Chapter 6

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



  ONE of the commonest tricks of argument is the one which is called the begging of the question at issue. This is usually done by an abrupt categorical statement that a thing is so, as if it admitted of no contradiction and required no proof. It is frequently employed in political and religious controversy. “He casteth out devils by Beelzebub the prince of the devils,” is a good example of this kind of fallacy. The Jewish enemies of Jesus simply assumed the whole question at issue without giving evidence to support their assumption. Their statement was at best their opinion. They had no evidence to support it.

  Another example of this kind of fallacy is the assertion of Wellhausen in his History of Israel, p. 387, that כבש  [kāvash] and רדה  [rādā] are Aramaisms.1

1 Whereas kavash is found in all branches of the Semitic family of languages and in all stages of Hebrew literature: and rada in the sense of “rule” is found in Hebrew of all ages and in Babylonian as early as Hammurabi, but not in Syriac nor in any other Aramaic dialect except Mandaic and in the translations of, and comments on, the original Hebrew rādā as found in Gen 1:26, 28; Ps 110:2, and Lev 26:17. See M. Jastrow, A Dictionary of the Targumim, etc., p. 1451b; Lewy, Chaldäisches Wörterbuch I, 352a, II 408b; Delitzsch, Assyrisches Wörterbuch, p. 314, 613; Lane, Arabic–English Lexicon, 2588; Brederik, Konkordanz zum Targum Oukelos, 110, 183; Norberg, Lexidion Cod. Nas.; Harper, Code of Hammurabi and the Hebrew concordances and dictionaries.

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  Closely allied to this fallacy is that involved in an assertion implying that there is plenty of evidence at hand to prove your side of a question, if you only cared to produce it. Thus when the Jews brought Jesus before Pilate, he asked them, “What accusation bring ye against this man?” Their answer was: “If he was not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto you.” Having no evidence that would convict him before a Roman judge, they were condemning him by innuendo, by the mere assertion of his guilt; while at the same time they were implying that they had such an abundance of proof, and that the proof was so well known by all, that it was not reasonable in Pilate even to demand that they specify the charge against him. Whereas the fact was that they could not formulate and substantiate an accusation that would compass the purpose which they desired.

  A still more insidious fallacy is that which seeks to gain the point at issue by obscuring the real point of the question. Thus, when Jesus was brought before Pilate the second time, the Jews made the accusation that Jesus perverted the nation by saying that he was “Christ a king.” But when Pilate asked Jesus if he was then “the king of the Jews,” he answered, “My kingdom is not of this world,” etc. And Pilate gave judgment: “I find no fault in this man.” Pilate was sharp enough to see that a man whose kingdom was not of this world, whose servants would not fight, and whose mission it was to bear witness to the truth, might be called a “king” without endangering the Roman state. The charge was false, because he had not claimed to be a king in the sense implied in the accusation. There was abundance of evidence to prove that he had claimed to be a king. Jesus admitted that he had said he was

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king. He denied, however, that he had meant that he was a king in the sense implied in the accusation against him. Pilate admitted the justice of his denial, and Jesus was declared not guilty of the charge of unfriendliness to Cæsar. For there are kings and kings.

  A fourth fallacy, lies in the assumption that a statement is false because there is no convincing evidence that it is true. Thus Hitzig, writing in 18631 maintained that stringed instruments could not have been used by Deborah. So, also, Herodotus2 thought that the report of the Phenician mariners whom Pharaoh-Necho had sent to sail around Africa, starting from the Red Sea and returning by the Straits of Gibraltar, was false, because they said that they “had the sun on their right hand” as they sailed around. So, Ewald thought that the records of Ezra and Chronicles were false because they use the title “king of Persia” of the Achaemenid kings before the Persian empire had passed away; whereas to-day we know nineteen different extra-biblical authors from the Achaemenid period who in twenty separate works give thirty–eight instances of the use of this title.3

  In the objections made to the biblical accounts of Belshazzar, are to be found examples of all these kinds of fallacy. Of the first one the statements that “Nabunaid was the last king of Babylon” and that Belshazzar “was not styled king by his contemporaries.” Of the second, that to represent Belshazzar as the king under whom Babylon was captured and as

1 Die Psalmm, p. xiii.    2 Bk. IV, 42

3 See articles by the author on Royal Titles in Antiquity in The Princeton Theological Review, 1904-5, a contribution on the Titles of the Persian Kings in the Festschrift Eduard Sachau, Berlin, 1915, and an article in the PTR for January, 1917, on The Title “King of Persia” in the Old Testament.

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having been “a son of Nebuchadnezzar,” contradicts all the other assured witnesses of the Old Testament. Of the third, that “Belshazzar never became king,, in his father’s place.” Of the fourth, that Belshazzar was never king of Babylon at all.

  It is my purpose in this chapter to make it clear that there are no tenable objections to the statements of the book of Daniel, that Belshazzar was a king, that he was king of Babylon and of the Chaldeans, that he was king for three years, that he was the last king of Babylon before the Persian domination, and that he was a son of Nebuchadnezzar. This latter will involve a full discussion of the possible uses of the words “son” and “father,” and of the possibility of the existence of two kings of a country at the same time, of the different ideas connoted by the phrase “king of Babylon,” of the difference between the phrases “king of Babylon” and “king of the Chaldeans,” and of the twofold datings of reigns. Proceeding in the usual order we will state first that objection to Daniel's statements with regard to Belshazzar and the assumptions involved in them. They are as follows:


  1. “To represent that the king in whose reign Babylon was captured and the Chaldean empire destroyed was named Belshazzar and that he was a son of Nebuchadnezzar (Ch. V), is to contradict all the other assured witnesses of the Old Testament.”

  2. “Belshazzar is represented as ‘king of Babylon.’” “In point of fact Nabunaid was the last king of Babylon.”1

1 Cornill, Introduction to the Canonical Books of the Old Testament, p. 384.

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“Belshazzar may have distinguished himself, perhaps more than his father Nabunaid (Nabonidus), at the time when Babylon passed into the power of the Persians; and hence, in the recollections of a later age be may have been pictured as its last king; but he was not styled ‘king’ by his contemporaries (cf. Schrader on Dn. 5:1, 2).”1

  3. “Belshazzar never became king in his father’s place.”2


  These objections resolve themselves into four assumptions: first, that the Scriptures mention elsewhere the king under whom Babylon fell; second, that Nabunaid was the last king of Babylon; third, that Belshazzar was never king of Babylon in his father's place; and fourth, that he was not called “king” by his contemporaries.


  1. As the Scriptures nowhere else mention the name of the king who ruled over Babylon when the city was captured by the Medes and Persians, Cornill’s objection, as stated, is absolutely without foundation in fact. If he means that the Scriptures elsewhere call a son of Nebuchadnezzar by the name Evil-Merodach, it does not follow from this that Nebuchadnezzar may not have had another son called Belshazzar.3 We know from the Babylonian documents that he had at least three sons beside Evil-Merodach.4 Why may he not have had a fifth?

