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Dating the Book of Daniel


Latest research is indicated by blue fonts

Last  Update:  October 31, 2007

by:  Mark S. Haughwout

Copyright 2003

Please provide a link to this page when quoting



Language considerations



                  Foreign loan Words




                  Literary style

Early Texts of Daniel



Internal Evidence

                  8:20 ram symbolizing the Persian Empire

                  9:17 the temple is viewed as desolate at the time of writing

                  10:2-4 mourning during Passover

                  The 4th Kingdom

                  Prophecy of the Destruction of the Second Temple

External Evidence

                  Bel and the Dragon

                  Ezekiel’s Daniel

                  Book of Esther

                  Ezra 7:1 - Azariah grandfather to Ezra?

                  I Maccabees

                  2 Esdras

                  Hebrew names of the heroes

                  New Testament references


                  Other external references

                                    Daniel’s grave

Examination of Evidence for a Late Date

                  Placement in the Bible (Ketuvim instead of Neviim)

                  Ben Sira

                  Daniel’s age

                  1:1 3rd year of Jehoiakim

                  1:21 Cyrus’ 1st year

                  2:1 “Now in the 2nd year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign

                  Chapter 4 - Nebuchadnezzar’s madness

                  Chapter 11 Antiochus Ephiphanes?

                  Nebuchadnezzar/Antiochus numerical values

                  Concerning the Kings mentioned or referred to in the book of Daniel

                  Nebuchadnezzar/ Nabonidus


                  Darius the Mede

                  Persian Kings




Daniel Manuscripts found at Qumran

Other Manuscripts found at Qumran that refer to Daniel


                   The book of Daniel begins with the deportation of Daniel and several other youths from the kingdom of Judah to Babylon in Nebuchadnezzar’s coronation year and ends in the 3rd year of Cyrus king of Persia, who together with Darius the Mede conquered the Kingdom of Babylon including the city itself.  According to the data the book itself provides, chapter one starts c.604 BC or 18 years before the temple is destroyed in 586 BC and ends two years after the 70 years of exile are completed thus making Cyrus’ 3rd year occur c.532 BC (this differs from modern dating for Cyrus by about 5 years).  The book is arranged in two parts, chapters 1-6, which contain historical records, and chapters 7-12 which contain visions that Daniel personally received. Each part has its chapters arranged chronologically.  The book is written in Hebrew and Aramaic.  The Aramaic section is from 2:4b to the end of chapter 7.

                  Traditionally the book of Daniel has always been considered to date from the late Babylonian / Early Persian Period (6th or 5th centuries BC), as the book itself indicates.   Some modern scholars have embraced an idea similar to that first put forward by Porphyry a neo-Platonist in his work Against Christians (c.285 AD).  The idea being that Daniel must have been written not earlier than c.165 BC due to the prophesies in chapter 11 that accurately portray events that occurred in the Middle East up until that time.  Some modern scholars claim that at c.165BC (or Daniel 11:40) the prophecies no longer match historical events and therefore the book were not written any later than that.  Porphyry, however, claimed that all the events described in 11:21ff refer to Antiochus Epiphenes 4th and since he rejected predictive prophecy he concluded that this was the point in history when the book was written.  In other words, the writer of Daniel was looking back on events that already happened.  His thesis was refuted and rejected by the scholars of his day and then was burned.  The records we have of his thesis come from excerpts that were quoted by his opponents.  As Wilson states, With the exception of the neo-Platonist Porphyry, a Greek non-Christian philosopher of the 3rd century AD, the genuineness of the Book of was denied by no one until the rise of the deistic movement in the 17th century.” (Wilson p.28)  In 1890, Klaus Koch wrote a book denouncing the exilic date of writing and proclaiming the Maccabean theory (Ferch, pg. 129).  Next, in 1900, S.R. Driver wrote a famous but misleading commentary on Daniel, supporting the same theory. Since then, many scholars have accepted the Maccabean theory without much question. 

                  In the work that follows I will discuss the dating of the book of Daniel from a scholarly standpoint without any personal bias against predictive prophecy.  It is my view that the same rules that apply to the dating of all ancient documents should also be applied to Daniel.  Namely, examining and dating the language(s) used in the document.  One must also review ancient witnesses that testify to when the book was written.  Accuracy of the book itself in describing the events of a period.  The claims the book itself may make about its dating and whether those claims seem legitimate.  Clues within the text that either support or betray its legitimacy, etc.

Language Considerations:

                  Firstly the language of the book is Hebrew with an Aramaic section between 2:4b and 7:28.  The fact that the book is composed in the two languages gives weight to the late 6th century date.  For if the book was someone’s fraudulent invention, he would have naturally used just one language for the sake of those who were trying to read.   The author may have considered it so important to put forward the exact facts and words of the various kings that he refused to translate them into his native language.  Further more the book of Daniel would not vacillate between Hebrew and Aramaic if it was written in the Hellenistic period.  For the Apocryphal books of the Hellenistic period come down to us in Greek.


                  Scholars widely agree that the Hebrew sections were indeed written originally in Hebrew.  When the Israelites officially canonized the scriptures of the Hebrew Bible in the first century AD, it was insisted that only books originally written in Hebrew (or Aramaic) would be accepted and books originally written in Greek were deliberately rejected.

                  The Hebrew of Daniel is similar to that found in Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronicles, and Esther. (Montgomery1964, p14)  Thereby placing it in the same general time period as those books, that being the 5th century.  In his work A History of the Hebrew Language,
Angel Saenz-Badillos states that the Hebrew of Daniel is more closely related to the Hebrew of the Torah than is Chronicles or Ezra.  In other words, the Hebrew of Daniel is older than that of Chronicles or Ezra.  However he believes that Daniel (and Esther) was a later work in which the author used older Hebrew even though he wrote much later than Chronicles (p114).  Elsewhere he calls the Hebrew sections an attempt to imitate pre-exilic Biblical Hebrew (p122), yet he fails to provide any evidence for this theory.
   It is possible that the Hebrew might allow a 165BC date but it fits much better with a 4th to 6th century date due to foreign loan words found in the Hebrew sections.

                  It is generally agreed that the Hebrew appears to be slightly later than the Aramaic.  But it is also likely that the Hebrew was updated during scribal copying.  However it is much less likely that the Aramaic section would be updated since it contains quotations of foreign kings.

                  The occurrence of Old Persian words in the text, that were unknown in the Hellenistic period, requires a date much earlier than 165 BC. See below under Persian Loan Words.

                  The Hebrew is in agreement with what one would expect from the reign of Cyrus the Great and therefore fits with the c. 536 date for the final writing, however the Hebrew in and of itself is not sufficiently indicative of a specific date to help in the dispute about dating the book.  More important in dating the Hebrew sections are the loan words found in the Hebrew sections, the connection of the Hebrew to the Aramaic section and other non-linguistic indicators found within the Hebrew sections.  These all point to a early date and will be discussed below. 


                  The Aramaic is supposedly “Hebraicized”, this would be expected if the writer was a native Hebrew speaker, just as the present author’s Hebrew writing tends to be Anglicized since English is his native language. 

                  The Aramaic clearly belongs to the time period the book itself claims.  This is supported by Wilson: “This Aramaic is almost exactly the same as that which is found in portions of Ezra. On account of the large number of Babylonian and Persian words characteristic of this Aramaic and of that of the papyri recently found in Egypt, as well as on account of the general similarity of the nominal, verbal and other forms, and of the syntactical construction, the Aramaic of this period might properly be called the Babylonian-Persian Aramaic” (Wilson p.25).  He also states “We claim, however, that the composite Aramaic of Daniel agrees in almost every particular of orthography, etymology and syntax, with the Aramaic of the North Semitic inscriptions of the 9th, 8th and 7th centuries BC and of the Egyptian papyri of the 5th century BC, and that the vocabulary of Daniel has an admixture of Hebrew, Babylonian and Persian words similar to that of the papyri of the 5th century BC; whereas, it differs in composition from the Aramaic of the Nabateans, which is devoid of Persian, Hebrew, and Babylonian words, and is full of Arabisms, and also from that of the Palmyrenes, which is full of Greek words, while having but one or two Persian words, and no Hebrew or Babylonian.” (Wilson p.30)

                  Also Townsley writes: “As for the Aramaic words, 90% of them are found in texts of the fifth century BC or earlier (Vasholz, pg. 315). Rosenthal's studies have led him to conclude that the ‘Aramaic employed in Daniel was that which grew up in the courts and chancellors from the seventh century BC, and subsequently became widespread in the Near East’ (Waltke, pg. 322-323). Robert Vasholz says: ‘Many morphological forms were deemed ' late' ...have been established as early as the eighth to the fifth centuries BC [by the Elephantine papyri of the sixth century and Old Aramaic treaty texts from Sefire],’ (Vasholz, pg. 316). Further, some syntactical forms found in Daniel did not survive past the fifth century BC, for example the preposition Ie before a king's name, and the Assur Ostracon (seventh century BC) which agrees with the word order in Daniel”. (Townsley 22nd paragraph)

                  Aramaic is generally classified as follows (as recorded in Stefanovic p17):

Old Aramaic (900-700 BC)

Official Aramaic (700-300 BC)

Middle Aramaic (300 BC - 200 AD)

Late Aramaic (200 - 700 AD)

Modern Aramaic (700 AD -the present)

                  The finds at Qumran have shed a little light on the subject.  Stefanovic states “The Aramaic documents from Qumran, especially the Targum to Job, have been evaluated as pointing quite definitely to a ‘pre-second-century date for the Aramaic of Daniel’” (Stefanovic p22, with reference to Vasholz, Qumran and the Dating of Daniel p320).

                  Stefanovic also states in his conclusion “The text of DA (Daniel Aramaic) in its present form (including ch. 7) contains a significant amount of material similar to OA (Old Aramaic) texts.”  (Stefanovic p108).  He shows that Daniel’s Aramaic is similar on many levels to Old Aramaic or to the transitional period from Old Aramaic to Official Aramaic.  His work takes into account literary correlations, grammatical correlations and syntactical correlations to other ancient Aramaic finds.  Perhaps most surprising is the similarities between DA and the Tell Fakhriyah inscription (9th century).  This inscription is both in Aramaic and Akkadian.  Of the 95 different words found in it, 65 are also found in DA. (Stefanovic p61)  The word-order of DA, is eastern in character and ‘comes closer to the Akkadian version of Tell Fakhriyah than to its Aramaic version’ (Stefanovic p106)

                  It must also be remembered that Daniel has been copied and recopied time and again allowing for updates in spelling and perhaps even changes in the wording itself.  In comparison to this, the other ancient Assyrian texts we have are often inscriptions in stone and are not copies, thus they have been unaltered grammatically by the passing of time.  Yet despite any changes introduced since the original writing, Daniel still resembles the Aramaic of the 5th, 6th and 7th centuries. 

                  Some would wonder as to why the Aramaic section continues into chapter 7 and if thus far why not into chapter 8.  But I noted in 7:1, something very important.  That is that someone else is recording Daniels words.  Notice - “Daniel had a Dream…his head…he wrote down and told the sum of the sum of the matter.  Daniel said…” The rest of the chapter is quoting Daniel.  Chapter 8 reverts to Hebrew and we find in 8:1ff “…appeared to me, Daniel…. to me…I saw….” Here Daniel is again the actual recorder.   When we see the first person being used in Chapter 7, it is within the framework of a quotation.  The same treatment of Daniel also occurs throughout the first part of the book through chapter 7, but from chapter 8 onward Daniel speaks in the first person, with the exception of 10:1. 

                  Perhaps the Aramaic section of the book was intended for publication on a large scale and was also therefore written in the language of the Empire.  If the writer was recording Nebuchadnezzar’s words in the lingua franca of the day in order to declare the sovereignty of the God of Israel to the surrounding nations, then the use of Old Aramaic makes sense.  But why use Old Aramaic if the book was written c. 165 in the Hellenistic period.

