Cyrus Takes Babylon: Daniel and Prayer of Nabonidus
The final redaction of the biblical book of Daniel (called after a Jewish sage at the court of Belshazzar, i.e. Nabonidus' crown prince BÃªlsharusur) took place in the second century BCE, but it contains some older elements. Probably, no less than four authors have contributed to the text. The resulting text can not be taken as history. Too many elements are too incredible (e.g., about every personal name is wrong). However, chapter four contains a bit of information that is corroborated by a text known as the Prayer of Nabonidus. According to Daniel's story, the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar suffers from a mental illness, and lives isolated for seven years, until he acknowledges the power of the one God. From cuneiform texts, nothing is known about Nebuchadnezzar's mental health. The original story must have centered on another royal patient: Nabonidus, about whom rumors like this did circulate (see the Verse account). Moreover, several details return in the Prayer, where Nabonidus is the sad hero: the period of seven years, the isolation, the ultimate recognition of the power of the supreme God. Since the authors of Daniel consistently avoid mentioning Nabonidus, it is likely that one of them is responsible for the change of names.
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