Secret Service Theologian



THE opening statement of the Book of Daniel is here selected for special notice for two reasons. First, because the attack upon it would be serious, if sustained. And secondly and chiefly, because it is a typical specimen of the methods of the critics; and the inquiry may convince the reader of their unfitness to deal with any question of evidence. I am not here laying down the law, but seeking to afford materials to enable the reader to form his own opinion.
Dan. i. I reads: "In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem and besieged it." The German rationalists denounce this statement as a blunder. Their humble disciples, the English sceptics, accept their conclusion and blindly reproduce their arguments. Dr. Driver (more suo) takes a middle course and brands it as "doubtful" (Daniel, pp. xlviii and 2). I propose to show that the statement is historically accurate, and that its accuracy is established by the strict test of chronology.
For a complete and exhaustive analysis of the chronology I would refer to the "Chronological Treatise" in The Coming Prince.
A reference to Rawlinson's Five Great Monarchies (vol. iii. 488-494), and to Clinton's Fasti Hellenici, will show how thoroughly consistent the sacred history of this period appears to the mind of an historian or a chronologer, and how completely it harmonises with the history of Berosus. Jerusalem was first taken by the Chaldeans in the third year of Jehoiakim. His fourth year was current with the first year of Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. xxv. i). This accords with the statement of Berosus that Nebuchadnezzar's first expedition took place before his actual accession (Josephus, Apion, i. 19). Then follows the statement quoted at p. 27, ante. But here we must distinguish between the narrative of Josephus, which is full of errors, and his quotation from Berosus, which is consistent and definite. Dr. Driver tells us that on this expedition, when Nebuchadnezzar reached Carchemish, he was confronted by the Egyptian army, and defeated it; and that then, on hearing of his father's death, he hastened home across the desert. That German rationalists should have fallen into such a grotesque blunder as this, is proof of the blind malignity of their iconoclastic zeal that English scholars should adopt it is proof that they have not brought an independent judgment to bear on this controversy. What Berosus says is that when Nebuchadnezzar heard of his father's death, "he set the affairs of Egypt and the other countries in order, and committed the captives he had taken from the Jews, and the Phenicians, and Syrians, and of the nations belonging to Egypt, to some of his friends, while he went in haste over the desert to Babylon." Will the critics tell us how he could have had Jewish captives if he had not invaded Judea; how he could have reached Egypt without marching through Palestine; how he could have returned to Babylon over the desert if he had set out from Carchemish on the Euphrates?
One error leads to another, and so Dr. Driver has to impugn also the accuracy of Jer. xlvi. 2 (which states that the battle of Carchemish was in Jehoiakim's fourth year), and further, to cook the chronology of Jehoiakim's reign by making his regnal years date from Tishri (p. xlix.)- a blunder that the Mishma exposes. (Treatise, Rosh Hashanah.) The regnal years of Jewish kings are always reckoned from Nisan.
According to the Canon of Ptolemy, the reign of Nebuchadnezzar dates from B.C. 604: i.e. his accession was in the year beginning the 1st Thoth (which fell in January), B.C. 604. But the Captivity began in Nebuchadnezzar's eighth year (cf. Ezek. i. 2, and 2 Kings xxiv. 12); and in the thirty-seventh year of the Captivity Nebuchadnezzar's successor was on the throne (2 Kings xxv. 27). This, however, gives Nebuchadnezzar a reign of at least forty-four years, whereas according to the canon (and Berosus confirms it) he reigned only forty-three years. It follows, therefore, that Scripture antedates his reign and computes it from B.C. 605. (Clinton, F. H., vol. i. p. 367.) This might be explained by the fact that the Jews acknowledged him as suzerain from that date. But it has been overlooked that it is accounted for by the Mishna rule of computing regnal years from Nisan to Nisan. In B.C. 604, the first Nisan fell on the 1st April, and according to the Mishna rule the king's second year would begin on that day, no matter how recently he had ascended the throne. Therefore the fourth year of Jehoiakim and the first year of Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. xxv. i) was the year beginning Nisan B.C. 605; and the third year of Jehoiakim, in which Jerusalem was taken and the Servitude began, was the year beginning Nisan B.C. 6o6. This result is confirmed by Clinton, who fixes the summer of B.C. 6o6 as the date of Nebuchadnezzar's first expedition. And it is strikingly confirmed also by a statement in Daniel which is the basis of one of the quibbles of the critics: Daniel was kept three years in training before he was admitted to the king's presence, and yet he interpreted the king's dream in his second year (Dan. i. 5, 18; ii. i). The explanation is simple. While the Jews in Palestine computed Nebuchadnezzar's reign in their own way, Daniel, a citizen of Babylon and a courtier, of course accepted the reckoning in use around him. But as the prophet was exiled in B.C. 6o6, his three years' probation ended in B.C. 603, whereas the second year of Nebuchadnezzar, reckoned from his actual accession, extended to the early months of B.C. 602.
B.C. 561, and the thirty-seventh year of the Captivity was then current (2 Kings xxv. 27). Therefore the Captivity dated from the year Nisan 598 to Nisan 597. But this was (according to Jewish reckoning) the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings xxiv. 12). His reign, therefore, dated from the year Nisan 605 to Nisan 604. And the first siege of Jerusalem and the beginning of the Servitude was in the preceding year, 606-605. But seventy years was the appointed duration of the Servitude (not the Captivity, see p. 21, ante). And the Servitude ended in the first year of Cyrus, B.C. 536. It must therefore have begun in B.C. 606 (the third year of Jehoiakim), as the Book of Daniel records. That date, therefore, is the pivot on which the whole chronology turns. On what ground then does Dr. Driver impugn it? Will it be believed that the only ground suggested is that 2 Kings xxiv. r, which so definitely confirms Daniel, does not specify the particular year intended, and that Jeremiah xxv. and xxxvi. are silent with regard to the invasion of that year.
Let me examine this. I open Jer. xxv. to find these words: "The word that came to Jeremiah . . . in the fourth year of Jehoiakim . . that was the first year of Nebuchadrezzar, king of Babylon." Now Jeremiah had been a prophet for more than twenty years, yet till the fourth year of Jehoiakim he never mentions Nebuchadnezzar; but in that year he fixes a date by reference to his reign.
How is this to be explained? The explanation is obvious, namely that by the capture of Jerusalem, the year before, as recorded in Dan. I. I, and 2 Chron. xxxvi. 6, 7, Nebuchadnezzar had become suzerain. And yet Professor Driver tells us that "the invasion of Judea by Nebuchadnezzar, and the three years' submission of Jehoiakim, are certainly to be placed after Jehoiakim's fourth year - most probably indeed, towards the close of his reign" (Daniel, p. 2).
I now turn to Jer. xxxvi. This chapter records prophecies of the fourth and fifth year of Jehoiakim (vers. i and 9), and it is true that they do not mention an invasion before these years. But the critic has overlooked chapter xxxv. This chapter belongs to the same group as the chapter which follows it, and should of course be assigned to a date not later than the fourth year of the king. And in this chapter (verse ii) the presence of the Rechabites in Jerusalem is accounted for by the fact that Nebuchadnezzar's invasion had driven them from their homes. This chapter also thus affords signal confirmation of Daniel. The critics therefore hold, of course, that it belongs to the close of Jehoiakim's reign. And if we ask, Why should the history be turned upside down in this way? they answer, Because the prophecies of the earlier years of his reign are silent as to this invasion! This is a typical illustration of their logic and their methods.
I will only add that the silence of a witness is a familiar problem with the man of affairs, who will sometimes account for it in a manner that may seem strange to the student at his desk. It may be due, not to ignorance of the event in question, but to the fact that that event was prominently present to the minds of all concerned.

