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Discussion 15 to Meditation 38
The Reliability of the Bible

by Billy

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Oral Traditions:

Some people will say that the Bible actually derived from simple "storytelling" or what was called "Oral Traditions", yet there was so much more to the origins of the books of the Bible that we have today. Here is a summary of the Oral Traditions.

Rabbinic case decisions about interpretive questions stemming from the Old Testament law formed a memorized "Oral Tradition" in the New Testament times. This tradition grew during the succeeding centuries until the Jewish collection known as the "Talmud" was finally put into writing.

When Jesus was ridiculing the Pharisees for the "Traditions of Men" he was actually quoting some of their laws and books.

One example is Mark 7: 5. Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?

6. He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.

7. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

8. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.

9. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

10. For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death:

11. But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free.

12. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother;

13. Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

Jesus was quoting their law from the Book of Nedarim 10:2 which is found in the Talmud. He also quoted from the book of Megillah 16:2 (which states that honoring the traditions within "Traditional Law" which is now known as the Talmud) is "greater than honoring their father or mother."

Sadducees disagreed with the "Oral Traditions". According to the Sadducees, the Oral Traditions were not acceptable and were too loose. They were considered to be outside of the Torah (the Laws of Moses) and merely commentaries on the scriptures. When the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D., the Sadducees no longer ruled and the Pharisees later became the prominent leaders throughout the following centuries.

While the Oral Traditions were literally used by "Word of Mouth" at first, they were also finally written down in scrolls within the first century. This is what was called the Mishna and is also the first part of the Talmud. The Talmud was written in different versions such as the Palestinian and the Babylonian and some others and is as large a compilation as a set of encyclopedias.

While throughout the ages there were "Oral Traditions" practiced, this was not the only form of teaching used among the Jews and early Christians. The scrolls or laws were read at the Temple on Holy Days and on the Sabbaths. When the Temple was destroyed during the Babylonian Period, the scrolls and teachings were taught in what was later called Synagogues. The Synagogues were not only used as a place of worship, but they were also used as schools. Young Jewish boys would learn to read and write by using the writings of the Laws, Prophets, and the Words of Wisdom such as the Psalms. They would also learn trades and mathematics. Some of the young men would continue their education under a scholar or Rabbi. An example in the New Testament would be when Paul studied under Gamalial.

The Oral traditions did not replace the writings of the scrolls. The scrolls were written in Hebrew and Greek during the Babylonian and New Testament period and sometimes they were orally translated into Aramaic if the crowd was in an area where the language was predominant. Even then, if a visitor was translating the message into Aramaic, it was the duty of the Scribe or Hazzon to stand beside the reader to ensure that the reading was accurate or the translation was stated correctly. The Scribes and Hazzons would take care of the scrolls and perform other ceremonial duties. Scribes later became more like lawyers of the law and also more like the Pharisees.

Jesus did use Oral Traditions of teaching when he taught the people. He used Parables, Prophecies, and Interpretation, Teachings of the Old Law, and Moral Ethics and Guidelines. He also told His followers to go out and teach the Gospel or Good News. The Bible as we know it did not exist then and not everyone had a copy of the texts written at the time, so most people depended upon the reading of the scriptures in Synagogues and other public places.

Many skeptics believe that Oral Tradition was the only means of teaching and that there are no copies of ancient texts that date earlier than 200 B.C. This is simply not true. Some evidences would be the Scrolls read in the Synagogues, the Septuagint, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and other early texts.

Until recently, the earliest ancient New Testament text we had was "The Papyrus Rylands Greek 457, a fragment of John's Gospel, which dates back to the first half of the second century. Then in 1994, another ancient fragment was found which dated earlier than 66 A.D. It is what is called the "Jesus Papyri" and more commonly called the "Magdelen Papyri". Each ancient document found is assigned an identification number. It is 17P64. It is a segment of the Greek text of Matthew's Gospel, Matthew 26:23 and 31. After being tested and dated with other ancient documents of the same period of time, it was determined that it actually could be part of the original text written or an immediate copy. Incidentally, the Mathew segment corresponds to Textus Receptus, the traditional source documents.

