius II (423-405 BC).

Xerxes I (486-465): Xerxes I succeeded his father.
-          His first two years were occupied in quelling revolutions, especially in Babylon.
-          In his third year he planned his greatest military campaign, which he hoped would avenge his father’s defeat by the Greeks. At first he was victorious, even capturing Athens and burning the Acropolis. But then his fleet of ships was routed at Salamis, and his army was defeated in 479 BC.
-          Xerxes, who had returned to his capital following the defeat at Salamis, gave up on his attempt to annex Greece.

Artaxerxes I (465-424): The last Persian ruler of note is Artaxerxes I.
-          He succeeded to the throne when the commander of the palace guard, one Artabanus, assassinated his father.
-          In 460 BC he faced a revolt in Egypt, which was put down only after several years of fighting by his satrap of Abar­nahara (Syria and Palestine), Mega­byzus.
-          Difficulty with the Greeks led to further humiliation for the Persian monarch, as he signed a treaty (449 BC) permitting Greek cities in Asia Minor to be free to join in league with Athens.
-          Neither Artaxerxes I nor Xerxes I attained the stature of their predeces­sor, Darius I.


The first return to Judah for the Jews came shortly after the Persian conquest of Babylon, 538 BC (Ezra 1:1), led by Sheshbazzar. The second came 80 years later, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes I, 458 BC (Ezra 7:7), led by Ezra. And the third came 13 years after the second, in the 20th year of Arta­xerxes I, 444 BC (Neh. 2:1), led by Nehemiah.

Edict of Cyrus (2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4; 6:3-5)

The tolerant attitude of Cyrus toward his subjects included permission for people, who had been deported by Babylon, to return to their home­lands.
-          Cyrus extended this permission to the people of Judah in the first year after the fall of Babylon.
-          Cyrus’ edict is recorded twice in Scripture: Ezra 1:2-4 and Ezra 6:3-5.
-          They give orders that the Jerusalem temple be rebuilt, with the cost defrayed from Cyrus’ own treasury; that certain specifications be met in this rebuilding; that all Jews who wished could return to their homeland, with those Jews who remained in Baby­lon being urged to assist with financial contribution; and that the gold and silver vessels taken by Nebuchadnezzar be returned to Jerusalem.

Presumably the return occurred soon after the issuance of the decree, likely in 538 or 537 BC.
-          It was led by Sheshbaz­zar, called a “prince of Judah” (Ezra 1:8).
-          Those who made the journey are listed in Ezra 2, with their number indicated as 42,360, besides 7,337 serv­ants (Ezra 2:64-65).
-          This is a substan­tial number, but it did not include all the Jews who lived in the East.

Building the Temple (Ezra 3-6)

A prime order of business on arriving in the homeland was the rebuilding of the temple.
-          Construction on the temple did begin soon after arrival in the land. Ezra 3:8states that the people were led in by Zerubba­bel and Joshua (Jeshua), the high priest, though apparently Sheshbaz­zar was in charge (Ezra 5:16).
-          They first erected the altar and rein­stated the prescribed sacrifices. Later, in the second month of the second year they commenced work on the temple. The first step was laying the founda­tion. When it was completed, the people celebrated. Many rejoiced, but others, who could remember the glory of the former Solomonic Temple, wept openly (Ezra 3:8-12). They could see that the new temple would be more modest than the former.
-          At this point, opposition from Samaritans to the north began (Ezra 4:1-5).Besides this outside interference, the Jewish workers on the temple began to use more of their time for rebuilding their own houses and farming their own lands(Hag. 1:3-11). It was not long before all work ceased, with the result that the temple remained little more than a foundation until the sec­ond year of Darius I, 520 BC(Hag. 1:1), some 16 years later.
-          In Darius’s second year, the prophets Haggai and Zechariah urged that building opera­tions be resumed. They addressed both the people in general and Zerubbabel and Joshua, who were still in command.
-          Their prophetic efforts were fruitful and work did begin in the sixth month of the year (Hag. 1:15; Ezra 5:1-2).
-          Four years later, in the sixth year of Darius I, 515 BC (Ezra 6:15), the temple was com­pleted.
Darius I ruled Persia until 486 BC, followed by Xerxes I, who ruled until 465 BC. It was during the rule of Xerxes that Esther was queen. Then came Artaxerxes I, during whose seventh year the second return occurred.
-          The second return was led by Ezra (Ezra 7:6, 10).
-          Ezra was known to Artaxerxes (fig. 15), for he had attained a position of some standing at the court.
-          In some undisclosed manner he persuaded the king to permit him to travel to Judah for the purpose of effecting needed reforms.
-          From the fact that Nehemiah found it necessary much later (444 BC) to come and build Jerusalem’s walls, it is clear that little was done in reconstructing the capital city apart from erecting homes.
-          From Ezra’s confession of the people’s sin in intermarriage with surrounding pagans (Ezra 9:1-15), we know of interaction with neighboring peoples, which raised the possibility of a return to the old idolatrous worship, which always seemed to accompany intermarriage.

