King Cyrus (Dan 14:1-14:1)

“When King Astyages

Was laid to rest

With his ancestors,

Cyrus the Persian

Succeeded to his kingdom.”

This last chapter of the Book of Daniel is often referred to as the story of Bel, the god, and the dragon. Daniel will show how each one was useless. Once again, this chapter is only in the Greek Septuagint, so that it is often called apocryphal. This story takes place at the later part of the life of Daniel, since Cyrus the Persian (598-530 BCE) was the King. His rule in Persia began in 559 BCE and lasted about 30 years. Here, he is still only the king of Persia that he received from his father, King Astyages (585-550 BCE). The sister of King Astyages was the wife of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Thus, you can see the connection, as Cyprus would have been the nephew of the Babylonian king. Eventually, Cyrus took over Babylon in 539 BCE.

King Nebuchadnezzar explains his situation (Dan 2:3-2:3)

“The king

Said to them.

‘I have had such a dream

That my spirit

Is troubled

By the desire

To understand it.’”

The Babylonian king told these men of the royal court that he had a dream that troubled him. He had a great desire to understand it, since dreams were important in ancient civilizations as a way of communicating with higher spirits. Thus, this king wanted to know what his dream was all about. He spoke in the first-person singular. Remember Joseph with the Egyptian Pharaoh in Genesis, chapters 40-41.

lThe troubled dream of King Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 2:1-2:1)The troubled dream of King Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 2:1-2:1)

“In the second year

Of King Nebuchadnezzar’s reign,

King Nebuchadnezzar dreamed

Such dreams

That his spirit was troubled.

His sleep left him.”

When King Nebuchadnezzar was in his second year of ruling, he had trouble sleeping because of his dreams. The 2nd year of this Babylonian king would have been before the siege of Jerusalem in 603 BCE, 5 years before the first Israelite captivity. Nevertheless, his spirit was troubled so that he could not sleep.

The Fall of Jerusalem (Dan 1:1-1:2)

“In the third year

Of the reign

Of King Jehoiakim

In Judah,

King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon

Came to Jerusalem.

He besieged it.

The Lord let

King Jehoiakim

Of Judah

Fall into his power,

As well as some of the vessels

Of the house of God.

Then he brought them

To the land of Shinar,

He placed

The vessels

In the treasury

Of his gods.”

This Book of Daniel starts out on a dire note, the capture of Jerusalem. However, unlike the Book of Ezekiel, there is only a vague date for the siege of Jerusalem, the 3rd year of King Jehoiakim, which would have been 606 BCE.   However, there is no other indication of a siege at that time. Perhaps, this meant 598 BCE when King Jehoiakim was deposed. It is not clear who the author of this work was. However, the Judaean king fell under the power of King Nebuchadnezzar, because the Lord let it happen. Yahweh is not the term used for God in this post-exilic work. Rather the Greek Kyrios was used. The Babylonian king took some of the Temple vessels and treasures with him to Babylon, or Shinar as it is called here. He brought them to the treasury of his gods, which would have been Marduk and Nebo.

They did not obey (Bar 2:24-2:26)

“But we did not obey

Your voice.

We did not serve

The king of Babylon.

You have carried out

Your threats

That you spoke

By your servants,

The prophets.

The bones of our kings,

The bones of our ancestors

Would be brought out

Of their resting place.

Indeed

They have been

Thrown out

To the heat of day

And the frost of night.

They perished

In great misery,

By famine,

By sword,

By pestilence.

You have made

The house

That is called

By your name

As it is today,

Because of the wickedness

Of the house of Israel,

Of the house of Judah.”

However, they did not obey the voice of the Lord to serve the Babylonian king. Then God carried out the threats that he spoken through his prophetic servants. Thus the bones of their kings and their ancestors were brought out from their graves. They were exposed to the elements of the weather, the heat of day and the frost at night. Meanwhile, they all perished in great misery by either of the 3 famous ways of dying in Jeremiah, the famine, the sword, or the pestilence.  The Temple or the house of God was torn down because of the wickedness in the house of Israel and the house of Judah.

The reading of the book (Bar 1:3-1:4)

“Baruch read

The words

Of this book

To King Jeconiah,

The son of King Jehoiakim,

King of Judah.

He read it

To all the people

Who came

To hear the book.

He read it

To the nobles,

To the princes,

To the elders,

To all the people,

Small and great,

All who lived

In Babylon

By the river Sud.”

Baruch was accustomed to reading aloud as he had done in Jeremiah, chapter 36. Here he is reading his book to King Jeconiah (598 BCE) in exile in 582 BCE, and not King Zedekiah (598-587 BCE). King Jeconiah was also known as King Coniah or King Jehoiachin, who ruled for less than a year after the death of his father King Jehoiakim (609-598 BCE). As in Jeremiah, Baruch read this book publically to anyone who wanted to hear it. He also read it to all the important people in Babylon that included the nobles, the princes, and the elders, those great and small. There was no mention of the Babylonian king here. As for the Sud River, no one seems to know where that was.

The destruction of Judah (Lam 2:2-2:2)

Beth

“Yahweh has destroyed,

Without mercy,

All the dwellings

Of Jacob.

In his wrath,

He has broken down

The strongholds

Of daughter Judah.

He has brought down

To the ground,

In dishonor,

The kingdom

With its rulers.”

Yahweh had no mercy when he destroyed all the buildings in the land of Jacob. He was so angry that he broke down all the strong fortresses of his beloved daughter Judah. He has brought down and dishonored the kingdom of Judah and its rulers. Yahweh, not the Babylonian king, was considered the cause of the downfall of Judah. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Beth. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.