                  Both early and late daters confess that Daniel’s Aramaic is almost identical to that of Ezra’s.  Both sides also place the writing of Ezra in the 5th century.  If one wishes to date Daniel in 165 BC then he must also date Ezra to this period, yet no respectable scholar is willing to do that.

                  Four words in the Aramaic, which are apparently of Persian origin, are not attested to after the 5th century BC.  The are אחשדרפן דתבר תיפת אזרא. (Collins p19 footnote 182) The use of these words weighs heavily in favor of a 6th or 5th century date.

                  The Aramaic belongs to the period from the 9th to 5th centuries.  Even supporters of a late date such as Collins (in his introduction) are forced to confess that the Aramaic is not consistent with a 2nd century date and belongs to an earlier period.

Foreign Loan Words


                  Montgomery lists at least 12 words from Akkadian found in the Aramaic section of the books and 1 in the Hebrew section of the book. (Montgomery, p20).  These words indicate that the Aramaic and Hebrew belong to the Babylonian period and to the Mesopotamian region.  The appearance of one Akkadian word in the Hebrew section is evidence (although not proof) that the Hebrew writer was dwelling in Mesopotamia at the time of writing.

Persian words

                  The International Critical Commentary lists 14 Persian words in the Aramaic section and 3 in the Hebrew section. (Montgomery, p21)  and that 8 of the words are official titles, which is not surprising considering Daniel’s high position in the Persian court.  Nor is it surprising to find some of these words used in sections that pertain to the kings of Babylon for Babylon together with their allies the Medes were dominating the Persians.  In addition, Daniel may not have written down his account until the time of the Medo-Persian Empire when he himself was taken to their capital in Susa.  Harrison notes “…the Persian terms found in Daniel are specifically Old Persian words, that is to say, occurring within the history of the language to about 300 BC.” (Harrison, p1126) A good example of this is “Ashpenaz” in 1:3, (in the Hebrew section) which was not understood in Greek times and was translated as a personal name with unknown meaning.  It is now known that this is an Old Persian term meaning “inn-keeper”. (see Collins p127 note 9)

                  Townsley gives this well documented opinion: “There are also Persian loan-words and genre in Daniel. All of these words have been determined to be of the Old Persian, or Achaemedian tongue (539-332 BC; Vasholz, pg. 316ff; Wiseman, pg. 117). Some would wonder why this Israelite would be using Persian in his book, and how he would know it. The answer is -that Cyrus was a Persian, and Daniel being the gifted statesman and fast learner that he was (Dan 1:4, 6:28), he would have to had learned Persian to retain his position (Waltke, pg. 323-324). (Townsley 21st paragraph)

                  The use of Persian loan words, and these especially, indicates a Babylonian or Persian origin and not a Palestinian origin.  These specific “Old Persian” words also point to the book being written in its final form in the Persian Period and not the Hellenistic period.

Greek words

                  There are 3 words that are very likely of Greek origin in Daniel 3:5 and following.   קיתרס פסמתרין סומפניא they refer to musical instruments, which the King James Version calls harp, psaltery, and dulcimer.  The earliest occurrence we know of outside of the Bible for the word    פסנתרין is probably in Aristotle (384-322 BC) and the word   סומפניא has its earliest occurrence in Plato (428-347 BC)(Montgomery, p22).  Since one of the words has a different spelling only two verses away פסנטרין, we may surmise that the author was unsure of the spelling of this foreign word in translating it to Aramaic, or that since the author was a Hebrew speaker, he didn’t know the Aramaic spelling of this foreign Greek word.  This word and the second one I referred to also have variant spellings in a manuscript tradition from Qumran.  Another important fact is that already by 150 BC scribal tradition as demonstrated at Qumran was already so strict that they refused to correct known mistakes hence the differences in spelling have been maintained.  This shows that there would likely need to be some time for the variants to arise, hence once again 165 is much to late.  Note also that these 3 words refer to musical instruments.  Babylonian music notation has been discovered and their sounds and melodies reproduced in modern times.  The music from Babylonia was supposedly fairly boring and limited in its diversity.  The introduction therefore of Greek musical instruments into the region is not surprising.  Hellenistic influence had already reached Babylon by the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II (see Wilson p30-31, Keil p34); hence it is no surprise that he would use these new instruments in his worship ritual.  Harrison notes that the instruments that these words refer to were known in the ancient near east even on Assyrian reliefs (Harrison p1126).  It is important to remember that from Greece through Assyria and Babylonia all the way to Persia and south to Egypt was one continuous bed of civilization.  It should be no surprise that Greek musical instruments were used in Babylonia.   As today, people in the ancient world traveled from place to place and upon their return, brought back with them new ideas and new products.  Also we find that Greek mercenaries served in the Babylonian army and there was found a Greek expatriate community in Babylonia dating to the 6th century or earlier.  If those Greeks brought any of their culture with them, as one would expect them to do, a musical instrument would be expected as it is small enough to carry and music (and of course food) is one of the first things to cross cultural boundaries.  We may surmise that the author of Daniel did not know the Aramaic equivalents for these Greek words.  Obviously this points to an Aramaic, and not Greek, original for this portion of the text.  These words being specialized.  It also points to a late Babylonian dating.  Had Daniel been written in the late Hellenistic period, we would expect to find several other Greek loan words.   Instead we find several Akkadian and Persian words. 

                  “In fact, ‘an avalanche of evidence has demonstrated the presence of Greek language in Semitic milieu long before the sixth century BC’ (Vasholz, pg. 316). The Hebrew word for Greeks, YAWAN, for settlements of lonia on the western coast of Turkey indicates some type of contact before 1,000 BC (Yamauchi, "Daniel and Contacts Between the Aegean and the Near East Before Alexander," pg. 40. ). Greeks entered the Near East by the ninth century BC, built a temple by c. 675 BC, and Greek pottery was found there, in abundance, dating to the seventh century BC.  A. Leo Oppenheim discovered two documents dating from 550 BC, and 551 BC, describing trade between the Neo-Babylonians of the Near East, and the merchants of {Greece}, Tyre, and Yamana (Oppenhiem, pg. 236-254). (in Townsley 20th paragraph)

                  These Greek words therefore are consistent with a 6th century date for the book.  The lack of other types of Greek loan words points to a pre-Hellenistic period writing.

Literary Style

                  The word Chaldean was formerly thought to be used only in an ethnic sense in the 6th century.  Daniel however uses it in a dual sense of both an ethnic group and in the sense of one who is a magician.  However it is no longer a problem, since it was discovered that Herodotus (c. 450 BC) in Persian Wars, uses Chaldean in both senses, and accepted that their religious practices went back at least as far as Cyrus (Harrison, p. 1113).”

                  Some argue that the apocryphal portion of Daniel is typical of apocryphal books that are from the 2nd century BC and therefore Daniel is from that period.  I would argue that as mentioned previously Daniel is written in Hebrew and Babylonian/Persian period Aramaic, while the other books are in Greek.  Since Daniel gave such an accurate prediction of the period of the early 2nd century, many Greek-speaking writers in and around Palestine at that time and shortly after sought to copy his linguistic mannerisms in order to validate their own writings.  Had the book of Daniel been written concurrent with those books, and in the same geographical area, we would expect it to be in the same language, but it is not.

                  Further, if and I stress If the book of Daniel is so much like the Apocryphal books of the 2nd century then why was only it accepted and not these to the canon of scripture?

                  “That there are spurious apocalypses no more proves that all are spurious than that there are spurious gospels or epistles proves that there are no genuine ones. The spurious epistles of Philaris do not prove that Cicero’s Letters are not genuine; nor do the false statements of 2 Macc, nor the many spurious Acts of the Apostles, prove that 1 Macc or Luke’s Acts of the Apostles is not genuine.” (Wilson p.29)

                  “As a final note on the literary style, AK Grayson's Babylonian historical-Literary Texts, demonstrated, according to Baldwin, that in style, form, and rationale there is a striking resemblance [between parts of Daniel and tablets of ancient Babylonian prophecy] which it is by no means easy to account for knowledge of this [Babylonian] cuneiform literature in the second century Palestine. [But] Israel would have had Babylonian influence on all sides during the exile" (Baldwin, "Some Literary Affinities of Daniel," p99).” (Townsley 23rd paragraph)

                  Collins says the story of Ahikar was “most probably composed in Aramaic in Mesopotamia and may be as old as the seventh century.” (Collins p41)  Collins goes on to say, “…the story of Ahikar belongs to the same kind of literature as Daniel, in terms of setting, plot type, and, to some degree, idiom.” (Collins p41).  This is one example of Daniel being similar to Babylonian period works.  Thus simply saying one story is similar to another, by no means places them in the same time period.  The argument for a 2nd century dating of Daniel due to supposed similarities to Apocryphal works from that period, which were written in a different language, is without basis.

                  The story of Daniel is similar in some ways to that of Joseph, in their unwillingness to be corrupted and in their rise to power in a foreign land, and is interesting to study, but bears no weight in the debate of dating either book to a specific time period, except to show that similarity to other works is no basis for dating.  If the writer of Daniel copied Joseph’s story, then is it not possible by the same logic to say that the apocryphal writers copied Daniel. 

                  Also it should not be thought of as strange that Jews in exile, such as Daniel and Joseph, should rise to power in foreign governments.  We have many examples of Jews today rising to power in their various countries of exile during the 20th century.  Nor should it be surprising if these Jews are forgotten in the records of those various countries.  For if they are forgotten in a modern democracy, how much more in ancient dictatorships, wherein kings were only concerned with honoring themselves and their gods.

Early Texts of Daniel


                  The LXX was begun c.260BC. The earliest translation work was only of the Torah (5 books of Moses).  Apparently the “prophets” were translated next, and the “writings” (including Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Ruth) were translated last.  The inclusion in the LXX of the additional passages of Bel and the Dragon, the prayer of the Three Hebrew Children and Susanna indicates that the Greek version of Daniel was not produced until after those books were written.  We do not know when Daniel was first translated to Greek, but we do know from Jerome and others that the translation that was included with the Septuagint was considered unreliable.  


                  The earliest copies of the Book of Daniel in our possession today were found at Qumran.  (See the appendix area for a listing of Qumran documents relating to Daniel) They preserve it as we have it today, as one work by one man.  Though I cannot prove that between the first edition and the scrolls at Qumran no editing or redaction was done, I do not need to prove that for the burden of proof does not lie with me but with those who suggest that editing or additions did indeed occur.  This logic holds true for any book whether ancient or modern.  It must be assumed that the earliest copy we posses is identical for the large part to the original, exempting of course copyist errors or spelling corrections.  This is especially true when different textual traditions are virtually identical.  The Masorates did not rely on the texts from Qumran, yet produced virtually identical copies from their sources.

                  Every part of the book of Daniel is testified at Qumran and the Hebrew - Aramaic shift is firmly established.  Also the Apocryphal addition of the prayer of the three children is clearly shown to be excluded from the original work. (Collins p3)

                  Several other manuscripts found at Qumran mention Daniel.  At least 7 different works contained in 9 different fragments mention Daniel.  All of the manuscripts consider Daniel to be a historical character in Babylon.

