In Daniel I, the simplest version of a vision was given to a pagan king – Nebuchadnezzar in which different kingdoms: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greek, Rome and Europe, at different point in time represented by metallic symbols: Gold, Silver, Bronze, Iron and a feet of Iron mixed with clay respectively. hisThis time a more advanced vision of the same events that will be revealed to a child of the most-high God. The political summary given to the heathen king was not to be messed around with any form of falsehood so God kept away the dream and its interpretation from the Chaldeans magicians until Daniel was consulted and the dream and its content were revealed.
Daniel Part II examines the vision contained in the seventh chapter of the book of Daniel and the events that followed this vision in chapters 5 and 6. This is an expansion of the vision we saw in chapter two summarized above. In the vision of chapter two, the great statue that Nebuchadnezzar saw is now replaced by four great beast in chapter seven. You may like to consult the page on Prophetic symbolisms once again.
DANIEL CHAPTER SEVEN
THEME OF THE SEVENTH CHAPTER
Chapter seven of Daniel demonstrates the sequence of political powers of the kingdoms (nations) of this world: its brutality and cruelty to the inhabitants of the earth especially to those who call upon the name of God the Creator. The chapter shows that at the end of time these powers will be accountable to God whose kingdom will come to be forever and whose citizens had been persecuted and tormented by the worldly cohesive powers.
The appearance of the “Little Horn” into the scene who will teach doctrines contrary to the teachings of God (Blasphemy): the doctrine of this little horn will poisoning the stream ( living word of God) will destroy the inhabitants of the world and this Little-horn will eventually be brought to book by God himself.
God’s saints will be vindicated and victory forever will be theirs.
SYMBOLS USED IN CHAPTER SEVEN
The background scene: The sea -this symbolizes that the beast came out from a populated part of the globe.
Wind: the “four winds of the heavens” as mentioned in verse 2 is simply the four cardinal compass points: North, South, East and West
The four Animals:
The Lion- archeological dig-ups and ancient drawings reveal images of eagle winged lion on most official documents of the Babylonian empire. This is an animal usually described as the king of the wild. The Lion we all know is a strong cat which weighs about 200-250 kg (450lbs – 620lbs) and looks very muscular naturally. The presence of the eagle wings symbolizes swiftness in action. Babylon which appeared in the Nebuchadnezzar’s dream as the head of Gold will be the “Winged Lion” in Daniel’s dream.
The next animal is one that is also very strong. The Bear, which appear bigger than the Lion weighing about 400 kg (about 850lbs) is also another dangerous animal. This is the animal that represent the second kingdom Medo-Persian Empire.
The third animal to appear in the vision was the Leopard. The Leopard is an animal that belongs to the cat family and we know they are wonderful predator animals. She represents the Greek Empire.
The next kingdom, the fourth will be represented by a fourth animal described as a ‘Dreadful and Terrible’ animal. A lot of artist has placed images of dinosaurs (T-rex mostly) as a depiction of this animal and the kingdom it stands for, because it is a multi- horned animal with iron teeth. This fourth kingdom represented in the previous dream was the ‘Leg of Iron’ we have identify as the Empire of Rome. The Empire of the Caesars. In Daniel’s vision it is the “Indescribable beast”.
COMPLETE BIBLE TEXT OF DANIEL CHAPTER 7 (KING JAMES VERSION -KJV USED)
.7:1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, [and] told the sum of the matters.
7:2 Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.
7:3 And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.
7:4 The first [was] like a lion, and had eagle's wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it.
7:5 And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and [it had] three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.
7:6 After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.
7:7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it [was] diverse from all the beasts that [were] before it; and it had ten horns.
7:8 I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn [were] eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.
7:9 I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment [was] white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne [was like] the fiery flame, [and] his wheels [as] burning fire.
7:10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.
7:11 I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld [even] till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame.
7:12 As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.
7:13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, [one] like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.
7:14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion [is] an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom [that] which shall not be destroyed.
7:15 I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of [my] body, and the visions of my head troubled me.
7:16 I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things.
7:17 These great beasts, which are four, [are] four kings, [which] shall arise out of the earth.
7:18 But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.
7:19 Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth [were of] iron, and his nails [of] brass; [which] devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet;
7:20 And of the ten horns that [were] in his head, and [of] the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even [of] that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look [was] more stout than his fellows.
7:21 I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;
7:22 Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.
7:23 Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.
7:24 And the ten horns out of this kingdom [are] ten kings [that] shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.
7:25 And he shall speak [great] words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.
7:26 But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy [it] unto the end.
7:27 And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom [is] an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
7:28 Hitherto [is] the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart.
As pointed out earlier, these five kingdoms (Empires) in Daniel chapter two: Babylon, Medo- Persia, Greece, Rome and Europe; Europe not an Empire but a disintegration of the Roman Empire. The vision is covered by the first fifteen verses of the chapter.
It was about B.C. 606/605 as Nebuchadnezzar II was coregent with his father, Nabopolassar passed away around this period and Nebuchadnezzar II had a full control of the kingdom and ruled for about 46 years. It was at the onset of his leadership that Nebuchadnezzar had the dream found in Daniel chapter two. (see Dan 2:1). Amel-Marduk the son of Nebuchadnezzar II as a youth ruled in his stead but in B.C. 561/560 was assassinated after being on the throne less than two years by a coup d’état organized by Neriglissar his in-law. Amel-Marduk also known as Evilmerodach sited in the bible. (2 kings 25: 27-30) was the Babylonian king who released Jehoiachin king of Judah. History did not reveal if Nabonidus was a part of a second Coup d’état spare-headed by Belshazzar but he ended up being the official King of Babylon. Nabonidus who was away from Babylon for unknown reasons allowed his son Belshazzar, a crowned prince to carry out royal function in his stead. Daniel called Belshazzar the son of Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 5:22) which might not actually signify his father but also his grand-father.
Note that due to different dating system that existed during this period one might find two combined dating on this write-up but the margin of error is very little for one to worry about.
More than fifty years has elapsed between Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (see Daniel I) described in Daniel chapter 2 and the time Daniel had his dream recorded in Daniel chapter 7 (see Dan 7:1). The events in the above paragraph all happened within this period.
