Short Notes on Aspects not addressed in Sabbath School Lesson on Daniel 2


Elias Brasil de Souza of the Biblical Research Institute prepared the Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly for 2020 on Daniel.

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The purpose of the diagram is to show that God’s hand is constantly involved with history and with man and especially His faithful people.

Nebuchadnezzar came three times to Judah: 605 BCE when he took the king and Daniel the young man and his friends; 597 BCE when Jehoiakim just died and he took his son Jehoiachin and the prophet Ezechiel and left Zedekiah the brother of Jehoiakim on the throne; and finally in 586 BCE when he was brought by God to carry out the punishments predicted for a long time by a series of prophets for centuries. Jerusalem was burnt and the temple destroyed.

All this time God did not leave the faithful without navigation since He gave Judah the prophet Jeremiah.

Then after Nebuchadnezzar Amel-Marduk or Evil-Merodach ruled for two years and then two more kings were placed on the throne by a rivalry in religious politics between Marduk priests in the capital and Sin priests at Ur and Harran as was pointed out by the Adventist ANE scholar Siegfried Schwantes (1965, 3rd 1974) page 138. It brought Nabonidus on the throne, a Sin-god lover. His moon-cult obsession brought him, his daughter and his mother to Harran and himself at Tema for 10 years while he placed his son Bel-shar-uṣur on the throne.

Nabonidus left for Syria in 553 BCE. In 552 BCE he left Syria and went to Tema. In an inscription A. T. Clay, Miscellaneous Inscriptions in the Yale Collection, no. 45, I and II. See translation in Sidney Smith Babylonian Historical Texts pages 54-56, Nabonidus described how he built structures for the Sin-god at Harran and installed helped woman-ordination so that his daughter can be used as Highpriestess. She lived with the whores in the E.GI.PAR. Two times he asked if she can be Highpriestess and they said “No”. The third time they said “Yes”. He was a heretic and did not send the gods to Babylon and made priests angry at Babylon. He took Marduk’s symbol to his palace roof. Cyrus Cylinder, line 7 says that “he upset and confounded the worship of Marduk king of the gods”. Nabonidus was an archaeologist and did excavations at Ur (Smith, 55-66). He was literate. He changed the rituals. He used archaeology and literature to prooftext his changes. He was unwelcome with the priests. Nabonidus was “conservative” and skilled in Assyrian orthodoxy (Smith 63) but the Babylonian priests that Bel-shar-uṣur had to deal with, was “secular” with a Cyrus state of mind. Nabonidus was against Ea and Anu. He said that “Ea did not fashion Mummu, Anu did not know the name of Adapa” (Smith 68 citing the text BM 38299, Column V, lines 8-6). He rejected the Creation legend. He stopped the New Year festivals. He captured Tema in 552 BCE and stayed there until his 11th year in 544 BCE. It is not certain when he left Tema. It appears as if he was near Babylon the night Bel-shar-uṣur died.

Cyrus probably drove him out of Arabia in 539 and he may have fled to Babylon. He was imprisoned in Babylon since the text pleads that he should be kept that way and in 538 BCE the New Year festival was restored after the death of Bel-shar-uṣur in Column VI of BM 38299. The text ends with a curse on Nabonidus and a prayer for Cyrus.

Typical of dictator builders is the emphasized “I” in the text. Similar to the megalomania of his father Nebuchadnezzar, Nabonidus also said in BM 38299 “which I, I built” or ša abnu-u a-na-ku (Column II line 8). It is not necessary for him to use the independent first personal pronoun at the end since it is included already in the verbal form with the /a/ that can be seen in the front.

In another text, BM 35382 also called the Nabonidus Chronicle, which dates to the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, since the name of Artaxerxes I is in it, the takeover of Babylon is given in detail (see Smith pp. 98ff.).

Nabonidus’ problem with the absence of the New Year is clearly underlined in this text.

In the 17th year of Nabonidus, the year 538 the New Year festival started again BM 35382 Column III line 5.

In 539 BCE in Tishri on the 14th Cyrus took Sippar and Nabonidus fled (line 15). On the 16th Ugbaru or Gobryas “the governor of the Gutium” who Daniel identified as Darius the Mede, “entered Babylon without a battle” (Column II line 16). Nabonidus when he returned to Babylon, which means he was there but fled out that night of his son’s killing, when he returned was taken prisoner (Column III line 16).

Ugbaru or Gobryas or Darius the Mede reigned in Babylon at the Nabonidus Chronicle BM 35382 Column III line 20 reads “Gubaru, his [Cyrus] governor, appointed governors in Babylon”.


