Chapter 11

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





  VI. It is assumed, further, that “Darius the Mede is a reflection of Darius Hystaspis.”1

  Can the author of the charge of this confusion of the relationship between Daniel and Xerxes not see, that if the author of the book of Daniel did not know more about Darius Hystaspis than to suppose that he was the son instead of the father of Xerxes, that Darius Hystaspis was a poor subject for reflection into the past? Such discrepancies between reflector and reflected are to us sufficient proof that no such reflection was made. Let us inquire then: What evidence have we, in the book of Daniel, that its author knew anything about Darius Hystaspis? or that he reflected back the words and deeds and circumstances of Darius Hystaspis to his supposititious homonymous Mede? All that is recorded in the book of Daniel with regard to Darius the Mede are the following facts:

  First, he received the kingdom, apparently as the immediate successor of Belshazzar, the Chaldean king (chapter 5:31).

  Secondly, he was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans (9:1).

1 See p. 162 above.

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  Thirdly, he was about 62 years of age at the time he became king of his realm (5:31).

  Fourthly, it pleased this Darius to set over his realm 120 who should be throughout the whole kingdom (6:1).

  Fifthly, over these satraps there were three presidents (6:2).

  Sixthly, these satraps were to give account to these presidents that the king should have no damage, (6:2).

  Seventhly, Daniel was one of these presidents (6:2).

  Eighthly, Daniel was a friend to the king (6:14, 16, 20, 23).

  Ninthly, Daniel confirmed and strengthened the king (11:1).

  Tenthly, Darius sought to set Daniel over the whole realm (6:3).

  Eleventhly, Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

  Twelfthly, this Darius made four decrees: one, that no man should pray to any god but himself (6:5–9); a second, ordering Daniel to be cast into the den of lions (6:16); a third, commanding the accusers of Daniel to be cast into the same den from which Daniel had been delivered (6:24); and a fourth, magnifying the God of Daniel because of the manner in which he had delivered his servant Daniel (6:25–27).

  Thirteenthly, this Darius was a mixture of weakness and cruelty, as is shown in his treatment of Daniel and his accusers.

  Fourteenthly, Darius the Mede was a son of Ahasuerus (Xerxes) of the seed of the Medes (9:1).

  Fifteenthly, Darius the Mede reigned either before, or along with, Cyrus the Persian.

  Now, on the basis of these statements of the book of

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Daniel with regard to Darius the Mede, the question to ask in this connection is: Do we know anything of the life of Darius Hystaspis which will cause us to conclude that these statements were reflections of his words and deeds and character?

  In answering this question, it will be sufficient to consider the following matters.

  First, the name Darius and the family relationships of the two Dariuses, the Mede and the Persian.

  Secondly, the age at which they respectively became kings (Herod., I, 209).1

  Thirdly, the manner in which they became king.2

  Fourthly, the kingdoms over which they ruled.3

  Fifthly, their relationships to other kings.4

  Sixthly, the methods of government pursued by each.5

  Seventhly, the possibility of a man like Daniel standing in such a relationship to the king as the book of Daniel says that he did.6

  Eighthly, the characters of the Dariuses.7

  First, then, what do we know about the family of Darius Hystaspis, which would cause us to believe that the author of Daniel reflected him back into the period preceding, or contemporaneous with Cyrus the king of Persia who conquered Babylon? Fortunately, on the father’s side, we can be as sure of the origin of Darius Hystaspis, as it is possible to be with regard to any man. At the very outset of the Behistun Inscription, he says of himself:

  I am Darius, the great king, the king of kings, the king of Persia, the king of islands, the son of Hystaspis, the grandson of Arsames, the Achæmenid. Darius the king says: My father is Hystaspis, the father of Hystaspis

1 See p. 238.    2 See p. 240.    3 See p. 243.    4 See p. 244.

5 See p. 247.    6 See p. 253.    7 See p. 259.

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was Arsames, the father of Arsames was Ariaramnes, the father of Ariaramnes was Teispes, the father of Teispes was Achæmenes.

