ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Daniel's Chronological Clutter

Updated on July 18, 2016

Skeptics often recognize the numerous contradictions, inconsistencies, redundancies and factual inaccuracies in the Bible. But criticizing the Bible's sloppy and confusing literary composition is much more subjective, and more problematic. Still, there are useful examples with which it can be demonstrated.

The Old Testament book of Daniel is one such instance. It contains the usual sort of factual problems, like dubious 'prophecies' and questionable historic references, but even in a purely literary sense, the chronology (and thus, the narrative flow) of its chapters is all over the place. Trying to read and follow it can be a hair-pulling experience -- even for a believer!

The chronological anomalies appear almost from the beginning. Chapter One begins well enough, with the story of the siege of Jerusalem by Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, in the third year of Judean king Jehoiakim's reign (in 597 BCE). It also explains how Daniel, given the name Belteshazzar, came into Nebuchadnezzar's favor.

The first problem arises in chapter Two, with the story of Daniel's interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream of four kingdoms. The episode is dated to the "second year" of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, in 604 BCE -- long BEFORE he attacked Jerusalem and became acquainted with Daniel. Obviously, Daniel couldn't have interpreted Nebuchadnezzar's dream for him in person seven years before he ever met him!

Reconciling this discrepancy requires a bit of interpretive license with Daniel's reference to the "second year." If we perceive it as the "second year" of Nebuchadnezzar's reign IN JERUSALEM, the sequential problem is resolved. We can then date the story to 595 BCE, and the chronology is back in synch.

Chapter Three tells the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego thrown into a fiery pit by Nebuchadnezzar. Chapter Four tells the story of how Nebuchadnezzar is driven mad by God, then returns to his senses and his kingdom. Though there is nothing in either chapter that can be correlated to an actual historical event, they both occur during Nebuchadnezzar's reign, so we can reasonably assume that the chronological order is maintained.

It is in chapter Five when the historical sequence becomes more strained. It relates the story of Daniel's translation of the mysterious writing on the wall during king Belshazzar's banquet in the city of Babylon the night before it is conquered by Darius the Mede. This event moves the narrative decades into the future, to 539 BCE.

Chapter Six continues with the reign of Darius in Babylon, telling the story of his reluctantly throwing Daniel into the lions' den. In this chapter as well, there is nothing correlating to any specific historical events, but the chronology can be assumed to be consistent.

In chapter Seven the historical sequence begins to dramatically unravel. It returns to the FIRST year of Belshazzar's reign, in 549 BCE, going back a decade to tell of Daniel's vision regarding the coming Jewish messiah (popularly known as the "son of man" prophecy).

Chapter Eight continues this new, earlier chronology, relating the story of Daniel's "ram and goat" 'prophecy' in the third year of Belshazzar's reign, in 546 BCE.

Chapter Nine poses another chronological problem. It tells of the archangel Michael's "seventy weeks" messiah 'prophecy' to Daniel, dating the episode in the "first year" of Darius' reign. But, given the earlier anomaly, it is uncertain whether this refers to Darius' "first year" reigning in Persia (in 550 BCE) or his "first year" reigning in Babylon (in 539 BCE). To maintain some sense of sequence, it's reasonable to assume the latter.

Chapter Ten is the most confusing of all. It continues Daniel's "great river" 'prophecy' regarding the messiah and the end times, and is dated to the "third year" of Cyrus' reign. But Cyrus was co-regent with Darius for years before finally ruling on his own.

Chronologically, this means the narrative either moves BACK even further in time, to the third year of Cyrus' co-regency with Darius, in 556 BCE, or jumps far AHEAD in time, to the third year of Cyrus' solitary reign, in 532 BCE.

Unfortunately, there is a problem with either conclusion, as the end of chapter One states that Daniel "...continued even unto the first year of king Cyrus." If Daniel lived only into the FIRST year of Cyrus' reign, he could not have possibly had his vision in Cyrus' THIRD year!

The only way to reconcile this discrepancy is with yet another assumption. We must presume that the chapter One citation refers to the "first year" of Cyrus' solitary reign, in 535 BCE, and that the Chapter Ten citation refers to the "third year" of Cyrus' co-regency, back in 556 BCE.

This accommodation is possible because chapter Ten doesn't specify that Daniel's vision occurred in the personal presence of Cyrus. So it could have occurred back in 556 BCE, before the king knew Daniel. Of course, this moves the narrative even further back in time.

Chapter Eleven relates the story of Daniel's "battle of the kingdoms" 'prophecy' during the first year of the reign (presumably in Babylon) of Darius the Mede, returning the narrative far forward once again, to 539 BCE. Chapter Twelve continues this story, finishing the book.

The Chapters Of Daniel, In Proper Chronological Order:

1 --- Nebuchadnezzar captures king Jehoiakim -- 597 BCE
2 --- Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar's dream -- 596 BCE
3 --- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in fiery pit -- undated
4 --- God temporarily turns Nebuchadnezzar mad -- undated
10 - "Great river" 'prophecy' -- 556 BCE
7 --- "Son of man" 'prophecy' -- 549 BCE
8 --- "Ram and goat" 'prophecy' -- 546 BCE
5 --- "Writing on the wall" interpretation -- 539 BCE
6 --- Daniel in lions' den -- undated
9 --- Michael's "70 weeks" messiah prophecy -- 539 BCE
11 - "Battle of the kingdoms" 'prophecy -- 539 BCE
12 - A continuation of the 'prophecy,' in same year -- 539 BCE


More thoughts on biblical 'prophets' from Paladin:

Comments

Submit a Comment
  • Paladin_ profile imageAUTHOR

    Paladin_ 

    6 years ago from Michigan, USA

    Thank you, Catherine! Now, if I could only finish some more hubs, I'd be all set! :-)

  • CatherineGiordano profile image

    Catherine Giordano 

    6 years ago from Orlando Florida

    Such a detailed explanation. You have a lot of patience. I prefer to write in broad strokes. Voted up and interesting.

  • profile image

    Susie 

    6 years ago

    Wham bam thank you, ma'am, my qusnoites are answered!

  • Paladin_ profile imageAUTHOR

    Paladin_ 

    6 years ago from Michigan, USA

    Thanks, Dip!

    It was quite a bit of work, sorting out all the historical dates. I was actually working on writing a hub on another topic altogether, but found I couldn't get anywhere with that hub until I sorted out the chronological mess in the book of Daniel. So this hub was essentially an accident.

  • Dip Mtra profile image

    Dip Mtra 

    6 years ago from World Citizen

    Very interesting. Voted up.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://corp.maven.io/privacy-policy

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)