God is Judge

Chapter 2

A Commentary on the book of Daniel

Page 27 of 46

 TOC   Page
info Input pp. 27-46 then Select

Trial by Diet


Scholarship generally respects the genre created by Lee Humphreys and John J. Collins in classifying Daniel 1-6 as “court tales”[1]– recognizing the subcategories of “conflict stories” (how courtiers survive in the midst of jealousies; chapters 3 and 6) and “contest stories” (how courtiers sometimes excelled in contests with their peers; chapters 2, 4, 5). While comparison with similar A.N.E. literature is useful the narrow focus on the literary characteristics of individual stories is in danger of losing connections with the larger narrative context.


Daniel 1 introduces the characters and therefore sets the scene for the “court tales” that follow in the next six chapters – it is a mistake to regard Daniel 1-6 as somehow unrelated to the “apocalyptic” material in Daniel 7-12 (whether or not one regards Daniel as a composite work with a history of development).


[1] John J. Collins, “The Court-Tales in Daniel and the Development of Apocalyptic,” Journal of Biblical Literature 94 (1975): 218–34; W. Lee Humphreys, “A Life-Style for Diaspora: a Study of the Tales of Esther and Daniel,” Journal of Biblical Literature 92 (1973): 211–23; Susan Niditch and Robert Doran, “The Success Story of the Wise Courtier: a Formal Approach,” Journal of Biblical Literature 96 (1977): 179–93. Hans Peter Müller, “Märchen, Legende Und Enderwartung: Zum Verständnis Des Buches Daniel,” Vetus Testamentum 26 (1976): 77–98; Lawrence M. Wills, “The Jew in the Court of the Foreign King: Ancient Jewish Court Legends”, (HDR 26; Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1990), 10-11; and Lawrence M. Wills, “The Jewish Novel in the Ancient World”, (Myth and Poetics; Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995). 

Page 28 of 46

 TOC   Page

Daniel and his friends

Daniel and his friends were young men of royal descent when they were exiled to the court of Nebuchadnezzar. They were probably about 12-13 years old and therefore “sons of the law” (bar-mitzvah). The prophet Isaiah warned Hezekiah that some of his sons would become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon (Isa 39:7) and therefore some commentaries suggest that Daniel and his protégés were castrated before they were put into the care of the chief eunuch. Others highlight that the young men were “without blemish” (Dan 1:4) and this probably rules out castration which would exclude them from the congregation of the Lord (cf. Deut 23:1).


Trial by Diet

Daniel’s refusal of the king’s fare has been much discussed in the commentaries and the reasons usually offered for their refusal are cultic purity[2] or asceticism.[3] However, neither reason adequately explains Daniel’s stance, or the wider implications of his choice. The royal wine was not ritually unclean and Daniel most certainly could have chosen food from the royal menu that was acceptable.[4]











[2] The food was unclean according to Jewish law or not properly slaughtered (i.e., not blooded or strangled) or because the food was first dedicated to the Babylonian gods.

[3] Josephus attributes the decision to Daniel’s desire “to live austerely” and specifies abstinence from meat.

[4] Even if the food was initially dedicated to idols before being distributed for consumption this need not have raised undue objections as the example of Naaman the Syrian demonstrates in his request not to be condemned when he is forced to accompany the king during worship (2 Kings 5:18).

Page 29 of 46

 TOC   Page

Although cultic purity forms an important element in Daniel’s refusal to eat royal fare it is not the central reason for his actions. Textual markers indicate that at the heart of his refusal is loyalty to the covenant relationship established at Sinai.  Daniel 1:9 informs us that, “God had brought Daniel into the favour and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs”. It is clear that the chief of the eunuchs is acting as God’s agent, in other words the eunuch is an instrument and his attitude towards Daniel (favour and goodwill) reflects the divine attitude towards Daniel.[5] The Hebrew phrase, לחסד ולרחמים (favour and goodwill) is a relational phrase that describes God’s covenant love towards his people. In this phrase covenant faithfulness and mercy, חסד (ḥesed) is combined with tender love, רחמים (raḥămîm). The Hebrew rhm is derived from the Hebrew for womb where tender care for the unborn infant occurs and stands metaphorically for compassion and tender love.  So Daniel who is later addressed as “greatly beloved” (Dan. 9:23; 10:11, 19) is now a recipient of tender love and mercy from God via his agent “the chief eunuch” demonstrating that divine covenant faithfulness towards his people has not been extinguished by the exile.


