Chapter 4

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



  AFTER having declared that the author of Daniel is wrong in placing the first expedition of Nebuchadnezzar against Jerusalem in the third year of Jehoiakim, because our other sources of information are silent with regard to such an expedition, the critics turn around and say that the author of Daniel was acquainted with the same sources as we are, and yet deliberately made this false statement because of his erroneous interpretations and combinations of these sources. He had before him the books of Kings, Chronicles, and Jeremiah, in the same form, as far as they refer to Nebuchadnezzar’s relations to Jehoiakim and Jerusalem, that we have them; and yet, according to the critics, contrary to these sources, he incorrectly puts the third year of Jehoiakim as the year of Nebuchadnezzar’s first expedition against Jerusalem, combines the statements of Kings and Chronicles in an erroneous manner, and is apparently ignorant enough of military strategy, and of the geography of Western Asia, to suppose that Nebuchadnezzar could make an expedition into Palestine, while Carchemish, as Jeremiah possible implies, was in the hands of the Egyptians.

  This is a plausible argument, and a very ingenious one. It assumes that the author of Daniel was ac–

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quainted with the canonical books of Jeremiah, Kings, and Chronicles,1 and that these books, as far as they affect this subject, had the same text that we now in them; and on the basis of this assumption asserts that he was either not honest enough or not intelligent enough to use his sources of information correctly. To be more explicit, this argument assumes that the pseudo–Daniel had before him Jeremiah 25, in which the latter is said to speak “of the Chaldeans in a manner which appears distinctly to imply that their arms had not yet been seen in Judah” before the fourth year of Jehoiakim; nevertheless he was either not bright enough or not open–minded enough to see this distinct implication, but must forsooth say that Nebuchadnezzar had been in Palestine in the third year of Jehoiakim. Again, this pseudo–Daniel had before him Jeremiah 46:2, in which the defeat of the army of Pharaoh–Necho in the fourth year of Jehoiakim is mentioned,—a defeat before which, say the critics, there could be no question of Nebuchadnezzar’s invading Palestine; and yet, he wilfully says that Nebuchadnezzar did invade Palestine in the third year of this same Jehoiakim. He had before him 2 Chron. 36:5, which implies that Nebuchadnezzar carried Jehoiakim and a part of the vessels of the house of the Lord to Babylon in the eleventh year of Jehoiakim’s reign, and yet he states that this seizure of these vessels of the house of

1 Of course, from the point of view of those who believe that Daniel was written in the sixth century B.C., it is impossible that Daniel could have been acquainted with either Kings or Chronicles in their present form; though he may have known their sources. The phrase “in the books,” occurring in chapter 9:2, would seem to imply that he had read the work of Jeremiah. If Daniel is authentic, his account of the events of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar must be accepted as genuine and original, and as of equal authority and trustworthiness with the records of Jeremiah, Kings, and Chronicles.

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the Lord was in Jehoiakim’s third year; because forsooth, he had read in the book of Kings that Jehoiakim had served Nebuchadnezzar three years before he rebelled against him.

  Can anyone really suppose that the author of Daniel, provided he had no other biblical books, can have been so dull as not to know that Jehoiakim, a king enthroned by Pharaoh–Necho (2 Kings 23:34), can not have served Nebuchadnezzar for three years before the latter made his first expedition against Jerusalem, inasmuch as it is plainly stated by Jeremiah (25:1) and implied in 2 Kings 25:8, that the first year of Jehoiakim? Yet the critics do make this supposition. They do suppose that the author of Daniel, having before him, as they say, the books of Kings, Chronicles, and Jeremiah, did nevertheless contradict all these earlier accounts, did fail to perceive their distinct implications, and did make improbable and even absurd statements as to events already recorded in their, to him, well–known sources. Lest injustice should seem to be done to these critics of the authenticity of Daniel, their objections will now be cited verbatim et seriatim; and their assumptions will be discussed in the hope of showing that there is not one of them that has a real foundation of fact.


