[b-hebrew] Daniel 9:24-27

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Sat Dec 20 07:08:36 EST 2008

Dear Jason,

When I read your first post, I overlooked your 
words about Ptolemy. Regarding the canon of 
Ptolemy, there exists what I would call 
"scientific fundamentalism," which is just as 
strong as the Christian fundamentalism. Ptolemy's 
words are  viewed as infallible; they are never 
questioned! The list of kings presented by 
Ptolemy has a certain pattern, that we also find 
in some cuneiform documents, namely, that history 
is viewed in the light of 18-year Saros periods 
(the moon has about the same position every 18 
years and 10 days (See A.K. Grayson (1975) 
"Assyrian and Babylonian chronicles" pp. 195, 
196). Ptolemy starts with Nabonassar, and from 
this king and until 99 B.C.E. (Seleucid year 213) 
there are 37 18-year Saros periods. Ptolemy was 
interested in astronomy, and not in history. For 
his purpose the total number of the regnal years 
of the kings in his list had to be the same as 
the years of his Saros periods, but the number of 
the regnal years of each king was not necessarily 

Because his focus was on the Saros period, 
Ptolemy did not mention kings who reigned less 
than one year. One such king is Bardiya (also 
known as Smerdes and Gaumata). Most of the 
business tablets dated in the reign of Bardiya 
(who was king immediately before Darius the 
great) are discussed in S. Graziani (1991). 
"Testi editi ed inediti datati al regno de 
Bardiya (522 a.c). Napoli. The first tablet is 
from Bardiya's accession year, month II and the 
last one from his year 1, month VIII. Taken at 
face value the dated tablets show that Bardiya 
reigned at least 18 months and not about six 
months, as most historians believe. All kinds of 
fanciful explanations have been used to explain 
away this evidence, because it destroys Ptolemy's 
chronological scheme. I would also mention that 
the archaeoastronomer R.R. Newton in his book 
"The Crime of Claudius Ptolemy" (1977) argues 
that Ptolemy was a fraud, because he said he made 
observations of celestial phenomena, while he 
actually calculated these phenomena on the basis 
of a particular scheme. Many astronomers today do 
not agree with Newton, but in a study of the list 
of Ptolemy, Newton's arguments and data deserve 
to be considered.

Different starting points for "the issuing of the 
decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem" (Daniel 
9:25) have been suggested. One of these is the 
20th year of Artaxexes (Nehemia 2:1-5). In the 
19th century several expositors used this 
starting point and placed it in 455 B.C.E. But 
this was contradicted by Ptolemy, whose king list 
show that 445 is the 20th year of Artaxerxes I. 
If we look at the entry "Xerxes" in Encyclopedia 
Britannica on line, we find the  statement that 
year 21 of Xerxes is astronomically fixed as 465 
(and this accords with Ptolemy's king list). the 
entry also says: "For many years both before and 
after 465 bc, no such combination of eclipses can 
be found" This statement can now be disputed! A 
comparison of the Akkadian signs (not the English 
translation) of the cuneiform tablets BM 32234 - 
the tablet reporting the two lunar eclipses in 
year 21 of Xerxes - and the celestial positions 
on BM 33478 -which tentatively is applied to year 
24 of Artaxerxes I, the reign of Artaxerxes I is 
pushed back 10 years -475 being his accession 
year. (The tablets are discussed in  H. Hunger et 
al. (2001). "Astronomical Diaries and Related 
Texts from Babylonia, vol V, Lunar and Planetary 
Texts" pp. 20, 21)  and  A. Sachs, H. Hunger 
(1988) "Astronomical Diaries and Related Texts 
from Babylonia, vol I, pp. 58-61.) This 
astronomical information destroys the king list 
of Ptolemy, and interestingly - it shows that 
year 20 of Artaxerxes I is 455, the very year 
that the 19th century expositors used as starting 

I use these examples to stress that we must avoid 
scientific fundamentalism, i.e., we should not 
accept conclusions because the authorities say 
so. But we should go to the sources themselves.

Best regards,

Rolf Furuli Ph.D
University of Oslo

>Dear Rolf,
>I read through the commentary by Jerome that I found online as
>translated by Archer. I'd like to get my hands on that book, so I'll
>make note of it and look it up in TAU library when I get the chance
>(if it's there). Thanks a lot for the references and the input.
>Jason Hare
>On Thu, Dec 18, 2008 at 11:39 PM, Rolf Furuli <furuli at online.no> wrote:
>>  Dear Jason,
>>  Three sources that you may want to study are: G.
>>  L. Archer jr. "Jerome's Commentary on Daniel"
>>  (1977). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House; J.
>>  Braverman (1978) "Jerome's Commentary on Daniel A
>>  study of comparative Jewish and Christian
>>  interpretations of the Hebrew Bible" The Catholic
>>  Biblical Quarterly Monograph Series 7; and O.
>>  Mörkholm (1966). "Antiochus IV of Syria".
>>  Köbenhaven: Gyldendalske Boghandel Nordisk forlag
>>  AS.
>>  I am writing a book on the dating of the book of
>>  Daniel from a philological, linguistic, and
>>  historical point of view. Sad to say, regarding
>>  the book of Daniel and Antiochus IV, there is an
>>  overwhelming amount of traditional viewpoints
>>  that are presented as facts, and which are
>>  repeated over and over again without having any
>>  real foundation. Mörkholm shows that much of the
>>  history of Antiochus IV and his character is
>>  unknown. In many commentaries what the old
>>  sources say about Antiochus IV are manipulated to
>>  fit their interpretations of the text of Daniel.
>>  A detailed study of Daniel 9:24-27 shows that the
>>  abomination of desolation was not set up by
>>  Antiochus IV in 167, but was set up in the first
>>  century C.E., as Medieval Jewish writers and the
>>  New Testament say. A detailed study of Daniel,
>>  chapter 11 and a new translation of the chapter
>>  has led me to conclude that contrary to the
>>  universal opinion, Antiochus IV is not mentioned
>>  at all in this chapter or elsewhere in the book
>>  of Daniel.
>>  Best regards,
>>  Rolf Furuli PH.D
>>  University of Oslo
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