Chapter 2

Studies In The Book Of Daniel: A Discussion of the Historical Questions by Robert Dick Wilson



  THERE will be discussed in this chapter the definite claim of the late Dean Farrar that such a man as Daniel could not have existed because his name even has not been found as yet upon the documents dating from the sixth century B.C. It will be shown, that it is not certain that Daniel, under his new Babylonian name given him by Ashpenaz, the prince of the eunuchs of Nebuchadnezzar,1 is not mentioned upon the records of Babylon; and, also, that even if it be not mentioned, this affords no presumption against the existence of Daniel, inasmuch as the kinds of records that have come down to us could not have been expected to mention his name. To be sure, by a lucky chance, or a special providence, his name might have been recorded in one of the documents thus far discovered; but these documents being such as they are, it would be most extraordinary if it had been recorded there. Moreover, unless some new kind of document should be discovered, or unless the library containing the contract tablets of the bank, or office, at which Daniel transacted business, should be unearthed, it is hopeless to expect that his name will ever be found on any document yet to be discovered.

1 Dan. 1:7.

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  To be sure, we might have found, or may still find, a letter to him or from him; but the chance of ever finding such a letter is extremely small. As to the decrees, especially those of Nebuchadnezzar in chapter four and of Darius in chapter six, which purport to have been written, and to have been written most probably in different languages, we might naturally suppose that one or more of them would be discovered. But when we recall the fact that these at best would be but a few out of thousands of the decrees of the kings of Babylon and that not one of their decrees has thus far been unearthed, it is scarcely reasonable, to say the least, to expect that these particular decrees which are mentioned in Daniel should ever be found. To hope for the discovery of an historical document recording Daniel’s name is groundless in view of the character and paucity of those we already possess. No public records of the kings would be likely to record the name of a servant, and we have no evidence that any private histories were ever written among the Babylonians or Persians. Our only reasonable expectation would seem to be that some future find may disclose to us a literary work, like the Achikar papyrus, which may contain some allusion to the events of Daniel’s life, or even make mention of his name. But at present, we can deal only with the records that are known; and to these let us now address ourselves, citing first the objection of Dean Farrar and then proceeding to the assumptions involved in this objection and to a discussion of the evidence in favor of these assumptions, and closing with a few words summing up the conclusions to be derived from the evidence.

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  “It is natural that we should turn to the monuments and inscriptions of the Babylonian, Persian, and Median empires to see if any mention can be found of so prominent a ruler. But hitherto neither his name has been discovered, nor the faintest trace of his existence.”1


  It is assumed in this objection, (1) that the absence of the name of Daniel from the inscriptions of the period in which he is presumed to have lived would prove that he did not exist at that time, and (2) that inasmuch as we have not found on the monuments hitherto published “the faintest trace of his existence,” he did not in fact exist.


  These charges will have weight only with those who have never investigated the subject–matter and especially the proper names of the documents of that period. But, inasmuch as this absence of Daniel’s name from all documents outside the Scriptures seems to have impressed Dean Farrar as a strong reason for denying his existence, we shall proceed to discuss the whole matter at some length. Let it be said, then, that this argument is fallacious because of the character of the documents to which Dean Farrar has turned for traces of Daniel’s existence. These documents extend from the time of Nabopolassar, the father of Nebuchadnezzar, down to and including the time of Darius

1 See The Expositor’s Bible, The Book of Daniel, p. 5.

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Hystaspis, thus covering the whole period during which Daniel is said to have lived. They may be divided into (1) contract tablets, (2) building inscriptions, (3) historical inscriptions, and (4) miscellaneous documents.