THE following is Professor Sayce's rendering of the concluding (decipherable) portion of the Annalistic tablet of Cyrus "On the fourteenth day of the month Sippara was taken without fighting; Nabonidos fled. On the sixteenth day Gobryas (Ugbaru), the Governor of the country of Kurdistan (Gutium), and the soldiers of Cyrus, entered Babylon without fighting. Afterwards Nabonidos was captured, after being bound in Babylon. At the end of the month Tammuz the javelin-throwers of the country of Kurdistan guarded the gates of E-Saggil; no cessation of services took place in E-Saggil and the other temples, but no special festival was observed. The third day of the month Marchesvan (October) Cyrus entered Babylon. Dissensions were allayed before him. Peace to the city did Cyrus establish, peace to all the province of Babylon did Gobryas his governor proclaim. Governors in Babylon he appointed. From the month Chisleu to the month Adar (November to February) the gods of the country of Accad, whom Nabonidos had transferred to Babylon, returned to their own cities. The eleventh day of the month Marchesvan, during the night, Gobryas was on the bank of the river.
The wife of the king died. From the twenty- seventh day of Adar to the third day of Nisan there was lamentation in the country of Accad; all the people smote their heads. On the fourth day Kambyses the son of Cyrus conducted the burial at the temple of the Sceptre of the world. The priest of the temple of the Sceptre of Nebo, who upbears the sceptre [of Nebo in the temple of the god], in an Elamite robe took the hands of Nebo, . . . the son of the king (Kambyses) [offered] free-will offerings in full to ten times [the usual amount]. He confined to E-Saggil the [image] of Nebo. Victims before Bel to ten times [the usual amount he sacrificed]." The reader’s surprise will naturally be excited on learning that the tablet is so mutilated and defective that the text has here and there to be reconstructed, and that the above, while purporting to be merely a translation is, in fact, also a reconstruction. I will here confine myself, however, to one point of principal importance.
1 wish to acknowledge my obligation to the Rev. John Uquhart, the author of The Inspiration and Accuracy of the Holy Scriptures, for placing this letter at my disposal.