1 Driver, LOT, pp. 498, 499.     2 Sayce, Higher Criticism and the Monuments, p. 125.

3 See on the word “son” below, p.117.

4 To wit: Maruk-nadin-ahe, Nk. 382.5, Musheshib-Marduk, Nk. 381.2 (?), and Marduk-shum-usur, Nk. 372.2, 393.2.

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II. It must be admitted that Nabunaid was the last, de jure king of the Babylonian empire whose capital was the city of Babylon; but this does not prove that he was the last de facto king of the Babylonians in the city or citadel of Babylon, nor even the last de jure king of the same. To prove, however, that the author of the book of Daniel is wrong in calling Belshazzar the last Chaldean king of Babylon, it must be shown that no one of that name, nor with that title, can have ruled in the city of Babylon during or after the downfall of Nabunaid.

A. As to the name and titles of Belshazzar, the monuments of the Babylonians tell us as follows:

  1. That there was a Bel–shar–usur.1

  2. That he was the son of Nabunaid.2

  3. That he was “the first born son” of Nabunaid, the “son of the king” par excellence.3 Nabunaid expressly calls Belshazzar his first born son (maru reshtu)4 just as Nebuchadnezzar calls himself the maru reshtu of Nabopolassar.5

  4. That he commanded the armies of the king of Babylon in the province of Accad, certainly from the 7th to the 12th year of Nabunaid and, for all that we

1 In Nabunaid’s prayer to Sin, the moon god, we learn that his first born son was Bel-shar-usur. (KB iii, ii, 96.)

2 On certain tablets from the city of Babylon, a “Bel-shar-usur the son of the king” is mentioned. These tablets are found in Strassmaier’s edition of the inscriptions of Nabunaid numbered as follows: 50, 1; 13, year 1, month 12, day 26: 184, 1; 4, year 5, month 1, day 25; 270, lines 4, 6, 9, 21, year 7, month 11, day 9; 581, lines e, 3, 8, year 11, month ?, day 20; 688, line 3, year 12, month 12b, day 27.

3 In other places Belshazzar is apparently called simply the “son of the king,” e.g., Inscriptions of Nabonidus, 581.4, 331.4, 387, 401, 50.6. In numbers 50 and 581, it will be seen that the “son of the king” must be Belshazzar, since he is expressly so called in these tablets; see note 2 above.

4 VAB, IV, 246. 26, 252. 24.    5 Id., 72, 41.

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know to the contrary, during the whole reign of Nabunaid;1 and that in certain kingly functions he is associated with his father as early as the 12th year of the reign of Nabunaid.2

  5. That between the 16th day of the 4th month of the 17th year of Nabunaid and the 11th day of the 8th month, the son of the king was in command of the Babylonians in the citadel of Babylon and was the de facto king of Babylon, inasmuch as Nabunaid had been captured.3

1 In the Nabunaid-Cyrus Chronicle, Obv., ii, 5, it is said that in the 7th year of king Nabunaid “the son of the king with his princes and troops was in the land of Accad.” A like statement is made for the 9th, 10th, and 11th years, id., 10, 19, 23.

2 In the tablet published by Pinches in the Expository Times for 1915, an oath was sworn in the name of Belshazzar along with his father. Oaths were never sworn by the names of any men except kings. This tablet is from the 12th year of Nabunaid. The tablet reads as follows: “lshi-Amurru, son of Nuranu, has sworn by Bel, Nebo, the lady of Erech, and Nana, the oath of Nabonidus, king of Babylon, and Belshazzar, the king's son, that, on the 7th day of the month Adar of the twelfth year of Nabonadus, king of Babylon, I will go to Erech etc.”

As Dr. Pinches remarks: “The importance of this inscription is that it places Belshazzar practically on the same plane as Nabonidus, his father, five years before the latter's deposition, and the bearing of this will not be overlooked. Officially, Belshazzar had not been recognized as king, as this would have necessitated his father's abdication, but it seems clear that lie was in some way associated with him on the throne, otherwise his name would hardly have been introduced into the oath with which the inscription begins. We now see that not only for the Hebrews, but also for the Babylonians, Belshazzar held a practically royal position. The conjecture as to Daniel’s being made the third ruler in the kingdom because Nabonidus and Belshazzar were the first and second is thus confirmed, and the mention of Belshazzar’s third year in Dan 8:1 is explained.” (See, also, the original text and translation of this tablet in an article by Dr. Pinches in PSBA for Jan., 1916. pp. 27-29.)

3 In the Nabunaid-Cyrus Chronicle Rev. A. 15-22, it is said that Ugbaru (Gobryas) governor (pihu) of the land of Gutium and the troops of Cyrus entered Babylon without a battle. Afterwards Nabunaid, having been shut up, was taken in Babylon. Cyrus entered Babylon on the 3rd day of the 8th month and Gobryas was made governor of it on the 11th of the same month.

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  6. That if we accept the most probable rendering of the signs in the Nabunaid–Cyrus Chronicle, ii, 23, this son of the king was killed on the night when the citadel of Babylon was taken by the troops of Cyrus under Gobryas.

From these statements of the monuments, it is clear that there was a Bel-shar-uṣur, the first–born son of Nabunaid, who almost certainly commanded the armies of Babylon for many years and was in command of the citadel of Babylon and hence de facto king for four months after the capture of his father Nabunaid, and that the same de facto king was probably the son of the king, who was slain by Gobryas on the night that the citadel was taken. That he might properly have been called king has been shown above.1

B. Here, several further questions must be discussed.

  1. Was the Bel-shar-uṣur of the inscriptions the same as the Belshazzar of Daniel? We need not pause to discuss this. For it is admitted by all that despite the difference in spelling the same person is referred to in both.2

  2. Is the spelling בֶּלְשַא׳פַר Belshaṣṣar an indication of a date as early as the 6th century, or of a date as late as the 2nd century B.C.? There are four points to be considered here.

  (1) The vowels. As the vowel signs were not added to the Hebrew consonants till some centuries after Christ, and as no vowels for the proper names in Daniel

1 Chapter V.    2 KAT, 2nd edition, p. 433; 3rd edition, p. 396.

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can be traced farther back than the LXX version, no argument as to date can be based on the disagreement of the vowels in the name Belshazzar with the vowels of the name as found in Babylonian. One point only is to be noted, namely that it was not customary to denote the first syllable (u) of usur in the Aramaic transliteration.1

  (2) The double ṣ (Eng. z). This goes back only far as the pointings of the earliest Hebrew manuscripts, the Greek versions and Josephus writing but one letter for the two indicated by the present Massoretic text.

