Book of Daniel -Abydenus and Megasthenes

Posted by on Jun 20, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Book of Daniel -Abydenus and Megasthenes

Abydenus and Megasthenes

While we do not have the exact dates of Abydenus’ birth nor his death, it is believed that he probably wrote his work entitled the “History of the Chaldeans and Assyrians” around 200 BC. As well as Berossus, we know that Abydenus made use of the works of Megasthenes (350 -290 BC) who was an ancient Greek historian and diplomat. The Byzantine chronicler and ecclesiastic George Syncellus (d. after 810 AD) is also said to have preserved fragments during his lifetime. These he preserved, it is believed, in his own work entitled the “Extract of Chronography”. This work would later be continued by his friend Theophanes (758 – 817 AD)

The fragments of ancient writers and apocryphal books preserved in it made it especially valuable. For instance, considerable portions of the original text of the Chronicle of Eusebius were restored by the aid of George Syncellus’ work. One important fragment of Abydenus’s work appears to clear up some difficulties in Assyrian history. This fragment has been discovered in the Armenian translation of the Chronicon of Eusebius.

Abydenus states that Megasthenes wrote that Nebuchadnezzar became more powerful than Hercules. He makes mention of his invasions and exploits conquering vast areas of lands. What he says next is very intriguing. He says, “It is moreover related by the Chaldæans, that as he went up into his palace he was possessed by some god; and he cried out and said: “Oh! Babylonians, I, Nabucodrosorus, foretel unto you a calamity which must shortly come to pass, which neither Belus my ancestor, nor his queen Beltis, have power to persuade the Fates to turn away. A Persian mule shall come, and by the assistance of your gods shall impose upon you the yoke of slavery; the author of which shall be a Mede, the vain glory of Assyria. Before he should thus betray my subjects, Oh! that some sea or whirlpool might receive him, and his memory be blotted out for ever; or that he might be cast out to wander through some desert, where there are neither cities nor the trace of men, a solitary exile among rocks and caverns where beasts and birds alone abide. But for me, before he shall have conceived these mischiefs in his mind, a happier end will be provided. When he had thus prophesied, he expired.”

Keep an open mind as to the timing of each event in the writing as that may well be a summary as opposed to one event immediately after another. Remember, Megasthenes was also working from fragments that formed his work. I mention this because of what we read in this section. Notice the phrase “he was possessed by some god” in his palace. This could easily be the way the fragment explained the scene by the writer. That could not have been Daniel as he would not have used language like that in describing God possessing someone. Notice the writer of the fragment states that Nebuchadnezzar mentions a calamity that will soon come to pass which none of his false gods have told him about nor do they have any power to stop the calamity. Disrespectful tones of a “Persian mule” and a “Mede author” are used to describe who will overthrow the Babylonians. Finally, Nebuchadnezzar goes into somewhat of a rant about whom he says will defeat his nation. He seems to know, however, that before that happens, he will die in happier circumstances. This portion of the passage concludes by saying that Nebuchadnezzar died after prophesying these things.

We can immediately see the events that the writer of the fragment says Nebuchadnezzar described as the same events which occurred in the second chapter of Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar, nor any of the Chaldeans, were able to tell the king the dream he had, let alone interpret it. Indeed, the writer says that Nebuchadnezzar acknowledges that his gods are unable to tell him either. Only Daniel’s God could provide the information. Nebuchadnezzar appears to be speaking in the past tense because he already knows that the Medes and Persians will overthrow his kingdom. He could only have known that because of what Daniel had revealed to him before he utters such words written by the writer of the fragment. Daniel had told Nebuchadnezzar that the defeat of his kingdom would not come in his lifetime. Hence, the comment that Nebuchadnezzar would die in happier times. Megasthenes (who, by the way, uses the name Nabucodrosorus for Nebuchadnezzar) makes mention of the succession of kings after Nebuchadnezzar from Amel-Marduk to Nabonidus.

What comes next is equally intriguing. Megasthenes goes on to say, “Nabuchodonosor having succeeded to the kingdom, built the walls of Babylon in a triple circuit in fifteen days; and he turned the river Armacale, a branch of the Euphrates, and the Acracanus: and above the city of Sippara he dug a receptacle for the waters, whose perimeter was forty parasangs, and whose depth was twenty cubits; and he placed gates at the entrance thereof, by opening which they irrigated the plains, and these they call Echetognomones (sluices): and he constructed dykes against the irruptions of the Erythraean sea, and built the city of Teredon to check the incursions of the Arabs; and he adorned the palaces with trees, calling them hanging gardens.” Remember this last sentence that we will refer back to, namely, the hanging gardens, upon our discussion on Daniel chapter four.