  Canon Driver says:

  That Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem and carried away captive some of the sacred vessels in the third year of Jehoiakim (Dan. 1:1f.) though it cannot, strictly speak–

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ing, be disproved, is highly improbable, because, Jeremiah in the following year (c. 25 & c.; see v. 1) speaks of the Chaldeans in a manner which appears distinctly to imply that their arms had not yet been seen in Judah.1

  Prof. Cornill says:

  Daniel’s fixing the carrying away into captivity in the third year of Jehoiakim (Dan. 1:1) contradicts all contemporaneous accounts and can only be explained as due to a combination of 2Chron. 36:6, 7, with an erroneous interpretation of 2 Kings 24:1.2

  Prof. Bevan says:

  It was not till after the defeat of the Egyptian army at Carchemish on the Euphrates in the fourth year of Jehoiakim (Jer. 46:2) that there could be any question of Nebuchadnezzar’s invading Palestine, where for some years the Egyptians had enjoyed undisputed supremacy.3


  Combining these statements, we find that the carrying away into captivity (especially “of some of the vessels of the house of the Lord”) in the third year of Jehoiakim is assumed to have been highly improbable:

  I. Because Daniel speaks of Nebuchadnezzar as going up against Jerusalem in Jehoiakim’s third year and Jeremiah implies that he did not go up before the fourth year of Jehoiakim.

  II. Because of the manner in which Jeremiah in the following year speaks of the Chaldeans.

  III. Because of the erroneous interpretation on the

1 LOT p. 408.    2 Introduction to the Canonical Books of the Old Testament, p. 384.    3 The book of Daniel, p. 16.

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part of the writer of Daniel of 2 Kings 24:1, combined with 2 Chron. 36:6, 7.

  IV. Because Nebuchadnezzar is said in Jeremiah 46:2, to have defeated the Egyptians at Carchemish in the fourth year of Jehoiakim; and it is not until after this battle “that there could be any question of Nebuchadnezzar’s invading Palestine.”

  V. Because “the Egyptians had enjoyed undisputed supremacy” in Palestine for some years before the battle of Carchemish.

  VI. Because it contradicts all contemporaneous accounts.

  Before entering upon the discussion of these assumptions, it may be best to state and consider what is actually said in Daniel about what Nebuchadnezzar effected by this expedition. The writer of Daniel says (Dan. 1:2) that the king of Babylon carried part of the vessels of the house of God into the land of Shinar to the house of his god and (Dan. 1:3, 4) that certain of the children of Israel, even of the king’s seed, and of the princes, were taken to the king’s palace to be taught the learning and tongue of the Chaldeans. It is possible, also, that the writer means that Jehoiakim was taken to Babylon. In this case, there are three points to be considered; first, is it likely Jehoiakim was taken to Babylon in his third year; secondly, is it likely that some of the vessels of the house of the Lord were taken to Babylon at this time; and thirdly, is it likely that some of the nobility and of the royal family of Judah were taken to reside in the king’s palace, and that while they were there they were treated as the king’s protégés?

  As to the first of these points, it is clear that the kings of Jehoiakim’s time were in the habit of carrying off the kings of Judah into captivity. In 2 Kings 23,

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33, 34, it is said that Pharaoh–Necho put Jehoahaz, king of Judah, in bonds at Riblah and afterwards carried him away and that he came to Egypt and died there. In 2Chron. 36:6, we read that Nebuchadnezzar bound Jehoiakim in fetters to carry him to Babylon. In 2 Chron. 36:10, it is said, that Nebuchadnezzar sent and brought Jehoiachin to Babylon. According to 2 Kings 24:12, this was in the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign (597–8 B.C.). In this captivity Jehoiachin was kept for thirty–seven years until Evil–Merodach released him on the twenty–seventh day of the twelfth month of the year that he began to reign, that is, in the spring of 561 B.C.1 In 2 Kings 25:7, we see that Zedekiah was bound with fetters of brass and carried by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon. In Jeremiah 52:11, we learn that he put him in prison, also, and kept him there till the day of his death. In 2 Chron. 33:11, 13, it is said that the king of Assyria (probably Esarhaddon) took Manasseh, king of Judah, and bound him with fetters and carried him to Babylon; where Manasseh prayed unto the Lord, who brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom.

