Defending the Theistic View

The Book of Daniel — The Persian and Median Empire

I have blogged my defence of the authenticity of the book of Daniel quite a while ago and have ceased because I came to the realization that the evidence never matters to many skeptics who have made up their minds to oppose the authenticity of any biblical passage no matter what. — My blog posts that defend the Book of Daniel were responces to Farrell Till’s complaints that Daniel was written in the second century BC and is therefore not an authentic work by an official in the Babylonian court in the sixth century BC.

In the face of any evidence or any credible conjecture that can show that Daniel is not necessarily inaccurate Till looks for any excuse to use to claim that it is all irrelevant, even if a competent scholar has proposed it. — He does this even though Till is not a scholar by any stretch of the imagination and uses in many cases ignorance to argue his cases.

For example, in the possible identification of Darius the Mede as Cyrus the Persian some scholars point to Daniel 6:28 that can be translated as . . . Darius, that is, the reign of Cyrus,” or as “Darius, even. . .” which implies that the two may be one and the same. — The best argument that Till can come up with is that he couldn’t find any Bible translations to back up this “hypothesis.” Never mind that the ones proposing the translation are experts in the Biblical languages and Till, by his own admission, has never studied in any such field. The appeal to translations is a very unscholarly approach and is not to be taken seriously. (See The Identity of Darius the Mede“).

He makes similar pathetic statements to defend his preconceived idea that Daniel screwed up by calling Belshazzar the “son” of Nebuchadnezzar. Even though Till realizes the fact that “son” can mean grandson, decedent and even successor whether related by blood or not, he insists that since Daniel doesn’t mention the rulers of Babylon that came between the two that therefore he didn’t know about their existence and therefore actually meant that the two kings were literally father and son. Never mind the possibility that Daniel didn’t mention them because the were probably irrelevant to what he was writing. (See “Belshazzar the “Son” of Nebuchadnezzar)

It is because of such unreasonable and blind claims that he made to salvage his prejudice against Daniel that for the last year I have declined to write any rebuttal to his claims — But I decided that I would once again write another refutation of his criticisms.

In yet another attempt to show the Book of Daniel as historically inaccurate, in this text link here he attacks the perception that Daniel wrote of a united and single empire of “Medo-Persia.” He reasons, as most skeptics, that Daniel believed that the Medes and the Persians, at the time of the fall of Babylon in 539 BC were two independent empires.

He starts with the vision of two rams in Daniel 8 and says,

Bradford sees evidence of a “Medo-Persian” empire in Gabriel’s interpretation of this vision in which he said, “The ram that you saw having the two horns–they are the kings of Media and Persia” (v: 20). Literally, the text reads, “The ram that you saw the kings of Media and Persia” (Hendrickson’s). The verb to be [are] is not in the main clause, so this raises a question of interpretation. Did the writer mean to say, “The ram that you saw is the kings of Media and Persia,” or did he mean to say that the “horns are the kings of Media and Persia”? Obviously, Bradford wants it to mean the former, but there are better reasons to think that he meant to say that the horns were the kings of Media and Persia.

He tries to use English grammar to argue his case in a text originally written in Hebrew and Aramaic which is a very laughable tactic since English is not related to the two former languages. — The irony here is that in the case of Daniel 6:28 (in another one of his posts) he argues that even though some scholars justify the re-translation on the basis that Chronicles 5:26 being similarly structured that the two cannot be compared because one was in Hebrew and the other in Aramaic — Of course, the fact that the two Semitic languages are related and that related languages can , in many cases, be used to facilitate the learning of another related language. For example, knowing Spanish can facilitate the learning of Italian since the two are related and grammatically similar. In the same way, Hebrew and Aramaic are related. English, being Germanic and not Semetic, cannot be used to criticize Semetic grammar.

But what about Till’s evidence that Daniel meant to present Media and Persia as two seperate empires? — He continues,

First of all, we have to wonder why the writer didn’t say that the ram was the kings of Medo-Persia if he meant for the ram itself to symbolize a combined Medo-Persian empire. Why did he clearly distinguish between the Medes and the Persians as he consistently did throughout the book? In his interpretation of the handwriting on the wall, Daniel told Belshazzar that his kingdom was divided and given to the Medes and the Persians (5:28), so he had previously spoken of Media and Persia as separate kingdoms. If the writer knew that there was at that time a combined “Medo-Persian” empire, this would have been an excellent opportunity for him to say that the kingdom was being given to the Medo- Persians, but he didn’t say that. He said that the kingdom would be divided and given to the Medes and the Persians. In other words, Daniel’s interpretation of the writing was that part of Babylonia would be given to the Medes, and part of it would be given to the Persians, and so the interpretation indicated that the writer thought that Media and Persia were separate kingdoms that would divide the territory of Babylonia between them. Bradford has yet to show us in what sense Daniel meant that the Babylonian kingdom would be divided if he thought that the whole kingdom was going to be absorbed by a combined “Medo-Persian” empire.