The next point of interest is the emphasis on Israelite heritage (“children of Israel”, v.3) before Judean descent (“sons of Judah”, v.6) indicating that the tribe of Judah is a subset of the larger covenant community “Israel”. The key to the story is the ratification of the covenant relationship with Israel which is described in Exodus 24.


In Exodus 24 the nobles of Israel eat and drink with God and the covenant is ratified when the people are sprinkled with the blood of the sacrifices made by the young men.  Daniel 1 has numerous intertextual links with this narrative, particularly with the Septuagint version where the Greek evpile,ktwn (Dan. 1:3) usually translated as


[5] Another example of this is Neh 1:11, where God gives a person raḥămîm in the sight of another (more powerful) person; “I pray, and grant him (thy servant Nehemiah) mercy (raḥămîm) in the sight of this man (the king).”

Page 30 of 46

 TOC   Page

nobles [6] is used for the first time in Exodus 24:11. Similarly the phrase, “the children of Israel” is employed in Ex. 24:11 and Dan. 1:3. Whereas the young men of Israel offered sacrifices (Ex. 24:5) the young men of Daniel have no blemish (Dan. 1:4) metaphorically indicating that they are the sacrifice. The trials of the young men in the following chapters amply demonstrate their willingness to self-sacrifice when their covenant faith is threatened.


And Daniel purposed in his heart, that he would not defile himself with the king’s table, nor with the wine of his drink: and he intreated the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself (Dan 1:8 LXE).

Daniel was determined not to defile himself. The Hebrew verb for defile or pollute גל (g’l) occurs eleven times in the OT. [7] Richard E. Averbeck notes that, “The LXX uses several different roots to render this term in the OT, but the most common is alisgō, pollute. The root occurs only 1x in the NT (as a nom. alisgēma) in the Jerusalem Council letter to the Gentile believers in the churches, instructing them to, among other things, “abstain from food polluted by idols” (Acts 15:20). [8] The nobles of Israel shared a covenant meal with God and had “table fellowship” with Him. [9] The “table” of     Continued  ˃








[6] Literally the Greek means ‘chosen ones’ the Hebrew employs two different words in these passages both translated as ‘nobles’ in the NKJ but whereas the Hebrew of Ex 24:11 is related to a legume that implies separation, the Hebrew  translated ‘nobles’ in Dan 1:3 is of Persian origin.


[7] Or twelve times depending on how one reads Job 3:5a


[8] Richard E. Averbeck , (NIDOTTE, vol 1), 794-5


[9] The Hebrew uses the plural Elohim – indicating that Exodus 24 has fellowship with angels in mind including the one who bore the Yahweh name.

Page 31 of 46

 TOC   Page

the Lord is idiomatic for the sacrificial altar of the Lord and the term table is found in conjunction with pollute (defile) four times [10] in the Greek versions.[11]


Sirach 40:29 (RSV) could almost be a commentary on Daniel 1:8; “When a man looks to the table of another, his existence cannot be considered as life. He pollutes himself with another man’s food, but a man who is intelligent and well instructed guards against that. The service of the young men had been prepared by divine instruction (Dan 1:17) and the issue is not simply one of cultic purity (although that is also in play) but of dependence on another man’s table. The Israelites were already in table fellowship with Yahweh. They had been  sprinkled [12] with the blood of the covenant and Daniel did not want to be dependent on the table of the king otherwise “his existence cannot be considered as life.” (cf. Deut 30:19 “choose life, that both you and your descendants may live”)








[10] Sir 40:39 LXT – pollutes/table (ἀλισγήσει/τράπεζα), Mal 1:7, 12 LXT - polluted/table (ἠλισγημένη/tra,peza), Dan 1:8 LXT - defile/banquet (ἀλισγηθῆ/δείπνῳ), Dan 1:8 OG - defile/table (ἀλισγηθῆ /τράπεζα) Sirach

[11] The defilement of the altar by Antiochus and rejection of the covenant by many Hellenized Jews no doubt influenced the translation.