                  “As for the recent Qumran findings, many manuscripts of Daniel were found, in three different caves at Qumran (Baldwin, pg. 73-74). To determine an "earliest date" for those manuscripts, we need to compare them with manuscripts with dates that are known. Takamitsu Muraoka did a study on the Aramaic of 11QtJob mss, and of 1QapGen, and found that the 11QtJob mss is closer to the Aramaic of the Old Testament than the 1QapGen. His conclusion is that the 11QtJob should be dated between 250-150 BC (Muraoka, pg. 425-443). Next, Robert Vasholz determined that the mss of Daniel are older than the 11QtJob. How much older he can't be certain, but older none-the-less (Vasholz, pg. 320), which probably pushes the date of writing before the date deemed necessary by most Maccabean Theorists (167-165 BC; Baldwin, pg. 35)”. (Townsley,16th paragraph. see also Collins p2ff)

                   “The oldest of these, 4QDan-c, is dated by Cross to the ‘late second century’ B.C.E., ‘no more that about a half century younger than the autograph.’” (Collins p2, Quoting Frank Moore Cross, The Ancient Library of Qumran, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1961).  Collins fails to take consider the unlikelihood that Daniel would be accepted as scripture so readily at Qumran, had it been a forgery invented perhaps only 40 or 50 years earlier.  

                  RK Harrison states concerning the Maccabean dating theory: "Such a period of composition is in any event absolutely precluded by the evidence from Qumran partly because there are no indications whatever that the sectaries compiled any of the Biblical manuscripts recovered..., and partly because there would, in the latter event, have been insufficient time for Maccabean composition to be circulated, venerated, and accepted as canonical Scripture by a Maccabean sect" (Harrison, pg. 1126-1127)

                  All of the evidence at Qumran exempts a Maccabean period date and points to a 6th century date for the book of Daniel, with one author for the entire book and that Daniel himself was a historical figure. 

Internal Evidence

8:20       The ram which you saw, having the two horns - they are the kings of Media and Persia.” (Daniel 8:20 NKJV) 

                  Fausset, states, “The king of Persia wore a jewelled ram’s head of gold instead of a diadem, such as are seen on the pillars at Persepolis.” (Fausset, p751)  How would an author in the Maccabean era have such familiarity with this practice so as to choose a ram to symbolize the Persian Empire?  However an author in the late 6th century would be very familiar with this, especially if he served as an official in the Persian court as the book claims Daniel did under both Darius and Cyrus.

9:17       “…cause your face to shine on your sanctuary, which is desolate.” 

                  The temple is specifically mentioned in a present state of ruin.  Taken at face value, this clearly points to an exilic period for Daniel’s prayer, due to the use of the present tense regarding the temple’s condition for by the early 5th century the temple was already rebuilt. Of course one could say it’s a forgery or a mere story, however, this like all the rest of the book fits perfectly into the 6th century without any explanation needed.  And since the mention or lack of mention of the destruction of the second temple is a way to date texts from the 1st century AD, it seems fair to also use that method to date works from the era of the Babylonian exile.  In other words, Jewish works from the first century AD are dated as being either before 70 AD or afterwards based on whether or not they discuss the temple as though it were still standing or if they discuss it as having been destroyed.  Hence all the later Qumran texts are dated to before 70 AD since they viewed the temple as still standing.  The status in the book of Daniel is that the 1st temple is destroyed and the second one has not been built, the Jews are still in exile and the city is still in ruins.  At the same time no “finishing touches” have been added to Daniel such as we find at the end of Deuteronomy were someone is writing after Moses is already dead.


                  According to these verses Daniel was semi-fasting and mourning through the period of the Passover festival, which falls between the 14th and the 21st day of the first month.  This points to an exilic period origin, for in the post exilic period Nehemiah, Ezra and the Levites taught the people not to mourn during the feasts. (Nehemiah 8:9).

The Fourth Kingdom

                  Chapters 2 and 7 of the book of Daniel contain prophecies foretelling the rise and fall of four different kingdoms and the establishing of the kingdom of God in the days of the fourth kingdom.  

                  “But after you (Nebuchadnezzar) shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth.  And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others…” (Daniel 2:39-40 NKJV)

                  “And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear.  It was raised up on one side, and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth.  And they said thus to it: ‘Arise, devour much flesh!’  After this I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird.  The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it.  After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong.  It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet.  It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.” (Daniel 7:5-7 NKJV)

                  All scholars agree that Babylon is the first kingdom.  Based on the events of known history the second kingdom is understood to be Medo-Persia, the third to be Greece and the fourth to be the Roman. The fourth kingdom in both of these passages is clearly one and the same.  Both are symbolized by iron.  In chapter two it has ten toes and in chapter seven it has ten horns.  In both passages in the days of the fourth kingdom, the Kingdom of God is established.  Everyone admits that these two visions represent the same four kingdoms.  Those who suggest a late dating for the book in order to evade the concept of predictive prophecy are forced to change the usual interpretation of the prophesies of the fourth kingdom in 2:40 and 7:7 to refer to Greece instead of Rome, for even a 165 BC date is too early to account for the authors knowledge of the Roman empire. This leaves a empty spot in the place of the third kingdom, so they then divide the Medo-Persian kingdom into two different successive kingdoms. Making Media the second and Persia the third.  This however is not accurate to history and is not consistent in any way with a plain reading of the text. The late daters themselves admit that the Babylonian kingdom was conquered by the Persians together with their weaker partner the Medes as one kingdom.  Hence we have the term “Medo-Persian Empire“.  The Medo-Persian Empire cannot represent two successive kingdoms which come after the kingdom of Babylon.  Both of the visions, however, represent two successive, separate and different kingdoms.  It can be shown, as follows, that the book itself gives the author’s intended understanding of the identification of the 2nd and 3rd kingdoms and thus also of the fourth.

                   5:28 “…your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians”  this shows the Median / Persian kingdom was considered by the author to be one kingdom, just as it is today (see also 6:8, 12, 15). 

                  Further, in 7:6 we read of the four wings and four heads of the third beast (the leopard) which symbolize the splitting of the Greek kingdom into four sections shortly after Alexander’s death.  “After Alexander’s untimely death, his empire was split up among four of his generals.  Ptolemy took Egypt; Seleucas, Assyria and Babylon;  Antigonas, Persia and Asia Minor;  Philip (Alexander’s brother), Macedonia (Mayenei HaYeshuah 8:3)” (Goldwurm p198). 

                  The vision in chapter 8 clarifies the intended interpretation of chapters 2 and 7.   In Chap. 8 were the Medo-Persian empire is symbolized by a ram with two horns and Greece is symbolized as a he-goat with Alexander the Great symbolized by a conspicuous horn on it that is broken at the height of its strength and in its place arise four horns.  Note, like the leopard, the he goat is also capable of flight (8:5) and similar to the four horns of the he-goat the leopard has four wings and four heads.  The author himself gives the interpretation of the vision of the two animals in chapter 8, at 8:20ff, as being the Medo-Persian and Greek empires. 

                  Note also the Medo-Persian empire is considered a dual empire in 8:2 and is only symbolized by one beast, just as it is only symbolized by one beast in 7:5 (the bear).  In 8:3 we see that one of the rams horns is higher than the other, and similarly in 7:5 the bear was raised up on one side.  This is because the Persians were stronger than their allies the Medes.  The three ribs in the bears mouth may symbolize Nebuchadnezzar, his son and his son’ son, the three generations that ruled Babylon according to Jeremiah 27:7.

                  Again in 11:4 Alexander is prophesied.  Note again the division by four of his empire.  The leopard also symbolizes the swiftness of the Greek conquests.  Alexander ruled “over all the earth”, as is said of the 3rd kingdom in 2:39 that is all the way from Greece to Egypt to India. The Greek language was eventually adopted as the international language of the region, in superseding Aramaic.  Whereas the Medo-Persian empire was not as vast and their language didn’t even become the language of their new kingdom, but rather the Assyrian/Babylonian language remained (Aramaic) as is seen in the quote in Ezra 7:12-26 of Artaxerxes in Aramaic.

                  Concerning the Jewish tradition - “The Midrashim (see, e.g., Avodah Zarah 2b חייבת רומיזו and many other places) consistently list Greece  as the third kingdom and Rome as the fourth kingdom.  This is followed by almost all the commentators, starting with R’ Saadiah Gaon (cited by Ibn Ezra 2:40) and including Rambam (Iggeres Teiman) and Ramban (Sefer HaGeulah 2, and comm. to Genesis 36:23 and Numbers 24:20 [ed. Chavel])” (Goldwurm, 1979, p104 see also p199)  The rare exception among Jewish commentators makes Rome and Greece together the 3rd kingdom and the Arab kingdom the fourth.  No one makes Greece the fourth.

                  The prophecy of the fourth kingdom is a clear reference to Rome.  Had the author been writing in the Maccabean era with the intention of encouraging the Jews, it is not very likely that he would have predicted an even worse kingdom to come and replace the Grecian kingdom.  In fact one would expect the author to prophesy of the Kingdom of God coming to free the “saints” from the oppression of the Greeks, instead he has the kingdom of God as conquering the Roman empire which was to replace the Greek empire.              The late dating of Daniel does not eliminate completely the fulfilled predictive prophecies, since the kingdom of Rome is plainly prophesied.  Late daters have not even begun to bring forward a strong argument to deal with this problem in their thesis.

Destruction of the 2nd Temple

                  Know therefore and understand, that form the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks:  the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.  And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself:  and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.  And he shall confirm the covenant with may for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” (Daniel 9:25-27)

Amongst the many things prophesied in these verses are the following:

Street and wall built again, even in troublous times c.460 BC

Destruction of the city and Sanctuary  70 AD

                  While a late date would explain the author’s knowledge of  the building again of the street and wall, which occurred under Nehemiah it does not explain the destruction of the city and the Sanctuary which only happened under Titus.  No event happened under the Greeks which could fulfill this prophecy.  It is true that Antiochus Epiphenes defiled the temple, but he never destroyed it and certainly never destroyed the city.  The destruction of the city and temple did occur in 70 AD and was so absolute that not even one stone of the temple buildings was left standing on top of another.  Were it not for the Dead Sea scrolls, some modern scholar would probably say that this part of Daniel was written after 70 AD!  Jesus too prophesied its destruction with reference to this passage from the book of Daniel. (Matthew 24:1-2,15  Mark 13:1-2,14) 

Babylonian names found in Daniel

                  The author of the book records four very authentic Babylonian sounding names for Daniel and his companions in 1:7.   It is doubtful that he could have invented these names if he was writing over 360 years after the fall of Babylon and 160+ years after Alexander the Great and Hellenism came to the Middle East.  The explaining of the names in chapter 1 (in the Hebrew section) allows the reader to make sense of the record of the companions in the Aramaic section at 2:17 (the Hebrew names are used) and 2:49ff (the Babylonian names are used). 

                  Even more significant is the use of “Ashpenaz” (1:3) which is an Old Persian name or title that was completely unknown in the Greek period. (see Persian Loan Words above) The occurrence of this word alone is strong evidence against any date in the Hellenistic period.

External Evidence

Bel and the Dragon

                  The History of the Destruction of Bel and the Dragon, cut off from the end of Daniel: 

1:1-3  And king Astyages was gathered to his fathers, and Cyrus of Persia received his kingdom.  And Daniel conversed with the king, and was honored above all his friends.  Now the Babylonians had an idol, called Bel, and there were spent upon him every day twelve great measures of fine flour, and forty sheep, and six vessels of wine...

                  The story goes on to provide a variant account of Daniel in the lions Den

                  Firstly this story provides evidence in 1:1 of Darius the Mede being identified with king Astyages who is recorded in the first line as reigning before Cyrus.  “his kingdom” refers here not simply to the Median kingdom but to the Babylonian, for Daniel is seen as being there in addition to the testimony of the book itself.  Thus we know that it is not referring to Cyrus’ victory over the Medes.

                  Secondly this story places the man Daniel in Babylon/Persia in agreement with the book of Daniel.  In other words the writer considered Daniel to be a historical figure.  In addition the writer seems to have heard of an oral tradition regarding Daniel and the lion’s den, yet was apparently unaware of the written record we posses.  The reason for this may be that the writer of Bel and the Dragon was a Greek speaker and as of yet the book of Daniel was not widespread in Greek, he was therefore relying on what he had heard orally through translation. 