Hold it! His argument is this? That Daniel didn’t use the term “Medo-Persia” to indicate that the Medes and Persians were united as one empire? I would think it would be obvious why Daniel didn’t use such a term: It is a modern linguistic peculiarity which would not have existed 2,400 years ago. It is like saying “Greco-Roman.” Obviously the Greeks and Romans never used that term, but is obviously isn’t a false description either. Historically, Cyrus united both the Medesand the Persians, so there is nothing wrong with the term “Medo-Persia.” But Cyrus himself would not have recognized the term either.

As for more of his alleged evidence, he says,

Bradford should consider the significance of the word dividein Daniel’s interpretation of the handwriting. There is no way for Bradford to make sense of the word if he sticks to his claim that the book of Daniel was written by a 6th-century B. C. official who knew that the Babylonian empire had fallen in one swoop to a combined “Medo-Persian” kingdom, but usage of the word can easily be explained by the theory that Daniel was written well after the 6thcentury by an author who was familiar with the Jewish scriptures of the time but not so knowledgeable of Babylonian history.

Another “evidence that Farrell Till uses to show that Daniel thought that Daniel 5:28 says Babylon was “divided” and given to the Medes and Persians. — He thinks that this means half of the kingdom was given to Persia and that the other half was given to Medes. He ignores the fact that Daniel himself shows that the division was into 120 provinces and not in half like he assumes. (Daniel 6:1) — This idea of Babylon being “divided” is supported by  The Nabonidus Chronicle which says that Gobryas (Gubaru) installed sub-governors in Babylon. — This would have meant that Babylon was divided, but not in half.

Linguists have pointed out that the term for “Divided” which is “Peres” also means “Persia.” This means, of course that the Persians were the conquerors and the ones that created the subgovernments in Babylon. However, Till, as I mention in “The Identity of Darius the Mede” rejects that this could be an allusion to the Persians because of his insistence of reading the Hebrew-Aramaic with the eye of a modern English literalist.

But, is there evidence that Daniel saw Persia and Media as two components of one single empire? — The answer is “yes.”

Daniel 6: 8, 12 indicates that King Darius the Mede was subject, not only to the laws of the Medes, but also to the laws of the Persians. It would be ridiculous to believe that the King of an independent Median empire would be obligated to follow the laws of a separate empire. The only explanation is that the Medes and Persians were united in a single empire, which is historically accurate.

Till goes on to say that Daniel said the Medes (not the Persians) conquered Babylo because the ancient prophets predicted it so.  Till points out Isaiah 13: 17 predicted that the Medes would conquer Babylon and then gleefully points out that that didn’t happen. However, he overlooks Isaiah 21: 2 which says that both  Elam and the Medes would capture Babylon. — As is pointed out by one scholar,

These passages single out Media as the nation which God would stir up against Babylon, but as  noted [ . . . ] we are told that Elam also would be involved in its actual overthrow. Eastern Elam was occupied by the Persian race at this time and was Cyrus’ place of origin.

(Text link: The Medes and Persians)

Keeping this in mind, the supposed historical error actually does not exist and skeptics mention it without considering all the evidence. — Also as mentioned in another post, I believe that Cyrus the Persian and Darius the Mede are the same individual based on the alternate translation of Daniel 6:28 and other side historical evidence that Cyrus was half-Median with Astayges as his grandfather.

So in conclusion, considering the textual evidence in Daniel that indicates that Darius the Mede was subject to the laws of the Persians, there is enough evidence that the vast majority of skeptics are incorrect in assuming that Daniel believed the Medes and Persians were independent of each other because it is unreasonable for independent nations to be obligated to obey the laws of other empires. Also, Till’s argument that Daniel should have used the term “Medo-Persia” if he wanted to indicate they were a united empire is moot. No such modern day linguistic peculiarity would have existed in that time no matter how well accurately it describes the situation. Daniel cannot be blamed for not using modern-day English terminology in his book. — Also, Farrell Till’s complaint that Daniel erred by denying the Persians were the conquerors of Babylon is also know to be basless when the relevant evidence is examined.


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