Defending the Theistic View

Posts tagged “History

I’m Moving my Blog!

Actually, I am transfering to two separate blogs with two different themes.

For posts on Biblical history, I will he posting here:

As for posts debunking the “Jesus Myth,” I’ll be posting here:

Well, see you there.

Zeitgeist Challenge Exposes Acharya S and Zeitgeist

Recently I wrote a short refutation of AcharyaS’ defence of Zeitgeist. For anyone who would like a better refutation, I am posting a video refutation which was produced by the webmasters of Zeitgeist Challenge which goes into better detail that I do.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Daniel’s Four Empires — The Skeptics just don’t get it!

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:

  1. The Lion — Babylon
  2. The Bear — Media
  3. Leopard — Persia
  4. 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).

(Text Link: Alexander of Macedon

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)
  • Anglo-Saxons
  • Visigoths
  • Lombards
  • Vandals
  • Ostrogoths
  • Heruli
  • Suevi
  • Alemani
  • Burgundians

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.

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.