  (3) Bl is the common Aramaic and Hebrew transliteration of the Babylonian Bel.2

  (4) The transliteration of the sh by sh, instead of s (samekh) causes some difficulty. While shar is commonly rendered in Aramaic by sar3, as also, at times, in the Old Testament Hebrew; yet4 sometimes we find Assyrian shar represented in Hebrew by shar.5

  (5) The dropping or assimilation of the r from the end of shar. The only example of this assimilation to be found in the inscriptions is on a seal from the seventh century B.C.6 where the name Sassar–il probably stands for Sar–sare–il. In Daniel we have the same assimilation also in the name Belteshazzar, if we take the last two syllables as standing for shar–uṣur. The only probable example in late Aramaic is Bazira, “seed,” for

1 See examples in CIS ii-i, 38.6, 50 et at.

2 E.g., CIS ii, 16, 29, 30, 34, 35, 36, 40, 41,44, 46; Is. xi, xlvi. x; Jer. 1, 2, 5, 1, 1, 44; 2 Kings, 20:12.

3 E.g., CIS i, 10, 29, 38, 22, 82, 88, 81, 21, 39.

4 E.g., in Sargon for Sharrukin.

5 E.g., in the Aramaic Sharkin = Ass. Sharrukin, CIS ii, i, 32, and in the O. T. Hebrew in Sharezer, Is. 57:38, 2 Ki. 19:37, Zech. 7:2, and in Nergal-shar-ezer, Jer. 39:3, 13.

6 CIS ii, i, 82.

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barzar‘a, though even this is doubtful.1 So that there is no evidence to show that it was usual at any time in the history of the Aramaic language, nor indeed of any of the Semitic languages, for any of them to assimilate or drop an r. Admitting then that an r has been dropped, or assimilated, in the shar of Belshazzar, what follows as to the time when it was dropped, or assimilated? Nothing, of course. And so, the charge that Belshazzar is a late form because of the assimilated r and that hence the book is late falls to the ground.2

  But even if it could be shown that the spelling, was late, that would not prove that the book was late; e.g. American editions of English authors drop u from col-

1 See Nöldeke, Mand. Gram., p. 55; and Neu-Syrische Gram., p. 53. The Babylonian-Aramaic ‘ama is probably derived from the Babylonian amu and not from ‘amar. See Dalman, Gram des. Jüd. pal. Aram., p.101. Compare also Phenician  כשם  for Heb. כרשים  Lidzbarski, Nordsemit. Epigraphie, p. 246, and Madassuma for Madarsuma. Schöder, Die phönizische Sprache, pp. 99 and 105.

2 As to the spelling of foreign proper names by contemporaries, we would like also to say a word in this connection. We have no right to demand in this respect from the biblical writers, what we do not demand from ourselves, or from others, in the way of accuracy. We say Emperor William; the Germans say Kaiser Wilhelm. The Persians said Khshayarsha; the Hebrews, Ahashwerosh; the Greeks, Xerxes; the Egyptians, Khshyarslia; the Susians, Ikshersha, or Iksherishsha; while the Babylonians spelled it in at least twenty-three different ways, the most common of which was Ak-shi-ia-ar-shi.

The contemporaries of Darius the son of Hystaspis spelled his name as follows: the Greeks, Dareios; the Persians, Darayavaush; the Susians, Tariyamaush; the Hebrews, Dareyawesh; and the Egyptians, Babylonians and Arameans in at least three different ways. See Sachau’s Aram. Papyrus for their spellings in Egypto-Aramaic. The Peshitto gives a fourth spelling in use among the Syrian Arameans. For the many spellings in Babylonian, see Taliquist’s Namenbuch and Clay’s Marashu Tablets, from time of Darius II, and the author's articles on the “Titles of the Kings in Antiquity” in the Presbyterian and Reformed Review for 1904-5, and on the “Titles of the Persian Kings” in the Festchrift Eduard Sachau, Berlin, 1915, pp. 179-207.

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our and like words, even though the English editions have it.

  III. It is said, further, that Belshazzar never became king in his father’s place. This is one of those ambiguous statements worthy of the oracle of Delphi. Daniel does not say that Belshazzar ever became king in his father's place, or in the same sense that his father had been king, nor over the same dominion. It simply says that he was “king of the Chaldeans” and “king of Babylon.” This last phrase is used of him only once and then his first year only is mentioned. I repeat, that the book of Daniel speaks only of the first year of Belshazzar as king of Babylon: to wit, in the first verse of chapter seven. In chapter 8, it speaks simply of the third year of the reign of Belshazzar the king, without defining over what or whom he reigned. In chapter 5:30, he is called the Chaldean king, and in verse 18 the son of Nebuchadnezzar. These statements can all be easily reconciled with the monuments by saying that Belshazzar, who, according to Daniel 9:1, had at least for three years been king of the Chaldeans, was for at least a year or part of a year, in some sense or another, the king of Babylon. There are the following matters involved in this assertion:

1. The different ideas connoted by the word “king.”

2. The possibility of there being two kings of the same country at one and the same time.

3. The different ideas connoted by the phrase “king of Babylon.”

4. The difference between “king of Babylon” and “king of the Chaldeans.”

5. The twofold datings of reigns.

6. The possibility of a man’s having two fathers.

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  1. The different ideas connoted by the word “king,” have already been sufficiently discussed in Chapter V.

  2. On the possibility of there being two kings over the same country at the same time, we can confidently affirm that this was often the case. It may be alleged in favor of this proposition, that (1) for prudential reasons, such as for settling the succession, sons were sometimes crowned during the lifetime of their father. For example, Solomon was proclaimed king while his father David was still alive.1 Esarhaddon had his two sons Ashurbanipal and Shamash–shum–ukin crowned respectively as kings of Assyria and Babylon before he died in 668 B.C.2 The Persian kings also appointed a successor before they started on any expedition, (Herodotus, vii, 2). In accordance with this custom Darius Hystaspis appointed Xerxes to be king over the Persians before he prepared to march against Greece.3 Later still the Greek Seleucid kings followed this custom; for Antiochus, calls his son Seleucus king while he himself was still reigning.4

  (2) Sometimes, the reigning monarch made his son, or some other person, king of a part of his dominion. Thus, Pharaoh-Necho made Eliakim king of Judah, changing his name to Jehoiakim;5 and Nebuchadnezzar made Mattaniah king, changing his name to Zedekiah.6 So, also, in 702 B.C., Sennacherib placed Bel–ibni, a scion of a noble family of Babylon who had grown up at the court of Nineveh, upon the throne of Babylon as a sub-king; and in 699 he enthroned his own son Ashur–nadin–shum in Babylon, still under subordination to

1 1 Kings 1:39, 43, 46, 51, 53.    2 Winckler’s History of Babylon and Assyria, p. 272.

3 Her. vii, 4.    4 Weissbach, Die Keilinschriften der Achämeniden, p. 145.

5 2 Kings 23:34.    6 2 Kings 24:17.