[12] The meaning of the chief eunuch’s name Ashpenaz is given as “I will make prominent the sprinkled” (BibleWorks for Windows release 1998/2000 look up facility on H828 using Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and “BDB” (Brown-Driver-Brigg’s Hebrew Definitions) but the etymology is obscure and still debated. According to Gesenius it derives from a cognate of the Persian for horse and the Sanskrit for nose (meaning horse’s nose). Some Lexicon’s do not regard Ashpenaz as a proper name, but rather a general term for “innkeeper” from the Old Persian ašpinja, however, the ancient versions along with most English versions understand the term to be a name (See J. J. Collins, Daniel, Hermeneia, 127, n. 9 and p.134).

Page 32 of 46

 TOC   Page

There were limits to the exiles desire to assimilate – they may well have appropriated the learning and culture of Babylon (to a certain extent) and achieved appointment to high office but the faithful refused to fully integrate in the knowledge that they were still in covenant relationship with Yahweh and not dependant on man’s table. [13]  The vessels of Yahweh may well have been in Nebuchadnezzar’s possession and the covenant people of Israel/Judah his captives but Yahweh was sovereign and the children of Israel still his subjects.


It is suggested that the ten day period of Daniel’s trial is not randomly chosen but is based on the “days of awe” the ten day period between the Jewish New Year and the Day of Atonement. This was regarded a time of probation during which the fate of the righteous and the wicked were sealed. At the end of the period the “books” were opened and judgement occurred on the great Day of Atonement. As Daniel is concerned with eschatological Atonement (cf. Dan 9:24) and with the opening of the books (cf. Dan 7:10) it is reasonable to assume that the ten day trial reflects this significant period – in other words the exilic community was on probation until the great day of judgement – reflected in the meaning of Daniel’s name; God is (my) judge.


The names of Daniel’s friends reflect ongoing divine care – despite divine judgement; Yahweh is gracious (Hananiah) and helps (Azariah) [14] his people – in the words of Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 3:29), there is no other God who can deliver like this” (Mishael). [15]  Despite the    Continued  ˃









[13] Presumably this is meant to contrast with Jehoiachin who was restored to the table of the king of Babylon after languishing in prison for 37 years (Jer 52:31-34) meanwhile Daniel would still be eating pulse and drinking water (prison food?).

[14] The grace (favour) and help that God bestows on the exiles is demonstrated through the attitude of the chief eunuch who acts as a proxy or agent of the divine will.

[15] Mishael (who is what God is?) is a similar form to the name of the angel Michael (who is like God?)

Page 33 of 46

 TOC   Page

Babylonian penchant for renaming captives, [16]  the exiles were still citizens of the kingdom of heaven.


New Testament use of Daniel 1


Many of the themes in Daniel 1 are echoed in Acts chapter 6. The chapter commences with concerns about the diet of the Greek widows (serving tables, v.2) and progresses to describe the Spirit that animated Stephen in terms similar to Daniel. [17] Finally the description of Daniel’s countenance is reminiscent of Stephen’s visage. [18]  The narrative in Acts seeks to emphasise that Stephen refused the “table” of Judaism [19] because (like Daniel) he preferred the table of the Lord:


“We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat” (Heb 13:10).










