Actually, I am transfering to two separate blogs with two different themes.
For posts on Biblical history, I will he posting here: http://refutationofinfidels.blog.com/
As for posts debunking the “Jesus Myth,” I’ll be posting here: http://nonpaganorigins.blog.com/
Well, see you there.
Recently in an earlier post I refuted the logical fallacy advanced by third-rate skeptic Farrell Till that the Biblical Book of Daniel supossed that the Medes and the Persians were two empires independent of eachother at the time of the conquest of Babylon. Now in this post, I plan on showing that he misinterprets some of the most vital details of Daniel which show that Daniel did indeed predict the future with accuracy.
One of the areas in the book most misrepresented by skeptics and naturalists is the seventh chapter which shows apocalyptic imagery in the form of fou different beasts which represent four different empires that were to arise. They are a lion, a bear, a four-headed leopard, and a beast with ten horns.
Skeptics represent them as such:
- The Lion — Babylon
- The Bear — Media
- Leopard — Persia
- Beast with ten horns — Greece
Of course, most Christians that believe in the authenticity of Daniel do not accept most of this interpretation of the four beasts of Daniel’s vision.
First nobody, whether liberal or Conservative, dispute that the Lion is representative of the Neo-Babylonian empire so I will not go into that.
The subject is actually quite simple: All one has to do is disprove the skeptical position in at least one aspect and their entire assumption turns out to be wrong. — But first, it is important to mention that the basis of the assumptions is the hypothesis that the Book of Daniel was written during the Maccabean revolt in 165 BC because of the accurate imagery that the book gives about the time. Following this assumption as well as the idea that the future cannot be predicted skeptics came to the understanding that the ten horned beast represented the Greek empire. — My purpose is to show that this position is inconsistent with the facts of history.
Farrell Till, in his interpretation of the imagery, repeats the ten horned beast is the Greek empire by citing one Christian apologist that agrees with this position. Therefore, he believes the leopard it the Persian empire. This is consistent with the opinion of most secular scholars, but inconsistent with history. And here’s why:
After Daniel sees the fourth beast he asked for the interpretation:
He gave me [Daniel] this explanation: ‘The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings.’ (Daniel 7: 23, 24 NIV)
So ten kings, it says will arise from this kingdom. But with the wording that one king will subdue three of them, there is the indication that (instead of ruling one after the other) the ten kings rule at the same time. — In other words, this kingdom gets divided into ten pieces or kingdoms.
It is true that the Greek Empire got split up soon after the Death of Alexander the Great:
In Asia the Macedonian commanders who served Alexander fought each other for power. Perdiccas and Meleager were murdered, Antigonus rose to control most of Asia, but his growth of power brought the other Macedonian generals in coalition against him. He was killed in battle and the Macedonian Empire split into four main kingdoms– the one of Seleucus (Asia), Ptolemy (Egypt), Lysimachus (Thrace), and Antipater’s son Cassander (Macedonia, including Greece).
So, Greece did divide, but not into ten kingdoms. — It divided into four. Now, does this mean that Daniel got wrong his historical description of the Greek empire? Or does this mean that the Skeptics are the ones that got it all wrong?
Considering other descriptions given in Daniel about the Greek empire, I doubt that Daniel would have gotten his history of Greece wrong. Daniel himself describes the Greek king (Obviously Alexander the Great) and what would happen to his kingdom,
Then a mighty king will arise, who will rule with great power and do as he pleases. After he has arisen, his empire will be broken up and parceled out toward the four winds of heaven. It will not go to his descendants, nor will it have the power he exercised, because his empire will be uprooted and given to others. (Daniel 11: 3, 4)
His empire would be broken into the four winds (i.e., into four pieces). So, Daniel knowing this, it is unlikely he would then make the huge blunder that Greece would be divided into ten.
The question now is do any of the other beasts in chapter seven better describe the Greek empire? — The answer seems to be an emphatic yes.
I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule. (Daniel 7: 6)
The leopard that comes before the last beast is not described in as great detail as the fourth beast, but the imagery is much more consistent with the historical knowledge of the Greek empire. The four heads and the four wings fit the four kingdoms that came out of Greece.
The interesting thing here is that even though Till rejects the clarity of the Leopard, not the ten horned beast, being the Greek empire, he still accepts the number “four” as symbolic for Greece in the vision of the ram and the goat. — The goat first had one horn before it fell off and four horns replaced it which represent four kingdoms (Daniel 7: 21, 22) — Even though Till talks about the consistency of symbols in his interpretation, his acceptance of the goat with four horns as Greece, but rejection of the four headed leopard as a symbol of the same empire is a huge inconsistency.
Whats more, Till usually brings up what he considers to be a historical error made by Daniel and says something on the lines of “It would be understandable for an ignorant late second century Jew to make such an error.” — I would argue that if Daniel indeed lived in the second century BC during the Greek empire, the last details he would ever get wrong would be of the current empire of his day. And yet, Till doesn’t seem to see that.
Since we know that the lion unquestioningly represents the Neo-Babylonian empire, what does this indicate for the second beast, the bear?
And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, ‘Get up and eat your fill of flesh!’ (Daniel 7: 5)
Most skeptics, and Till, believe that the bear is a symbol for the Median empire and that therefore the Leopard is Persia. However, I have just shown that the Leopard is more consistent with Greece, so this could mean just one thing: The bear, despite all of Farrell Till’s protests, has to represent a United Empire of Persia and Media (Medo-Persia).
The bear was shown to have one side raised above the other. — This is historically consistent with the Persia being held somewhat superior to Media, despite still being united allies.
So this being so, what about the fourth beast with ten horns? Most Conservative scholars believe that it represents the Roman Empire. — Of course, Till, not believing that Daniel could foretell the future, rejects this. But again, the ten horns representing ten kingdoms that come out does not reflect what Till insists on. The truth is that ten kingdoms did in fact come out of Rome:
- Franks (Clovis)
Daniel goes on to mention the fate of three of the horns (i.e., kingdoms),
While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. (Daniel 7: 8 )
It so happens that three of these same kingdoms were destroyed, or uprooted. They were the Vandals, the Ostrogoths, and the Heruli. (Click here for the info)
The implication here is that not only did Daniel give accurate history in his book, but that he also accurately predicted what would happen in with the Roman empire This means that even if the Book of Daniel were written in the second century BC, he still knew the future by about 600 years beyond his time. So even though skeptics would prefer not to pay attention to the facts, it appears that God did indeed have a hand in the writing of the Book of Daniel.
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.
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.
In several of my posts such as “Defending the Book of Daniel” I defend the historical accuracy of the book. Now I’m going to try to defend the traditional 6th century B.C. date of the book by talking about it’s linguistic style and other details.
But before I start, I want to mention that the second half of the book of Daniel is supposed to be prophetic. It seems that many of the prophesies are the main basis that skeptics have to place the writingof the book with in the second century B.C. because that is the time that many of his prophesies came to pass. — As a matter of fact Rolf Furuli a professor at the University of Oslo, in an e-mail conversation he had admitted:
I do not criticize scholars who stick to the scientific principle of rejecting any metaphysical explanation. But an honest course would be to admit this, and as far as Daniel is concerned, to admit that the basic argument for a second century dating is the view that the future cannot be predicted.
Okay, so this is just to know what you’re dealing with if you ever talk with anyone that uses this as his basis for rejecting the authenticity of the book of Daniel
Language use of Daniel
It was once argued that Daniel had to be written after the conquest of Alexander the Great because there were three Greek loan-words in chapter 3 in verses 5, 7, and 10. — Actually, these loan-words are musical instruments: The Harp, the Psaltery, and the Dulcimer. These words were used to show that Daniel could not possibly have been written in the 6th century B.C.
However, Greek loan words need not disprove the traditional date of the Book because there was Greek penetration in the Middle East before Alexander the Great. — King Nebuchadnezzar II, for example, had Greek mercenaries in his armies already in the 6th century B.C. —Also, the brother of Alcaeus of Lesbos (a Greek poet) also served under King Nebuchadnezzar as well. Then there was the 6th century B.C. ancient and Greek philosopher named Pythagoras who lived from 569 to 475 B.C. who was taken prisoner to Babylonby Cambyses II.