  Of course, it will be objected, that if Daniel is correct in his date, it is scarcely probable that Jehoiakim was taken to Babylon in his third year and restored and that he was taken captive to Babylon again in his eleventh year. This improbability, however, is more than offset by the certainty that Zedekiah was twice, at least, in Babylon. For in Jer. 51:59, we learn that in his fourth year he went to Babylon, doubtless at the behest of Nebuchadnezzar, his overlord; whereas, in his eleventh year, he was taken thither a second

1 2 Kings 25:2 f.

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time, after he had been captured while endeavoring to escape after the fall of Jerusalem.

  As to the second point, that some of the vessels of the house of the Lord were taken to Babylon in the third year of Jehoiakim, there is no good reason for doubting the statement of Daniel. To be sure, Jeremiah enumerates a large number of vessels of the house of the Lord that were carried away at the final capture of Jerusalem1; but according to 2Chron 36, Nebuchadnezzar is said to have carried away vessels of the house of the Lord to Babylon at three different times, once in the eleventh year of Jehoiakim (v. 7), once a few months later when he carried away Jehoiachin (v. 10), and finally at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem (v. 18). Moreover, the writer of 2 Kings says (24:13) that the king of Babylon, at the time of Jehoiachin’s captivity, cut in pieces all the vessels of gold which Solomon had made in the temple of the Lord. All of these statements are easily reconcilable, if we suppose that Nebuchadnezzar at four different times carried away part of the vessels, the last part being carried away at the time of the final capture of Jerusalem in Zedekiah’s eleventh year.

  As to the third of these points, that some of the nobility and of the royal family of Judah were taken to reside in the king’s palace and that while there they were treated as the king’s protégés we have an abundance of analogies from ancient records to prove that this may well have been true in Jehoiakim’s third year, as the writer of Daniel declares.

  Thus, in the Scriptures themselves, it is said in 2 Kings 24:14, 15, that Nebuchadnezzar carried away to Babylon not merely Jehoiachin and his wives, but his

1 52:17–23; cf. 2 Kings 25:13–17.

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officers (sarisim) and princes (sarim) and the mighty of the land. In like manner, in Dan. 1:1–3, it is implied that Jehoiakim was carried to Babylon along with some of the princes (here called partumim) and of the king’s seed.

  This custom was common, also, among the Assyrian kings. Thus, Tiglath–Pileser I took as hostages from Shadianteru, king of Urartinash, his sons and family.1 Asurnasirabal and Shalmaneser III, also, continued the custom.2 Shalusunu of Harruna and his sons were pardoned by Shalmaneser III, and sent back to their land. Esarhaddon granted favor to Laili, king of Jadi, and offered him friendship, gave him back his goods and the land of Bazi.3 Ashurbanipal showed favor to Necho, king of Memphis, made treaties (ade) with him, clothed him with particolored garments and a golden band, put rings of gold on his fingers, and gave him an iron sword adorned with gold with the king’s name upon it, presented him with wagons and horses, and established him and his son Nabushezibanni in the sovereignty of Sais.4

  So among the Persian kings may be noted the treatment of Astyages, Crœsus, and Nabunaid by Cyrus; of Antiochus son of Miltiades and of Democedes the Crotonan physician, by Darius; and of Themistocles and Alcibiades by later kings.

  Having thus reviewed what Daniel himself has to say with regard to what Nebuchadnezzar carried away captive in the third year of Jehoiakim and shown that what he says harmonizes with what we know from the documentary evidence provided by the monuments,

1 KB i, 20. See also pages 22, 32, 34, 36.    2 KB i, pp. 72, 88, 104, 106, 112, 144, 148.

3 Id., ii, 132.     4 KB ii, 167. See also pp. 170, 172, 178, 184, 190, 208, 222.

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we are now prepared to consider the assumptions mentioned above.

  I. It is said, that Daniel seems to confound the third year of Jehoiakim with the fourth year spoken of by Jeremiah in chapter 25:1.