This is important for different reasons. First, if dated before 70 A.D. this would mean that the prophecy written in the book about the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple would be accurate and was actually inspired. Secondly, this would mean that the Gospels as we know them were truly written separately and not simply taken from one source book as many skeptics and religious leaders once believed (i.e. the book of "Q").

Throughout centuries, animal skins, clay tablets, stones, Papyrus from Egypt, and other sources were used to share information throughout the known world.

Writings were used in the days of Abraham. King Hammarabi lived in the days of Abraham and it has been discovered that he was one of the kings that was rescued by Abraham. Hammarabi's Law is the oldest known secular writing of laws. The Hammarabi stone actually proved that it was possible for the man Moses to have written a set of laws for the people to follow.

The Septuagint: The oldest writings of the Old Testament we have in the world. They were written around 250 to 300 B.C.

The word "Septuagint" is simply a fancy way of saying Seventy. A group of 70 to 72 men got together in about 250 B.C. and began translating the Hebrew text into Aramaic and Greek. Many of the Jewish people did not return to Jerusalem and so the language was being lost and few people could understand the Hebrew writings. Centuries later (close to 500 A.D., some Hebrew leaders got together and decided to put together the Messoretic Text so the People could learn the writings in Hebrew again. It is interesting that there is a possibility that the Greek translation may be more accurate in translation for two reasons.

1. When Jesus quoted Isaiah (29:13) in Matthew 15: 8-9 and Mark 7: 6-7, he quoted the Greek version (Septuagint).

2. The second reason is that the Septuagint is a much older version than the later re-translated Hebrew version and the Septuagint was recognized by many religious authorities, historians, world powers (such as the Babylonians, Medo-Persians and Greeks), world leaders (such as King Cyrus and Alexander the Great) to be authoritative and authentic.

The Canon and the Council of Jamnia

Some critics will say that the council came together and created a set of rules and books and then forced the followers to accept them. This is not true. The history is as follows:

A. When the destruction of the Temple was imminent, a Rabbi belonging to the school of Hillel in the Pharisaic party-Yochanan ben Zakkai by name- obtained permission from the Romans to reconstitute the Sanhedrin on a purely spiritual basis at Jabneh or Jamnia, between Joppa and Azotus (Ashdod). Some of the discussions which went on at Jamnia were handed down by oral transmission and ultimately recorded in the rabbinical writings. Among their debates they considered whether canonical recognition should be accorded to the books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs and Esther. Objections have been raised against these books on various grounds; Esther, for example, did not contain the name of God, and the Ecclesiastes was none too easy to square with contemporary orthodoxy. But the Upshot of the Jamnia debates was the acknowledgement of all these books as holy scripture.

B. The discussions that took place at the Council of Jamnia were amongst the Rabbis, but there is no evidence of formal or binding decisions that were made.

C. Long before councils were convened, Christians were collecting ancient documents and discerning which ones carried the authority of the apostles. Even in the Old Testament, the people were told that if a Person prophesied something and it did not come to pass, that they were a false prophet.

D. When the Synod of Hippo in A.D. 393 listed the twenty-seven books of the New Testament, it did not confer upon them any authority which they did not already possess. It simply re-affirmed the previous authenticity of the scriptures.

The books written by Paul and also by other disciples were scattered throughout Jerusalem and Asia long before a council convened to discuss the authority of the books that were written.

Even as Christians, we must accept the fact that fallible men have collected the books throughout the ages and many differ in opinions about the authority of the books. Some books not found in our Bible do seem to actually be divine and historically accurate, but for some reason, some men felt that they were not to be included within what we now have as the Bible. For the Old and New Testament to be True and authentic, we must accept that there were other books written. The book of Jude quotes from the book of Enoch (Jude 14). Other books mentioned in our Bible are: "Book of Wars" (Numbers 21:14), The Book of Jasher (Joshua 10:13), The Chronicles of David" (1 Chronicles 27:24), The Book of Gad (1 Chronicles 29:29), Story of Prophet Iddo (2 Chronicles 13:22), The Book of Nathan (1 Chronicles 29:29), and The Book of Jehu (2 Chronicles 20:34)

This is when an individual must study to show himself/herself approved and not simply accept the opinions of fallible men.