  1. We place the contract tablets first, because they are the most numerous, because they have the largest number of proper names of persons upon them, and because these names have been almost all published and classified in a form easily accessible, by Prof. Knut L. Tallquist,1 who has collated 3504 tablets, containing about 3000 names connoting about 12,000 persons. Among these we might have found the name of Daniel. But we do not find it there. When we examine these names a little more closely, however, the surprise and doubts engendered by this failure to find his name are dissipated. The name of Daniel, it is true, does not appear on these tablets; but neither can we be certain that the name of any other Hebrew is found there. Certain, we say; for it is probable that we do find several Hebrew names upon them, and it is possible that a number of persons denoted by Babylonian names may have been Hebrews. Several initial difficulties confront us in our endeavor to identify and establish the existence of the names of Jews on the documents of this period. The first is that most of the forms and roots of Hebrew names were common to the Jews along with the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Phenicians, or Arameans, so that it is exceedingly difficult to affirm with confidence, that a given name, without a clearly defining context, is the name of a Jew. The second is, that the way of writing the Hebrew names for God

1 Neubabylonisches Namenbuch zu den Geschäftsurkunden aus der Zeit des Šamaššmukin bis Xerxes.

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in the Babylonian texts is not clear. The third is, that it seems certain that many of the Jews and people of other nations who came to Babylon to settle, or were brought there as slaves, adopted, or were called by, native Babylonian names, thus destroying the trace of their race and nationality contained in their original native names. The fourth is, that in the case of the Jews, and of those who might have had the same names as Jews, the gentilic title (which is found a number of times with the names of Persians, Egyptians, and others) has never yet been found upon the Babylonian tablets. The fifth is that a different nomenclature was commonly employed for denoting slaves from that which was used for freemen.1

  For these reasons, we may be pardoned for being exceedingly skeptical as to the possibility of the identification of the Jewish personal names of the Babylonian tablets from Nabopolassar to Darius Hystaspis inclusive; that is, during all the period in which Daniel is said to have lived. A few men, mostly slaves, like the frequently occurring Bazuzu, may have been Jews; but they may just as well have been Arabs or Arameans.2

1 The freeman is X, the son of Y, the son of Z; the slave is merely X, —his parentage is never given. The reason for this being that the slave had no legal standing. He was the son of nobody and his children, in like manner, were the children of a nobody, since he could not be the founder of a family (mar banu).

2 E.g., Aqabi-ili (Nk. 393:4), Bariki-ili (Nk. 346:5, 408:2), Samaki-ili (Nk. 138:12), Adi-ili (Nk. 70:1, 7), Yadi-ili (Nk. 70:13), Idda son of Iddia a slave (Nk. 31:11), Aqabuya (Nd., 542:2), Hashda son of Ibna (Nd. 997:3), Samaku Cyr. 379:5, may just as well have been Arameans as Hebrews. Addu-natannu (Nd. 201: 9) is a good Aramaic word. Shalti-ili is called an Arab slave (Nbp. 19:20). Padi might be Hebrew, but may, also, be Phenician. It was the name of a king of Ekron in Sennacherib’s time and is found a number of times in the Assyrian records of the seventh century B.C. (Johns, Assyrian Deeds, etc., iii, 238). Basia (Nk. 31:13), and Busasa (Cyr. 135:9), have a good Syriac root and good Syriac forms, whereas the root is wanting in Hebrew. Dadia may be Phenician and is found in Assyrian as early as the seventh century B.C. (Johns, Ass. Deeds, iii, 526.) Barikiya the son of Akka (Cyr. 59:8) looks like a good Hebrew name.

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  The fact, then, that the name Daniel has not been found on the Babylonian tablets of the sixth century B.C. does not prove that he did not live at Babylon at that time, any more than the fact that the names of other Jews are not found there proves that there were no Jews at Babylon. And yet this is the very time of the captivity! Surely, no one is going to deny that the Jews were taken to Babylon at all!

  But even if the name were found, this would not prove that the man so named was a Jew. For the name Daniel has been discovered on both the Nabatean and Palmyrene documents as a name in use among these peoples.1 Besides, the Babylonian name Dannuilu, which occurs on a tablet from the eighth year of Darius Hystaspis, as the father of a witness called Zeri, may be the same name as the Hebrew name Daniel.2

  But in order to prove that a Daniel mentioned on a tablet was the Daniel of our book, the official position of the man would have to be given in a way which is not common on the tablets. The mere name would not be enough. We would require a description of the person named. But such descriptions are not ordinarily given in the Babylonian documents except in a very general way. As stated above, the name of the father may be mentioned, and sometimes that of the grandfather.