Also, there was a Mycenaean Greek colony in the Middle East known as Anatolia. Very important to this point, the Encyclopedia Britannica in it’s article “Anatolia: Greek colonies on the Anatolian coasts” mentions that:
Greek place-names such as Anchiale and Pityoussa occur repeatedly in Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian texts of the 7th and 6th centuries BC relating to the south coast of Anatolia.
The 6th Century B.C., of course, was the time the Book of Daniel is traditionally believed to have been written. So the appearance and knowledge of Greek names and words in Assyrian and Babylonian tablets that early shows that the appearance of only three Greek loan words in Daniel isn’t a necessary indicator that it had to have been written after the conquest of Alexander the Great.
The question may now become, did these certain three Greek words exist in the Greek language at the right time or before? — A logical way to answer this question would be to examine ancient Greek literature to see if these words that are used in the Book of Daniel were in use before the second century B.C. If it can be proved that they were not in use several centuries before the Maccabean revolt then Daniel is indeed a document from around 165 B.C.
Even though the comparison of Greek manuscripts seems like a plausible method to find out whether a certain word was in use in a certain period, there is a major flaw to the method. The Encyclopædia Britannica says that the most well preserved writings of the ancient Greeks are from the fourth and third centuries B.C. But that, however, “there are virtually no documentary papyri before the time of Alexander.” — It also says that most Greek writings from the fifth century B.C. scarcely survived at all. The same is true of those from the third century B.C, although there is an abundance of inscriptions from the fourth century.
Moving on, a comprehensive linguistic study of the Aramaic of Daniel shows that:
If proper allowance be made for attested scribal usage in the Biblical Near East (including orthographical and morphological change, both official and unofficial), then there is nothing to decide the date of composition of the Aramnaic of Daniel on the grounds of Aramaic anywhere between the late sixth and the second century BC. Some points hint at an early (especially pre-300), not late, date—but in large part could be argued to be survivals till the second century BC, just as third—second century spellings or grammatical forms must be proved to be original to the composition of the work before a sixth—fifth century date could be excluded. The date of the book of Daniel, in short, cannot be decided upon linguistic grounds alone.
However, the study mentions that there are 19 Persian words in the book of Daniel. If the Maccabean date were correct, then it would be odd to have so few Greek words in the text and so many Persian words. I see this as evidence that it was indeed written during the Persian empire. — Also, Another study on the Hebrew of Daniel shows that:
There is nothing about the Hebrew of Daniel that could be considered extraordinary for a bilingual or, perhaps in this case, a trilingual speaker of the language in the sixth century BC.
So, there is no evidence on linguistic grounds that Daniel couldn’t have been written in the 6th century B.C. whether it be Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic.
There is some historical evidence that the book of Daniel actually did exist before the Maccabean revolt. The Ancient historian Josephus (in Antiquities of the Jews 11, 8, 5) says that when Alexander the Great arrived in Jerusalem in the 4th century B.C. during his war against Persia that he was shown a copy of Daniel:
And when the Book of Daniel was showed him [Alexander the Great] wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that himself was the person intended. And as he was then glad, he dismissed the multitude for the present; but the next day he called them to him, and bid them ask what favors they pleased of him; whereupon the high priest desired that they might enjoy the laws of their forefathers, and might pay no tribute on the seventh year. He granted all they desired.
Most scholars agree that the […] story, told by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in his Jewish antiquities 11.317-345, is not true. One argument is that Alexander is shown a book that was not yet written.
Another important point is about Belshazzar, the son of King Nabonidus. The MSN Encarta Encyclopedia explains that although there are several inscription with his name, he is not mentioned by name by any ancient historian. (The only exception I personally can think of is Josephus who used Daniel as a source.) — The Bible Dictionary of the Commentary Reference Series (volume 8 ) points out that Belshazzar was identified only in the 19th century by the mentioned inscriptions, but until then historians were puzzled about him. (Pages 127-255)
My point from this is: If Daniel were indeed written in the second century, then how could the writer have known Belshazzar’s name when he was already forgotten and already unknown to history? Either Daniel was written in the sixth century B.C. (as it claims) or a Maccabean author in 165 B.C. made up a name out of thin air and got extremely lucky. Personally, I find the latter very unlikely.
Evidence at Qumran
About the Daniel scrolls found at Qumran (which is important to the dating of Daniel): It has been suggested by some that the Essenes didn’t regard the book as canonical. This is because of certain peculiarities in certain copies of the book found:
These variations include the fact that two copies of Daniel from 4Q are “in unorthodox format” (apparently a reference to the column arrangement); one is in cursive script; and another Daniel fragment from Cave VI is written on papyrus.
However, it has also been shown that these variations from other Biblical books found at Qumran aren’t “an infallible criterion for determining whether or not the Qumran scribes regarded a given book as canonical or non-canonical.” — Also, it has been noted that “the Book of Kings, whose canonizing is unquestioned, has been found on a papyrus manuscript in 6Q; also that Cave IV has yielded Biblical scrolls in a true cursive script; and that the column arrangement found in the Daniel copies has been found in Biblical works discovered in other caves.” So, again, from this, there is no reason to believe the Essesnes didn’t see Daniel as scripture. — Also, some scholars have noted that because of the multiple fragmants of Daniel at Qumran Daniel may have been “one of the most treasured” books at Qumran.
Glenn M. Miller, the webmaster to Christian Thinktank, in his study on the Daniel scrolls at Qumranreasons that since it is widely believed that the Essene community at Qumran was founded in 150 B.C., dangerously close to the alleged 165 B.C. date of Daniel’s composition then it should have been written earlier than the second century. He points out that the Essenes in other scrolls cite Daniel as a prophet so it would be unlikely that the Essenes would have viewed or cited Daniel as a prophet or would have treasured his book so much if it were written only within 15 years of its their community’s founding, well within the memories of the founders themselves. It just isn’t plausible or credible!
Miller mentions the non-canonical book of Jubilees, which was written at 160 B.C., was at Qumran. However, he points out major differences: 1) The Essenes as well as all other Jews viewed Daniel as Scripture while Jubilees was only seen as authoritative which is a lower lever i.e. not viewed as scripture. 2) The Essenes didn’t even agree on whether Jubilees was to be cited at all. However, there was wide agreement on Daniel.
Lastly, he mentions a major double standard in the scholarly community in relation to the Daniel scrolls and other Biblical manuscripts: Because of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran, scholars have re-dated Biblical literature once believed to be from the Maccabean period in the second century B.C. to even earlier periods due to the time requirement for them to be considered scripture. Such examples mentioned in his essay are the book of Ecclesiastes and some of the Psalms. However, even though the the manuscript evidence, in the case of Daniel is the same, scholars still prefer the late date in the second century for its composition. This is because Daniel apparently contains prophecies that likely points to that era, and in their minds prophesy is impossible. So there is a clear unjustifiable double standard as Daniel goes.
My Conclusion is that there is no reason to date the Book of Daniel to the second century, apart from anti-Biblical bias and every reason to date it to an earlier date based on the manuscripts at Qumran and accounts of Josephus. However, this evidence has not been allowed to speak for itself due to pre-conceived bias, and unfortunately, it may never be because of the assumption that the future cannot be predicted.
One of the most criticized portions in the Book of Daniel, besides the appearance of Darius the Mede, the depiction and description of Belshazzar, the King (or co-regent) of Babylon. Critics have often pointed to what they believe to be historical errors in the Book of Daniel as to who and what he was.
The Book of Daniel introduces Belshazzar right after it finishes talking about a divinly inflicted mental illness that causes him to behave like an animal. — Belshazzar was having a feast and under influence of wine intoxication he orders that the sacred vessels from Solomon’s Jewish temple be brought to him. And he used the dishes which were sacred to Yahweh to bless pagan gods, hence committing sacrilege against him.
And then a hand appears and writes four words on the wall right by a lamp stand: Mene Mene Tekel Parsin. — When the court astrologers and wise men couldn’t understand the meaning of the writing the Queen mother tells Belshazzar about Daniel and how he helped his predecessor, Nebuchadnezzar. So the King sent for him.