[16] See the article by T. Gaston, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego” in The Christadelphian eJournal of Biblical Interpretation,(eds., A. Perry and P. Wyns Annual 2008, Willow Publications,2008),178-185 online@ Access here [cited  April 2010]


[17] Acts 6:10; “They were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he (Stephen) spoke”; compare, Dan 1:20; “And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm”, and Dan 4:18; “the Spirit of the Holy God is in you”.

[18] Dan 1:15; “And at the end of ten days their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies”. Acts 6:15; “And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel”.

[19] Compare Smyrna who had “tribulation ten days” brought on by those “who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan” (Rev 2:8-11).

Page 34 of 46

 TOC   Page

The Chronology of Daniel 1:1-2 and 2:1



In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the articles into the treasure house of his god. (Daniel 1:1-2)


Now in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was so troubled that his sleep left him. (Dan 2:1)


From the very first verse the book of Daniel challenges the reader with interpretive problems. According to Porteous, “the very first statement in chapter 1 can be shown to be inaccurate.” [20] Although it is acknowledged that Daniel often subordinates history to theology the charge of inaccuracy is unwarranted.


Many of the perceived chronological and interpretive problems are caused by insufficient appreciation of oriental material – from biblical sources and from extra-biblical sources (which for some reason are often considered more reliable). For example the year of a king’s reign can be counted from the New Year before his accession, from the accession itself, or from the next New Year. [21]  The problem is further complicated by the existence of two New Year’s one in Nisan and one    Continued  ˃










[20] N. Porteous, Daniel, A Commentary, Old Testament Library, (London, 1965), 25

[21] The fall of Jerusalem is dated in Nebuchadnezzar’s eighteenth year (Jer 52:29) or in his nineteenth (2 Kings 25:8; Jer 52:12)

Page 35 of 46

 TOC   Page

in Tishri. Are events dated from the civil or the religious New Year?  The question is still debated with Clines recently arguing for a New Year in Nisan (March-April) [22] and the eminent Israeli historian A. Malamat opting for the autumn month of Tishri (September-October). [23]  Thus it is conceivable that an event dated to the third year of Jehoiakim in one source can be equivalent to the fourth or even the fifth year of Jehoiakim in another source. It is also possible that a prophetic book contains material from two different sources containing two different dating systems.


The critical problem can be summarised as follows:


Nebuchadnezzar only became king in the fourth year (not third) of Jehoiakim (Jer. 25:1). His accession occurred after defeating Pharaoh Necho at the battle of Carchemish (Jer. 46:2) in 605 BC which decided the fate of Judea - formerly a province under Egyptian vassalage. At the time of the battle of Carchemish Nebuchadnezzar was crown prince (not king) and shortly after the battle Nebuchadnezzar’s father, Nabopolassar, died necessitating that he travel post haste to Babylon in order to be crowned leaving no time for a siege of Jerusalem. The Babylonian records do not record a siege of Jerusalem in 605 BC nor do they record the deportation of Jehoiakim to Babylon.  The problem is compounded by a reference to the fifth year of Jehoiakim in Jeremiah (Jer. 36:9), who is still seemingly independent of Babylon a year after the battle of Carchemish. The critical view is that the deportation of Jehoiakim to Babylon (Jehoiakim died in Judea) was confused with the later siege and deportation of Jehoiachin [24] and that    Continued  ˃


[22] D.Clines in the Australian Journal of Biblical Archaeology 2 (1972),9-34; Journal of Biblical Literature 93 (1974), 22-40

[23] A. Malamat, “The Twilight of Judah: In the Egyptian-Babylonian Maelstrom,” in Supplements to Vetus Testamentum 28, Congress Volume: Edinburgh, 1974 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1975), 124 and n. 2.