1 See de Vogüé, Syrie Centrale, p. 62; Lidzbarski, Nordsemitische Inschriften, p. 256.

2 Strass. Inschriften von Darius, 236, 10.

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  But as we know nothing of either the father or of the family of Daniel the prophet, such a description on an inscription would not help to identify him. His calling, indeed, might have been given. For, frequently a man is called a shangu (priest), or a shangu of a certain god, or a smith or a secretary, or a measurer of corn, etc. But these descriptions are comparatively uncommon, and are especially unusual in describing the higher officials of the state.1

  Inasmuch, however, as the name of Daniel is said to have been changed by Nebuchadnezzar, it may well be asked, whether his new Babylonian name does not occur in the documents of this time. But, here also, we have a great initial difficulty to overcome, in the fact that the authorities are not agreed as to what is the Babylonian equivalent of Belteshazzar. The Greek version and Josephus confounded the name with Belshazzar, giving Baltassar for both. Schrader took the name to be compounded of Balatsu-usur (protect his life), the name of the god being omitted. Sayce takes it to be for Belit-sharru-usur (Oh Bilat, protect the king), claiming that, as it is written in Daniel, it is a “compound which has no sense and would be impossible in the Babylonian language.”2 I would suggest as a third view, that we read Bel-lit-shar-usur, “Bel, protect the hostage of the king.” The evidence3 of

1 We meet, however, such descriptions as “major–domo (rab biti) of Belshazzar” (Nd. 270:3), “overseer of the sons of the king” (Nd. 245:3), and qipu, “mayor” or “officer” (Nd. 33:5 et passim).

2 Higher Criticism and the Monuments, p. 532.

3 I take this to be Bel–lit–shar–usur “Bel protect the hostage of the king.” For the omission of the r and the writing of the last two parts of the name “shazzar,” compare the name Belshazzar (see Schrader KAT 433). It will be seen, that the last two syllables in the names Belshazzar and Belteshazzar are written in the same way in Babylonian and in Aramaic and Hebrew. As to the writing “Belit” for “Bellit” numerous parallels may be found on the Babylonian inscriptions with Aramaic dockets, or endorsements. Thus Ashurraham is written in Aramaic with only one r (CIS ii, 43); Bana-neshaya, with only one n (Clay, Aramaic Endorsements, 40); Sulummadu, with only one m (Cun. Texts of the U. of P., viii, Part I, p. 15): Pani-Nabu-temu, with only one n (CIS ii, 62); Sar–rapid, with only one r (CIS ii, 81); Mar–shaggil–lumar, with only one g and one l (id., 6i), Bit–el–edil–ilani, with only one il (id., 54); Ishtar–dur–kali, with dr written once but to be read apparently tar–dur (id., 23); Nabu-takkil-ilani, with only one il (id., 58). So in Syriac kaukab–Bel is written with one b. Spiciligium Syriacum, 15.

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the manner of transliterating Babylonian names in Aramaic is conclusive in showing that Bet-lit-shar-usur would be written with but one l, as we find it in the book of Daniel. This interpretation of the name avoids the necessity of supposing that in Aramaic teth has been substituted for tau, as the meaning suggested by Prof. Sayce demands;—a change, moreover, which is not supported by the transliterations of the Aramaic names of the bi–lingual inscriptions nor by the papyri. We admit, that an exception might have occurred here; but, in view of the common usage, the burden of proof rests with the asserter of the change.1

  The view suggested by me harmonizes with the statement of the author of Daniel that Nebuchadnezzar called him after the name of his god; and also with the statements of the first chapter of Daniel, which plainly imply that “certain of the children of Israel,

1 For example, the Babylonian Beltu is always rendered in Syrian by Blty (Spiciligium Syriacum,13, 14, 15.9, et al.), the t of Ahe-utir (Clay, Aram. Indorsements, 2), and Pihat-ah-iddina (id., 80), has been correctly transliterated in the Aramaic indorsements by the letter Tau; whereas, in Bel-etir (Clay, Aram. Ind., 30, 34, 41, 36 [?]), Shita (id., 4), Sharmash-uballit (BE, viii, ii, 68), and Pani-Nabu-temu (CIS ii, 62) the t is in all cases accurately transliterated in Aramaic with a Teth.