When Daniel had come he reminded Belshazzar about Nebuchadnezzar’s punishment from God for until he realized that God was greater than him, but that he (Belshazzar) didn’t repent like him, but blasphemed against God. The writting on the wall was God’s condemnation of his kingdom. And that night, he was killed by the united coalition of the Persians and Medes.
The “Son” of Nebuchadnezzar
The most used criticism of the depiction of King Belshazzar is that the book calls him the “son” of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 5: 1,23. Also, The latter is called the formers “father.” — Farrel Till, in his post entitled “A Father/Son Discrepancy in Daniel” insists that this is a historical mistake and that if the writer of Daniel were a high ranking official of the Babylonian court then he wouldn’t have made such an error. — He protests against Christian apologists that say that “son” and “father” in the case of Belshazzar are nothing more than indications that one was an ancestor and that the other was a descendant. He makes the claim that Christians are wrong in using the logic that Father/Son in this case is anything like saying the Jews are the “sons” of Abraham or that Jesus Christ is the “son” of David because Abraham and David were separated from the later Jews and Jesus by centuries which he points out is not the case with Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar. Till says:
In the book of Daniel, however, the reigns of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar are related in consecutive chapters. The account of Nebuchadnezzar’s seven years of madness in fulfillment of a second dream that Daniel had interpreted ends the 4th chapter, where Nebuchadnezzar praised Daniel’s god after he had regained his sanity: “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are truth, and his ways are justice; and he is able to bring low those who walk in pride” (4:37). Then immediately the next chapter opens with an account of the feast that King Belshazzar held to honor a thousand of his lords, so the writer went directly from the reign of Nebuchadnezzar to the reign of Belshazzar without mentioning any of the four kings who reigned between them. This within itself would indicate an ignorance of 6th-century Babylonian history, because it at least implies that the writer thought that Belshazzar’s reign followed Nebuchadnezzar’s.
In other words, just because Daniel doesn’t mention any of the kings that came between Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, Farrel Till assumes that Daniel thought that they were literal first generation father and son instead of ancestor and descendant. But this argument doesn’t take into account an important implication: This doesn’t need to be construed as ignorance on the author’s part. One could also say that Daniel just didn’t see the other rulers of Babylon that came between the two said kings as being relevant to what he wanted to write about and therefore didn’t mention them.
Till goes on to say that in order for the terms for “father” and son” to be justifiably understood as “ancestor” and “descendant” that there has to be a context to support it. He says:
As I showed by analyzing Driver’s examples above, the word father was indeed used to convey a relationship as distant as “grandfather,” but the contexts of the passages cited show that this was the intended meaning. Context, context, context–it is always the context that determines the meanings of words, and inerrantists like Hatcher and Miller seem to have trouble recognizing this very basic literary principle. (Emphasis his)
The context he’s talking about is to show “textual evidence” (i.e. showing kings between) that the terms for “father” and “son” could be understood as not being literal. Or else, he insists, it must be literal. — But my arguement, however, is that Daniel omitted any mention of the intervening kings because he saw them as irrelevant to what he wanted to say, not necessarily out of ignorance. And if that’s the case, the terms are not problematic at all.
Till rightly points out that other passages in the Bible mention one other Babylonian King Amel-Marduk (a.k.a, the Biblical “Evil-merodach“) in the Book of Jeremiah52:31. — But taking this fact into account, remembering that the author of the Book of Daniel had in fact read the book of Jeremiah (Daniel 9:2) that makes it even less likely, in my opinion, that the writer was ignorant of other kings of Babylon between Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar. I think this supports my theory that Daniel purposely left out any mention of the other kings. — And if this is the case, as it seems to be, then Till’s arguments of context are rendered irrelevant, hence, there is no reason to assume that Daniel believed they were actually father and son.
Also, it so appears that the ancient historian Josephus’ perspective was the same as mine. In the Antiquities of the Jews 10,11,2 he mentions the kings that came between Belshazzar and Nebuchadnezzar and then, in the next paragraph, and then calls Nebuchadnezzar a “progenitor” (i.e. an ancestor) of Belshazzar. — So Josephus understood the terms in Daniel as I do (that Nebuchadnezzar was only an ancestor and not the actual father), which is more support for my position.
Well, Till keeps on with his criticism:
The fact that the writer of Daniel leaped from Nebuchadnezzar to Belshazzar, passing over completely the reigns of four intervening kings, certainly indicates a fuzzy knowledge of the history of this period. That lack of knowledge provides the best explanation for why the writer would have called Nebuchadnezzar the “father” of Belshazzar and Belshazzar the “son” of Nebuchadnezzar when the two were not related. He called them father and son because he thought that they were.
I think I have already made my point clear as to why Daniel wouldn’t have had to necessarily mention the other kings because of the irrelevance to Daniel, so I will move on. — However, Till’s argument that the two men weren’t related is a huge assumption. In fact the Encyclopædia Britannica says:
The Babylonian inscriptions indicate that he was in fact the eldest son of Nabonidus, who was king of Babylon from 555 to 539, and of Nitocris, who was perhaps a daughter of Nebuchadrezzar. (Emphasis mine)
Till dismisses such claims of relations between Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar as nothing more than Christian apologetics that only base their arguments on assumptions. But I just cited the Encyclopædia Britannica which is not a Christian apologetic at all. It shows that even secular scholars and historians believe it as well, and are therefore not in agreement with Till. But Till has a habit of dismissing probabilities if he just doesn’t like them or if they allow for the Bible to be true.
Also, a fact that Farrel Till never mentions it that the two men didn’t have to be related for the terms for “father” and “son” to be used. An alternate meaning for “father” other than “ancestor” is also “predecessor.” And likewise, the alternate understanding for “son” other than “descendant” can also mean that Belshazzar was just a “successor” to Nebuchadnezzar. So there’s nothing out of the ordinary here.
Daniel Gets it Right!!
According to the Book of Daniel Belshazzar was called the “King” of Babylon. This claim hase been assailed by anti-Daniel critics (not Farrel Till) who point out the fact that Nabonidus was still king of Babylon officially as long as he was still alive. –Archaeological Experts point point out that Belshazzar “stood in as temporary ruler” in his father’s absence. One could say he was a stand in king. They also point out:
Nabonidus, as King of Babylon, paid little attention to the politics, religion, of Imperial Babylon preferring instead to travel and research the older buildings, temples, and objects of antiquity that lay in the outer most of his Empire. For this reason he is included in archaeology’s ‘hall of fame’ because his abandonment of his royal duties were in favour of some of the first archaeological investigations.
In other words, Nabonidus wasn’t much of a king and his son was a stand in as Co-Regent. Apparently Belshazzar was more of a king than his father, though he was officially second in command or a stand-in king.
Further vindication of Daniel’s calling Belshazzar the king of Babylon is found in ancient text of The Verse Account of Nabonidus (which is pro-Cyrus propaganda). In talking about Nabonidus it says:
After he had obtained what he desired, a work of utter deceit, had built this abomination, a work of unholiness -when the third year was about to begin- he entrusted the army [?] to his oldest son, his first born, the troops in the country he ordered under his command. He let everything go, entrusted the kingship to him, and, himself, he started out for a long journey. The military forces of Akkad marching with him, he turned to Temâ deep in the west.
Nabonidus is said to have “entrusted the kingship” to his oldest son in this ancient Persian inscription. In another ancient tablet from Babylon called “The Nabonidus Cylinder”–Nabonidus himself identifies his oldest son as Belshazzar. – The can be no greater vindication for Belshazzar being called the “king” than this, though he was second in the kingdom. — A hint in the Book of Daniel itself that Belshazzar was the second in the kingdom can be found Daniel 5:16 when Balshazzar asks Daniel to interprate what the so-called writing on the wall:¨
Now I have heard that you are able to give interpretations and to solve difficult problems. If you can read this writing and tell me what it means, you will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around your neck, and you will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.