The vision Daniel saw was one that will affect people from all parts of the world irrespective of nationality, race, social status; people from all the cardinal points of the globe. It is a vision that will impact the economy, socio-political events of the world. Remember that wind stands for strife and the sea(great) stand for the huge number of people found on the surface of world. This is a dream that depicts occurrence starting during the time of Daniel till the end of time which is the return of Jesus Christ. Then one can imagine the number of people impacted through-out the generations of this earth’s prophetic events. (Dan 7:2). This prophecy cover the same span of historical period as that of Daniel 2.
7:1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, [and] told the sum of the matters.
7:2 Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.
7:3 And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.
7:4 The first [was] like a lion, and had eagle's wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it.
The Lion with the eagle’s wings marks the symbol of Babylon. Strong nation endowed with honor and glory. Given eagle’s wings to subdue its enemies and to gain strength. We are looking at a kingdom that was given a double crown symbolized by two great animals: The lion which is the king of the animals on land and the eagle which is the king of the birds by air. The kingdom was at the peak of its glory, prosperity and vitality at the time Nebuchadnezzar was king but by the time Belshazzar came into power, Babylon is found swimming in moral decadence. Sixty-nine years had passed bye and Babylon was few months away from her final moments of the earth’s history.
As we have seen above in this dream, Babylon represented by the animal Lion was previously in the first dream seen on our first presentation in Daniel I to be represented by the head of Fine Gold.
BABYLON’S GRAND INFASTRUCTURES.
Babylon’s greatness was longed prophesied by the prophet Jeremiah about how God will bless Nebuchadnezzar, and indeed God blessed him. (Jer 25:7-9). There is every indication that God established the kings and the kingdom of Babylon but they in turn did not give God the glory due Him.
“Events had already shown that Nebuchadnezzar was a vigorous and brilliant commander, and physically as well as mentally a strong man, fully worthy of succeeding his father. He was to become the greatest man of his time in the Near East, as a soldier, a stateman, and an architect…”
The Cambridge Ancient History, Vol III The Assyrian Empire, chapter X- The New Babylonian Empire 1965. pp 212
“Under the direction of Robert Koldewey, who worked for the German Orient Society, important excavations were carried out at Babylon between the years 1899 and 1917. These have uncovered some of the most important sections of the large ruined site of ancient Babylon, although wide areas were not touched in these excavations. Babylon had been an important city of Mesopotamia from the dawn of history (Gen. 11 Hammurabi had made it the capital of his dynasty. As the seat of the famous god Marduk, it remained a religious center even during periods when it did not enjoy political supremacy, as, for example, during the time when Assyria was the leading world power. When Nabopolassar regained for Babylonia its independence, the city once more became the metropolis of the world. But it was especially under Nebuchadnezzar, the great builder of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, that Babylon became “the glory of kingdoms” and “the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency” Isa. 13:19)…”
“…Excavations reveal that before Nebuchadnezzar’s time the city was almost square, with walls about one mile long on each side… The palaces and administration buildings lay in the northwestern section of the city, and south of them stood the main temple complex called Esagila, dedicated to Babylon’s main god, Marduk. The river Euphrates flowed along Babylon’s western wall. When Babylon served as the capital of a far-flung empire in the time of Nabopolassar and of Nebuchadnezzar, it was in need of enlargement. A new section was built on the western bank of the Euphrates. Its extent is known, but little excavation has been carried out in that area. What is known about its temples and streets has been gathered from the cuneiform documents describing this quarter. The new section was connected with the old city by a bridge. This bridge rested on eight piers, as excavations at the site have revealed. Nebuchadnezzar also built a new palace far to the north of the old city, the so-called Summer Palace. A great outer wall was constructed to enclose this palace. The new wall greatly increased the area of the city. There is no evidence of a wall along the river from the Summer Palace to the old palace area. It has therefore been concluded that the river itself was considered a sufficiently strong protection. The walls, which for the greater part can still be clearly seen as long, high mounds, measure about 13 mi. This measurement is that of the total length of the walls of both the inner and outer cities. The circumference of Nebuchadnezzar’s city, including the river front from the Summer Palace to the old palace area, was about 10 mi. Modern excavations show that Herodotus’ description needs modification on the dimensions of the walls. The fortifications surrounding the Inner City consisted of double walls—the inner 211/2 and the outer 121/4 ft. thick (6.5 and 3.7 m., respectively), 231/2 ft. (7.2 m.) apart, with a moat outside it. The outer wall was also double, with a rubble fill between and a road on top, according to Herodotus. The widths were: inner, 231/2 ft.; space for fill, 363/4 ft.; outer, 251/2 ft.; plus a sort of buttress wall at its base, 103/4 ft. (respectively 7.1, 11.2, 7.8, and 3.3 m.). This outer fortification’s total width was thus 961/2 ft., or 29.39 m. Of its many towers, 15 have been excavated…"
- Nichol, F. D. (1978). The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary.
'Although ancient Babylon did not have the fantastic size attributed to it by Herodotus, the city was nevertheless of formidable size at a time when cities were very small if compared to modern standards. Its circumference of about 11 mi. (17.6 km.) was comparable with the 71/2 mi. (12.5 km.) circumference of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria’s empire; with the walls of imperial Rome, 6 mi. (9.6 km.) in circumference; and with the 4 mi. (6.5 km.) of the walls of Athens at the time of that city’s height in the 5th century B.C. This comparison with other famous cities of antiquity shows that Babylon was, with the possible exception of Egyptian Thebes, then in ruins, the largest and greatest of all ancient capitals, though it was much smaller than classical writers later pictured it.'( Nichol, 1978). It is understandable why Nebuchadnezzar felt he had a right to boast of having built “this great Babylon … by the might of my power” (Dan. 4:30).
"The Southern Palace lay in the northwestern corner of the Inner City and contained, among other structures, the famous hanging gardens, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. A large vaulted building was surmounted with a roof garden irrigated by a system of pipes through which water was pumped up. According to Diodorus, Nebuchadnezzar built this marvelous edifice for his Median wife in order to give to her, in the midst of level and treeless Babylonia, a substitute for the wooded hills of her native land, which she missed. In the vaults underneath the roof gardens provisions of grain, oil, fruit, and spices were stored for the needs of the court and court dependents. Excavators found administrative documents in these rooms, some of which mention King Jehoiachin of Judah as the recipient of royal rations. Adjoining the hanging gardens was an extensive complex of buildings, halls, and rooms that had replaced the smaller palace of Nabopolassar, the father of Nebuchadnezzar. This Southern Palace was more or less the official residence of the king, the place for all ceremonies of state. In the center was a large throne room, 56 by 171 ft. (17 by 52 m.), and possibly 60 ft. (18 m.) high. This immense hall was probably the place where Belshazzar banqueted during the last night of his life, because no other hall in the palace was large enough to accommodate a thousand guests (see Dan. 5:1). One of that city’s colorful structures was the famous Ishtar Gate which adjoined the Southern Palace and formed one of the northern entrances to the Inner City. This was the most beautiful of all Babylonian gates, for through it passed the Procession Street, leading from the various royal palaces to the temple Esagila. Fortunately, this gate was less completely destroyed than any other structure in Babylon and is now the most impressive of all extant ruins of the city…”
- Nichol, F. D. (1978). The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary.
NEBUCHADNEZZAR AND HIS gOD
"Nebuchadnezzar had this passion for Marduk, the patron-god of Babylon so he built palaces and shrines all over the city and there was a great annual festival in devotion to him (Marduk). Babylon as we know was an idolatrous nation. In his devotion to Marduk the king restored and beautified the Great Processional Way in Babylon…in which Marduk passed in the great festival of the New Year. It was a broad street decorated with breccia and limestone, and he left his record in it: Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, son of Nabopolassar, king of Babylon, am I. Of the streets of Babylon for the procession of the great lord Marduk with slabs of limestones I built the causeway. Oh Marduk, my lord, grant eternal life."
The Cambridge Ancient History, Vol III The Assyrian Empire, chapter X-The New Babylonian Empire 1965. pp217
'A City of Temples and Palaces.—Because Babylon contained the sanctuary of the god Marduk, considered to be the lord of heaven and earth, the chief of all the gods, the ancient Babylonians considered their city the “navel” of the world. Hence, Babylon was a religious center without rival on earth. A cuneiform tablet of Nebuchadnezzar’s time lists 53 temples dedicated to important gods, 955 small sanctuaries, and 384 street altars—all of them within the city confines. In comparison, Asshur, one of the chief cities of Assyria, with its 34 temples and chapels, made a comparatively poor impression.' (CAH, 1965. p 217)
KING NEBUCHADNEZZAR- EPITOM OF BRIDE
Nebuchadnezzar was a very proud king, so were also the citizens his kingdom. After the interpretation of the dream by which he was made known that another kingdom shall take the place of Babylon, he made the whole image to be gold contrary to what was shown him in the dream. (see Daniel chapter 3). The implication of his action was that he, Nebuchadnezzar, the head of gold will establish his kingdom forever. This is contrary to the word of God. The king’s death in August/ September 562 B.C. after 43 years of reign marked the beginning of the deterioration of the empire economically, militarily, and morally.
One of the commentary made by king Nebuchadnezzar is seen sited in this commentary:
“…Such was this colorful and mighty city that King Nebuchadnezzar had built—the marvel of all nations. His pride in it is reflected in inscriptions he left to posterity. One of them, now in the Berlin Museum, reads as follows: “I have made Babylon, the holy city, the glory of the great gods, more prominent than before, and have promoted its rebuilding. I have caused the sanctuaries of gods and goddesses to lighten up like the day. No king among all kings has ever created, no earlier king has ever built, what I have magnificently built for Marduk. I have furthered to the utmost the equipment of Esagila, and the renovation of Babylon more than had ever been done before. All my valuable works, the beautification of the sanctuaries of the great gods, which I undertook more than my royal ancestors, I wrote in a document and put it down for coming generations. All my deeds, which I have written in this document, shall those read who know [how to read] and remember the glory of the great gods. May the way of my life be long, may I rejoice in offspring; may my offspring rule over the black-headed people into all eternity, and may the mentioning of my name be proclaimed for good at all future times.”
- Nichol, F. D. (1978). The SDA, p 3518
Uriah Smith in his book ‘Daniel and The Revelation' commented on ,this great city: ”It’s gates of brass, its hanging garden rising terrace above terrace, its two royal palaces there with the whole earth prostate at her feet, a queen of peerless grandeur stood this city, fit capital of that kingdom which was represented by the golden head”
-Daniel and the revelation- Uriah Smith pp33 and 34
'Another large palace, which excavators now call the Central Palace, lay immediately outside the northern wall of the Inner City. This, too, was built by Nebuchadnezzar. Modern archeologists found this large building also in a hopelessly desolate condition, with the exception of one part of the palace, the Museum of Antiquities. Here valuable objects of the glorious past of Babylonian’s history, such as old statues, inscriptions, and trophies of war, had been collected and exhibited “for men to behold,” as Nebuchadnezzar expressed it in one of his inscriptions.'
-Nichol, F. D. (1978). The SDA Bible Commentary pp 3518
One can well understand why the Babylonians were proud of their city, saying, “Babylon is the origin and center of all lands.” Their pride is reflected in Nebuchadnezzar’s famous words quoted in the comment on ch. 4:30, and also in an ancient song of praise (as given by E. Ebeling, Keilschrifttexte aus Assur religiösen Inhalts, Part I [Leipzig, 1915], No. 8): “O Babylon, whosoever beholds thee is filled with rejoicing, Whosoever dwells in Babylon increases his life, Whosoever speaks evil of Babylon is like one who kills his own mother. Babylon is like a sweet date palm, whose fruit is lovely to behold.”
The center of Babylon’s glory was the famous temple tower Etemenanki, “the foundation stone of heaven and earth,” 299 ft. (91 m.) square at the base and probably 300 ft. (91.4 m.) high. This edifice was surpassed in height in ancient times only by the two great pyramids at Giza in Egypt. The tower may have been built at the site where the Tower of Babel once stood. The brick structure consisted of seven stages, of which the smallest and uppermost was a shrine dedicated to Marduk, the chief god of Babylon. See further on Gen. 11:9.”
-Nichol,F.D.(1978).The SDA Bible Commentary pp 3516
THE DECAY AND END OF AN EMPIRE- BABYLON
The empire’s end was not like a movie but signs of a weakened kingdom were noticed not quit long after Belshazzar’s father Nabonidus became king. Nabonidus was not in Babylon but in Teima, north Arabia. He was not a fan of the god Marduk and believed his ascension to the throne in Babylon was his worship of the moon so he came under the ban of the powerful priesthood of Marduk of Babylon who saw Nabonidus as an apostate. Belshazzar also known as the “wise prince” being a crowned prince of Nabonidus took up the responsibilities of running the affairs of the empire in Babylon.
Things would not be as Nebuchadnezzar wanted when he was king. There were clear differences of his rule and that of Nabonidus/Belshazzar’s rule. Do not forget that this was a part of the prophecy when Daniel wrote “… like a lion, and had eagle's wings: … till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it.”Dan 7:4. This is an empire or system of government described to be like a lion with eagle’s wing: two strong animals- the glory of these two animal cannot be overemphasized; the wings plugged off; next made to stand like a man; next given the heart of a man…One can see how the strength, glory and honor of a nation went down the drain.
Excavatory evidence at least for now shows little structures erected by Nabonidus as compared to his predecessors. The Cambridge Ancient History had this to say about the kingdom:
“Babylon was rapidly nearing her end. With continual internal dissensions barely kept in check, it is a matter of wonder that Nabonidus should have been able to retain his throne as long as seventeen years….With the accession of the new king came one of the usual revolts in the provinces, and in 555[B.C.] a Babylonian force was assembled to quell an insurrection in the west.”
-The Cambridge Ancient History, Vol III The Assyrian Empire, chapter X- The New Babylonian Empire 1965. Pp 219
One could see why king Belshazzar would have no worry of the impending danger. Could you imaging the description of the archeological findings of the walls of the inner city of Babylon.
“Modern excavations show that… the fortifications surrounding the Inner City consisted of double walls—the inner 21 1/2 and the outer 121/4 ft. thick (6.5 and 3.7 m., respectively), 23 1/2 ft. (7.2 m.) apart, with a moat outside it. The outer wall was also double, with a rubble fill between and a road on top, according to Herodotus. The widths were: inner, 23 1/2 ft.; space for fill, 36 3/4 ft.; outer, 25 1/2 ft.; plus a sort of buttress wall at its base, 10 3/4 ft. (respectively 7.1, 11.2, 7.8, and 3.3 m.). This outer fortification’s total width was thus 96 1/2 ft., or 29.39 m. Of its many towers, 15 have been excavated.”
-Nichol,F.D.(1978).The SDA Bible Commentary pp 3514
“Pride comes before a fall” is a popular saying which appears to be manifesting itself here. Belshazzar’s predecessor made his own image all gold against God’s instruction that another will replace babylon thus there is nothing for the Babylonians to be afraid of. The Persians had infiltrated the empire un-noticed. Cyrus of the Medes was insidiously coming in from the north. Surrounding areas felt the demographic changes but could not actually tell what was amiss.
“The people of Babylonia were not in any form of misapprehension of the future, they at least could read the writing on the wall. Their king was helpless and their country at the mercy of the invader by 539: moreover there is pregnant mention of the sea…Cyrus set his army in motion at the end of the summer. The wretched king Nabonidus at the eleventh hour back to his land, fled to Babylon; two days later Babylon yielded without a blow to the…Persian army.”
- The Cambridge Ancient History, Vol III The Assyrian Empire, chapter X- The New Babylonian Empire 1965. pp 223-224
BELSHAZZAR, COMPEDIUM OF ARROGANCE
A detailed information of the final moments of king Belshazzar was documented in Daniel chapter 5 in the Bible. It was a special occasion that night: a banquet in which people from all over the kingdom were invited. It wasn’t quit long into the party king Belshazzar ordered temple vessels to be brought into the banquet. Temple vessels? These temple vessels were made of Gold, silver and bronze (see Joshua 6:19; 2 Sam 8:10,11; 1King 7:47-51;Exd 37:24). These Vessels were dedicated to the worship of the most high God. Holy things should not and cannot be used for the common. Jehovah is a jealous God and when it comes to worship, the honor due Him must be given Him for he is the maker of all things. Read below the bible event for yourself.
Nebuchadnezzar ruled Babylon for 43 years and during this period made considerable improvement on the wealth of the empire.
BIBLE TEXT OF DANIEL CHAPTER 5 (KING JAMES VERSION -KJV USED)
5:1 Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand.
5:2 Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which [was] in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and 0his concubines, might drink therein.
5:3 Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which [was] at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them.
5:4 They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.
5:5 In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king's palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.
5:6 Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.
5:7 The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. [And] the king spake, and said to the wise [men] of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and show me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and [have] a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.
5:8 Then came in all the king's wise [men]: but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof.
5:9 Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonied.
5:10 [Now] the queen by reason of the words of the king and his lords came into the banquet house: [and] the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed:
5:11 There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom [is] the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, [I say], thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, [and] soothsayers;
5:12 Forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and showing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation.
5:13 Then was Daniel brought in before the king. [And] the king spake and said unto Daniel, [Art] thou that Daniel, which [art] of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry?
5:14 I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods [is] in thee, and [that] light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee.
5:15 And now the wise [men], the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing, and make known unto me the interpretation thereof: but they could not show the interpretation of the thing:
5:16 And I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and [have] a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom.
5:17 Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.
5:18 O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour:
5:19 And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down.
5:20 But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him:
5:21 And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling [was] with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and [that] he appointeth over it whomsoever he will.
5:22 And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this;
5:23 But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath [is], and whose [are] all thy ways, hast thou not glorified:
5:24 Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written.
5:25 And this [is] the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.
5:26 This [is] the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.
5:27 TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.
5:28 PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.
5:29 Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and [put] a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.
5:30 In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain.
5:31 And Darius the Median took the kingdom, [being] about threescore and two years old.
The hanging garden of Babylon
The party was on-going when suddenly all went quiet, the silence was very eloquent. There popped up a hand on the palace wall where the eyes of all the quests could see. The hand, just like what one sees in a horror movie inscribed: “MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.” For sure there were no projectors and no electricity in the days of Daniel but the letters of the writings were dazzling and bright. The hand was real and was three dimensional. The inscription was not unknown but was in Aramaic language (Hebrew) but encrypted that it made no sense to Aramaic speakers present in the hall. This makes the whole scenario unbearable. Belshazzar knew he was in trouble but what the trouble was he had no idea until an interpreter will be brought to the scene. Panic and pandemonium filled the air. Belshazzar knees knocked together ( vs 6).
Behold, history is repeating itself. Wait a minute, this happened fifty-six years earlier with Nebuchadnezzar and it is happening again with king Belshazzar. He (the king) ordered, in fact the bible(KJV) used the term “cried aloud to bring” the astrologers and the magicians for an interpretation (5:7) just as Nebuchadnezzar also did in his dream (see Dan 2:2-3) more than half a century earlier. These new generation of astrologers, as did the first sets in chapter two who could not explain the dream and its interpretation, also could not explain the writing on the wall this time around. Spiritual things are spiritually decerned the bible says (1 Cor 2:14). As no one was able to tell the king the interpretation of the writing, he promised gifts to whoever might do so.
Then walked in the “Queen” the bible says. The bible tells us (vs 2) that “the king’s wives and concubines” were already in the banquet hall, they were already invited. Who could this mystery Queen be? In the 7th -3rd century B.C. it is very customary in the oriental world that king’s wives and guests uninvited to a banquet show up for a feast. The penalty for gatecrashing such an occasion is death. The sole person who could do such a thing is the king’s mother or the grand-mother. A good example of this is the story of Queen Esther (Esther 4:11. Read the whole story). It is evident that it was the queen’s mother that just walked into that banquet hall.
“Then the queen mother remembered Daniel, who, over half a century before, had made known to King Nebuchadnezzar the dream of the great image and its interpretation. "O king, live forever," she said. "Let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed: there is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar . . . made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers; forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and showing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation.”
- Ellen G. White (1917), Prophets and Kings- Ch 43 The Unseen Watcher. pp 527/528
Another point made is that, more than half a century was gone from the event of the dream of Nebuchadnezzar so none of King Belshazzar’s wives and concubines would be old enough then to know what happened then but the king’s mother or grand-mother.
When the king’s mother walked into the banquet hall telling the king not to worry (vs 10), promising a solution to the interpretation of the writing on the wall: little had she any idea that interpreting the writing was just the gateway to the end of one of the world’s most glamorous and powerful empire.
Daniel came to Babylon as a captive at the age of about between 15/17 years at 606/605 B.C. This places his birth date about B.C. 622-620 without doubt. (Depending on the calendar one is using). He was an official adviser to king Nebuchadnezzar. As at the time Belshazzar’s reign was coming to an end, one is looking at an 85 to 90 year old Daniel. “[Art] thou that Daniel..?” This is not a question asked to a complete stranger. This is not also a question asked to someone seen on daily bases. Daniel was an ex-official of the government of Belshazzar’s grand-father . He had knowledge of Daniel but was the king’s first encounter with him.
Daniel was fetched into the banquet hall to see the king. The astrologers, magicians, and Chaldeans have failed the king once again. This simply shows that astrology and magic are absolute lies. They are made-up theories that are backed up with zero or stolen facts. Daniel rejected the king’s offer for gifts but proceeded to interpret the writings on the wall. He knew that the kingdom was at her last moments. Daniel made it clear to the king that it was God who placed his fathers and he on the throne of the wonderful kingdom of Babylon but they failed to acknowledge Him. Daniel enumerated the glory of the empire (just as we have identified them above) but the king, his lords, and guest in general “praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone”.
MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.
“MENE, MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.” vs 26. It was clear to the king what the whole scenario was all about, God’s judgement not just on him the king but also for his government and kingdom.
TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. (vs 27)
PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians. (vs 28).
This is an interpretation of the writing on the wall and should not raise more questions: “upharsin” was the writing on the wall but Daniel in his interpretation used “Peres”. Upharsin is the plural form (purpose of multiples) of Peres. Upharsin would rather mean the kingdom being divided in pieces but Daniel who understood the dream knows that the kingdom will be shared into two so in his interpretation, the word “Peres” was preferred. The Medes and the Persians overthrew the government that night.
As the guests to this banquet were gathering on fall of 539 B.C., the invading soldiers were almost at the palace having march through the canal which carried the eastern Euphrates river through Babylon. There were historians who wrote that this idea of invading the city by the Euphrates came as the army saw the fortification of the central city of Babylon and decided to dig trenches off the river leaving the river sea-bed bare for the Persian army to march into the city without a fight. Within the walls of Babylon were food reserves that could keep them there without leaving the city for twenty years.
“When Cyrus was ready to march against Babylonia, Belshazzar had gathered his forces at Opis on the Tigris to meet the threat of invasion and to deny Cyrus a crossing of the river. In the ensuing battle the Babylonians suffered a disastrous defeat, and the Persians were able to push immediately through to Sippar on the Euphrates without finding any resistance. Cyrus captured this city without a fight on October 10, 539 B.C. Nabonidus himself fled in a southerly direction. Belshazzar returned to Babylon, about 35 miles south of Sippar, and trusting in its strong fortifications, remained in the city. It was here that, in a spirit of pride and arrogance and with a reckless feeling of security (PK 523), he spent his last evening with his concubines and friends in frivolous drinking, using the sacred vessels of Solomon’s Temple (Dan. 1:5). On October 12, Babylon fell to Cyrus’ forces, who, according to Herodotus, had diverted the Euphrates, which normally flowed through the city, and marched in unopposed. Belshazzar was slain. Nabonidus, who had fled south, apparently found his roads of escape already barred, and therefore returned to Babylon and committed himself to the mercy of his victorious enemy. According to a Greek report, his life was spared by the generous Cyrus, and he was placed as vassal ruler over the distant land of Carmania. The empire of the Chaldeans thus came to an inglorious end after an existence of less than one century. Founded by a strong ruler, Nabopolassar, and enlarged and consolidated by his equally strong son Nebuchadnezzar, the empire had quickly fallen to pieces after the latter’s death under a succession of weak rulers. The Neo-Babylonian Empire had unfolded a glory in material wealth which had rarely, if ever, existed before. For this reason it is compared to a “head of gold” in the prophetic picture of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Dan. 2:38).”