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even the seed royal, and of the nobles” were taken to Babylon as hostages for the good behavior of the king and people of Judah. The taking of hostages in this manner had been a custom of the kings of Assyria and Babylonia.1

  No valid objection can be raised against this interpretation of the meaning and of the method of writing this new name which was given by Nebuchadnezzar to Daniel. The interpretation here suggested fits in ex-

1 Thus Sargon took the son of Daiakku the deputy (Shaknu) of Man as a hostage (litu). Later, he took one out of every three (?) of the chiefs (nasikati) of Gambuli as a hostage; and later still, he took hostages from the chiefs of Zami, Aburi, Nahani, and Ibuli et al [Annals of Sargon, 76, 262–270.]. These hostages, if youths, were brought up in the king’s palace and were sometimes made kings of the subject nations. Thus Sennacherib set up as king of Shumer and Accad “Belibni a Chaldean of Babylonian origin who like a little dog had grown up in his palace.” [Bellini Cylinder A, 13; KB ii, 115.]. Jahimilki, son of Baal, king of Tyre, was brought as a servant to Ashurbanipal [KB ii, 169] and afterwards was graciously given back to his father [Id., 171.]. The sons of Jakinlu, king of Arwad, were brought to the same king of Assyria; one of them, Azibaal by name, was sent back to be king in his father’s place, while the rest, nine in number, were clothed in rich garments, gifted with golden rings for their fingers, and caused to sit before the king [Id., 173]. The kings of Egypt were brought alive to Ashurbanipal; he showed grace to Necho, clothed him in royal apparel and a golden band, as became a king, put on his fingers golden rings, and girded him with an iron sword, adorned with gold, and with the name of Ashurbanipal upon it; gave him chariots and horses and made him king in Sais, at the same time that he set up Necho’s son Nabu-shezi-banni as ruler over Athribis [Id., 167].

It is probable that the kings of Babylon followed the example of the Assyrian kings. Thus, the members of the royal family of Judah were carried by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon and brought up in the royal palace. The names of some of these, at least, were changed, as had been that of the son of Necho, king of Egypt, by Ashurbanipal. Daniel we are told, received the name of Belteshazzar.

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actly with the position of Daniel and with his relation to the king of Babylon as a hostage for the king of Judah at the time when it was given.

Having thus determined the meaning and writing of the name, let us proceed to the main question, as to whether such a name has been found on the records of that period. But, here, at the very outset, we must inquire what name we should expect to look for in the inscriptions. One would naturally suppose that we should look only for the name Bel-lit-shar-usur; and that, if we did not find this name written in full, we should conclude, that the Babylonian designation of Daniel did not occur in these documents. But no! This is not the case. For, Dr. Tallquist has very clearly shown that in ordinary usage the native Babylonians were in the habit of abbreviating their very lengthy names. He shows, first, that the first term in a name of four words may be omitted, as Ina-eshi-etir for Nergal-ina-eshi-etir; secondly, that the two first may be omitted, as Bel-atkal for Ana-amat-Bel-atkal; thirdly, that the second may be omitted, as Minu-Bel-daianu for Minu-ana-Bel-daianu; fourthly, that the second and third may be omitted, as Shamash-etir for Shamash-ina-eshi-etir. The first of these methods of abbreviation would allow us to read for Bel-lit-shar-usur, Lita-shar-usur; the second, Shar-usur; the third, Bel-shar-usur; and the fourth, Bel-usur. The first of these has not been found. The second is found possibly in an uncertain reading of document 168 of John’s Assyrian Deeds and Documents, the same name as the Sharezer of 2 Kings 19:37, one of the sons of Sennacherib by whom the king was assassinated.1 The fourth

1 In Abydenus the successor of Sennacherib is called  . Putting the two names together we would have Nergalsharezer, the first part of the name being preserved by Abydenus and the second part by the writer of Kings [KAT 330, and Eusebius, Chron., ed. Schoene, i, 35.].

