For Christians, “Daniel” is also important since, as they claim:
“…this text is
certainly an amazing prophecy that one definitely should use in his or her
apologetic case for Jesus as the Messiah” (https://carm.org/does-daniel-9-24-27-predict-jesus).
We will discuss this claim later on.
 According to one such fanatic source, the “Antichrist” will be a Middle
Eastern individual who:
“…will rule a
region north of Israel in the first part of the Tribulation, as Daniel calls
him the ‘king of the north’ and Isaiah and Micah call him the ‘Assyrian’” (http://www.trackingbibleprophecy.com/antichrist.php).
As we will see, however, this claim is without any
foundation because when the Book of Daniel is read in its proper historical
context, the only reasonable conclusion is that it was not prophesying events
in our time.
 We have discussed some alleged “prophecies” in the Tanakh and New
 Michael B. Shepherd, Daniel in the Context of the Hebrew Bible
(New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 2009), p. 65.
See also Arnaldo Momigliano, Essays on Ancient
and Modern Judaism (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1994), pp.
The 1st century CE Jewish historian
Josephus related a story about Alexander the Great being shown a copy of the
Book of Daniel (Antiquities of the Jews, 11:8:5), which would mean that
it was well known to Jews as early as the 4th century BCE (since
Alexander’s conquest of Palestine occurred sometime around 333 BCE). Not surprisingly, this is used by some
Christians to prove that the Book of Daniel was written in the 6th
century, during the Babylonian exile (http://www.biblequery.org/dan.htm).
Yet scholars generally reject the story. For example, Momigliano stated:
“I shall say
immediately and dogmatically that I assume there is no truth in the visit of
Alexander to Jerusalem. It is not
recorded by any respectable ancient source on Alexander and is full of
impossible details” (Essays on Ancient and Modern Judaism, op.
cit., p. 81).
Indeed, it is hard to believe that the proud
Macedonian king who aspired to conquer the world would have humbled himself
before the Jewish High Priest in such a way!
 The Jewish Study Bible, ed. Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler
(New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 1642.
 However, it should be
stated that the Book of Daniel may not have enjoyed universal acceptance among
Jews. Scholars point to the apocryphal
book “Ecclesiasticus” (written around 190-180 BCE) to argue that the Book of
Daniel must not have existed at that time, since the author of Ecclesiasticus
did not mention it or allude to it in anyway.
This is also used as proof for a 2nd-century date for the
Book of the Daniel. However, as Frank W.
Hardy theorizes, it is possible that the author of Ecclesiasticus was aware of
the Book of Daniel but simply did not regard it as reliable. He writes:
“Ben Sira held the
opinion, and stated it in so many words, that dreamers and dreams were fools
and foolishness, respectively. […] If Ben Sira believed dreamers were fools,
and thought of Daniel primarily
as a dreamer, one could
hardly expect Ben Sira to
name Daniel as one of
Israel's great and illustrious figures of the past. For Daniel to be passed over in silence would be
much more consistent with the
passage just quoted than prominent mention of him a few chapters later would
See also Raymond Hammer, The
Cambridge Bible Commentary on the New English Bible: The Book of Daniel
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976), pp. 4-6.
 Momigliano stated (emphasis ours):
historical thought, the idea of a succession of empires appears first in the
Book of Daniel, chapter 2, if we date this chapter, as I believe we
must, about 250 B.C.”(Arnold
Momigliano, On Pagans, Jews, and Christians (Middletown: Wesleyan
University Press, 1987), p. 8).
 Momigliano, Essays on Ancient and Modern Judaism, op. cit., p.
 Hammer, op. cit., p. 5.
 The Jewish Study Bible, op. cit., p. 1642.
Moreover, it states:
probably originally oral, circulated most likely in the 4th to 2nd centuries
BCE, when they were collected into a cycle of Daniel legends. [Chapters] 7-12 are most likely written
compositions, datable to the last year of the Maccabean revolt (164 BCE). In editing [chapters] 1-12 together, the
author of the visions made the whole into an apocalyptic book” (Ibid., p. 1640).
 As Christian apologist David Malick points out:
discovered at Qumran (e.g., a Florilegium found in cave 4Q), which date from
the Maccabean period make it very unlikely that the book was written during the
time of the Maccabees (e.g., 168 B.C.) since it would have taken some time for
it to have been accepted and included in the canon” (https://bible.org/article/introduction-book-daniel).
Of course, this does not mean that the entire
book was present at Qumran. More likely,
some parts may have been present (including a variant story involving the
Babylonian king Nabonidus, as we shall see later), while the second part of the
book was still in the process of being written.