One must also accept that even though there are some discrepancies in our modern texts, it has never changed the message of the Bible. An example of some of the errors would be as follows: An ancient scroll would be lost and centuries later would be discovered. A scribe would then try to go over the old tattered cracked and torn document and try to put together and decipher the texts. Sometimes they could compare it to similar texts or the same text from a different time period, but sometimes they could not. They would come across a word or a number and try to copy it down onto another scroll, papyrus, or skin. They may have missed a tiny mark that would subsequently change a number from 8 to 18 because of the tiny mark being completely lost, could not be seen on the original manuscript. The same would apply to words, names, and places.

The Bible itself mentions other books and documents that were later found in excavations and in the Qumran Caves. They are not books we find in today's Bible, some of them are quoted or written about in the Bible, and others support the scriptures and only increase the validity of the Bible.

The Bible as Evidence

It is unique:

This does not prove the Bible to be "inspired" but its uniqueness supports its validity. It was written by many different people across thousands of years of time from different walks of life. From the book of Genesis to the last book of the Revelation, it all fits together like a big puzzle. There is no other evidence of any other book that can claim the likeness. The Koran itself was only written by one person. In the Koran, there is only one specific prophecy (which by the way has not been fulfilled). It is also a simple thing that any person could perform. Mohammad simply states that he will return to Mecca. In all of the writings of Confucius, Buddhism, and Lao-tse, you will not find a single example of predicted prophecy.

Archeology:

The Bible has been used as a map for centuries and even today to find lost civilizations and sometimes treasures of gold and silver. Many skeptics have tried to use the Bible against itself by going to the sites recorded in the Bible, only to find that what the Bible states about certain places and times is actually true based on the physical evidences. There are many examples of outside sources of archeological evidences that support the Bible's accuracy. Some examples of Archeological evidences would be: The finding of lost civilizations in the Bible, Clay tablets and other documents that support the Bible, inscriptions from secular kings and leaders which write about the same events as written in the Bible.

It is also obvious by going to any country that there is evidence of a worldwide flood. Oceanic fossils from all over the world have been found on land including mountains. Dinosaur footprints have been found with many different kinds of tracks all going uphill. Geological evidences could be presented in a whole separate lesson.

Most Archeologists, Paleontologists, and Historians (both religious and secular) agree that the earliest civilizations began around the "Fertile Crescent" or Mesopotamian region. This too supports the Bible.

Archeology also supports the following scriptures of the Bible: Genesis 4: 21-24 states that Jubal, was "father of all who play the harp and flute." Discoveries at UR (Abraham's birthplace) - not far from the area believed to be the Garden of Eden) show the earliest evidences of stringed and wind instruments. Until the discoveries, it was believed that these instruments could not have existed until thousands of years later.

Likewise, the Bible says Tubal-cain was an expert in forging brass and iron. This seemed to contradict "science" which had the Iron Age starting as late as 1200 B.C. However, at Tel Asmar (Eshnunna) about fifty miles northwest of Bagdad (near the probable Garden of Eden) an iron blade was found from a period of at least 2700 B.C. long before the dawn of the Iron Age.

A "Tel" is a hill that has been made out of older cities being buried by newer cities. In the ancient days when a city was conquered, it was usually torn down and another city was built on top of it. This continued throughout the centuries. In each layer of the Tel, articles of each civilization can be found in each layer. The older articles were found within the bottom ruins of the Tel and so on.

History:

The Bible still proves to be the most accurate and reliable source of documentation of secular history that has ever existed. It is interesting that where the Bible leaves off in the Beginning where man did not exist, that the secular critics would call this period of time "Pre-history." Why is this? Perhaps it is because there really was a creation and nothing existed before it. Whatever the reason may be, it does seem to support the fact that there was nothing before the "Creation Period" mentioned in the Bible. Excavations today also have confirmed that the earliest work tools and uses of metals coincided with Biblical records.

There are over 24,000 ancient records that have been found that support the New Testament alone. The closest runner up is "Homer's Iliad" which only has 643 ancient records. The interesting fact about Biblical history is that secular history and the Bible coincide. In many instances, secular history was lost and critics would criticize the Bible by saying that it was wrong because there was no secular history/evidence of the occurrences. Some examples would be:

A. The Book of Daniel: Daniel states that the last secular king in Babylon was King Belshazzar. (Many critics believed that Belshazzar's father, Nabonidas was the last king to rule Babylon, but then a stone cylinder was found in 1853 with the inscription reading "May I, Nabonida, king of Babylon, not sin against thee. And may reverence for thee dwell in the heart of Belshazzar, my first-born, favorite son."