-Nichol,F.D.(1978).The SDA Bible Commentary pp 1878
Belshazzar was killed that night, Fall of 539 B.C. While Nabonidus (Belshazzars father) was taken away by the army. Medes and Persia took over control of Babylon. That was the end of Babylon and the beginning of the Medo-Persian kingdom. The beginning of the reign of the “Bear kingdom”.
These are the order of the kings of Babylon:
Nabopolassar (not mentioned in the bible but by history)
Nebuchadnezzar (book of Daniel)
Amel-Marduk (Evilmerodach) (2 kings 25: 27-30)
Nabonidus - father of Belshazzar (not mentioned in the bible but history)
Belshazzar (coregent with his father) (seen in the book of Daniel chp 5)
Medo-Persia is represented by the animal- the Bear in Daniel’s vision.”And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and [it had] three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. (Dan 7:5).
This is the second kingdom. Cyrus and Darius shared the kingdom just as it was revealed to Daniel in the vision. In Daniel I we saw that in the great image, the head was gold representing Babylon was succeeded by an inferior kingdom Medo-Persia which is the chest of silver; so was the bear (Medo-Persia), an inferior animal to the lion (Babylon). The is something about the passage sited above The Bear: “…the bear is raised up itself on one side…”. This single phrase illustrates that the Medes and the Persian will not be of the same strength. History was very clear about Persia being a greater and stronger power of the Medo-Persia coalition government. Persia played the dominant role in this dispensation.
Prior to the conquest of the Neo-Babylonian by Medo-Persian Empire, Cyrus revolted against the Median Empire (and establishes the new empire as the time of Achaemenid Empire) in 553 B.C. and by 550 B.C. he was in perfect control of the median empire and started expanding the empire. By October 539 B.C. the coalition force had defeated Egypt, Lydia, and Neo-Babylonian Empire killing Belshazzar and capturing Nabonidus as prisoner. These three Empires were represented by the three ribs found in the mouth of the bear, the second beast. “…and [it had] three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it…” (dan 7:5).
In the earlier dream to Nebuchadnezzar this empire was represented by the chest and arms of silver as shown in the artist's impression below.
We are going to look at the background history of four of the Persian kings that appeared in the Bible: Cyrus, Darius I, Xerxes ( Ahasuerus), and Artaxerxes I and the role they played towards the redemption of God’s people during this era.
KING CYRUS OF PERSIA
The works of three Greek historians gave us a detailed insight into the history of the ancient world in respect to this subject and their names were Herodotus, Ctesias and Xenophon. These three authors gave contradictory accounts of Cyrus’ early life but one thing they agreed on for sure was that Cyrus was the son of a Persian king called Cambyses(known as Cambyses I) who lived from 580-559 B.C. Contemporary Achaemenid inscriptions (Cyrus Cylinder) with the Behistun inscription has proven that Cyrus was also the first king of the Achaemenid Empire. He founded the city of Pasargadae and conquered Lydia, Babylon and Egypt which was the representation of the three ribs in the mouth of the bear in Daniel’s vision in the bible.
“Cyrus, the new emperor, was a largehearted, humane monarch who fulfilled the Jewish expectations and prophecies in all details. He permitted the return of the Jews and the restoration of their Temple and its service.”(Nichol,1978. pp 1872)
Of all the Emperor of the ancient world, Cyrus was the only one who ruled with compassion and wisdom. He did not crush the cities and territories of the people he conquered but appointed governors from these areas ensuring peace and stability. He associated himself with the god, religion and culture of the people he conquered. The bible records that Cyrus claimed it was God Himself who made him emperor of Medo-Persia. (II Chron 36:23).
That was very smart of him to come up with such a strategy.
“He acted wisely by allowing local leaders to reign over their own peoples as governors of provinces under Persian supervision, and by refraining from imposing on the conquered nations the Persian way of life, religion, or language. These wise policies initiated by Cyrus were followed in general by his successors, although some violated these principles occasionally. However, the Persians generally made an honest attempt to honor local customs, religions, and laws. They also made use of the almost universally understood Aramaic as the official language of the empire.”
-Nichol, F.D.(1978).The SDA Bible Commentary pp 1883
The book of Daniel informed us that there were one hundred and twenty princes appointed by the king to govern these provinces in the empire in which he presided over the Governors. (Dan 6:1). By implications there were 120 provinces during the time of emperor Cyrus. The citizens of his empire loved him. He ended up make peace and truce with the people he conquered. Cyrus’ subjects enjoyed him unlike how the oppressive rule of the Babylonian kings:
“Cyrus by his leniency proved himself to be a successful conqueror, not only of kingdoms and cities but also of the hearts of men. When he, some 17 days later (Oct. 29, 539 B.C.), personally entered the capital city, “all the inhabitants of Babylon … kissed his feet, jubilant that he [had received] the kingship, and with shining faces. Happily they greeted him as a master through whose help they had come [again] to life from death [and] had all been spared damage and disaster,… It was therefore a great loss when Cyrus, only eight years after the fall of Babylon, died in a campaign against some tribes in eastern Iran, …530 B.C.”