[24] The “Jerusalem Chronicle”(ABC 5) records the following on the Reverse of the cuneiform tablet; 11'. In the seventh year (598/597), the month of Kislîmu, the king of Akkad mustered his troops, marched to the Hatti-land, 12'. and besieged the city of Judah and on the second day of the month of Addaru he seized the city and captured the king (Jehoiachin). The date in 2 Kings 24:12 (the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar) is contradicted by this chronicle and in Jeremiah (Jer. 52:28), which both state that it was the seventh year. See Appendix 1 Chapter 2: : The Jerusalem Chronicle










Page 36 of 46

 TOC   Page

the three year submission of Jehoiakim to Nebuchadnezzar and subsequent raids described in 2 Kings 24:1-2 has been confused with a siege at the beginning of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign (for Daniel this becomes a siege in the “third” year of Jehoiakim). Thus the first capture of Jerusalem was ante-dated to the third year of Jehoiakim and the author of Daniel either mistakenly confused or deliberately manipulated his sources in  2 Chron. 36:6-7 and 2 Kings 24:1-2. To this critics add the “problem” of Daniel 2:1 dated to the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign - this does not fit comfortably with the three year training period normally required for royal service (Dan. 1:5,18) or with the context of chapter 1 where Daniel is introduced to Nebuchadnezzar, whereas in chapter 2 Daniel is unknown to Nebuchadnezzar.


Proposed solutions:


Firstly, neither biblical nor extra biblical sources require that Jehoiakim was actually taken to Babylon. Careful reading of Daniel 1:1-2 shows that although (some of) the temple vessels were carried to Babylon this does not necessarily include Jehoiakim himself.[25] Secondly, a [...continued on next page]










[25] The actual “exile” of Jehoiakim occurred some 3 years later when he rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar but even then the facts are obscure for 2 Chron. 36:6 suggests that he did not reach Babylon;  the record states that Nebuchadnezzar “bound him in fetters to carry him to Babylon” in the LXX version of the parallel account in 2 Chron. 36:8 a comment is added, “he was buried in the garden of ‘Uzza”, this is where possibly the two worst kings, Manasseh (2 Kgs. 21:18) and Amon (21:26) were buried.  This seems to contradict Jeremiah who predicted that he would receive “the burial of an ass” with his body exposed to the elements (Jer. 22:19; 36:30). One can speculate that when he died en-route to Babylon his body was cast by the wayside, until the remains were gathered by relatives and interned some time later.

Page 37 of 46

 TOC   Page

discrepancy of one year between different sources (Jeremiah/Kings/Daniel) can hardly be considered an objection, as the third/fourth year of Jehoiakim can easily refer to the same year. [26] The same can be said of the chronological contradiction between Daniel 1:5, 18 and 2:1, for although Daniel received three years training but was presented to Nebuchadnezzar after two years the periods in question may be the same. Driver observes, “If parts of years are counted as full units, and if the reign of Nebuchadnezzar is post-dated in the Babylonian fashion so that the “ first year ” is not the accession year but the following one, then the data of chaps. 1 and 2 may be compatible ”. [27] So the “ contradictions ” are able to be reconciled, but only if the first year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign is the year in which Jerusalem surrendered – but this is considered implausible by the critics. The denouements in Dan.1:18-20 and 2:45-49 would then refer to the same events. Nebuchadnezzar’s dream would then be synchronous with Jehoiakim burning Jeremiah’s scroll, contrasting the unfaithfulness of the Judean king with Nebuchadnezzars recognition of Yahweh’s sovereignty.

However, we would expect Nebuchadnezzar to consolidate his position as soon as possible after defeating Egypt. The battle of    Continued  ˃

[26] See, Thiele of the University of Chicago on this point: “605 -3rd year of Jehoiakim- Nebuchadnezzar at Jerusalem -Daniel 1:1”, (Thiele, Edwin R., The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, page 183; cf. also pp. 182 on the date of his reign, and p. 186. Jehoiachin of Judah (r. 598-597) was taken into captivity in the 8th year of Nebuchadnezzar according to 2 Kings 24:12; Thiele dates this event accordingly to 597 BC. These dates are not generally disputed.