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himself as overlord.1 Later, he seems to have made his son Esarhaddon governor (Aramaic, king) of Babylon.2 In 668 B.C., Esarhaddon proclaimed his younger son Shamash–shum–ukin king of Babylon under the over–lordship of Ashurbanipal king of Assyria.3 He also appointed at one time 20 sub–kings in Egypt.4 When Cyrus conquered Nabunaid and Belshazzar, he seems to have made his older son Cambyses king of Babylon, while he, himself, took the title of king of lands.5

  (3) Jeremiah speaks of the “kings of the Medes.” This would imply that when Jeremiah wrote, there were more kings of Media than one. That this implication of Jeremiah is correct is supported by the fact stated by Cyrus on the Cylinder Inscription and by Darius on the Behistun Inscription and elsewhere, that the father and grandfather and great-grandfather of Cyrus, and Teispes the common ancestor of Cyrus and Darius, were kings of Anshan (or Persia?), while that country was still subject to the Median hegemony. It agrees, also, with the usual system of government in vogue in Western Asia, and, in a measure, in Egypt also (compare Tel–el–Amarna Letters), up to the time of Darius Hystaspis, and even in part in the Persian empire during and after his time;6 as, also, with the system of government employed in later times by the Arsacid kings7 down to the time of Ardashir, the first of the Sassanid dynasty of Persia.8

1< Winckler, op. cit., pp. 118, 119.    2 Winckler, id., 122.    3 Id., 124.

4 KB ii, 162.    5 See KB iii-ii, 134.

6 See the catalogue of Xerxes’ forces which marched against Greece, in Herodotus, vii, 61-99.

7 The common title of the Arsacids was “king of kings.” See the author’s article in PTR for Jan., 1917.

8 According to Jacob of Sarug, “king of kings” was a title, also, of the ancient kings of India. See Schröter, in ZDMG vol. xxv, 353.

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  That the Persian empire in the time of Cyrus, also, had more kings than one is supported by what Daniel says about Darius the Mede. Darius the Mede is not called in Daniel either king of Persia, or king of Media, or king of Medo-Persia; but simply “the Mede” (6:1; 11:1); or “the son of Xerxes of the seed of Media who had been made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans.”1 If Darius the Mede is the same as Ugbaru (Gubaru, Gobryas) the Pihat of Gutium, then he was made for a time the Pihat of the city of Babylon also. If Darius the Mede was not the same as Gobryas the Pihat of Gutium, then Daniel 6:1, 9:1, 11:1, must be taken along with 5:30, as meaning that Darius received the de jure kingdom of Belshazzar the Chaldean, that is, the kingdom of Chaldea. In this latter case, Gobryas will have succeeded Belshazzar as Pihat of the city of Babylon and Darius the Mede will have succeeded Belshazzar as king of Chaldea, both of them being under the suzerainty of Cyrus king of Persia and of the lands. This interpretation agrees with Daniel 6:29, where it is said that Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian. It agrees, also, with the statement of chapter 6, verses 9, 13, 16, that Darius the Mede was ruling according to the laws of Media and Persia.

Further, Darius the Persian,2 speaks of his father Hystaspis as having been a king. Inasmuch as Hystaspis can only have been a sub-king under Cyrus, this implies that the policy of Cyrus permitted of the reigning of kings under himself as king of kings. Moreover, Herodotus says that Hystaspis was hyparch, i.e., satrap, of Persia under Smerdis, whereas Darius calls Hystaspis king. Again, Cyrus, according to

1 9:1.    2 Behistun Inscription, Col. i. line 8.

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Ctesias, made his son Tanyoxarus independent sovereign of a portion of his dominion at the same time that he constituted the elder brother Cambyses his successor in the empire,1 just as Esarhaddon established Ashurbanipal, his eldest son, as king of Assyria and Shamash–shum–ukin, a younger son, as king of Babylon. Nabunaid probably pursued this same policy; for according to one interpretation of the inscriptions of Eshki-Harran,2 his son Nabunaid II called, like his father, “king of Babylon,” was ruling as king of Harran in northern Mesopotamia under the overlordship of Nabunaid I at Babylon.3 It is probable, also, that the “son of the king” who is mentioned in the Chronicle as having been in command of the army in Accad was Belshazzar, and that he had been made king of the Chaldeans with his capital at Ur.4

  (4) Finally, that Belshazzar was in some sense looked upon and treated as a king as early as the twelfth year of Nabunaid, is evident from the tablet already cited on which a man called Iši–Amurru, son of Nuranu, is said to have “sworn by Bel, Nabu, the Lady of Erech, and Nana, the oath of Nabunaid, king of Babylon, and of Belshazzar, the king’s son.” That Belshazzar is here treated as a king is shown, as has been pointed out, by the fact that oaths were never sworn by the name

1 Blakesly, Herodotus, ii, 430.    2 H. Pognon, Inscriptions Sémitiques de la Syrie, etc., Paris, 1907.

3 It is probable, or at least possible, that this is the king referred to in the Nabunaid-Cyrus Chronicle as having been conquered and killed in the 9th year of Nabunaid I (KB iii, ii, 130.)

4 Compare Tiele, Geschichte, p. 463. The interpretation of the Eshki-Harran inscription given by Zehnpfund would of course modify these relations. If the high-priest of Harran be the same as Nabu-balatsu-ikbi the father of Nabunaid, it was the father who reigned at Harran while the son was king of Babylon.

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of any men, except those of royal rank. It is especially noteworthy in this connection that in four, or five, cases, the names of two kings are found in the same oath.1

  This new tablet removes the last reasonable objection that could be made to the right of the author of Daniel to call Belshazzar king. It will also allow of his having been king for at least five years. For this tablet dates from the 12th year of Nabunaid, whereas he was not dethroned till his 17th year.2

  (5) We know that Nabunaid, like the other kings of the great empires of Assyria and Babylon, had many rulers, called kings, subservient to him.

1 1. In KU 248, the oath is “by (Šamaš), Marduk, Sumulael, and Sabium.” Sumulael and Sabium were father and son.

2. In KU 380, the oath is “by Šamaš and Immerum, by Marduk and Sumulael.” Immerum and Sumulael were contemporaries.

3. On a tablet published by Langdon in PSBA xxxiii, 192, we read: “By Nannar and Manana, by Zamama and Yapium they swore.” According to Prof. Johns, this oath shows that Manana had probabIy associated Yapium with him on the throne, just as Sabium associated his son Apil-Sin with himself for at least his last year. [PSBA xxxiii, 99.]

4. In KU 420, an oath “by Marduk and Sin-Muballit, by Anum-bel-tabi (?) and his wife (?)” occurs. In this case, Ranke thinks that Anum-bel-Tabi is the name of a king of Assyria. (Early Babylonian Personal Names, S. E. D. iii.) If “his wife” is a correct reading, this is the only case where a woman is mentioned in an oath. If she were queen of Assyria, the rule that none but royal persons are named in oaths would still hold good.