Similarly, claims that the use of Aramaic or
Persian words in the Book of Daniel support a 2nd century BCE date
also appear to be weak (Ibid.).
Regarding the use of Aramaic, Kenneth A. Kitchen
“…there is nothing
to decide the date of composition of the Aramnaic [sic] of Daniel on the
grounds of Aramaic anywhere between the late sixth and the second century BC.
Some points hint at an early (especially pre-300), not late, date…” (http://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/tp/notes-daniel/daniel_kitchen.pdf)
Additionally, the “Jewish Virtual Library” states:
“The popular story
book Daniel A was composed in Aramaic because by the third century B.C.E. it
was the language of the majority of Jews; and Daniel B, being a continuation of
Daniel A, was written in the same language” (https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0005_0_04854.html).
 Shepherd, op. cit., p. 66.
 Daniel 1:4. Some translations
use the word “Chaldeans” instead of “Babylonians”. As we will see, the use of this
word is a clue to the Greco-Roman world in which the Book of Daniel was
compiled in its final form.
 Daniel 1:6. Daniel and his
companions were also given Babylonian names.
Daniel was named “Belteshazzar”, while his companions were named
“Shadrach”, “Meshach” and “Abednego”, respectively (Daniel 1:7).
According to Hammer, these names reflected distorted names of the
Babylonian gods (Hammer, op. cit., p. 20). It is also interesting that:
“[a]part from the
mangling, no exception is taken to the use of the foreign names, and they are
duly accepted as alternative names” (Ibid.).
One has to wonder why pious Jews so easily accepted
these pagan names, whereas Daniel was so adamant in not eating any unclean food
from the king’s court (Daniel 1:8)!
Also, since the names represent “mangled” names of the Babylonian gods,
we have to wonder why the Babylonians would have deliberately done so. Incidentally, the use of foreign names by
Jews is also a clue to the original context in which the book was compiled, as
we will see later.
 Daniel 1:21. Cyrus “the Great”
was the king of the Persian Empire and conquered Babylon around 539/538
BCE. The phrase “first year” thus refers to the year of Cyrus’ conquest of Babylon (http://usccb.org/bible/daniel/1#34001021-1).
 In our analysis, the phrase “second year of his reign” will be discussed in more detail.
 Daniel 2:12. This decree
evidently included Daniel and his companions (v. 13), despite the great
impression they had left on Nebuchadnezzar only one year earlier.
 Daniel 2:36-38. In describing
Nebuchadnezzar’s dominion and power, Daniel states:
“Your Majesty, you
are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and
might and glory; in your hands he has placed all mankind and the beasts of the
field and the birds in the sky. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over
them all. You are that head of gold.”
It seems clear that the various kingdoms
represented Media (silver), Persia (bronze) and Greece (iron). The “divided kingdom” (iron and clay) clearly
refers to the kingdoms that were created after the death of Alexander the Great
(Hammer, op. cit., pp. 32-33). We
will discuss this in more detail later.
 According to the Greek translation, this was in the 18th
year of Nebuchadnezzar (Hammer, op. cit., p. 39).
 Daniel 3:12. It should hardly
have come as a surprise to Nebuchadnezzar that his Jewish administrators would
not worship his gods or the golden image.
Nebuchadnezzar seems to have forgotten that they worshiped “the God of gods
and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries” (Daniel 2:47)!
 Daniel 3:15. This is more
evidence of Nebuchadnezzar’s poor memory!
 Daniel 4:1-6. Here,
Nebuchadnezzar speaks in the first person and addresses “the nations and
peoples of every language, who live in all the earth”, which is obviously impossible.
 Daniel 4:6-8. It is of course
strange that Nebuchadnezzar would begin by praising “the Most High God” and then refer to Daniel as “Belteshazzar, after the name of my
god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him”.
 Daniel 4:10-11. For this tree to
have been “visible to the ends of the earth”, the earth
would have to be flat, at least in his dream!
 Daniel 4:33. It is quite clear
from the text that Nebuchadnezzar was stricken with insanity, which explains
his animal-like behavior. However, as we
will see later, this incredible event is lacking in historical evidence and if
it even happened, it was probably not Nebuchadnezzar but Nabonidus, the last
king of the Babylonian Empire, who suffered this divine judgement.
 Daniel 4:34-37. Again, as we
will see, the absence of Nebuchadnezzar from the throne of Babylon lacks
 Daniel 5:2-5. The fact that
Nebuchadnezzar is referred to as Belshazzar’s “father” will be discussed in the next section, as it seems to contradict
 Daniel 5:10-11. Most likely,
this was actually the “queen-mother” and not Belshazzar’s own
wife. Some have equated her with
Nitrocris, who was a widow or daughter of Nebuchadnezzar (Hammer, op. cit.,
 Daniel 5:13. As we will see,
Belshezzar’s unfamiliarity with Daniel seems to contradict the second part of
the Book of Daniel, where Daniel is shown doing the “business” of the king.