[27] Samuel Driver, The Book of Daniel,(The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges: Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1900),17

Page 38 of 46

 TOC   Page

Carchemish changed the balance of power in Syria-Palestine and Nebuchadnezzar would seek to dominate the region as soon as he was crowned. Although extra-biblical sources do not specifically mention a siege of Jerusalem in Nebuchadnezzar’s first year the Jerusalem Chronicle does mention several aggressive incursions into the region during the reign of Jehoiakim:


11. and on 1 Ululu (7 September) he sat on the royal throne in Babylon. 12. In the accession year Nebuchadnezzar went back again to the Hatti-land and until the month of Šabatu (January/February) 13. marched unopposed through the Hatti-land; in the month of Šabatu he took the heavy tribute of the Hatti-territory to Babylon. (Obverse of the Cuneiform tablet)


Both the neo-Assyrian and the later neo-Babylonian historical records consider Phoenicia, Philistia, and Syria-Palestine as part of Hatti, the regional name formerly used to denote only Anatolia and northern Syria. The third book of Berossus’ Babylonian history [28] also suggests that Nebuchadnezzar settled the fate of Judea immediately after the battle of Carchemish.


“When his father Nabopolassar heard that the satrap appointed over Egypt and the districts of Coele-Syria and Phoenicia had revolted from him, being no longer himself able to endure hardships, he placed a part of his force in charge of his son Nebuchadnezzar, who was in his prime, and sent him out against this satrap. Then Nebuchadnezzar engaged the rebel, defeated him in a pitched battle and brought the country which was under the other’s rule into his own realm. As it happened, his father Nabopolassar fell ill about this time in the city of Babylon and departed this life after a reign of twenty-one years. Being informed, not long after, of his father’s    Continued  ˃









[28] Berossus’ own account is lost, but it was summarized by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in his Against Apion 1.133-39 and in his  Jewish Antiquities 10.11.1

Page 39 of 46

 TOC   Page

death, Nebuchadnezzar settled the affairs of Egypt and the other countries and also gave orders to some of his friends to conduct to Babylon the captives taken among the Jews, Phoenicians, Syrians and peoples of Egypt with the bulk of his force and the rest of the booty, while he himself, with a small escort, pushed across the desert to Babylon. There he found the government administered by the Chaldeans and the throne preserved from him by the ablest man among them; and on becoming master of his father’s entire realm, he gave orders to allot the captives, when they came, settlements in the most suitable districts of Babylonia.”


Berossus’ account leads F.F. Bruce to the conclusion that Nebuchadnezzar pursued Necho to the border of Egypt. Bruce states; “In view of the fact that Jehoiakim was Necho’s vassal and that Judah was practically an appendage of the Egyptian Empire, it would be surprising if Judah were not one of “the other countries” whose affairs Nebuchadnezzar “settled” before going back to Babylon. Daniel and his companions would then be among the “captives taken among the Jews” whom Nebuchadnezzar ordered his friends to conduct to Babylon by the normal route while he himself hastened home by a short cut”. [29]  Jehoiakim reigned for a total of eleven years, as far as can be ascertained the facts suggest the following:



[29] F.F. Bruce, “Daniel’s First Verse,” The Bible Student ns 21.2 (April 1950: 70-78),74

Page 40 of 46

 TOC   Page

The burning of Jeremiah’s scroll occurred in the 5th year of Jehoiakim and this would be equivalent to the second year of Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 2:1). At this time Jehoiakim was not independent but was a vassal under Babylon. He was obviously contemplating rebellion and the scroll was a warning that Nebuchadnezzar would destroy the city if such a course of action was followed. After 3 years vassalage under Babylon Jehoiakim rebelled and suffered an unsettled independence during which he was attacked by Babylonian allies (2 Kings 24:1-5) until Nebuchadnezzar himself quelled the rebellion. He was replaced by Jehoiachin who was deported to Babylon after approximately 3 months.



Page 41 of 46

 TOC   Page

Jehoiakim was replaced by Jehoiachin who reigned for less than three months before he was deported to Babylon.