Much of what we have read today is contained in Eusebius Chronicon (or Chronicle) which we will refer to again in the next several blogs.

Read More

BOOK OF DANIEL-The Mystery of King Sargon II

Posted by on Jun 19, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on BOOK OF DANIEL-The Mystery of King Sargon II

The Mystery of King Sargon II

One of the reasons why Berossus’s writings have not survived can only be guessed at. We do, however, have sufficient evidence that the man actually lived by the many writings others have written about his work. It is said a statue of Berossus was also erected in honor of him in Athens, Greece.

Going back to why no one has uncovered any connection with the Babylonians to confirm the text of the Bible- it is not surprising for several reasons. One reason could be that evidence simply has not been uncovered so far. We seem to think that the landscape we see today is the same that our distant ancestors saw. This is simply not the case. For a variety of reasons, both the natural land mass and man-made structures have indeed changed. Through sediment, water erosion and gravity, ancient structures and roads that people frequented and walked upon are no longer visible. Some have simply disintegrated over time whereas others, for the reasons mentioned, lay beneath the surface where many people stand today. Now. I am not suggesting that you start digging or go out and buy a detector to map the surface. My point is simply this. Just because we cannot see or find something that the Bible wrote about does not mean the event or the structure did not exist. Indeed, archaeologists have found thousands of items that support much of the Bible record. The Dead Sea Scrolls are just one example. Interestingly, in my book “Defending the Bible Against “Christians” published by Westbow 2014, page 268, I make mention of the French archaeologist, Paul-Émile Botta (1802 –1870). While working as the French Consul in Mosul he was encouraged to spend time excavating certain sites. During the latter part of 1842 and 1843 he discovered the remains of a huge Assyrian palace which contained a large number of chambers and corridors. The walls were lined with slabs that had sculptured representations of gods and kings as well as depictions of battle scenes and religious ceremonies. Botta thought he had discovered Nineveh but it was not Nineveh. It was Dur-Sharrukin, the capital of Assyria in the time of King Sargon II (765-705 BC). His find was even better than that. He had, in fact, found the very palace of Sargon II.

You may be wondering what significance this story has on our study. Let me explain. Up until Botta’s discovery in 1842/3 King Sargon II appeared very little, if at all, in any classical resources. Many critics prior to that time even concluded that Sargon II was not even a proper king at all but rather an alias of some other ruler. But Sargon was known to God. He saw to it to mention this king by name in a single Scripture which is found in Isaiah 20:1. Botta’s find uncovered over two hundred rooms and thirty courtyards. It contained reliefs and inscriptions to King Sargon himself. Here is my point and why I believe it is worth our time in reading these things. The arrogance of man is that if something doesn’t fit with their so-called “intelligentsia” then it must be wrong or false. If God has spoken about it in His word and it doesn’t surface under a person’s nose in the form of factual evidence then immediately God and His word are branded false and untrue. When occasions like this arise I find such arrogance irritating, to say the least. To question the Most High God as if He is inferior to His creation is beyond any logical comprehension of correct thought. For these so-called “experts” to say they know better than God and He cannot be correct or, worse, that He doesn’t even exist, is an attitude of willful insubordination. One name… one Scripture… is all it took… to eventually prove by the excavation of facts, two and a half thousand years later, that God’s word is the ultimate truth.

So, when we are told that the works of Berossus are no longer in existence, should we suddenly count it as nothing and ignore it. No, not at all. As we move on in this brief history lesson you will see what many others wrote about Berossus’ work and who clearly did gain some level of access to his original work in some shape or other. The Roman author and architect, Marcus Vitruvius Pollio (c.80 – c15 BC) made at least three entries referring to Berossus in his book known today as The Ten Books on Architecture. He wrote, “Berosus, who travelled into Asia from the state or country of the Chaldeans, teaching his doctrines, maintained that the moon was a ball, half whereof was luminous, and the remaining half of a blue colour; and that when, in its course, it approached the sun; attracted by the rays and the force of the heat, it turned its bright side in that direction, from the sympathy existing between light and light; whence, when the sun is above it, the lower part, which is not luminous, is not visible, from the similarity of its colour to the air. When thus perpendicular to the sun’s rays, all the light is confined to its upper surface, and it is then called the new moon.” (Book IX, chapter 2.1); “The talent, the ingenuity, and reputation of those who come from the country of the Chaldeans are manifest from the discoveries they have left us in writing. Berosus was the first of them. He settled in the island and state of Cos, and there established a school.” (Book IX, Chapter 6.2); “Berosus the Chaldean, was the inventor of the semicircle, hollowed in a square, and inclined according to the climate. (Book IX, chapter 8.1)

 

In our next blog, we will meet a man by the name of Abydenus.

