Prayer of Nabonidus

Fragments of a document called The Prayer of Nabonidus were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. The fragments tell the story of King Nabonidus, the last king of Babylon, who was afflicted with a disease for seven years while in Teima, Arabia, and prayed to God for salvation. He was then told by a “diviner” that he must proclaim and give honor to God-

“I was afflicted [with an evil ulcer] for seven years…and an exorcist pardoned my sins. He was a Jew from among the [children of the exile of Judah, and said,] ‘Recount this in writing to [glorify and exalt] the Name of the [Most High God]’” (I.3-5).

The Prayer of Nabonidus parallels the biblical story in Daniel 4, in which King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon is afflicted for seven years and his condition is explained to him by Daniel. The Prayer of Nabonidus may have served as a source for the author of Daniel, or it may simply preserve an older version of the story.

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