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Old 09-04-2001, 01:13 AM   #1
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Post When was Daniel written?

As a JW I believed (or was rather told) that the book of Daniel was written by him whilst he was at Babylon. However I now see that scholars dispute this. Can anyone enlighten me as to why they think this please? I have found a site that puts up an arguement against this. Here it is:

Good question....Was Daniel written AFTER the events he foretold?


[Draft May 16, 1998; major revision Dec/2000]


Someone wrote in:

When was the book of Daniel written? Do we have any proof that it was written before the events it foretold happened? My professor told our class that it was written after the events and made to look like real prophecies.

A lot depends on which events/prophecies your professor is referring to:

1. the statute prophecy of Daniel 2

2. the tree vision/humbling of Nebuchadnezzar of Dan 4

3. the prophecy of the fall of Babylon to the Medes/Persians, of Dan 5

4. the beast visions of world empires in Daniel 7

5. the ram/goat/horn vision--identified as Media/Persia versus Greece, with likely reference to Antiochus Epiphanes, in Daniel 8

6. the 70 weeks prophecy of the Messiah, in Daniel 9

7. Prophecies of successive empires, with likely reference to Antiochus Epiphanes in Daniel 11

8. Prophecies of Israel's future and end-time events, in Daniel 12

The prophecies that are usually 'objected to' in this way are the detailed prophecies in chapter 11, especially with reference to 11.21-35 dealing with Antiochus Epiphanes. So we will concentrate on that section first, and then broaden the discussion to encompass some of the earlier prophecies (e.g. the triumph of Greece).

.................................................. .................................................. .............

Well, let's try to scope out the problem first--(1) when did the events Daniel (theoretically) referred to happen, and (2) when did he allegedly write the book?

One--The events in history (of Daniel 11)

It is generally accepted by scholars of ALL theological orientations that some of the elements of Daniel 11 were fulfilled (at least partially) by Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164 BC), with the 'abomination of desolation' being in 167 BC.

Josephus, for example, explicitly connected some of Daniel's prophecy to the Maccabean period:

"Though these dreams and visions all concern events in the future, there is considerable variation both in the timescale involved and in the scope of the events predicted. Some dreams predict events for the immediate future, some for the more distant future, and some for the very distant future. The dream of Pharaoh's butler indicated that he would be release from prison 'within three days' (Ant. 2.65). Events under Antiochus Epiphanes, on the other hand, had been predicted 'many years' in advance by Daniel, on the basis of his visions (10.276). As we saw in chapter 1, Josephus believed that Daniel had predicted events that occurred in the Roman period, and even events that were still to come from his own (Josephus') point of view" [HI:PFLST:63]

[Christians, under the guidance of Jesus in Matthew 24.15, speaking of some future manifestation of the 'abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel', saw this event as typological of a later, eschatological event, as well.]

This places the events under question (i.e., the prophetic elements) squarely in the period of the Maccabean revolt, ca. 168-165 B.C.

Two--When was the book written?

Most modern non-conservative scholars believe that Daniel (or at least the second half of Daniel, the section containing the passages in question) was written by someone other than Daniel either DURING these events or shortly thereafter. This view was first developed by the brilliant anti-Christian Porphyry in the 3rd century AD. The history of this view is given by Archer in EBC:

"The Maccabean date hypothesis, a widely held theory of the origin and date of the Book of Daniel, was originally advanced by the third-century A.D. Neoplatonic philosopher Porphyrius of Tyre. According to the relation of his opinions by Jerome (who spent much of his commentary on Daniel refuting Porphyry's arguments), Porphyry contended that the remarkably accurate "predictions" contained in Daniel (esp. ch. 11) were the result of a pious fraud, perpetrated by some zealous propagandist of the Maccabean movement, who wished to encourage a spirit of heroism among the Jewish patriots resisting Antiochus IV. The discomfiture of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar as related in Daniel were intended to be prophetic of the defeats and downfall of the hated Epiphanes.