 Daniel 5:16. Belshazzar offered
to clothe Daniel with “scarlet”, give him “a chain of gold” and to install him as “the third ruler in the kingdom”. The practice of wearing scarlet
or purple robes “was a sign of dignity among the Persians…and the Seleucid
rulers”, and suggests that this part of the story is an
anachronism owing to the author’s 2nd-century BCE knowledge and
experience (Hammer, op. cit. p. 62).
 Daniel 5:30-31. As we will see,
the reference to “Darius the Mede” cannot be accurate.
 Daniel 6:4. As Hammer explains:
“[t]he fact that
the other ministers and satraps try to discover some other
malpractice…indicates that they were motivated by envy rather than
anti-Semitism” (Hammer, op. cit., p. 69).
 Daniel 6:8-9. As we will see,
for the Persian king to issue such a decree would have been unthinkable, given
his religion and general policies of religious tolerance.
 Daniel 7:8. As we will see
later, this is a clear reference to the Seleucid king Antiochus IV
Epiphanes. We will discuss this wicked
figure in more detail in the next section.
 Daniel 7:9-10. The “Ancient of Days” is obviously God seated on his throne.
As Hammer states:
“It speaks rather
of the ultimate character of God’s tribunal” (Hammer, op. cit.,
But as we will see later, the descriptions
attributed to God probably originated from pagan mythology.
 According to the NIV, the Aramaic phrase rendered “son of man” is “bar enash”, which means “human being”. However, the translators state
that they chose the phrase “son of man” solely:
“…because of its
use in the New Testament as a title of Jesus, probably based largely on this
However, as we will see later, the passage in
question cannot be referring to Jesus anyway.
 The word rendered as “worshiped” is more correctly translated as “served”, since it is used in Daniel 3:28:
“They trusted in
him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives
rather than serve or worship any god except their own God” (http://biblehub.com/hebrew/yiflechun_6399.htm).
Indeed, Daniel 3:28 uses different words for
“serve” and “worship”, so it is clear that the NIV translators chose to
deliberately mistranslate the word in 7:14 due to their Christian bias.
 Daniel 7:13-14. As we will see,
when read in the historical context in which the Book of Daniel was written, it
becomes clear that the “kingdom” of this “son of man” actually did not endure and was eventually destroyed.
 Daniel 7:23. This is yet another
 Daniel 7:24-25. Again, it is
obvious that the author had Antiochus IV in mind.
 Daniel 8:4-5. The “goat” was able to “cross the whole earth without touching the ground”, which describes the remarkable speed with which it would conquer
everything in its path.
 Daniel 8:9. The “Beautiful Land” is of course the Holy Land, and
 Daniel 8:11. This is yet another
reference to the actions of Antiochus IV.
 Daniel was “terrified and fell prostrate” before
 Daniel 8:17-20. Clearly, this “first king” is Alexander the Great, who defeated the powerful Persian Empire and
overthrew its king, Darius III (Hammer, op. cit., p. 90).
 Daniel 8:22. This clearly refers
to the four kingdoms that arose after the death of Alexander the Great and the
division of his empire. These four
kingdoms were Macedonia and Greece, the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt, the
Seleucid dynasty in the Middle East and Asia and the kingdom of Lysimachus in
modern-day Turkey (https://www.wdl.org/en/item/11739/).
 Daniel 8:27. The fact that
Daniel was going about “the king’s business” shows that he was
acquainted with Belshazzar’s court. This
will be discussed later.
 Daniel 9:1-2. The reference to a
certain “Darius son of Xerxes” will be discussed in
more detail later. For now, we can see
that Daniel is now living under the Persian Empire, which overthrew the
 Daniel 9:16. The prayer of
Daniel spans from verses 4-19.
The “seventy sevens” have been the subject of much debate, and in recent times, Christian
apologists and fundamentalists have joined in on the debate with amusing
theories about this subject (http://carm.org/does-daniel-9-24-27-predict-jesus). However, as we will see, these
theories are simply more examples of wishful thinking on the part of these
apologists, similar to their fantastical theories about the Book of Revelation.
 Daniel 9:25. While the NIV
refers to “the Anointed One”, it also has a
footnote which states that another reading is “an anointed one” (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=daniel+9&version=NIV#fen-NIV-22014f).