The hint that Daniel knew that Belshazzar was the second in the kingdom and not first is his offer to make him the third ruler in the kingdom. Why not make him the second? Because that was his office while Nabonidus was the first as long as he was still alive. Hence we have indirect textual evidence of Nabonidus in the Book of Daniel. — Farrel Till, however, has no real response to this. He says:
This conclusion, however, is mere assumption, because the text reads as if the queen exercised a great deal of power in the kingdom. How, then, do Turkel and his like-minded cohorts who recycle this quibble not know that the author of this book meant here that if Daniel could decipher the handwriting on the wall, he would be elevated to a position that would make him third behind the king and the queen? The fact that chapter five indicates to any reasonable reader who doesn’t have an emotionally important belief in inerrancy to protect that Nebuchadnezzar was Belshazzar’s father would lend support to the probability that Belshazzar was offering Daniel only a position of authority after the queen’s.
Till’s argument is that Daniel cliams the Queen mother was the second and that Belshazzar was first. But let’s see what Daniel really says about the Queen mother:
The queen, hearing the voices of the king and his nobles, came into the banquet hall. “May the king live forever!” she said. “Don’t be alarmed! Don’t look so pale! There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. In the time of your father he was found to have insight and intelligence and wisdom like that of the gods. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners. He did this because Daniel, whom the king called Belteshazzar, was found to have a keen mind and knowledge and understanding, and also the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems. Call for Daniel, and he will tell you what the writing means.” (Daniel 5:10,13)
This is all Daniel says about the Queen mother. There are no other passages about her in the entire book. — And I fail to see where the text of Daniel reads as if ”the text reads as if the queen exercised a great deal of power in the kingdom,” as he says. That’s because it doesn’tsay or even imply it what Till says. He is resorting to inserting things in the text of Daniel that aren’t there because he cannot satisfactorily explain away why Daniel would only receive the third position of power and not the second.
Until Recent years, there was no historic evidence regarding Belshazzar as the last king of Babylon, and critics commonly pointed to this silence as evidence that the writer was misinformed. Now, of course, the existence of Belshazzar, his position as joint king ruling in Babylon for his absent father, and his role during the last years before the fall of Babylon are all amply attested. (Page 250, emphasis mine)
Also, Belshazzar’s identity was unknown until the 19th century when ancient inscriptions were found with his name on it. (Ibid, page 126) But apparently, not even this is good enough for skeptics. — Farrel Till quotes a Christian apologist that mentions that the Historian Herodotus who wrote in 450 B.C. didn’t know Belshazzar’s name so “the very name of Belshazzar had been forgotten, at least so far as the informants of the Greek historian were concerned.” Till’s rebuttal is:
The fact that the name Belshazzar, to use Turkel’s own expression, had been “forgotten” in some places does not mean that it had been forgotten everywhere; hence, Turkel is arguing from silence when he claims, as he apparently intended, that second-century BC Jews would not have known about the existence of Belshazzar. I have already quoted above a passage from the second-century BC apocryphal book of Baruch that shows a mistaken belief of the time that Nebuchadnezzar was Belshazzar’s father, so rather than the name of Belshazzar having been forgotten by second-century BC Jews, it was obviously known to them. What had apparently been forgotten was the real parentage of Belshazzar, so the fact that Daniel 5 reflects the same mistaken view of his parentage that was indicated in other second-century BC works really indicates the opposite of what Turkel wants his gullible readers to think: This book was in all probability written much later than the 6th century BC when “Daniel” was allegedly an important official in the Babylonian court.
It is absolutely ironic that Till is resorting to the tactic that no early mention of Belshazzar’s name doesn’t prove that he was unknown to the Jews. Calling it an argument from silence knowing that this man makes such arguments all the time when it suits his purpose is quite hilarious. — It is true that the apologist he is answering to does leave some room for the idea that Belshazzar’s name may still have been known by some, however I also want to make a more solid claim.
The MSN Encarta Encyclopedia explains:
Although no ancient historian mentions his name as one of the successors of the second Chaldean king, Nebuchadnezzar II, the Babylonian cuneiform inscriptions gave the name Belsaruzar as that of the son of Nabonidus, the last king of Babylon. (Emphasis mine)
The MSN Encarta, which is not a Christian apologetic, shows no historian names him. So to say that an ignorant Jew from the Maccabean period could get information that had already been unknown to the most educated and informed is absurd and a major stretch. Not to mention, Belshazzar is not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible outside of Daniel. A second century B.C. writer would have had no historical source. The inscriptions mentioned, as I said earlier, were found in the 19th century.
Also, Till’s citation of the non-biblical book of Baruch, despite Till’s claims, is not independent proof that Belshazzar was still known because the book, being written in the late second century B.C., would have sourced the book of Daniel itself. — And If anyone were to cite Daniel as proof that Belshazzar’s name was indeed known in the second century B.C. I would say that Till is obviously correct in saying that he was indeed known to the Jews of the second century B.C., but that was only because of Daniel. I would like to ask: “Then who did Daniel source?” — Again, there were no sources. Till’s claim is just pathetic and a desperate attempt to salvage his anti-Daniel stance. The only logical explanation is what he rejects: That Daniel was written in Babylon in the 6th century B.C. by someone who knew more about Babylon than any of the best historians.
He is a man who is unknown to history outside of the book of Daniel. He is shown as the depicted as the one who conquered the Babylonian empire and became king. His name is given as “Darius the Mede.” The absence of knowledge about him outside of the Bible has lead most historians and scholars to assume that he never existed. Also, the description that Daniel gives about him may have also lead others to believe that the writer of Daniel had confused Darius I with Cyrus the Persian. — Alongside the doubts of his existence, there are also theories that attempt to identify him. Many speculate that he was a governor and others believe he was a king. Many prefer to believe that the Bible is just an inaccurate collection of myths and illustrations told to get a certain point across.
I have already studied the identity of this mysterious man named “Darius the Mede” in a previous post (see “Defending the Book of Daniel“) but what I plan to do now is make a more detailed study about who he may be and what sceptics think about him.
The Ugbaru Theory
One of the most widely referenced theories that many Christians cite is that Darius was a general under Cyrus. The Ancient Chronicle of Nabonidus found in the middle east gives detailes about the kings of Babylon from the year 556 B.C. to 539. In it, there is a general mentioned that is said to have conquered Babylon. He is called Gobryas or Ugbaru. In the text, he is described as doing certain things that Daniel 6:1 claims that Darius had done (i.e appointing sub governors immediately.) Then on October 29 of 539 B.C. Cyrus finally entered Babylon .
Chris Sandoval in his paper “The Failure of Daniel’s Prophecies” doesn’t buy into the theory that Gobryas the governor could be Darius on the grounds that:
His royal edicts were irrevocable according to the laws of the Medes and Persians(Daniel 6:8,12,15). Darius had the power to decree that he was the only god or man in the empire to whom petitions might be made (Daniel 6:7)–a foolish move to make indeed if he were just a governor or puppet king who owed allegiance to Cyrus and the Persian Empire.
He then insists that “contemporary documents prove the nonexistence of Darius the Mede beyond reasonable doubt.” He says that since Cyrus’ documents never mention him that therefore he never existed. But even later he then admits it is possible he existed, but only “barley.”
He then admits that arguments from silence which he makes in the case of Darius the Mede “must be used with caution” but later says that “silence carries even more weight as evidence if positive facts get in the way,” again basing his arguement on the lack of any mention of Darius in documentation saying they “leave no room for Daniel’s Darius the Mede as the sole sovereign of Babylon, thereby proving his nonexistence at that time beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Also, Farrell Till (in Darius the Son of Ahashuerus?) argues against the theory that Gobryas is Darius says that “there are no records that Gubaru was ever made the ‘king of Babylon.’”Again, the argument is based on silence. And in “Darius the Mede: An Actual Historical Character?,” another of his posts he argues:
Gobryas, which was literally Ugbaru, died on March 4, 538 BC, just a few months after the conquest of Babylon in October 539 BC. Hence, if this information is correct Gobryas or Ugbaru could not have been “Darius the Mede,” because Daniel referred to the “first year of the reign of Darius” (9:1-2; 11:1), which implies that Darius had reigned longer than a year and certainly longer than just five months.