"Following Jerome's refutation of Porphyry, he was more or less dismissed by Christian scholarship as a mere pagan detractor who had allowed a naturalistic bias to warp his judgment. But during the time of the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century, all supernatural elements in Scripture came under suspicion, and Porphyry's theory received increasing support from J.D. Michaelis (1771), J.G. Eichhorn (1780), L. Berthold (1806), F. Bleek (1822), and many others after them. They all agreed that every accurate prediction in Daniel was written after it had already been fulfilled (a vaticinium ex eventu) and therefore in the period of the Maccabean revolt (168-165 B.C.). Also some of them were inclined to question the unity of the book on the ground of internal evidence and language differences; certain portions of the book--particularly the narratives in chapters 2-6--were thought to come from third-century authors or even earlier. Essentially the same position is maintained even to this day by liberal scholars throughout Christendom. "

Collins [ABD, "Daniel, Book of"] cites Jerome's description:

"Quite apart from the historicity of the figure of Daniel, the authenticity of the book had already been questioned by the 3d century Neoplatonist philosopher Porphyry. We are informed by Jerome that: "Porphyry wrote his twelfth book against the prophecy of Daniel, denying that it was composed by the person to whom it is ascribed in its title, but rather by some individual living in Judaea at the time of that Antiochus who was surnamed Epiphanes; he further alleged that 'Daniel' did not foretell the future so much as he related the past, and lastly that whatever he spoke of up till the time of Antiochus contained authentic history, whereas anything he may have conjectured beyond that point was false, inasmuch as he would not have foreknown the future."

The alternative view, of conservative evangelicals, is that Daniel was written in the late 6th century BC, long before these events. EBC gives a summary:

"As to the date of the composition of Daniel, the narrative of the prophet's earliest experiences begins with his capture as a hostage by Nebuchadnezzar back in 605-604 B.C. and according to 1:21 continues certainly till the first year of Cyrus (c. 537 B.C.), in relation to his public service, and to the third year of Cyrus (535 B.C.), in relation to his prophetic ministry (Dan 10:1). Daniel seems to have revised and completed his memoirs during his retirement sometime about 532 or 530 B.C. when he would have been close to ninety years old (assuming his birth c. 620 B.C.). The appearance of Persian-derived governmental terms, even in the earlier chapters composed in Aramaic, strongly suggests that these chapters were given their final form after Persian had become the official language of government."

The issue--was it written BEFORE the events or NOT?

Notice carefully that our task is much more simple than would first appear. We do NOT have to demonstrate that the Book of Daniel was written according to conservative theories--in the 6th century BC. ALL we have to do (in this first part) is to demonstrate that it was written BEFORE 167 BC! If the prophecies were uttered even ten years before the event, then they constitute 'prophecy proper'.

Strictly speaking, all that is therefore necessary to do is to demonstrate that the material/content in the book of Daniel was in existence by the time of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. We don't even have to show that the book was in its current form at all-if we can even find references or close/obvious allusions to the images/languages in Daniel, we will have ante-dated the events, and hence, have encountered 'real' prophecy. [If we find data to support a MUCH earlier, perhaps 6th century provenance, then 'so much the better'.]

And this is a much simpler task...

I will survey the data in the following categories:

1. Do we have any copies of the Book of Daniel that either date BEFORE 167bc, or even somewhat later ones that virtually require the existence of the Danielic material before that time? [The Dead Sea Scrolls data]

2. Do we have any literary references or clear allusions to the Book in other pre-Maccabean extra-biblical literature?

3. Do we have any contrary data adequate to overturn any of the data in points 1 and 2 above [Internal Evidence: Historical and Linguistic]?

4. Is there any other data that is best explained by the "early dating" of the Book?

.................................................. .................................................. ...........................


The Christian ThinkTank...[] (Reference Abbreviations)


[ September 04, 2001: Message edited by: uncle_onion ]
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Old 09-04-2001, 08:26 AM   #2
Miles Vorkosigan
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"Christian Think Tank!" A contradiction in terms...

The Skeptical Review:

has been arguing about this for two years, so if you review the articles there, for 2001 and 2000, you can find all sorts of evidence showing that Daniel was written ~165 BCE.

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Old 09-04-2001, 09:01 PM   #3
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"Christian Think Tank!" A contradiction in terms...
Do you believe that Christians are incapable of thinking at the level that a non-Christian is capable of? Christianity merely establishes a framework of assumptions under which Christian thinkers choose to think and reason.

With what reason do you state that the Christian is unable to think as well within their framework of assumptions as you are within yours?

Now that I am through with that (as you are hopefully through with your's), here is another link that the thread originator may find helpful:

One of the often pointed out reasons that we can trust at least the early church's decisions regarding the New Testament canon is that one of their criteria was to avoid any book whose claim of authorship was assumed false or likely false. Why do Christians think it unfair to apply this method to the Old Testament?
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Old 09-12-2001, 12:50 PM   #4
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"With what reason do you state that the Christian is unable to think as well within their framework of assumptions as you are within yours?"