Hammer renders it as “…one anointed, a prince” (Hammer, op. cit., p. 94).
In other words, the Christian apologists have once again attempted to
misconstrue the text for ideological reasons.
It is obvious that they are trying to apply this “prophecy” to Jesus, as
is their modus operandi!
 Daniel 9:26. Hammer renders the
verse as “…one who is anointed shall be removed…” (Ibid.). Again, as we will see,
the attempt by Christians to apply this verse to Jesus’ crucifixion is wishful
 Daniel 9:26-27. As we will see,
this is an obvious reference to the reign of Antiochus IV and not to some
future event involving the “Anti-Christ” as some Christians claim (for example,
 Daniel 9:27. This is again a
clear reference to Antiochus.
 Koresh is equivalent to Cyrus (Hammer, op. cit., p. 99).
 Daniel 10:6. The man is
understood to be Gabriel (Ibid., p. 102).
 Daniel 10:7. Hammer sees
parallels between this incident involving Daniel and the incident of Paul’s
vision on the road to Damascus, as told in the New Testament (Ibid.)
 Daniel 10:13. The identity of
the “prince of Persia” is a matter of
debate, but the majority view appears to be that he was the “patron” or “guardian” angel of the kingdom of Persia. As Hammer states:
“…each nation was
thought to have its own patron angel, just as Michael was seen as Israel’s…” (Ibid., p. 103).
However, some sources believe that the “prince” was actually a human figure, such as Cambyses, the son of the Persian
king Cyrus the Great (http://biblehub.com/context/daniel/10-13.htm).
 Daniel 10:20. If the “prince of Persia” is indeed the “patron” angel of Persia, then the “prince of Greece” would obviously be the “patron” angel of Greece. But if this is true, then it would suggest
what Hammer describes as “the notion of celestial warfare”, which is
hinted at in the non-canonical book of 2 Maccabees (Hammer, op. cit., p.
103). Since 2 Maccabees is nearly
universally believed to have been written in the 2nd-century BCE
(Hammer gives it a date of c. 124 BCE), it provides further proof that the
second-half of the Book of Daniel was also written in that time since it has
similar theology (Ibid., p. 12).
 Daniel 11:2-3. According to
Hammer, the fourth king is most probably Xerxes, who led a major campaign
against Greece in 480-479 BCE (Ibid., pp. 107-108).
 Daniel 11:3-4. This again refers
to Alexander the Great, whose empire was divided amongst his generals. See notes #116 and #117.
 Daniel 11:5. The “king of the South” is a king of the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt (Ptolemy was one of
Alexander’s generals), which ruled Egypt until 30 BCE, after Alexander’s empire
was divided up (Ibid., p. 108).
The “king of the North” refers to a king of the Seleucid dynasty. As Hammer explains, Seleucids served under
Ptolemy until 312 BCE (the division of Alexander’s empire had been agreed upon
in 321 BCE) and eventually controlled territory spanning from Asia Minor to
India, thereby surpassing the kingdom of Ptolemy in power, as Daniel 11:5
states: “…one of his commanders will become even stronger than he…” (Ibid.)
 Daniel 11:6-7. This refers to
the murder of Berenice, the daughter of Ptolemy II, who in c. 248 BCE, gave her
hand in marriage to Antiochus II, the grandson of Seleucus (Ibid., p.
 Daniel 11:7-8. The invasion of
the Seleucid kingdom was carried out by Ptolemy III, the brother of Berenice
(Ibid., p. 109).
 Daniel 11:9. This refers to the
attempted invasion of Egypt by Seleucus Callinicus in 240 BCE, which ended in
defeat for the Seleucid king (Ibid.)
 Daniel 11:11-12. At the battle
at Raphia in 217 BCE, Antiochus III suffered a major defeat at the hands of
Ptolemy, and Palestine was re-annexed by Egypt (Ibid.).
 Daniel 11:14. Some Jews are said
to have sided with Antiochus III against Egypt (Ibid.).
 Daniel 11:15-16. Again, the “Beautiful Land” is the Holy Land, including Jerusalem.
See note #111.
 Daniel 11:17. Antiochus gave his
daughter Cleopatra in marriage to Ptolemy V in 194/193 BCE, but Cleopatra
persuaded her husband to ally himself with Rome, thus spoiling Antiochus’ plan
to increase his power (Ibid.).
 Daniel 11:21. This is referring again
to Antiochus IV!
 Daniel 11:29-30. Verse 30
mentions “ships of the western coastlands”, which would
oppose the “king of the North” (Antiochus IV). The Hebrew phrase is actually “ships of Kittim”, which originally referred to the Greeks. However, in the Qumran scrolls (specifically,
in the “Commentary on Habbakuk”), “Kittim” was used as a reference to the Romans (Ibid., p. 110). Indeed, Roman intervention kept Antiochus IV
out of Egypt (Ibid., p. 111).
