The Liberal Critical Interpretation of the 490 years promised by Daniel 9 to Israel

The book Daniel was written during the Babylonian Empire in the sixth century BC and contains very precise predictions of the later Medo-Persian and Greek Empires.  The liberal critical view of the Bible, which dominates the academic centers of the world, makes the a priori assumption that knowledge of the future is impossible.  It therefore must show that Daniel was written after the events it predicts.  Its proposed solution is that Daniel was written during the second century BC crisis under Antiochus IV, and that Daniel contains no predictions of events beyond than time.  But then Daniel 9 predicts 490 years from the decree to restore Jerusalem until Antiochus, while there are less than 400 years between the Babylonian Empire and Antiochus.  These scientists therefore propose creative solutions.

This article explains the critical interpretation of Daniel 9, phrase by phrase, but also provides objections to it.

The point of departure

Holy BibleThe point of departure in the critical perspective is:

(1) That the book of Daniel was written during the persecution of the Jews by the Greek king Antiochus IV, somewhere between 168 and 163 BC.
(2) That all the visions in Daniel, even Daniel 9, describe the conflict under Antiochus.
(3) That the prophecies in Daniel are actually recorded history in the form of prophecy.

Antiochus desecrated the temple and killed many Jews.  But soon the Jews, through the Maccabean revolt, were able to defeat Antiochus’ army, run them out of their country and rededicate their temple.  The prophecy of Daniel 9 ends with the accumulation of desolations. In Daniel 9 there is no indication of a rededication of the altar.  For this reason critical scholars propose that the book of Daniel was put in its final form prior to the success of the revolt and prior to the restoration of the sanctuary services.  On this basis critical scholars believe they are able to date the compilation of the book precisely.

Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city (9:24)

490 yearsThe 490 years must not include the 70 years.  Since Critics must fit the 490 years of Daniel 9 before the time of Antiochus, they must start the 490 years as early as possible.  They therefore start with the destruction of Jerusalem. But this was also when Jeremiah’s 70 years start.  In other words, Jeremiah’s 70 years of desolation are made part of the 490 years (the seventy weeks).  For the following reasons the seventy weeks should not include the 70 years:

Firstly, the Daniel 9 prophecy was received at the end of the 70 years.

Secondly, the 70 years were years of covenant curse, while the 490 years were years of covenant renewal.  The 70 years were years of exile, which was the covenant curse for disobedience.  The promise of the 490 years renewed the covenant.  As stated by 9:24, “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city”.  It is not logical to include the 70 years of covenant curse into the 490 years promised “for your people and your holy city”.

Thirdly, the Jewish calendar was divided into weeks of years in which the seventh and last year was a Sabbath year during which the land had to rest.  The promise of 70 weeks is Daniel 9 is based these weeks of years.  God used the Sabbath years to measure Israel’s obedience.  The covenant promises and curses, recorded in Leviticus 26, linked the exile to the weeks of years.  It warned Israel that they would be in exile one year for every Sabbath year not observed.  During exile “the land will enjoy its sabbaths” (Lev. 26:34-35; cf. 2Ch 36:21).  After Israel went into exile, God sent a message to Israel through Jeremiah that the exile would be 70 years.  In other words, the 70 years of exile were the penalty for 490 past years of disobedience.  The 70 years were not part of the 490 past years of disobedience.  Neither should the 70 years be part of the new cycle of 490 years.

For a further elaboration of these principles, please read The Covenant in Daniel 9.

To finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness … (9:24)

Daniel 9 goalsThe interpretation does not fit the goals.  Why would a faithful Jew, compiling the book of Daniel in the second century, during the period of temple desecration under Antiochus, give these 6 goals for the 8 events predicted in the prophecy?   It would require substantial creativity to find application for goals such as “to make an end of sin” and “to bring in everlasting righteousness” (9:24) to the time of Antiochus, particularly on the basis of the critical assumption that Daniel was written prior to the success of the Maccabean revolt.

The conflict in the time of Antiochus IV was more of the nature of a civil war between pro-Hellenistic and an anti-Hellenistic Jewish factions, than it was a conflict with an external oppressor.  “The severest condemnation of the writer of I Maccabees goes, not to the Seleucid politicians, but to the lawless apostates among his own people” (The introduction to I Maccabees in the NAB).  It is difficult to see how a second century writer could link the goals listed in 9:24 a Jewish civil war.

From the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (9:25)

Decree to restore JerusalemCritical scholars believe that the second century writer of Daniel obtained the idea of the 70 weeks from Jeremiah’s prediction of 70 years of captivity (Jer. 25:11-13; 29:10), referred to in Daniel 9:2.  The standard critical approach is that the 70 weeks of years is a reinterpretation of Jeremiah’s prophecy.  Consequently, critical scholars begin the 490 years with the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC.

No decree – But then the 490 years do not start with such a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, as required by 9:25, but with the destruction of Jerusalem.  There was no “decree” which speaks of a rebuilding of Jerusalem at that time.

Critics therefore propose that the announcement by God through Jeremiah (Jeremiah 25:1-2, 11-12; 29:10) was the “decree” (NASB) specified by Daniel 9:25, but Jeremiah received this word from God 19 years earlier (in 605 BC – year one of Nebuchadnezzar Jer. 25:1, 12).  Furthermore, Jeremiah’s prophecy was not a “decree to rebuild and restore Jerusalem

Until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks (9:25)

Masoretic TextIn the Critical Interpretation Cyrus is the messiah in this verse and he appears at the end of the first seven weeks (49 years).  In the NASB, quoted in the heading above, the messiah appears at the end of 7 and 62 weeks, but critical scholars rely on the Masoretic punctuation—as for instance used in the RSV—which places the appearance of the messiah in verse 25 at the end of the first 49 years.  Critical scholars obtain support for this view from Isaiah 45:1, where Cyrus is called the anointed of the Lord:

Thus says the LORD to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held“.

(The Hebrews word translated messiah in the NASB is mashiach, and means anointed, and in translated as “anointed one” in some translations (e.g. RSV).)

.  The next year Cyrus issued a decree allowing the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple.  In the critical interpretation the first seven weeks are then the period from the Chaldean destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC to Cyrus’s decree of liberation for the Jews in 538 BC.  From 586 to 538 is 48 years, which is only one year short of the required 49 years (7 x 7).

There is only one messiah. – In the Critic’s view there are two messiahs: The messiah of 9:25 is Cyrus and the messiah in 9:26, who will be cut off, is the Jewish high priest Onias III.  (See below.)  However:

According to the discussion of the punctuation in the article When does the Messiah Appear, there is no messiah after the first seven weeks.  There is only one messiah, and he appears after 7 + 62 weeks.

Two different messiahs in two consecutive verses are unlikely.  9:25 and 9:26 must refer to the same person because both are described as “messiah”.

Why 49 years, and not 70? Critics view the 490 years as a reinterpretation of Jeremiah’s seventy years.  If that was true, should the first subdivision of the 490 years not be 70 years, rather than 49?

Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing (9:26a)

As stated, the Masoretic punctuation has two messiahs in the prophecy of Daniel 9; one after 49 years and another one that is cut off 62 weeks (434 years) later (9:26).  Critical scholars use this punctuation and identify the first messiah as Cyrus and the second as the Jewish High Priest Onias III, who was murdered in 171/0 BC.  They find support in the fact that priests are called “anointed” in Leviticus 4:3 and following. In this view Daniel 9 does not refer to Jesus at all.

Onias was no messiah – The Bible uses the term “messiah” exclusively for people that rescue Israel from danger.  Cyrus might be described as a messiah, but Onias was no messiah.  He did not rescue Israel from anything.  Antiochus IV replaced him as high priest with his more liberal brother Jason. A few years later, in 171/0, he was killed.  It was only 4 years later that Antiochus IV desecrated the temple.

Onias was not cut off “after the sixty-two weeks”.  According to the NASB translation of Daniel 9:25 the messiah appears at the end of “seven weeks and sixty-two weeks” (9:25) and is cut off some undefined period “after the sixty-two weeks” (9:26).  But in the critics’ scheme the messiah (Onias) disappears (is cut off) immediately at the end of the 483 years.

Does not fit the timelineThe second division (the 62 weeks), in the critical interpretation, extends from Cyrus (539/8 BC) to Onias (171/0 BC).  This is only 367 years, 67 years short of the predicted 434 years (62 x 7).  Consequently, the full period of 490 years is actually only 586-164 = 422 years.  Critics believe that 9:24-27 is history written down after the events, in the form of prophecy.  If this was true, then one could rightly expect that the “prophecy” would fit the figures of 49 + 434 + 7 years (7 + 62 + 1 weeks) perfectly, but this difference is accepted by scholars on the assumption that the chronological knowledge, when Daniel was written, was not very exact.

Daniel is historically accurate.  It should be noted that the book of Daniel indeed contains amazingly accurate historical information (although poorly known during the later pre-Christian centuries).  For example:

The author of Daniel is correct in his description of Nebuchadnezzar as the builder of Babylon (4:30).  RH Pfeiffer was compelled to concede, “We shall presumably never know how our author learned that the new Babylon was the creation of Nebuchadnezzar, as the excavations have proved.”

The author was correct in his knowledge that Belshazzar, mentioned only in Daniel and in cuneiform records, was functioning as king when Cyrus conquered Babylon in 539 BC.

On the basis of cunei­form evidence the vexing chronological problem between Daniel 1:1 and Jeremiah 25:1; 46:2 has been solved without any discrepancy.  (See the article Is the Book of Daniel a Fraud? for more information.)