  He repeats this genealogy exactly in the first of the smaller inscriptions of Behistun and in the first of the Persepolis inscriptions. In nearly all of the other inscriptions of Darius, he is called the con of Hystaspis, the Achæmenid. In the Naksh–i–Rustam inscription, he adds that he was “a Persian, the son of a Persian, an Aryan of Aryan seed.” In the Suez inscription C, he adds: “I am a Persian.” In the Behistun Inscription, he says, “our family have been before this been kings. I am the ninth. In two lines, we are nine kings.”

  It will be noted that in these inscriptions Darius makes the following points with regard to his genealogy: that, he was an Aryan by race, a Persian by nationality, an Achæmenid by family, a king by right of birth, and the son of a man called Hystaspis. On the other hand the book of Daniel says, that his Darius was a Mede by nationality and race (for he was of the seed of the Medes, 9:1), and that his father was called Ahasuerus (Xerxes). Except the name and the race for the Medes and Aryans therefore, there is no similarity between the two Dariuses, as far as genealogy is concerned.

  But, it will be said, it is absurd to suppose, that the author of the book of Daniel gained his information with regard to Darius from Persian sources. The Greeks, however, give the same genealogies as the Persians themselves. For, Herodotus says,1 that Darius was the “son of Hystaspis, son of Arsames, one of the Achæmenides,” and that Hystaspis “was governor

 1 Book I, 209.

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(hyparchos) of Persia,”1 and that Darius was a Persian.2 all the other classical authorities agree with Herodotus in these particulars with reference to Darius Hystaspis; so that the author of Daniel could not have derived his information from them and have been ignorant of these family relationships. The reflection of Darius Hystaspis’ genealogy cannot, therefore, have been derived from Greek sources.

  There remains, then, nothing but the Hebrew sources of information, and here the only sources of which we know outside of Daniel itself, are Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, and Zechariah. Without discussing the subject of which Darius they mean, it is sufficient to say that they speak of Darius simply3 or of Darius the king4 or of king Darius,5 or of Darius, king of Persia,6 or of Darius, the Persian.7

  Since, lastly, the Babylonian monuments give us no information with reference to the genealogy of Darius Hystaspis, apart from the duplicate of the Persian inscription mentioned above, never calling him by any title except “king of Babylon” or “king of the lands,” or a combination of the two; it is obvious that the author of the book of Daniel, even granting, for the sake of argument, that he did live in the second century B.C., could not, so far as we know, have had any information with regard to Darius Hystaspis, which would have caused him to call him a Mede, or the son of Xerxes.

1 Id., III, 70.    2 III, 73. Sometimes, in a loose sense, the Greek historians speak of a king of Persia as “the Mede.” But this appellation never occurs in genealogical statements.

3 As in Ezra 5:5, 6:12, 14 (?), Hag. 2:10, Zech. 1:1,7.    4 As in Ezra 5:6, 7, 6:1, 13, 15, Hag. 1:1, 15.

5 As in Zech. 7:1.    6 As in Ezra 4:5, 24, 6:14 (?).    7 As in Neh. 12:22.

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The genealogy of the Darius of Daniel may have been a creation of the imagination, but it cannot have been a reflection of f that of Darius, the son of Hystaspis, the son of Arsames, the son of Ariaramnes, the son of Teispes, the son of Achæmenes, —of the Darius who was a Persian, the son of a Persian, an Aryan, of Aryan seed.

  Again, it is assumed, that the author of Daniel supposed Xerxes to be the father and not the son of Darius. This is a fine example of what is called begging the question. Of course, it will be admitted by everyone, that, if the author of Daniel meant Darius Hystaspis by his Darius, then he made a mistake in saying that the father of Darius Hystaspis was Xerxes (Ahasuerus). For, there is no doubt that Darius, the first Persian king of that name, was the son of Hystaspis. He calls himself the son of Hystaspis on nearly every one of his inscriptions. He claims also to be a Persian of the family of Achæmenids.1 This is the testimony, also, of Herodotus;2 and, so far as we know, of every other witness. It has never been denied. Nor has it ever been denied that Xerxes the commander of the expedition which terminated at Salamis and Platæa was a son of Darius Hystaspis. This, Xerxes himself says in all but one of his own inscriptions; and in that one he is called simply “Xerxes the great king.” Herodotus, also, calls him the son of Darius.3

  But the question here is not about Darius the Persian; but, about Darius the Mede. If the latter were a reflection backward of Darius Hystaspis, we might well ask why the author of Daniel called him Mede and why he

1 See especially Behistun, i, 1–6, A 1–8; Elwend, 62–70; Persepolis, i, 1–5, B 4–8; Suez, b, 4–8; Naksh–i–Rustam, A, 8–15.