The case for Darius the Mede and the evidence of Shea

Cyrus recede somewhere else since the article by William Shea in AUSS (W. Shea, “A Vassal King of Babylon” AUSS Vol. IX no. 2 July 1971: 99-128) indicated with convincing evidence that there is a gap left for Darius the Mede to fit into these two years until December of 538 when Cyrus properly took over Babylon.

Here is the evidence of Shea in 1971:

Texts are listed from the first year of Cyrus in order to see if he is called both the king of Babylon and King of the Lands or not? If not, who was at the helm from the 16th of Tishri in 539 when Ugbaru entered the city?



Group I and II but also III [a gap in his first year to call him “King of Babylon”]

Cyrus 18



II First Regnal year of Cyrus (Titlary Texts)

March 24, 538 to March 11, 537

Reference        Year     Month Day                    Title

RECC 5            1           I            4                        King of Babylon             King of Lands

Cyrus 12           1           I            7                                                                 King of Lands

BLC C I            1           I            30                                                              King of Lands

RECC 10          1           II          1                                                                 King of Lands

BRLM 58          1           II          8                                                                King of Lands

Cyrus 15           1           II          25                                                              King of Lands

RECC 8            1           II          30                                                              King of Lands

RECC 9            1           III        5                                                                 King of Lands

RECC 6            1           IV         29                                                              King of Lands

TCL XIII 124  1           V          1                                                                 King of Lands

GCCI II 10      1           VI         1                                                                 King of Lands

RECC 7            1           VI         __                                                             King of Lands

BM 56154        1           VII       23/25              King of Babylon              [King of Lands]

Cyrus 1            1           VII                              King of Babylon               King of Lands

TCL XIII 125  1           VIII     8                                                                 King of Lands

NBC 4761       1           VIII     12                                                                King of Lands

CUL 357          1           VIII     23                                                               King of Lands

BRLM 57        1           IX        20                                                                King of Lands

MLC 1824      1           ___     3                                                                   King of Lands

RECC 13         1           ___     14                                                                King of Lands

NBC 4713       1           ___     22                                                                King of Lands

RECC 16         1           ___     ___                                                              King of Lands

Cyrus 10         1           ___     ___                                                               King of Lands

Cyrus 15          1?         ___     ___                                                              King of Lands?

BLC C1           1           ___     ___                                                              King of Lands

Cyrus 18         1           X          __                         King of Babylon

NBRVT 21      1           [.]        [_]                         King of Babylon           [u KUR.KUR?]

Cyrus 22           1            XI         16                      King of Babylon            King of Lands

Cyrus 23           1            XI         17                      King of Babylon            King of Lands

NBRU 37          1            XI         18                                                              King of Lands

NBC 4664         1            XI         19                                                              King of Lands

Cyrus 24           1            XI         26                      King of Babylon             King of Lands

Cyrus 25           1            XI         27                       King of Babylon            King of Lands

VAS III 35        1            XI         28                      King of Babylon            King of Lands

Cyrus 26           1            XI         29                      King of Babylon            King of Lands

Cyrus 27           1            XII       2                         King of Babylon            King of Lands

Cyrus 30           1            XII       18                       King of Babylon            King of Lands

Cyrus 29           1            XII       26                      King of Babylon            King of Lands

VAS III 60        1            XII       28                      King of Babylon            King of Lands

Cyrus 31           1            ___      ___                     King of Babylon            King of Lands



Unpublished Texts from the First Four Years of Cyrus

Reference        Year     Month                            Title

NBC 4761       1           VIII                                                                        King of Lands

NBC 4664       1           XI                                                                           King of Lands

MLC 1824       1            ___                                                                         King of Lands

NBC 4713        1            ___                                                                         King of Lands

UM 29-15-553 2           IX                                    King of Babylon            King of Lands

YBC 7048        2           XI                                                                            King of Lands

MLC 492          2           XI                                    King of Babylon            King of Lands

NBC 8342         2           XI                                    King of Babylon            King of Lands

UM 29-15-551  2           ___                                 King of Babylon            King of Lands

NCBT 1135       2           ___                                 King of Babylon            King of Lands

NBC 8396         3           II                                     King of Babylon            King of Lands

NCBT 685        3           IV                                    King of Babylon            King of Lands

1 NT 283           3           VIII                                                                         King of Lands

A 3699              3           XII                                  King of Babylon            King of Lands