2 For authorities on the oath among the Babylonians and Assyrians the reader is referred to Hammurabi’s Gesetz by Kohler, Peiser, and Ungnad (KU); also, to Assyrische Rechtsurkunden by Kohler and Ungnad; to Babylonisches Rechtsleben by Kohler and Peiser; to Hundert ausgewählte Rechtsurkunden by Kohler and Ungnad; to Babylonische Verträge by Peiser; to articles by Langdon and Johns in PSBA for 1911; to Notes by Thureau-Dangin in the Revue d’Assyriologie for 1911, and especially to an article by Prof. S. A. B. Mercer in AJSLL vol. xxix.

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  For example, in the great cylinder from Abu–Habba, Col. i, 38-43, he says that he mustered the kings, princes, and governors, from Gaza on the border of Egypt to the Upper Sea beyond the Euphrates to the building of Ehullul the house of Sin.1 So, Cyrus, also, says on his cylinder, line 28, that the totality of the kings of the whole world from the Upper Sea to the Lower Sea, (and) all the kings of Amurri brought their tribute to him at Babylon. In his prism inscription, Col. V, 12-27, Esarhaddon gives his orders to 12 kings of Palestine and Syria, and to, 10 kings of Cyprus, all of whom and their allies he mentions by name. In another place, he calls himself king of the kings of Egypt.2 The names of these kings, 20 in number, and their cities, are given by Ashurbanipal on the Rassam Cylinder, Col. i, 90-109. Similar facts may be gathered in scores from the Assyrian inscriptions.

  3. Can there have been more than one man called “king of Babylon” at one time?

  It is certain that Cyrus and Cambyses were both called kings of Babylon in contract tablets of the same month and year.3 The inscription from Eshki-Harran published by M. Pognon shows that Nabunaid I and his son Nabunaid II were both called “king of Babylon” on the same inscription. Inasmuch as the Aramaic and Hebrew of Daniel know no words for ruler save king, ruler, lord, and prince,4 it is obvious that Gobryas (Gubaru) the pihatu, or governor, of Babylon, mentioned in the Nabunaid-Cyrus Chronicle, Reverse 20, must have been denoted in Aramaic in his official capacity by one of these words. The word

1 KB ii, ii, 99.    2 KB ii, 150; I R., 48, No. 5.    3 Tiele, Geschichte, pp- 483, 484.

4 Metek, shallit or shilṭon, rab and sar.

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rab, "lord," is never used as mayor, or governor, of a city or province in the Bible in either Hebrew or Aramaic. Shalliṭ is thus used in Hebrew only of Joseph, in Gen. 42:6, and of a ruler in general, in Ecc. 10:5; in Aramaic only in Daniel 2:15, of Arioch, the chief (rab) of the executioners of the king, and in Daniel 5:29, and 2:10.1 Shilṭon is used in the Bible only in the Aramaic of Daniel 3:2, 3, as a general term for all “the rulers of the provinces.” Sar2 is never used anywhere in any Aramaic dialect. Melek (king) is used over 5000 times in biblical Hebrew, always in the sense of the chief man of a city, province, kingdom, or empire. In biblical Aramaic, it is used nearly 200 times, and it is the only appropriate Aramaic word found in Daniel for the chief ruler of a city, province, kingdom, or empire, except perhaps the shilṭon of 3:2 and 3. So, that if Belshazzar was not a king of the empire or kingdom of Babylon, but only ruler of a province, or city, the writer of Daniel was limited in the pure Hebrew to a choice of terms wherewith properly to designate him to sar and melek. He chose melek, perhaps because it was more definite and unambiguous. In Aramaic, the writer was limited to malka and shilṭon, and he chose the more common term.3

1 In 2:10 and 5:29, it is probably a verbal adjective.

2 In Biblical Hebrew, it is used about 400 times, usually of the captain of an army, or of a part of an army, or in the sense of our word prince; a few times in the sense of the head man of a city, as in Jud. 9:30; I Kings 22:26-2; Chron. 28:25; 2 Kings 23:8; 2 Chron. 34:5; twice certainly in the sense of governor, as in Esther 8:9; 9:3; and a few times in the sense of king, as in Daniel 8:25; 10:13; 10:20 bis; Hos. 8:10 (?).

3 The Egyptian papyri show that he might, also, have used mâr, a title which was given to the governors of Egypt under the Persians. See Sachau, Aram. Papyrus, p. 286.

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  4. Is there any difference between the terms “king of Babylon” and “king of the Chaldeans” or “Chaldean king”?

  The importance of this question lies in the fact that only the first year of Belshazzar as king of Babylon is mentioned (7:1), whereas his third year as king is spoken of in chapter 8:1. Now, if we suppose that Belshazzar is the “son of the king” mentioned in the Nabunaid-Cyrus Chronicle as having been killed at the storming of the citadel of Babylon by Gobryas, he can have been de facto king of that part of Babylon for only about four months. This would be enough, however, to justify the writer of Daniel in speaking of his first year as king of Babylon. But how then can this writer speak of his third year as king? Evidently, he must refer to his having been king in some sense before that time. In Daniel 5:29, he is called the “Chaldean king” or “king of the Chaldeans ”; and we have only to suppose that Nabunaid I had made Belshazzar king of the Chaldeans in the southern part of his dominions, just as he had probably made Nabunaid II king in the northern part of his dominions around Harran, in order to reconcile the statements of Daniel with the inscriptions. I have already said that Professor Tiele, in his history of Babylonia, puts forth the view that Belshazzar was probably reigning at Ur in southern Babylonia, when his father Nabunaid I wrote the hymns to Sin in which Belshazzar’s name is mentioned. The reader must remember, that the Chaldeans and Babylonians were not originally the same people; but that the Chaldeans had again and again conquered Babylon, and in the reign of Nabopolassar the father of Nebuchadnezzar the Great had established their dominion over it. Nabunaid I, however, seems to have

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been a Babylonian who superseded the Chaldean house of Nebuchadnezzar.1 In what relation he stood to Nebuchadnezzar we have no means of determining. In what manner Belshazzar may have been called Nebuchadnezzar’s son, we shall discuss below. It is sufficient for our present purpose to state that, it is probable that, for some reason or another, Belshazzar was made king of the Chaldeans, and that it was in this capacity that the writer referred to his third year. This reference to the different datings of his reign raises the next question.

5. Could the years of a king’s reigning be dated in more ways than one? We have already discussed above the different ways of dating the beginning of a king’s reign over a given country. Here we shall discuss different datings of his reign over different countries.