These exam­ples show that the writer of Daniel knew history quite well, and would not have made such a massive mistake with the dates.

The people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary (9:26b).

Antiochus IVAntiochus did not destroy the sanctuary.  In the critical interpretation Antiochus Epiphanes is this “prince”, but Antiochus never destroyed the sanctuary.  He turned it into a temple of his own god.  Neither did Antiochus destroy Jerusalem.  He destroyed only part of Jerusalem and massacred many of its inhabitants.  A second century author would have seen with his own eyes that Antiochus did not destroy the temple, but only defiled it (1Macc.1:30-31, 39).

And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week (9:27a)

In the critical interpretation this “firm covenant” is the cooperation between Antiochus and the Hellenizing Jews.  The Hellenizing Jews are the Jews that adopted Greeks customs at the expense of Jewish customs.

Prince of the covenant – Surely the “prince of the covenant” in 11:22 must be the same as the prince that confirms the covenant for one week (9:27).  But in the critical interpretation the one that makes a firm covenant in Daniel 9 is Antiochus, while Antiochus kills the “prince of the covenant” in Daniel 11.

Antiochus did not make a seven-year pact with anybody.  Critics argue that Antiochus made an agreement with the Hellenizing Jews for one week, but Antiochus IV did not conclude or confirm an agreement with anybody for one week.  His general support for the pro-Seleucid faction cannot be limited to one week.  For instance, he replaced Onias with his pro-Seleucid brother a number of years before Onias was killed.

But in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering (9:27b)

In the critical interpretation Antiochus is also the one who put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering in the middle of the last week (9:27).  Antiochus did stop the Jewish sacrifices.  According to the book of 1 Maccabean the “desolating sacrilege“—a heathen altar—was erected on the great altar of burnt sacrifice on December 4, 167 BC (15 Kislev, 145; 1 Maccabees 1:54).  This was about in the middle of the seven years after Onias was murdered.  In the critical interpretation the abomination of desolation, mentioned elsewhere in Daniel, is assumed to be this heathen altar which Antiochus Epiphanes erected in place of the Lord’s altar for burnt offering (see I Macc. i. 54). (Jewish Encyclopedia).

Jesus put the abomination in His future.  Critics limit the events of Daniel to the time of Antiochus, but Jesus put the abomination of desolation Daniel’s prophecies in His future (Mat 24:15).

Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand)” (Mat 24:15)

Daniel’s prophecies therefore cannot be limited to the time of Antiochus, approximately 200 years before Jesus spoke.  For many people this is sufficient evidence against the critical interpretation.  Daniel is the only book in the Bible which Jesus by name recommended that we understand.

End of the 490 years

Judas Maccabeus
Judas Maccabeus

In the critical interpretation the last week concludes with the rededication of the altar of sacrifice by the victorious Judas Maccabeus.  This is the “anointing of a most holy place” listed as one of the purposes of the seventy weeks (9:24).  The altar of sacrifice was rededication on December 14, 164 BC (25 Kislev, 148; 1 Maccabees 4:52), exactly 3 years after the first heathen sacrifice in the temple.

But do the critics not also say that Daniel was written before the success of the Maccabean revolt?  How would the uninspired writer know about the rededication?  And why would Daniel 9 then end in the accumulation of desolations?  Why does Daniel 9 not mention the rededication?

Why an end?  If the book of Daniel was completed before the end of the 490 years, and if the writer did not foresee the success of the Maccabean revolt, why would he postulate a period of 490 years?  The Critical Interpretation fails to explain what end the writer has in mind.  What was envisaged after the end of the 490 years?

Review of the timeline

The standard critical timeline, discussed above, is as follows:

586 BC: The destruction of Jerusalem and the start of the 490 years
538 BC: The liberation for the Jews and the end of the first 49 years (7 weeks): This was 48 years later; not 49.
171/0 BC: The murder of Onias III and the end of the second 434 years (62 weeks): This was 368 years later, not 434.
167 BC: Abomination of desolation
164 BC: Temple rededicated

One proposed variation on the critical schema is as follows:

The first 7 weeks are from the Captivity in 587 BC until 538 BC: Exactly 49 years.
The next 62 weeks (434 years) are from the date Jeremiah prophesied in 605 BC (Jeremiah 25:11-12) to Onias’ death in 171 BC: Exactly 434 years

The advantages of this proposal are:

It exactly fits the 49 and 434 years required by the prophecy.
It starts the 62 weeks with a “word” (KJV).

The disadvantages are:

(1) Jeremiah 25:11-12 does not speak of the rebuilding of Jerusalem at all.
(2) The first two divisions (7 + 62) run parallel to each other rather than in sequence.  Israel therefore never received its promised 490 years.
(3) The wording of 9:25 requires “seven and sixty-two weeks” (that is, 69 weeks) and not just 62 weeks from “the word to restore and rebuild Jerusalem” until Messiah the Prince.

Anchor Bible Commentary
Anchor Bible Commentary

A slight variation from the standard critical schema is proposed by the influential Anchor Bible Commen­tary by Hartman and Di Lella.  They do not start the 490 years with the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC, but with Jeremiah’s later announcement, as recorded in 29:10, which they date to 594 BC.  Otherwise they remain with the standard critical schema.  The benefit of this proposal is that the 490 years do not start with the destruction of Jerusalem, but with a “word”, as required by Daniel 9.  However:

(A) Jeremiah 29:10 was also not a “word to rebuild and restore Jerusalem” (Daniel 9:25 KJV).  Jeremiah 29:10 only speaks of bringing back exiles to Judah.
(B) From 594 BC to 538 BC is 56 years, not 49 years.  Hartman and Di Lella suggest that 56 years is “sufficiently close to the quasi-artificial figure of ‘seven weeks’ of years.  Not everybody would accept the 7 weeks as “quasi-artificial.”
(C) The second section remains too short.  The full period from 594 BC to 164 BC is only 430 years; 50 years short of the required 490 years.

Conclusion

The critical interpretation is today the standard view of modern liberal scholarship, but it is not an unbiased interpretation.  Critical scholars believe that the Bible developed through a process of evolution, with various people over the centuries editing the text.  They also believe, as a priori assumption, that knowledge of the future is impossible.

But the book of Daniel claims that it was written in the six century before Christ, and contains amazingly accurate predictions of the history after the sixth century.  Liberal scholarship must therefore prove that Daniel was written after these events.  Their solution is that it was written during the crisis under Antiochus IV and that the book only focuses on that conflict.   All the prophecies of Daniel are interpreted as referring to that conflict; even Daniel 9.

But if one counts 490 years back from the time of Antiochus you arrive at the year 655 BC; 50 years before the Babylonian exile.  At that time there was no “decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.”  Therefore critics have creative solutions to shorten the 490 years, as discussed above.  No critical scheme reaches 490 years.   There is no critical scheme of interpretation that is able to harmonize 9:24-27 with actual history.

A separate article is available which contains more than sufficient evidence that Daniel must have been written in the sixth century BC, and therefore must be inspired prophecy.  See Is the Book of Daniel a Fraud?

NEXT:  Introduction to Dispensationalism and Daniel 9
TO:  Daniel 9 Interpretations Overview
TO:  Daniel 9: List of available articles

When was Daniel Written – By Daniel in the sixth century BC or by an unknown writer in the second century BC, presenting history as prophecy?

The book Daniel claims that its visions were received by Daniel in the sixth century BC. But critical scholars argue that it was written by an unknown writer in the second century BC, writing history as prophecy.  This summary addresses the question when was Daniel written.  It evaluates the evidence from other ancient documents, compares Daniel to known ancient history and analyses the language in which Daniel was written.

This is an overview of the evidence that is more fully
discussed in the main document.

TO the more detailed discussion: Is the Book of Daniel a Fraud?

In the lion cage
In the lion cage

Great Gulf – The book of Daniel claims that the visions recorded in the book were given by God to a person named Daniel who lived in the sixth century BC, disclosing God’s knowledge of the future. Critical scholars (liberals) believe:

(1) That Daniel was written by an unknown writer after Antiochus IV desecrated the altar of the temple in Jerusalem; around 167 BC;
(2) That its prophecies are by and large interpretations of past history and
(3) That the stories in the book are moral fables.

In other words, Daniel is pious fraud.

Bible falls – The accurate predictions in Daniel, written in the sixth century BC, are an amazing testimony of God’s complete control and comprehension over time and nations. But if this book was written in the second century BC, under a false name, then the book is fraud. Then also Jesus made a mistake by accepting Daniel as true, and the reliability of other Bible books, particularly the book of Revelation, may also legitimately be questioned.

Precise date – Most commentators find a good resemblance between the first 35 verses of Daniel 11 and the history of the Greek kings up to Antiochus IV. Critical scholars therefore conclude that Daniel was written after the events of the first 35 verses, in particular after 167 BC, when Antiochus IV desecrated the sanctuary. But the subsequent verses do not mention the success of the Maccabean revolt in 164 BC. Critics therefore conclude that the book was written before 164 BC.

External Evidence

The first category of evidence is called “external”, namely what other documents say or not say about the book of Daniel:

The Word of God

Daniel is part of the Bible, and the Bible was put together under the inspiration of God.

There is no indication of a controversy around Daniel in the first 400 years after the Antiochus IV.  This includes:

The book of First Maccabees, written before 100 BC;
The Qumran community, within a generation or two after Antiochus IV;
The translators of Daniel into Greek, prior to 40AD;
The first century AD Jewish historian Josephus;
Our Creator Jesus and
The authors of the Bible books Hebrews and Revelation.