2 VII, 11, I, 209, III, 70, IV, 83, VII, 224 et al.    3 VII, 2,11 et al.

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called him the son of Xerxes, and why he said he was of the seed of the Medes. For the first Darius, king of Persia, is explicit in all three of these points. He says he was a Persian, the son of Hystaspis, the son of a Persian, and of Aryan seed.1 In all of these points, except the last, Daniel and the inscriptions of Darius differ. As to the last, since the Medes were a division of the Aryans,2 it is clear that both the Dariuses are represented as Aryans. But here the sameness of description of then ends. One was a Mede; the other, a Persian. One was the son of Xerxes; the other the son of Hystaspis. One had a son named Xerxes, who succeeded him on the throne of Persia; the other, may, or may not, have had a son, and if he had, we know not his name, nor whether he succeeded to the government of any part of his father’s dominions.

  It is no proof that a Xerxes was not the father of Darius the Mede, to say that we know nothing from any other source about the existence of this Xerxes.

  Having thus shown clearly that there is no doubt, nor ever was any doubt, as to who Darius Hystaspis was as to race, nation, family, and paternity; and that the Darius the Mede of Daniel, whoever he may have been, cannot have been in these respects a reflection of Darius Hystaspis; we might ask whether after all it is true that a history affords us no hint as to who Darius the Mede may have been. Can such a Darius have existed? May he have had a father called Xerxes? May he have been of the seed of the Medes?

  Taking these three questions up in order, we ask, first, whether a Mede called Darius may have reigned for a time over Chaldea and a sub–king under him? Having already

1 See Naksh–i–Rustam inscription, a, 8–15.    2 Herodotus, VII, 62.

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shown above the possibility of someone’s having thus reigned, we shall here confine ourselves to the question of whether this sub–ruler may have been called Darius.

  In the first place, then, let it be said, that four of the kings of Persia who called themselves Darius or Artaxerxes assumed these names at the time of their accession. They were to them regnal names. Just as Octavianus assumed the name Augustus, or the first and third Bonapartes took the name Napoleon as their regnal name; so, we are told that the two Ochuses, and Arsaces the son of Darius Ochus, and Codomannus, all changed their names, or at least assumed another name when they became king. Thus Darius the Second was at first called Ochus by the Persians. By the Greeks, he is called Nothus. On the inscriptions, he is called simply and always, Darius “king of the lands.”1 Arsaces, his son, the brother of Cyrus the Younger, changed his name to Artaxerxes, when he became king; but was known to the Greeks as Artaxerxes Mnemon. On the inscriptions, he is known simply as Artaxerxes. Thus in the Susa inscription, we read, “Artaxerxes, the great king, the king of kings, the king of lands, the king of the earth, the son of king Darius,” etc. On a contract tablet from his reign, he is simply called Artaxerxes, the king of lands.2

  Artaxerxes the Third was called Ochus before he became king and continued to be so called by the Greeks even after his accession. Lastly, Darius Codomannus is said to have assumed the name of Darius when he became king.3

1 See the subscriptions to the tablets from his reign published in BE., vol. viii, Prof. A. T. Clay, editor.

2 See BE, vol. x, p. 2, and vol. ix, No. 1, 1.33.    3 Rawlinson: Anc. Mon., iii, 515.

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  This custom of changing one’s name upon ascending the throne, may account for the fact, that so many of the rebels against Darius Hystaspis are represented by him as changing their names as soon as they raised the standard of rebellion. Thus, Nadintu–Bel and Atrina changed their names to Nebuchadnezzar, and claimed to be sons of Nabunaid; Martiya is said to have taken the name Imanish; and Fravartish assumed the name Khshatrita.1 So, among the kings of Assyria, Pul assumed Tiglath–Pileser as his regnal name; Sargon was probably the regnal name of a man who had some other name before he became king; Ashurbanipal probably reigned in Babylon under the name Kandalanu; the great Cyrus himself is said by Herodotus to have had another name by which he was known while a boy.2 Astyages according to Ctesias had also the name Aspodas. Cambyses the father of Cyrus the Great is called Atradates by Nicolaus Damascenus.3 Lastly, Artaxerxes II was called Arshu and Artaxerxes III Umasu before they became kings.4