Like Sheshbazzar 80 years before, Ezra received notable privileges from the Persian monarch in connection with his return.
-          These privileges included authority to take as many of his countrymen with him as desired the opportunity; to receive from Jews in Persia, as well as from Artaxerxes him­self and his court counselors, gold and silver for the Jerusalem temple; to draw upon the royal treasury of the satrapy of Abarnahara for needs that might arise; to purchase animals for sacrifice at the temple; to exempt temple per­sonnel from Persian taxation; and to appoint civil magistrates in the land of Judah to enforce the laws of Yahweh, with power of life and death over the guilty.
-          Ezra’s interest and assigned task was thus not to build the country materially, as it had been with the first return and would be again with the third, but to build the people socially and spiritually. Reform was needed that the people might live more pleas­ingly in the sight of God.
-          Ezra assem­bled those who wished to return at the river Ahava (unknown, but probably near Babylon). The size of the group is indicated by the number of men, ap­proximately 1,500, a number much smaller than that of the first return.
-          Final departure occurred the twelfth day of the first month (458 BC) and arrival in Jerusalem the first day of the fifth month (Ezra 7:9; 8:31), a journey of just over three and one-half months.
-          Upon arrival Ezra began to address the issue of intermarriage of a number of Jews with surrounding peoples. 

THE THIRD RETURN (Nehemiah 1-13)

The third return, that of Nehemiah, came in the 20th year of  Artaxerxes I, 444 BC(Neh. 1:1). Nehemiah’s purpose lay in the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls.
-          No indica­tion is given regarding the number of Jews who went along in this return, but­ there were enough to warrant the Persian king providing “army officers and cavalry” (Neh. 2:9) to act as guards.
-          Nehemiah held a responsible posi­tion at the Persian court, as cupbearer to King Artaxerxes. He had direct access to the king to speak intimately regarding a return to Jerusalem.
-          Nehemiah was granted unusual privilege, like Shesh­bazzar and Ezra before him, in connection with the return.
-          In 444 BC the king noticed sadness on Nehemiah’s face one day and asked the reason. Nehemiah told him of Jerusalem’s plight, asked if he might journey there to help, and even requested letters to officials in Abarna­hara to grant him safe passage and material aid for rebuilding. The Persian monarch responded with an affirmative answer and granted him all for which he asked, thus cheering and encourag­ing his faithful servant’s heart. He further assigned army officers and cav­alry to convey Nehemiah safely over the many miles of travel.

Nehemiah Builds the Wall (Nehemiah 2:11-6:19)

On arrival, Nehemiah set himself quickly to the task of rebuilding Jerusa­lem’s walls.
-          Workers were quickly recruited, both from Jerusalem and outlying cit­ies; and all were assigned particular sections of the wall on which to labor.
-          The work moved for­ward with opposition from the outside.
-          The king had given Nehemiah full authority for the task, but ene­mies still did their best to hinder the work. Heading the opposition was the governor of Samaria, Sanballat the Horonite of Bethhoron; (Neh. 2:10).
o       At first these adversaries were con­tent merely to mock (Neh. 2:19-20; 4:1-3). Then plans were laid to attack Jerusalem (Neh. 4:7-8). News of this terror­ized the Jews, but Nehemiah responded by dividing the builders into two groups, one to continue building and the other to bear arms. In this way the work progressed, though more slowly.
o       A schedule was kept from dawn until dark to achieve as much speed as possible. During the night, a heavy guard was posted to protect what had been accomplished. All this was effec­tive and resulted in the main attack being called off though smaller raids were conducted on outlying districts.
o       The work of rebuilding was completed in only 52 days, amazing in view of the opposition, and much to the consternation and displeas­ure of the enemies.

An Elephantine Papyrus (fig. 16), which dates back to about 407 BC, actually makes mention of Sanballat. The letter was found in the ancient city of Elephantine and was written by the priests who lived there requesting authorization to rebuild a Jewish temple in the city. In the letter, they describe how the Jewish temple in the city had been destroyed by the priests of a Pagan Egyptian god. They make the whole incident known to Delaiah and Shelemaiah, the sons of Sanballat governor of Samaria.

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