  It will be known to the readers of British history, that James the VI of Scotland became king of England after the death of Elizabeth in 1603. But he had been crowned king of Scotland on July 29, 1567. His mother, Queen Mary, did not leave Scotland till May 16, 1568, and was not executed till Feb. 8, 1587. Here, then, are four dates, from any one of which the years of James’ reign may have been dated. From July 29, 1567, he was in a sense de jure and de facto king of Scotland. In 1603, he became king of England. The historians and archives of England speak of his years as king of England; the historians and archives of Scotland, of his years as king of Scotland. The same historian might speak of either one or the other reign and date accordingly. In the dates from the 22nd dynasty of Egyptian kings, a double system is the common one. “Manetho’s defective statements” with regard to the length of the

1 Winckler: History of Babylonia and Assyria, p. 324

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reigns of the kings of this dynasty may arise from the fact that he may refer to the length of the reigns “after the death of the predecessor, while the regnal years on monuments count from the beginning of a co-regency.”1 Thus Shabaka is entitled king of Egypt as early as 725 B.C., though his accession to the throne must have been about 715 B.C.,2 and Taharka was already in 701 B.C. king of Cush, although he did not become sole king till 693 B.C.3 So, Tiglath-Pileser III was for 17 years king of Assyria, but died in his second year as king of Babylon.4 Ashurbanipal was king of Assyria for 43 years, and probably king of Babylon under the name of Kandalanu for 17 years.5 Moreover, Pognon argues with great plausibility, that Nabunaid was king of Babylon for 17 years, but of Harran for only nine.6

  Now, the writer of Daniel was confronted by the same situation, certainly with regard to one king, and most probably with regard to at least three kings. The one king is Cyrus. At first, he was king only of the city or country of Anshan, a part of Elam. Here he began to reign about 556 B.C. Later, about 549 B.C., he became king of Media, after conquering Astyages and his capital, Ekbatana. Three years later, in 546 B.C., he is first called king of Persia. Then, in 538 B.C., he became king of Babylon. When Daniel speaks of his first year, in chapter 1, verse 21, he is evidently speaking of his first year as of Babylon. When he speaks of his third year, in chapter 10:1, he says “the third year of Cyrus king of Persia”; so that the two

1 Petrie, History of Egypt, iii, 227.    2 Id., 282.    3 Id., 296.

4 KB ii, 277, and i, 215.

5 Winkler, Hist. of Bab. and Ass., 237-242.

6 Inscriptions Sémitiques de la Syrie, p. 9 foll.

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statements are perfectly consistent. So, also, when Daniel speaks in chapter 8:1, of the third year of Belshazzar the king, he may mean the third of his reign as king of Chaldea; and when he speaks of his first year, in 7:1, he most probably means the first year as king of Babylon.

  6. The possibility of a man’s having two fathers is involved in the assumption made by the critics, that Belshazzar cannot have been called by Daniel the son of the Chaldean Nebuchadnezzar, and at the same time have been the son of the Babylonian Nabunaid I. A large part of the difficulty and confusion in the discussion of this subject has arisen from a failure to consider first of all what the orientals connoted by the terms father and son. Prof. W. Robertson Smith has discussed the terms at length as to their use in Arabic, in his work Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia.1 The conclusions there reached are that a man might have four or even five fathers. These may be called (1) procreator, (2) possessor, or “the man in whose house one is born,” (3) the foster father, or “the one who raises, or nurtures him,” (4) the protector, or adoptive father, (5) a man who adopts one after he has already been adopted once. To these might be added the use of father (6) to denote a stepfather,2 who is not a foster or adoptive father, and (7) as a title of respect, or politeness, or endearment.3 So, also, son was used in ancient documents (1) to denote succession in office, as Jehu is called the son of Omri;4 or (2) for mem-

1 Pp. 44-46, 110-114.    2 Murabbî.

3 See in Story of Badoura, Lane's Arabian Nights, p. 308; and also, in Babylonian, as in the inscription of Eshki-Harran, published by M. Pognon in his Inscriptions Sémitiques de la Syrie, Paris, 1907-8.

4 KAT, 2nd edition, 189, 22.

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bers of a corporation, as the son of a prophet is used in the Scriptures,1 or the son of a scribe in Assyrian;2 or (3) for remote descendant, as son of Adam in the Arabian Nights,3 or son of David, and son of Abraham in the New Testament;4 or (4) for grandson, as frequently in the Scriptures; or (5) for members of a race, or tribe, as sons of the Achæans,5 or sons of Ammon;6 or (6) to denote a patronymic, as sons of Babylon, in Sargon's inscriptions,7 for Babylonians; or (7) to denote character, as “sons of thunder,” “son of his father the devil,” “sons of God”; or (8) to denote one in a subordinate position, as a slave;8 or (9) as a title of affection or respect;9 or (10) stepson10 or (11) “the son of the bed of the man in whose house one is born”;11 or (12) adopted son. So among the Arabs, see W. R. Smith, id.; and among the Babylonians.12 It is evident, then, that Nebuchadnezzar may have been called the father of Belshazzar, just because he was his predecessor on the throne of Babylon, in the same sense as Omri was the father of Jehu who destroyed the house of Omri, or as Naram-Sin more than a thousand years before Nebuchadnezzar is, in one of his inscriptions, called by the latter his “old father.”13 Or, Nebuchadnezzar may have been the grandfather or even the great-grandfather, of Belshazzar. When Nebuchadnezzar made his first recorded expedition

1 I Kings xx, 35 et al.    2 Sargon: Annals, 378, 382, 466; Pr. 31, 109, 152 et al.

3 Lane, ii, 196.    4 Lk. 28:38; 19:9.    5 Illiad, i, 116.

6 Num. 21:24.    7 Annals, 296 et al.

8 Johns, Assyrian Deeds and Documents, iii, 413, 475.

9 So in the Arabian Nights, Lane, pp. 304 and 308, in the Story of the Princess Badoura.

10 Arabic, rabib.    11 W. R. Smith, op cit.

12 Cook's Laws of Moses and The Code of Hammurabi, p. 69, ii 131, seq.

13 Abam labiru, Langdon, p. 69, ii, 27.

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across the Euphrates in 605 B.C., he can scarcely leave been under 20. If he were 25 at that time, he would have died at about 69 years of age, old enough to have had a great-grandson of 15 years when Nabunaid became king in 555 B.C., and 32 years old in 538 B.C. Or, since Nebuchadnezzar died in 561 B.C., a son of his might easily have been flourishing in 538 B.C. As to the relation between Belshazzar and the two kings Nebuchadnezzar and Nabunaid, he may well have been the son of both. First, he may have been the procreated son of Nebuchadnezzar and the stepson of Nabunaid, because the latter married Belshazzar’s mother after the death of Nebuchadnezzar. It was the custom of succeeding kings to marry the wives of their predecessors. Thus Smerdis the Magian married the wives of his deceased predecessor Cambyses and Darius Hystaspis married Atossa, the daughter of Cyrus, and Phædyma, the daughter of Otanes,1 both of whom had been the wives of his two predecessors. In this case, Belshazzar may have been the own son of Nebuchadnezzar, and the foster son of Nabunaid. Or, Nabunaid may have been merely the stepfather of Belshazzar. The queen of Daniel 5:10, may have been the mother of Belshazzar (though she is not called this), and still have been a young woman when the glory of the Chaldee’s excellency passed into the hands of the conquering Medo-Persian army under Gobryas and Cyrus. Or, Belshazzar may have been the own son of Nebuchadnezzar and the adopted son of Nabunaid. This would account for the fact that Berosus, according to Josephus,2 calls Nabunaid a Babylonian, whereas Belshazzar is called by Daniel a Chaldean. What could have been better policy on the part of the Babylonian