  From all the above facts, we may conclude that it is certainly probable that Darius the Mede was known by some other name before he became king. If we assume that the pre–regnal name was Ugbaru (Gobryas), then we have a man whose history as revealed by the Cyrus Cylinder, by Xenophon in his Cyropedia, and

1 Behistun Inscr., iv, 10–31.    2 Bk. I, 113.

3 Rawlinson: Ancient Monarchies, iii, p.368.

4 See the astronomical tables published by Kugler in Sternkunde und Sterndienst in Babel, page 82, where we read: ultu shatti 18 KAN Arshusha Artakshatsu sharru shumushu nabu adi qat shatti 13 KAN Umasusha Artakshatsu sharru nabu, i.e., from the 18th year of Arshu, whose name was called Artaxerxes the king, till the 13th year of Umashu, whose name is called Artaxerxes the king.

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by the book of Daniel, perfectly consistent with itself and with all the information revealed in all the sources.

  But, did Ugbaru have a father named Xerxes? We have no information on this subject, except that the writer of Daniel says that the father of his Darius was Xerxes. Now, it is perfectly certain, that if there was a Darius the Mede at all, he must have had a father, and this father must have had a name. Why not, then, a father named Xerxes? There is nothing known about the naming, or the name, of Xerxes the son of Darius Hystaspis to show that he was the first of that name; and we know from the fact that there was a Xerxes the Second the son of Artaxerxes Mnemon, that Xerxes the Great was not the last, nor the only, one of that name. Why, then, may there not have been a third of the name, preceding the first, and a Median, as the second and third of the name were Persians?

  It is not enough simply to assert that the writer of Daniel became confused and stated by mistake that Xerxes was the father instead of the son of Darius. This might be accepted as an explanation of an error of the kind, after the error had been proven. But to make an assertion of confusion in order to prove the error is contrary to all the laws of evidence and common sense. That John Smith’s son is named Peter does not prove that another Peter Smith’s father was not called John. That a Henry king of England followed a Richard does not prove that a Richard had not followed a Henry sometime before. Blessed is the man who knows his own father; twice blessed is he, who knows the father of a man living more than two thousand years ago.

  It might be well just here to ask how two Medes

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could have had names which we certainly know were each the name of several kings of Persia. That is, could two Medes of the time of Cyrus have had the names Xerxes and Darius? Or, are not these names in themselves evidence of a reflection backward of Darius Hystaspis and his son Xerxes, and of a confusion between their relationship to each other? The possibility of cogency in this argument will appear if we suppose that the author had called them by the Greek names Philip and Alexander, or Antiochus and Seleucus. Is there, then, not the same cogency in the use of Persian names for two men of supposedly Median race?

  No. There is not. Because the Medes and the Persians were closely allied in race and language. Darius Hystaspis asserts that he, a Persian, was of Aryan race; and Herodotus says, that the Medes were Arians.1 Besides, the same proper names are found in use among both Medes and Persians. Thus, Harpagus, a Mede, led the revolt of the army of the Medes which went over to Cyrus;2 and Harpagus, a Persian general of a considerable army, is said to have taken Histiæus the Milesian prisoner.3 The Gobryas of Xenophon, whose name is the Greek form of Ugbaru the governor of Gutium of Cyrus, was most probably a Mede; whereas the Gobryas who was one of the seven conspirators against Smerdis, the Magian, was a Persian, as was also a Gobryas, the son of Darius Hystaspis. Artembares, whose son was a playmate of Cyrus, was a Mede;4 whereas, the Artembares mentioned later was a Persian.5  Vindafra was a Mede who commanded the army which Darius Hystaspis sent against Babylon when it revolted