This archeological finding of 1854 was the Cylinder of King Nabonidus (Nebuchadnezzar's son and Belshazzar's father). Other document (contracts, etc.) mention Belshazzar.

The following stone was found on a corner of an ancient Babylonian Temple. It tells of the fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar in 597 B.C. 2 Kings 24:10-14

Babylonian Chronicles

The Hittite Nation: Another error critics made was concerning the Hittite nation mentioned in the Old Testament. Until recent history, there was no secular evidence that remained of the Hittite nation. Critics suggested that the Hittite nation never existed since there was no evidence. When archeologist Dr. Hugo Winckler went to the area where the Bible states that the Hittite nation was to have lived, he discovered more than forty of the Hittite cities, including their capital, along with a great number of monuments describing their activities. Commenting on a treaty between the Hittites and the Egyptians that the Bible describes, one English critic said there was no more chance for such a treaty to have existed between the Egyptians and the Hittites than between England and the Choctaws. Yet spelled out on a palace wall in one of the uncovered cities of Egypt was found the whole treaty between Egypt and the Hittites. So many Babylonian inscriptions have now proved the Hittites to have been a great superpower located between Egypt and Babylonia, so large that all of Egypt and Babylonia were considered to have been tribes of the Hittites. One can now go to an accredited university and major in Hittite study.

Egyptian Monuments: Another interesting archeological site is the location of the monuments of Pithom and Raamses. In the Bible, it states that the Israelites were building monuments with mortar and straw. Then they had to gather their own straw, and finally they had to build the bricks without any straw (Exodus 5).

When Sir Flinders Petrie later discovered the sites of Pithom and Raamses, he noted some incredible things about them. They were built with mortar-something found nowhere else in Egypt. Moreover, the lower layers were built of brick that used stubble instead of straw. In the second and upper levels were bricks made without straw.

The City of Jericho: In the Biblical record, Joshua and the Israelites conquered the city of Jericho by marching around the wall and supposedly, the wall fell down miraculously. But what does secular history have to say? Critics said that it never happened. "One does not just walk around a city and have walls fall down flat." But what did Professor John Garstang, British archaeologist and authority on Hittite civilization, discover when he came to the site of Jericho to dig? He stated: As for the main fact, there remains no doubt the walls fell outward so completely that the attackers would be able to clamber up and over the ruins into the city." What is also unusual about that is that walls of such engineering don't fall outward, they fall inward. Another argument that critics raised was that one could not march around the city seven times in a day. Jericho was not as large a city as other monumental cities and one can visit the site today and march around the city seven times in a day and still take time out for other entertaining activities before lunch. Again the critics were proven wrong by this book called the Bible.

There are thousands and thousands of other interesting archeological sites and findings outside the Bible that support the validity of the Bible as a Book of Evidences, History, and Archeology, but another interesting quality of the Bible lies in the Prophecies of the Bible.

Prophecy: This seems to be the characteristic of the Bible that causes many to raise their eyebrows to the authenticity of the Bible. After all, if there were valid Prophecies then there are actually miracles and there would be a higher power or God as we would call it. Here are the interesting facts of Prophecy. For it to be a true prophecy, it must be accurate and specific and not general. What makes the Bible unique once again is that in all the writings of Buddha, Confucius, Lao-tse, you will not find a single example of predicted prophecy. In the Koran (the writings of Muhammad) there is one instance of a specific prophecy- a self-fulfilling prophecy-that he, Muhammad himself, would return to Mecca. To this day the one prophecy has not been fulfilled.

The Biblical prophecies are specific, unlike the Delphic Oracle or the Sibylline Oracles. Maxentius, emperor of Rome, is said to have come to one of the Sibylline Oracles and asked what would happen if he attacked the army of Constantine that was approaching Rome on the other side of the Tiber River. The Oracle's answer was: "In that day, the enemy of Rome will be destroyed." So confident of victory, he attacked Constantine's army, but it was Maxentius who was destroyed. The Oracle failed to define who the enemy of Rome really was; thus in the pattern of Oracular utterances, however it turned out, the prophecy was fulfilled. The Biblical prophecies were not only specific, but usually when they were prophesied they were considered to be impossible.