The period of Babylonian servitude in question - from 605 BC until Cyrus in 536 BC is 70 years. [30]  Within these “seventy” Judah’s captivity worked itself out in three stages with Daniel taken during Jehoiakim’s reign and Ezekiel during Jehoiachin’s short reign until the Monarchy finally ended with the burning of the temple in BC 586.


[30] The period in question is not exactly 70 years (this is discussed in Chapter 16: The Seventy Prophecy)

Page 42 of 46

 TOC   Page

Thus the first chapter of Daniel sets the initial limits of Daniel’s career based on the seventy years of Jeremiah’s prophecy [31] – from the third year of Jehoakim (1:1) until the first year of Cyrus (1:21) – but the edict of Cyrus did not result in the anticipated restoration and this required Daniel “to come out of retirement” some 21 years after Cyrus at the commencement of the reign of Darius Hystapsis (Darius the Mede).


Historical records in Kings/Chronicles together with Jeremiah are employed by Daniel to answer the question of prophetic failure. Why was the temple cult not restored by Cyrus?  Interestingly, the Cyrus edict of 2 Chron. 36:22-23 does not appear in the book of Kings, the Chronicler parallels Ezra but the Chronicler’s version of the edict is only half as long as Ezra 1:2-4.  Although the Chronicler closely parallels Ezra 1:2-3a, it has no correspondent for Ezra 1:3b-4.


Pratt observes; “It should also be noted that the Chronicler omitted Jehoiachin’s release from prison in Babylon (2 Kgs 25:27-29). This scene is the last segment of the book of Kings and was probably intended to inspire hope in the readers of that book for release from exile through the Davidic line. The Chronicler, however, shifted attention away from Jehoiachin’s release because he wrote after this event had been eclipsed by the Cyrus edict (see 2 Chron 36:22-23).” [32]


The hope of a revitalised Davidic monarchy awakened by the restoration of Jehoiachin in Kings and Jeremiah did not emerge, but neither did renewed focus on the hope of a restoration promised by the Cyrus edict in Chronicles/Ezra.  Daniel was written to address this    Continued  ˃









[31] Jeremiah 29:10 – Daniel and his young companions are among the first exiles, they are the elite, the good figs of Jer. 24

[32] Pratt, Richard L. Jr., The Reunited Kingdom, part 17 (2 Chronicles 29:1–36:23)  in IIIM Magazine Online, Volume 2, Number 39, September 25 to October 1, 2000),601 [cited August 2010] @ Access here

Page 43-46

 TOC   Page

problem of “prophetic failure” which was really a failure of prophetic interpretation.   The promised restoration at the end of Jeremiah’s period of seventy years had petered out in disappointment (the restoration and rebuilding of the temple was initiated by Darius 21 years after the Cyrus edict). The burning of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar in BC 586 was the defacto end of the Monarchy but captives were still being deported to Babylon some 4/5 years after that traumatic event.  The last deportation occurred 62 years before Darius appeared on the scene.


Appendix 1 Chapter 2: The Jerusalem Chronicle

The translation is from http://www.livius.org [cited Jan. 2010] adapted from A.K. Grayson, Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles (1975) and Jean-Jacques Glassner, Mesopotamian Chronicles (Atlanta, 2004).




1. In the twenty-first year [605/604] the king of Akkad [Nabopolassar] stayed in his own land, Nebuchadnezzar his eldest son, the crown-prince,

2. mustered the Babylonian army and took command of his troops; he marched to Karchemiš which is on the bank of the Euphrates,

3. and crossed the river to go against the Egyptian army which lay in Karchemiš.

4. They fought with each other and the Egyptian army withdrew before him.

5. He accomplished their defeat and beat them to non-existence. As for the rest of the Egyptian army

6. which had escaped from the defeat so quickly that no weapon had reached them, in the district of Hamath

7. the Babylonian troops overtook and defeated them so that not a single man escaped to his own country.

