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Created 5929± 11 18 2025 [2009-02-13]
Updated 5929± 11 29 2025 [2009-02-24]
When was Belshazzar’s feast, and
There are is at least one most important lesson, for each One of us to take to heart and to act upon, that may be gleaned from the following historical events:
Given a few firm anchor points I see no reason why the fall of Babylon did not, as a matter of established fact, occur on Tammuz 16, 534 BCE:
The Babylonian clay tablet VAT 4956 firmly anchors the Babylonian calendar years of Nebuchadnezzar and therefore also the corresponding 70 years of Babylonian captivity. That is, those 70 years are reckoned using the Babylonian calendar from 604 BCE to 534 BCE, or else using the Scriptural calendar from 605 BCE to 535 BCE.
Another Babylonian clay tablet known as the Babylonian Chronicle firmly anchors the Scriptural calendar relative to the Babylonian calendar for those same years above specified.
Thirdly a terra-cotta cylinder containing the history of the capture of Babylon by Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, provides for us, not only the exact date Tammuz 16 for the fall of Babylon but also, the dates of mourning as proclaimed for “the king.” Almost certainly this must have been a king whom Cyrus succeeded (almost certainly Cyaxares aka. Darius the Median,) thus defining the beginning of Cyrus’ reign. Additionally, on that same terra-cotta cylinder Nisan 4 is associated with Cyrus’ son Cambyses, which date (in 533 BCE) must be the date for Cambyses delivery, i.e. his “birth,” which fact allows us also to date Cyrus’ wedding and his acceptance of all of Media as dowry no later than Av 5, 534 BCE, provided only that Cambyses was born a full term baby on or before Nisan 4, 533 BCE.
Fourthly, Xenophon, a historian who lived less than
two hundred years after the events he recorded, provides for us very many
details re the lives of the kings, their families, and their subjects for this
place and era. For instance, he makes it quite clear that Daniel’s Darius the
Median can be none other than Cyaxares, and that Cyrus served as a General and
a Commander of the joint Medo-Persian army under
Cyaxares, king of Media. That is, Cyrus was not himself recognized as king,
until after the death of his uncle Cyaxares, king of Media (or else until the
death of his father, Cambyses, king of
Fifth, Tammuz 16, 534 BCE fell on summer solstice day, June 21, a fact easily recognizable from the NASA Phases of the Moon tables. Summer solstice day, or Midsummer Day, is certainly a day very easily associated with a feast such as Belshazzar’s feast.
Sixth, given a number of other dated clay tablets etc., it is clear e.g. that Cyrus reigned at least nine years as king before he died [cf. the clay tablet OECT 10, 123 "dated to the nineteenth day of the month Arahsamna (the eighth month) of the ninth year of Cyrus' reign"] and that his eldest son Cambyses was being recognized as king jointly with his father from age 3 and from the 3rd year of Cyrus’ reign until his 7th year of reign, which year is astronomically defined to 523/522 BCE by means of the clay tablet Strm Kambyses 400. It follows that Cambyses younger brother Smerdis as well as the False Smerdis must both have been young boys aged 12 years or even less at the time of their death!
The exact years for each of the four kings of the seven year inter regnum period between Nebuchadnezzar and Nabonidus are also identifiable from available clay tablets:
Amel-Marduk , day ? , month 5, accession year, (BM 58872 )
Amel-Marduk, day 5, month 4 (possibly 6), accession year, (BM 65270)
Amel-Marduk day 20, month 5, accession year, (BM 75322).
Amel-Marduk, day 8, month 7, year 2, (BM 75106)
Amel-Marduk, day 17?, month 10, year 2, (BM 61325)
Nergal-shar-usur, day 4, month 2, accession year, (BM 75489 )
Nergal-shar-usur, day?, month 2, year 4, (Evetts 1892, Inscriptions of the Reigns of Evil Merodak, Neriglissar and Laborosoarochod)
Labashi-Marduk, day 9, month 3, accession year
Labashi-Marduk, day 12, month 3, accession year
Nabunaid, day 18, month 3, accession year, (BM 75214)
Nabunaid, day?, month 9, year 17, (BM 74951).