                  Thirdly it is evident that a significant amount of time had passed between the actual event of Daniel and the lion’s den and the writing of Bel and the Dragon.  For it is evident that the two records regard the same event, yet several details had been changed, including in whose reign the events occurred, how many days Daniel was in the lions den, and the exact reason he was in the lions den. 

Daniels Tomb

                  His tomb has been shown, since the 6th century, at Susa, a little west of the acropolis” (Montgomery, p11).  This agrees with Josephus who says Darius took Daniel with him to Media (Josephus Antiquities of the Jews 10,11,4)

                  For any of this to be true, Daniel must have lived when the book itself claims. Ezekiel’s References to Daniel

                  Ezekiel mentions a person named Daniel in two places, Ezekiel 14:14-20 and 28:3.  There is no reason to believe that the Daniel in Ezekiel is not the Daniel of the biblical book after his name.  In Ezekiel 14 Daniel is called righteous along with Noah and Job.  Surely this fits only the Daniel of the Bible.  We read in Daniel chapter 6 of his unwillingness to compromise his devotion to YHWH even at the threat of the lions Den.  He was willing to suffer a painful death rather than be unfaithful to the God of Israel.

                  In Ezekiel 28:3-4  we read: “Behold you are wiser than Daniel!  There is no secret hidden from you!  With your wisdom and understanding you have gained riches for yourself…”, now notice what is said of Daniel in Daniel 5:11-12 “There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God.  And in the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, were found in him…Inasmuch as an excellent spirit, knowledge, understanding, interpreting dreams, solving riddles, and explaining enigmas were found in this Daniel…”. (see also 1:20)  The Daniel of the Bible is the only one we know of as being this wise and able to understand all secrets.  Nebuchadnezzar even appointed him over all the wise men of Babylon (Daniel 2:48).  Daniel was even able to reveal the great mystery of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (2:47).  In Daniel chapter 4 we have a copy of king Nebuchadnezzar’s letter which was published “to all peoples, nations and languages that dwell in all the earth” (4:1) In his letter we read of how Daniel was superior to all the “magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers” (4:7) in interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.  Thereby everyone knew of Daniel’s wisdom, which was superior to all the wise men in the kingdom.

                  Apparently Ezekiel’s prophecy in chapter 14 was in the 6th year of Jehoiachin’s exile (Ezekiel 8:1) and before the capture of Jerusalem 5 years later in 586 BC (Ezekiel 14:21ff).  This would mean that Ezekiel mentions Daniel after Daniel had been in Babylon for 14 years.  Since Daniel was exiled in the 3rd year of Jehoiakim’s 11-year reign which was followed three months later by the beginning of Jehoiachin’s  exile. (II Kings 23:34ff).  This 14 years was plenty of time for the events in the first part of the book of Daniel to occur and for Daniel to gain much fame and especially among Ezekiel’s audience in the land of Babylon.  Remember Ezekiel himself was an exile dwelling in the land of Babylon

                  In the early 1930s the Ras Shamra (Ugaritic) texts were published which included, inter alia, a description of a certain Dnil.  Some have attempted to show that this is the Daniel of Ezekiel.  However, this simply does not hold up to the description found in Ezekiel 28.  Collins, who supports a late date, confesses concerning Ugaritic Dnil that  “He is not portrayed as exceptionally wise, and even his righteousness is incidental to the story” (Collins p1)

                  Some argue that Ezekiel’s Daniel is someone else due to the spelling difference.  Daniel’s Daniel has a yood in the name represented by the English “I”, while Ezekiel‘s Daniel does not. In fact the difference of the yood in the spelling does not prove anything.  (John J. Collins says the same, see Collins, p1 footnote 4) We see king David’s name being spelt without a yood in 1 Samuel (and all pre exilic writings) and with a yood in post exilic writings such as Zechariah 12:10 for example.  The Hebrew in Ezekiel’s book is seen to be a transitory form between the style found in the first temple period and the style in the second temple period.  The spelling of Daniel without the yood  reflects a first temple period spelling style while the spelling with the yood in the book of Daniel reflects second temple style like that found in Zechariah.  Daniel’s Hebrew is similar to that of Chronicles and I Chron. 3:1 mentions a Daniel with the yood, in the list of king David’s son’s.  David’s name is likewise spelt here with a yood whereas in first temple period Hebrew it is spelt without a yood.  The reason for the addition of the yood after the exilic period is primarily to maintain proper pronunciation, though may also be a reminder of the tetragrammaton. 

                  Also to be noted is that Noah Daniel and Job were all historical characters that lived in the Mesopotamian area in general and would have been know to the peoples in whose environs Ezekiel was living.  Whereas other great righteous men such as Lot or Abraham would not have been well known to the Babylonians.

                  For a good brief essay on the possibility of Ezekiel’s Daniel being the Ugaritic Dnil see  by Daniel B. Wallace, Ph.D.   where he shows that the evidence leans in favor of Daniel of Ezekiel being Daniel of the bible and leans against his being Dnil of the Ugaritic text. 

Book of Esther

                  The book of Esther always lists Persia first then Media with the exception of 10:2. I Maccabees 1:1 and 6:56 also lists Persia first. However 1 Esdras 3:1 has Media first and then in 3:14 has the Persians listed first in the same context. Whereas Daniel always lists Media first then Persia.  This being due to Media originally being the dominant power in the early days of Daniel’s service and later Persia rising to be the dominant power in the Medo-Persian kingdom.   This weighs against a writer in the Maccabean era or even the late Persian period and points distinctly to the Babylonian or early Persian period.

Ezra 7:1 - Azariah grandfather of Ezra?

                  “…Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah…” (Ezra 7:1 NKJV)  It is possible that this could be the Azariah of Daniel.  2 Kings 23:24 has Hilkiah alive in Josiah’s 18th year (for the identical spelling  of Hilkiah see 2 Chron 35:8).  About 17 years later is when Azariah was deported to Babylon in Jehoiakim’s 4th year (by Israelite reckoning).  It is highly likely that Azariah was younger than Daniel who served as the spokesman for the 4 and since Azariah is also listed last.  Based on age Azariah could easily be the son of this Hilkiah and Ezra could very easily be the grandson of Azariah.  Josephus however says all 4 were of the family of Zedekiah (Ant.

I Maccabees

                  “Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, by believing were saved out of the flame.  Daniel for his innocency was delivered from the mouth of lions.” (I Maccabees 2:59-60 KJV) This gives some weight to a pre-Maccabean era date for the original, for if someone from the very period considers it to be from a period over 350 years earlier, it is not likely it is from that period.  Late daters say Daniel and 1 Maccabees were written only 40 or 50 years apart in the second century BC.  Surely the writer of Maccabees could have distinguish between a fraudulent book that was 50 years old and one that was 400 years old and considered to be history. 

                  The writer of Maccabees was also writing his account to be widely read by Israelites everywhere.  In referring to the book of Daniel, he must have considered the stories of Daniel and his friends to already be very widely circulated and accepted as fact. 

The Second Book of Esdras

12:11-12  The eagle, whom thou sawest come up from the sea, is the kingdom which was seen in the vision of thy brother Daniel. But it was not expounded unto him, therefore now I declare it unto thee.

This book which apparently was edited as late as the first century AD considers Daniel to be a real historical figure as do all ancient documents that mention him.

Hebrew names of the heroes

                  Another Azariah is also mentioned as a more distant ancestor of Ezra in 7:3.  Yet another Azariah is mentioned in Neh. 8:7 and 10:2 and was a priest.  This was apparently a popular name in the Cohen family. 

                  A Daniel is mentioned in Ezra 8:2. It has the postexilic spelling consistent with the book of Daniel and Chronicles.  (see under “Ezekiel’s Danel” above)

                  A Mishael is mentioned in Neh. 8:4, also apparently among the priests.

                  A Hananiah is mentioned in Neh. 10:23 among the leaders of the people.  The above references show that all of the 4 heroes of the book of Daniel had names that were in use in the 5th century and before.  It is very possible that these names gained some popularity with the Jews of Ezra’s day since they were the heroes of the Babylonian exile.

New Testament Evidence

                  Three different writers of the New Testament reference the book of Daniel.  They are Matthew, Mark, and the author of Hebrews.  In Hebrews Daniel and his companion’s deeds are considered actual historical events and they are referred to as prophets “the prophets who…stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire…” (Hebrews 11:32-34).  In Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14 Jesus mentions Daniel by name and treats him as a prophet and as a actual historical figure.  Jesus also treats as unfulfilled some of Daniel’s prophecies that modern scholars say refer to the Maccabean era. “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place…” (Matthew 24:15 NKJV) This being from a vision Daniel had in the first year of Darius the Mede (see Daniel 9:1-27) and also from Daniel 11:31 which is a vision Daniel has during the third year of Cyrus the king of Persia. 

                  These 3 references to the book of Daniel in the N.T. are interesting for the following reasons: Firstly both the Hebrew and Aramaic sections of the book are referred to.  Secondly very early and very late parts of Daniel’s life are referred to. Thus helping to establish that the whole book was considered to be scripture already and that the Hebrew and Aramaic sections were thought of as one continuous book.  Also what is interesting is that these references occur in the 2 earliest gospels and in the book to the Hebrews.  It is certain that Matthew was originally composed in Hebrew (per Jerome and others), and there is indication that Hebrews was perhaps written in or early translated to Hebrew.   My point being this, these 3 N.T. books were primarily intended for reading by Jews at first and apparently in Hebrew.  It is obvious therefore that the Jews must have been of the same or similar opinion concerning Daniel and his book that the New Testament writers had. 

                  In Matthew 24:15 “Jesus uses the Greek dia, along with the genitive case, which always implies personal human agency (Archer, pg 284) That should strongly lead one to believe that Jesus was under the impression that the Daniel he referred to was an actual person named Daniel, not just the title of a book.  Jesus also calls that Daniel a profhtou, or "one who proclaims inspired utterances on behalf of God”  (Louw-in Townsley, fifth paragraph).

Here is a partial list of New Testament references to the book of Daniel:

                  In Matthew 26:64 Jesus directly refers to Daniel 7:13.

                  Luke 1:19-26 mentions Gabriel whose name only occurs in Daniel 8:16, and 9:21

                  Revelation has many references to Daniel including Daniel 7:14,25

                  II Thessalonians 2:3ff refer to Daniel chp 7 and possibly 11:36ff

                  Matthew 21:44 apparently refers to Daniel 2:34ff 

                  It must also be noted, as concerning the book of Daniel, that Jesus would not use a reference to a non-canonical book of a “false prophet” as this would discredit him in the eyes of the other Jews.  This further indicates that the Jews accepted Daniel as a true prophet and his book as canonical and prophetic.

                  The summary of New Testament evidence shows that in the first century, Jewish scholars considered Daniel a real historical character who lived in Babylon, that he was a prophet and that his book was one complete work from the time period claimed therein.

Early Church Writings

                 Milito and Eusebius placed Daniel in the major prophets and before Ezekiel.  Could this be because they arranged the books in chronological order since the events of Daniel‘s book start before the first events of Ezekiel‘s book?

                  The canon of the Christian bible places Daniel in the Prophets after Ezekiel.  Early Church writings consistently consider Daniel a historical figure living in Babylon. 


                  He informs us that the canon was closed at the reign of Artaxerxes (Josephus, Against Apion 1, 8).

