BOOK OF DANIEL – No Language Barrier

Posted by on Apr 16, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on BOOK OF DANIEL – No Language Barrier

No Language Barrier

Something that I must address that I did not make mention of in Daniel 2:4 is that the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic. Many previous scholars, theologians and expositors have argued that Aramaic was not used by Nebuchadnezzar and, therefore, the text is corrupted. But this erroneous comment is simply untrue. Nebuchadnezzar was, in fact, a Chaldean himself. This is another example of the folly of fallen men who have the audacity to question the words whispered by God by means of His Holy Spirit. That statement is, in itself, sufficient but to place a capstone on it, please note the following Scriptural and historical facts. In Daniel 1:3-4 we saw Nebuchadnezzar giving Ashpenaz [the chief of his officials] certain orders regarding the sons of Israel. The latter part of Daniel 1:4b clearly states that it was Nebuchadnezzar who ordered Ashpenaz to “teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans”. (NASB) Now, why would Nebuchadnezzar order that if he did not know Aramaic? How was he able to fluently talk to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah and ascertain that “out of them all not one was found” like them in their understanding? If he did not know Aramaic, how was he able to determine they were “ten times better than all the magicians and conjurers who were in all his realm”? (see Daniel 1:19-20 – NASB)

Chaldea was a Semitic-speaking nation which existed between the 10th and 6th centuries BC, after which it and its people were absorbed and assimilated into Babylonia. It was located in the far southeastern corner of Mesopotamia and briefly came to rule Babylon. The short-lived 11th dynasty of the Kings of Babylon (6th century BC) is conventionally known to historians as the Chaldean Dynasty which ruled from 626 – 539 BC (although the last rulers, Nabonidus and his son Belshazzar, were from Assyria (their rule was from 556 – 539 BC). The first of the Chaldean kings was Nabopolassar who was a former obscure and unknown Chaldean chieftain. He used tactics learned from previous Chaldean leaders to take advantage of the chaos and anarchy gripping Assyria and Babylonia and seized the city of Babylon in 620 BC. After Nabopolassar died after reigning for 21 years his son, Nebuchadnezzar, became the next Chaldean king.

The Chaldean language is known as Chaldaic and was a dialect of Aramaic. Many people within the region of the Middle East spoke this language. We can draw parallels today. Just like this Aramaic dialect had a universal appeal, so does English today. We know from the Bible that many people spoke Aramaic around the times of Daniel also. One example is the account of Hezekiah found in 2 Kings 18. When Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, attacked Judah in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah he sought mercy from the king of Assyria. Sennacherib sent, among others, the “Rabshakeh” which, in the Semitic Akkadian and Aramaic languages, means the “chief of the princes”. When Hezekiah was called by the Rabshakeh, Hezekiah sent Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebnah the scribe and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder, out to meet them. Notice the conversation in 2 Kings 18:26 which reads, “Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebnah and Joah, said to Rabshakeh, “Speak now to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it; and do not speak with us in Judean in the hearing of the people who are on the wall.” (NASB) Clearly, the Rabshakeh (an Assyrian) knew Aramaic. The Assyrians, Babylonians and Hebrews all knew the language or different forms of it. The Hebrews, in fact, wrote some of their text in Aramaic that is contained in the Talmud. This language was the official tongue of Babylon when they took Judah in captivity. Once Babylon had conquered many of the kingdoms and tribes that resided in these areas of the world, this language gained more use. These conquered peoples had to become familiar with this speech since the Babylonians governed their lives. It wasn’t until the Persians conquered Babylon that it began to lose its prominence.

I merely quote the account in 2 Kings 18:26 to highlight the point that Aramaic was widely known not only to the Assyrians but now, as we read in Daniel, to the Babylonians. This was not a language, in the case of Nebuchadnezzar, that would have been foreign to him. Hence, as I should have pointed out earlier, we see a shift of language from Hebrew, in Daniel 1:21 – Daniel 2:4a to Aramaic in Daniel 2:4b – Daniel 7:28. Daniel chapter eight then reverts back to Hebrew.

Although I have spent an entire blog on this subject let me say this. First, I did not forget to mention these points. I originally chose not to mention them for one reason and one reason only. They do not make any difference to the message that we now have in our English translations of the Bible. They would if the translation of both the Hebrew and Aramaic was translated incorrectly but they have not. The Holy word of God is NOT corrupted. Why? Because they are the words of God Himself. He does not lie. There is no falsehood in Him. Here’s some Scriptures I hope you will reflect on in knowing we can trust God’s word.

Numbers 23:19

Proverbs 3:5

Proverbs 16:20

Isaiah 40:8

Isaiah 55:10-11

John 17:17

2 Timothy 3:16-17

2 Peter 1:20-21