 Daniel 11:31-32. Antiochus IV is
infamous for his desecration of the temple, where he installed a statue of
Zeus, the “abomination that causes desolation” first mentioned in Daniel 9:27 (Ibid., pp. 99, 113).
 Daniel 11:36-37. The god “desired by women” is identified by scholars as Tammuz (Ibid., p. 113). This pagan deity is also mentioned in Ezekiel
 Daniel 11:38. The “god of fortresses” was “Jupiter Capitolinus” (Zeus). Hence, Antiochus IV suppressed the cults of
Apollo and Tammuz, while promoting that of Zeus (Ibid.). Thus, he did not single out the Jews
 Daniel 12:1-2. Some would be
resurrected “to everlasting life”, while others “to shame and
 Daniel 12:7. According to
Hammer, the phrase “for a time, times and half a time” means three and a half years (Ibid., p. 118).
According to 2 Kings 24, Nebuchadnezzar attacked
Jerusalem during the reign of Jehoiachin, the son of Jehoiakim. However, 2 Chronicles 36 states that
Jehoiachin was simply “brought” to Babylon and only mentions an attack on Jerusalem
during the reign of Jehoiakim.
 Hammer asserts that the author dated the “first” capture of Jerusalem
to 606 BCE in order “to extend the [Jewish] exile to the seventy years foretold by
Jeremiah (Jer. 25:11-16; 29:10)” (Hammer, op. cit.,
Incidentally, at least one Greek manuscript (MS
967) of the Book of Daniel refers to the twelfth year of Nebuchadnezzar’s
reign, not his second (Zdravko Stefanovic, Daniel: Wisdom to the Wise:
Commentary on the Book of Daniel (Nampa: Pacific Press Publishing
Association, 2007), p. 82). This would
make more sense.
 Belshazzar even asked Daniel:
“Are you Daniel,
one of the exiles my father the king brought from Judah?” (Daniel 5:13).
 It seems likely that it is simply a literary device used by the author
for dramatic effect, as Hammer explains:
initial absence is a device to make his later appearance even more
effective. He steps in when everyone
else has failed” (Hammer, op. cit., p. 64).
Of course, if it is simply a literary device, then
the Book of Daniel should be read as a dramatic literary work rather than
 This is especially glaring given that the queen stated that
Nebuchadnezzar had appointed Daniel as:
“…chief of the
magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners” (Daniel 5:11).
 Hammer, op. cit., p. 77.
See also The Jewish Study Bible, op. cit.,
 For example, in Daniel 2:2, the author claimed that Nebuchadnezzar had
brought “the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers (Chaldeans)” to explain the meaning of his
“…the book of
Daniel reflects later Graeco-Roman usage, which saw in the Chaldaeans a
professional class of astrologers, magicians and wise men” (Ibid.).
The USCCB also admits:
Babylonians gave serious study to the stars and planets, “Chaldeans” were
identified with astrologers throughout the Hellenistic world” (http://www.usccb.org/bible/daniel/2#34002002-1).
 Stefanovic, op. cit., p. 57.
Interestingly, the name “Nebuchadnezzar” is also a corruption of the actual Babylonian name “Nabu-kudurri-usur” (or “Nebuchadrezzar”), which means “Nabu protect my
boundary stone” (Hammer, op. cit., p. 19). “Nabu” was one of the Babylonian gods.
 Similarly, Daniel didn’t seem to mind when Nebuchadnezzar actually
prostrated to him (2:46). In fact, this
part of the story so disturbed Josephus that he attempted to interpret it in a
way that seemed less blasphemous. As
historian, Josephus, was troubled by the language and tried to interpret
Nebuchadnezzar’s action as his recognition of Daniel’s God-given wisdom. Hence, the king venerates not so much Daniel
as God who had revealed the secret to Daniel” (Ibid., p.
Some later Jewish interpreters also simply assumed
that Daniel declined the homage paid to him, though the text does not describe
his reaction (The Jewish Study Bible, op. cit., p. 1646).
 Hammer, op. cit., p. 48.
See also The Jewish Study Bible, op. cit.,
 Hammer, op. cit., p. 48.
For the text of “The Prayer of Nabonidus”, see Geza
Vermes, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English (New York: The Penguin
Press, 1997), p. 573.