Based on these clay tablets and more One may even find good reason for questioning whether Nabonidus wasn’t just another name for Nebuchadnezzar as indicated also by Daniel 4:32-34?
Defining the 70 years of Babylonian captivity in terms of the Scriptural and the Babylonian calendars:
“And this whole land shall be a
desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations
shall serve the king of
“1 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans;
“2 In the first year of his reign I Daniel
understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came
to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of
I believe we are now ready for more completely trusting and understanding these Scripture references and the 70 years referenced by Jeremiah and Daniel.
Common wisdom has
The 37th Babylonian year of Nebuchadnezzar is firmly anchored in time by VAT 4956 as beginning at sunset April 22, 568 BCE, i.e. Nisan/Abib 1, 568.
Scriptural year of Nebuchadnezzar is then firmly anchored in time
relative to the 37th Babylonian year of Nebuchadnezzar by
this Babylonian Chronicle clay tablet on display at the
This Babylonian Chronicle identifies an event of Adar 2 in the 7th Babylonian year of reign of Nebuchadnezzar. The same event is recorded also in 2 Kings 24:12, but is there dated to the 8th Scriptural year of Nebuchadnezzar:
“And Jehoiachin the king of
Accordingly, the Babylonian Chronicle serves as a firm anchor for all of the Scriptural calendar years of Nebuchadnezzar:
Adar 2 of Babylonian year 7 = Adar 2 of Scriptural year 8:
"And Jehoichin the king of
"In London’s British Museum, there is a baked clay tablet (just under 3¼ inches) inscribed in cuneiform writing (wedge-shaped characters) which records the activities of king Nebucadnezzar between the years 605-594 B.C.
the entry which deals with the 7th year of the king (598-7 B.C.), mention is
made that in the month of Kislimu, the king of Akkad
[Nebuchadnezzar] marched his army to Hatti-land
[Syria-Palestine] and encamped against the capital city of
. . . . .
Babylonian year 7 = Scriptural year 8:
is not the first archaeological discovery relating to the fall of
"Year 7 [597 BC] in Kislev the king of
"Babylonian Chronicle for the year 605–595 BC.
First published by Donald J. Wiseman in 1956, it records the last (21st) year
of the reign of Nabopolassar and the first 11 years of his son Nebuchadnezzar.
Among Nebuchadnezzar’s accomplishments was the capture of
Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar's father, died on Av 8, 605 BCE. It follows from the above that, per default Scriptural reckoning, Nebuchadnezzar's 1st year of reign began Tishri 22, 605 BCE following a brief accession year. The reckoning of the Babylonian captivity parallels the years of Nebuchadnezzar's reign (i.e. the 1st, 2nd, 3rd year, &c. are identically numbered for both,) which brings us to the end of the 70th year of Babylonian captivity in the fall of 535 BCE per the Scriptural calendar. Using a Babylonian calendar the corresponding beginning and ending dates are Abib 1, 604 BCE and the beginning of Abib 1, 534 BCE respectively.
Additional dated events of importance during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar are outlined at this link.
and dating Belshazzar’s Feast and the Fall of
Three items within the below references are of particular importance for establishing the correct date of the fall of
Here's an interesting article entitled "Belshazzar's Feast" that I find well worth reading:
Tammuz 16 of 534 BCE fell on June 21, which is summer solstice day or Midsummer Day.
You may check out that date (Tammuz 16, 534 BCE) for your self at NASA's Phase of the Moon pages. Do you find any other year than 534 BCE when an important festival, such as that of Belshazzar’s feast, fell on Tammuz 16? If you do, please send me an email!
And here is a quote from another most important source document:
“TERRA-COTTA CYLINDER CONTAINING THE HISTORY OF THE CAPTURE OF BABYLON BY CYRUS THE GREAT, KING OF PERSIA.
“ACCOUNT OF THE CAPTURE OF
the end of the month Elul (August) the gods of Akkad, who were above the
atmosphere, came down to
Notice that in the above source document the month Tammuz is referenced twice, once before and once following the capture of Babylon, which capture obviously then took place on Tammuz 16 (not Tishri 16!)
Notice also the date associated with the death of “the king,” Adar 27! Only two or three days prior to the end of the Babylonian year! (Unless of course there was an intercalated leap month subsequent to that Adar 27? However, if there was a leap month that year, such a leap month could also have been placed just prior to the month of said Adar 27, or else there could have been an extra Elul.)
Who would “the king...” that “died” be? Although frequently associated with this passage, Nabonidus was imprisoned and in fetters and was certainly not recognized as a king within the Medo-Persian jurisdiction or in Babylon at this time. Thus, the king who died could have been only one of two: Either Cambyses, Cyrus’ father, king of Persia, or else and most likely, Cyaxares, king of Media, aka. Darius the Median!
Thirdly, notice the reference to “Cambyses, the son of Cyrus!” But Cyrus only got married shortly following the fall of Babylon. Thus, this date, Nisan 4, can hardly be a reference to anything but the date Cambyses was delivered. Certainly a most significant event in the life of Cambyses, was it not?! Cf. the dates referenced below. Notice also that unless Cambyses was born prematurely, there must have been a leap month somewhere between Cyrus’ wedding and said Nisan 4, which is almost certainly true when considering NASA’s phase of the moon tables. Given that Cambyses was delivered as a full term baby on or before Nisan 4, 533 BCE, we may conclude that Cyrus’ wedding and acceptance of all of Media as a dowry took place no later than Av 5 [ July 9,] 534 BCE.
. . . . .
The book of
Daniel provides for us Darius the Mede as the first reigning king after the
“In the month Marchesvan, on the night of the
eleventh, Ugbaru (Gobryas) died. In the month . . . . . . . .
of the king died. From the twenty-eighth day of the month Adar to the
third day of the month Nisan there was weeping in the land
(SDA Bible Student's Sourcebook [i.e. SDA Bible
Commentary,] Vol. 9, p. 305; Source: Raymond Philip
Notice the slightly different translation of the same terra cotta passage as first quoted above:
"In the month of Marchesvan (October) the dark, the 11th day, Gobryas.... and the king died. From the 27th of the month Adar (February) to the 3rd day of the month Nisan (March) there was weeping in
Again, given that
the events here recorded are well after the fall of
It may seem that Cyrus succession to the throne would have occurred at that point in time (Adar,) and that he, Cyrus, issued his decree later on, and in his 1st year of reign, either in his 1st Babylonian year, which year began only one or two days following the above quoted “twenty-eighth day of the month Adar,” and which Babylonian 1st year of Cyrus would have followed immediately upon the 1st year of Darius the Mede, or else in his 1st Scriptural year of reign, which would then have begun Tishri 22, 533 BCE. But we are getting ahead of ourselves…
When were the satrapies of the Medo-Persian empire established, and who was responsible for this action?
Daniel provides that the satrapies of the Medo-Persian empire were established under Darius the Mede (Daniel 6:1-2:)
Dan 6:1 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom;
Dan 6:2 And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage.
Xenophon credits Cyrus with this same action.
Based on Daniel 6:1-2 we may conclude that Cyrus was still, even after his wedding and after having received Media as a dowry, acting under, or at least honoring Cyaxares’ as a king. Cyaxares was obviously at this time still alive even though Xenophon’s last mentioning of the name Cyaxares occurs prior to this event in connection with Cyrus’ wedding, which wedding was consummated no later than on Av 5, 534 BCE:
Xenophon’s last use of the name Cyaxares:
[8.5.28] When, on his way back, he came to Media, Cyrus wedded the daughter of Cyaxares, for he had obtained the consent of his father and mother.
Cyrus initiative and action in setting up satrapies:
[8.6.1] When he arrived in
[8.6.6] "And then," Cyrus resumed, "we must take care that those who go as satraps to such countries shall be men of the right sort, who will bear in mind to send back here what there is good and desirable in their several provinces, in order that we also who remain here may have a share of the good things that are to be found everywhere. And that will be no more than fair; for if any danger threatens anywhere, it is we who shall have to ward it off."
[8.6.7] With these words he concluded his address on that occasion; and then he chose out from the number of his friends those whom he saw eager to go on the conditions named and who seemed to him best qualified, and sent them as satraps to the following countries: Megabyzus to Arabia, Artabatas to Cappadocia, Artacamas to Phrygia Major, Chrysantas to Lydia and Ionia, Adusius to Caria (it was he for whom the Carians had petitioned), and Pharnuchus to Aeolia and Phrygia on the Hellespont.
When were these satrapies set up by Cyrus under Darius the Mede?:
After relating the details of how Cyrus set up the satrapies, Xenophon makes no further reference to Cyaxares following the end of the year... which year is obviously the Babylonian year when “the king died...:”
[8.6.15] When he had told them how they should proceed to carry out his instructions, he gave each one a force of soldiers and sent them off; and he directed them all to make preparations, with the expectation that there would be an expedition the next year and a review of the men, arms, horses, and chariots.
[8.6.19] Now, when the year had gone round, he collected his army together at Babylon, containing, it is said,
about one hundred and twenty thousand horse, about two thousand scythe-bearing
chariots and about six hundred thousand foot.
[8.6.20] And when these had been made ready for him, he started out on that expedition on which he is said to have subjugated all the nations that fill the earth from where one leaves Syria even to the Indian Ocean. His next expedition is said to have gone to
Thus, from the above quotes it is clear that the satrapies and the administration of Cyrus was set up prior to the end of the Babylonian year, i.e. prior to Nisan 1, 533 BCE. Furthermore, on the “terra-cotta cylinder containing the history of the capture of Babylon by Cyrus the Great, king of Persia” we find these words:
month Marchesvan (October), the 3rd day, Cyrus came to
Accordingly it appears as though Cyrus spent most of the 8th month, Marchesvan, focusing his attention upon setting up the administration of his newly received kingdom and dowry. Bringing “back... the gods...” is probably very much a real time application of the same, i.e. of setting up his administration. In other words, it is a way of saying that the chief representatives from Akkad, and various other localities, were admonished to return to their homes as the administrators for, and representatives of, Cyrus’ kingdom. The symbols they carried with them in the form of various honored temple objects probably served effectively as tangible title documents, not unlike the various forms of government issued IDs, licences, and Diplomas used for similar purposes today.
A very natural outgrowth of this activity was Cyrus’ famous decree as familiar from 2 Chronicles 36:22-23 and Ezra 1:1-4.
Cyaxares’/Darius’ 1st year of reign:
Accordingly, we may conclude that Darius’/Cyaxares’ brief reign came to an end before the conclusion of his, Cyaxares’, 1st Babylonian year of reign. Given this fact, it is clear also that the fall of Babylon occurred during that same 1st Babylonian year of reign of Cyaxares. At first sight, it might seem also that Cyrus’ accession year, per Babylonian reckoning, would have been one and the same calendar year as Cyaxares’ 1st year of reign...
The book of Daniel establishes the relationship between the regnal years of Darius relative to the 70 years of captivity:
Daniel has this to say about Cyaxares’/Darius the Mede’s 1st year of reign (Notice: He is reiterating the date twice for emphasis!:)
Dan 9:1 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans;
Dan 9:2 In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of
the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of
These words would make little or no sense if the fall of Babylon occurred in the 66th year of the Babylonian captivity, i.e. in 539 BCE, would they? If on the other hand this realization of Daniel did occur after the fall of Babylon and after the completion of the 70 years, then it makes very good sense, does it not?!
From Xenophon's book The Life of Cyrus The Great, it is clear that at the time of his conquest of Babylon, Cyrus served as a General and Commander of the army under Cyaxares, king of Media, the son of Astyages, while he, Cyrus, was still the son and heir of Cambyses, king of Persia. It is also clear that Cyrus succeeded to the throne of both of those kings; he received all of the kingdom of Media as a dowry (after the fall of Babylon Tammuz 16, 534 BCE and after going first to Media, then to Persia and back to Media where he married) on or before Av 5, 534 BCE. He also inherited Persia after his father Cambyses at the time of his death at some point within his nine or ten year long reign. Thus it is obvious both that Darius the Median is one and the same as Cyaxares, king of Media, and that the 1st year of Darius the Median (cf. Dan. 9:1; 11:1) cannot coincide with, but must necessarily precede, the 1st year of Cyrus.
