Historical Timeline and Context of Daniel

This is a compressed, summarized timeline to provide some context for the book of Daniel. This is based on some of the information provided in Jordan’s Handwriting on the Wall.

This assumes the Biblical dates are accurate and takes them seriously. It also makes the assumption that ancient kings had many names for themselves for different times and contexts, and many of them more like titles, such as Ahasuerus. A Biblical example is 1 Chronicles 5:26. There are also more modern cognates, like James I of England was first James VI of Scotland.

We can also translate the “and” in Daniel 6:28 as “even”, which is done in 1 Chronicles 5:26. Cyrus was half Mede and a transitional figure, and so he conquered Babylon as Darius the Mede. We also know that Cyrus was about 62 when he conquered Babylon, a detail given at the end of Daniel 5. The usage also makes sense in the light of prophecies from Isaiah and Jeremiah that predicted Babylon would be destroyed by the Medes.

In the same vein, Darius the Great could plausibly be known as Darius, Xerxes, and Artaxerxes based on context and the where in his reign we are. It seems likely that after several successful conquests, Darius would be given additional honorifics. See this article for some additional evidence and details.

As a result, this also puts the book of Esther earlier than many people think, and makes Darius that king in those stories. I think this is justified, because we have an actual date when Mordecai himself was taken away from Judah. With the dates below, it makes Mordecai at least 87 years old at the time of the major drama in Esther. If we push this out to the next king, we’re looking at an additional 24 years at least added to Mordecai’s age.

627 BC Josiah year 13. Jeremiah begins to prophesy.
623 BC Josiah year 17. Ezekiel born. Daniel probably also born
around this time.
608 BC Death of Josiah. Jehoahaz rules 3 months. Ezekiel and Daniel around 15 years old.
607 BC Jehoiakim year 2. Habakkuk prophesies.
605 BC Nebuchadnezzar subjugates Palestine and Jerusalem. Daniel and Jehoiakim are sent to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar becomes king after his father’s death. Prophecy of Jeremiah chapter 25.
603 BC Daniel interprets dream of Daniel chapter 2. Elevated to power.
601 BC Birth of Cyrus. Jehoiakim revolts. Jeremiah’s 27th year of prophesying.
600 BC Possible time of Daniel chapter 3, after Nebuchadnezzar has setbacks.
598 BC More Jews taken captive. Jehoiachin becomes king and rebels against Nebuchadnezzar. Siege of Jerusalem begins.
597 BC Siege of Jerusalem ends. More captives taken from Judah, including Mordecai and probably Ezekiel. Zedekiah put on throne.
593 BC Jeremiah sends Babylon an oracle of doom (Jeremiah chapter 51). Jeremiah’s confrontation with Hananiah. Ezekiel begins to see visions.Possible time-frame when Nebuchadnezzar is insane (Daniel chapter 4).
591 BC Ezekiel chapter 20. Jeremiah’s 37th year of prophesying.
588 BC Zedekiah rebels. Jerusalem besieged.
587 BC Ezekiel chapters 29-31.
586 BC Jerusalem burned and Temple destroyed. Jeremiah is dragged off to Egypt.
562 BC Nebuchadnezzar dies. Accession of Evil-merodach. Jehoiachin is elevated (2 Kings 25:27-29).
560 BC Evil-merodach slain. Accession of Neriglissar.
556 BC Death of Neriglissar. Accession of Nabonidus.
553 BC Nabonidus moves to Tema to serve the god Sin. Belshazzar becomes
vice-regent in Babylon. Vision of Daniel chapter 7.
550 BC Cyrus conquers Media, creating the Medo-Persian empire.
539 BC Events of Daniel chapter 5. Events of Daniel chapter 6.
538 BC Daniel’s calculations lead him to the prayer of Daniel chapter 9.
537 BC Cyrus declares that the Jews are to rebuild the Temple. Ezra chapter 3.
535 BC Opposition discourages Jews from working on the Temple. Adversaries in the court of Cyrus. Daniel chapters 10-12.
522 BC Cambyses dies with an imposter on the throne. Darius overthrows imposter and takes the throne. Darius must reconquer the empire.
520 BC Haggai and Zechariah begin to prophesy.
516 BC Temple completed.
515 BC Darius year 7. Esther becomes queen.
510 BC The drama of Haman, Mordecai, and Esther.
502 BC Darius year 20. Nehemiah given permission to go to Jerusalem.
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