Well, what qualifies one to _be_ a Christian?

Once you answer this, I think you've answered why those of us who do not hold to a creed which accepts supernatural and extraordinary events as commonplace and demands unquestioning belief as demonstration of one's qualifications as a Christian as being just a bit dubious about claims of a "Christian think tank."

Then, you framed your response in terms of "within their framework of assumptions".... This is a bit of a cheat. Most folks can "think within the framework of their assumptions" as well as anyone else, and I will warrent that Christians throughout history have been excellent at this. The problem, though, _is_ the assumptions. Christians begin their thinking once having accepted a whole slew of assumptions which many of us find not only dubious, but totally unacceptable.

Had the claim been one for a "Christian faith tank", I'd have no quarrel or quibble.


As for your pretense of righteousness about tolerance, let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
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Old 09-12-2001, 01:15 PM   #5
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Originally posted by ChadD:

Do you believe that Christians are incapable of thinking at the level that a non-Christian is capable of? Christianity merely establishes a framework of assumptions under which Christian thinkers choose to think and reason.

Chad, most average believing Christians look at the world through a set of lenses (or "assumptions.") This necessarily conditions their viewpoint. Much of the dialogue between believers and outsiders is an argument over which "lenses" to view the faith and the world through.

Most American Christians, for example, see Jesus through the lens of the Gospel of John. They need their faith in black and white. That's why you always see "John 3:16" signs in the end zones of NFL games and why anti-Semitism is still a very real problem--and has been throughout our tradition. John's Jesus is one who speaks not in the ambiguity and oral intuitiveness of the parable, but in long, dense theological monologues--mostly about himself and the importance of believing in him. Gone is the sage of the pithy aphorism who undercuts the "conventional wisdom" of the common-sense pronouncements (germane to all the world's religions) found in biblical books such as Proverbs and Psalms.

Too many Christians, in my view, see reality through the very "grid"--or "framework of assumptions"--that Jesus tried to show us a way out from --the filter through which we view a rationalized world. Gains in predictability of dogma and accuracy of ritual are made at the expence of ambiguity, metaphor and intuition. In his authentic speech preserved in the New Testament, Jesus' vision leaves behind the reductive mode where decisions become rote and mechanical. Insight and spontaneity generated by parable, paradox and humor trumped--for a time--the state-sponsored terrorism of the Roman world and today gives us a similiar glimpse--if we can understand it and take it to heart--of what real transformation of the world and self means and what it can accomplish.
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Old 09-26-2001, 02:47 PM   #6
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Here is the text of a paper that I wrote about Daniel whilst taking a class in Apocalyptic Literature:

What are the distinctively apocalyptic features in the book of Daniel, and why was it written?
Lawrence Boadt ― echoing the work of P.R. Davies, Andre’ LaCocque, and others ― lists the characteristics of the apocalypse as follows: pseudonymity involving, or at least a call to, famous figures of the past; secretive, in that the writing must not be revealed until the events predicted come to pass; symbolic language; pessimistic view of the world; dualistic vision of good versus evil; determinism; confidence in divine intervention; universal struggle; intermediary beings, usually angels or demons; resurrection or a belief in an afterlife; visions of a new kingdom of the just; and a faith that old prophecies or promises will be fulfilled. Daniel has all of these characteristics. The namesake of the book, we are told, lived during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and the subsequent reign of the Persian Cyrus. There is no record of this Daniel from Ben Sira, who composed a list of great Old Testament heroes, but the name is significant. Ezekiel, which was written during the Exile, makes mention of Daniel as “an ancient figure of great holiness and wisdom.” The Ugaritic texts of the Canaanites have a wise and “righteous ruler of human or semi-divine proportions, the father of Aqhat,” who is named Dan’el. Although our Daniel may not have been a real person during the Exile, we see that the name is a call to a prominent figure of the past.

Daniel clearly fulfills the second qualification, a necessity for secrecy, in Chapter 12. The archangel, Michael, commands Daniel to “keep the words secret and the book sealed until the time of the end.” The language of Daniel, especially that of the latter half, is symbolic. This is important because only the elect were supposed to be able to decode its secret messages. Daniel has a statue that represents the continuity of time, fearsome beasts that represent empires and have horns that represent rulers, and a tree that represents the kingdom of Babylon, in addition to other hidden messages, such as secret words. This emphasis on the secrets of the elect is further represented in the language of the book’s writing. Daniel is partly written in Hebrew, which was the sacred language of the devout Jews in the post-exilic period. Further, the books itself states, “None of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand.”