While some scholars dated this story as being older
than the Book of Daniel, Vermes considered a late 2nd-century or
even early first-century BCE date “to be less adventurous” (Ibid.). In either case, it is
proof of variant legends about the Babylonian kings that were circulating among
 Hammer, op. cit., p. 49.
 For example, Stefanovic claims that the Aramaic word for “father” could
mean “a grandfather” or “a remote ancestor” (Stefanovic, op. cit., p. 180).
However, he does admit that “there is no material proof” for the claim that Belshazzar was “Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson through
his mother but not his father” (some apologists have suggested
that the queen was a widow or daughter of Nebuchadnezzar whom Nabonidus had
married). Also, as Hammer notes,
Belshazzar was already an adult when Nabonidus had become king. Thus, he could not be considered “the actual son of
such a marriage” (Hammer, op. cit., p. 63).
 Hammer, op. cit., p. 66.
 Hammer, op. cit., p. 66.
 For example, one proposed apologetic solution to the enigma of “Darius the Mede” is that he was the Persian general Gobryas or one of Cyrus’ relatives,
who had been made “king of Babel in name” (http://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/eq/daniel_aalders.pdf).
But this “explanation” is typical of
apologists. Without any recourse to the
pesky thing known as “evidence”, these apologists make an assumption and then
assume that the assumption could be true!
Similarly, Stefanovic proposes the view that “Darius the Mede” was the “Median title” or “throne name” of Cyrus the Great, although again, he presents no reasonable evidence
(Stefanovic, op. cit., p. 200).
The fact is that while Cyrus was known as “King of the Medes” (because
he had conquered the Media before conquering Babylon), no historical source
refers to him as “Darius the Mede” or even just
Fortunately, other Christian sources analyze the
Bible based on the evidence. Thus, the
USCCB admits that “Darius the Mede” was:
of the Book of Daniel. The Median kingdom did not exist at this time because it
had already been conquered by Cyrus the Persian. […] The character of Darius
the Mede has probably been modeled on that of the Persian king Darius the Great
(522–486 B.C.), the second successor of Cyrus” (http://www.usccb.org/bible/daniel/6#34006001-1).
As it turns out, this sort of confusion is not
unusual for ancient sources and is found in other historical sources as
well. As the Encyclopedia Iranica
have proposed that verse 6:28 should be interpreted as referring not to Darius
and Cyrus but to Darius as a throne name for Cyrus (Wiseman, p. 15); the age of
sixty-two years would certainly fit with the facts known about the life of
Cyrus. D. J. Wiseman (pp. 12-14) has suggested further that all the names of
the Achaemenid kings were throne names, hence liable to confusion in the minds
of subjects living far from the court. As the names of the Achaemenid kings
were later lost, even in the Persian tradition, it is not surprising that in an
area far from Persia the names and events of the Achaemenid period were reported
incorrectly. Failure to recognize the distinction between Mede and Persian is,
of course, found in other texts and was not unusual” (http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/darius-ii).
In fact, the author of the Book of Daniel also
erred in regards to another Persian ruler, a certain “Darius son of
Ahasuerus” (Daniel 9:1).
The name “Ahasuerus” was the Hebrew version of the Persian name
“Xerxes”, but we know of no Persian ruler named “Xerxes” who had a son named
“Darius” (Hammer, op. cit., p. 96).
In fact, the historical Xerxes (485–465 BCE) was the son of Darius I
(521-486 BCE) (Ibid.). Moreover, neither
Darius nor Xerxes were Medes “by descent”, as claimed in the
opening verse of chapter 9 (The Jewish Study Bible, op. cit., p.
Thus, it seems likely that the author simply
confused the names of the Persian rulers.
However, in the case of “Darius son of Ahasuerus”, it is also possible
that the author was trying to harmonize the Persian background of Darius and
Xerxes with the “Darius the Mede” of chapter 6
In other words, Cyrus the Great was a follower of
the Zoroastrian religion, a monotheistic religion which worshiped the god
“Ahura Mazda”. Thus, for Cyrus to issue
a “decree” requiring all of his subjects to pray to him only, even if for a
30-day period, is historically implausible.
Christian apologists have struggled to explain this
historical problem, and have suggested ridiculous theories as a result. For example, Stefanovic writes:
“If the king in
question was Cyrus, who was very popular in Babylon, a decree of this kind
would have made sense during the period when the gods from the temples of the
surrounding towns were still in Babylon or were in the process of being
returned to the temples from which they had been taken” (Stefanovic, op. cit., p. 215).
Unfortunately, this theory fails to take the
religious beliefs of Cyrus’ court into account and is simply an
assumption. Moreover, why would Cyrus
have made such the violation of this decree a capital offense simply because
the other gods were still being moved to their respective temples?
