BOOK OF DANIEL -Questions-Questions-Questions

Posted by on Jul 17, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on BOOK OF DANIEL -Questions-Questions-Questions

Questions, Questions, Questions.

Sorry for the lengthy absence folks! We are now back up and running.

So, was our history exercise futile or did we manage to answer the questions we set for ourselves? Can we satisfactorily give valid answers to the questions I posed? By way of reminder, the questions were:

Why does Daniel 4:1-3 and Daniel 4:34-36 not appear, for example, in the Dead Sea Scrolls?

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?

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?

Is there evidence of Nebuchadnezzar missing from his kingdom for seven years?

Did Nebuchadnezzar die soon after he returned to power after his absence?

As to the first question we need to answer, it is two parts. First, one has to recognize that this blog, along with most Western sources, follows the division of chapters in the Bible which we find in our English version and, indeed, in all modern versions. However, the Aramaic Scriptures conclude the third chapter with the three verses which are placed in the English version at the beginning of the fourth chapter. The final three verses (Daniel 4:34-36) do not appear in the Aramaic version.  The arrangement of the Aramaic is followed by the Septuagint, by Theodotion, and by Jerome. The Peshitta and Paulus Tellensis follow the more logical division. Luther divides the chapters logically enough but carries on the numbering of the verses from the preceding chapter. Still, the question was, what about the content of the Dead Sea Scrolls? The answer to this question is somewhat academic in that much of the content of the scrolls in reference to Daniel is fragmentary. As far as Daniel chapter four is concerned, the Dead Sea Scrolls only consist of Daniel 4:5-9 (Ref. 4Q115); 12-16 (Ref. 4Q115); 15-16 (Ref. 4Q115) and Daniel 4:29-30 (Ref. 4Q112). So, in actuality, irrespective of whether one follows the contents of the Hebrew Scriptures or the Aramaic version, the Dead Sea Scrolls offer no details of the full content of chapter four of Daniel. The charge that someone may have added or removed some of the text is mute as far as the Dead Sea Scrolls are concerned.

What about the next question – did Nebuchadnezzar have a dream of a great tree? And did he, in fact, go insane for a period of seven years?

Both the Hebrew and Aramaic Bible translations confirm that Nebuchadnezzar did have a dream of a great tree and that Daniel further explained that it represented the king himself. The historical narratives we read earlier in previous blogs also confirm more than once several biblical narratives that are contained in the Bible but are not specific to these particular questions. However, the Dead Sea Scrolls do confirm these events and that they are, indeed, the very words of Nebuchadnezzar. Scroll reference codes 4Q115 and 4Q112 contain portions of Daniel 4:5-9; 12-16; 29-30. The Dead Sea Scrolls of Daniel, which total eight, are also said to be extremely close in content to the Masoretic Text but shorter than that of the Septuagint. Nevertheless, in particular, 4Q115 details the portions of Nebuchadnezzar describing his dream to Daniel. He mentions a great tree that is cut down and fettered. He goes on to mention that a man is sentenced to dwell with the beasts and his mind changed to that of a beast for “seven times”. That is pretty compelling. What Nebuchadnezzar is describing is that which Daniel goes on to say is to befall the king himself. Several commentators have mentioned the mental condition known as Lycanthropy. The definition of lycanthropy is the supernatural transformation of a person into a wolf, as recounted in folk tales or a form of madness involving the delusion of being an animal, usually a wolf, with correspondingly altered behavior. This, believe it or not, is where we get the fictional stories of werewolves and that the movie industry turned into horror movies in the 20th and 21st centuries for peoples so-called “amusement”. Over the centuries, while rare, several cases of people who believed they were various types of animals (mainly wolves) have occurred with terrifying results. I will refrain from mentioning the names of such people due to the horrific nature and content of their stories, none of which is relevant to our study. What is relevant is that such a mental condition can, and has, occurred which should give us enough conviction to accept that Nebuchadnezzar may have suffered a similar fate – yet only limited in that he evidently was a vegetarian during his illness. Daniel confirmed the seven times, which many have suggested are years. We will debate that later during the specific Scriptural passage. But note that the Babylonians viewed “times” as it related to seasons rather than years.

In the next blog, we will deal with the final two questions. Whether or not Nebuchadnezzar disappeared for seven years and did he die soon after he returned to power?

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BOOK OF DANIEL – Our Final Word on Ancient Historians

Posted by on Jun 24, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on BOOK OF DANIEL – Our Final Word on Ancient Historians

Our Final Word on Ancient Historians.

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”). Alexander’s most important treatise consisted of forty-two books of historical and geographical accounts of nearly all the countries of the ancient world. These included 5 books, one of which was on Chaldean history. Another notable work was about the Jews that had several excerpts from Jewish writers, of whom nothing otherwise would be known.