Story of Alexander the Great

                  Josephus records a story of Alexander the great when he was in the land of Israel c. 330.  He, as the story goes, was met by the High Priest coming out of Jerusalem who showed him the copy of the book of Daniel wherein his reign and victory is foretold and for this reason didn’t sack Jerusalem, but instead provided special privileges to the city and priesthood.  In Russia today there is a tradition in Jewish families of naming there 3rd son after Alexander after the kindness Alexander showed to Jerusalem. The story is placed after Alexander swept down the Mediteraenean coast, sacking cities as he went culminating in an attack on Egypt.  From Egypt he went up through Israel to Jerusalem, where this story picks up.  Next, according to Josephus he marched to Samaria.  Then according to history, he went off to attack the Persians, whom he utterly defeated against great odds.  Clearly if this story is true, the book of Daniel must be dated earlier than 330 BC.  As of the present, the story is not independently verifiable.  At very least it shows Josephus’s view of the date for the writing of the book as being early.  It is not likely that Josephus completely fabricated the story.  He must have had at least some sort of oral legend upon which it was based.  The very existence of the story provides some weight on side of an early date. 

Daniel‘s Tower

                  “Now when Daniel was become so illustrious and famous, on account of the opinion men had that he bas beloved of God, he built a tower at Ecbatana, in Media: it was  a most excellent builiding…preserved to this day…Now they bury the kings of Media, of Persia, and Parthia, in this tower to this day; and he who was intrusted with the care of it was a Jewish priest;  which thing is also observed to this day.”  (Josephus Ant.

Other References

                  Tareekh Muntekheb

                  “Daniel is famous among the orientalists. The author of the Tareekh Muntekheb says that Daniel flourished in the time of Lohorasp, king of Persia; and consequently in that of Ceresh, of Cyrus, who gave him the government of Syria; that he taught these two princes the knowledge of the true God; that he preached the true faith through the whole of the Babylonian Irak; and was, on the death of Nebuchadnezzar, sent by Bahman, (Artaxerxes Longimanus,) son of Asfendiar, who then reigned in Persia, into Judea; and that, having returned, he died at Shouster, or Susa, the capital of Persia, where he lies interred.” (Clarke p1048)

Examination of Evidence for a Late Date

Those who propose a late date for the writing of the book of Daniel wish to do so

in order to account for the prophesies within the book by showing that the book was written after the events already occurred.  This has already been shown to be impossible above.  What follows is an examination of the common arguments late daters use to show that the book was both written around 165 BC and the complete fabrication of the author.  Many late daters say the whole book was written symbolically about Antiochus 4th and the events that occurred in that era.  This in spite of the fact that the book never mentions his name and specifically gives history relating to Babylon/Medo-Persia.  Other late daters say that the first part of the book is indeed written about Babylon, but is not accurate.

                  What follows is an examination of the evidence put forward by late daters:

Placement in the Bible (Ketuvim instead of Neviim)

                  Around 100 AD Daniel was placed by the canonizers of the Hebrew Bible into the 3rd section called Ketuvim (writings) and not in the Neviim (prophets). Late daters say this shows that it was written very late and had a low level of inspiration.  This is easily disproved by simply stating that Lamentations, written by Jeremiah the prophet, is also in this section.  Lamentations is a book that is dated to the late 7th century and was written by one of the greatest prophets in Israel.  On the other hand Zechariah is included in the Neviim even though he is considered to be one of the last prophets.  Ezra, on the other hand, was contemporary with Zechariah and was placed in the Ketuvim.  Consider also the book of Psalms or Job, which are placed in the Ketuvim yet no one considers them to have a low level of inspiration.  The fact is the difference between the Ketuvim or the Neviim is not one of dating or inspiration, but rather of content.  Daniel the book is one of history in the first six chapters.  In the last six chapters Daniel differs from the other prophets in both his mission and the content of his prophecies.  He was not specifically sent to the children of Israel with a “Thus says the LORD” nor do his prophecies contain rebukes to bring about repentance.  He did however speak very plainly of the Messiah, which was a major point of contention between the rabbis and the followers of Jesus at the time of canonization.  He also spoke plainly of the resurrection, which doctrine the Sadducees did not accept.   Thus not only content but also politics may have resulted in the Jews placing Daniel in the Ketuvim.  Its placement there in no way affects the dating of the book.

                  It is also important to note that Daniel is placed between Esther and Ezra-Nehemiah.  Both of which are books from the early Persian Period.  It is very natural for Daniel to be placed before Ezra as Ezra picks up exactly where Daniel ends, that is at the beginning of Cyrus’ reign. 

Ben Sira - Ecclesiasticus 44:1ff (Also called Sirach)

                  Ecclesiasitcus 44:1ff contains a list of great men of the faith.  Some say that since Daniel isn’t mentioned in this book which dates to c.180 BC, he must not have existed.  It is also important to note that Ben Sira not only fails to mention Daniel, but also  all the judges except Samuel, king Asa and Jehoshaphat, Mordecai, and Ezra.  Ecclesiasticus clearly can only be used for establishing the historicity of characters it mentions and cannot be used as evidence against the historicity of anyone else.

                  “Perhaps, since he held the views which later characterized the Sadducees, he may have passed Daniel by because of his views on the resurrection and on angels.” (Wilson p33)  “While it is impossible for us to determine why Ben Sira does not mention Daniel and his three companions among his worthies, if their deeds were known to him, it is even more impossible to understand how these stories concerning them cannot merely have arisen but have been accepted as true, between 180 BC, when Ecclesiasticus is thought to have been written, and 169 BC, when, according to 1 Maccabees, Matthias, the first of the Asmoneans, exhorted his brethren to follow the example of the fortitude of Ananias and his friends.” (Wilson p.34)

                  Evidence from Ecclesiasticus does not weigh heavily on either side of the argument.

Daniel’s Age

                  Some claim the Daniel’s lifespan according to the book is too long.  This is easily disproved.  Daniel and his friends are referred to as children in chapter 1 when they are taken as captives in Jehoiakim’s 3rd year, which marked the beginning of the 70 year Babylonian exile.  The Hebrew word translated in 1:4 by the NKJV as “young men” is ילדים.  At the very oldest this might refer to someone in his late teenage years.  Due to Daniel’s rise to power in chapter 2 only about 3 years later, it is likely that he was not a very young child.  Supposing that he was age 17 at the deportation, he would be 87 in Cyrus’s first year which is apparently when he retired (1:21).  Cyrus’s first year marked the end of the 70-year Babylonian exile.  Thus in Cyrus’s 3rd year, at the end of the book, Daniel might have been 89 years old.  This is a completely reasonable age for any healthy government official in his retirement.

                  Thus since Daniel’s age is completely reasonable, it actually gives proof that the book is an accurate historical account and not the careless invention of someone living much later.


                  Many late daters claim there are contradictions in the following verses:

“In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.  And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the articles into the treasure house of his god.” (Daniel 1:1-2 NKJV). 

                  The text does not say that he brought Jehoiakim to Babylon, simply that the Lord gave him into his hand.  In other words, Jehoiakim was not able to resist Nebuchadnezzar’s force and was compelled to comply.  “some of the articles” is literally “a small amount of the articles”.  This was not the major exportation that would happen about 8 years later in Jeconiah’s short reign.  The early Greek and Latin translations use a neuter form in order to show that only the vessels and not Jehoiakim were taken to Babylon. 

                   “The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah (which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon)” (Jeremiah 25:1)

                   This apparent discrepancy with Daniel’s account above is actually a cultural difference of dating systems. Jeremiah, living in the land of Israel, naturally uses the Israeli dating system, which would place Jehoiakim's fourth year in 604 BC.  Daniel, using the Babylonian system, places Jehoiakim's third year in 604 BC (Harrison, pg. 1112).  The Babylonians considered a king’s first year to start on the first New Years day in his reign.  Thus a Babylonian king could be crowned on the 15th of Nisan and reign 11 and a half months until the 1st of Nisan in the next spring, and none of that time would count as his first year.  The Israelites on the other hand counted any part of a year that happened before the first of Nisan as the first year.  Thus in Israel the first New Years day in a king’s reign marked the beginning of his second year.  (See II kings 18:9-10 for an example of the Israeli system of counting. See also Jeremiah 34:14).

                  Thus what seemed to be an error can easily be used  in support of an early date for the book in two ways. The first, if the author of Daniel lived in the second century during the Greek  period and in the land of Israel, then why would he use the dating system of a kingdom that was defeated over 370 years earlier and had its center far to the east. The second part of this argument says that if Daniel were an unknown, but scholarly Jew (as he would have had to have been to know Babylonian names and language as well as he does) he would have certainly followed in the footsteps of the well-respected prophet he makes use of in his book. He clearly refers to the book of  Jeremiah (Daniel 9:2), which uses the Israelite dating system. Why would he have strayed from such an important and well-known prophet to use another, obscure dating system, which would appear to contradict Jeremiah, for his readers would have known Jeremiah’s works well.  Had the author been writing in the 2nd century and had been trying to make an excellent forgery, surely he would not have the opening line of his book present a seemingly glaring mistake.

                  Concerning Nebuchadnezzar being called king at this point, Clarke states “There are some difficulties in the chronology of this place. Calmet takes rather a different view of these transactions. He connects the history thus: Nabopolassar, king of Babylon, finding that one of his lords whom he had made governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia had revolted from him, and formed an alliance with the king of Egypt, sent Neubuchadnezzar his son, whom he invested with the authority of king, to reduce those provinces, as was customary among the easterners when the heir presumptive was sent on any important expedition or embassy. This young prince, having quelled the insurrection in those parts, marched against Jerusalem about the end of the third or beginning of the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah. He soon took the city, and put Jehoiakim in chains with the design of carrying him to Babylon; but, changing his mind, he permitted him to resume the reins of government under certain oppressive conditions. At this year, which was A.M. 3398, the seventy years of the Babylonish captivity commence. Nabopolassar dying in the interim, Nebuchadnezzar was obliged to return speedily to Babylon, leaving his generals to conduct the Jewish captives to Babylon, among whom were Daniel and his companions.” (Clarke, p1056)

                  Josephus quoting Berosus gives virtually the identical explanation of the historical events.  Berosus explains how Nebuchadnezzar raced back to Babylon across the desert to receive the crown upon hearing of his father’s death.  And that he sent the Jewish captives around the long way, thus beating them there.  (Josephus Ant. 10.11.1) When the  Jews arrived in Babylon as captives, Nebuchadnezzar was already crowned as king.

                  The most likely explanation is that Nebuchadnezzar was not yet  king in 1:1 when he carries off some of the articles of the house of God, but is called king in retrospect, just as one might say “President Kennedy served in the US Navy” even though he wasn’t president at that time.  This would especially be the case if Daniel wrote this during his reign, thus paying respect by calling him after his present title.  It might not go well for Daniel to have referred to him in any other way.  In addition when Daniel actually arrived in Babylon Nebuchadnezzar was already crowned king.


                  This verse does not say, as some claim, that Daniel died in the first year of Cyrus.  Thus there is no contradiction with 10:1 which mentions the 3rd year of Cyrus.  What we do know is that Daniel was moved by Cyrus or Darius to Susa the Persian capital (notice his placement in 10:4).  The JPS which is one of my least favorite versions of the bible actually does an excellent job of translation here “Daniel was there until the first year of King Cyrus” (Daniel 1:21 JPS).  This captures well the intent of the Hebrew.  Nowhere does it say Daniel died, neither in the first year of Cyrus nor anywhere else in the book.


                  Observe Daniel 1:5 “And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king”. 

 Now compare this to 2:1ff “Now in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign…”. 

                  It is obvious from 1:46ff that this is after Daniel’s three year’s of training.  Yet Daniel’s training began when Nebuchadnezzar was already king (1:1). 

                  At least one manuscript says 12th year instead of 2nd year.  But this was apparently a scribal attempt at correction.  The change from 2nd to 12th in Hebrew is merely the addition of the word for ten after the word for two.

                  The idea that chapter one and two were at one time separate records doesn’t work either, for two reasons.  The first is that the compiler would have surely attempted some kind of correction or explanation.  The second is that chapter one acts as an introduction to chapter two and is clearly linked to it.

