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Dr. Firpo W. Carr
Proof of Jesus Series: Article 7
The Bible book of Daniel is both historic and prophetic. If you've ever heard expressions like, "He's been through the fire," or, "The handwriting's on the wall," or even, "Throw him to the lion's!" then you've been exposed to actual events recorded over 2,500 years ago in the book of Daniel. Moreover, it has been well documented that prophet Daniel foretold the coming of the Messiah, and that Jesus of Nazareth identified himself as such and; even directly referencing the book of Daniel. But did either man really exist? Is there a factual basis for the oft-used above expressions?
Archeological Evidence: Fragments of the book of Daniel are found among the 2,000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls. And though highly educated critics of the Bible's authenticity attempted to cast doubt on political intrigue found in Daniel's writings, archeological evidence validates what Daniel wrote.
Something very frightening happened during a raucous state party thrown by King Belshazzar. (What happened is explained below.) All one thousand attendees were horrified! The perplexed, terrified king promised that any wise man who explained the significance of what happened would be promoted to 'third ruler' in the kingdom. (Daniel 5:7, 16, 29) Well, if he's the king, why not offer whoever solved the chilling puzzle the second position in the kingdom? This is the question the skeptics asked. The answer is simple: There were two kings ruling at the time, King Belshazzar and his father, King Nabonidus. The only slot open would be the third one.
"A tablet, dated in the 12th year of Nabonidus," writes George A. Barton in Archaeology and the Bible (1949), "contains an oath made in the name of Nabonidus, the king, and Belshazzar, the king's son, thus showing that Belshazzar ranked with his father. ... Nabonidus would be considered the first, Belshazzar would be the second, and Daniel would be heralded as the third ruler."
"There are many ["cuneiform allusions"] which indicate that Belshazzar almost equaled Nabonidus in position and prestige" says The Yale Oriental Series. "Dual rulership during most of the last Neo-Babylonian reign is an established fact. Nabonidus exercised supreme authority from his court in Tema in Arabia, while Belshazzar acted as coregent in the homeland with Babylon as his center of influence." Consequently, very solid, extra-Biblical archeological evidence--all discovered years after Bible critics asserted that what Daniel wrote about these matters was not historically accurate--confirms what a very real Daniel chronicled about the position offered him by a very real King Belshazzar.
'Through the Fire': Having gone 'through the fire' means you've been tested, as was the case with Daniel's three companions who were thrown into a literal fiery oven! (Daniel 3:1-30) That this even remotely could have happened can be seen from how part of an Old-Babylonian letter reads: "Thus says Rîm-Sin your lord: Because he has cast the slave-lad into the oven, do you cast the slave into the furnace." One scholar said that this punishment "appears in the story of the Three Holy Men," in the book of Daniel (Archiv für Orientforschung).
'The Handwriting's on the Wall': This saying has been described as "a clear indication of imminent disaster." It communicates the occasion when a hand suddenly appeared writing a cryptic message on the wall during King Belshazzar's party mentioned above (Daniel 5:1-31). Daniel deciphered the ominous missive and was made third in line from the throne.
'The Lion's Den': Way before people were "thrown under the bus" they were 'thrown to the lions.' This is an allusion to what happened to Daniel (Daniel 6:1-28).
Messianic Prophecy: Daniel specifically mentioned events surrounding the appearance of the "Messiah," including intriguing calculations that only Jesus of Nazareth factored into (Daniel 9:24-27), and ancient Biblical manuscripts have Jesus quoting Daniel. (See Matthew 24:3, then compare Daniel 9:27; 11:31; and 12:11 to Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14; cross-reference Daniel 12:1 with Matthew 24:21; and juxtapose Daniel 7:13, 14 and Matthew 24:30.) When a Samaritan woman said, "I know that Messiah is coming," Jesus responded, "I who am speaking to you am he" (John 4:24-26).
African Element?: Daniel used the Hebrew expression bekhe_them, ("with gold"), which, interestingly, is an African (specifically "Egyptian") loanword (Daniel 10:5, New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures--With References; also compare hair and skin color at Daniel 7:9; 10:6; Ezekiel 1:7; Revelation 1:14, 15).
Given the foregoing, there is no reason to doubt either the existence of Daniel or Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah.