Backgrounds of Daniel 7 and 8


Nabonidus was the father of Belshazzar and he was born in 614 BCE and his son Belshazzar was born in 575 BCE. At the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BCE, Belshazzar was eleven years old. Nabonidus’ mother was a priestess for the moongod, and her name was Adda-Gupi. She became very old, over a hundred years old.

Nabonidus was a controversial figure in Babylon from the first year of his reign since Sayce said in 1898 that he was not of the royal house of Nebuchadnezzar but came in rule by a revolution (Sayce 1898: 87).

In the first year of Nabonidus in 555 BCE, Belshazzar got his own house.

In the 5th year of Nabonidus (so Sayce, 1898), Belshazzar got his own secretary (550 BCE). Two years later was added another secretary and a steward to Belshazzar, in 548 BCE. This year was very important. He became chief of the army in this year at the age of 27 years old. Very young.

What most people do not know, is that Nabonidus went through a religious transformation reaching its climax in 548 BCE. The main religion of Babylon is the chief god Marduk but Nabonidus felt that he rather favors the moongod Sin from Ur.

Marduk Theology and religion was local. The Marduk priesthood and Babylonians felt that it was the chief god of the world but only the god of Babylon. All other gods are subordinate to Marduk. They felt that Marduk religion should not swallow-up other religions but just stay a local religion for Babylon (Sayce 1898: 89). In the cuneiform text BM 38299 col. II line 2 Nabonidus rejected the Creation theology of the Marduk theologians that Ea created everything. He said “Ea did not fashion [god] Mummu”.

Of course from our Christian modern Adventist perspective, Nabonidus was right. These gods are nothing. Nabonidus became stressed.

It all started this way that S. Smith 1924 explains that Nabonidus was a literate reader of history and also an archaeologist. He was digging up items all around Babylon and it strengthened his dismay with the central mainstream religion. So he did a number of strange things that upset the Marduk priests. He ripped symbols from the temple and put it on his palace. He substituted everything Marduk for Sin the Moongod. He forbade them to have the New Year Festival in Babylon from the year 548 BCE. Talking of temple desecration and contamination that needs purification!

Everyone was shocked. The Jewish exiles were surprised.

Sayce 1898 said that the Babylonian people were satisfied to worship the Moongod at Ur but to bring him to Babylon and reduce Marduk or absorb other gods in Babylon, was not their idea (Sayce 1898: 89).

Nabonidus wanted a centralized pluralism at Babylon but the Marduk priests wanted a separatistic pluralism. The clash was inevitable.

Bringing the Moongod of Ur, Sin and giving it equal status with Marduk the chief god was taboo for them (Sayce 1898: 91).

Nabonidus became very unpopular and stressed even more so. He snapped in the year 548 BCE and left to Harran, Sippar and finally to Tema to settle there for a number of years. He had enough of the stress of Babylon’s stupid no-real religion.

“Temples of Babylon contaminated, give me my hat and my jacket, I am leaving now for a well-deserved vacation in Tema for ten years. My son from the army can take care. I am leaving. I had enough”.

That year was 548/7 BCE. Belshazzar was placed by his father on the throne and his father went on a ‘religious vacation’.

Welcome to the first year of Belshazzar. The 27 year playboy soldier now made king who lived a secular life since his father is confused and his grandmother is a priestess in Haran so with his whole family in religious confusion, to be agnostic suits him best.

Shock among the Marduk priests, shock with the Jewish exiles. This is the year that God saw it fit among this turmoil to give Daniel his vision in Daniel 7.

Everyone was talking about desecrated temples in Babylon.

They said that the king just threw down his throne and left.

Daniel said that in his vision a fourth beast came and when all four beasts thrones were thrown down, a court was set up in heaven.

The Babylonian priests were talking among themselves when Marduk is going to judge the king for his wrong doings. Daniel said after all these empires dominoes fell, the Ancient of Days sit with white garment and books were opened in heaven.

Marduk priests were concerned what is going to happen to Babylon without a New Year Festival when the other city gods came in as guests of the chief god Marduk to pay their allegiance to their religion and when they could make lots of money with the foods and items they were selling.

Marduk priests said that Nabonidus spoke terrible about Marduk with his Sin substitutions. Daniel said that the Little Horn shall speak against the Most High and wear out the saints (Daniel 7:25).

Nabonidus wanted to change the New Year Festival, but Daniel said that the Little Horn in future will change times and laws. But, heavenly judgments shall sit and take away his dominion. Daniel said that they should not focus only on Babylon since there are about four empires to go before the courts will take care of these thrones.

This was in the year 548 BCE. A year of religious chaos but powerful future predictions and relevant messages for the Jewish Exiles. Marduk priests remained confused. Jewish Exiles smiled with the comforting message that God is still in control of religious chaos.

The Nabonidus Chronicle said that every year the New Year Festival was forbidden so in 547 and 546 BCE there was not a festival. Marduk priests became more and more depressed since their temple were desecrated and contaminated by Nabonidus.

If Daniel would ask them, they would say that Nabonidus is this Little Horn.

But Daniel knew that four empires had to pass.

In the year that Adda-Gupi, the priestess of Haran died over a hundred years old, Daniel got the vision of Daniel 8.

Daniel was explaining his vision of a cleansing of the temple in heaven. Everyone asked “How long must we wait to celebrate the New Year Festival that is now forbidden by Nabonidus?” Daniel answered in his vision that the Heavenly Sanctuary that he saw was to be cleansed after 2300 years.

When will it start? Daniel answered, when they will restore the city of Jerusalem.

What about the ecumenical pluralism of Babylon of Nabonidus? Daniel said the vision is given by God of heaven and He explained that they are not important for empire will follow empire and a Little Horn religion on earth will try to substitute the work of Christ in the heavenly temple.

That is real desecration, Daniel explained in Daniel 8. Nabonidus collection of the gods (Nabonidus Chronicle III, 8-10) and the priests opposition (Nabonidus Chronicle III, 11-12) here on earth is nothing. It is what is happening in heaven that is important, not the dominoes empires falling one after the other.

In Daniel 8:11 Daniel pointed to Lucifer and his desires as given in Isaiah 14:12-14 and the verbs are given with a masculine, not feminine as in verse 10 and 12 with the Little Horn. The heart of the Little Horn is Satan, says Daniel here. Feminine verbs (verse 10 = Little Horn), Masculine verbs (verse 11 = Satan/Lucifer), Feminine verbs (verse 12, Little Horn).

The Jewish exiles were relieved. The Marduk priests remained tightened-up and opened the gates for the Mede (Gutian) Gobryas on the 16th of Tishri 538 BCE to take over Babylon. They had enough of consecration and yearned for purification. Gobryas and Cyrus were to be the purifiers of the religion of Marduk in Babylon (see Nabonidus Chronicle).

While the Marduk theologians were just focused on local purification Daniel’s purification included Heaven and the whole Universe.



Sayce, A. 1898. Lecture II on Bel-Merodach of Babylon in 1889.

Shea, W. Backgound of Daniel lecture notes.

Smith, S. 1924. Babylonian Historical Texts.