According to Wikipedia:

The introductory verses tell how, in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim (606 BCE), Daniel and his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were among the young Jewish nobility carried off to Babylon following the city's capture by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. (This, incidentally, is the first of a string of historical errors in the Book of Daniel which have led scholars to see its hero as a fictional character, since the meticulous Babylonian chronicles make no mention of an attack on Jerusalem before 598 BCE).

Any defense against that charge?

  • 2
    why would i choose meticulous Babylonian chronicles over a chain of uninterrupted tradition?
    – gt6989b
    Dec 29, 2015 at 22:29
  • 2
    @gt6989b Well that's an easy question: one could have problems with the "telephone" effect while the other cannot. If you dug up a book of Daniel that Daniel wrote that would be a different story entirely.
    – Double AA
    Dec 29, 2015 at 22:34
  • @DoubleAA yes, but why would i trust them as a source of information -- if there is a live tradition that links every generation from there? or can they site an example of where we lost a date in tradition?
    – gt6989b
    Dec 29, 2015 at 23:39
  • @gt6989b Proving there is unlikely to be something wrong with your claim doesn't mean that it is less likely there is something wrong with their claim. Why would you trust the Babylonian chronicle, you ask? Because it was a contemporaneous account with little chance of error creeping in over time through oral transmission. No one can cite at which generation an error crept in to the Jewish tradition, but it remains a fact that a mistake could have crept in at any. I'm not saying it did, but you can't go pretend like your comment above was logically convincing to anyone a priori.
    – Double AA
    Dec 29, 2015 at 23:44
  • 2
    There are several internal and external considerations that lend credence to the historicity of the Book of Daniel.
    – Joseph
    Dec 30, 2015 at 1:41

3 Answers 3


Your primary complaint is over a discrepancy of only eight years, which is not a huge amount. This discrepancy could be explained by different methods of counting regnal years and does not render Daniel non-historical.

In his Guide to the Bible, Isaac Asimov mentions more discrepancies and points out that these discrepancies tend to be in Daniel's past but the predictions which he makes are accurate. He then brings forth the opinion that Daniel was actually written during the Greek period but was set in the Babylonian & Persian period so one caught with the work could claim that it was not critical of the Greek rulers even though those who were in on it knew what it was.


Perhaps the statement in the first passuk of Daniel in which says: "בא נבוכדנאצר מלך בבל ירושלם ויצר עליה the expression ויצר עליה should be translated as "and showed hostility towards it" (because צור is a byform of צרר "treat with hostility").

If we assume that this means the passuk does not necessarily says that a formal military siege against Jerusalem take place in that year.


Note: The Babylonian Chronicles entries brought in this answer were translated by me from the book "Historical Texts From Assyria and Babylonia: 9th-6th Centuries BCE" by Mordechai Cogan, which is a Hebrew translation of various Tanach-related Mesopotamian inscriptions and texts dated to said centuries. A different translation can be found here (see entries from "Early Years of Nabopolassar chronicle" through "Early Years of Nebuchadnezzar chronicle").

It is evident in the Babylonian Chronicles that the authors of the chronicles referred to the Land of Israel as "The Land of Chet" (translated as "Hatti-land" here). For example, in the entry for Nevuchadnetzar's 7th year, it says:

"In the month of Kislev, the king of Akkad recruited his army and went to the Land of Chet. He laid siege upon the city of Judah. In the month of Adar, the second day, he conquered the city and captured its king. He appointed a king who was to his liking. He accepted their rich tribute and passed it on to Babylon."

I recently heard Dr. Yossi Baruchi explain that the priests who authored the Babylonian Chronicle preferred using many ancient terms. We can see from the above entry that they called the king of Babylon "the king of Akkad". And likewise we see that Eretz Yisrael was called Chet, because Bnei Chet used to live there, centuries prior1 (and it is so referred to in Yehoshua 1:4)

Knowing this, we may now go back to Nevuchadnetzar's first year (605 BCE), where we find the entry:

"In the year of his crowning, Nevuchadnetzar returned to the Land of Chet, and still during the month of Shevat he paraded around as a ruler. etc"

Notice the emphasized word, "returned". The previous entry, which describes Nabopolassar (his father)'s last year and Nevuchadnetzar's battles against the Land of Chamat and against Egypt in Carchemish (prior to being crowned), makes no mention of a visit to the Land of Chet, for the next entry to earn the term "returned". In fact, the Land of Chet/Hatti-land is not mentioned at all during the reign of Nabopolassar nor during the wars of his son Nevuchadnetzar, until this entry from his first year. It seems we have here evidence of a prior visit to Judah ("Chet") that the chroniclers did not see fit to directly include in the Chronicles for some reason. Moreover, this shows us that the chroniclers were not quite as meticulous as Wikipedia would have us believe.

It seems that the only question that remains is why Nevuchadnetzar is referred to as king in Daniel 1:1, when it seems he was not yet king. One possibility is that he received control of a central Babylonian city or territory from his father, so he was already king of a small area, much like Da'at Mikra's explanation for Daniel 5:1 (footnote 1, section 3) in which Belshatzar is defined as "king", though according to the Babylonian Chronicle, it was his father Nabona'id who was the last king of Babylon before the Persian conquest. Belshatzar was "king" in that he received temporary authority over Babylon when his father Nabona'id entered self-imposed exile for a certain period. It is possible that, likewise, Nevuchadnetzar was given an office of regency even before the death of his father.

1 Of them, the most well-known is probably Efron, who sold the Machpela Cave to Avraham.

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