1 VII, 62.    2 Herodotus, Bk. I, 80 and after.    3 Id., Bk. VI, 28.

4 Herodotus, Bk. I, 114.     5 Book IX, 122.

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from him the second time;1 Vindafrana was a Persian and one of the seven conspirators against Smerdis.2 Citran–takhma, who claimed to be of the family of Uvakhshatara (i.e., Cyaxares, the Median), revolted in Sagartia, and Darius Hystaspis sent against him Takhima–spada, a Median; whereas Tritan–taikmes (part of whose name is the same as Takhma–spada and part of each perhaps the same as the latter part of Citran–takhma) is called by Herodotus a son of Artabanus who was a brother of Darius Hystaspis. Further evidence that the Persian and Median languages were closely allied may be found in Rawlinson and others, though it is generally admitted that they had many dialectical differences. There is no reason, however, why the names Xerxes and Darius may not have been borne as proper names in the time of Cyrus; and by Medes.

  Before leaving this subject, we might turn the question about and ask, whether there be any probable reason why the two Persian kings were called Darius and Xerxes. Could these names, possibly, have had any connection with Xerxes and Darius of Daniel, arising from a possible relationship of blood between them? Now, we are perfectly aware, that in what follows we are treading on dangerous ground. But we feel that we are in good company; and hope that Prof. Sayce and Winckler, and the shades of a host of others, will pardon us, if we thrust ourselves forward for a little along the line they have followed with so much brilliancy. Returning, however, to our subject, let it be said, that it struck us with much force, that the claimants of the throne of Media and Sagartia, who rebelled against Darius Hystaspis, both assert that

1 Behistun Inscr. ii,  83–87.     2 Id., iv, 83.

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they were of the family of Cyaxares, not of that of Astyages; whereas the claimants to the throne of Babylon assert that they were the sons of Nabunaid. Why did the former claimants not assert their right to succeed Astyages, who, according to Herodotus, had been the last preceding king of Media, just as these latter claimed to succeed Nabunaid the last de jure king of Babylon? Most probably because, as Profs. Sayce and Winckler have shown and the inscriptions of Nabunaid and Cyrus certainly seem to imply, Astyages was not a Median king at all; but the king of the Manda, or Scythians. If we take Astyages to have been a Scythian, one of a race that had conquered and held in subjection the kindred peoples of the Sagartians, Medes, and Persians, we shall account reasonably for many facts that are otherwise hard to understand. Astyages, the Mandean, maries his daughter Mandane (the Mandean?) to Cambyses the king of Anshan, but seeks to slay their son Cyrus, whom he looked upon as a dangerous possible rival; doubtless, because Cyrus the Achæmenid of royal line was the legitimate head of the subject peoples, or at least, of the Persian branch of them. Harpagus, the Mede, along with another Mede named Mitradates, saves Cyrus. For this reason Harpagus is served with soup made from his own son by order of Astyages. Harpagus enrolls the Medes in a conspiracy against his master and calls in Cyrus the Persian to lead the revolt. During the classic battle, Harpagus, with the Medes under him, goes to Cyrus, and Astyages is captured and dethroned. Cyrus, then, succeeds to the throne of Media and is royally served all through his reign, and his son Cambyses during his reign, by the Medes, who had joined with the Persians in overthrowing the

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power of the Mandeans. The Mandeans had conquered a large part of the old Assyrian empire and when Cyrus overthrew Astyages, Nabunaid of Babylon recaptured a large part of the region about the Euphrates and Tigris, including, perhaps, the country of Gobryas, the governor or king of Gutium, who, judging from his name, was probably a Mede. Gobryas calls in Cyrus to his aid, and the united armies conquer Babylon; whereupon, Cyrus appoints Gobryas governor of Babylon and successor to Belshazzar, the king of the Chaldeans. Gobryas assumes the name of Darius as his regnal name, and rules under Cyrus over as much of his empire as was once under the Babylonian or Assyrian kings. Cyrus, however, upheld his position as overlord, and Cambyses, his son, grasped the hand of Bel of Babylon, as the legitimate successor of his father, Darius–Gobryas being under Cyrus, and probably under Cambyses, the sub–king. Contracts, however, are dated only with the name of the overlord, as they were subsequently when Zopyrus was governor of Babylonia under Darius and Megapanus under Xerxes.