The prophecies of the Scripture, on the other hand, are incredibly specific and detailed .They must be exactly fulfilled. The prophecies cannot possibly be just good guesses because they concerned themselves with things that had no likelihood of ever coming to pass. They predicted the very opposite of the natural expectations of human beings. They cannot have been written after the events and pawned off as prophecies because in hundreds of instances the fulfillment of the prophecy did not take place until hundreds of years after the death of the prophet(s). In many cases, the fulfillment came after the completion of the Old Testament and even its translation into Greek in 150 B.C.

There are over 2,000 specific prophecies that have been fulfilled, but let us look at a few.

Archeology confirms the Book of Ezekiel:

Stone tablets have been found with nearly the complete text of Ezekiel dating from 500-600 B.C (the time of Ezekiel). This verifies existence of the prophet long before the fulfillment.

Ezekiel 26: 6-13: Tyre and Sidon: *These were two great cities of the eastern coast of the Mediterranean. Tyre was to the sea what Babylon was to the land. The great city of Carthage was simply one of the daughters of Tyre, and yet at its height, the prophet in the Old Testament declared that the city of Tyre would be destroyed, never to be rebuilt, and never again to be inhabited (Ezekiel 26:19-21). He warned the city of Sidon that the inhabitants would be decimated, but the city would continue (28: 21-23). The facts are that the city of Sidon was attacked, it was betrayed by its own king, forty thousand of the inhabitants were killed; but the city of Sidon continues to this day.

What happened to Tyre? These are some of the specific prophecies about it. Ezekiel declared when Tyre was at its height: "And they shall destroy the walls of Tyre, and break down her towers: I will also scrape the dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock. It shall be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord... And they shall lay thy stones and they timber and they dust in the midst of the water...And I will make thee like the top of a rock.thou shalt be built no more: for I the Lord have spoken it" (Ezekiel 26:4-5, 12-14). A few years after the writing of this prophecy, the Great Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon brought his army to Tyre and laid siege to the city. For thirteen years the city of Tyre withstood the efforts of the King of Babylon. Finally the walls of the city were crumbled, and the hordes of the Babylonian army poured into the city of Tyre and put its inhabitants to the sword. Thousands however had fled into the sea by boat to for the new city of Tyre on an island a half mile out in the Mediterranean. The prophecy was fulfilled, therefore, only in part.

Some might say that Ezekiel wrote this prophecy after the events happened, but that is impossible. Centuries went by. Two hundred fifty years later when Ezekiel had long been in his grave, most of the walls of Tyre still stood jutting into the sky-mute testimony to the fact that the prophecy had not been fulfilled. Millions of tons of stone, rubble, and timbers were left, and yet God had said the city would be scraped clean like the top of a rock-that the stones and the timbers and the very dust of the city would be cast into the sea. What madman could possibly come along two hundred fifty years later and complete this unfulfilled prophecy? It seemed as if God was wrong; yet the Bible had declared, "I the Lord have spoken it." Then like a bugle call there came a thrill of terror out of the north, as a mighty conqueror appeared on the horizon. Alexander the Great was poised at the Strait of the Dardanelles readying his attack on the dominant Persian Empire. He crossed that strait and gave to the king of Persia his first crushing defeat. The mighty Persian army turned and fled to the south, then inland to the east, with Alexander in hot pursuit. However, before turning inland to follow the fleeing army, Alexander, as a great strategist, decided to nullify the effect of the mighty Persian navy. He sealed off all the ports on the eastern end of the Mediterranean. One after another, the cities capitulated and surrendered. Finally Alexander came to new Tyre, built with impregnable walls a half mile out in the Mediterranean. He commanded the city to surrender. When its inhabitants laughed at his command, Alexander, with his chief engineer, Diades, conceived the boldest and most daring plan in the history of warfare. They would build a causeway across the half mile of the Mediterranean Sea to the Island of new Tyre. Where would they find the materials for such a causeway? The order was issued by the great king: "Tear down the walls of Tyre, take the timbers and the stones, the rubble and the logs, and cast them into the sea." So the great army of Alexander obediently began to fulfill the word of God.

