IS THE BIBLE WRONG TO CALL NEBUCHADNEZZAR THE “FATHER” OF BELSHAZZAR?
by Shawn Brasseaux
Read the following verses from Daniel chapter 5 in the King James Bible:
“ Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein.
“ There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers;….”
“ Then was Daniel brought in before the king. And the king spake and said unto Daniel, Art thou that Daniel, which art of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry?”
“ O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour:….”
Some people frown upon the King James Bible for referring to Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar as the “father” of King Belshazzar. After all, from history, we understand that Nebuchadnezzar was actually Belshazzar’s grandfather. Nabonidus, Nebuchadnezzar’s son, was Belshazzar’s father. Even so, Scripture is not in error. It is best for such critics to be quiet. To say the least, it is a fatuous argument!
Hebrew and Chaldee (Aramaic) have no word for “grandfather.” The only available term is “ab”—and it can function as “father” (close) or “grandfather” (more distant). In English, to reflect this, we can use “father” in a narrow or broader sense (think of America’s “Founding Fathers”). Here is the rationale that the King James translators used when carrying the word over into English. They were perfectly competent in selecting the right word here, and did not actually have to put “grandfather.”
Similarly, Luke 1:32 refers to King David as Jesus’ “father” (when he was really His great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather!). Those who carp about the Nebuchadnezzar/Belshazzar issue have no problem with Luke chapter 1!