  This Gobryas of Gutium had a daughter who was given in marriage to Hystaspis, one of Cyrus’ Persian generals, the father of Darius Hystaspis, and the governor, under Cambyses and Smerdis the Magian, over the country of Persia. Darius the Persian would thus be named after his maternal grandfather’s regnal name. Then Darius the Persian marries a daughter of Cyrus, whose oldest son, born after Darius became king, he calls Xerxes, the name which according to Dan. 9:, had been borne by his great–grandfather. There thus unite in Xerxes all the royal families which might have laid claim to the throne. Through Mandane, the mother of Cyrus, by way of Cyrus and his daughter

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Atossa, Xerxes succeeds to the right of Astyages the Mandean. Through his grandmother, the wife of Hystaspis and mother of Darius Hystaspis, he succeeds to the right of Darius Gobryas, the Mede, the son of Xerxes the Mede. Through his father Darius, the son of Hystaspis, the son of Arsames, the Achæmenid, he succeeds to the right of Cyrus and Cambyses the Achæmenids, his cousins of the royal line of Persia and Anshan. Through Darius the Mede he probably succeeded not merely to the throne of Gutium, but to that of all the Median kingdom as well. For, let it be noticed, that the Xerxes of Dan. 9:1, is possibly the same as Cyaxares. At any rate, the Medo–Persian root khsha is found in both; and it is possible, at least, that Xerxes and Cyaxares are the Median and Persian forms of the same name.1 If, then, Darius–Gobryas the Mede were the son of Xerxes–Cyaxares the last king of Media before Astyages the Mandean conquered it, he would be the legal successor to Cyaxares, and Xerxes the son of Darius Hystaspis would succeed to the Median right through him, as his father Darius Hystaspis had done before him. The importance of securing the right to succession is obvious, when we remember, that Citrantakhma who revolted against Darius Hystaspis in Sagartia, and Parumartish who revolted against him in Media, both based their claim to the throne on the ground that there were of the family of Cyaxares.

  If we accept such a genealogy for Darius Hystaspis, it will account for the fact that he and Xerxes are called Medes as well as Persians by the Greeks, although Cyrus and Cambyses are not so called; and that Xerxes is called king of Persia and of the Medes in the sub–

1 Compare Tobit 14:15, where Cyaxares is called Assuerus, that is, Xerxes.

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scriptions of several Babylonian tablets.1 It will account, also, for the loyalty of the Medes to the Persian kings, for the appointment of two of them, Vindafra and Takhmaspada, to put down the great revolts in Babylon and Media under Darius Hystaspis; for the appointment of a Mede, Datis, to command the expedition against Athens, which culminated at Marathon; and for the putting of the Medes in a peculiar position next to the Persians both by the classical writers, by Darius in the Behistun Inscription, and by the Babylonians in the subscriptions to the tablets from the age of Xerxes.

  This rather lengthy excursus will, we hope, make it clear to all why we believe that the statements of the author of Daniel with reference to “Darius, the Mede, the son of Xerxes, of the seed of the Medes,” are consistent with what is known of the history of the times which center about Cyrus the Persian, and the fall of Babylon. We believe, that it is entirely possible to harmonize every statement of the sixth chapter of Daniel with any facts that have been ascertained from the monuments of Persia and Babylon , or from any other reliable sources whatsoever. It is wrong and unfair to call any man a knave or a fool, a liar or an ignoramus, unless we have certain and sufficient proofs to substantiate our assertion. It is wrong to assert that the author of Daniel attempted to reflect backward the life and acts and character of Darius Hystaspis upon a fictitious and supposititious Darius, unless we can prove it. It is wrong to say that having attempted it, he confused the persons thus reflected, so as to confound the relationship between them.

1 I.e., in VASD, v, 118, 119; iv, 193, 194; Strassmaier, in Acts of the 8th Congress of Orientalists, Nos. 19, 20.

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And, finally, while one could well be pardoned for doubting whether all of these statements were written without unintentional errors, or have been transmitted without corruption of text; yet, in view of the evidence, we think it is manifestly unfair, to accuse the author of them either with lack of intelligence, knowledge, candor, or consistency, or with confusions, reflections, inaccuracies, and exaggerations.

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Home Up Chapter 12

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 from the 1917 edition.

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