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is rare, but is paralleled by Nabu-usur, which occurs as the name of nearly one hundred persons mentioned on Tallquist’s tablets.1 The third, Bel-shar-usur, coincides exactly with the name Belshazzar, the son of king Nabunaid, and is the only one of the four that is found on the tablets from which Dr. Tallquist has collected his chief list of names. Of all the Belshazzars mentioned in these lists, two or three only might possibly refer to Daniel. One of these is found on a tablet from the fourth year of Cyrus.2 Here it is said that some minas of silver were to be delivered into the hands of Belshazzar the prince, or first officer, asharidu, of the king. On another tablet from the eighth year of the same king3 there is mention of “Belshazzar, the man who was over the house of the king.” In the second year of Darius Hystaspis, another tablet mentions a governor,4 called Belshazzar. If we suppose that Daniel was the Belshazzar, the prince of the king, who is mentioned in the fourth year of Cyrus (535 B.C.), he would, when thus mentioned, have been only 85 years of age, if we suppose that his age when he was carried as hostage to Babylon was fifteen, or thereabout. Judging from the longevity of officials in the Orient to-day, he may have been the major domo of the eighth year of Cyrus, or even the governor of the

1 Neubabylonisches Namenbuch, p. 151.     2 Strass. Cyr. 178, line 3.    3 Id., 312, line 5.

4 Amel pihati, Strassmaier, Darius 42, 3.

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second year of Darius Hystaspis. In the latter case, he would have been active at about 100 years of age. This is not so incredible as some would have us believe. In the preface to his great Arabic-English Lexicon, Edward William Lane mentions a number of native Arabic lexicographers from whom he derived the material for his dictionary. One of these, named Abu–Zeyd, lived to be 93; another, El–Asmafie, to be 92 or 93; another, Abu–Obajdih, to be about 98; and another, Abu–Amr Esh–Aheybanu, to be at least 110. Mr. James Creelman,1 describing a visit to Jerusalem and other places in the Turkish empire, says that several of the heads of the great religious communities of that empire had then reached the age of nearly a hundred years, but that they were still enjoying the exercise of their high duties in apparently undiminished vigor of intellect and in certainly undisputed authority.2

  Further, a presupposition in favor of believing that the Babylonians wrote the Babylonian name of Daniel in the same way that they wrote the name of Belshazzar, the son of the king, is to be derived from the fact that the Greek of the Septuagint version and of Jose–

1 Pearson’s Magazine, Sept.-Nov., 1909.

2 The author of this chapter is especially skeptical upon this argument based upon the impossibility of Daniel’s having come to Babylon in the year of the beginning of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar and yet having been alive and flourishing in the reign of Darius Hystaspis. For the sake of the bearing upon the case in discussion, he may be pardoned for saying that his great-grandmother Graham, née McCreery, died at the age of 99; a great grand-uncle, Thomas Dick, at the age of 101, two great–uncles, John Dick, and Robert at 92 and 94 respectively; and his great–grandfather, Joseph Wilson, at 105. This last mentioned the writer himself has seen, when he was more than 100 years old. He was active in brain and body till the last, was never ill in his life, and simply went to sleep at last one night and never waked. A simple life, lived in the fear of God, is conducive to longevity; and so may it have been with Daniel.

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phus transliterated both the names in the same way in Greek; that is, by Baltasar.1

As we have shown, then, that a Belshazzar, who may have been the Daniel of our book, was an “asharidu of the king” in the fourth year of Cyrus, it may be well to ask, before we leave this inquiry, what is the meaning and use of the term asharidu. Delitzsch2 defines it as “the first, the noblest, the first in rank”;3 and Muss-Arnolt,4 as “supreme, leader, prince, first in place.” It is used as an epithet of many gods. Thus, we find “Sin the first son (asharidu) of Bel,” Shamash, Ninib, and Marduk are each called the asharidu of the gods. Nergal is called the asharidu. It is used, especially of the first–born son of the king, as “Nebuchadnezzar, the son (asharidu) of Nabopolassar,” “Antiochus, the son (asharidu) of Seleucus.” Kings, also, used the title of themselves; thus Ashur–nasir–abal says, “I am the asharidu”; Sennacherib says that he is the “asharidu of all kings.” It is used, finally, of the nobles of the land. In the tablets, which Tallquist has used, it is employed for a small number of persons only, so that Daniel may well have borne the title in his position as third ruler in the kingdom.5