Read More

BOOK OF DANIEL- The Man Berossus

Posted by on Jun 18, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on BOOK OF DANIEL- The Man Berossus

The Man Berossus

You will recall from our last blog that I mentioned that several non-biblical narratives potentially support the content of Daniel which I said I would highlight before we move forward into our study of Daniel chapter four. Please be aware before I move forward that nothing I mention in the following blog or blogs in reference to these non-biblical sources should be considered higher than the source of the Bible. Indeed, I am fully aware that many will argue that the sources I mention do not support all, or any, of the Bible text under discussion. That may appear a contradictory statement versus what I said in the previous blog which, in fact, it is not.

One of the biggest arguments as to Nebuchadnezzar mentioning his seven-year absence from his throne (if, indeed, it was literally seven years) due to his madness is that he would not have broadcasted about his illness. But to make such a blanket statement ignores the fact that he most certainly could have, and the Bible tells us that he did.

One of the principal arguments that others support is that there is not one instance of Nebuchadnezzar’s madness mentioned in any records other than the Bible. But is that true?

As we attempt to answer these charges we will meet several men who wrote several points on the history of the Chaldeans. They themselves, long silent through death, have been vilified and criticized for their work by some who say that these men had their own agendas. Or they were not accurate in their research. Or that, because one source may be different from another, their work cannot simply be true or correct. But what makes such scholars who voice such things, so confident that who they use as objections were just as guilty as those they argue against? What perhaps, is their agenda?

It is true that much of what I will mention by ancient voices have been lost. In other words, we have neither copies of what they said nor the original documents. Much of what we have are also, for the most part, fragments of their works. And what we do have are writings by several who did see copies of those works and who wrote them down in their own writings.

Our first figure is a man called Berossus. As we have already mentioned, Berossus (who is believed to have been born c.330 -340 BC) was a Babylonian writer, a priest of Bel Marduk and astronomer who wrote in the Koine Greek language. Using ancient Babylonian records and texts that are now lost, Berossus published the Babyloniaca (History of Babylonia) in three books sometime around 290–278 BC. Look what

Tatian (c.120 – 180AD), an early Syrian Christian writer, wrote about Berossus. He said, “Berosus, a Babylonian, a priest of their god Belus, born in the time of Alexander, composed for Antiochus, the third after him, the history of the Chaldeans in three books; and, narrating the acts of the kings, he mentions one of them, Nebuchadnezzar by name, who made war against the Phoenicians and the Jews — events which we know were announced by our prophets, and which happened much later than the age of Moses, seventy years before the Persian empire. But Berosus is a very trustworthy man, and of this Juba is a witness, who, writing concerning the Assyrians, says that he learned the history from Berosus: there are two books of his concerning the Assyrians.” (Address of Tatian to the Greeks chapter 36)

Note also that in the writing of Theophilus to Autolycus we read, “But so far as regards the periods we speak of, we are corroborated by Berosus, the Chaldaean philosopher, who made the Greeks acquainted with the Chaldaean literature, and uttered some things concerning the deluge, and many other points of history, in agreement with Moses; and with the prophets Jeremiah and Daniel also, he spoke in a measure of agreement. For he mentioned what happened to the Jews under the king of the Babylonians, whom he calls Abobassor, and who is called by the Hebrews Nebuchadnezzar. And he also spoke of the temple of Jerusalem; how it was desolated by the king of the Chaldaeans, and that the foundations of the temple having been laid the second year of the reign of Cyrus, the temple was completed in the second year of the reign of Darius.” (Theophilus to Autolycus, Book 3, chapter 29)

One could argue against such critics who are quick to accuse these ancient voices of having their own agenda that Berossus, a pagan priest of the Babylonian false god Marduk certainly could have written the history of the Chaldeans that would have pictured them in good light. But he chose instead to mention several points that are confirmed in the Bible. Note that Tatian says that Berossus mentioned King Nebuchadnezzar by name as well as confirming the seventy-year desolation of Jerusalem, as foretold by Jewish prophets. One of those prophets was certainly Jeremiah who foretold such events. Note Tatian also states that Berossus was a very trustworthy man despite being a pagan.

Theophilus also agrees with Tatian in that much of what he writes says that Borussus corroborates the Biblical record.

We will speak more of Berossus and many others in the next several blogs.

Read More

BOOK OF DANIEL- Other Sources

Posted by on Jun 15, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on BOOK OF DANIEL- Other Sources

Other Sources

Before we embark further into Daniel chapter four, I want to explain several things by way of historical narratives. There are several narratives, all non-biblical, that I believe support the content of Daniel chapter four. The reason I have chosen to do this is because a Christian may, in fact, be challenged by several points in this chapter of Daniel. These challenges may be as follows:

  1. Why does Daniel 4:1-3 and Daniel 4:34-36 not appear, for example, in the Dead Sea Scrolls?
  2. With the absence of these verses in the Dead Sea Scrolls, has someone added them and therefore made up the idea of what Nebuchadnezzar was supposed to have said?
  3. Did Nebuchadnezzar really have a dream of a great tree that represented him that which meant he would become insane for a period of seven years?
  4. Is there evidence of Nebuchadnezzar missing from his kingdom for seven years?
  5. Did Nebuchadnezzar die soon after he returned to power after his absence?

As we attempt to answer the above questions I will tell you now that some of the questions are trivial and are easily answered. Others are, indeed, more challenging, but I hope that when you read the non-biblical narratives of several records you will gain more confidence in support of God’s word. I know I have. Please do not misunderstand me. When I make the comment of gaining more confidence in God’s word I am not in any way suggesting that you nor I have any doubt in God’s word. Rather, by having additional information, it should indeed increase our confidence that the Bible can, and is, to be trusted as the word of God. For some people (unbelievers) – they want everything proven before they believe or they simply could care less as to what God says. With some unbelievers – whatever you say to them, they will never believe. In support of that tragic fact, let me mention two Scriptures. The first is Paul’s message in 1 Corinthians 1:18-24 where he said, “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (NASB) Did you get the point? Paul is saying that some people literally want absolute proof before they believe in something. Sadly, that isn’t realistic. I’ve said before in another published work that the irony is that none of us have ever seen the wind, but we believe in it. But we only see the “effects” of the wind. We never see it literally.

The other Scripture, again from Paul, is in 2 Corinthians 4:1-4 which says “Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (NASB) Here is the proof that no matter what you might say to some people, they are completely blind to the truth of God’s word.

Please know we are continuing to exposit the book of Daniel.  But, in order to understand the challenges that others (unbelievers) will state, we need to briefly depart from that structure due to the narratives that we will discuss. Upon completion of those narratives, we will revert to our verse by verse study.

In the next several blogs you will hear from voices of the past. They are:

Berossus (believed to have been born c.330 -340 BC). He was a Babylonian writer, a priest of Bel Marduk and an astronomer who wrote in the Koine Greek language. Using ancient Babylonian records and texts that are now lost, Berossus published the Babyloniaca (History of Babylonia) in three books sometime around 290–278 BC

Abydenus was a Greek historian and the author of a History of the Chaldeans and Assyrians, of which some fragments were preserved by Eusebius in his Praeparatio Evangelica, and by Cyril of Alexandria in his work against Julian. Several other fragments are preserved by Syncellus. These were particularly valuable for chronology. An important fragment, which clears up some difficulties in Assyrian history, has been discovered in the Armenian translation of the Chronicon of Eusebius. He probably wrote around 200 BC and, as Cyril states, in the Ionic dialect.

Lucius Cornelius Alexander Polyhistor (c. 105 – 35 BC) was a Greek scholar who was enslaved by the Romans. After his release, he continued to live in Italy as a Roman citizen. So productive was his writing that he earned the surname “Polyhistor” (meaning very learned). The majority of his writings are now lost, but the fragments that remain shed valuable light on antiquarian and eastern Mediterranean subjects. Among his works were historical and geographical accounts of nearly all the countries of the ancient world and the book – Upon the Jews. Of some interest for the ancient history of the Jews is his account of Assyria-Babylonia, frequently drawn upon by Jewish and Christian authors. Josephus made use of the work, and likewise, so did Eusebius in his Chronicles.

