Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Further Toughts on Persian Succession

Three things occurred to me after I posted my last bit on Persian succession. First, I never really brought my Ezra timeline thoughts to a close. Basically, though, it works like this: In showing that the Biblical account from Sennacherib’s siege of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of the Temple and the ensuing Babylonian Captivity was reasonably accurate in terms of time frame, it’s become apparent that the writers and/or redactors of that part of the Bible had a good grasp of the reality of the timeline. Thereby, it seems to me as though it’s reasonable to hazard a guess that someone looked at the timeline and said, “Oh, crap, this doesn’t line up with that 70 year prophecy of Jeremiah thing. That’s no good.” And yea, verily, didst the redactors go out and redact… Second, I never got around to going to the other source of Persian timeline in the Bible: Nehemiah. Nehemiah is a parallel account to Ezra’s of the rebuilding of the Temple. This creates a problem. It says in Nehemiah 2:1 that in the month of Nisan in the 20th year of King Artaxerxes, Nehemiah went to the king. He then asked permission to re-build Jerusalem, saying that the place was desolate. The 20th year of King Artaxerxes I would have been 444 BCE, also known as 72 years after the 6th year of the reign of Darius I, when Ezra said the re-building of the Temple was completed and 94 years after Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon and supposedly set the entire thing in motion. It also makes for the third Persian king who decided, “Y’know what, we should really do something about that Temple dedicated to that god I don’t give a crap about in that city over there.” Also, assuming this is the case, that means that Jeremiah’s 70 year prophecy extended out to 143 years. D’oh. Third, and this is the truly striking thing, Daniel never gets mentioned anywhere outside of the book of Daniel. And I’m not talking about in Babylonian or Persian records, either. He never gets mentioned in the Jewish Bible outside of Daniel itself. Think about it. Ezra needed help during the reigns of Cyrus and Darius. He had to get to the king himself to get what he needed. Wouldn’t it make a certain amount of sense to go to the most powerful Jewish voice in the kingdom? And if Ahasuerus was actually Cambyses II, as I’d argue, why would it be up to Esther and Mordecai alone to stop the plan to kill all the Jews? So there we go. I’ve now spent several days thinking about Persian succession and how it relates to the Biblical idea of Persian succession. On a completely unrelated note, I don’t have a date for Friday night. Strange how that always seems to happen.


Michael Mock said...

"On a completely unrelated note, I don’t have a date for Friday night. Strange how that always seems to happen."

S'Probably because you're not explaining this to the right women.

Fake Al Gore said...

"S'Probably because you're not explaining this to the right men."


I kid, I kid.

I had never realized Daniel wasn't mentioned anywhere else until now. Thanks for that.

Geds said...

Thing is, I knew some of those women in college. The very memory is frightening...

And the lack of Daniel isn't something that's blatantly obvious. I mean, I'd spent a couple of days on the Persian succession, I've been aware of the discrepancies for a long time now, and it was still this thing where I was looking at Ezra, then Esther, and suddenly realized, "Wait. There's something wrong here. Something's missing..."

It's kind of like if you go back to Judges. The Philistines keep popping in and out as bad guys who are completely in charge. And there's that bit in 1 Samuel where the Amalekites show up in spite of the fact that they've already been completely killed off. Twice. Which is then followed by god getting pissed at Saul for not killing all of the Amalekites and, instead, leaving the king alive. So, later, when Saul was killed by an Amalekite he'd never met before in between committing suicide and getting slain by the Philistines, it all makes perfect sense.

Basically, reading the Bible is like someone from the future getting everything they know about modern American culture from Hollywood. Taking it literally is like writing a history book based on those movies. So New York gets destroyed about twenty times, the Russians are enemies, then friends, then enemies, then they blow up the planet.

Actually, thinking of the Bible as ancient Jewish Hollywood is probably the way to go, now that I think about it...