The Places, People, and Events in Daniel Confirmed
Daniel’s stories and prophecies place the book within the three military campaigns of Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar against Judah. Babylon’s armies capture Daniel and his friends in 605 B.C. (Daniel 1). They take Ezekiel the prophet in 597 B.C. together with 10,000 other prisoners (2 Kings 24:14), and leave the prophet Jeremiah behind to provide hope for the poorest who remain in Jerusalem. Finally, in 586 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar destroys Jerusalem and the temple, deporting many of its inhabitants to Babylon (2 Kings 25:1-21). The following six points show how archaeology, in addition to the Dead Sea Scrolls, confirms the accuracy of these biblical events.
The Babylonian Chronicles are the official records of the campaigns of Nebuchadnezzar. The text, now in the British Museum, is partially broken but clearly documents the 597 B.C. campaign against Jerusalem as described in the Bible.
The Lachish Letters were found in 1930 in the destroyed gate of the city of Lachish. One letter contains the words, “We are watching for the fire signals of Lachish according to all the signs which my lord has given, because we cannot see Azekah.” Sent by messenger to Lachish, the text informs the inhabitants that Azekah has already been conquered and Lachish may be next. According to Jeremiah 34:7, only Azekah and Lachish remained of the cities of Judah during this last campaign by Nebuchadnezzar. This letter confirms this picture and gives the next stage of the campaign strategy—the destruction of the guardian city of Lachish before the armies advanced on Jerusalem.
The construction of Babylon is claimed by Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:30), but no classical writer had ever said so. Moreover, historians knew that Babylon had existed for over a thousand years before Nebuchadnezzar. How could he claim to have built the city? The German expedition to Babylon from 1899-1915 uncovered thousands of mud bricks used in the walls and buildings all stamped with Nebuchadnezzar’s name. Moreover, eight gates surrounded the city, each named after a well-known Babylonian god. The famous Ishtar gate reconstructed in Berlin bears a dedicatory inscription of Nebuchadnezzar. He had indeed rebuilt the city after its destruction by the Assyrians.
The name of “Baruch the son of Neriah, the scribe” was discovered on a seal impression found in the destruction debris of Jerusalem. Baruch served as the personal scribe of the prophet Jeremiah and helped the prophet write the book (Jeremiah 32:12).
The name Nebu-sarsekim was discovered in 2007 on a financial record by a researcher in the British Museum. The inscription dates to the tenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah 39:3 mentions Nebu-sarsekim in the account of Nebuchadnezzar’s last campaign against Judah.
The Cyrus Cylinder, discovered in Babylon in 1879, was issued by Cyrus the Great to commemorate his conquest of Babylon in 539 B.C. Cyrus describes himself entering the city peacefully, welcomed by the population as a liberator. This corresponds with the prophecy of Isaiah (44:28-45:3), stating that Babylon fell without a prolonged siege or fight by Cyrus, the “anointed one.” The cylinder also records the liberation of the captive nations held by Babylon and their return to their cities. Ezra (1:1-6) records that Cyrus freed the Jews who had been brought into exile by Nebuchadnezzar, allowing them to return to Jerusalem.