Pessimism, dualism, and confidence in divine intervention are all present as well. Michael tells Daniel that the wise “shall fall by sword and flame, and suffer captivity and plunder.” There is a clear distinction between the wise, or the holy ones, and the wicked kings of the seventy weeks. The wise worship Yahweh, while the final wicked one “shall speak horrendous things against the God of gods.” However, the Ancient One will come and “judgment [will be] given for the holy ones of the Most High.” We can also see determinisim. As Bernhard Anderson notes, the Jews believed that “[h]istory was not spinning in circles, like the cycle of the seasons; nor was it governed by blind faith or chance.” God had set up events so that the Jewish exile of seventy years was repeated in Daniel’s seventy weeks of years. All of these things are revealed to Daniel by the archangel Michael, and he also speaks another angel, Gabriel, which fulfills the intermediary criterion.

The final three characteristics of apocalyptic literature ― universal struggle, the new kingdom, and a vision of the afterlife ― are also obviously present. All of the known nations of the world are involved in Daniel’s visions, and they all play a role in the deterministic structure. Finally, however, the kingdom of the Jews will come. When Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the statue, he concludes by saying, “And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall this kingdom be left to another people. It shall crush these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever.” Those that die in the struggle also have a reward. Michael tells Daniel, “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”

Now that Daniel has been established as an apocalyptic work, the next step is to attempt to determine its purpose. The historical background of the book is significant. P.R. Davies places the writing of Daniel firmly under the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, who ruled from 175-163 B.C.E. While some conservatives maintain that Daniel was written during the Babylonian exile and the beginning of the subsequent reign of Cyrus, Davies dispenses with this view handily with the following five points of historical inaccuracy: Darius the Mede does not exist; the Persians conquered the Babylonians, there was no Median interval; Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest of Jerusalem is not dated correctly; “Belshazzar was not a king of Babylon, nor was he a son of Nebuchadnezzar;” and the Babylonians did not forcefully attempt to impose a new cult on the Jews, nor did any Babylonian ruler ever convert to Judaism. Historical inaccuracies decrease in number as chronology moves towards Hellenistic rule, and events are mentioned with precision. This is evidence of vaticanum ex eventu. However, Daniel does attempt to make a genuine prophecy, in predicting the death of Antiochus Epiphanes, which is wholly inaccurate. This provides a reasonable case for the dating of the book.

Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.E.) conquered the whole of the known world before dying at the age of thirty-three. He left two legacies that are important to the Jews, and more specifically, the apocalyptic writers: a vision of the revival and spread of Greek culture throughout the world and an eastern kingdom divided by rivalry between Seleucus and Ptolomy, two of his generals. Contemporary Jews welcomed the early acceptance of Hellenism, learned the common koine Greek, and “produced a number of books, like the Wisdom of Solomon, which were influenced by a Hellenistic world view.” Although there were several resistance movements, including the beginnings of Hasidism, the Jews were relatively acclimated to and comfortable with Greek rule because they maintained a rather high level of religious autonomy. Their independence ended abruptly after Antiochus the Great defeated the Ptolomies in 198 B.C.E and began a vigorous Hellenistic reform. His successor, Antiochus IV, also called Antiochus Epiphanes because of his claim of being Zeus incarnate, fanatically enforced Hellenism, outlawing Jewish traditions entirely. His cruelty reached a zenith in 168 B.C.E. when he completely desecrated the Jewish temple, going so far as sacrificing swine on the altar and erecting an monolith to Zeus in its place. This act of sacrilege sparked the Maccabean revolution, which officially began in the village of Modein when Mattathias killed a Syrian officer and a Jew, the former for issuing an order to make a pagan sacrifice, and the latter for his compliance. The Maccabean revolt fully culminated under Mattathias’s son, Judas, and is characterized by the shout of Mattathias: “Let everyone who is zealous for the [Torah] and supports the covenant come out with me!” This is the historical and political climate in which the book of Daniel was born.