Mr. Theo. G. Pinches, by whom this very tablet was first brought to light, is perfectly clear that the reading "the wjfe of the king died" cannot be sustained. He writes as follows 1 (I omit the cuneiform characters) "Professor Sayce has adopted a suggestion of Professor Schrader. The characters cannot be . ‘and the wife of,’ but must be either . . . ‘and ‘(as I read it at first) or . . . ‘and the son of.’ This last improved reading I suggested about four years ago, and the Rev. C. J. Ball and Dr. Hagen, who examined the text with me, adopted this view. Dr. Hagen wrote upon the subject in Delitzsch’s Beitrage, vol. i. Of course, whether we read ‘and the king died,’ or ‘and the son of the king died,’ it comes to the same thing, as either expression could refer to Belshazzar, who, after his father’s flight, would naturally be at the head of affairs."

The following extract is from Mr. Pinches’s article "Belshazzar" in the new edition of Smith’s Bible Dictionary

"As is well known, Beishazzar was, according to Daniel v., killed in the night, and Xenophon (Cyrop., vii. 5, 3) tells us that Babylon was taken by Cyrus during the night, whilst the inhabitants were engaged in feasting and revelry, and that the king was killed. So in the Babylonian Chronicle, lines 22—24, we have the statement that ‘On the night of the 11th of Marchesvan, Ugbaru (Gobryas) [descended?] against [Babylon?] and the king died. From the 27th of Adar until the 3rd of Nisan there was weeping in Akkad. All the people bowed their head.’ The most doubtful character in the above extract is that which stands for the word ‘and,’ the character in question having been regarded as the large group which stands for that word. A close examination of the original, however, shows that it is possible that there are two characters instead of one—namely, the small character for ‘and,’ and the character tur, which in this connection would stand for u mar, ‘and the son of’ in which case the line would read, ‘and the son of the king died.’ Weeping in Akkad for Belshazzar is just what would be expected, when we take into consideration that he was for many years with the army there, and that he must have made himself a favourite by his liberality to the Akkadian temples. Even supposing, however, that the old reading is the right one, it is nevertheless possible that the passage refers to Belshazzar; for Berosus relates that Nabonidos, on surrendering to Cyrus, had his life spared, and that a principality or estate was given to him in Carmania, where he died. It is therefore at least probable that Beishazzar was regarded even by the Babylonians as king, especially after his father’s surrender. With this improved reading of the Babylonian text, it is impossible to do otherwise than identify Gobryas with Darius the Mede (if we suppose that the last verse of the 5th chapter of Daniel really belongs to that chapter, and does not form part, as in the Hebrew text, of chap. vi.), he being mentioned, in the Babylonian Chronicle, in direct connection with the death of the king’s son (or the king, as the case may be). This identification, though not without its difficulties, receives a certain amount of support from Daniel vi. I, where it is stated that ‘it pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes,’ &c.—an act which finds parallel in the Babylonian Chronicle, which states ‘that, after Cyrus promised peace to Babylon, Gobryas, his governor, appointed governors in Babylon."