1 Herodotus, iii, 68, 88.    2 Cont. Apion, i, 20.

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Nabunaid than to attempt to unite the conquered Babylonians and the Chaldean conquerors by adopting as his own successor the son, or grandson, of Nebuchadnezzar, the greatest of all the Chaldean kings? According to the code of Hammurabi, 186, 190, 193, a man might in this way have two fathers. This was the law, also, in the time of Nabunaid.1

  A natural question arises here, namely, how could Belshazzar be called by Nabunaid, not merely the “son of the king,” but “Belshazzar the first–born son”2 and “Belshazzar the first–born son, the offspring of my heart,”3 If he were not the born son of Nabunaid? Fortunately, this question is answered in Meissner’s Altbabylonisches Privalrecht, 98, where we learn that an adopted son could be called, not merely the “son,” but “the eldest son” of his adopted parents.4 In the inscription of Eshki–Harran the high priest calls Nabunaid his “son, the offspring of his heart”; although we know that Nabunaid was the son of Nabu–

1 See Strassmaier: Inscriptions of Nabunaid, No. 380, and KB iv, 238, and the able discussion in Cook's Laws of Moses and the Code of Hammurabi, p. 138 seq. Thus, in Peiser’s Babylonian Contracts (Babylonische Verträge), xxxi, 14-17, Iddina-Nabu, the son of (apilshu) Nabubanzir gives corn, etc., to his father (abishu) Gimillu. In number xxxviii, 7, of the same work it is said, that Gimillu had taken Iddina-Nabu to sonship (ana marratu) and Iddina-Nabu as adopted son gets the inheritance of Gimillu (id., cxxx, 5, 6). In No. 43 Of Schorr’s treatise (Altbabylonische Rechtsurkunden) Belishunu, the priestess of Shamash, and daughter of Nakarum, is adopted by Eli-eriza, the priestess of Shamash, and daughter of Shamash-ilum, and calls Eli-eriza her mother. So, in No. 30, 12, of the same, Shataya is called the mother of Amat-Mamu, daughter of Sha-ilushu; but in 1, 27, Shamuhtum, also, is called her mother (i.e., own mother). So that it is clear that a child, according to Babylonian law, could have two fathers or two mothers.

2Die Grosse Inschrift von Ur,” KB iii, ii, 83, 89 (mar rish-tu-u).

3Die Kleine Inschrift von Ur,” KB id., 97.

4 See, also, Johns’ Babylonian and Assyrian Laws, p. 156.

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balaṭsu–iḳbi.1 It will be seen that this law answers the objection that might be raised, arising from the fact that, on the Behistun Inscription, the rebels against Darius, Nadintu–bel and Arachu, both assumed the name of “Nebuchadnezzar the son of Nabunaid.”2 There may have been an own son of Nabunaid with the name of Nebuchadnezzar, and another son of the name of Nabunaid, and yet his adopted son might be called the first–born son and be the heir–apparent.3 Or Belshazzar may have been the adopted son of Nebuchadnezzar and the own son of Nabunaid. An adopted son might call his adopted father, “father.” Or, Nebuchadnezzar may have been the grandfather and Nabunaid, also, the grandfather of Belshazzar.4 Or, finally, it is possible that Nabunaid was a lineal descendant of Nebuchadnezzar. For the father of the former was Nabu–balaṭsu–iḳbi, “the wise prince,” and if we take this Nabu–balaṭsu–iḳbi to be the son of the Amelu mentioned in the tablet from the reign of Nabunaid (495, 24), and take this Ametu to be the same as Amel–Marduk the son and successor of Nebuchadnez–

1 See the great cylinder of Abu-Habba, i, 6.

2 See Bezold's Achämenideninschriften, i, 77-90, and i, 77-89.

3 See Johns’ Babylonian and Assyrian Laws, p. 156.

In addition to the above places, which are given in Schrader’s Keilschriftliche Bibliothek, Belshazzar is called “the son of the king” in Clay’s Miscellaneous Inscriptions of the Yale Babylonian Collection, No. 39 bis, and in the Inschriften von Nabonidus by Strassmaier, No. 581, line 4, and 1043, line 4; and “Belshazzar the son of the king” in the same book, No. 184, and No. 581, lines 2, 3, and No. 688, line 3, and No. 270, lines 4, 6, 9, and 21; also, “Belshazzar” alone, on No. 581, line 9. Tablets 184, 581, and 688 are referred to and translated in Records of the Past, New Series, vol. iii, 124-127.

4 Sir Robert Anderson quotes from the Transactions of the Victoria Institute (vol. xviii, p. 99) as follows: “In a table of Babylonian kings, mention is made of a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar, who married the father of Nabunaid.”

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zar, then Nabunaid would be the great–grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, and Belshazzar, son of Nabunaid, would be the great–great–grandson of Nebuchadnezzar in the direct male line.

  IV. Lastly, it is assumed that Belshazzar “was not styled ‘king’ by his contemporaries,” and that therefore he cannot have been a king at all, much less a king of Babylon. Professor Driver cites as his authority for this statement a comment of the late Prof. Eberhard Schrader of Berlin. With regard to this statement of Professor Schrader, that Belshazzar was not styled “king” by his contemporaries, it is true that we have documents from every year of the time during which events described in the book of Daniel are said to have transpired, and that not one of these documents styles Belshazzar “king.” They support, however, the statements of Daniel in that they give us independent evidence that there was a Belshazzar: that this Belshazzar was a son of Nabunaid, king of Babylon, and hence might be justly called in some sense the son of Nebuchadnezzar; and that, if he were, as he most probably was, the son of the king (Nabunaid) mentioned in the Cyrus-Nabunaid Cylinder, he may have given a feast to a thousand of his lords (Dan. 5:1), inasmuch as this son of the king is said on the same cylinder to have been accompanied by his lords;1 and that Belshazzar most probably is treated as the heir–apparent in being given command of his father's armies, as Nebuchadnezzar had been by his father, and in being mentioned on the Abu-Habba Cylinder in conjunction with his father, just as Cambyses is mentioned along with Cyrus on the Cyrus Cylinder and elsewhere, and Seleukus along with his father Antiochus on the latter’s Clay-cylinder inscrip-

1 Rabrevin in Daniel, rabute on the cylinder.

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tion.1 Certain contract tablets show, also, that Belshazzar the son of the king was a man of varied business interests.

  But in no one of them is he styled “king.”

  From this fact it has been concluded that he was not a king.

  But this conclusion is a non sequitur, as we shall now attempt to prove.