  In this objection, it is assumed, that the fourth year of Jehoiakim of which Jeremiah speaks must be different from the third year of which Daniel speaks. In view of the testimony of the Babylonian and Egyptian monuments, it is impossible longer to uphold this assumption. Among the Babylonians in the time of Nebuchadnezzar, the remainder of the last year of a king was not called the “first year” of his successor, but “the year of the beginning of his reign.” The first year began on the first of Nisan following the death of his predecessor. For example, the last dated tablet of Nebuchadnezzar to which I have had access, is dated in the forty–third year, fourth month, twenty–seventh day. The earliest from the reign of Evil–Merodach is dated in the sixth month, the fourth day of the year of the beginning of the reign of Evil–Merodach.1 The next earliest is dated on the 26th day of the second month2 and there is one from the 22nd day of the third month of the same year.3 It is therefore evident that the forty–third year of Nebuchadnezzar is the same as the year of the beginning of the reign of Evil–Merodach; and the latter’s first year is what would be called by many his second year.

  The Egyptians, however, pursued a different method of reckoning. “The years of the kings’ reigns in the twenty–sixth dynasty (of Egypt) began on New Year’s day”; for “it is evident that the fraction of [Psamtik

1 See for this usage in the Scriptures, 2 K. 25:27.    2 VSD vi, 55.    3 Id., vi, 56.

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the First’s] incomplete (55th) year was, after his death, included in the first year of his successor, Necho.”1 As Petrie remarks, “The absence of odd months and days from the lengths of the reign shows that the dates are fixed months of the year, and that the years were counted from New Year’s day.”2 To quote Wilcken,3 a king’s “second year began with the first New Year’s day which he passed on the throne, so that the last broken year of his predecessor was counted as his first.”

  Owing to these two methods of reckoning, it is obvious that the third year of a king according to the Babylonian calendar would be his fourth according to the Egyptian. Among the Hebrews, it is generally agreed, that the Egyptian method of reckoning the years of a king was employed.4

  II. The expedition of Nebuchadnezzar in the third year of Jehoiakim is said to be improbable, because “of the way in which Jeremiah in the following year speaks of the “Chaldeans.” Dr. Driver, in this statement, refers to the 25th chapter of Jeremiah, especially to the first verse. The American Revision gives the chapter as follows:5

  (1) The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah (the same was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), (2) which Jeremiah the prophet spake unto all the people of Judah, and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying: (3) From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, even unto

1 Breasted, History of Egypt, vol. iv, sec. 975.        2 History of Egypt, iii, 339.        3 Greichische Ostraka, i, 783.

4 Reginald Stuart Poole in Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, i, 439.

5 We cite as far as the end of verse 33.

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this day, these three and twenty years, the word of Jehovah hath come unto me, and I have spoken unto you, rising up early and speaking; but ye have not hearkened. (4) And Jehovah hath sent unto you all his servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them (but ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear), (5) saying, Return ye now every one from his evil way, and from the evil of your doings, and dwell in the land that Jehovah hath given unto you and to your fathers, from of old and even for evermore; (6) and go not after other gods to serve them and to worship them, and provoke me not to anger with the work of your hands; and I will do you no hurt. (7) Yet ye have not hearkened unto me, saith Jehovah; that ye may provoke me to anger with the work of your hands to your own hurt. (8) Therefore thus saith Jehovah of hosts: Because ye have not heard my words, (9) behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith Jehovah, and I will send unto Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about; and I will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and a hissing, and perpetual desolations. (10) Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and light of the lamp. (11) And this whole land shall be a desolation, and as astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.

  (12) And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith Jehovah, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it desolate forever. (13) And I will bring upon that land all my words which I have pronounced against it, even all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah hath prophesied against all the nations. (14) For many nations and great kings shall make bondmen of them, even of them; and I will recompense

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them according to their deeds, and according to the work of their hands.