They all referred to the book of Daniel as an authoritative portion of the inspired Hebrew Scriptures.

Hundreds of years passed from the initial writing before a book was accepted as part of Scripture. There is not nearly enough time between 165 BC and the earliest sources in the previous paragraph for this process.

The following are responses to arguments of liberal scholars for a second century authorship:

In the Jewish Bible Daniel is not among the prophets, but among the “Writings”, such as the Psalms and Proverbs. However, this is how the Masoretes grouped the books of the Old Testament six or more centuries after Christ. The earliest sources, such as the Greek Bible and certain early writers listed Daniel with the prophets.

Ben Sirach, writing around 200-180 BC, lists many famous Jewish men, but he does not mention Daniel. However, Ben Sirach also fails to list dozens of other famous men. It is also possible that the book of Daniel only became fully accepted as part of Scripture when the oppressive reign of Antiochus IV fulfilled its prophecies, which is after the time of Ben Sirach.

Daniel achieved a high rank in both the Babylonian and Persian empires, but no archaeological records have ever been found that mention him. However, only some prominent government officials are mentioned in archaeological records. Further, Ezekiel, a contemporary of Daniel, mentions a righteous and wise Daniel, comparable to Noah and Job. No other such Daniel is known from Scriptures.

It is therefore concluded that good external evidence exists supporting a sixth century date.

Internal Evidence

The next category of evidence is called “internal”. This means that the text of Daniel is compared with circumstances and events in the second and sixth centuries BC to determine whether it betrays the time in which it was written.

Critics maintain that Daniel contains numerous historical inaccuracies when dealing with 6th century BC Babylonian history, and that those mistakes would not have been made by an important official in the employ of King Nebuchadnezzar. This section deals with such alleged inaccuracies.

But first, evidence for a sixth century date:

Writing on the wall
Writing on the wall

The fifth chapter of Daniel states that Belshazzar was king the night that Babylon fell (5:30), but secular sources have, since ancient times, stated that Nabonidus was the last king of Babylon. The name “Belshazzar”, as well as his co-regency with his father Nabonidus, was only rediscovered when the Nabonidus Chronicle was published in 1882. This is proof of an early date for Daniel because a second century author would not have known about Belshazzar.

Various other instances of precision with respect to the sixth century argue that the writer was an eye-witness of that ancient culture. This includes knowledge of Ashpenaz, the master of the eunuchs, the categories of wise men, the practice of wives eating with the men, the practice of putting “Medes” first in the phrase the “law of the Medes and Persians”, the location of the city of Shushan and Nebucadnezzar’s building prowess.

The following are responses to arguments used by critical scholars for a second century date:

Daniel says comparatively little about the earlier kingdoms and kings, but later becomes much more detailed, particularly when describing the evil king. This does not mean that the book was written in the time of the evil king. The purpose of the prophecies is to identify the evil king. The only purpose for describing the preceding kings and kingdoms is to enable us to do this.

Driver, a famous critic, once eloquently said: “The verdict of the language of Daniel is thus clear. The Persian words presuppose a period after the Persian Empire had been well established: the Greek words demands, the Hebrew supports, and the Aramaic permits, a date after the conquest of Palestine by Alexander the Great (BC 332).” However:

If Daniel was written in 167 BC it would have been saturated with Greek influence. Since it contains only three Greek words, and particularly because these three words are names of musical instruments, which easily move between cultures with the instruments themselves, the book must have been written much earlier.

Daniel includes nineteen Persian words, but Daniel received many of his visions in the Persian period and placed the material in its final form in that period. Furthermore, the Persian words in Daniel are Old Persian words, which is rather strong evidence for an early date of composition.

Part of Daniel is written in Aramaic, which was the common language of the entire known world. The dialect of Aramaic in Daniel was written is Imperial Aramaic, which had currency in all parts of the Near East. The normal practice of the Aramaic used in Palestine was to put the verb first, while the Aramaic of Daniel refers the verb till later in the clause, exactly like the Aramaic as used in Babylonian.

The first chapter and the last five chapters of Daniel are written in Hebrew, and it is also said that the Hebrew is more like 2nd century BC Hebrew than 6th century BC Hebrew, but it is very hard for anyone to show that Hebrew is earlier or later. Thousands of years can go by in Hebrew and nothing really changes.

Critics argue that, since most apocalyptic works date from the second century BC onwards, Daniel should be dated then too.  However, the style of the many other apocalyptic writings may have been inspired by the book of Daniel.

Critics argue that some of the concepts in Daniel only developed later.  However, these new concepts are completely consistent with the New Testament, which verifies that Daniel was inspired by God.

Nabonidus was Belshazzar’s father but Daniel refers to Nebuchadnezzar as Belshazzar’s father. This is not an error in Daniel because “father” is also used for a functional relationship.

Daniel 1:1 states that Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah in the third year of Jehoiakim, whereas Jeremiah announced the coming of the Chaldeans only in Jehoiakim’s fourth year. The authors used different dating systems. Daniel’s reference to Jehoiakim’s third year proves that the author of Daniel wrote from a Babylonian perspective.

Daniel dates the siege of Jerusalem to Jehoiakim’s third year, but Chronicles dates it to Jehoiakim’s eleventh year. But this also is not an error in Daniel. Jerusalem was twice sieged by Nebuchadnezzar during Jehoiakim’s lifetime.

Darius the Mede1
Darius the Mede

The Mede-Persian armies under Cyrus defeated Babylon in 539 BC, but the book of Daniel identifies “Darius the Mede” as the conqueror of Babylon and as its first ruler after the defeat of Babylonia (Dan. 5:30-31; 6:25). However, this does not necessarily indicate an error in Daniel. Darius is described by Daniel as a subordinate ruler, not the supreme ruler of the empire, and might have been the throne name for the person whom Cyrus appointed as governor of the province of Babylon, but who ruled only for (at most) three weeks.

The term “Chaldeans” refers in the first place to the ethnic race from which Nebuchadnezzar came, but Daniel uses this term to refer to wise men. The fifth century historian Herodutus uses this name for priests. It is therefore not impossible that this term already had this specialized meaning when Daniel wrote.

It is therefore also concluded that good “internal evidence” exists supporting a sixth century date. Many of the arguments used by critics for a late date actually support an early date, upon further reflection.  Perhaps the only strong support the critics have for a late date is the absence of Darius the Mede in the archeological records, but the document The search for Darius the Mede provides a feasible explanation.

Predicts events after Antiochus

The prophecies in the first 35 verses of Daniel 11 closely resemble the history of the fragmented Greek empire and the reign of the Greek king Antiochus IV. According to Daniel itself these prophecies were received more than 300 years in advance, but critical scholarship does not accept that it is possible to predict events centuries later so accurately.  Using the arguments addressed above under internal and external evidence they must show that Daniel was written during or after the time of Antiochus IV.

But shifting the date of writing to the time of Antiochus does not entirely solve the problem for the critics. Since copies of Daniel and the undisputed references to the book of Daniel in other writings has been dated to 100 BC or even earlier, critics are obliged to date the writing of the book to no later than 100 BC. Three line of evidence will now be presented to show that Daniel does predict events after the time of Antiochus, and after 100 BC:

Firstly, the article Daniel’s evil little horn shows that Daniel predicts that Rome would become an empire that would dominate the known world. To predict this, in 165 BC, when critics claim the book of Daniel was written, and further to predicts that it would not be followed by another empire, but be subdivided into various independent kingdoms, of which the predicted evil king would be the most powerful, is accurate long term prophecy.

Secondly, in Daniel 9 Interpretations Overview it has been shown that Daniel 9 predicts the appearance and the killing of the Messiah Jesus Christ in the first century AD.

Thirdly, there are many similarities between Antiochus and Daniel’s predicted evil king, but in Does Antiochus IV fit the profile? it has been shown that Antiochus IV does not entirely fit the profile of Daniel’s predicted evil king. For the complete fulfillment of the prophecies we must search for a later and much more powerful evil king.

The rise and fall of the Roman Empire, the killing of the world’s Messiah and Daniel’s evil king are all predictions to be fulfilled after the time of Antiochus, and after 100 BC.  This verifies the credibility of the prophecies and the supernatural inspiration of Daniel. This also implies that the references to Antiochus IV in Daniel are also supernaturally inspired.

Conclusion

Daniel is an amazing book. The symbolic, precise and succinct representation of future empires presents God as existing outside time, for He created time. The miracles in Daniel speak of a God that is in absolute and complete control of our physical environment.

We may do not like this conclusion because it implies that we should subject ourselves to this infinite Force. Some avoid the demands presented by the supernatural predictions.  Some defend themselves against the demands of God by rejecting the solid evidence for a sixth-century date of composition. We choose to embrace a liberal, naturalistic, and rationalistic philosophy.

But if Daniel is rejected because of miracles, then all of Scripture must be rejected. The Bible is a book of miracles. You will find a miracle on nearly every page.  Judaism and Christianity are founded on the supernatural workings of a personal God who is in control of human history, and knows the future. Based on this assumption it is possible to allow the Book of Daniel to be a book written by a real sixth century Daniel containing real prophecies and telling of real miracles. To admit that Daniel was given amazing visions of the future is to acknowledge that an almighty, authoritative God exists.

TO:  The more detailed discussion: Is the Book of Daniel a Fraud?

TO:  Daniel 9 Interpretations Overview

TO:  General Table of Contents

Daniel’s Prophecy – Fact or fiction? Critical scholars argue that it was written by an unknown writer in the second century BC, writing history in the form of prophecy.