  Before discussing the testimony of the extra-biblical documents, I shall quote the passages of the book of Daniel which mention Belshazzar. There are, first, the fifth chapter, where we find him referred to as Belshazzar the king (5:1), king Belshazzar (5:9), the king (5:2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8. 10, 13, 17, 18), Belshazzar (5:2, 22, 29), and “Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans,” (or “the Chaldean king”) (5:30); secondly, the seventh chapter, verse 1, where we have the phrase “the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon,” and the eighth chapter, verse 1, where we have the heading, “In the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar.”

  There is no doubt, then, that in the book of Daniel Belshazzar is called a “king.”

  But how is it with the contemporaneous records? First, let us summon the biblical witnesses. There are none to be found. There is no book of the Bible, aside from Daniel, that can testify with reference to Belshazzar, because not one of them has anything to say relevant to this period in which Belshazzar lived. The last notice of the books of Kings concerns Evil-Merodach, the immediate successor of Nebuchadnezzar, and he died in 558 B.C. The books of Chronicles say nothing, about the times of Belshazzar except what is found in the last four verses; but here we find no reference to

1 Weissbach, Die Keilinschriften der Achämeniden, p. 133.

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Babylon, nor to any of its kings, but only to Persia and to Cyrus king of Persia, in connection with his decree for the return of God's people to Jerusalem. The book of Ezra begins with this decree, and mentions Nebuchadnezzar alone of all the kings of Babylon. The Psalms are silent with regard to the history of Babylon at this time as far as it concerns the kings, or the names of the kings. The only one of the prophets that might possibly have given us any testimony is Isaiah; but he again is silent, never mentioning any king of Babylon except Merodach-Baladan, who reigned in the latter part of the eighth century B.C.

  So that, having no testimony at all to give it would have been utterly impossible for the biblical witnesses to have styled Belshazzar “king.” Speaking more strictly, there are outside of Daniel no biblical witnesses to Belshazzar.

  Secondly, let us examine the extra-biblical testimony. This consists of contract tablets, letters, hymns and incantations, and building and historical inscriptions.

 (1) The contract tablets that mention Belshazzar are dated from the first to the twelfth year of the reign of Nabunaid. They all call Belshazzar “the son of the king,” but never style him “king.” We have no evidence in Daniel that Belshazzar was a king of any kind for more than three years, or king of Babylon for more than a year, or part of a year. Since Daniel says that he was slain when Babylon was captured in the 17th year of Nabunaid, it is evident that there is no necessary discrepancy between the tablets and Daniel’s narrative. When the contracts were made, he was properly styled “the son of the king.” When Daniel mentions him he had become a king, first of the Chaldeans

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and next of Babylon. As Prof. Clay says,1 “the fact that Belshazzar…was peculiarly with his father Nabonidus in his reign is illustrated by No. 39 of the Yale collection. This tablet reads as follows: In the month of Tebet, day 15th, year 7th, of Nabunaid, king of Babylon, Shumukin says as follows: The great star Venus, the star Sin and Shamash, in my dream I saw, and for the favor of Nabunaid, king of Babylon, my Lord, and for favor of Belshazzar, son of the king, my Lord, may my ear hearken to them. On the 7th year of Nabunaid, king of Babylon, Shumukin says as follows: ‘The great star I saw, and for the favor of Nabunaid, king of Babylon, my Lord, may my ear hearken.’”

Here, Belshazzar is evidently in some official position, which entitles him to be associated with his father in an unusual and striking manner, that is similar to the way in which Cyrus and Cambyses, and later Antiochus and Seleucus, are associated on the inscriptions. The only difference is, that Belshazzar is not called king, whereas Cambyses and Seleucus are so called. In the tablet published by Mr. Pinches in the PSBA for January, 1916, an oath is taken in the names of Nabunaid and Belshazzar conjointly. All the evidence (and there is so much of it) goes to show that only the names of gods and kings were used in oaths, the single exception being that of the city of Sippar.2

  (2) Among the letters from the time of Nabunaid, one was written by Belshazzar himself. In it he calls himself simply Bel–shar–u [ur].3

1 Miscellaneous Inscriptions from the Yale Babylonian Collection, pp. 55–57.

2 See pp. 110, 111.     3 Mittheilungen der vorderasiatischen Gesellschaft, xii, 15.

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  (3) The hymns and incantations that may possibly have been written in the reign of Nabunaid never mention the names of kings or of any other persons. Hence they could not be expected to have styled Belshazzar king.

  (4) In the building inscriptions, Belshazzar is mentioned only in Col. ii, lines 24, 25, of the cylinders found in the corners of the zikkurat at Ur, where he is called “the first–born son, the darling of the heart” of Nabunaid.1

  (5) Of the two historical inscriptions which cover any portion of the reign of Nabunaid, or Cyrus, the Chronicle states that a son of Nabunaid was in command of the army in Accad from the 7th to the 12th year of the king. This was probably Belshazzar. No reason is known why he is not mentioned by name. The Cyrus Cylinder says that a son (?) of the king was killed at the capture of the citadel of Babylon by Gobryas. This son is not named in the inscription, nor is he given a title; but Daniel apparently calls him Belshazzar and says that he was in command of the Chaldean forces and entitles him “king.” Cyrus would naturally refer to him as a son of the king, not having admitted his claim to be the de jure or de facto successor of his father Nabunaid.


  The evidence given above shows that the author of Daniel does not contradict any “other assured witnesses of the Old Testament,” when he represents Belshazzar as the king of Babylon under whom the citadel was taken. All the book of Daniel necessarily implies when it says that Belshazzar was king of Babylon is

1 Zehnpfund–Langdon, Babylonische Königsinschriften, p. 253.

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that he was de facto king of the city after Nabunaid was taken prisoner. The evidence shows, also, that Belshazzar may have been called king of Babylon without ever having become king in his father’s place over the empire of Babylonia; for in the last four months before the citadel was taken and after his father had surrendered, he was the only king whom the last defenders of Babylon could have acknowledged. His first year as king of Babylon is all that the book of Daniel mentions. He may have been king of the Chaldeans, Chaldean king, for many years before, through the capture of his father Nabunaid by the Persians, he became king of Babylon.

   Thus “the recollections of a late age,” as they are presented in Daniel, will agree exactly with what the monuments tell us about the situation at the time when Babylon was taken by the Medes and Persians. Further, it has been shown by the evidence that a son of a king might be called a king; that Belshazzar may have been king at the same time that his father was; that there may have been two persons called king of Babylon at the same time; that a man might have been king of the Chaldeans, or king both of Babylon and of the Chaldeans; and that the years of the reign of a monarch might be dated in one way for his rule over one country, or people, and in another way for a second country, or people.  Lastly, it has been shown that Belshazzar may legally have had two fathers; and that hence it is no objection to the accuracy of Daniel that he is called by him the son of Nebuchadnezzar, while the monuments call him the son of Nabunaid.

  In short, the evidence fails to show that any of the above–named assumptions of the critics with regard to him are true.

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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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