It would seem that, in all likelihood, the story of
Cyrus’ decree was an anachronism and was influenced by the historical context
of 2nd-century Palestine, when it was under Seleucid control. Unlike the Persian kings, Greek kings were
not above demanding that they be worshiped, and as we have seen already,
Antiochus IV considered himself to be divine and worthy of worship, as the
title “Epiphanes” shows (see note #194).
 The Jewish Study Bible, op. cit., p. 1654.
 For an analysis of some Biblical prophecies, see the articles:
 The famous Maccabean Revolt succeeded in wresting control of Judea from
the Seleucids, leading to the creation of the Hasmonean dynasty, which would
rule the Holy Land until 63 BCE, when it was conquered by the Roman leader
Pompey (Vermes, op. cit., p. 52).
Some Christian apologists claim that the dream was
actually predicting the rise of the Roman Empire as well, claiming that the
second kingdom of silver was actually a combined Medo-Persian Empire and the
third kingdom was that of Greece. Thus,
the fourth kingdom was Rome (https://bible.org/article/introduction-book-daniel#P79_15948). This interpretation was
seemingly shared by the medieval Jewish commentator Rashi, who explained in his
commentary to Daniel 2:44 that the kingdom of the Messiah was to be set-up
during the time of the Roman Empire (http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16485#showrashi=true).
However, even if this interpretation is correct, it
still ends in a false prophecy since the apologists still fail to take the rest
of the dream into consideration. If Rome
was the last of the earthly kingdoms, then which divine kingdom replaced it and
has endured ever since? One also has to
wonder what Messianic kingdom was set-up during the time of the Roman Empire,
as Rashi thought. The answer is there
was no such kingdom!
Furthermore, it is actually more likely that the
author regarded Media and Persia as two separate empires. When the mysterious hand predicted the fall
of Belshazzar’s kingdom, it clearly stated (according to Daniel) that
Belshazzar’s kingdom was:
“…divided and given
to the Medes and Persians” (Daniel 5:28).
 In chapter 8, another vision represented the earthly kingdoms of
chapter 7 in symbolic language, depicting them as different animals, a literary
technique that clearly influenced the author of the Book of Revelation. For example, a joint Median-Persian kingdom
was represented by a ram (which contradicts chapter 5), while the kingdom of
Greece was represented by a goat. But
when the power of the goat was broken and replaced by smaller kingdoms (horns),
one particular horn gained prominence.
As previously explained, the kingdom of Alexander the Great was broken
up into 4 smaller kingdoms, one of which became more powerful than the others
(the Seleucid kingdom). Based on this
historical context, it is clear that the small horn described in verse 9 was
none other than the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes, whose name literally
meant “god manifest” (The Jewish Study Bible, op.
cit., p. 1642). In chapter 7, the
“little” horn is described as having “a mouth that spoke boastfully” (Daniel 7:8), a clear reference to Antiochus’ claims to divinity.
Additionally, in chapter 8, the horn is described
as taking away “the daily sacrifice”, another clear
reference to Antiochus, who “suppressed the practice of Judaism and turned the Temple
into a pagan worship site” (The Jewish Study Bible, op.
cit., p. 1658).
 The Jewish Study Bible, op. cit., pp. 1664-1665.
 Hammer, op. cit., p. 112.
Most scholars believe that the 1,335 days are
either an editorial “gloss” or an “interpolation” which was added to extend the
time period when earlier estimates failed to pin point the exact time. As Hammer explains:
“…the time of
severe persecution will last for three and a half years, as in 7:25. […] In place of the 1150 days (cp. 8:14) we
have successive changes to 1290 and 1335 days (12:11f.), but whether these are
glosses or not is unclear” (Ibid., p. 118).
He further adds (emphasis in the original):
“[t]he majority of
commentators take these verses as successive glosses which seek to prolong the time
of waiting. […] The first correction to
1290 days may be an attempt to give the longest period for three and a half
years. The addition of another 45 days
could perhaps have been intended to provide further time for the establishment
of the new kingdom after the death of Antiochus and the rededication of
the temple to the worship of Yahweh” (Ibid., p. 119).
 In this regard, the Book of Daniel is similar to the Book of
Revelation. Both books have been used to
predict the “end times” by fanatics.
 There are many such
theories (see note #2 for an example), and it is outside the scope of this
article to discuss them. However, since
we have already established that the events described in the Book of Daniel were
supposed to happen in the 2nd-century BCE, there is no need to waste
time in discussing the silly theories made by some fanatics!
