I read that: Book of Daniel is forgery because his author was very ill-informed about history. He said: Belshazzar succeed Nebuchadnezzar as his son (Daniel 5; cf. Daniel 7:1 and 8:1). But Belshazzar was neither his successor nor his son; and abundant contemporary records show he was never King of Babylon, but only served occasionally as regent under his father. Then Daniel’s author invents a king who never existed: Darius the Mede. Daniel claims he “took over the kingdom” after Belshazzar was killed (Daniel 5:30-31). In fact the actual king of the Babylonians was not killed. The Persians (not the Medes) took over Nabonidus’s kingdom, and spared his life. He even confused who fathered whom, getting the line of succession exactly backwards: Daniel says Darius was the son of Xerxes (Daniel 9:1); in fact Xerxes the Great was the son of Darius. Darius’s father was Hystaspes, a distant relative of Cyrus the Great. The Jewish Temple restored under Cyrus, 59 years after its sack (by Babylonians in 598, who were overthrown by Cyrus in 539), and thus the prophecy of Jeremiah that this would not happen for “70 years” was proved false, that 70 year timetable had to be “reinterpreted” so Jeremiah could be rescued from the charge of being a false prophet. Accomplishing this by reimagining, Daniel’s author did some weird math. When Daniel’s prophesied end of the world did not come into existence, Christians re-used his math to justify another hoax that it predicts Jesus death in the 30 A.D. What’s your response about this?
If you read my book, Daniel, Prophet to the Nations
(available at www.ipibooks.com
), you will find a detailed response to these criticisms. My overall response is this: Whoever gave out this list of criticisms is the one who is ill-informed about history–not Daniel. This critic exhibits quite a few areas in which they simply do not know the current state of historical information as it relates to the Book of Daniel. Like I said, a detailed response is found in my book, but I will give a very abbreviated response to each of the charges here:
The fact is that Belshazzar was the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar. This is recorded in an inscription which has been found at the ziggurat in Ur. The ziggurat tells us this. Evil-Merodoch, Nebuchadnezzar’s son was killed by Nabonidus in a palace coup. Nabonidus is recorded as the last reigning king in the ancient records, but what these records do not tell us is revealed at Ur. Nabonidus was not from the royal line, but, in order to somewhat legitimize his rule, he married the daughter of Nebuchadnezzar. Therefore, his son, Belshazzar, was the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, and a legitimate candidate for the throne of Babylon. In ancient accounts, grandchildren were often called “children” of their grandparents. Therefore, the description in Daniel is accurate. What Nabonidus did is he set up Belshazzar as regent king, as recorded in the inscription at Ur. He did not do this “occasionally!” Belshazaar served as regent, effectively reigning as king for 17 years. This is what the evidence suggests. This explains why Belshazzar offered the third place (not the second place) in the kingdom to the one who could interpret the writing on the wall in Daniel 5. Not only is Daniel accurate, but the incidental detail of the third place in the kingdom tells us that Daniel is more accurate than any other ancient document as it relates to the end of the dynasty of Nebuchadnezzar.
The second criticism is that there was no “Darius the Mede.” Unlike the first criticism, which is simply false, this second charge is not without basis. Here is what I mean. Up to this point, there is no record of this king, not of Persia, but of the province of Babylon, as described in Daniel. This is true. But lack of evidence is not evidence of lack. In other words, just because we do not have a direct record of this Median Darius, does not mean that he did not exist. In fact, until fairly recently, we had no record of Belshazzar either. Well, now we have our evidence, and, as usual, that evidence supports Daniel. It is not unreasonable, given the overall accuracy of Daniel and the inspired Old Testament in general, to assume that he was a real person, for whom we do not yet have a definite identity. Or at the very least, if we do not assume Daniel is correct (and he or an editor of Daniel in the 5th century BC would know), we can say that the jury is out on this person. We should remember that the Persian empire was, from its inception, the Persian/Mede empire. There was a dual government. Before Cyrus, the principal ruler of the dual empire was a Mede, but after Cyrus, it was a Persian. Therefore, it stands to reason that the second most powerful place in Persia, which would be the governor of the massive province of Babylon, would be a Median prince. In fact, the Mede Gubaru held this position, as records show. Daniel tells us that the name of the Median prince was Darius. I do not claim that we have proof of this person, but the charge above makes the false claim that this king “never existed.” How do we know this? This critic is not speaking carefully, but is throwing around unjustified mud against the reliability of Daniel without proper justification–especially considering the case of Belshazzar. To summarize, I cannot prove Daniel right, not do I claim to, but neither can this person prove him wrong (though he falsely claims to).
About Xerxes, the father of Darius, this person was obviously a Mede, not a Persian. He certainly was not the famous Xerxes, the Persian ruler. The one who is “confused” is this critic, as he is conflating the Median Xerxes of Daniel 9 with the historical Persian Xerxes, who ruled after Cyrus, Cambysses and Darius the Persian. I am confident that the author of Daniel would not make this mistake of more than fifty years and the wrong nationality.
As for the charge about the 70 years, again, this author is clearly misinformed about the dates. The temple was destroyed in 586 BC, not 597 BC. This is proved by reading Ezekiel, 2 Kings, Jeremiah or 2 Chronicles. This is a rather gross error on the part of this person. Cyrus gave permission to rebuild the temple, and the foundation was laid in about 535 BC, but, as Ezra reports, the building of the temple was put off, due to lack of funds and fear of enemies. Then, we can read Ezra, Zechariah or Haggai. All three inform us that the temple was completed in 516 BC. This was exactly 70 years after it was destroyed. Again, your source is mistaken about the history of the relevant period. This ignorance almost seems to be on purpose, given that it is pretty much common knowledge, based on multiple sources, that the temple was completed in 516 BC (Haggai 2:1,10, Ezra 4:1-5, Zechariah 7:9). This critic gets both the date of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple wrong–a gross error, and the date of its completion as well. Again, this proves that this critic is either misinformed, or, worse, is purposefully mishandling the data in order to discredit the Book of Daniel.
As to the last charge, would you be surprised at this point to know that this person is mishandling the data again? In Daniel 9:24-25, we are told that there would be seventy sevens (490 years, given Daniel 9:2,24) from the issue of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the coming of the Anointed One (Messiah) to Jerusalem (your holy city). The fact is that the first decree to rebuild Jerusalem (not merely the temple) was issued by Artaxerxes, as recorded in Ezra 7:11-26, and as completed by Nehemiah. This decree was produced in 458 BC, which is the “seventh year of Artaxerxes” (Ezra 7:8). If we add 490 years to 458 BC, remembering that there is no year zero AD/BC, then the prophecy is that the Messiah will come to Jerusalem in AD 33, or perhaps more cautiously, during the last of the seventy sevens (Daniel 9:25), which would mean between 26 and 33 AD. So much for this false charge that “Daniel’s author did some wierd math.” What is he talking about there? In any case, the author is wrong as well in his/her claim that Daniel is predicting the end of the world in Daniel 9. He is predicting the coming of the Messiah to Jerusalem, which precedes the destruction of Jerusalem (Daniel 9:26-27). This critic makes so many rather obvious mistakes and misstatements that he or she loses all credibility in my opinion. No, Daniel is an inspired prophet and writer, whose historical claims are always found reliable, except in the one case of Darius the Mede, which has not yet been proved, but has also not been disproved. The jury is out on that, but it confirms Daniel at all other points, showing Daniel to be more reliable that historians like Herodotus.
Given all this, you can safely dismiss the charges coming from this false witness.