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?