                  A better explanation is that  Daniel’s training started in Nebuchadnezzar’s coronation year, which was almost a full 12 months.  The second year of training was in Nebuchadnezzar’s 1st official year which started at the first New Years day that occurred in his reign.  Daniel’s third year of training was during Nebu’s 2nd official year.  Towards the end of that year he has his dream and tries to find its interpretation.  In the mean time the New Year happens starting Nebuchadnezzar’s 3rd year. Next Daniel and his companions are tested concerning their training, next Nebuchadnezzar gets mad at his wise men to whom Daniel and his friends had just been joined for failure to tell and interpret the dream.  Finally Daniel, in Nebuchadnezzar’s 3rd year explains the interpretation of the dream, thus saving himself and all the wise men.

                  The above explanation cannot be proved but is satisfactory according to the text.  This verse cannot be used to indicate a late date for writing or compiling.

Chapter 11 Antiochus Ephiphanes?

                  Consider the logical outcome had Daniel been written in 165 BC about Antiochus 4th.  Even if it could have been passed off as true prophecy it would have quickly, within a few years, turned out to be false.  For it is claimed that from 11:40 and onward the details no longer match up to the events of Antiochus reign, nor did the kingdom of God arrive at that time.  Yet we are to believe that it readily was accepted and that on par with the Holy Scriptures?

                  Daniel must have really existed or the Jews would not have accepted the book as being from a true prophet or historian.  They would have simply said “we never heard of such things happening in the days of the exile, and besides that chapter 11 doesn’t fit Antiochus most recent deeds or his death, nor has the messianic kingdom come”

                  Those who hold to a late date first interpret chapter 11 as they saw fit then make their judgment about a failure in fulfillment based on their own interpretation.  Obviously logic dictates that first the intended interpretation(s) must be found, then and only then can the prophecy be tested as to whether it came true or not or whether it concerns that which is yet future.  I would note that neither Greece, Alexander the Great nor Anitochus nor anyone else is mentioned by name in chapter 11.

                  Porphyry’s argument as well as that of modern scholars is based on whether or not Daniel 11:21-45, and/or the book as a whole are about Antiochus Epiphanes. While most people do indeed believe that at least a part of chapter eleven deals with Antiochus Epiphanes, yet there are some who don't think that any part of Daniel refers to Antiochus.

                  For those who believe the book was written in the second century, and the whole book in some way relates to Antiochus, it is hard to explain what purpose chapter four serves. So far as we know, no affliction of the type ascribed here to Nebuchadnezzar ever afflicted Antiochus. Nor would it be very encouraging for the Jews to know that their persecutor, after going mad and apparently dropping out of the scene for awhile would come back to torment them.

                  There are many places in Daniel which seem to have no parallel to, or connections with Antiochus, or any other events surrounding that era. It is the most reasonable assumption to make, that chapters one through six refer to the exilic times alone. It seems the Babylonian or early Persian period best accounts for the exact information about the Babylonian empire which we have in the book of Daniel.

                  One opinion is that even chapter eleven does not refer to Antiochus but to antichrist. Some think that verses 21-35 refer to Antiochus, but that verses 36-45 refer to the Antichrist.  The passage itself is difficult, and gives no clear indication of how it is to be interpreted. For example, there is no transition between verses 35-36 to differentiate a change of personage here.  Others see the switch at verse 40.  At any rate, if Antiochus did die as 11:45 implies, then what about the coming of the kingdom of God or the resurrection of the dead?

Nebuchadnezzar/Antiochus numerical values

Some claim that Nebuchadnezzar’s name as spelt in Daniel has the same

numerical value spelt in Hebrew as does the name AntiochusThey fail however to notice that Nebuchadnezzar is spelt two different ways in Daniel and that the name Antiochus never occurs in Daniel.  The majority of occurrences of the name Nebuchadnezzar are in Aramaic and not Hebrew.  Nor do they provide a Hebrew spelling for the name Antiochus, which is a Greek name.  There is simply no evidence here in favor of a late date.

The Resurrection and Angels

                  The mention of the resurrection and the naming of one angel does not demand a late date for the book.  Both of these concepts have long standing traditions throughout the Middle East including in Babylon.  The fact that the rest of the Hebrew bible does not mention any angel by name is itself an enigma.  The concept of the resurrection existed over a thousand years earlier in Egypt and Babylon both.  Daniel’s development of the doctrine is only slightly more (if that) than what Isaiah’s is.  This makes sense since about two centuries separate them.  Daniel’s doctrines of angels and the resurrection seem less developed than that which is found in the writings of the Maccabean era. (compare for example the book of Tobit) Thus this might indicate Daniel was written in an earlier  era.

Concerning the kings listed or referred to in the book of Daniel

                  Firstly, there exists the notion amongst certain scholars that if there is no external evidence to support a person, or place mentioned in the bible that it should not be regarded as valid.  However, this is a faulty, unscientific approach, considering how much external evidence in ancient writings and archaeology there is that demonstrates the validity of the biblical text.  And every year more discoveries are made.  I have even heard people suggest that perhaps David never existed, however now we have external evidence with the specific mention of his name (tel Dan stele).  This also goes for Hezekiah’s tunnel, Belshazzar, etc…  Suffice to say that the historical accounts given in scripture should be taken seriously and in the present author’s view, more seriously than other history books, due to the length of time that the bible covers and yet has been shown to be accurate over that great length of time.

Nebuchadnezzar / Nabonidus

                  Some claim that the account of Nebuchadnezzar does not line up with actual history.  However no contradiction to actual history has ever been found.  However some of the account found in Daniel does not yet have an external, independent confirmation before the 2nd century BC.  In other words, to date, no Babylonian or Persian records have been found to confirm the setting up of Nebuchadnezzar’s gold image in chapter 3 or his madness and recovery along with his acknowledgement of the “Most High... the King of Heaven” in chapter 4.  However the setting up of the gold image is not unusual for the works of Nebuchadnezzar, nor does it indicate his inventing a new form of monotheism in preference to the other gods of Babylon.  For Daniel 3:12 and 3:18 both show that Nebuchadnezzar still had a plural amount of “gods” and that the gold image was not included among these gods.  Apparently the gold image was a representation of Nebuchadnezzar himself as it is plainly connected to the dream of the image in chapter 2 were Nebuchadnezzar is referred to as the head of gold of the image in his dream (2:38).  Apparently he didn’t want to be just the head, but the whole image.  Notice that in 3:2 he sent to gather all his subordinates to come to the dedication of the image and then has them commanded to worship it.  This was not to create a new god, but rather to further humble all his subordinates making them bow down and worship the image that represented him.  This is very consistent with external accounts of Nebuchadnezzar’s pride and behavior.

                  Nor does Daniel’s account say that Nebuchadnezzar gave up his other gods after the fiery furnace event.  Actually the account in 3:28-29 shows that Nebuchadnezzar continued keeping his own gods but simply gave immunity and protection to the worshippers of the God of the three Hebrew men. 

                  The issue of his madness in chapter four is of greater significance as Nebuchadnezzar is driven from his kingship for a period of seven “times”(4:16, 32) and afterwards is restored to his kingship with additional majesty (4:36) and acknowledging the “Most High” God.  This does not indicate a conversion to the God of the Jews nor a forsaking of polytheism since in 4:8 he still acknowledges his own god as being the source of Belteshazzar’s (Daniel’s) name.  Thus the main issue is only his absence, madness and reaccension. Many consider the seven “times” to be seven “years”, which may be the right understanding, however if that were the case, the author could have simply said “years”, but he did not.  In addition verse 34 refers to the period as “days”.  The period does, however, require enough time for the description: “his hair had grown like eagles’ and his nails like bird’s”(4:33).  This apparently would be a period of more than a month and if long hair is indeed indicated, then a longer period is intended. 

                  Several questions arise:

1.                    At what point in his reign did this occur?

2.                    Who reigned in the intern that would hand over the kingdom upon Nebuchadnezzar’s return?

3.                    Do the records of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign thus far discovered indicate or allow for a long period of his absence?

The book of Daniel paints this event as being towards the middle or later part of his reign as it is placed last in the book itself concerning the events of Nebuchadnezzar.  Nebuchadnezzar is seen as well established in his kingdom (4:22) and relaxing in his palace (4:4) and another year (4:26) passes before his exile comes to pass.

                  Harrison claims that the scarcity of inscriptions from Nebuchadnezzar’s later years combined with the following inscription from Babylonia which was recovered by Sir Henry Rawlinson, provide a period in Nebuchadnezzar’s later days when the events of Daniel 4 may have happened.

                  For four years the seat of my kingdom in my city…did not rejoice my heart.  In all my dominions I did not build a high place of power, the precious treasures of my kingdom I did not lay out.  In the worship of Merodach my lord, the joy of my heart in Babylon, the city of my sovereignty, I did not sing his praises and I did not furnish his altars, nor did I clear out the canals.”  (Harrison p1115, Cf. H. Rawlinson, Historical Evidences of the Truth of the Scriptural Records 1859, pp. 185, 440 n. 29; R.K. Harrison, IDB, I, p. 851)

                  As far as the type of madness, Harrison records personally witnessing a man in a British mental institution in 1946 with the rare form of monomania called boanthropy. (Harrison, pp1115-1117) This is apparently the same affliction that Nebuchadnezzar had.  It is very rare but is known to occur.  Supposedly Eusebius also recorded Nebuchadnezzar’s being possessed towards the end of his reign and Josephus in Against Apion I,20 records Berosus account of Nebuchadnezzar’s becoming ill.

                  The book of Daniel makes no mention of Nabonidus and some think that Nabonidus is the same person that Daniel chapter 4 calls Nebuchadnezzar.  This idea is largely based on an Aramaic text called The Prayer of Nabonidus which comes from the famous Dead Sea scrolls: four scraps of parchment from Cave 4, usually called 4Q242, copied from an older original in the second half of the first century BC. The story is similar in that Nabonidus suffered from an affliction that drove him out of society for seven years. It also shows some sort of interaction with a Jewish exile.

Prayer of Nabonidus:

 Words of the prayer, said by Nabonidus, king of Babylonia, the great king, when afflicted with an ulcer on command of the most high God in TemČ:
                  'I, Nabonidus, was afflicted with an evil ulcer for seven years, and far from men was driven, until I prayed to the most high God. And an exorcist pardoned my sins. He was a Jew from among the children of the exile of Judah, and said: "Recount this in writing to glorify and exalt the name of the most high God." Then I wrote this: "When I was afflicted for seven years by the most high God with an evil ulcer during my stay at TemČ, I prayed to the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood, stone and lime, because I thought and considered them gods..."' [the end is missing]

(from an article by Jona Lendering ©

Note that Daniel is not mentioned by name and several details differ, therefore we can only speculate that this story is relating the same event recorded in the book of Daniel.  It is entirely possible that this is a completely different story from that of Nebuchadnezzar.  What it does show is a “Jew from among the children of the exile of Judah” interacting in spiritual matters with the king of Babylon.  Thus providing validity to a historical character like Daniel.


                  In Daniel 5:28 Belshazzar’s kingdom is prophesied as being given to the Medes and Persians. Thus the book establishes him as the last king in Babylon.

                  Possibilities for his identification have been proposed.  The Book of Daniel paints him as the son of Nebuchadnezzar 5:2, 13, 18, 5:22, 5:11, etc.  It was once claimed he never existed but his name has been discovered on the Nabonidus Cylinder were he appears as Nabonidus’ son. (Montgomery, pp 66-67).  It seems he may have been coregent with his father who was of on various military campaigns and away at Teima for several years.  At Qumran The Prayer of Nabonidus 4QPrNab (4Q242) (75-50 BC) Confirms that Nabonidus was away at Teima.