I’m now going to make some concessions: I agree with Chris Sandoval that the description of Darius in the book of Daniel seems to indicate a monarch and not a mere governor because of his ability to legislate irrevocable laws. But my bigger problem with this particular theory is the lifespan of Gobryas as described in the Chronicle of Nabonidus: “In the month of Arashamnu, on the night of the eleventh, Gobryas died [November 6].” That’s just a very few days after the Persians conquered Babylon, so it would have been an extremely tight fit for Daniel. Not that it’s impossible, but it is very unlikely.
And also, the date given by the Nabonidus Chronicle differs from the date Till gives for the death of Gobryas which is actually November 6, and not March 4. However, the date he gives is still supported by a reliable link he gives, so I will cut him some slack here.
But as for his protests that Gobryas cannot be Darius the Mede because of the time shown in historical records and the Bible only referencing “the first year” of Darius the Mede and no more, Till shows his ignorance of the Babylonian-Persian calender system called the “accession year.” — The Berytus Archeological Studies of the American University of Beirut shows:
The Achaemenidae, having introduced in the Persian Empire the same Babylonian system of time-reckoning, used the device of the “accession year.” The last civil year of a previous ruler was identified with the “year of the beginning” of his successor, and “year 1″ of the latter started at the next Nisanu 1 only. Under the Macedonian rulers the natives of Asia continued to reckon regnal years from Nisanu 1.
So, using this system, though Gobryas‘ life ended really soon, his reign over Babylon as governor (or possibly Satrap) under Cyrus would have officially lasted a year starting on the first day of the next year. So, on that basis alone, there is no problem.
But, where I disagree with Sandoval and Till is obvious: I do not believe that the lack of a mention of Darius’ name in ancient records in anyway disproves or undermines his existence beyond a reasonable doubt. It would be to much of an oversimplification to believe that it did. After all, scholars used to doubt the existence of Belshazzar because of the lack of any mention of him, however he had been identified in the 19th century when inscriptions bearing his name were found (Commentary Reference Series vol 8, Pages. 127-250 & 255)
The Cyrus-Darius Theory
Another theory is mentioned in D. J. Wiseman’s Some Historical Problems in the Book of Daniel which he advanced in 1957 that Darius the Mede may, in fact, be Cyrus the Persian. He says:
The basis of the hypothesis is that Daniel 6:28 can be translated ‘Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, even (namely, or i.e.) the reign of Cyrus the Persian.’ Such a use of the appositional or explicative Hebrew waw construction has long been recognized in Chronicles 5:26 (‘So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria even the spirit of Tiglath–pileser king of Assyria’) and elsewhere.
In this particular verse the term “waw” is usually rendered as “and.” –But Mentioning Pul and Tiglath–Pileser as an example to prove his point is important, because the two of them were the same person . Pul was a title name, and Tiglath–Pilaser was his real name. His translation of 1 Chronicles 5: 26 emphasise that they were one and the same, though with different titles. Even though some translations like the New American Bible translate this verse as “God of Israel incited against them the anger of Pul, king of Assyria, and of Tiglath–pileser” phrasing the verse as if they were different persons, many modern translations, like the New King James Version, phrase it as “the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, that is, Tiglath–Pileser king of Assyria” showing they are the same individual, which they are, and also because it was a possible translation. — So, obviously, this verse can be legitimently translated both ways.
He then points out that his verse is structured similarly to Daniel 6: 28, hence it would then be possible that Cyrus and Darius were the same. *One name would be a given name and the other might possibly be a title.*
Well, of course, this solution has been attacked by overly skeptical critics. In his post entitled “Darius the son of Ahashuerus?” Farrell Till argues:
I have checked various translations, and I can find none that support Wiseman’s hypothesis. The translation of the Jewish Publication Society renders this verse the same as do other translations: “Thus Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and during the reign of Cyrus the Persian.”
Till’s objection has two major problems: 1) The over reliance on Bible translations to rule out how a Biblical verse can or cannot be translated is very unscholarly and crossing the line to being pathetic. And 2) In his search of “support from translations” for Wiseman’s suggestion he obviously hasn’t checked enough translations because in several of them (in the footnotes) similar readings are accepted as a legitimate alternative translation. These Bible versions are the New International Version, the New Living Translation, the Holman Christian Standard Bible, and the Today’s New International Version. It is given as, ” . . . Darius, that is, the reign of Cyrus,” or as “Darius, even . . .”
So Wiseman didn’t make this up. The verse can be translated as ” So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius, that is, the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” It doesn’t just have to say ” . . . during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus” as Till keeps on insisting. The “that is” or “even” point to the reigns of both Cyrus and Darius as being one and the same, like King Pul’s anger or spirit being the same as Tiglath–Pileser’s. So, the truth is that Wiseman’s hypothesis does, in fact, have support. — So, even with this evidence that any novice, including Till, can access I think this renders any protests against the alternate translation of Daniel 6:28 as irrelevant. However, this isn’t the end of the end of the Cyrus-Darius debate.
Cyrus’s Possible Origins
Something very important to the Cyrus-Darius debate is where Cyrus came from and what his origins are. It would be understandable for people to reject the theory that Cyrus is Darius on the basis that Cyrus is called a Persian and Darius is called a Mede. However, that would be to forget Cyrus’s heritage. — Cyrus was possibly half-Mede, the grandson of Astyages who was the last king of the Medes.
The Historian George Grote says that Cyrus’ childhood may be legendary as the Historian Herodotus tells it. He says:
According to the legend, Astyages, the king of the Medes and overlord of the Persians, gave his daughter in marriage to his vassal in Persis, a prince called Cambyses. From this marriage Cyrus was born.
This shows that is possible that Cyrus was Half-Mede, though some historians think it is legend. And Ferrell Till is very sure to say that this relationship to the Medes by Cyrus “is by no means historically certain.” Till continues to say:
Let’s assume that Cyrus’s mother was a Median princess. Why would that have made the son of a Persian king, born in Persia, “a Mede by birth”? That kind of logic would have made Obed, the grandfather of David, a Moabite, because his mother Ruth was a Moabitess (Ruth 1:3-4; 4:13-21) [ . . . ] According to 1 Chronicles 3:1-3, the mothers of three of David’s sons were foreigners, so the same logic that inerrantists use to make Cyrus a Mede would make these sons of David the same ethnicity as their mothers.
Till is trying to show the saying that Cyrus was Mede as problematic based on certain Biblical examples of Half-blood Isrealites. He apparently thinks that these children could not have identified, at least in part, as part of their mothers’ race. As someone who is biracial himself I find this assumption absurd. — There is no reason why Obed, a son of an Isrealite man mentioned by Till in his examples, couldn’t have admitted to being of the “seed” of a Moabite. And as for his examples of David’s sons: It wouldn’t be said that they were actually “foreigners” because they were the sons of an Isrealite, but they did have foreign blood in their veins from their mother, so the same thing goes for them. So again, Till’s reasoning is absurd and I think barley even worth mentioning.
Now, back to the prossible relationship between Astyages and Cyrus: Some Livus.org historians, in fact accept that it is “possible that the story of Cambyses‘ Median marriage was invented to justify Cyrus’ rule.” – However, they also say that such a relationship between the two men “would explain why the Medes accepted Cyrus’ rule; he was one of them.” — In other words, it is possible one way or the other, and such a relationship of Cyrus the Persian to the Median royal family should not be ruled out. And to do so would be bad scholarship.
Also, if the Medes indeed did accept Cyrus as “one of them” because of the blood relation through his mother, then that would be full justification for also labeling him as a Mede. — Also, that assertion shows that scholars don’t agree with Till when he claims that even if Cyrus were the grandson of the last Median King and the son of a Mede princess that he wouldn’t be of the “seed of the Medes.” But apparently, nothing is good enough for Farrell Till:
Cyrus was not “of the seed of the Medes” or “by birth a Mede.” He was a Persian, and the writer of Daniel described him as such when he was unequivocally referring to his ethnicity (Dan. 6:28). As noted above, the author of Daniel specifically said that “Darius the Mede” was “by birth a Mede,” so he was obviously emphasizing his ethnic origin; therefore, if Miller’s spin on Daniel 6:28 is correct, it would have this verse meaning: “So Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius [the Mede], even in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” Only a desperate biblical inerrantist would say that this interpretation of the verse makes any logical sense, because a more plausible interpretation is that the writer was emphasizing that Cyrus was a Persian as opposed to Darius, whom he had just identified as a Mede.