  (15) For thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel, unto me: Take this cup of the wine of wrath at my hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it. (16) And they shall drink, and reel to and fro, and be mad, because of the sword that I will send among them. (17) Then I took the cup at Jehovah’s hand and made all the nations to drink, unto whom Jehovah had sent me: (18) to wit, Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah, and the kings thereof, and the princes thereof, to make them a desolation, an astonishment, a hissing, and a curse as it is this day; (19) Pharaoh king of Egypt, and his servants, and his princes, and all his people; (20) and all the mingled people, and all the kings of the land of Uz, and all the kings of the land of the Philistines, and Ashkelon, and Gaza, and Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod; (21) Edom, and Moab, and the children of Ammon; (22) and all the kings of Tyre, and all the kings of Sidon, and the kings of the isle which is beyond the sea; (23) Dedan, and Tema, and Buz, and all that have the corners of their hair cut off; (24) and all the kings of Arabia, and all the kings of the mingled people that dwell in the wilderness; (25) and all the kings of Zimri, and all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of the Medes; (26) and all the kings of the north, far and near, one with another; and all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth: and the king of Sheshach shall drink after them.

  (27) And thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith Jehovah of Hosts, the God of Israel: Drink ye, and be drunken, and spew, and fall, and rise no more, because of the sword which I will send among you. (28) And it shall be, if they refuse to take the cup at thy hand to drink, then shalt thou say unto them, Thus saith Jehovah of Hosts: Ye shall surely drink. (29) For, lo, I begin to work evil at the city which is called by my name; and should ye be utterly unpunished? Ye shall not be unpunished; for I will call

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for the sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth, saith Jehovah of Hosts.

  (30) Therefore prophesy thou against them all these words, and say unto them, Jehovah will roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he will mightily roar against his fold; he will give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth. (21) A noise shall come even to the end of the earth; for Jehovah hath a controversy with the nations; he will enter into judgment with all flesh: ass for the wicked, he will give them to the sword, saith Jehovah.

  (32) Thus saith Jehovah of Hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great tempest shall be raised up from the uttermost parts of the earth. (33) And the slain of Jehovah shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth unto the other end of the earth; they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the face of the ground.

  It will be noted by the reader:

  First, that nothing is said here about the third year of Jehoiakim.

  Secondly, that nothing is said about an expedition in the fourth year.

  Thirdly, that it is said simply, that the word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah in the fourth year.

  Fourthly, that the prophecy refers to events still future with reference to the fourth year of Jehoiakim. See verse 9–33.

  Fifthly, that the phrase in the eighteenth verse, “as it is this day,” implies that Judah had been already conquered and devastated.

  Lastly, that the failure to mention Nebuchadnezzar’s expedition in the third year, or his overlordship in the fourth year, is no more striking than his failure to men–

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tion Necho. The failure to mention Necho is especially noteworthy, if he were still overlord of Judah when this prophecy was made.

  III. The statement that there was an expedition in the third year of Jehoiakim is said to arise from an erroneous interpretation on the part of the writer of Daniel of 2 Kings 24:1, combined with 2 Chron. 36:6, 7. The verse from Kings reads as follows:

  In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years: then he turned and rebelled against him [i.e., rebelled again against him]. (2 Kings 24:1.)

  The verses from Chronicles read thus:

  (6) Against him came up Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and bound him in fetters, to carry him to Babylon. (7) Nebuchadnezzar also carried off the vessels of the house of Jehovah to Babylon, and put them in his temple at Babylon. (2 Chron. 36:6, 7.)

  Comparing these verses with Daniel 1:1, it will be remarked:

  First, that neither Kings nor Chronicles says one word about the year of the expedition, nor

  Secondly, whether Nebuchadnezzar came up once, or twice, or several times,

  Thirdly, that Daniel does not say anything about the putting of Jehoiakim in chains, nor

  Fourthly, about the carrying of Jehoiakim to Babylon, but

  Fifthly, that both Daniel and Chronicles do state that Nebuchadnezzar brought a part of the vessels of the house of the Lord to Babylon. These statements harmonize perfectly with each other, and, also, with

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2 Kings 25:13–17, which mentions in detail the vessels, pillars, etc., of the house of the Lord which were carried to Babylon at the time of the final capture of Jerusalem.