                  In the verse account of Nabonidus, it is said that Nabonidus "entrusted the 'camp' to his eldest son ['Belshazzar] ...entrusted the kingship to him (Hasel, pg. 155) and himself ...he turned towards Tema in the West." This is fairly strong evidence that Belshazzar was indeed the coregent of Babylon in his father's absence, and was there when Babylon fell in 539 BC The mystery here, if one accepts the second century date of writing, is how the author knew of Nabonidus' leaving Belshazzar in charge, when all knowledge of Belshazzar was lost by at least 450 BC (Archer, pg. 289), until the discovery of the Nabonidus Chronicle. The only conclusion that one can reach, other than some other information which has been lost to us today, is that the author was indeed alive during the events, in 539 BC. (Waltke, pg. 328 inTownsley).

                  As far as his being Nebuchadnezzar’s son, the usage of the word son in the Hebrew language allows for this being interpreted as one of Nebuchadnezzar’s more distant descendants.  There is also the indication of possibility that Nabonidus married one of his Nebuchadnezzar’s former wives or perhaps one of his daughters in his attempt to seize greater control of the throne.  This sort of thing was common among usurpers  (Absalom took David’s concubines) and this could be the Queen mother referred to in Daniel 5:10 thus he was Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson by her.

                  Also Jeremiah 27:7 says “So all nations shall serve him (Nebuchadnezzar) and his son and his son’s son, until the time of his land comes; and then many nations and great kings shall make him serve them.”

                  The account of the feast Belshazzar made matches that of  historical accounts of what was happening when  Babylon was captured by the Medo-Persian army.  “as they engaged in a festival, dancing and reveling until they learned of the capture but too surely” (Montgomery, p 68 also see Herodotus I, 191)

he (Cyrus) heard that there was a festival in Babylon, in which all the Babylonians drank and reveled the whole night” (Montgomery, p 68 also see Xenophon’s Cyropaedia VII, 5)  Josephus gives a similar account.

                  Notice that Daniel (and Baruch 1:1 which is based on Daniel) was the only historical record of Belshazzar before the fairly recent discovery of Babylonian records containing his name as the son of Nabonidus.  How could the author of Daniel have such knowledge that was completely lost to the rest of the world since the time of the Persian kingdom unless he was actually there at that time.  This weighs against a late date for the book.

Darius the Mede

                  5:28 “…your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians”  this is consistent with the reign of Darius the Mede as that of co regnant with Cyrus and this shows the Median / Persian kingdom was considered one kingdom, just as it is today (see also 6:8, 12, 15). 

                  “That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain.  And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about 62 years old.  It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be over the whole kingdom; and over these, 3 governors, of whom Daniel was one…” (Daniel 5:30ff).

                  “In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans - in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the LORD through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish 70 years in the desolations of Jerusalem.” (Daniel 9:1ff, also see Jeremiah 29:10 concerning the 70 years).

                  “Also in the first year of Darius the Mede…” (Daniel 11:1)

Darius is described as:

                  62 years old approx. (5:31)

                  son of Ahasuerus (9:1)

                  a Mede (5:31, 9:1 -  in both the Aramaic and Hebrew sections)

                  king of the Chaldeans (9:1)

                  as having received the kingdom (5:31) - hence someone must have given it.

Apparently Darius the Mede was set up as king by Cyrus, who went out to continue his conquests.  Note that he is called king over the realm of the Chaldeans, rather than king over Babylon.  Belshazzar is similarly called in 5:30.  Hence we have Darius replacing Belshazzar in his position as king.  As noted above Belshazzar was a type of coregent with his father Nabonidus who was out of the city at the time of the capture and later lost to Cyrus in battle.  Perhaps a similar relationship existed between Cyrus and Darius.  So then while Cyrus was busy fighting Nabonidus after the fall of the city of Babylon to the Medo-Persian Empire, he placed Darius on the throne.

                  Darius the Mede may be Astyages the Median king who was conquered by Cyrus or his son (Josephus calls Darius the son of Astyages - Ant.  According to Xenophon’s Cyropaedia I, 2, 1  Cyrus married his daughter and in the same text we also see Cyrus marrying the daughter of Cyaxares (II), who is also suggested to be Darius (VIII, 5, 8) (1, p 63).  I do not know if these two could actually be the same or not.  The Apocryphal book of Bel and the Dragon mentions Astyages as reigning before Cyrus (1:1).  Also we have a reference to Gobryus, who is Cyrus’ governor as having “placed governors in charge of Babylon” (Montgomery, p68).  This would fit well with Darius’ placing 120 satraps over the kingdom with 3 over them. 

                  Bel and the Dragon (from a text dated 50-75 BC at Qumran) provides evidence of Darius the Mede being identified with king Astyages:

The History of the Destruction of Bel and the Dragon, Cut off from the end of Daniel.

1:1And king Astyages was gathered to his fathers, and Cyrus of Persia received his kingdom.

1:2And Daniel conversed with the king, and was honored above all his friends.

1:3Now the Babylonians had an idol, called Bel, and there were spent upon him every day twelve great measures of fine flour, and forty sheep, and six vessels of wine.

                  At any rate Darius seems to be placed on the throne by Cyrus, while Cyrus continues his military campaigns, and indeed such situations were very common in antiquity. 

                  Daniel never calls Darius the king of the Medes or Persians, he only calls him the king of Chaldeans.  Some try to say that Darius the Mede is Darius I of Persia, and that the author of Daniel got his facts confused.  However it is plain from the text that this is not the right identification as he is clearly called Darius the Mede, as opposed to being a Persian.  In addition he is said to be 62 years old in his first year which does not fit Darius the Persian.  He is also said to reign before the 70 years of exile were ended.  One cannot say that the writer of Daniel was a master forger from the 2nd century such that he new ancient languages and syntax, as well as customs, terms, culture and history from Babylon and Persia and at the same time say that he would make such a horrible blunder as to think Darius the I reigned before Cyrus.  From the book of Ezra/Nehemiah alone he would have known better.

                  Daniel 6:28 “So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian”  This shows that Cyrus followed Darius.

                  Both Jeremiah and Isaiah make call the Medes the conquerors of the Babylonians:

                  Isaiah 21:2ff     “…Go up, O Elam: besiege, O Media; all the sighing thereof have I made to cease. Therefore are my loins filled with pain: pangs have taken hold upon me, as the pangs of a woman that travaileth: I was bowed down at the hearing of it; I was dismayed at the seeing of it…And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground.” (KJV)

                  Isaiah13:17-20 “Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it. Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eyes shall not spare children.  And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.  It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there.” (KJV)

                  Jeremiah 51:11-12 Make bright the arrows; gather the shields: the LORD hath raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes: for his device is against Babylon, to destroy it; because it is the vengeance of the LORD, the vengeance of his temple.  Set up the standard upon the walls of Babylon, make the watch strong, set up the watchmen, prepare the ambushes: for the LORD hath both devised and done that which he spake against the inhabitants of Babylon. (KJV)

                  Jeremiah 51:27-29 Set ye up a standard in the land, blow the trumpet among the nations, prepare the nations against her, call together against her the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashchenaz; appoint a captain against her; cause the horses to come up as the rough caterpillers.  Prepare against her the nations with the kings of the Medes, the captains thereof, and all the rulers thereof, and all the land of his dominion.  And the land shall tremble and sorrow: for every purpose of the LORD shall be performed against Babylon, to make the land of Babylon a desolation without an inhabitant. (KJV)

                  Josephus clearly considered Darius the Mede to be a historical character and makes much mention of him in Antiquities Book 10 Chapter 11.

                  There is  reason  to believe that Cyrus set up Darius on the throne in Babylon, while he continued his conquests.  The name Darius is actually a title and means “restrainer”.  The lack of an external text from the time period that clearly mentions Darius the Mede, only indicates that we haven’t discovered one yet, it does not indicate that Darius didn’t exist. 

                  The fact that Daniel mentions Darius’s age as being 62, yet never gives the ages of anyone else in the book including himself is interesting.  This is information that only a writer in the early Persian period could have.  There is no motivation for a writer in the Maccabean period to include Darius’s age, especially since no other ages are given.  Darius’s old age would explain his relatively short reign of perhaps 5 years as coregent with Cyrus from 539-534 BC.  It would also be a proper age for him to be Cyrus’s father in law.

Persian kings

                 “Also in the first year of Darius the Mede, I, even I, stood up to confirm and strengthen him.)  And now I will tell you the truth:  Behold, three more kings will arise in Persia, and the fourth shall be far richer than them all; by his strength, through his riches, he shall stir up all against the realm of Greece.  Then a mighty king shall arise, who shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.  And when he has arisen, his kingdom shall be broken up and divided toward the four winds of heaven, but not among his posterity nor according to his dominion with which he ruled; for his kingdom shall be uprooted, even for others besides these.”  -Daniel 11:1-4

                  Clearly a large section of the Persian period is outlined here, apparently culminating in the conquest by Alexander the Great.  Alexander died at the very height of his kingdom.  His family line was not able to retain the kingdom and it was divided into four parts,  never again approaching the dominion that Alexander exercised. 

                   Daniel received this vision in the “third year of Cyrus king of Persia” (Daniel 10:1).  The mention of the first year of Darius the Mede is spoken of as a past event, hence we may conclude that the 4 kings are between Cyrus and Alexander, who are typically dated at beginning their reigns in 539 and 333 respectively.  This leaves about 200 years for the Persian period, during which time Daniel seems to have only 5 kings reigning.  Current historical understanding of the period has many more kings between Cyrus and Alexander.  Much of our understanding of the dates for this period comes from Claudius Ptolemaeus (commonly called Ptolemy c.70-161 AD) who based his famous kings list on ancient astronomical data.

                  “Ptolemy... is our only authority for no other system bridges the gap between 747BC and 137AD.  His canon, or list of reigns, is the only thread connecting the reign of the Biblical Darius I Hystaspis with Daniel’s “notable” horned “he-goat” King of Greece who was to defeat the Medo-Persian empire. (Dan 8:5-8, 21-22; 11:2-4)...The main point of contention is that from the BC 491 lunar eclipse in the 31st year of the reign of Darius, no other recorded eclipse data was available for Ptolemy to verify his king list over most of the later Persian period” (Jones p243, see Anstey, The Romance of Bible Chronology pp. 288-293)

                  The names Artaxerxes, Xerxes, Darius, Pul, and others are actually titles meaning king or lord, etc…  Therefore it is difficult to establish who is who, as one man may have taken more than one title for himself and perhaps different titles at different times.

                  Artaxerxes = “the great king” or “the king of kings”

                  Arta = “the great” or “king of”

                  Darius = “the restrainer”

                  Xerxes = “shah” i.e. “king”

                  Ahasuerus = “mighty king” or “High father”

                  Cyrus = “kurash” in Persian.  The Greek equivalent is “Kurios” = “lord”

                  Cyrus even called himself Artaxerxes.

                   Xerxes called himself  “son of Darius”, “Darius”, and “Xerxes the Arta”.

This is not to say that our current understanding is faulty, but merely limited in reconciling Daniel’s prophesies with Persian history.  Indeed the two agree at many points including attacks against the Grecian kingdom.  The text does not say there will be only 5 kings in Persia.  It does allow for more, but is mainly concerned with the beginning of the conflict with the Greeks and its ultimate culmination in the defeat of the Persian armies at the hand of Alexander.  Indeed, between Artaxerxes and Alexander, not much happened significantly as regards the Jews, thus the author was not concerned with that period.


