For those who hold to the historicity of the story of Daniel and generally to an early dating, Daniel 1:1 is a critical text that presents some problems. As I proceed with my eschatology series, and starting going through the book of Daniel verse by verse, I’m trying to keep all the options in mind and explore interpretation based on the different views.
As I talked about this last night (February 4, 2016; video embedded at end of post), I thought I was being confusing, and at one point said “Nebuchadnezaar” when I should have said “Pharaoh Neco.” I want to clarify the people and dates and how they apply to the text in question.
First, here is a chart of the most critical dates. Note that you will find reference sources that differ on these dates by a year. It is beyond this post to discuss the different calendars and accession year vs non-accession year dating. The sequences involved are adequately handled by the dates I’m using.
Biblical sources for this time period may be found in 2 Kings 23:29 – 25:30 and 2 Chronicles 35:20 – 36:23.
Now for Daniel 1:1, my translation:
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, King of Juday, Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon came to Jerusalem and put it under siege.
Here is a list of the problems:
- Unless it is described in 2 Kings 24:1, which seems more likely to describe the events of 598/597 BCE, there is no siege and exile set for 605. It is nonetheless possible that there was one, as the Babylonians became dominant over the territory after winning the battle of Carchemish in 605. There might have been a small exile at that time. Even if 2 Kings 24:1 describes later events, Jehoiakim would have to first submit to Babylon before he could rebel. He was put in power by Pharaoh Neco.
- Nebuchadnezzar, as “King of Babylon” could not attack Jerusalem in 605, as he was not yet king of Babylon, but rather became king in that year.
- Even if there was a small set of exiles, or perhaps hostages, taken in 605, it doesn’t fulfill the description of the siege.
The question here is how you evaluate the evidence. One critical element would be one’s determination on other grounds that the Book of Daniel is or is not historical. As an historian one would look for the most probable reconstruction of the evidence. Most scholars tend to support the later dating, even evangelicals, but you can find other arguments regarding dating via my Dating of Daniel Resources page.
I’ll discuss dating and historicity further in my series, but for now I think this will clarify the issues discussed in the video.