History records how Mainland Tyre was leveled and its rubble was carried to the construction site. Logs were being dragged from the forests of Lebanon, and the quarries were opened in the hills to supply stones for Diades's fabulous highway. Alexander himself carried stones on his back. "Rubble, logs, stones!" These are the very objects that the prophet Ezekiel talked about thousands of years ago. The stones and the timbers and the dust were carried and cast into the sea. History tells us that they scraped the very city itself to get everything they could to make this highway in order to destroy the new city Tyre. Tyre was finally leveled.

But the prophecy was still not completely fulfilled. God had said that he would destroy the walls of Tyre and make her like the top of a rock. He said that it would become a place for the spreading of nets. One only has to go to the location today to see that fishermen use the top of the level island to spread out their nets.

*"Why I Believe"/ D. James Kennedy

Another specific prophecy is that of the destruction of Babylon. It was first prophesied by the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah. The Great Wall of China is not as large or as strong as the wall around Babylon was. Consider the following:

Here is the background. Isaiah had prophesied from 740 B.C to around 680 B.C.

In 605 B.C., Babylon conquered Jerusalem and took away Daniel and friends into captivity. In 586 B.C., Jerusalem was pretty much destroyed and the temple was also destroyed. The people were taken out of Jerusalem. Strangers from foreign lands came into the city and lived there.

The book of Isaiah states in chapter 44 and going into the first part of chapter 45,

Isaiah 44:

24. Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: "I am the Lord, who made all things, who stretched out the heavens alone, who spread out the earth--Who was with me?--

25. who frustrates the omens of liars, and makes fools of diviners; who turns wise men back, and makes their knowledge foolish;

26. who confirms the word of his servant, and performs the counsel of his messengers; who says of Jerusalem, 'She shall be inhabited,' and of the cities of Judah, 'They shall be built, and I will raise up their ruins';

27. who says to the deep, 'Be dry, I will dry up your rivers';

28. who says of Cyrus, 'He is my shepherd, and he shall fulfill all my purpose'; saying of Jerusalem, 'She shall be built,' and of the temple, 'Your foundation shall be laid.'"

Isaiah 45

1. THUS SAYS the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him and ungird the loins of kings, to open doors before him that gates may not be closed:

2. "I will go before you and level the mountains, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut asunder the bars of iron,

3. I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places, that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who call you by your name.

4. For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I surname you (name you before you are born), though you do not know me.

5. I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I gird you, though you do not know me,

6. that men may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other.

7. I form light and create darkness, I make well and create woe, I am the Lord, who do all these things......

13. I have aroused him in righteousness, and I will make straight all his ways; he (Cyrus) shall build my city and set my exiles free, not for price or reward," says the Lord of hosts.

The above is Biblical Prophecy. Now, let us look at Daniel and how secular history confirms the prophecy.

In Daniel Chapter 2, King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream of a giant statue with separate metals for different parts of the body. It was interpreted that different parts of the body of the statue represented a different Kingdom. They are named in the following order:

a. Head of Gold = Babylon (2:38)

b. Breastplate and arms of Silver = Medes and Persians (2:39 and 5:28)

c. Belly and Thighs = Greeks (2:39 and ch. 8: 20, 21)

d. Roman Empire by implication of Strength and History (2:40) Rome is not named but according to history, it was the fourth kingdom which conquered the Greek Empire. It was noted for its strength and also for falling not by outside sources, but from within (just as described in Daniel 2).

Daniel had reached an old age and was probably in his 80s when King Nebuchadnezzar died and Nebuchadnezzar's grandson Belshazzar was in charge. (Many critics believed that Belshazzar's father, Nabonidas, was the last king to rule Babylon, but then a stone cylinder was found in 1853 with the inscription reading "May I, Nabonida, king of Babylon, not sin against thee. And may reverence for thee dwell in the heart of Belshazzar, my first-born, favorite son."

This archeological finding of 1854 was the Cylinder of King Nabonidus (Nebuchadnezzar's son and Belshazzar's father).