8. At that time Nebuchadnezzar conquered the whole area of Hamath.

9. For twenty-one years Nabopolassar had been king of Babylon,

10. when on 8 Abu [15 August 605] he went to his destiny; in the month of Ululu Nebuchadnezzar returned to Babylon

11. and on 1 Ululu [7 September] he sat on the royal throne in Babylon.

12. In the accession year Nebuchadnezzar went back again to the Hatti-land and until the month of  Šabatu

13. marched unopposed through the Hatti-land;  in the month of Šabatu he took the heavy tribute of the Hatti-territory to Babylon.

14. In the month of Nisannu he took the hands of Bêl and the son of Bêl and celebrated the Akitu festival.

15. In the first year of Nebuchadnezzar [604/603]in the month of Simanu  he mustered his army

16. and went to the Hatti-territory, he marched about unopposed in the Hatti-territory until the month of Kislîmu.

17. All the kings of the Hatti-land came before him and he received their heavy tribute.

18. He marched to the city of Aškelon and captured it in the month of Kislîmu.

19. He captured its king and plundered it and carried off spoil from it.

20. He turned the city into a mound and heaps of ruins and then in the month of Šabatu he marched back to Babylon.

21. In the second year [603/602] in the month of Ajaru  the king of Akkad gathered together a powerful army and marched to the land of Hatti.

22. ...]  he threw down, great siege-towers he [...

23. ...] from the month of Ajaru until the mon[th of ...] he marched about unopposed in the land of Hatti.

About four lines missing


Several lines missing

1'. In the third year [602/601] the king of Akkad left and 

2'. in the month of [...] on the thirteenth day, [the king's brother] Nabû-šuma-lišir [...]

3'. The king of Akkad mustered his troops and marched to the Hatti-land.

4'. and brought back much spoils from the Hatti-land into Akkad.

5'. In the fourth year [601/600] the king of Akkad mustered his army and marched to the Hatti-land. In the Hatti-land they marched unopposed.

6'. In the month of Kislîmu he took the lead of his army and marched to Egypt. The king of Egypt heard it and mustered his army.

7'. In open battle they smote the breast of each other and inflicted great havoc on each other. The king of Akkad turned back with his troops and returned to Babylon.

8'. In the fifth year [600/599] the king of Akkad stayed in his own land and gathered together his chariots and horses in great numbers.

9'. In the sixth year [599/598] in the month of Kislîmu the king of Akkad mustered his army and marched to the Hatti-land.  From the Hatti-land he sent out his companies,

10'. and scouring the desert they took much plunder from the Arabs, their possessions, animals and gods. In the month of Addaru the king returned to his own land.

11'. In the seventh year [598/597], the month of Kislîmu, the king of Akkad mustered his troops, marched to the Hatti-land,

12'. and besieged the city of Judah and on the second day of the month of Addaru he seized the city and captured the king [Jehoiachin]

13'. He appointed there a king of his own choice [Zedekiah], received its heavy tribute and sent to Babylon.

14'. In the eight year [597/596], the month of Tebetu the king of Akkad marched to the Hatti-land as far as Karchemiš [...

15'. ...] in the month of Šabatu the king returned to his own land.

16'. In the ninth year [596/595], the month of [...] the king of Akkad and his troops marched along the bank of the Tigris [...]

17'. the king of Elam [...]

18'. the king of Akkad [...]

19'. which is on the bank of the Tigris he pitched his camp. While there was still a distance of one day’s march between them,

20'. the king of Elam was afraid and, panic falling on him, he returned to his own land.

21'. In the tenth year [595/594] the king of Akkad was in his own land; from the month of Kislîmu to the month of Tebetu there was rebellion in Akkad.

22'. With arms he slew many of his own army. His own hand captured his enemy.

23'. In the month of [...] he marched to the Hatti-land, where kings and [...]-officials

24. came before him and he received their heavy tribute and then returned to Babylon.

25. In the eleventh year [594/593] in the month of Kislîmu, the king of Akkad mustered his troops and marched to the Hatti-land.