Daniel’s prophecy claims that the visions recorded in the book were given by God to a person named Daniel who lived in the sixth century BC, disclosing God’s knowledge of the future.  This article evaluates the evidence from other ancient documents, compares Daniel’s prophecy to known ancient history and analyses the language in which Daniel was written.

See Daniel Fraud Summary for a summary of this article.

Great Gulf

There is a great gulf between the claims of Daniel’s prophecy and the liberal understanding of the book.

Daniel among the LionsThe book of Daniel claims that the visions recorded in the book were given by God (2:29ff.; 4:24; cf. 31ff.; 5:24-30; 9:21-22; chapters 7-12) to a person named Daniel (7:1, 28; 8:1, 9:2; 10:2; 12:5), who was a contemporary of Nebuchadnezzar (605-562), Belshazzar (556-539) and Cyrus (539-530) (2:1; 5:1; 10:1 etc.). Daniel therefore lived in the sixth century BC. The book claims the prophecies as proof of God’s knowledge of the future. The book further presents its stories as real events that occurred during and shortly after the Babylonian captivity in which God’s power was demonstrated.

Liberal-Critical

Most liberal or critical scholars believe:

Writer: That Daniel (or at least the second half of Daniel’s prophecy) was written by an unknown writer, using Daniel as his pseudonym (false name);

167 BC: That Daniel was completed after Antiochus IV Epiphanes (a king from the Seleucid branch of the Greek Empire) desecrated the altar of the temple of Jerusalem around 167 BC, and that Daniel was written in reaction to the events of that time.

Prophecies: That its prophecies are, by and large, interpretations of past history.

Stories: That the stories in the book are parables or moral fables, perhaps with a historical core.

Confirmation from Encyclopædia

Few Christians are aware of the fact that this view is widely held in academic circles. The following is quoted here as proof that this is the view in academic circles (critical scholars):

Daniel’s prophecy presents a collection of popular stories about Daniel, a loyal Jew, and the record of visions granted to him, with the Babylonian Exile of the 6th century BCE as their background. The book, however, was written in a later time of national crisis—when the Jews were suffering severe persecution under Antiochus IV Epiphanes (reigned 175–164/163 BCE). (Encyclopædia Britannica)

The Book of Daniel was written during the persecutions of Israel by the Syrian king Antiochus Epiphanes. (Jewish Encyclopedia)

This explains why university trained preachers so seldom preach from Daniel. They have been taught that this book is pious fraud.

If Daniel Falls, the Bible Falls.

Daniel mentions the Mede-Persian and Greek* Empires by name and provides clear predictions of individual Greek kings up to Antiochus IV Epiphanes in the second century BC. This bolsters belief in the supernatural character of Daniel’s prophecy and in the unique predictive capability of God; the only uncreated Being, Who is therefore not subject to the constraints of time or space (Isaiah 46:9-10). Daniel’s prophecy is an amazing testimony about how God rules the universe. It demonstrates God’s complete control and comprehension over time and nations.

(*Daniel refers to the Macedonian Empire as the Greek kingdom. This article therefore also refers to it as the Greek kingdom. They did speak Greek!)

Implications

If this book was written at the time of Antiochus IV for the purpose of strengthening the morale of the Jews of that time—under a false name—creating the impression that the author was Daniel, a super-Jew of the sixth century BC, then the book is a fraud.

Jesus referred to Daniel as a prophet and put the fulfillment of some of its prophecies in the future (Matt. 24:15–16; Mark 13:14; Luke 21:20). If the book of Daniel is a fraud, then Christ was mistaken concerning it. Then we should also doubt His other statements.

Due to the interwoven nature of the Scriptures an attack on any one book of the Bible is an attack upon all books of the Bible. Although written by many different authors of many different vocations in varied historical settings over a period spanning over a thousand years, the Holy Spirit guided the message of the Bible into an integrated whole. If Daniel is a fraudulent piece of literature, then the reliability of other books in the canon of Scripture may legitimately be questioned.

This applies particularly the book of Revelation, because Daniel is the foundation on which the book of Revelation has been built. For instance, the “time, times and dividing of a time” (Dan 7:25) is central to many of the visions in Revelation (11:1, 2; 12:6, 14; 13:5). Further examples are listed in the section titled “No Controversy”.

Conclusion

It is therefore important that every Christian be aware of the convincing evidence that Daniel’s prophecy was really written in the sixth century BC, and also understands that the scientific method, used in academic circles, cannot accept the supernatural as a founding principle. The purpose of this document is consequently to provide evidence that Daniel was written in the sixth century BC, and therefore contain real prophecy.

Precise Date

This is an important concept to grasp in the context. Critical scholars believe that they are able to accurately date the finalization of the book of Daniel, for instance, as stated by the New Jerusalem Bible:

The book ‘Daniel’ must therefore have been written during the persecution under Antiochus Epiphanes and before his death, even before the success of the Maccabaean [Hasmonean] revolt; that is to say between 167 and 164.

Antiochus Epiphanes IV desecrated the temple in 167 BC and tried to destroy the Jewish religion, but the Jewish rebels (the Maccabees) were able to drive Antiochus’s forces out of Israel by 164BC.

The first 35 verses of Daniel 11 closely resemble the history of the Greek kings up to and including Antiochus IV, such as the desecration of the sanctuary in 167 BC (11:31). Critical scholars therefore conclude that Daniel was written after the historical events of the first 35 verses. But the remainder of Daniel 11 and 12, which apparently continue the history of the same king, do not agree with known history. In particular, although it continues until the end of the current world history, there is no mention of the success of the Maccabean (Jewish) revolt. Critics therefore conclude that the remainder of Daniel 11 and Daniel 12 is the author’s own but incorrect predictions, and that Daniel was written before the success of the Maccabean revolt in 164 BC. They consequently date the writing of the book to shortly after 167 BC.

External Evidence

The first category of evidence is called “external”, namely what other documents say or not say about Daniel’s prophecy:

Part of the Bible

For those that accept that the Bible was put together under the inspiration of God it would be an unpleasant surprise to find a book written under a false name, falsely claiming divine foreknowledge and miracles, being accepted as Holy Scripture.

No Controversy

History of the Maccabean Date Hypothesis

To appreciate this point an overview of the history of the Maccabean Date Hypothesis is required.  (This is the hypothesis that the Book of Daniel was written while the Jews were suffering persecution under Antiochus IV Epiphanes between 167 and 164 BC):

The first person that proposed the Maccabean date hypothesis was the third-century AD philosopher Porphyrius of Tyre in his work entitled “Against Christians”. Porphyry’s goal was to discredit Daniel because its remarkably accurate predictions prove the existence of a God that knows the future. He contended that the remarkably accurate “predictions” contained in Daniel (esp. ch. 11) were the result of a pious fraud, perpetrated by some zealous propagandist of the Maccabean movement, who wished to encourage a spirit of heroism among the Jewish patriots resisting Antiochus IV.

Porphyry was more or less dismissed by Christian scholarship until the time of the enlightenment and scientific revolution in the eighteenth century, when naturalism and rationalism had an upsurge, and when all supernatural elements in Scripture came under suspicion. A series of authors revived Porphyry’s theory. They all agreed with Porphyry that such long-range prophecies are impossible. In 1890 Klaus Koch wrote a powerful book denouncing the exilic date of writing (sixth century BC), and proclaiming the Maccabean theory. Immediately following him, in 1900, came SR Driver’s commentary on Daniel, supporting the same theory. Since then, the majority of scholars generally accept the Maccabean date theory without much question.

Sources prior to Porphyry

We will now review the sources prior to Porphyry.

The book of First Maccabees was written before 100 BC. It cites history from the book of Daniel as actual historical events.

First Maccabees was written most likely near 166 BC and no later than 100 BC. It cites history from the book of Daniel as actual historical events:

Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, by believing were saved out of the flame. Daniel for his innocency was delivered from the mouth of lions. (1 Mac. 2:51-60)

In the Qumran community, within a generation of two after the Maccabean revolt, the book of Daniel was popular, and Daniel regarded as a prophet.

The Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) are a collection of 972 documents discovered between 1946 and 1956 on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea at Khirbet Qumran. These are the oldest known surviving copies of biblical and extra-biblical documents. These manuscripts have been dated with paleography, which is the study of ancient style of writing, alphabetic characters and layout, to various ranges between 408 BC and 318 AD.

The Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) includes an extensive collection of manuscripts of the biblical book of Daniel — from every chapter of Daniel except one. The DSS also includes other works that discusses and references the book of Daniel, including references to “the book of Daniel, the Prophet” and the “Anointed of the Spirit, of whom Daniel spoke” (Dan. 9:25-26). Some of the documents (Items 4QDan(c) and 4QDan(e)) were copied (not written for the first time) between 150 and 100 BC. The book of Daniel was evidently popular at Qumran, and Daniel was regarded as a prophet.

Daniel was translated from the Hebrew and Aramaic into Greek in the translation now known as the Septuagint or the LXX.

The translation of Daniel into Greek was only widespread perhaps by c.40AD, but living much closer to the events in view than us today, these translators accepted Daniel as inspired.

The first century AD Jewish historian Josephus accepted the book of Daniel as an authoritative portion of the inspired Hebrew Scriptures.

Josephus mentions that Daniel’s prophecy regarding Alexander the Great were shown to the Greek general as he came toward Jerusalem in the 4th century BC, and that the illustrious commander was so impressed that he spared the holy city (Antiquities Xl, VIII, 3-5). The truth of this story is disputed, but it highlights Josephus’s view and therefore the Jewish view at the time, namely that Daniel was the author of the work and that it was completed long before the time of Alexander (332 BC), and therefore long before the Maccabees. Living much closer to the Maccabean era than us, Josephus knows nothing of a Maccabean origin for Daniel or any alternative author than the biblical Daniel.

