Seventy years of desolation (Dan 9:2-9:2)

“In the first year

Of his reign,

I,

Daniel,

Perceived

In the books,

According to the word

Of Yahweh

To Jeremiah,

The prophet,

The number of years,

That must be fulfilled

For the devastation

Of Jerusalem,

Namely,

Seventy years.”

This chronology would put this event at about 538 BCE, right near the beginning of the Persian or Mede rule. Daniel, using the first-person singular, seemed to be familiar with the prophet Jeremiah, chapters 25 and 29, although they were almost contemporaries. Thus, 70 years of desolation was coming to Jerusalem from 587-517 BCE.

The Chaldean response (Dan 2:4-2:4)

“Then the Chaldeans

Said to the king,

In Aramaic.

‘O king!

Live forever!

Tell your servants

The dream.

We will reveal

The interpretation.’”

The Chaldean wise men responded directly to the king. They greeted him in Aramaic with the salutation that he might live forever, as was the Persian and later Islamic custom. Notice that they spoke in Aramaic, another indication of a later work. These Chaldeans told the king that they would be able to interpret his dream for him.

The division of the empire of Alexander the Great (1 Macc 1:5-1:9)

“After this, King Alexander fell sick. He perceived that he was dying. He summoned his most honored officers, who had been brought up with him from youth. He divided his kingdom among them while he was still alive. After King Alexander had reigned twelve years, he died. Then his officers began to rule, each in his own place. They all put on crowns after his death. Their sons after them did the same for many years. They caused many evils on the earth.”

King Alexander the Great only ruled for 12 years and died at the age of 33. However, before he died, he had divided up his kingdom among his trusted officers. Obviously, it was probably not that neatly done. After his death, 3 major kingdoms evolved the Antigonids of Macedonia in Greece, the Ptolemies in Egypt, and Seleucids in Syria. You have to remember that the Jewish people had a very pleasant relationship with the Persian kings since the time of Cyrus in the 6th century BCE. Thus they would have thought of these new kingdoms as evil.   This would have been very traumatic in the late 4th century BCE.

They agree on the wages (Tob 5:15-5:17)

“Then he added.

‘I will pay you a drachma a day as wages,

I will pay you as well expenses for yourself and my son?

Go with my son!

I will add something to your wages.’

Raphael responded.

‘I will go with him.

So do not fear.

We shall leave in good health.

We will return to you in good health safe and sound

Because the way is safe.’

So Tobit said to him.

‘Blessings be upon you brother.’

So they agreed to these terms.”

Tobit will pay him a drachma a day, plus expenses. He may even add something if all turns out okay. Raphael agreed. He then tried to calm the fear of Tobit. They were leaving in good health and would return safe and sound because it was not a difficult route. A drachma is only mentioned in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 15, and not elsewhere in the biblical literature. This it must have been a coin in the Hellenistic and Roman times, not the Persian times. The relative value would be about $.25 USA or a quarter. They agreed to these terms. Tobit then gave him a blessing.