The purpose of Daniel is to encourage those faithful to Yahweh in their time of distress. All of Daniel’s prophecies foretell the end of foreign rule of the Jews. They tell the story of the Jews’ imminent defeat of their oppressors, and they culminate in a Jewish kingdom, which, as previously mentioned, lasts forever. However, it is important to note that in Daniel, the Maccabees do not defeat Antiochus; the Egyptians do. This reinforces the Hasidic belief in divine intervention and also satisfies Jewish nationalism: Antiochus “shall come to his end, with no one to help him.” If the Jews would merely remain faithful to Yahweh, He would provide for them. This is further represented in the court tales of Daniel 1-6. When King Nebuchadnezzar sets up a golden idol, which reminds one of the obelisk of Antiochus Epiphanes, and commands everyone in his kingdom to worship it on pain of death by being burned alive, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego openly refuse. Nebuchadnezzar is so incensed by this act of insolence that he orders the fires of the furnace to be stoked to seven times their normal temperature; the flames are so hot that the men who throw the bound men into the fire are killed. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego remained faithful to Yahweh and are rewarded by protection from the flames to the extent that “the hair of their heads was not singed, their tunics were not harmed, and not even the smell of fire came from them.” In fact, Yahweh, or one of His angels, even walked in the flames with them. The theme of passive resistance is further represented in the tale of Daniel in the lion’s den. Despite strict orders to the contrary, Daniel continues to pray to Yahweh thrice daily. The punishment for his faith is that he must be cast into a den of lions, where he will, presumably, be devoured. We are told that “no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.” Yahweh would protect and prosper his people, and He would do so soon.
A final note should be made about the deliverance of Israel. In Daniel’s vision of the four beasts, after the destruction of the final beast, Daniel recounts:
I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven. And he came to the Ancient One and was presented before him. To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed.

Here one can see what many modern Christians view as a messianic prophecy. Each of the four beasts represents a king, and Israel should be no different. John J. Collins, however, argues that “the only ruler of Israel in the eschatological time acknowledged in the Book of Daniel is Michael… [N]owhere in the book do we find either support for or interest in the Davidic monarchy.” The more plausible argument for the recipient of the kingdom of Israel is Michael and not a human messiah. Michael may have a fearsome description in chapter 10, but he is first depicted as “a man clothed in linen.” Also, we can see a parallel between the vision of the four beasts and the description of the seventy weeks. After the final beast is destroyed by God, the “one like a human being” arrives. After the final king dies in the explanation of the seventy weeks, “Michael, the great prince, the protector of your people, shall arise.” Once again, we see that kingdom of God will not be hailed by man, but by God, further reinforcing the Hasidic passive resistance. Yahweh would save the faithful, they did not need to intervene on His part.

Anderson, Bernhard W. The Living World of the Old Testament.
Boadt, Lawrence. Reading the Old Testament.
Collins, J. Daniel.
Davies, P.R. Daniel.
LaCocque, Andre’. Daniel in His Time.
Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version.

[Edited to make it easier to read, and to add one (I think) interesting point:
Darius isn't even a Median name.]

[ September 26, 2001: Message edited by: Cracker ]
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Old 09-27-2001, 02:48 AM   #7
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"Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest of Jerusalem is not dated correctly;"

I take it that you mean the Bible seems to say 70 years when it was actually 50,

“Belshazzar was not a king of Babylon, nor was he a son of Nebuchadnezzar;”

But it has been proved that he was the acting king whilst his father was away at war?

"and the Babylonians did not forcefully attempt to impose a new cult on the Jews, nor did any Babylonian ruler ever convert to Judaism. "

Not sure what you mean here?

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Old 10-30-2001, 12:44 AM   #8
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just bringing this to the top
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Old 11-24-2001, 09:52 PM   #9
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Originally posted by uncle_onion:
<STRONG>"Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest of Jerusalem is not dated correctly;" </STRONG>

I take it that you mean the Bible seems to say 70 years when it was actually 50,
Hi; just my 2 cents here. But I believe the refernce is to Dan 1:1:
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.

“Belshazzar was not a king of Babylon, nor was he a son of Nebuchadnezzar;”</STRONG>

But it has been proved that he was the acting king whilst his father was away at war?
But his father was Nabonidus, not Nebuchadnezzar. In fact, they weren't even related.

"and the Babylonians did not forcefully attempt to impose a new cult on the Jews, nor did any Babylonian ruler ever convert to Judaism. "</STRONG>

Not sure what you mean here?
The first reference is to the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who would not fall down and worship the golden image.

DAN 3:4 Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages,
DAN 3:5 That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up:
DAN 3:6 And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.
DAN 3:7 Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of musick, all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.
DAN 3:8 Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews.
DAN 3:9 They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever.
DAN 3:10 Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, shall fall down and worship the golden image:
DAN 3:11 And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.
DAN 3:12 There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

As for Babylonian rulers converting, this is a reference to Dan 4:34:
DAN 4:34 And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation:
DAN 4:35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
DAN 4:36 At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me.
DAN 4:37 Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.
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