-Nichol, F.D.(1978).The SDA Bible Commentary pp 1883
The name of Cyrus appears 19 times in the Bible (KJV). Cyrus the great reigned from 559 – 530 B.C. (Note that it was Cyrus’ son Cambyses II who conquered Egypt.) The death of Cyrus the great, where exactly and how, was not well known but known to have died for sure before December of 530 B.C. and his son- Cambyses II took over power. One of the known legacy of Cyrus was that he allowed his captives to retain their religion and he restored those whose religion were destroyed by his predecessors’ government. A good example of this was Cyrus’ edict of 538 B.C. allowing the return of the Jews, restoration and rebuilding the city of Jerusalem, and the worship of Jehovah by the Jews captured earlier-on during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. ( 2 Chron 36:23 and Ezra 5:13 & 14)
Darius the first otherwise known as Darius the great was born in 550 B.C. to Hystrapes and Rhodugune. During the reign of Cyrus the great (559-530 B.C.) and his son Cambyses II (530-522), Cyrus’ father Hystrapes was the governor of the Persian territory of Bactria and Persis. Darius later became the Special guard (spearman) to Cambyses II. At the death of Cambyses in 522 B.C. Darius was the next king of the Persian Empire being the third Achaemenid king. Darius was mentioned 25 times in the bible starting from the book of Ezra 4:5 .The sixth chapter of the book of Daniel in the bible gave a detailed information of Darius as the king of Medo-Persian Empire during this period was tricked by his officials to adopt a decree that will endanger the life of Daniel who once again was recalled to be an Official of the empire after a short absence during the reign of Belshazzar. Read Daniel chapter six and see the wonderful story of the a heathen king who finally decleared “unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth," shall exalted the "God of Daniel" as "the living God, and steadfast forever, and His kingdom…shall not be destroyed;" who "delivereth and rescueth, and . . . worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth." 6:25-27. This is similar to the words of king Nebuchadnezzar more than 130 years earlier when he asserted that the God of Daniel …God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets." Daniel 2:47. Darius the great passed away in 486 B.C. being 36 years on the throne (according to historical records).
It was during the reign of Darius that the construction of the house of God was delayed and later completed after the decree was issued out by king Cyrus about 18 years earlier .( 2 Chron 36:23 and Ezra 5:13 & 14). Reading the biblical book of Ezra gives the impression that king Darius was not even aware of Cyrus’ decree. This is quite possible because almost twenty years has gone bye and also, it needed an effective communication between the Jewish elders and governor Tattenai (aka Tatnai) of the Trans- Euphrates province sited in the letter of the later for the king ( Ezra 5:7-17). After this letter was sent to the king he ordered for the search of the decree in the Babylonian archives. This decree was found in the Citadel of Ecbatana (Greek; Old Persian called Hagmatâna) in the province of Media. King Darius having studied Cyrus’ decree issued an edict that the construction of the temple in Jerusalem resumed immediately without any hindrances whatsoever. The “house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.” Ezra 6:15
“The Temple Finished Under Three Decrees.—Then with opposition effectively removed, and with the enthusiastic leadership of the prophets, “they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia. And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king” (Ezra 6:14, 15), or approximately March 12, 515 B.C. Thus the actual building was finished in the reign of the second of the three kings mentioned in this text as issuing decrees in relation to the Temple—the edicts of Cyrus (about 537), Darius 1 (sometime after 520), and Artaxerxes I (458/57)—but further work was done on the Temple under the third decree, that of Artaxerxes (see on Ezra 6:14 and 7:27). On 457 as the year in which Ezra put this decree into effect…Ezra’s account of the resumption of the Temple construction in the 2d year of Darius mentions the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, whose books furnish several additional specific dates in this period…”
Darius died after being ill for some days and was buried in a grave well prepared before his death. His tomb is a tourist destination today at Naqsh-e Rustamabout 8 miles north-west of Persepolis, Marvdasht State, in Iran.
XERSES I (Ahasuerus)
This king was in-charge of the Medo- Persian government within the years 486-465 B.C. His mother, Atossa was the daughter of Cyrus the great, sister to Cambyses II (verify before publication) In the bible, Xerxes is called Ahasuerus. The book of Esther stands as evidence that the bible story of Esther and the Jews is accurate. Esther was one of the queens of king Ahasuerus and the ordeal the Jews passed through during the reign of Xerxes I. Try to read the book of Esther in the bible. (It has only 10 chapters).
Ahasuerus was born about 519 B.C. not long after his father had clenched to power. He became an administrator, possibly the governor of Babylonia for about twelve years as a crowned prince of the empire. He took the empire’s throne before December 485 B.C. at the age of 35 years. He broke with his predecessor’s policy of compassionate ruling due to the high insurgences during his period. He dealt bitterly with Egypt and Babylon in the revolts and hostilities between 482 and 484 B.C. destroying her temples and the images of Marduk. Esther, one of the king’s queen actually was a real person for which the Jews today still observe the holy holiday of Purim usually in the month of March of every year. Medo-Persia as at the time of queen Esther, king Ahasuerus has already added seven more provinces to the Empire (Esther 1:1) as compared to 120 during the time of king Cyrus (see Daniel 6:1). Ahasuerus ruled Medo-Persia for 21 years and was assassinated by one of his ministers Artabanus (Ardaban) on the first week of August 465 B.C.
King Artaxerxes was born in 500 B.C. and was the son of King Xerxes (aka Ahasuerus), heir to the throne. He became the next emperor/king after the death of his father at 465 B.C. His name appeared 14 times in the bible all in the old testament, seen first in the book of Ezra (Ezra 5:7).
It was during the reign of Artaxerxes I, (around 457B.C) that the order for the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem was degreed as a result of the meeting with his cup-bearer, Nehemiah. (Ezra 5:7). This must not be confused with the earlier decree issued by Cyrus to rebuild Jerusalem in 538 BC. ( 2 Chron 36:23 and Ezra 5:13 & 14) after about 100 years had elapsed. Nehemiah being governor of Judea had the backing of the king in the reconstruction of the walls. Cyrus being in a compassionate king must have decreed the rebuilding of both the house of God in Jerusalem and the walls of the city but his death nine years afterward he took over Babylon must have caused a lot of delays, oppositions and administrative bottle-necks in the empire.(read Ezra chapter 5,6 and 7). This is not unusual as it happens in almost every human administrative structure. This is the reason Artaxerxes made another decree to reinforce Cyrus’ and Darius’ earlier decrees. Nehemiah made a temporary administrator had to oversee the final reconstructions and the finishing touches (including furnishing) of the house of God, the city and the walls.
These are the order of the kings of Medo-Persia (Achaemenid Empire)
Cambyses I (Cyrus’ father of the Persian Empire)
Cyrus the great (559-530 B.C.)(19 times in the Bible starting with 2 Chron 36:22)
Cambyses II (530-522 B.C.) ( History)
Smerdis (522-6months) ( History)
Darius the great (Darius I) (522-486 B.C.)