Titus Flavius Josephus (37 – 100 AD) was a first-century Roman-Jewish scholar, historian, and hagiographer. He is most famous for his works, The Jewish War and Antiquities of the Jews. Another work which is pertinent to our study is Flavius Josephus Against Apion.

Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 260/265 – 339/340 AD), was a historian of Christianity, exegete, and Christian polemicist. He wrote several works, namely, Chronicon, Church History, Life of Constantine, Apology for Origen, and Proof of the Gospel etc.

Read More

BOOK OF DANIEL-Nebuchadnezzar’s Letter

Posted by on Jun 14, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on BOOK OF DANIEL-Nebuchadnezzar’s Letter

Nebuchadnezzar’s Letter

I mentioned recently that many scholars and theologians consider King Nebuchadnezzar came to a saving faith in God. Rather than spend too much time in trying to answer this view let me say this. It is indeed possible that he could have but we simply do not know for certain. To anyone who is concerned with wanting to categorically insist in knowing, I would simply state this. If he was saved, that is wonderful. But if that be the case, does that provide any basis for your own salvation? Of course, it doesn’t. Therefore, my suggestion is to concentrate on ensuring you are doing everything possible by faithfully serving the Lord who has promised that those who believe in Him and are truly born again are members of His household.

To answer the teaser I left with you prior to this blog, as to Nebuchadnezzar writing Daniel chapter four, that is true. It is true in the sense that Daniel chapter four is Nebuchadnezzar’s very own testimony. Daniel 4:1 opens in the style of a letter saying, “Nebuchadnezzar the king to all the peoples, nations, and men of every language that live in all the earth: “May your peace abound!” (NASB) Whether this was an actual letter or not, we are not told. If it was, then it was most likely recorded on a clay tablet written in cuneiform script. [Cuneiform script was one of the earliest systems of writing. It is distinguished by its wedge-shaped marks on clay tablets, made by means of a blunt reed for a stylus.] By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Daniel would have written what Nebuchadnezzar had written or said. Given the fact that it appears that what Nebuchadnezzar goes on to describe in Daniel chapter four were events that happened long after what we saw in chapter three,  it is unlikely to be referring to the same event as when Nebuchadnezzar had all the officials present at the worship of the golden image in chapter three. Indeed, what is described in Daniel 4:1 is a letter “to all the peoples, nations, and men of every language that live in all the earth” which clearly denotes every person who was under the rule of the Babylonians. It is certainly more logical to assume that Nebuchadnezzar would have ordered such a letter [in the likely form of a clay tablet] to be copied and distributed across the empire of Babylon. Daniel would have had no problem in viewing the content of such a letter in this way. Nebuchadnezzar’s message of “May your peace abound” was not something foreign to the Babylonians nor used only by the Jews. Such greetings were used throughout the ancient world.

Daniel 4:2 contains a key difference in the text which to someone simply glossing over the verse will miss. But its significance is far-reaching. The Scripture reads, “It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me.” (NASB) There it is. At the end of the verse, Nebuchadnezzar says “for me”. Why is that significant, you might ask? If you read the text in the thought that his utterance was the next thing he spoke or wrote after releasing the three young Hebrews from the fiery furnace in chapter three, then that is a mistake. You will recall he does bless the Hebrews’ God for delivering the three young men. Then he warns anyone who speaks against the Hebrews’ God of immediate death and subsequently promotes the three Hebrews to higher office. But he offers no worship to the true God himself at that point.

For my comment to make sense to you I would encourage you to read the entire fourth chapter of Daniel in your own time. By doing so, you will immediately see that Nebuchadnezzar’s declaration (which he repeats at the end of the chapter) is connected to what has already happened to him by the events contained in the chapter. Your reading will not encroach upon the exposition of the chapter, for we will detail the contents of the chapter as usual. But it will give you clarity about Nebuchadnezzar and his response to what happened to him and how he finally submitted to God. Those are the signs and wonders he is talking about, that God had done “for him”. He finally gets it! He has been fighting God all along and God humbles him. Neither do I believe that he is ignoring the events of Daniel interpreting the dream in chapter two nor the sign of God’s supremacy over the protection of the three young Hebrews in chapter three. But what happens to him personally in Daniel chapter four finally brings him to the realization of the one true God and his recognition that the Most High God – hence, his declaration the God has done it “for me”.

Read More