This arguement that, dispite potential authentic historical possibilities, shows how closed minded Till is. There is no way he can actually say with certainty that Cyrus was not of Median origins. But since it hurts his anti-Biblical position, he decides to pretend it is impossible. And that, as I said, is bad scholarship. — And as for his protest for the alternate translation of Daniel 6: 28, I think I have already made my point.
The Meaning of “Darius the Mede“
A logical question could potentially be: If Daniel meant that Darius the Mede is Cyrus the Persian, then why not simply call him “Cyrus?” Several Christian scholars and apologists have noted that certain pre-Daniel Biblical prophesies that predicted that the Medes would have a hand in Babylon’s downfall. A notable example, in the context of a fall of Babylon is Isaiah 21:2:
A dire vision has been shown to me: The traitor betrays, the looter takes loot. Elam, attack Media, lay siege! I will bring to an end all the groaning she [Babylon] caused. (TNIV, Brackets mine)
Another example is Isaiah 13: 17,19:
See, I will stir up against them the Medes, who do not care for silver and have no delight in gold. Their bows will strike down the young men; they will have no mercy on infants, nor will they look with compassion on children. Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the pride and glory of the Babylonians, will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah. (TNIV)
So for a Jewish prophet, it would only be natural to emphesis the fullfilent of this certain prophesy in his lifetime. Hence, we get the Median side of Cyrus. As a matter of fact, Daniel personally may have prefered calling him a Mede over a Persian. For modern readers, this is misleading, but it wouldn’t have been for Daniel’s first readers.
Farrel Till, always scratching for something wrong, insists that these verses are a basis that a misinformed Jew from the second century B.C. used to come to conclusion that the Persians didn’t conquer Babylon, but rather the Medes instead. (I’ll talk about this a little later)
I have another contention about the name “Darius” as far as Cyrus is concerned. According to the Encyclopedia of the Orient “It is not known whether Cyrus was a title or a personal name.” — So if “Cyrus” is indeed a title then his real name would be unknown. But then if he and “Darius the Mede” are indeed one and the same as Daniel 6:28 seems to show, then that could mean that Daniel himself that he preserved his name (Darius) which is otherwise historically unknown.
The Son of Ahasuerus
According to Daniel 9:1 Darius the Mede is called the son of Ahasuerus (or Xerxes). The main point of Farrel Till’s “Darius the Son of Ahashuerus?“ is to slam this statement. He claims that this makes a chronological problem:
Ahasuerus was the Xeres of the book of Esther, who reigned over the Persian empire from 485-465 BC. How, then, could Darius the Mede, who conquered Babylon in 539 BC and allegedly ruled over it, have been the son of a king who didn’t reign till 54 years later? The sensible explanation is that the writer of Daniel, who lived centuries after the events he was writing about, was confused about when and where certain 5th– and 6th-century BC rulers had lived.
One could understandably agree with Till that this is a “chronological problem” as he puts it. Till then mocks assertions by Christian apologists that “Ahasuerus” could be a title instead of an actual name. By this he says that making “Ahasuerus” a title for Darius’ father would cause confussion to the ancient readers of the Hebrew Bible. He then cites verses from the books of Esther, Ezra as well as other verses which mention the Persian “Ahasuerus.” — He continues after citing an extremely long Biblical passage which mentions many kings:
This passage, which described conflict that the returning Jewish exiles had with the inhabitants of the region, mentioned five kings: Esar-Haddon of Assyria, Cyrus of Persia, Darius of Persia, Ahasuerus of Persia, and Artaxerxes also of Persia. Werethese names or just “royal titles”? Will inerrantists try to argue that Esar-Haddon was not the name of an Assyrian king, that Cyrus was not the name of a Persian king, that Darius was not the name of a Persian king, and that Artaxerxes was not the name of a Persian king? In each case, the “royal title” king was used in reference to these monarchs, so if inerrantists argue that Ahasuerus was just a “royal title,” they will be arguing that Ezra used the specific names of four different kings in this passage but referred to the fifth one by just a “royal title.” How likely is that? (Emphasis his)
For the record, as I mentioned earlier, “Cyrus” may indeed be a title. But apparently Till doesn’t know that. — And also, to compare Daniel’s style of writting to that of others is a flawed approach because obviously Daniel doesn’t have to write in the same manner as Ezra or any other prophet. Different people have different writing styles, and that’s a fact. — Till is assuming way to much in believing that the “Ahasueras” of Esther and Ezra really has to be the one mentioned in Daniel.
I don’t pretend to actually know who this “Ahasueras” really was, but I do have a really good idea as to his identity. I think it would be a huge mistake to identify him as Cambyses (Cyrus’ birth-father). So I’d say that leads to the maternal side of the family which would identify him as King Astyages the Mede. — Besides my assumption, there is historical evidence to back it up: The ancient Jewish historian Josephus, although he doesn’t identify Darius as Cyrus, says that, “[Darius] was the son of Astyages, and had another name among the Greeks.” (Antiquities of the Jews, 10,11, 4) — This identification of Darius’ father as Astyages is extremely important because Josephus would have known that Daniel called Darius’s father “Ahasueras.” So he likely saw them as one and the same.
Also, I should mention that if, as mentioned before, that Daniel focused on the Median ethnicity of Cyrus to show that Biblical prophesy had been fulfilled through him, then Astyages is the safest bet to identify “Ahasuerus.” — I have no opinion of which of the two names (”Astyages” or “Ahasuerus”) are titles or actual names as some other Christians do.
To the Medes or the Persians?
Earlier, I mentioned that Farrel Till insists that the Book of Daniel says that Babylon fell to the Medes and not to the Persians:
The author of Daniel, writing long after the fact, obviously didn’t know the facts about the actual fall of Babylon, and so he theorized that the city had to have been conquered by the Medes.
The truth is there is textual evidence in Daniel itself that the author know the true history of the Babylonian fall. It can be found in the fifth capter of the book when Daniel interprates the so-called “writing on the wall.”
“This is the inscription that was written: Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin. “This is what these words mean: Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” (Daniel 5:25,28 NIV)
This may not look like proof but it should be noted that in verse 28, Daniel used “Peres” which is the singular of “Parsin.” The Alternate understandings of this term include renderings such as “half mina,” “half shekel,” and most importantly to my case it can even mean “Persia.” — In other words the evidence that Daniel know the true story of how Babylon fell is found in a pun in the term used for “divided.” Daniel did not make a mistake. However in another of his posts (See “The Linguistic ‘Evidence’”) this still isn’t good enough for Till. So, one could wonder if any evidence will ever be good enough.
The identity of Darius the Mede is indeed problematic, but not impossible to resolve. So far, there seems to be more of a possiblity for him to be Cyrus the Persian than for him to be Gobryas (or Ugbaru). The strongest bit of evidence is the alternate translation of Daniel 6:28 as, “Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, even (namely, or i.e.) the reign of Cyrus the Persian” which points in that dirrection. The rest of the evidence to identify him as such in no way goes against known history, though sometimes it is speculative in several instances. Someday this matter may be resolved satisfactually.
The book of Daniel is an apocolyptic book of the Old Testament which starts with King Nebuchadnezzar II’s defeat of Johoiakim, the Judean king. Nebuchadnezzar then decided to take certain members of the Jewish royal family and nobility with him, as well as certain articles of the temple. (This may have been in 605 B.C.)
Daniel and his three freinds are offered food from the king’s own table. However they refuse to take it asking for vegetables and water. The guard that they say this to protests and says that vegetables and water would have negative affects on them. — They eventually agree to a ten day test to see who is healthier, them or the ones who ate the rich food of the king. After the ten days they appeared healthier than the others.
Nebuchanezzar has a dream that he immediately forgets when he wakes up and demands his wise men to tell him what it was and then to interpret it. They are unable to so the king gets angry and decrees that all wise men should be executed. Daniel then goes to the king and offers to interpret his dream. He starts by telling him what he dreamed. Satisfied with Daniel’s description and interpretation, Nebuchadnezzar promotes him to a high position.