NBC 6220         3           ___                                 King of Babylon            King of Lands

NBC 6182         4           II                                     King of Babylon            King of Lands

NBC 8379         4           V                                                                              King of Lands

NBC 8361         4           VIb                                  King of Babylon            King of Lands

NBC 4650         4           XI                                    King of Babylon            King of Lands

NBC 4663         4           ___                                 King of Babylon            King of Lands

NBCT 1237       4           ___                                 King of Babylon            King of Lands


From these texts it is clear that on the IX month in 538 BCE was the first time that Cyrus was called King of Babylon and King of the Lands. There is a gap left, a empty zone in Babylon for someone to have ruled for two years since the takeover on the 16th of Tishri, the VII month of the previous year in 539 BCE. Ugbaru or Gobryas is the only individual around according to the cuneiform evidence and secondly, Daniel was only direct eyewitness account naming him Darius the Mede.


Age of Daniel

Chapter one of Daniel ended with the news that Daniel continued until the first year of Cyrus which is month IX in 538 BCE. 605 – 538 = 67 + 18 years old = 85 years old when he wrote Daniel 1.


Theme of Daniel

What is the main theme of Daniel? Psalm 137:4 provides the theme of Daniel:

“How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land.”

Daniel book is to show how he sang the Lord’s song in a strange land.


Third ruler offer

The night that Bel-shar-uṣur died he offered Daniel the gift of the 3rd ruler in the reign. Why 3rd? Because he himself was 2nd and his father was 1st.


Education challenges

Daniel had to use Aramaic with yam for the Hebrew word yom and umu for Akkadian or UD for Sumerian all meaning “day”. The script for Akkadian and Sumerian was different than Aramaic and Hebrew.


Name change issues

The grandson of Nebuchadnezzar would be Bel-shar-uṣur meaning: “(god) Bel helps the king (shar)”. This was the name that Nebuchadnezzar had in mind for Daniel (Daniel 4:8) where he was convinced that Daniel had his god’s name, but as Hasel pointed out in an article, Daniel did not have the god’s name. Secondly, Daniel’s name was not Bel-shar-uṣur but Bel[t]-shar-uṣur and this infixed /t/ makes a heap of difference in linguistics and semantics of the name of Daniel now. His name was modified, not textcritically, or saying that they call him the first in public but he modified it in literature with the /t/. No. He was accepted with this modification. There is evidence from the Murashu Brothers Texts from the time of Artaxerxes I or the days shortly after Ezra left in 457 BCE, namely in 454 BCE that some Jews who were called Shamash-shar-uṣur made their name nonsense by modifying it to Shamash[MESH]-shar-uṣur which means instead of “the god Shamash [=sun] helps the king” it is now modified to “the suns helps the king”. There is only one sun thus it is nonsense.

See here the article by Daiches on Jewish names during the reign of Artaxerxes I and Darius II.


S. Daiches, 1910 "The Jews in Babylonia in the Time of Ezra and Nehemia according to Babylonian Inscriptions" (London). Downloaded from archive.

As W. Shea indicated in his articles on the matter in AUSS in 1988 also, that Abed-Nego was supposed to be Ebed-Nebo or “servant of Nebo” but it was changed by these Hebrews probably with permission from the authorities to Abed-Nego with a /g/ substitution making the god element redundant or non-extant in the name. That is why Hasel is correct in saying that the god element is not there.

The Murashu scribal practices accounts for many ideosyncracies and differences in style. One can thus accept that the Jewish styles of writing gave them in the eye of skilled Babylonians and the court of Nebuchadnezzar “overlooking permission” to do things their way.


Religious purity issues

The issue of unblemish and purity came up in Daniel 1. His mother and father educated him in Leviticus 11 and other Jewish laws of Moses that there are some things that they cannot eat. After all, if the king was looking for healthy men unblemished, then the best diet in Daniel’s mind would be what De Souza and Doukhan called, the creation menu.

But, how did Daniel convince the heathen guard to his side? Namely that vegetarian diet is the best answer to solve the king’s problem or challenge?

A text discovered at Nimrud in room NT 12 dating to 883-869 BCE indicated that in the Assyrian religion the king was asked not to eat certain things on every day like beef and garlic and onions or a doormouse or fish for seven days in the month of Tishri, but on the 8th day he was to be a vegetarian by “putting on his table from his garden fruits and vegetables” and this was considered “clean” and “unblemished” before the gods. This pre-text could have been the moving factor for the guard to play together with Daniel’s theology on this matter.

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