Josephus also wrote that no books were added to the Old Testament after the time of the Persian ruler Artaxerxes (464-424 B.C.) (Josephus, Against Apion 1.8).

Josephus interpreted the desolation of the temple by Antiochus IV Epiphanes as the fulfillment of prophecies made by Daniel “according to Daniel’s vision and what he wrote many years before they came to pass” (Antiquities X.Xl.7).

Jesus believed Daniel was a real person that predicted future events.

Jesus said:

So, when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ of which the prophet Daniel spoke, standing in the holy place…then those who are in  Judea must take to the hills. (Matthew 24:15-16 cf. also Mark 13:14; Luke 21:20).

Jesus therefore believes that Daniel was an actual person named Daniel. Jesus also believed that Daniel was a prophet, and interpreted the “abomination of desolation” as a future event. The endorsement of Daniel and his book by Jesus settles the matter for those who place their faith in Christ.

Jesus is Daniel ‘s Son of man.

In the New Testament Jesus refers to Himself more than 80 times as “the Son of man. There can be no doubt that Christ claimed Himself as fulfillment of Daniel 7:13-14:

… one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him (7:13). And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed (Dan 7:14).

The reference in Daniel 7 to the Son of man coming with the clouds is in the context of judgment. Consistent with this Jesus said that He, as the Son of man, will come with the clouds of heaven (Mat 26:64) to judge (Mat 16:27; 25:31-32). This means that Jesus accepted Daniel as truth.

The author of the letter to the Hebrews accepted Daniel as factual.

In Hebrews 11:33, 34 we read:

prophets who…stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire …

Here we have a reference to Daniel chapter 6 with his encounter in the lions’ den and to Daniel 3 where Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego are thrown into the blazing furnace in Nebuchadnezzar’s reign.

John accepted Daniel as factual.

Many key concepts in the book of Revelation originate from the book of Daniel, which at least means that the author of Revelation (John) accepted the book of Daniel as an authoritative portion of the inspired Hebrew Scriptures:

Beast: In Revelation 13 a beast comes out of the sea. It was “like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion”. These are the same beasts (lion, bear, leopard and non-descript beast) that also come out of the sea in Daniel 7. Both the beast in Revelation 13 and the beasts in Daniel 7 have seven heads and ten horns.

Evil king: The beast from the sea (Rev. 13) corresponds to the evil king of Daniel—both blaspheme God, persecute the saints, pretend to be God and work for a “time, times and half a time”.

Times: The time, times and half a time (Dan. 7:25; 12:7), and alternative expressions of it (1260 days and 42 months), is found five times in Revelation (11:2, 3; 12: 6, 14; 13:6).

Oath: The oath in Revelation 10 continues the oath in Daniel 12.  Both are made in the context of a book, with the emphasis on whether the book is sealed or open, in both the supernatural being is above water, in both he lifts up his hand to heaven and swears by “Him who lives forever and ever”, and in both he swears about time, namely when the end will be.

Son of man: Daniel prophesied about the Son of man that will come on the clouds of heaven to receive the eternal kingdom (7:13). Jesus said He is the Son of man. John, the Revelator, saw the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven to reap the earth (Rev. 14:14-16).

Not Enough Time

From the initial writing of an inspired book hundreds of years followed of copying, distribution, reading and discussions before it found a place in the hearts of the people as part of the Scriptures. The earliest sources discussed above, namely the book of First Maccabees, the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Septuagint, dated at latest to 100 BC, do not allow nearly enough time for this process if Daniel was written in 165 BC.

The time required for a book to become generally accepted as part of the Bible, followed by translation into Greek, is much more than the 200 years from 165 BC to 40 AD.

If Daniel was known in the Maccabean period to be written under a false name, falsely presenting history as prophecy and falsely claiming miracles, with an incorrect view of the history after 164 BC, and containing many historical errors (as the critics propose), then it is even more unlikely that it became accepted as inspired Scripture—while other such books were consistently rejected—within a generation of two by a community that were eyewitnesses of the Maccabean revolt. People first had to forget about its origins before it could slowly start to become accepted as inspired.

To this should be added the major new theological concepts in Daniel, such as that people will arise from death (12:2, 13), and the other concepts discussed below. These new concepts would also have prolonged the time required before the book was accepted as inspired.

External evidence for a second century authorship

The next three points are also classified as external evidence, but it is external evidence which critics offer to argue for a second century authorship. Responses to these arguments are provided, and the reader is urged to evaluate this evidence against the evidence above for a sixth century authorship.

In the Writings

In English Bible, in the Latin Vulgate and in the Greek Septuagint we find the book of Daniel among the books of the Major Prophets. But in the Hebrew canon, which is divided into the Law (Pentateuch), the Prophets and the Writings (Kethubim), Daniel is included among the Writings, not in the Prophets.

A famous critic (Driver) once wrote:

…there are strong reasons for thinking that the threefold division represents three stages in the collection and canonization of the sacred books of the O.T.,–the Pent. being canonized first, then the ‘Prophets’ and lastly the Kethubim.

Critics propose that the collection of the ‘Prophets’ was completed by 200 BC, and conclude that if the Book of Daniel existed at the time it would have been included with the writings of the other prophets. Since it is found amongst the Writings, they conclude that Daniel must have been written after the collection of prophetic books had been closed; therefore after 200 BC.

Daniel was among the prophets.

However, Daniel was listed among the prophets at the time of Christ:

Daniel was listed among the prophets in the Greek Septuagint translation (hence its position in our English Bibles through the medium of the Latin Vulgate).

Daniel was regarded as a prophet in the New Testament and at Qumran. Melito, bishop of Sardis (A.D.70), listed Daniel among the prophets. Origen (d. A.D. 254) listed Daniel before Ezekiel and the twelve prophets.

The first century AD Jewish historian Josephus mentioned the three divisions of the Hebrew canon, but included only four books in the Writings, rather than the thirteen assigned to it by the Masoretes of the late first millennium AD.

The Masorites were later.

The current Hebrew canon was concluded by the Masoretic six or seven centuries after Flavius Josephus.  It therefore has no bearing whatever on the date of Daniel’s composition. Driver’s fundamental assumption, that the Jewish threefold division represents three stages in the collection and canonization, is flawed.

The Masoretes may have been influenced in this reassignment by the consideration that Daniel served in a foreign court throughout his entire career and did not prophesy directly to the people of Israel. He was not a prophet in the strict Hebraic sense of the word. For the Jews a prophet was somebody that received messages from God and spoke to the nation, such as Isaiah or Jeremiah.

Ben Sirach

Jesus Ben Sirach, writing in 200-170 BC, mentions all the Prophets, even the Minor Prophets, and many famous men, but he does not mention Daniel. This is taken to mean that Sirach was unaware of Daniel; hence, Daniel was written after 170 BC.

Critics also point out that Ben Sirach expressly said that he has never found a man who resembled Joseph. They conclude that he could not have made this statement if he knew of Daniel, since both Daniel and Joseph rose to be prime minister by virtue of their ability to interpret dreams.

In defense:

Dozens of other “famous men” are not listed by Ben Sirach, for instance Moses, Joshua, Solomon, Samuel, Job, Sampson and Ezra. Certainly this does not mean that these leaders were unknown to Jesus Ben Sirach.

As for one “not being like Joseph,” it should be noted that, unlike Joseph, Daniel did NOT save the entirety of Israel from extinction and did not do anything to raise the Jews as a whole to prominence. Far too much emphasis is placed on the fact that both received dreams as a prophetic tool; the differences between these two tend to be ignored.

Daniel was sealed up.

But it is also possible that Sirach really did not know about Daniel. Daniel was told to conceal the words and to seal up the book until the end of time (12:4). A few verses later he was again told:

Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time … none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand (12:9-10)

From this it may be concluded that the book was not made publicly available very soon. And even when it was made available, it was not understood. It is possible that the book of Daniel only became (partly) understood and fully accepted as part of Scripture when the oppressive reign of Antiochus IV fulfilled its prophecies of an evil king, which is after the time of Ben Sirach.

The Person Daniel

Very soon after arrival in Babylon Daniel achieved a high rank in the Babylonian Empire (Dan 2:48). After the Persian conquest, he was immediately elevated to a role second only to the king (Dan 6:3). But although many archaeological records are available from both empires, none mentions Daniel.   There is also no mention of him in the Jewish (or other) literature before the Maccabean period (from 164 BC). For Critics this is strong circumstantial evidence that Daniel never existed and that the book was of later authorship.

In defense:

Only a limited number of prominent government officials are mentioned in archaeological records. Further, Ezekiel, who, like Daniel, lived in the 6th century BC, mentions a Daniel who is, like the Daniel of our book, righteous and wise, comparable to Noah and Job (14:14, 20; 28:3). Since he mentions this Daniel without qualification, it must have been a well-known person, and there is no other famous Daniel.

Ezekiel and Daniel

Critics argue that in 591 and 586 BC—when Ezekiel wrote those passages—our Daniel had barely begun his career. However:

Quoting God: Ezekiel is simply quoting God, and God exists outside time.

Same character: The brief descriptions of Daniel in Ezekiel are consistent with the data in the book of Daniel. Both describe Daniel as righteous and extremely wise.

After Daniel 2: The events of Daniel 2, when the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and, on Daniel’s request, also appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego over the administration of the province of Babylon, occurred in the 2nd year of Nebuchadnezzar (2:1).  This would be around 604 BC. Daniel would have been the highest-placed and most recognized of the Jews of the Exile and well known by all Jews 14 to 20 years later, when Ezekiel wrote his book.

