Daniel 5:1—How can Daniel say the last king of Babylon was Belshazzar when history records that it was Nabonidus?
Problem: Daniel 5 records the downfall of Babylon and identifies the king of Babylon as Belshazzar. However, neither Babylonian nor Greek historians record the existence of any such person. In fact, ancient historians report that Nabonidus was the last king of the Babylonian empire. Is Daniel’s record in error?
Solution: Daniel’s historical record of Belshazzar has been confirmed by recent archaeological evidence. Nabonidus was the king of Babylon from 556 to 539 b.c. However, according to a cuneiform document known as the “Persian Verse Account of Nabonidus,” in the third year of his reign, about 553 b.c., Nabonidus departed from Babylon on a long journey and entrusted the rule of Babylon into the hands of his first born son, Belshazzar. When Cyrus overthrew Babylon, Nabonidus was in Tema in North Arabia. Since Belshazzar was the subordinate of Nabonidus, his name was forgotten, because the ancient Babylonian and Greek historians were primarily interested in the reigns of the official kings. Daniel’s record has proven to be amazingly accurate.
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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.