  Sixthly, there is no reason, therefore, for supposing that the writer of Daniel got his information from either Kings or Chronicles, much less that he made an “erroneous interpretation” of them. The statements of the three books are entirely harmonious. There is absolutely no error in Daniel’s narrative, so far as can be seen from a comparison of his account with the accounts in Kings and Chronicles. On this matter, the average reader is just as well able to judge as the most learned professor in Christendom. There is here no dispute about texts or versions. The learned counsel for the prosecution asserts that the writer of Daniel got his information from Kings and Chronicles, and that he did not know enough to take it straight, and presumes that the ignorant jury, his credulous readers, will not be able to perceive that his assertion is not proof!

  IV. It is said to be improbable that Nebuchadnezzar advanced upon Jerusalem in the third year of Jehoiakim, because in Jeremiah 46:2, he is said to have captured Carchemish in the fourth year of Jehoiakim. This statement is based on the assumption that Nebuchadnezzar would scarcely have dared to advance on Jerusalem, leaving a strong garrison of Egyptians entrenched in his rear and at such a strategic point as Carchemish, which commanded the Euphrates and the great routes of possible retreat from Palestine by way of Palmyra and by way of the Orontes valley.

  This argument involves several assumptions:

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  It is an assumption to say that Pharaoh–Necho ever conquered Carchemish. In 2 Kings 23:29, it is said that Pharaoh–Necho went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates; and that King Josiah went against him and was slain by him at Megiddo. In 2 Chron. 35:20, it is said that “Necho king of Egypt went up to fight against Carchemish by Euphrates: and Josiah went out against him”  “in the valley of Megiddo” (35:22), and in the battle, Josiah was so wounded that he died shortly after in Jerusalem (35:23, 24). We are not informed whether Necho reached Carchemish in this campaign, much less that he went as far as Riblah in the land of Hamath,1 which was in the valley of the Orontes on the way to the Euphrates on whose left bank Carchemish was situated. Notice, it is not affirmed that he did not reach the Euphrates, nor that he did not capture Carchemish; but merely that no texts that we have assert that he did, or to be more precise, that he reached it in this campaign. We are informed merely that he set out for the Euphrates and Carchemish; but Josiah interfered with his plans, and we are left to conjecture as to whether he proceeded farther than Riblah. Remember, that no contemporaneous source outside the Scripture says anything about an expedition of Necho against Assyria, nor of his ever having come to Carchemish.

  But are we not told in Jeremiah 46:2, “concerning the army of Pharaoh–Necho king of Egypt, which was by the river Euphrates in Carchemish, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon smote in the fourth year of Jehoiakim”? True. But the assumption here is,

1 2 Kings 23:33.

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that because the army was there in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, it must have arrived there in or before his third year, when Daniel says that Nebuchadnezzar came to Jerusalem. Notice, it is not affirmed that Necho, or his army at least, did not reach the Euphrates, or that it did not capture Carchemish, in the first year or in the second year, or in the third year of Jehoiakim, but simply, that it is an assumption, an inference, that he did. These is no direct evidence, no explicit statement, of any contemporaneous author, that Necho himself ever saw the Euphrates; nor that his army ever occupied Carchemish.

  But does it not say that Necho “went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates”? To be sure; but even Von Lengerke admits that the Hebrew verb must be taken here as meaning “started to go up.”1 If, however, this be not admitted, then the sentence which follows2 can only be interpreted as meaning, that Josiah came out to meet Necho on his way back from Carchemish on the Euphrates; or the verb would have to be rendered by a pluperfect, which possibility, all critics would instantly reject.

  Again, someone may say, does not the text of Jeremiah 46:2, clearly state, that Nebuchadnezzar smote the army of Pharaoh–Necho by the river Euphrates in Carchemish? Yes. The English authorized version says so.3 But the Hebrew may just as well be rendered

1 Das Buch Daniel, p. 14.    2 Introduced as it is in Hebrew by Wau converso–consecutive.

3 Jeremiah 46:1, 2, reads as follows: “The word of the Lord which came to Jeremiah the prophet against the Gentiles; against Egypt, against the army of Pharaoh–Necho king of Egypt, which was by [Heb. ’al] the river Euphrates, in [Heb. b’] Carchemish, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon smote in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah.