Hopefully, you have noticed as I have mentioned several ancient scholars that it would appear they each borrowed information from previous works. Not every writing was their own but perhaps, in some way, they were support documents for their own thoughts or treatise. We have learned so far that, obviously, a number of scholars were each using works that were available and, later, much of those works were in fragmentary form. The fragments held enough information to be worth recording. This is a common practice and one in which Biblical scholars have also benefited.  Biblical scholars have also used fragments in order to support the Bible text.

I am sure the last two names we will mention are more known to us than the previous ones. They are, of course, Titus Flavius Josephus (37 – 100 AD) who 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”. The other is, of course, Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 260/265 – 339/340 AD), who was a historian of Christianity, exegete, and Christian polemicist. He wrote several works namely, “Chronicon”, “Church History”, “Life of Constantine”, “Apology for Origen”, “Proof of the Gospel”, etc.

Both writers also borrowed much of the content of their writings from the same sources we have mentioned. It only looks like it is their work because it is contained in more familiar works to us. Many scholars make use of Josephus and Eusebius and, granted, some may make mention that these men quoted the source of their material. That does not happen all the time. However, hence the reason why perhaps Abydenus; Megasthenes; Alexander Polyhistor; Tatian; Theophilus; Autolycus; Marcus Vitruvius Pollio and even Berossus (all of whom we have mentioned) are not as recognizable to us today. Nevertheless, all of these men left the ink of history in their writings so that others would be able to research many of the things lost to us today. It is through their dedication and effort that we are able to form a picture of what they saw or wrote.

Josephus tells us in his work, “Flavius Josephus against Apion”, “I will now relate what hath been written concerning us in the Chaldean histories, which records have a great agreement with our books in other things also. Berosus shall be witness to what I say: he was by birth a Chaldean, well known by the learned, on account of his publication of the Chaldean books of astronomy and philosophy among the Greeks. This Berosus, therefore, following the most ancient records of that nation, gives us a history of the deluge of waters that then happened, and of the destruction of mankind thereby, and agrees with Moses’s narration thereof. He also gives us an account of that ark wherein Noah, the origin of our race, was preserved, when it was brought to the highest part of the Armenian mountains; after which he gives us a catalogue of the posterity of Noah, and adds the years of their chronology, and at length comes down to Nabolassar, who was king of Babylon, and of the Chaldeans. And when he was relating the acts of this king, he describes to us how he sent his son Nabuchodonosor against Egypt, and against our land, with a great army, upon his being informed that they had revolted from him; and how, by that means, he subdued them all, and set our temple that was at Jerusalem on fire; nay, and removed our people entirely out of their own country, and transferred them to Babylon; when it so happened that our city was desolate during the interval of seventy years, until the days of Cyrus king of Persia. He then says, “That this Babylonian king conquered Egypt, and Syria, and Phoenicia, and Arabia, and exceeded in his exploits all that had reigned before him in Babylon and Chaldea.”” Josephus continues, “He also rebuilt the old city, and added another to it on the outside, and so far restored Babylon,…..So when he had thus fortified the city with walls, after an excellent manner, and had adorned the gates magnificently, he added a new palace to that which his father had dwelt in, and this close by it also, and that more eminent in its height, and in its great splendor. ….. Now in this palace he erected very high walks, supported by stone pillars, and by planting what was called a pensile paradise, and replenishing it with all sorts of trees, he rendered the prospect an exact resemblance of a mountainous country. This he did to please his queen, because she had been brought up in Media, and was fond of a mountainous situation.” Josephus tells us that, “Berosus……says in his third book: “Nabuchodonosor, after he had begun to build the forementioned wall, fell sick, and departed this life, when he had reigned forty-three years; whereupon his son Evilmerodach obtained the kingdom.” (Flavious Josephus against Apion, Book 1, chapters 19-20)

There is very little difference in Eusebius’ Chronicon (known also as The Chaldean Chronicle). Whereas Josephus references Berossus as source material, Eusebius gives credit to Abydenus, Alexander Polyhistor and then Josephus. Eusebius says that Abydenus wrote concerning Nebuchadnezzar that, “He also decorated the royal court by planting sapling trees, calling this the Hanging Garden. [Abydenus] presents a detailed description of this so-called Hanging Garden. The Greeks, he says, regarded [the Hanging Garden] as [one] of the seven wonders of the world.”

I have found no record of a detailed description of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Whether Eusebius (or any others) viewed such a detailed account we do not know. In fact, the only reference to such a garden is Berossus leading many to claim this story was a myth or some other garden. Recent evidence suggests that the so-called Hanging Garden was the work, not of a Babylonian king, but an Assyrian one. That person was King Sennacherib (705 – 681 BC) who was the son of none other than Sargon II. But, while this portion of the story is interesting, it is not relevant to our study. Nebuchadnezzar may well have built such a garden based upon the gardens Sennacherib built, prompting Berossus to give such a description.


Irrespective of such thoughts, when we return to the Biblical text of Daniel chapter four no description of a hanging garden is mentioned.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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