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[229] But now, after the death of Nebuchadnezzar, Evil-Merodach his son succeeded in the kingdom, who immediately set Jeconiah at liberty, and esteemed him among his most intimate friends. He also gave him many presents, and made him honorable above the rest of the kings that were in Babylon; for his father had not kept his faith with Jeconiah, when he voluntarily delivered up himself to him, with his wives and children, and his whole kindred, for the sake of his country, that it might not be taken by siege, and utterly destroyed, as we said before. When Evil-Mcrodach was dead, after a reign of eighteen years, Niglissar his son took the government, and retained it forty years, and then ended his life; and after him the succession in the kingdom came to his son Labosordacus, who continued in it in all but nine months; and when he was dead, it came to Baltasar, 1 who by the Babylonians was called Naboandelus; against him did Cyrus, the king of Persia, and Darius, the king of Media, make war; and when he was besieged in Babylon, there happened a wonderful and prodigious vision. He was sat down at supper in a large room, and there were a great many vessels of silver, such as were made for royal entertainments, and he had with him his concubines and his friends; whereupon he came to a resolution, and commanded that those vessels of God which Nebuchadnezzar had plundered out of Jerusalem, and had not made use of, but had put them into his own temple, should be brought out of that temple. He also grew so haughty as to proceed to use them in the midst of his cups, drinking out of them, and blaspheming against God. In the mean time, he saw a hand proceed out of the wall, and writing upon the wall certain syllables; at which sight, being disturbed, he called the magicians and Chaldeans together, and all that sort of men that are among these barbarians, and were able to interpret signs and dreams, that they might explain the writing to him. But when the magicians said they could discover nothing, nor did understand it, the king was in great disorder of mind, and under great trouble at this surprising accident; so he caused it to be proclaimed through all the country, and promised, that to him who could explain the writing, and give the signification couched therein, he would give him a golden chain for his neck, and leave to wear a purple garment, as did the kings of Chaldea, and would bestow on him the third part of his own dominions. When this proclamation was made, the magicians ran together more earnestly, and were very ambitious to find out the importance of the writing, but still hesitated about it as much as before. Now when the king's grandmother saw him cast down at this accident, 2 she began to encourage him, and to say, that there was a certain captive who came from Judea, a Jew by birth, but brought away thence by Nebuchadnezzar when he had destroyed Jerusalem, whose name was Daniel, a wise man, and one of great sagacity in finding out what was impossible for others to discover, and what was known to God alone, who brought to light and answered such questions to Nebuchadnezzar as no one else was able to answer when they were consulted. She therefore desired that he would send for him, and inquire of him concerning the writing, and to condemn the unskilfulness of those that could not find their meaning, and this, although what God signified thereby should be of a melancholy nature.

1 It is here remarkable that Josephus, without the knowledge of Ptolemy's canon, should call the same king whom he himself here (Bar. i. 11, and Daniel 5:1, 2, 9, 12, 22, 29, 39) styles Beltazar, or Belshazzar, from the Babylonian god Bel, Naboandelus also; and in the first book against Apion, sect. 19, vol. iii., from the same citation out of Berosus, Nabonnedon, from the Babylonian god Nabo or Nebo. This last is not remote from the original pronunciation itself in Ptolemy's canon, Nabonadius; for both the place of this king in that canon, as the last of the Assyrian or Babylonian kings, and the number of years of his reign, seventeen, the same in both demonstrate that it is one and the same king that is meant by them all. It is also worth noting, that Josephus knew that Darius, the partner of Cyrus, was the son of Astyages, and was called by another name among the Greeks, though it does not appear he knew what that name was, as having never seen the best history of this period, which is Xenophon's. But then what Josephus's present copies say presently, sect. 4, that it was only within no long time after the hand-writing on the wall that Baltasar was slain, does not so well agree with our copies of Daniel, which say it was the same night, Daniel 5:30.

2 This grandmother, or mother of Baltasar, the queen dowager of Babylon, (for she is distinguished from his queen, Daniel 5:10, 13,) seems to have been the famous Nitocris, who fortified Babylon against the Medes and Persians, and, in all probability governed under Baltasar, who seems to be a weak and effeminate prince.

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