1 This Baltasar is a correct transliteration of Belshazzar into Greek through the ordinary Aramaic of northern pre–Christian Syria. Compare, for example, Iltehiri for Ilshahri, and Iltammesh for Ilshamesh. (BE X, pp. xiii, xiv.)

2 Assyr. Handwörterbuch.

3 Der erste, der vornehmste, der an Rang hochstehende. See HWB in loc.

4 Dictionary of the Assyrian Language.

5 The following are the names and dates of the asharidus mentioned by Tallquist, the tablets being numbered after Strassmaier.

From the reign of Nebuchadnezzar.

Nabu-ushezib Nk. 22:9; Ubar Nk. 175:13;
Mar-Bel-atkal Nk. 40:2; Nazia Nk. 365:12, 369:6;
Shamash-kin-ahu-Nk. 131:23; Nabu-shar-usur Nk. 394:3.

From the reign of Nergal–shar–usur (Neriglissar).

Nabu–sabit–kati Ng. 7:8, 58:6.

From the reign of Nabunaid:

Bel–ahe–iddin Nd. 260: 3, 282:2 (?), 517:3 (?) (-Ngl. 44:2;) Itti–sharri–balatu Nd. 573:10; Innia Nd. 261:3 (?) Liburu Nd. 578:10, Ardi-ta-? aala Nd. 282:23; Addu Nd. 782:5.

From the reign of Cyrus:

Bel–shar–usur Cyr. 188:3; Sikkabul Cyr. 243; Rihitum Cyr. 204:6; Sin–bel–usur Cyr. 270:4.

From the reign of Cambyses:

Ardi–ahe–shu Cam. 79:4; Nabu–miti–uballit Cam., 368:10; Terik–sharrutsu Cam. 93:7; Nabu–bullitanni Cam. (407:14, Nabu–dini–bullit Cam. 368:3; 408-12).

From the reign of Darius Hystaspis:

Iddiranu Dar. 366:17.

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  2. Having examined the contract tablets we now turn to the so–called building inscriptions. Might we not expect to find the name of Daniel, or Belteshazzar, upon these? Let us look at them and see. All of the building inscriptions of the Chaldean kings have been translated by Dr. Stephen Langdon.1 In his inscriptions, Nabopolassar mentions beside himself, no one but Nebuchadnezzar, his first born son, and Nabu–shum–lishir, the latter’s twin brother, and these but once each.2 Nebuchadnezzar, in his 27 inscriptions, gives us the names of none of his contemporaries, the only names save his own which occur being those of his father Nabopolassar and his remote ancestor Naramsin, the latter mentioned only once.3 He speaks of kings and governors (pihati) once, and once of the princes (sagganake) of the land of the Hittites,4 and once of “the kings of the remote regions which are by the Upper

1 Building Inscriptions of the Neo–Babylonian Empire.     2 Inscriptions i, Col. ii, 70, and iii, 5.

3 Id., ii, 26.     4 Id., xvii, Col. iii, 10.

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Sea and the kings of the remote regions which are by the Lower Sea.”1 Neriglissar in his two inscriptions mentions no one but himself and his father Bel–shum–ishkun, the latter but twice.2 Nabunaid, in the seven inscriptions, with their parallels, given in Langdon’s work mentions none but names of kings.3

  In fact, the only names coming within the period we are discussing are names of men of royal blood such as Nebuchadnezzar, his twin brother, Shamash–shum–ukin, and their father Nabopolassar; Nabunaid, his father Nabu–balatsu–ikbi and Nabunaid’s son Belshazzar; and Cyrus and his opponent Astyages.