On this same subject I am indebted to Mr. St. Chad Boscawen for the following note :— "Owing to the mutilated state of the latter part of the tablet, it is extremely difficult to arrange the events, and also in some cases to clearly understand the exact meanings of the sentences. As far as I can see, the course of events seems to have been as follows. Sippara was taken on the 14th of Tammuz, and two days later Babylon. Nabonidos had fled, but he was still recognised as king by the majority of the people, especially by rich trading communities such as the Egibi firm, who continued to date their contracts in his regnal years. At Sippara the people seem to have recognised Cyrus as king earlier than at Babylon, as the tablets of his accession year are all, with one exception, the source of which is not known, from Sippara. On the 3rd of Marchesvan Cyrus entered Babylon and appointed Gobryas (the prefect of Gutium) ‘prefect of the prefects’ (pikhat-pikhate) of Babylon; and he (Gobryas) appointed the other prefects. That reading of the sentence is perfectly legitimate. Cyrus seems only to have occupied himself with the restoration of religious order, and on restoring the gods to their temples who had been transported to Babylon. We have then a remarkable passage. Sayce reads ‘the wife of the king died’; but Hagen reads the son of the king, and I have examined this tablet, and find that although the tablet is here broken, the most probable reading is the son, not the wife."
"In Dan. v. we read, and ‘Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years.’ In a second passage, however, this is modified. We read, ‘In the first year of Darius, the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans, (ix. I); and again, ‘It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom a hundred and twenty princes’ (vi. I). Here we have an exact parallel to the case of Gobryas. Gobryas was a Manda—among whom were embraced the Medes, for Astyages, an undoubted Median king, ruler of the Median capital of Ecbatana, is called . . . a soldier of the Manda, or barbarians. He is appointed on the 3rd Marchesvan B.C. 538— after taking the kingdom on 16th Tammuz—'prefect of the prefects’; and he appoints other prefects over the kingdom. His reign did not last more than one year, terminating in either Adar 538 or early in B.C. 537. The end is rendered obscure by the fractures in the tablet. .
"If, then, Gubaru or Gobryas was prefect of Gutium before his conquest of Babylon in B.C. 538, there is nothing whatever against his being a Mede; and as Astyages was deposed by a revolt, when ‘he was taken by the hands of the rebels and given to Cyrus’ (Chronicle Inscr.), it is very probable that Gobryas was the leader of the conspiracy. Indeed he seems to me to fulfil in every way the required conditions to be Darius the Mede. . . . The appointment of the satraps does not seem exorbitantly large, nor are these to be confounded with the satrapies of the Persian empire."

And finally, in his Book of Daniel (p. xxx) Professor Driver, in citing the foregoing extract from the tablet, reads the crucial sentence thus :—" On the 11th day of Marchesvan, during the night, Gubaru made an assault and slew the king’s son." And at pp. 60, 6i he writes: "After Gubaru and Cyrus had entered Babylon he (Belshazzar) is said (according to the most probable reading) to have been slain by Gubaru ‘during the night,’ i.e. (apparently) in some assault made by night upon the fortress or palace to which he had withdrawn."
I will only add that, in view of the testimony of these witnesses, so thoroughly competent and impartial, it is not easy to restrain a feeling of indignation at the effrontery (not to use a stronger word) of Professor Sayce’s language in pp. 525, 526 of his book.
Go to Appendix 3

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