One night, as the Persian army was making a silent attack on the city, Belshazzar decided to throw a huge feast or party and used the Jewish Temple vessels as the party vessels. Suddenly, during the feast, a hand appears in the air and writes the following words on the wall: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN, which means; "God hath numbered thy kingdom, and brought it to an end; thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians." (Daniel 5: 25-30)

That very night, outside the city walls, The Persian army had already sealed off the Euphrates River, which both supplied and protected the city. Apparently, there must have been some kind of mote around the city wall and beneath the wall were tunnel entrances because this is what happened later. When the river was sealed or blocked, the water level receded and the Medo-Persian army entered into the city through the exposed tunnels. There was not even a battle. It is recorded that some people did not even know that the city was taken over until 3 days later and the Temple ceremonies were not even interrupted. The Stele of Cyrus can be seen in the British Museum in London which states the following:

Stele of Cyrus

".without any battle, he entered the town, sparing any calamity",. "I returned to sacred cities on the other side of the Tigris, the sanctuaries of which have been ruins for a long time. and established for them permanent sanctuaries. I also gathered all their former inhabitants and returned them their habitations."

Now, here comes the most fascinating part of the lesson:

Cyrus the Great established the Medo-Persian Empire. His Father was Cambius (who was Persian) and his mother was Mandane (the Princess of Media). When Cambius married Mandane, there was a union of the Medes and the Persians (thus Medo-Persia).

On October 12, 539 B.C., Cyrus' general (Ugbaru) captured Babylon without a fight. We read about this in secular history in the writings of Herodotus, the Greek historian (who at that time was known as the "Father of All History." The Euphrates River was blocked so that it became as low as the level of a man's thigh. The city (which was thought to be impregnable at the time) was taken over quietly and easily.

Historical writings and inscriptions upon the ancient wall itself, and the stele of Cyrus state that King Cyrus himself entered the city of Babylon. Some of the people knew about the initial invasion and when asked, they told the new Persian leaders that a man named Daniel had told them about the entrance and the writing on the wall. Daniel was set up to be a chief magistrate and remained in position even in the reign of King Darius. Daniel supposedly gave King Cyrus an ancient scroll (over 150 years old). It was the letter from Isaiah the Prophet (which we read earlier).

Can you imagine how Cyrus felt when he realized that his takeover was prophesied by Daniel himself and that the part of the letter that was written by Isaiah was actually a letter to King Cyrus himself? It specified his name (or "surname") which means it was foretold (Is. 45:3, 4). It specified how the city would be taken over. The rivers were dried up (Isaiah 44:27). It even prophecies that the foundation of the new city and temple would be laid (Is. 44:28) and they were. The book of Isaiah was written about 150 years before Cyrus was even born. Notice Cyrus is even called a "Shepard." Most kings in that day either killed the enemies or made them into slaves. As even secular history demonstrates, Cyrus let them go "beyond the rivers."

The story does not end here though. Remember that it was prophesied that the Greeks would take over the Medo-Persian Empire? In Daniel 8, Daniel saw a goat and a ram which was very powerful. The ram was defeated by the goat attacking from the west. Daniel interpreted that a leader from the West (which turned out to be Alexander the Great) would subdue the Medo-Persian Empire. This is so vivid, that when Alexander the Great entered Jerusalem, the High Priest showed him the writings of Daniel and he recognized his own career being prophesied and spared the city.

Many other prophecies of Daniel were very specific, including the crucifixion of the Messiah and the very day he would enter Jerusalem (Daniel 9) which speaks of the 70 X 7 years (which at the time were 360 day years). Daniel also prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem and Jesus refers back to Daniel's prophecy in Matthew 24 and 25.

Most critics believe that since the book of Daniel is so specific, that it had to be written after it all happened, but any person who has studied both history and archeology would have to know that Daniel was not only written hundreds of years before the events, but that it was translated from Hebrew to Greek before the fulfillments and that the World Powers at that time (Babylonian, Medo-Persians, as well as the Greeks, recognized Daniel's writings and that Daniel was truly a prophet of God and was moved up to be a royal magistrate. There are numerous other specific prophecies concerning cities such as Samaria and Jerusalem, Edom, Rome, etc..

Once again, the Bible is confirmed with historical and archeological evidences.