The words "I, stood to confirm and to strengthen him" (Dan. 11:1) are strongly reminiscent of the event recorded in Xenophon's book, sections [5.5.6] - [5.5.40,] which event obviously happened after Astyages died and was succeeded by Cyaxares as recorded by Xenophon in his section [1.5.2.] And yet, it seems clear that, whatever strengthening that was needed from the angel of Daniel 11:1, the angel reckoned the timing of that event, which must have taken place prior to the fall of Babylon, as “in the 1st year of Darius the Mede.” It follows that, provided the angel and Daniel are using Scriptural reckoning in chapter 11, the 1st Scriptural year of reign of Darius the Mede had begun prior to the fall of Babylon and that, if so, then for the reign of Darius the Scriptural years of reign began prior to the corresponding Babylonian years of reign.
From section [1.5.2] it is also clear that the initiating events of Cyrus' attack upon and victory over Babylon were the death of Astyages and the Assyrian king's plan to attack Media. Thus it is evident from the events recorded by Xenophon that no long time, probably less than twelve months, passed from the accession of Cyaxares/Darius the Median, to the fall of Babylon. Thus, as shown above, the 1st Babylonian year of Cyaxares coincided with the accession year of Cyrus, i.e. as the successor upon the throne of Media after Cyaxares. (One question remaining re the dates in Dan. 9:1 and 11:1: Is the Babylonian or the fall-to-fall Scriptural calendar being used?) Now, if Cyaxares died in the Adar of the same Babylonian year as the Tammuz 16 when Babylon fell, then Cyaxares was in his 2nd year of reign per the Scriptural calendar when he died, while yet only in his 1st year of reign per the Babylonian calendar.
Reiterating, based on Xenophon’s book I find that Cyaxares’ reign began within twelve months before the fall of Babylon and thus that his 1st year of reign per Babylonian reckoning began with Nisan in the year of Babylon’s fall. That same 1st year of Darius/Cyaxares followed immediately upon the completion of the 70 years of Babylonian captivity, i.e. Darius 1st year of reign began Tishri 22, 535 BCE per Scriptural reckoning and on Abib/Nisan 1, 534 BCE per Babylonian reckoning.
Thus, regardless of whether the Scriptural or the Babylonian calendar is being used, the event referenced in Daniel 9:2 belongs in Darius’ 1st year of reign and within 12 months of the completion of the 70 years of Babylonian captivity. Also within the same 12 months the fall of Babylon took place, i.e. given that the fall of Babylon did in fact happen during Darius’ 1st year of reign per both Scriptural and Babylonian reckoning. All those facts having been established, it is now easy to see that the fall of Babylon occurred in the summer of 534 BCE, 70 completed calendar years after the beginning of the Babylonian captivity and 70 completed calendar years after the beginning of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar (and not in 539 BCE.) As said Jeremiah:
Jer 25:11 And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of
Jer 25:12 And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.
Now, it should be noticed that (so far as I could see at the time of writing this) there is no way under these circumstances for the decree of Cyrus to have been reckoned as issued in Cyrus’ 1st year of reign while yet also within any calendar year immediately following upon the completed 70 year period of captivity. Why is this important to notice? Well, it should be clear to all of us, but it seems it is not!:
Following the fall of
There are many lessons that may be learned in all of this, but certainly one important lesson is the importance of not passively waiting for someone else to initiate a saving action, though certainly that does happen too. But why wait when God is talking to you NOW?!
Thus, somehow or other, someone had to take this initiative for those who remained passive and blind to their suddenly regained freedom. Well, perhaps Daniel was the one to initiate an action for himself and on behalf of his people, most of whom otherwise remained passive? Perhaps Daniel was instrumental in making this happen though his initiative did not come to fruition immediately and within the 1st year of Darius, but only in the subsequent year (or?!,) i.e. within the 1st year of Cyrus and as indeed prophesied by Isaiah re the actions of Cyrus:
That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even
Isa 45:1 Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;
Isa 45:2 I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron…
Thus also the words of accomplishment:
2Ch 36:22 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
Thus saith Cyrus king of
Praise the Lord “and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” (Revelation 14:7 KJV!
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