                  The historian Socrates Sozomenus states“…Porphyry, who having been beaten by some Christians at Caesarea in Palestine and not being able to endure [such treatment], from the working of unrestrained rage renounced the Christian religion: and from hatred of those who had beaten him he took to write blasphemous works against Christians, as Eusebius Pamphilus has proved who at the same time refuted his writings.” (Socrates Sozomenus Church Histories Book 3 chapter 23 in Schaff, Volume 2 p224)

                 Jerome states “Against the prophet Daniel Porphyry wrote a twelfth volume, denying that that book was composed by him with whose name it is inscribed, etc. To him Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea, has replied very skillfully in three volumes, that is, in volumes XVIII., XIX., and XX. Apollinarius also in one large volume, that is, in the twenty-sixth volume, and before these, in part, Methodius.” (Jerome Commentaries in Schaff, Volume 1 p114)

                  Unfortunately both Porphyry’s works and those of the men who refuted him have been lost.  All that is known of his writings about Daniel are excerpts quoted in some ancient Christian writings.


                  The Aramaic demands and the Hebrew indicates a date before the 2nd century BC and most likely in the late 6th or early 5th century.  The Persian and Akkadian foreign loan words point to an early date, as do even the Greek loan words. 

                  All the evidence I have examined either directly indicates, points to, or allows for the book to have been written, in its final form, in the reign of Cyrus the Great.  The only thing that seems to contradict this dating is the theory that predictive prophecy cannot happen.  Were it not for a pre-disposition against predictive prophecy in general, most scholars would be much more willing to concede to what the evidence clearly points to, namely a late 6th or early 5th century origin for  the book.

                  To say that one cannot know future events before they happen, or that a spiritual realm does not exist, based merely on personal prejudice is simply unscientific.  Science observes what has happened and draws a conclusion based on the information.  It is unscientific to close ones eyes to certain data due to a prejudice against it.  There has been discussed above much internal and external evidence that points to a 6th century date for the book of Daniel.

                  It should be obvious that to change a view that has been consistently held by an overwhelming majority of scholars, historians, religious leaders and historical witnesses for a period spanning over 2000 years, one must bring to light some very solid evidence.   The proponents of the Maccabean date have failed to do so.


The numbers at the end of some of the entries refers to the shelf location in the central library of the Hebrew University Mt. Scopus Campus in Jerusalem, Israel.

Anstey, Martin The Romance of Bible Chronology Marshall Bros. London 1913 quoted in Jones

Archer, Gleason. Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982.

Baldwin, Joyce G. Daniel. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1978. quoted in Townsley

Clarke, Adam Clarke’s Commentary OT, Volume 4 Isaiah-Malachi, contained in Books for the Ages, AGES Software Albany, OR USA Version 2.0 copyright 1996, 1997

Collins, John J. Daniel, Augsburg Fortress, 426 S. Fifth St., Box 1209, Minneapolis MN 55440. 1993 (BS 1565.3 C63 D35).  Collins supports the Maccabean theory generally.

Gooding, David. "The Literary Structure of Daniel and its Implications." Tyndale Bulletin 32 (1981): 43-51. quoted in Townsley

Harrison, R.K. Introduction to the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1969, reprinted 1977 Inter-Varsity Press (BS 1140.2 H35 - 0164522)

Hasel, Gerhard F. "The Book of Daniel: Evidences Relating to Persons and Chronology." Andrews University Seminary Studies 19 (1981): 211-225. quoted in Townsley

Hasel, Gerhard F. "The First and Third Years of Belshazzar." Andrews University Seminary Studies 15 (1977): 153-168. Used in Townsley

Fausset, A.R. (Jamieson, Robert / Fausset, A.R. / Brown, David), Commentary Practical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids 6, Michigan 1967

Jones, Floyd Nolen Chronology of the Old Testament A Return to the Basics 14th edition 1999, KingsWord Press P.O. Box 130220  The Woodlands, Texas 77393-0220

Josephus  The Antiquities of the Jews, and Against Apion contained in The Works of Josephus:  New Updated Edition, Complete and Unabridged in One Volume translated by William Whiston, Hendrickson Publishers 1987

JPS JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh, The Traditional Hebrew Text and the New JPS Translation second edition, Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia, 1999.  The translators took a lot of liberty with this one.

Keil, C.F.  D.D. “Biblical Commentary on the Book of Daniel”, Commentary on the Old Testament in Ten Volumes, Volume 9 translated from German by M.G. Easton, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan (1985) A commentary worth referring to for a conservative viewpoint.

KJV King James Version of the Holy Bible, also called the Authorized Version.

Microsoft   Encarta   Online Encyclopedia 2002,   1997-2002, Microsoft Corporation, all rights reserved.

Montgomery James A Ph.D., S.T.D.  The International Critical Commentary, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Daniel”  T. & T. CLARK, EDINBURGH, New York 1927/1964.  For those who prefer newer radical viewpoints.

NKJV The Holy Bible New King James Version, Thomas Nelson, Inc copyright 1982

Oppenheim, A. Leo. "Essay on Overland Trade in the First Millennium B.C." Journal of Cuneiform Studies 21 (1983): 6-12.

Pfeiffer, Charles F. The Wycliffe Bible Commentary Moody Press, Chicago 1966

Rabbi Hersh Goldwurm Daniel / A New Translation with a Commentary Anthologized from Talmudic, Midrashic and Rabbinic Sources, Mesorah Publications, ltd 1979 New York, distributed by ZIONTALES/ Book Division New York, New York 10002

Saenz-Badillos, Angel A History of the Hebrew Language (Translated by John Elwolde), Cambridge University Press 1996

Schaff, Philip The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers  Second Series, Volume  reproduced in Books For The Ages, AGES Software, Albany, OR USA Version 1.0 © 1997

Stefanovic, Zdravko The Aramaic of Daniel in the Light of Old Aramaic, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 129, JSOT Press Sheffield 1992 (BS 1565.2 S73)

Taylor, Larry A. Daniel: An outline of the dating issues

A quick review of arguments for a late date.

Townsley, Jeramy  Historical Dating of the Book of Daniel 1990

Van Dine, Jim Daniel Sonic Light copyright 2002

Vasholz, Robert 1. "Qumran and the Dating of Daniel." Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 21 (1978) pp315-21

Waltke, Bruce K. "The Date of the Book of Daniel." Bibliotheca Sacra 133 (1976): 319-329.  a secondary source

Wallace, Daniel B. Ph.D. Who is Ezekiel's Daniel?

Wilson, R. Dick, INTERNATIONAL STANDARD BIBLE ENCYCLOPEDIA VOL. 3 , reproduced in Books For The Ages, AGES Software, Albany, OR USA Version 1.0 © 1997

Wiseman, D.J. "Babylonia." New Bible Dictionary (1982):114-119. quoted in Townsley

Yamauchi, Edwin M. "Hermeneutical Issues in the Book of Daniel." Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 23
1980  p13-21 in Townsley

Yamauchi, Edwin M. "Daniel and Contacts Between the Aegean and the Near East Before Alexander." The Evangelical Quarterly 53 (1981): 37-47. quoted in Townsley

Yet unresearched Bibliography

Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, new series - Volume 46, part 3 1956 “The Interpretation of Dreams in the Ancient Near East”  A. Leo Oppenheim, Oriental Insititute, University of Chicago p205-210

Daniel Manuscripts found at Qumran

(as recorded at

1QDana (1Q71)    Dan 1:10–17; 2:2–6.

Confirms the shift of language from Hebrew to Aramaic, and omits the phrase ‘in Aramaic’ at 2:4.   50–68 A.D.

1QDanb (1Q72)     Dan 3:22–30.

Confirms the absence of the apocryphal “Prayer of Azariah and Song of the Three Men.”  50–68 A.D.

4QDana (4Q112)     Dan 1:16–2:33; 4:29–30; 5:5–7; 7:25–8:5; 10:16–20; 11:13–16.

Confirms the shift of language from Aramaic to Hebrew. The manuscript has a blank line between the end the Aramaic section and beginning of the Hebrew.

 50 B.C.

4QDanb (4Q113)

 Dan 5:10–12, 14–16, 19–22; 6:8–22, 27–29; 7:1–6, 26–28; 8:1–8, 13–16.

Confirms the shift of language from Aramaic to Hebrew.  50–68 A.D.

4QDanc (4Q114)    Dan 10:5–9, 11–16, 21; 11:1–2, 13–17, 25–29.

The oldest known text of Daniel.

 Late 2nd century B.C.

4QDand (4Q115)

 Dan 3:23–25; 4:5?–9; 4:12–14. Five partial lines in severe decay.

4QDane (4Q116)

(tiny fragments from chapter 9)

6QDana (6Q7)  Dan 8:16, 17, 20, 21; 10:8–16, 11:33–36, 38.

This cave contained papyrus manuscripts rather than leather parchment.

 50–68 A.D.

Every chapter of Daniel is represented in these manuscripts, except for Dan 12. However, this does not mean that the Book lacked the final chapter at Qumran, since Dan 12:10 is quoted in the Florilegium (4Q174), which explicitly tells us that ‘it is written in the Book of Daniel the Prophet.’

Other Manuscripts Found at Qumran that Refer To Daniel

(as found at

1QWarScroll (1QM)    War Scroll ~50 BC–50 A.D.

“More allusions from a single section of Daniel are woven together in the first column of the War Scroll than in any other place in Qumran.” see G.K. Beale, The Use Of Daniel In Jewish Apocalyptic Literature And In The Revelation Of St. John. (New York: University Press of America, 1964), p 42.

4QFlor (4Q174) Florilegium ~50 A.D.?

Quotes Dan 11:32(?); 12:10

“…Dan 12:10 is quoted in the Florilegium (4Q174), which explicitly tells us that ‘it is written in the Book of Daniel the Prophet.’

4QPsDan ara (4Q243)  Pseudo–Daniel  ~25 A.D.

(40 Aramaic fragments) Daniel at the royal court of Belshazzar.

4QPsDan arb (4Q244)  Pseudo–Daniel ~25 A.D

(14 Aramaic fragments)   Daniel at the royal court of Belshazzar.

 “…and their God became angry at them and said to give them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar” (frag. 2)

4QPsDan arc(4Q245)  Pseudo–Daniel ~25 A.D.

(Aramaic fragments) Mentions the Hasmonean priests Jonathon and Simon

4QPrNab (4Q242) Prayer of Nabonidus   75–50 B.C.

Consists of non–canonical material. Some scholars see a dependence upon Daniel chapter 4; others suggest this is an independent ‘Daniel’ tradition. Confirms that Nabonidus was away at Teima, which accounts for Belshazzar's presence as acting king in Daniel.

4QApocDan (4Q246) ‘Son of God’ Text or Aramaic Apocalypse.

Col. 2, line 5 “His kingdom will be an eternal kingdom;” Col. 2, line 9 “His rule will be an eternal rule.”  Compare Dan 2:44, 7:14, 7:44.    see Robert Eisenman and Michael Wise, The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered. (Rockport, MA: Element, Inc., 1992) pp. 68–71.

4Q547 Vision of the Four Kingdoms

This text represents four kingdoms as trees. The first tree is Babylon.  see Robert Eisenman and Michael Wise, The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered. (Rockport, MA: Element, Inc., 1992), pp. 71–74.  Compare to Daniel 4.

11QMelcha (11Q13)  Coming of Melchizedek Text

“…And this messenger is the anointed of the spirit about whom Daniel spoke.”

 (We gratefully acknowledge Christian ThinkTank for this reference.

Drawn heavily upon: Daniel by John J. Collins. And Daniel at Qumran by Matthias Henze appendix to The Madness of King Nebuchadnezzar: The Ancient Near East Origins and Early History of Interpretation of Daniel 4. ©1999 by Koninkllke Brill nv, Leiden, The Netherlands. Peter W. Flint, “The Daniel Tradition at Qumran,” in Eschatology, Messianism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls, editors, Craig A. Evans and Peter W. Flint (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1997), pp. 41–60.