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at or by Carchemish; in which case, it is equally probable that the Egyptians were attacked while besieging the city, as while defending it. Granting, however, that the Egyptians had possession of Carchemish at the time of the battle, it does not follow that they had possession of it since the first year of Jehoiakim. It is certainly possible, that they may have captured it, or that it may have voluntarily thrown open its gates to them, between the time when Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem in the third year of Jehoiakim and the time when the battle was fought in his fourth year. The tablets show that Nabopolassar was still reigning in the second month of his twenty–first year and that Nebuchadnezzar was certainly king in the fourth month of the same year. The last tablet from the reign of Nabopolassar thus far published is dated in the 2nd month of the last year of his reign. The first of Nebuchadnezzar is dated on the 14th day of the 4th month of the same year. when Nebuchadnezzar had been called back so suddenly to Babylon by the death of his father, what more likely than that Necho should have seized upon this opportunity to overrun the whole country as far as the Euphrates and that Carchemish should have surrendered to him? At least, no one can deny that this may have happened. More arduous and lengthy campaigns have been made hundreds of times. A few weeks are all that would be necessary to march from Pelusium, or Gaza, to Carchemish.

  Finally, however, even granting that Pharaoh–Necho or his army reached the Euphrates in the first year of Jehoiakim, and that Carchemish was captured, or occupied peaceably, by the Egyptians before the third year of Jehoiakim, what follows? That Nebuchadnezzar did not besiege Jerusalem in the third year of

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Jehoiakim, because he would not have dared, forsooth, to leave a hostile fortress in his rear? Certainly not. such things are occurring all the time in modern warfare and have occurred in countless campaigns since the beginning of human history. Witness in our lifetime Strassbourg and Port Arthur and Adrianople and Antwerp. Witness Genoa and other Italian fortresses during Napoleon’s campaigns in Italy. Witness Scipio’s carrying the war into Africa, while Hannibal was still within striking distance of Rome. Witness Nebuchadnezzar’s own campaign against Jerusalem, while Tyre was still unconquered in his rear. It is perfectly obvious that if Nebuchadnezzar could conquer Palestine and Syria, it would be only a question of time when Carchemish and all the other cities held by Egyptian garrisons must fall, as Danzig fell, and had to fall, when Napoleon could not  make head against the allied troops and come to its relief. For it is not likely—at least we have no evidence—that either Babylon, or the line of Nebuchadnezzar’s communication with Babylon, was in any danger, or can have been in any danger from the armies of Egypt then present in Syria. For a hundred years, the Egyptians had met the Assyrian armies on many a field and had been repeatedly defeated, and the land of Egypt had many times been conquered by her more warlike foes. Nebuchadnezzar’s armies were composed largely of the same materials as those of his predecessors of Nineveh, and succeeded to their renown and military superiority. He may well have risked much in his consciousness of strength. It must be remembered also that Carchemish was not on the most direct line of communication between Jerusalem and Babylon. The route from Jerusalem to Babylon by way of Damascus and

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Palmyra crossed the Euphrates about 250 miles below Carchemish, at a place called Thapsacus where there is a shallow ford often only eighteen inches deep. Here is where the ten thousand crossed. Here is where Alexander crossed (Arr., ii, 7). As long as the Babylonians held control of this ford and of Palmyra and Damascus, their line of communication with Palestine through the desert would be safe. Necho’s only possible plans must have been either to fight and conquer Nebuchadnezzar himself in Palestine; or to break his line of communication at Damascus by an army acting from Carchemish. In either of these cases, the triumph of the Egyptians must at best have been but temporary, unless they had been powerful enough to overcome Nebuchadnezzar’s army, and the army of his father Nabopolassar, in the field.

  V. It is asserted, that the Egyptians had enjoyed undisputed supremacy in Palestine for some years before the battle of Carchemish.

  the purpose of this assertion is to show that the statement of Daniel 1:1,that Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem in the third year of Jehoiakim is false, inasmuch as the battle of Carchemish was in the fourth year of the latter. No proofs are given in support of this assertion; and we claim, that it is a pure assumption based upon insufficient evidence, and a begging of the whole question at issue.