What I plan on doing in this post is defend the authenticity of the Book of Daniel from the people who say that it is a forgery from the Maccabean revolt in the second century.
One of the top on my list is a post from Farrell Till of Infidels.org entitled “ Bad History in the Book of Daniel,” however, there are others I plan on defending it from. *Some of the issues here deserve there own blog posts, and probably will get them.
Being a Christian, faith in God and the Bible are fundamentals, especially if you believe that the Bible is the infallible word of God. So if the Bible is shown to have historical blunders then that could shake any open-minded person’s faith. — However, it is good for that person to do his own independent research and check his facts.
A philosopher and “violent opponent of Christianity and defender of paganism” and author of the book Against the Christians named Porphyry who lived between 232 and 304 A.D. was the first person to call into question the authenticity of the Book of Daniel, saying that is was written during the Maccabean revolt at around 165 B.C. — Since then, most scholars seem to have accepted his accusation as fact without question. Even the scholars who worked on the catholic New American Bible in the introduction of Daniel accept this idea.
Also, many scholars mention many apparent “historical blunders” to show that the book can’t possibly be authentic or accurate. — In this post, I’m going to take a look at these apparent historical errors in Daniel.
King Belshazzar, “Son” of Nebuchadnezzar
In his criticism of the Book of Daniel, the first apparent historical blunder Farrell Till deals with is found in Daniel 5: 1-23 where King Nebuchadnezzar is called Belshazzar’s “father” five times and Belshazzar is called his “son” once.
Till is very quick to point out that Belshazzar is actually the son of Nabonidus, not Nebuchadnezzar. – He then insists that someone who was once ruler of the entire province of Babylon would not make be so uninformed. He then dismisses an explanation that says that Belshazzar could be the son of Nebuchadnezzar like Jews are the sons of Abraham and that Jesus was the son of David on the grounds that Abraham and David were separated from modern Jews and Jesus Christ by centuries while Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar weren’t.
An explanation for this apparent “historical blunder” can be found in the bottom page reference of these passages of Daniel in any New International Version of the Bible. These references give an alternate translation of “father” as “ancestor” for Nebuchadnezzar. And it also shows that in Belshazzar’s case an alternate understanding for “son” can be substituted with “descendant.” — So, on that grounds alone, Daniel isn’t necessarily in error.
But he goes on: He insists that Daniel means that Belshazzar and Nebuchadnezzar are literally father and son by mentioning that between that last acts of Nebuchadnezzar in the Bible until Belshazzar, the other Babylonian rulers aren’t mentioned. — He then insists that “this within itself would indicate an ignorance of 6th-century Babylonian history.”
This, however, doesn’t need to be construed as ignorance of the author. It could be that Daniel just didn’t see the other rulers of Babylon that came between the two said kings as being relevant to what he was writing.
But he keeps on with it. He mentions that Nebuchadnezzar’s family was deposed and replaced by men who were not related to him, like Nabonidus. Then he says:
The fact that the writer of Daniel leaped from Nebuchadnezzar to Belshazzar, passing over completely the reigns of four intervening kings, certainly indicates a fuzzy knowledge of the history of this period. That lack of knowledge provides the best explanation for why the writer would have called Nebuchadnezzar the “father” of Belshazzar and Belshazzar the “son” of Nebuchadnezzar when the two were not related.
While it is true that Nabonidus was not related to Nebuchadnezzar, that doesn’t rule out any relation that his son Belshazzar could have had with him. — In fact the Encyclopædia Britannica says that Belshazzar’s mother was named Nitocris “who was perhaps a daughter of Nebuchadrezzar.”
Hence, Belshazzar was not related to Nebuchadnezzar by his father Nabonidus, however it is possible that he was his grandson through his mother. — These details support the book of Daniel. — So Farrel Till, in his paper against the historicity of Daniel, in assuming that the two weren’t related at all obviously didn’t do enough research.
Some Critics (Not Farrell Till) criticize Daniel for calling Belshazzar the King of Babylon, pointing out that his father Nabonidus was still alive. It is true that Nabonidus was still alive and still officially King. But there are other details that should be looked at that show Daniel is correct.
Archaeological Experts point out that Belshazzar “stood in as temporary ruler” in his father’s absence. One could say he was a stand in king. They also point out:
Nabonidus, as King of Babylon, paid little attention to the politics, religion, or affairs of Imperial Babylon preferring instead to travel and research the older buildings, temples, and objects of antiquity that lay in the outer most parts of his Empire. For this reason he is included in archaeology’s ‘hall of fame’ because his abandonment of his royal duties were in favour of some of the first archaeological investigations.
In other words, Nabonidus wasn’t much of a king and his son was a stand in as Co-Regent. Apparently Belshazzar was more of a king than his father, though he was officially second in command.
More evidence is found in ancient text of “the Verse Account of Nabonidus” which says:
After he (Nabonidus) had obtained what he desired, a work of utter deceit, had built this abomination, a work of unholiness -when the third year was about to begin- he entrusted the army [?] to his oldest son, (Belshazzar) his first born, the troops in the country he ordered under his command. He let everything go, entrusted the kingship to him, and, himself, he started out for a long journey. The military forces of Akkad marching with him, he turned to Temâ deep in the west. (Parentheses Mine)
The Nabonidus Verse says that Nabonidus “Entrusted the Kingship” to his oldest son, who was Belshazzar. You cannot get much stronger evidence in favor of Daniel’s calling him the King of Babylon.
There is actually certain evidence in the book of Daniel itself that Belshazzar wasn’t first in the Babylonian Kingdom. — In Daniel 5 Belshazzar sees writing on the wall and doesn’t know what it means. He then asks Daniel to read and interperate the meaning. Belshazzar then tells him:
“Now I have heard that you are able to give interpretations and to solve difficult problems. If you can read this writing and tell me what it means, you will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around your neck, and you will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.” Daniel 5:16 NIV
That Belshazzar offers Daniel the office of third in the kingdom is very important. Why not make Daniel the second ruler? Because Belshazzar was second and Nabonidus was first. — So even though King Nabonidusisn’t mentioned outright by Daniel, there is a certain implication of his existence.
The “third year” of Jehoiakim
Another apparent error in Daniel is found as the book opens:
During the third year of King Jehoiakim’s reign in Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it with his armies. The Lord gave him victory over King Jehoiakim of Judah. When Nebuchadnezzar returned to Babylon, he took with him some of the sacred objects from the Temple of God and placed them in the treasure house of his god in the land of Babylon. Daniel 1:1-2 NLT
This invasion of Judah would have happened in 605 B.C. when King Jehoiakim pledged allegiance to Nebuchadnezzar instead of Neco, the Egyptian king, after the the Battle of Carchemish. Then same year Nebuchadnezzar had to go back to Babylon when his father Nabopolassar died to claim his throne.
Farrell Till assumes that Jerusalem wasn’t besieged in 605 B.C. — He says that even the Biblical records say that the seige was in the last year of Jehoiakim, not his third. However, the Bible also says that when Nebuchadnezzar first invaded Judah in 605 B.C., he made Jehoiakim, after his surrender, his vassal for three years before he rebelled. (1 Kings 24: 1) Even though a siege isn’t mentioned, it is possible that that is exactly what happened. In fact, it doesn’t have to have been an actual seige because the Hebew term ,צור (pronounced as tsür), allows for the alternate understanding as “to show hostility to,” or “to treat as foe.”
He also claims that then, and apparently only then, were the sacred objects of the temple of God and captives taken, probably hoping to show a contradiction between Daniel 1:1-2 and 2 Kings 24: 10-13. — However, this isn’t a contradiction.
In Daniel 1:1-2, which would have happened in 605 B.C., it is said the Babylonians took only “some”of the temple objects. — In 2 Kings 24: 10-13, which happened years later under Jehoiachin, Jehoiakim’s successor,it is said that the Babylonians, then, took all of them. — Some temple articles being taken in one year, and then all of them years later is hardly a contradiction.