Who else?: Ezekiel uses the name “Daniel” without qualification, implying a well-known personality.   No satisfactory explanation exists for the use of the name Daniel by the prophet Ezekiel other than the Daniel in our book. Critics propose that Ezekiel here appeals to a pagan hero who was closely associated to Baal and Annath and did not believe in the God of Israel. This is hardly a respectable supposition.

The testimony of Ezekiel is that Daniel was a real person.

Internal Evidence

The next category of evidence is called “internal”. This means that the text of Daniel is compared with circumstances and events in the second and sixth centuries BC to determine whether it betrays the time in which it was written.

Critics maintain that Daniel contains numerous historical inaccuracies when dealing with 6th century BC Babylonian history, and that those mistakes would not have been made by an important official in the employ of King Nebuchadnezzar. This section deals with such alleged inaccuracies.

Fifth Chapter

Belshazzar promised Daniel to be 3rd ruler in the kingdom (5:16). Why could Belshazzar not promise him the #2 position? Because Belshazzar himself was #2 while his father was still alive.

Scholars had to conclude:

Of all the non-Babylonian records dealing with the situation at the close of the Neo-Babylonian Empire the fifth chapter of Daniel ranks next to cuneiform literature in accuracy so far as outstanding events are concerned. The Scriptural account may be interpreted as excelling because it employs the name Belshazzar, because it attributes royal power to Belshazzar, and because it recognizes that a dual rulership existed in the kingdom. Babylonian cuneiform documents of the sixth century BC furnish clear-cut evidence of the correctness of these three basic historical nuclei contained in the Biblical narrative dealing with the fall of Babylon.

The total information found in all available chronologically-fixed documents later than the sixth century BC … could not have provided the necessary material for the historical framework of the fifth chapter of Daniel.’ (R. P. Dougherty, Nabonidus and Belshazzar (New Haven: Yale, 1929), pp. 199f.)

To explain:

Daniel states that Belshazzar was king the night that Babylon fell (5:30), but the two famous Greek historians of the fifth and fourth centuries BC (Herodotus and Xenophon) did not mention Belshazzar when they described the fall of Babylon. Annals in the Greek language are absolutely silent concerning Belshazzar. This situation goes right down to Josephus in the first century AD. Secular sources have, since ancient times, stated that Nabonidus was the last king of Babylon.

The name “Belshazzar” was not rediscovered until the Nabonidus Chronicle was published in 1882. With it Daniel was proven correct. It verified Belshazzar’s existence, as well as his co-regency during the absence of his father. The Nabonidus Chronicle states that Nabonidus (Belshazzar’s father) lived in Arabia during the last ten years of the Babylonian Empire, and that he left the kingship to Belshazzar during that period. (Hasel, pg. 155; New World Encyclopedia);

Nabonidus “entrusted the ‘camp’ to his eldest son [‘Belshazzar] …entrusted the kingship to him (Hasel, pg. 155; New World Encyclopedia) and himself … he turned towards Tema in the West.”

“when the third year was about to begin- he [Nabonidus] 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.”

One tablet from the 12th year of Nabonidus calls for oaths in the names of both Nabonidus and Belshazzar. These are fairly strong evidence that Belshazzar was indeed the coregent in his father’s absence, and was in Babylon when it fell in 539 BC.

Conclusion

The very mention of Belshazzar by Daniel is proof of an early date for Daniel. Since the name of Belshazzar had been forgotten by the time of Herodotus (ca 450 B.C.), at least so far as the Greek historians were concerned, how would a second century author know of Nabonidus leaving Belshazzar in charge? The only conclusion that one can reach, other than some other information which has been lost to us today, is that the author was indeed alive during the events of 539 BC.

Sixth Century Knowledge

Various other instances of precision with respect to the sixth century argue that the writer was an eye-witness of that ancient culture:

Asphenaz is mentioned in the first chapter of Daniel as master of the Eunuchs. The following statement has been found on monuments of ancient Babylon which are now in the Berlin Museum: “Ashpenaz, master of eunuchs in the time of Nebuchadnezzar”.

Daniel is very detailed and, as confirmed by archaeological records, correct in his categories of wise men (cf. 2:2, 27).

The prophet describes the practice of Belshazzar’s wives eating with the men on festive occasions (5:1-4). This was the custom in ancient Babylon and Persia (Herodotus, History, V.18), but not in the period of the Greeks in the second century BC.

Daniel lists the Medes first in the phrase “law of the Medes and Persians” (5:28; 6:8, 12, 15). In later history, due to Persia’s ascendancy, it became “Persians and Medes” (cf. Esth. 1:19).

Daniel locates the city of Shushan in the province of Elam (8:2), whereas boundaries changes in the Persian period located Shushan in the province of Susiana.

It is commonly agreed that Daniel correctly represents Nebuchadnezzar’s building prowess – and his corresponding braggadocio. The East India House inscriptions in London has six columns of Babylonian writing bragging about building operations which Nebuchadnezzar carried on in enlarging the beautifying Babylon. Pfeiffer admits: “We shall presumably never know how our author learned that the new Babylon was the creation of Nebuchadnezzar (4:30) … and that Belshazzar … was functioning as king when Cyrus took Babylon in 538 (ch. 5).”

Internal evidence for a second century authorship

The following points are also internal evidence, but it is evidence which critics offer to argue for a second century authorship. However, in many instances this evidence rather supports a sixth century authorship:

Later More Detailed

Daniel’s prophecies get more & more detailed all the way to 168-164 BC, as an analysis of the visions in Daniel 7, 8 and 10 to 12 will show. Daniel 7 and 8 say comparatively little about the earlier kingdoms and kings, but much about the little horn. The same applies to Daniel 11. In the beginning of chapter 11 many kings are described in a single verse, but later many verses describe a single king. About 8 verses describe Antiochus III, followed by more than 20 verses describing the evil king of Daniel 11.

However, the detail provided with respect to the evil king does not prove that the book was written in the time of the evil king. The purpose of the prophecies is to identify and describe this evil king. The only purpose for describing the preceding kings and kingdoms is to provide information to identify the evil king.

Language

Driver, the famous critic mentioned above, once eloquently stated:

The verdict of the language of Daniel is thus clear. The Persian words presuppose a period after the Persian Empire had been well established: the Greek words demand, the Hebrew supports, and the Aramaic permits, a date after the conquest of Palestine by Alexander the Great (BC 332).

GREEK

According to Driver’s statement the strongest linguistic support for a late date is the Greek words in Daniel. This refers to the names of three musical instruments in chapter 3 of Daniel, which appear to be Aramaic transliterations of their Greek names (Dan. 3:5, 7, 10, 15). Critics assert that these Greek words were not known in Babylon in the sixth century BC because Greek cultural influence upon other nations did not reach its zenith until after Alexander the Great (about 330 BC).

However, there are only three Greek words in the entire book – and all three refer to musical instruments (Kitharos, Psanterin, and Sumphonyah). The book of Daniel would have been saturated with Greek terms if it were written as late as 167 BC in Palestine, where Greek-speaking (Hellenistic) governments had control of the entire region for more than 160 years. The LXX (Greek translation of the OT) was begun c.260 BC, which illustrates the influence of Greek.

Furthermore, the Greek kitharis appears in the Aramaic Homer (eighth century BC at the latest) [Dyer.Dan3, 430; MillS.Dan, 29]. Greek words also appear in the Elephantine Papyri dated to the fifth century BC. The names of musical instruments would circulate beyond national boundaries with these instruments themselves, just as foreign musical terms have made their way into English, like the Italian piano and viola.

PERSIAN

Driver’s second strongest linguistic evidence for a late date of composition is the Persian words in the text of Daniel. He noted, for instance, that “the mention of ‘satraps’ under Nebuchadnezzar (3:2, 3, 27) is alone a remarkable anachronism”. There are nineteen or fewer such Persian words.

The visions contained in the last four chapters of Daniel were received after Persian authority has been established over Babylonia (9:1; 10:1). The story of Daniel in the lions’ den (chapter 6) plays out in the same period. Daniel himself served as a very senior official in the Persian government (6:3, 28). The book of Daniel was therefore composed in its final form during the Persian period. There is no particular reason why Daniel should not have used in his language those Persian terms which had found currency in the Aramaic spoken in Babylon in the Persian period. At least twelve of the nineteen Persian loan words are technical terms used within government—just the sort of terminology which Daniel, in his administrative position under Persians, would have quickly acquired.

Further, of these Persian words, six are not found later than 330 BC, and all of them are what are called “Old Persian” words – which gave way to Middle Persian ca. 300 BC. [Baldwin, Joyce G. Daniel, Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1978] The Persian expressions in the book would seem to be rather strong evidence for an early time of composition.

ARAMAIC

The primary languages in Daniel are Aramaic and Hebrew. The first chapter of Daniel is written in Hebrew, but in the middle of 2:4 the Chaldeans (Babylonian wise men) start to speak in Aramaic:

Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic, “O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will give the interpretation.” (Daniel 2:4)

From this point onward, the book of Daniel continues in Aramaic until the end of chapter 7 and then resumes in Hebrew in 8:1 and continues in Hebrew for the remainder of the book.

It is said that the mere fact of Aramaic in the text indicates a late date, but Aramaic was the lingua franca (common language) spoken by the heterogeneous populations of the Assyrian, Babylonian and Persian Empires, especially in the realms of government and commerce. Aramaic was not the common language in the Maccabean period (166 BC), but rather Greek.