  The Persian building inscriptions of Darius Hystaspis bear no names of persons except those of Darius and his father Hystaspis the Achæmenid.4

1 Langdon, op. cit., xvii, Col. ii, 25-29.

2 Id., I, Col. i, 14, and II, Col. i, 11.

3 To wit: In the great inscription from Ur, Nebuchadnezzar and his father Nabopolassar (Col. i, 50, ii, 40, 41, 53), Burnaburiash (Col. i, 55, 57), Sargon and Naram-Sin his son (Col. ii, 29), Kurigalzu (Col. ii, 32), Shagashaltiash (Col. iii, 44) and Belshazzar his first born son (Col. ii, 26, iii, 59). In the parallel passage, he names also Hammurabi (Col. ii, 20, Col. iii, 2, 28). In the small inscription from Ur, he mentions Ur-Uk (Col. i, 8, 12, 15, 22), Dungi his son (Col. i, 10, 13,17, 22), and “Belshazzar, his (own) first born son, the offspring of his heart” (Col. ii, 24-26). In the great Cylinder from Abu–Habba, he names his own father Nabu–balatsu–ikbi the wise prince (rubu imgu), Cyrus, king of Anshan, his (Astyages’ ) little servant (Col. i, 29), Astyages king of the Ummanmanda (Col. i, 32), Ashurbanipal and his father Esarhaddon (Col. i, 47, 48), Shalmanassar and his father Ashur–nasir–abal (Col. ii, 3, 4), Nebuchadnezzar (Col. ii, 49), Naram–Sin, the son of Sargon (Col. ii, 57, 4 iii, 8), Shagashaltiburiash (Col. iii, 28, 31), and Kudur–Bel (Col. iii, 29, 31). In the Cylinder inscription, he mentions his own father, Nabu–balatsu–ikbi (Col. i, i6), and Naram–Sin (Col. i, 31). Finally, on three sample bricks, there appear the names of Nabunaid and of his father Nabu–balatsu–ikbi. It will be observed, that all the names mentioned are the names of kings, and mostly of kings who had lived long before Nabunaid.

4 Spiegel, Die altpersischen Keilinschriften, H, I, B, L, X.

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  3. Of historical inscriptions from this period, we have first the fragments of one describing Nebuchadnezzar’s expedition to Egypt in his 37th year. On this he mentions, beside himself, Amasis king of Egypt, and perhaps Pittacus the tyrant of Mitylene.1

  In the Cyrus Cylinder, we find the names of Nabunaid, and those of Teispis, the great grandfather of Cyrus, of Cyrus his grandfather, of Cambyses his father and of Cambyses his son. In the Nabunaid–Cyrus Chronicle, we find the names of Astyages, Nabunaid, Cyrus, Cambyses his son, Ugbaru (Gubaru ?) and Nabu-mah (?)-rib-ahu.

  On the Behistun inscription of Darius Hystaspis, there are found beside the frequent occurrence of the name of Darius, the names of Cyrus, Cambyses, and the two Smerdises; the names of Achæmenes, Teispes, Ariaramnes, Arsames, and Hystaspis, the ancestors of Darius; the names of the associates of Darius in the insurrection against Smerdis the Magian, Intaphernes the son of Vayaspara, Otanes the son of Thukhra, Gobryas the son of Mardonius, Hydarnes the son of Bagabigna, Bagabukhasha the son of Daduhya, and Ardamanish the son of Vahauka; the names of the rebels who rebelled against Darius, Gomates (Smerdis), Athrina the son of Upadarma, Nadintu-Bel and Arakhu who called themselves by the name of Nebuchadnezzar and claimed to be sons of Nabunaid, Martiya son of Cicikhrish who said he was Ummanish, Fravartish who said he was Khshathrita of the family of Uvakhshatara (Cyaxares), Citrantakhma who claimed to be of the

1 The syllable Am is wanting in Amasis and only ku remains to indicate Pittacus. Whether Mitylene is the correct rendering of Butuyaman is questionable. See Zehnpfund–Langdon, Die Neubabylonischen Königsinschriften, p. 206.

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family of Uvakhshatara, Frada, and Vahyasdata who claimed to be Bardiya (Smerdis) the son of Cyrus; the names of certain generals who led the forces of Darius against the rebels, Hydarnes, Dadarshish the Armenian, Dadarshish the Persian, Vaumisa, Takhmaspada, Hystaspis (the father of Darius), Artavardiya, Vivana, and Vaidafra; and in the small inscription K, the name of Skunka, the Saka. On his other historical inscriptions, Darius mentions no one but himself and his father Hystaspis the Achæmenid.

  4. Taking up the miscellaneous inscriptions, we shall look first at the one lately published by M. Pognon in his Semitic inscriptions from Syria, etc.,1 We find there the names of Ashurbanipal and Ashur–edil–ilani, kings of Assyria; of Nebuchadnezzar, Neriglissar, and Nabunaid, kings of Babylon, and of Nabunaid the son of the last named, “the offspring of his heart and the beloved of his mother.”

  From the times of Darius Hystaspis, we have the Suez boundary stones, several mortuary inscriptions from Naksh–i–Rustem, and some coins. These mention beside Darius himself, the name of Hystaspis the Achæmenid, his father, and the name of the bearer of his bow, Gobryas, and that of his bridle–holder and companion, Aspaçana.

  It will be noticed, that in all these last three kinds of inscriptions are to be found few names beside those of kings, and the fathers and sons of kings. Most of the inscriptions contain only the name of the royal author and generally that of his father. Sometimes, distant ancestors or predecessors are named. Outside the inscriptions of Darius Hystaspis, we find altogether only the name of Ugbaru (Gubaru?) the governor of

1 Inscriptions sémitiques de la Syrie.

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Gutium, possibly that of Pittacus tyrant of Mitylene, and that of Nabu–mah (?)–rib–ahu.1 In Darius’ inscriptions, also, it will be noticed that aside from ancestors, kings, and pretenders, and their fathers, or ancestors, he mentions none but a few of his generals, his six fellow–conspirators and their fathers, his bearer of the bow and his bridle–holder. No civil officers are mentioned, unless we put in this category, Vivana, the satrap of Arachosia, and Dadarshish, the satrap of Bactria, who are named, also, among his generals and because they were generals.


Inasmuch, then, as these inscriptions mention no one filling any of the positions, or performing any of the functions, or doing any of the deeds, which the book of Daniel ascribes to its hero Belteshazzar; how can anyone expect to find in them any mention of Daniel, in either its Hebrew or its Babylonian form? And is it fair, in view of what the monuments of all kinds make known to us, to use the fact that they do not mention Daniel at all, as an argument against his existence?

  What about the numerous governors, judges, generals, priests, wise men, writers, sculptors, architects, and all kinds of famous men, who must have lived during that long period? Who planned and supervised the building of the magnificent canals, and walls, and palaces, and temples of Babylon? Who led the armies, and held in subjection and governed the provinces, and adjudged cases in the high courts of justice, and sat in the king’s council? Who were the mothers and wives

1 A person whose name cannot be further defined, since the Nabunaid–Cyrus Chronicle is broken both before and after the name.

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and queenly daughters of the monarchs, who sat upon the thrones of those mighty empires? Had the kings no friends, no favorites, no adulatory poets or historians, no servile prophets, no sycophantic priests, no obsequious courtiers, who were deemed worthy to have their names inscribed upon these memorials of royal pride and victory; that we should expect to find there the name of Daniel, a Hebrew captive, a citizen of an annihilated city, a member of a despised and conquered nation, a stranger living on the bounty of the king, an alien, a slave, whose very education was the gift of his master and his elevation dependent on his grace? Let him believe who can. As for me, were the documents multiplied tenfold, I would not expect to find in them any reference to this humble subject of imperious kings.

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Home Up Chapter 3

Studies In The Book Of Daniel: A Discussion Of The Historical Questions by Robert Dick Wilson. New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, The Knickerbocker Press, 1917.

E-Text transcribed by hand from the 1917 edition.

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