It should also be mentioned that 2 Chronicles 36: 5-9 shows that temple treasures were taken from the temple twice by the Babylonians. Once when Jehoiakim was king, and the other time when Jehoiachin, his son ruled.
Another doubt of Daniel from the beginning of chapter 1 comes from the claim that the first Babylonian invasion of Judah was in “the third year”of King Jehoiakim. — As I mentioned earlier, this invasion happened in the same year almost immediately after King Neco of Egypt was defeated by Nebuchadnezzar at the battle of Carchemish. — In Jeremiah 46, this battle is mentioned and it is said to have happened in “the forth year” of King Jehoiakim’s reign (Jeremiah 46:2).
Understandably, this does look like a contradiction. But the fact is that the Babylonians had a different system of time reckoning. — The Berytus Archeological Studies of the American University of Beirut shows that the Babylonians had a calender system called the “accession year” which was later adopted by the Persians.
This is how they define accession years:
The last civil year of a previous ruler was identified with the “year of the beginning” of his successor, and “year 1″ of the latter started at the next Nisanu 1 only.
In other words, because the Jews had no such system, they counted 609 B.C. as the first year of Jehoiakimand counted the first year of his reign starting with the first day he became king. Therefore to the Jews the year 605 B.C. would have been his fourth year on the throne. — However, in the Babylonian system, the first year of the reign of Jehoiakim would have been officially started on the first day of their calender in 608 B.C., counting 609 B.C. as the last year of his predecessor. So according to the Babylonians, the third year of King Jehoiakim would have been in 605 B.C.
If Daniel were a Babylonian official, as his book claims, he likely would have adopted their style of time reckoning. I seriously doubt Daniel would have known of this system difference if he lived in the second century.
King Darius the Mede
The biggest problem in Daniel is the Identity of Darius the Mede. Many assume that Daniel confuses Cyrus with Darius the first. There are a couple of theories as to his identity.
One theory suggests that he is Gobryas (or Ugbaru) who, according to the Nabonidus Chronicle, was the General of Cyrus that became the Governor of Babylon. However, my problem with this theory is that Ugbaru died just a few days after capturing the city, so if he is indeed Darius then it would be a very tight fit. However, there is another theory which I think fits even better. The theory that Darius is Cyrus.
D.J. Wiseman has noticed that there is an alternative translation of Daniel 6: 28. This verse usually shows up in the Bible as “So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” However, he mentions the following:
The basis of the hypothesis is that Daniel 6:28 can be translated ‘Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, even (namely, or i.e.) the reign of Cyrus the Persian.’ Such a use of the appositional or explicative Hebrew waw construction has long been recognized in Chronicles 5:26 (‘So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria even the spirit of Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria’) and else where.
Mentioning Pul and Tiglath-Pileser as an example to prove his point is important, because the two of them were the same person. Pul was his given name, and Tiglath-Pilaser was his throne name. His translation of 1 Chronicles 5: 26 emphasises that they were one and the same, though with different titles. Even though some translations like the New American Bibletranslate this verse as “God of Israel incited against them the anger of Pul, king of Assyria, andof Tiglath-pileser” phrasing the verse as if they were different persons, many modern translations, like the New King James Version, phrase it as “the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, that is, Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria” showing they are the same individual, which they are, and also because it was a possible translation. — So, obviously, this verse can be legitimately translated both ways.
He then points out that his verse is structured similarly to Daniel 6: 28, hence it would then be possible that Cyrus and Darius were the same. *One name would be a given name and the other might possibly be a title.*
In Farrell Till’s responce he says: “I have checked various translations, and I can find none that support Wiseman’s hypothesis.” — Well, Till obviously has not searched enough. In certain Bible translations like the New International Version, the New Living Translation, and the Holman Christian Standard Bible in the bottom of the page references (not in the actual text of Daniel) there is an alternative translation similar to Wiseman’s. It is given as, ” . . . Darius, that is, the reign of Cyrus,” or as “Darius, even . . .”
So Wiseman didn’t make this up. The verse can be translated as ” So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius, that is, the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” It doesn’t just have to say ” . . . during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus” as Till keeps on insisting.
The “that is” or “even” point to the reigns of both Cyrus and Darius as being one and the same, like King Pul’s anger or spirit being the same as Tiglath-Pileser’s. So, the truth is that Wiseman’s hypothesis does, in fact, have support.
It would be understandable for people to reject the theory that Cyrus is Darius on the basis that Cyrus is called a Persian and Darius is called a Mede. However, that would be to forget Cyrus’s heritage. — Cyrus was probably half-Mede, the grandson of Astyages who was the last king of the Medes.
George Grote says:
Astyages, the king of the Medes and overlord of the Persians, gave his daughter in marriage to his vassal in Persis, a prince called Cambyses. From this marriage Cyrus was born.
He then mentions a legend in which Astyages saw Cyrus growing up to dethrone him so he decided to have him killed. He then changed his mind later and in 550 B.C. His dream became reality.
– A reasonable question, though is why would Daniel want to use the “Median” title for the conqueror of Babylon? The answer may be because of prophesies that predicted that Babylon would fall to the Medes.
See, I will stir up against them the Medes, who do not care for silver and have no delight in gold. Their bows will strike down the young men; they will have no mercy on infants nor will they look with compassion on children. Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the glory of the Babylonians’ pride, will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah. Isaiah 13: 17-19 NIV
Knowing Cyrus’s tribal background, this isn’t impossible. It also seems likely that Daniel may have preferred the name “Darius the Mede” to Cyrus the Persian, though he did use the latter a variety of times. This would be misleading to us but obvious to Daniel’s first readers.
Going back a little Since both 1 Chronicles 5:26 names King Pul along with his title as manarch, and Since Daniel 6: 28 can be understood in both ways, we can be sure that one of the two names given is Cyrus’s given name and that the other is a title. The question then becomes: Which is which?
According to the Encyclopedia of the Orient “It is not known whether Cyrus was a title or a personal name.” This then indicates that if “Cyrus” is a title and not a personal name then his name is probably lost to history. Or is it? — Since Daniel 6: 28 shows both as the same, then what if Daniel was the one who preserved his real name? What if his given name was, in fact, Darius?
There is also the question of the father of Darius the Mede is called ofAhasueras in Daniel 9:1. I believe that if Cyrus is indeed Darius then “Ahasueras” may be an alternate name for Astyages his grandfather, or for Cambyses his actual father. But if Daniel wanted to stress that Cyrus was half-Mede as accomplishment of the prophesy that the Medes would conquer Babylon, then most probably he meant Astyages the last of the Median Kings. — Actually there is a historical source to back this up. Josephus, the ancient Jewish historian, does in fact mention that Darius “was the son of Astyages” (Antiquities of the Jews, 10,11, 4). This is important because Josephus would have known that Daniel called Darius’s father Ahasueras. So he likely saw them as one and the same.
Even though some question such a relationship between Astyages and Cyrus, it has never been disproved. Also, it is possible that Cyrus was more than his grandson. He may have also been his son-in-law. It was suggested that, although his mother was a daughter of Astyages, that he married his mother’s sister (i.e. his aunt). It isn’t impossible. And if this is true, then Cyrus could be called “the son of Astyages” in more ways that one.
The last issue about the Cyrus-Darius theory has to do about Cyrus’s age when he took Babylon. Daniel 5:31 says that Darius the Mede was sixty-two years old when his rule began. We know that he took Babylon in 539 B.C., meaning his accession year would have begun in 538 B.C.
The year of his birth, however, in unknown. — Some sources (like the Encyclopaedia Britannica) suggest the years 590 to 580 B.C. If either of these are true, then Cyrus would have been between 41 and 51 at the time of the conquest of Babylon. — Other sources (like the Encyclopaedia of the Orient) suggest the year 600 B.C. Now if this is true, then Cyrus would have been 61 at the time of the Babylonian conquest and, possibly, 62 when his accession year as King of Babylon began just as Daniel points out. — The evidence seems to point to King Cyrus as Darius the Mede.
Based on this evidence, I believe that the Book of Daniel is not historically inaccurate. It seems to me that accusations of historical inconsistency are based on honest misunderstandings of the book and known history.