It is also said that the Aramaic of Daniel is a Western Aramaic dialect, of the type spoken in and about Palestine, not the Eastern dialect spoken in Babylon. However, “recent discoveries of fifth-century Aramaic documents” have shown quite conclusively that Daniel was written in a form of Imperial Aramaic, an official or literary dialect which had currency in all parts of the Near East (Archer, Gleason. A Survey of the Old Testament Introduction. Chicago: Moody Press, 1974, 397].  Driver eventually withdrew his conclusions on this point and admitted that the Aramaic belonged to an earlier period.

The Genesis Apocryphon that was discovered in Qumran Cave 1, from the third or second century BC, puts the verb first in sentence clauses. This was the normal practice of Western Aramaic used in Palestine during the Maccabean period (Archer). But, exactly like the eastern Aramaic as used in Babylonian, the Aramaic of Daniel shows a marked tendency for the verb to be referred till a later position in the clause. On the basis of the word order alone, it is safe to conclude that Daniel could not have been composed in Palestine. (Archer, Gleason. “Daniel” The Expositors Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1985.)

It has been conceded by many scholars that the Aramaic of Daniel is much closer to the Elephantine Papyri, which has been dated to the 5th and 4th centuries BC.

The relatively later form of the spelling of some Aramaic terms does not indicate a Maccabean era composition.   Copies were made by hand, and the copiers would have updated the spelling as the spelling changed. For instance, Nebuchadrezzar is spelled Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel, which is the way the king’s name was spelled at a later time, under Greek influence.

HEBREW

It is also said that the Hebrew is more like 2nd century BC Hebrew than 6th century BC Hebrew, but it is very hard for anyone to show that Hebrew is earlier or later. Thousands of years can go by in Hebrew and nothing really changes.

For more information on the language in Daniel and many other aspects, please refer to the Tektonics website.

Apocalyptic Style

Both the book of Revelation and the book of Daniel are classified as apocalyptic. This term is a transliteration of the first Greek word in the book of Revelation (Apokalypsis), meaning ‘a revealing’.

Characteristics of apocalyptic literature include:

  • Extensive use of symbols or signs;
  • Visions that are recorded exactly as they were seen. (limited human design)
  • Focus on the end time;
  • Shows God’s people trampled in the short term, but victorious in the end;

Daniel is a prime example of apocalyptic literature. This writing style was quite common in Israel from the 2nd century BC to the 2nd century AD. These writings are often attributed to a famous historical hero in order to give them credibility. Critics argue that since most works of apocalyptic date from the second century BC onwards, Daniel should be dated then too.

But the style of the many other apocalyptic writings may have been inspired by the book of Daniel, which means that the other works would be later than the book of Daniel. Furthermore, some other OT passages, e.g. Isaiah 25-27 and Zechariah 9ff. have apocalyptic features yet can hardly be dated as late as the second century.

New Theological Concepts

According to the New World Encyclopedia the book Daniel was an important influence on later apocalyptic writing and attitudes in both Judaism and Christianity.

In the view of the critics the Bible has developed over a long period of time through small changes, similar to the concept of the evolution of life on earth. They argue that some of the concepts in Daniel have only developed much later than the sixth century BC.

Daniel’s prophecy is the only book in the Old Testament in which angels are given names (Gabriel in 8:16 and 9:21 and Michael in 10:13, 10:21, and 12:1). Elsewhere names for angels only appear in the Apocrypha and the New Testament.

In the sixth century BC Jews believed that all persons went to Sheol after death. Critics claim that the concepts of heaven and hell, which are found in Daniel (Dn12:2), was introduced centuries later by the Greeks, and that it did not appear in Israel until the time of the Maccabean revolt.

Other concepts that are new in Daniel, compared to the rest of the Old Testament, are the last judgment, the resurrection of the dead (Dn12:2), and the everlasting kingdom. These concepts may be new compared with the Old Testament, but they are completely consistent with the New Testament, which verifies that it was inspired by God.

The Siege

JEHOIAKIM’S THIRD YEAR

Daniel 1:1 states that Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion of Judah and siege of Jerusalem took place in the third year of Jehoiakim, whereas Jeremiah 25:9 announced the coming of the Chaldeans only in Jehoiakim’s fourth year. Jeremiah 46:2 furthermore dates the first year of Nebuchadnezzar also in Jehoiakim’s fourth year.

Different dating systems

This is not an error in Daniel. To the contrary, it supports an early date. The authors used different dating systems:

Jeremiah—a Palestinian—naturally used the Palestinian dating system, whereby the calendar year in which a new king acceded to the throne was reckoned as the first year of his reign (which, in the case of Jehoiakim, would have been 608 BC). His fourth year would therefore be 605 BC.

Daniel, used the Babylonian system, whereby the first year of a new king begins at the commencement of the next calendar year. Thus, by the Babylonian reckoning, Jehoiakim’s first year was 607; therefore Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion in 605 was Jehoiakim’s third year. (Harrison, R.K. Introduction to the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1969, pg. 1112)

Supports a sixth century authorship

This apparent error therefore actually supports a Babylonian sixth century authorship. If Daniel’s prophecy was written by some Jew in the second century, he would have made his work to appear as Scriptural as possible, and refer to historical sources, such as Jeremiah. Why would he contradict Jeremiah—whom his readers knew well?

JEHOIAKIM’S THIRD OR ELEVENTH YEAR?

2 Chronicles 36:5-8 reports a siege by Nebuchadnezzar in Jehoiakim eleventh year as king, when Jehoiakim was carried off to Babylon. This was in 599 BC.

2 Kings 24:1 also implies a siege:

During Jehoiakim’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon invaded the land, and Jehoiakim became his vassal for three years. But then he changed his mind and rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar.

The invasion in Kings is not the same as the one in Chronicles because in Chronicles Jehoiakim was carried away, while in Kings he remained as vassal king after the invasion. For the same reason it is also clear that the siege in Chronicles was at least three years later than the invasion in Kings, and that the three years that Jehoiakim was vassal king for the Babylonians were before 599 BC.

Reconstruction of History

With the assistance of secular history the events can be reconstructed:

Jehoiakim had been put on the throne by the Egyptian Pharaoh Neco (2 Kings 23:34). In the year 605 Nebuchadnezzar defeated the Egyptian army. The Egyptians retreated to Egypt and “The king of Egypt did not come out of his land again, for the king of Babylon had taken all that belonged to the king of Egypt from the brook of Egypt to the river Euphrates“ (2 Kings 24:7). He therefore also took control of the king of Judah. On this expedition Nebuchadnezzar probably besieged Jerusalem, took hostages and looted treasures from the temple. Among the hostages were Daniel, Shadrach, Mishach and Abendgo; descendants of the Royal family.

When Nebuchadnezzar returned to Palestine in 601, his army was defeated by the Egyptians. It is consequently possible that the Egyptians returned to Palestine in 602 and that Jehoiakim at that time rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar. He therefore could have been a vassal to the Babylonians from 605 to 602.

The Chronicles-siege was a few years later in 599 BC, when Jehoiakim was carried off to Babylon.

There was actually a third siege, namely the siege in 2 Kings 24:10 and following. By that time Jehoiakim was already dead (v6). After this siege Nebuchadnezzar led the entire Jerusalem into exile (v14).

A siege in 605 is therefore quite possible.

Belshazzar’s Father

Belshazzar is represented by Daniel as the son of Nebuchadnezzar (5:2, 11, 13, 18, 22), but he was the son of Nabodinus. Critics propose that, during the long period of oral tradition, the unimportant kings of Babylon were forgotten, and the last king, who was vanquished by Cyrus, have been taken by the second century writer as the successor of the well-known Nebuchadnezzar. (JE)

However, by ancient usage, the term ‘son’ was also used for a successor in the same office, whether or not there was a blood relationship. Archer, Gleason. A Survey of the Old Testament Introduction. Chicago: Moody Press, 1974, 391-2 lists examples. The terms ‘father’ and ‘son’ are used figuratively in the Old Testament. Elisha, for instance, called Elijah ‘my father’ (2 Kings 2:12).

Nabodinus was not related to Nebuchadnezzar, but Herodotus reports that Nebucadnezzar’s wife was the “mother” of Nabodinus [Town.Dan – Towner, W. Sibley. Daniel. Atlanta: John Knox, 1984, 70]. Oriental monarchs who were usurpers commonly tried to legitimate their claim to the throne by marrying their predecessor’s wife or daughter. A literal blood relationship is therefore also possible.

Darius the Mede

Persian records identify Cyrus as king of Persia when Babylon was captured, after he conquered the Medes eleven years earlier in 550 BC. These records also identify a Gubaru (Greek: Gobryas), a Persian, as the governor of the province of Babylon after the Babylonian Empire was defeated.

Apart from the book of Daniel, only Josephus refers to Darius the Mede. Critics therefore regard Darius the Mede as a fictional character, or at the very best a confusion of Cyrus’ third son with the same name – who was not a Mede, but a Persian. They propose that this mistake by the second century writer was the result of predictions in Isaiah and Jeremiah that the Medes will conquer Babylon (Jeremiah 51:11; Is. 13:17; 21:2; Jer. 51:28). They therefore propose that the author of Daniel’s prophecy, contrary to historical evidence, inserted a separate Median empire between the Babylonian and Persian empires, and created the fictitious figure of Darius the Mede to fit this schema.