Xerxex (Ahasuerus) (486-465 B.C.) ( Occurred 30 times in the Bible starting with Ezra 4:6)
Artaxerxes I (465-424 B.C.) (Occurred 14 times in the Bible starting with Ezra 4:7)
Xerxex II ( early 423 ) ( History)
Sogdianus (early 423)
Darius II Nothus (423-404 B.C.) (History)
Artaxerxes II (404-358 B.C.) ( History)
Artaxerxes III (358-338 B.C.) ( History)
Artaxerxes IV (338-336 B.C.) ( History)
Darius III (336-331/330 B.C.) ( History)
This was the next world actor government that came into play in 331 B.C. after Medo-Persian’s near 208 years on the scene. This kingdom, Greece was represented by a leopard with four wings. Permit me to have a second look at this animal called the leopard. This animal, like the lions, tigers and cheaters belongs to the cat family. When hunting it can run up to 50kmph (about 35 mph), leap up to 18 feet and had been seen jump up to 12 feet into the air to grab its prey. Being in the cat family means that it has a wonderful hunting skills. The leopard has the capability of dragging its prey up the tree branch to avoid sharing it with other predators. What a strong cat.
In Daniel’s vision of Daniel chapter seven, the leopard was the third animal that came out of the sea and represents the Grecian Empire. If a skillful, hunting animal will now possess wings then this feature makes it a powerful animal. This tells us that Greece , the third world empire of this era will be powerful and also swift. The bible also tells us that the Leopard has four heads. “After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.” (Dan 7:6). The four heads represents in this prophesy his four generals who will share his empire into four at his death.
MACEDONIA (MACEDON) THE ORIGIN OF THE GRECIAN EMPIRE
Like the two previous world powers the Macedonian kingdom which later became the Grecian empire started up very small in 808 B.C. and were under the rule of Babylon and Medo-Persian and by 5th century B.C they grew and became big and started taking the appearance of “a leopard with four bird’s wings”. The empire accession to world power was in B.C. 331 with Alexander the great. It was Alexander’s father, king Philip II who became king of the Macedonia (359-336 B.C.) and led a campaign in which he subdued the mainland Greece and the Thracian Odrysian Kingdom. Alexander’s father was the Macedonian emperor for 23 years before his assassination in 336 B.C. Alexander had the empire to his disposal just at the tender age of 20 years and will rule the empire with utmost vigor for the next 13 years. The death of
Alexander the great in 323 B.C. left the empire shared among his four generals mentioned below.
In the dream of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel chap 2) the empire of Greece was represented by the belly and thigh of bronze after the head of gold(Babylon), and the second empire of Med-Persia represented by the chest and arms of silver. This is Greece: the third, and also the bronze, an inferior metal and kingdom to the previous two. Alexander III had already at the age of eighteen started campaign for the expansion of the empire-
This great young genera, Alexander lII was born in the summer of 356 B.C. at Pella and he succeeded his father to the throne of Macedonia. He was tutored by the great philosopher Aristotle and also his mother too- Olympias according to the Grecian culture.
“in appearance, Alexander was fair-skinned, ruddy, and clean shaved…At sixteen he had governed Macedonia in Philips absence and defeated a Thracian rising; at eighteen he had commanded Philip’s left at Chaeronea, and broken the sacred bands of Thebes; at nineteen he was an exile”
- -The Cambridge Ancient History Volume VI Macedon 401-301 B.C. 1964.
The stained relationship between his father and mother Olympias let him with no choice than to go on exile. His father has a new wife Cleopatra, niece of his general Attalus.
The following year Phillip II was murdered and after he and the mother were exonerated and acquitted by the Macedonian court of the king’s assassination, Alexander ascended the throne killing all those who were a threat to him.
In 336 he was in perfect control of the Macedon kingdom and started an expansion of the empire. He had to enjoy not only a very large army inherited from his father but also a healthy treasury and infrastructure. By 334 B.C. he matched about 32,000 troops to the east capturing Ephesus, an important sea-port city and by 331 B.C. Medo- Persia was in his arms in the battle of Gaugamela. Alexander the great was not just doing a military campaigns eastward but also planting the Grecian culture and philosophy as he moved along described as Hellenization. Could that be the reason the New Testament ended-up being written in the Greek language unlike the old testament written in Hebrew? Possibly yes. The Grecian influence on the writers of the New Testament. The New testament was translated into the English language from Greek unlike the Old Testament that received its translation from the Hebrew.
“He carried his culture with him to India in his 327 BCE invasion which was halted only because his men threatened mutiny if he did not turn back...” -Joshua J. Mark www.ancient.eu
His empire extended to India. The third vision as you will see in Daniel III was very clear about this eastward expansion.
Nichol, F. D. (1978). The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary : The Holy Bible with exegetical and expository comment. Commentary Reference Series (Da 3:2). Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association. Pp 3514-3518
Halley’s Bible Handbook by Zondervan Publishing House 1965 edition.
Rose Book of Bible Charts, Maps & Time Lines 10th anniversary edition
2005 Rose Publishing House.
The Seventh Day Bible Commentary: Ellen G. White commentary on 1 Kings and 2 Kings
Volume II (1953); Ellen G. White Bible commentary on the book of Dan
Volume IV (1955); Ellen G. White Bible commentary on the book revelation
Volume VII (1957)
Word Web Dictionary: Sorcery; astrologer; magician.
Walter A. Elwell in Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible Vol II pp1426.
Picture Materials from ASI ministries- ASIministries.org
- Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings- Ch 43 The Unseen Watcher. 1917. pp 527-528
J.B. Bury; S.A. Cook; F.E. Adcock; The Cambridge Ancient History, Vol III The Assyrian Empire, chapter X- The New Babylonian Empire 1965.
Radu Cristian, Darius I, Web www.ancient.eu/Darius I 10 April 2017
Daan Nijssen, Cyrus the Great, web – www.ancient.eu/Cyrus the great. 21 February 2018
J.B. Bury; S.A. Cook; F.E. Adcock; The Cambridge Ancient History Volume VI Macedon 401-301 B.C. chapter XII p351, Cambridge at the University Press 1964.
Joshua J. Mark, The Hellenistic World: The World of Alexander the great, Web www.ancient.eu/article/94 01 November 2018
Alexander the Great III
One of the Gates of the City of Babylon ( Capital of the Babylonian Empire )