 For example, according to the Christian apologist Matt Slick of the
“Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry” (CARM), Daniel 9:
“…is certainly an
amazing prophecy that one definitely should use in his or her apologetic case
for Jesus as the Messiah” (https://carm.org/does-daniel-9-24-27-predict-jesus).
For the interpretation of the “seventy sevens” as
490 years, see Hammer, op. cit., p. 98.
Also, see The Jewish Study Bible, op. cit., p. 1660.
“…though it is
difficult to demonstrate the exact time of the decree for the start date or the
exact date of Christ’s crucifixion, Daniel definitely predicts an event that
would take place extremely close to Christ’s life” (http://carm.org/does-daniel-9-24-27-predict-jesus).
 Quoting other Christian apologists, Slick writes:
and Kaiser note, ‘Whoever the Messiah is, He will appear on the scene after the
rebuilding of Jerusalem (Dan. 9:25-26) and be killed before Jerusalem and
the temple are again destroyed’” (Ibid.)
 Hammer, op. cit., p. 95.
 The Jewish Study Bible, op. cit., p. 1660.
For the identification of the first “Anointed One”
with either Zerubbabel or Joshua and the second one with Onias III, also see
Hammer, op. cit., p. 99.
Thus, Matt Slick’s rather excited declaration that
Daniel 9 is referring to the coming of the Messiah because “[t]he text uses
the word Messiah!” is premature.
The verse may be “messianic” but not in the sense that Slick and other
Christians want it to be.
 Apologists may argue
that it is only a 4 year difference, but since they are the ones arguing that “[o]nly God could
have predicted the coming of His Son with such amazing precision”, it would be fair to
say that God seemed to miss the date by 4 years, a gap that is very unbecoming
of the Almighty (Ibid.)!
interpretation also ignores the obvious parallels between Daniel 9:24-27 on the one hand, and Daniel 8:9-26; 11:31-45 on the other. Actually, all three
passages unmistakably describe Antiochus Epiphanes committing a desolating
sacrilege or "abomination that makes desolate" at the Temple and
bringing normal Jewish sacrifices to an end for about three and a half years
(cf. Daniel 7:25; 12:6-7,11). Daniel 9 places this event at the end of the
seventy weeks, and the other two passages place it at "the time of the
end." The "abominations" of "the prince who is to
come" in Daniel 9 are to be understood in the light of
the unspeakable blasphemies of Antiochus Epiphanes described in the other two
passages (cf. also Daniel 7:8,20,25)” (http://infidels.org/library/modern/chris_sandoval/daniel.html#origin).
 Similarly, the theory
that the proclamation of Artaxerxes (Nehemiah 2:1-8) was the starting point
also fails. The claim that the
proclamation was made in the year 444 BCE is simply an assumption which has no
historical evidence to support it. As
the website “Jews For Judaism” observes:
“…there is no
reliable source stating that it occurred exactly in 444 BCE. It seems that
Christian [sic] picked this passage out of
convenience and assigned it this specific date, because if you start at 444 BCE
and count 69 weeks of years (483 years) you reach 39 CE” (https://jewsforjudaism.org/knowledge/articles/answers/jewish-polemics/texts/daniel-9-a-true-biblical-interpretation/).
fact, even Slick admits that this date is unlikely:
recorded in Nehemiah is unlikely to be the decree that Daniel is referring to
since he expresses disappointment that the rebuilding had not already taken
 We have already seen
that the prophecies in Daniel 9 cannot be referring to Jesus (peace be upon
him), given the clear historical context.
lived in the 11th-century CE, so he was obviously still expecting
the coming of the Messiah.
 Of course, Rashi’s
attempt at applying the events discussed in chapter 9 to the Roman conquest was
simply mistaken. The internal evidence
suggests that the events were supposed to occur during the era of Seleucid
rule, as shown above. Even so, the pagan
altar set-up by Antiochus IV has also disappeared from history!
may argue that these events will be fulfilled during the second coming, but
this argument fails because the Tanakh does not mention a “second coming” of
the Messiah anywhere.
 The above Christian
website claims the following:
“…Christians have a
clear basis for their Messianic interpretation of Daniel 9:24-27, namely, that
the Messiah died for the sins of the world during the very times specified by
this is simply wishful thinking and just another example of apologists
inserting their own preconceived notions into the text. There is no mention of the Messiah dying for
anyone’s sins, whether it was the Jews only or the entire world. In fact, there is no mention of the Messiah
at all, but rather two different “Anointed” individuals! In addition, the author of the Book of Daniel
clearly had very different “times” in mind from Rashi, as we have seen. He was clearly not referring to the
era of Roman domination, so Rashi was mistaken in that regard. The reason seems clear. Acknowledging the actual historical context
would have been an inconvenient truth!