In defense:

The fact that this mighty king Darius is not mentioned by non-biblical sources is perhaps the best support the critics have for historical inaccuracies in the book of Daniel. But:

Firstly, it would have been a very unlikely mistake for a second century author to insert a Median Empire. Such an author must have been of the most educated class and could hardly be expected NOT to be aware of the actual history. Ezra 4:5-6 has a listing of the Persian kings, and as Josephus’ work indicates, there were many histories in circulation at the time of the Maccabees which would include information on the Persian Empire. We know some of these histories today: Herodotus, Xenophon, Berosus, and even the OT outside of Daniel’s prophecy (Is. 45:1, 2 Chron. 36.20-3).  These it clear that Cyrus was the conqueror who took Babylon, and who freed the Jews and other peoples to return to their homes. If he did make such an mistake, it would have been pretty obvious to his contemporaries.

Secondly, it is adequately clear that the book of Daniel always represents the Medes and the Persians as a single empire. The “Writing on the Wall” was interpreted as “your kingdom has been divided and given over to the Medes and Persians” (5:28). This explicitly indicates a dual monarchy. (See also 6:8, 12, 15, 8:20). Daniel never mentions a war, after the defeat of Babylon, between the Medes and the Persians, through which Cyrus became king. The author therefore did not think of Darius as king of a separate Median empire. His rule must have coincided with that of Cyrus. Darius was either another name of Cyrus, or he ruled only in the province of Babylon.

Thirdly, Daniel’s prophecy never describes Darius as king of the Medes, only as king of the Chaldeans (Dan 5:30-1, 9:1), which would be limited to the province of Babylon. Darius has also been “made king” and he “received” the kingdom when Babylon was defeated (5:31). These indicate that Darius was a subordinate ruler.

Proposal

A separate article has been published on this website (The search for Darius the Mede) in which it is argued that Darius was the throne name for Ugbaru. Ugbaru was the general whose troops conquered Babylon for Cyrus. He was made regional governor by Cyrus over the province of Babylon. He appointed his own supervisors over his dominion, holding the power of life and death over them, but unexpectedly died three weeks after Babylon was captured. It is possible that he is not mentioned as Darius in other literature because he ruled only for a very short time.

Chaldeans

Daniel uses the term “Chaldeans” for both the ethnic race from which Nebuchadnezzar came (5:30) and as a specialized term for wise men (2:2, 4, etc.). Apparently Nebuchadnezzar reserved the positions of wise men for people from his race. In this way “Chaldeans” over time became a synonym for “wise men”. Critics maintain that the word only attracted this additional specialized meaning much later than the sixth century, but Herodutus (vol. 1, sec 181-183) already in the fifth century BC refers to the priests of Bel as Chaldeans. It is therefore not impossible that this term had this meaning in the middle of the sixth century, when Daniel wrote.

AFTER ANTIOCHUS

Daniel predicts the Greek Empire by name. Most liberal and conservative scholars agree that the prophecies in the first 35 verses of Daniel 11 closely resemble the history of the fragmented Greek empire. This includes a minutely accurate portrayal of the Seleucid-Ptolemaic wars, which seems to culminate in the reign of the Greek king Antiochus IV. According to Daniel itself these prophecies were received more than 300 years in advance of these events. However, critical scholarship does not accept that it is possible to predict events centuries in the future so accurately:

We need to assume that the vision [of Daniel 8] as a whole is a prophecy after the fact. Why? Because human beings are unable accurately predict future events centuries in advance [Towner, Daniel, Interpreter’s Bible, John Knox: 1984, p. 115, cited in [DLIOT:332]]

Critics therefore need a solution for Daniel. They must show that Daniel was written during or after the time of Antiochus IV. This they do by arguing that Daniel contains many errors with respect to the sixth century and by pointing to other indications (such as the language), arguing that Daniel was actually written in the second century. (These arguments have been addressed above.)

Written prior to the Maccabean revolt in 164 BC

But shifting the date of writing to the time of Antiochus does not solve the problem for the critics. Since the death of Antiochus IV does not agree with the death of the evil king as described in the latter portion of Daniel 11, and because Daniel does not mention the Maccabean revolt or the success of that revolt, they have to conclude that Daniel was written before the death of Antiochus IV and before the success of the Maccabean revolt in 164 BC, and that in the latter portion of Daniel 11 the author ventured his own predictions of the future, but got it hopelessly wrong.

Furthermore, the copies of Daniel and the undisputed references to the book of Daniel in other writings dated in 100 BC or earlier also oblige critics to date the writing of the book to no later than 100 BC.

Daniel’s prophecy predicted events after the Maccabean revolt.

Therefore, if it can be shown that Daniel predicts events after the time of Antiochus, and after 100 BC, the credibility of the prophecies in Daniel is confirmed. Then the attempt of the critics to push the date of writing forward avails nothing because the supernatural inspiration of Daniel is verified. Then the fundamental assumption of the critics, on which their entire theory is based, namely that accurate long term predictions are impossible, is shown to be false.

Three line of evidence will now be presented to show that Daniel does predict events after the time of Antiochus, and after 100 BC:

Roman Empire

Firstly, the article Daniel’s evil little horn has shown that the evil king comes out of the Roman Empire. Daniel therefore predicts that Rome would become an empire that would dominate the known world. In the time of Antiochus Rome was a growing threat, but it did not yet dominate. To predict, in 165 BC, when critics claim Daniel’s prophecy was written, that Rome would one day dominate, and further that it would not be followed by another empire, but be subdivided into various independent kingdoms, of which the predicted evil king would be the most powerful, is accurate long term prophecy, which verifies the supernatural character of the book.

Jesus Christ

Secondly, in another article published on this website (Daniel 9 Interpretations Overview), it has been shown that Daniel 9 predicts the appearance and the killing of Jesus as the Messiah in the first century AD. This also supports the proposal that Daniel contains accurate long term prophecies, as copies of Daniel (Dead Sea Scrolls) have been available to the Qumran sect before the crucifixion.

Add to this the fact that the Jews expected a Messiah that would lead the nation to world dominance. But Daniel’s prophecy predicts that the Messiah will be killed (Dan 9), only to receive the eternal kingdom at the end of the current world history (7:13). It is unlikely that an uninspired second century BC author, writing under a false name, falsely predicting the future, would represent their national hero thus. The suffering Messiah underscores the divine inspiration of the book of Daniel.

Antiochus IV does not fit the profile.

Thirdly, Daniel 11:2-19 correlates well with the history until the death of Antiochus III in verse 19 and there are many similarities between Antiochus and the predicted evil king.  However, as shown in Does Antiochus IV fit the profile?, Antiochus IV does not fulfill all aspects of Daniel’s predicted evil king. Antiochus IV is a type of the predicted evil king, but for the complete fulfillment we must search for a later and world-wide powerful evil king.

These three predictions of events after 164 BC verify Daniel’s prophecy as supernatural inspiration. We can safely conclude that the references to Antiochus IV in Daniel are also supernaturally inspired.

CONCLUSION

God is in control.

Daniel is an amazing book. The symbolic, precise and succinct representation of future empires presents God as in control of time.  The miracles in Daniel, such as the three Jews that came unscathed out of a sevenfold intensified fire without even the smell of fire on them, or a hair on their bodies scorched (Daniel 3), speak of a God that is in absolute and complete control. Through Daniel a Force that is infinite in time and space, has burst into our microscopic existence.

We are small.

But it reminds us how small we are, drifting around on a particle of dust in a minute galaxy, swirling around in a universe of infinite size, not knowing from where we came or where we are going. In the immense infiniteness of time we exist for a fraction of a second. 

Jesus came as a servant.

If Jesus came with the same ambitions as Israel, presenting Himself as a warrior, ready to defend and fight for the supremacy of Israel, Israel would have gladly accepted Him. But He came as a servant, respecting the poor and outcast, criticizing pride and haughtiness. Therefore they killed Him.

God grants freedom.

Similarly God is humble in the sense that He grants each of His intelligent creatures complete freedom to decide for or against Him. He does not override our personal inclinations by force. Sufficient evidence exists of God’s existence and power, but that evidence is not presented in such a way that it will limit our freedom to decide for ourselves according to what principles we will organize our lives. We are free to live our earthly lives ignoring the demands of the humble Creator (Mat 11:29).

The infinite source of all life and power does not want to rule the universe by fear, but through love. In fact, the only service He can accept is the service of love, and love requires complete freedom.

We reject Daniel’s prophecy because we want to rule.

We are not like God.  We want to force our will on the people around us. To do that we must avoid the demands presented by the supernatural predictions. Very good evidence exists for a sixth-century date of composition, but we defend ourselves against the demands of God by rejecting it in favor of an unsupportable Maccabean hypothesis. We choose to embrace a liberal, naturalistic, and rationalistic philosophy. Like Porphyry the intellectual leaders of this world, steeped in human reason and intellectual vanity, refuse to recognize the miracle of Daniel’s prophecy. Rationalistic naturalism does not accept the possibility of an all-powerful God Who intervenes in the course of history, even declaring in advance what will transpire in the future. Critics do not subject their views to a reality beyond that which man can rationally investigate and measure. We angrily attack Daniel by rejecting its supernatural aspects. 

But then all Scripture falls.

If Daniel’s prophecy is rejected because of miracles, then all of Scripture must be rejected. The Bible is a book of miracles. You will find a miracle on nearly every page.  Judaism and Christianity are founded on the supernatural workings of a personal God who acts in human history, is in control of human history. Based on this assumption it is possible to allow the Book of Daniel to be a book written by a real sixth century Daniel containing real prophecies and telling of real miracles. To admit that Daniel was given amazing visions of the future is to acknowledge that an almighty, authoritative God exists.

TO: General Table of Contents
TO: 
Daniel 9 Seventy Sevens Summary