The Third Ruler
Before 1854 the best Ancient Near Eastern scholars claimed that Nabonidus was the last king of the Babylonian Empire. Greek historians, like Herodotus writing in the fifth century B.C. and Xenophon in the fourth century, made this clear. They knew nothing about a King Belshazzar ruling over Babylon on the night that Cyrus took the city. The Book of Daniel apparently had made a grievous error, but not so fast! Look at the position Belshazzar promises Daniel when he comes before him.
“Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king responded to his presence and said to him, ‘You are Daniel from the children of the Exile, a Judean, whom my father brought from Judah. I have heard that the spirit of the gods rests upon you and that light and insight and extraordinary wisdom are found in you. Now the wise men, the enchanters, have been brought in before me to read this writing and make known its interpretation, but could not show the interpretation. But I have heard that you can interpret and solve knotty problems. Now if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation, you will be clothed in purple, have a chain of gold placed around your neck, and will be made the third ruler in the kingdom.’” Daniel 5:13-16
In 1854 J.G. Taylor, a British archaeologist, uncovered what is now called the Nabonidus Cylinder, a large clay cylinder discovered in the ruins of Ur. Nabonidus’ prayer is on this cylinder, and it reads, “May it be that I, Nabonidus, king of Babylon, never fail you. And may my firstborn, Belshazzar, worship you with all of his heart.” We now know that Belshazzar was in a co-regency with Nabonidus, and that is why he promised Daniel the third position in the kingdom and not the second.
LORD, thanks that when the last bit of archaeological evidence is unearthed and interpreted correctly, and we have interpreted your written Word correctly, there will be no discrepancy because you care about the truth. You are the author of truth both in science and in the Bible.
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