  For, in the first place, the records of Egypt give us no ground for such a statement. Prof. Breasted,1 gives us only two Egyptian documents bearing on the reign of Necho, neither of which so much as mentions Palestine. the Babylonian documents give us no informa–

1 Ancient Records of Egypt, vol. iv, pages 498, 499.

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tion upon the subject. The only authorities regarding the Palestinian expeditions and the relations of Necho given by Prof. Petrie in his History of Egypt are Herodotus and the Bible and the fragment of an Egyptian monument found at Sidon.1 All that Herodotus has to say upon Necho’s connection with Palestine is as follows: “Necho having come to an engagement with the Syrians on land at Magdolus, conquered them, and after the battle took Cadytis, which is a large city in Syria. Afterward, having reigned sixteen years in all, he died and left the kingdom to his son Psammis.”2

  The biblical sources of information upon this matter are extremely meager. Jeremiah mentions Necho but once—namely, in 46:2, which reads in the American Standard Edition: “Of Egypt: concerning the army of Pharaoh–Necho king of Egypt, which was by the river Euphrates in [Heb. b’] Carchemish, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon smote in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah.” It is possible, also that Jeremiah refers to the period before Jehoiakim’s fourth year in 47:1, which reads: “The word of Jehovah that came to Jeremiah the prophet concerning the Philistines, before that Pharaoh smote Gaza.” The Egyptian fragment from Sidon proves merely that Necho at some time in his reign held possession of that city.

  It seems clear then that we are fully justified in asserting, that there is no sufficient reason for assuming that there is anything improbable in the statements of the book of Daniel about the campaigns of Nebuchadnezzar against Jerusalem in the third year of Jehoiakim.

  VI. It is said by the critics that the carrying

1 See vol. iii, 33.    2 Bk. II, 159.

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away of Judah into captivity in the third year of Jehoiakim is highly improbable because “it contradicts all contemporaneous accounts.”

  Inasmuch as there are no contemporaneous documents known, which say one word about the movements of either Nebuchadnezzar, or Jehoiakim, in the third year of the latter king, we may safely rule this objection out of court. It cannot be too strongly emphasized that whatever his creed, or learning, or critical acumen, or insight, the ipse dixits, the mere assertions, of any man with regard to the movements of the kings of the time of Nebuchadnezzar, are worthy of absolutely no consideration whatsoever, insofar as they are unsupported by evidence. What any man thinks about the matter is opinion, not evidence. Necho, king of Egypt, and all the records of Egypt are silent about the third year of Jehoiakim. Nabopolassar and Nebuchadnezzar, kings of Babylon, and the Babylonian documents of a private as well as of a public character, are silent about it. The biblical books of Kings, Chronicles, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, are silent with regard to it. Berosus, the Babylonian historian, and Josephus, the Jewish historian, who claimed to have had access to contemporaneous documents, support the statement that Nebuchadnezzar had made an expedition across the Euphrates a short time before his father Nabopolassar died; that is, either in the third or fourth year of Jehoiakim. The writer of Dan. 1:1, declares that Nebuchadnezzar did make an expedition against Jerusalem in the third year of Jehoiakim. As to this point, the writer of the book of Daniel, at whatever time it was written, would probably know more than we do to–day; for we know nothing. No evidence proves nothing. This attack on the veracity of the writer of the book of Daniel

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should be ruled out until some evidence is forthcoming to show that he did not come up against Jerusalem during this third year of Jehoiakim.


  So that, in concluding the discussion of the objections to Daniel on the ground of the date given in chapter 1:1, let us say that to harmonize perfectly the apparent anachronisms of Daniel 1:1, and Jeremiah 25:1, we have only to suppose that Jeremiah writing in Palestine used the manner of reckoning common in that country, and that Daniel writing in Babylon used the method there employed; or to assume that there were two distinct expeditions, one in the 3rd and one in the 4th year of Jehoiakim.

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Home Up Chapter 5

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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