Haggai 1

[1]In the second year of Darius the king, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the Lord came by the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying,

Daniel 5:29-31

[29]Then Belshazzar gave orders, and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a necklace of gold around his neck, and issued a proclamation concerning him that he now had authority as the third ruler in the kingdom. [30]That same night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was slain. [31]So Darius the Mede received the kingdom at about the age of sixty-two.

According to the (Bible Timeline)the 2nd year of Darius reign was around 538BC in Daniel 5,but in Haggai 1 the 2nd year of Darius reign was around 520BC.

How can we reconcile this supposed contradiction?

  • 2
    What indicates Darius the Mede is the same person as Darius the Persian king? Nothing in the two texts indicates they're the same person. Multiple kings of the Persian kingdom had the same names.
    – user2910
    Commented Sep 2, 2017 at 7:27
  • There were unquestionably three different kings called Darius mentioned in Scripture: Darius the Mede (book of Daniel) (539-536 approx), Darius Hystaspes who was Darius I and Darius the Great (the most frequently mentioned Darius (522-486) in scripture), and Darius the Persian (Nehemiah 12:22) who was Darius II (424-404). There was also another, Darius III (336-330) towards the end of the Persian Empire. Commented Nov 13, 2023 at 20:57

5 Answers 5


Assuming that they are, as you certainly seem to, we run into another problem:

Darius the Mede received the kingdom at about the age of sixty-two.

  • This would mean right about the time of his death, around 490-485 BC, since he was born around 550 BC, and lived for about 65 years.

  • Belshazzar (Balthazar), on the other hand, disappeared from history around 540 BC, when Darius the Great would have been roughly ten years of age.

the second year of Darius the King

King of what, exactly ? I ask this because these great kings ruled over many regions, acquired at different times (see, for instance, the various titles of Cyrus the Great, ancestor of Darius the Great, born around 600 BC, making him about 60 years old in 540 BC — wait a second — could he, by any chance, be the one mentioned in Daniel's fifth chapter ? Names, after all, are known to run in families).

  • 1
    Ancestor, as in predecessor (to the throne). Family, as in dynasty.
    – Lucian
    Commented Sep 2, 2017 at 3:00
  • ,It seems both Darius the Mede & Darius the king ruled around the time of rebuilding the temple as mentioned also in the books of Ezra & Zechariah,which makes this pretty close for comfort Commented Sep 2, 2017 at 6:34
  • @collenndhlovu: Maybe, maybe not. All I know for sure is that the man who became King of Babylon in 540 BC (in which year Belshazzar is also known to have vanished), at sixty years of age (since he was born around 600 BC), was Cyrus the Great. I therefore logically conclude that it is this person, and not another, that is being referenced as Darius the Mede in the Book of Daniel. Secondly, Daniel, Ezra, Haggai, and Zechariah are four different authors, so it is best not to jump to any conclusions; after all, John the Baptist and John the Apostle also lived at about the same time.
    – Lucian
    Commented Sep 2, 2017 at 15:33
  • @collenndhlovu: Furthermore, the very next verses, immediately following the ones you quoted, mention the appointment of a large number of satraps, which also happened during the reign of Cyrus.
    – Lucian
    Commented Sep 2, 2017 at 15:48
  • Interesting Analysis - Thanks for sharing your time and research with us, Lucian! Commented Aug 12, 2020 at 18:47

Darius the Mede and Cyrus of Persia are 2 separate and distinct persons we see this in Daniel 6:28 (all Bible nasb)

28 So this Daniel enjoyed success in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

However, the Medes and the Persians banded together to overthrow Babylon in Daniel as shown in Daniel 5:25-28 the kingdom was divided into both

25 “Now this is the inscription that was written out: ‘MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.’ 26 “This is the interpretation of the message: ‘MENE’—God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it. 27 “ ‘TEKEL’—you have been weighed on the scales and found deficient. 28 “ ‘PERES’—your kingdom has been divided and given over to the Medes and Persians.”

In Daniel 7:1 Darius is of Median descent

1 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of Median descent, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans—

Shortly after this, Cyrus of Persia took full control and so too did the Persians.

Darius of Persia was the son of Hystaspes and was of Persian descent.

Darius the Mede was likely out by 539 BC, then Cyrus of Persia 539-530, then Cambyses 530-522, then the magi or Cambyses brother reigned for 6 months and then Darius Hystaspes 522-485BC. This is Darius of Persia from Haggai, Zechariah and Ezra he was of Persian descent.

Ezra 4:24: Then work on the house of God in Jerusalem ceased, and it was stopped until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.

Here’s a list of the kings of Persia which Darius the Mede was not included: http://www.farsinet.com/iranbibl/kings.html

So in short Daniel’s Darius is the Mede son Ahasuerus. The other Darius, Persian son of Hystaspes.

  • Thanks for your contributions; welcome to Hermeneutics.SE! I edited your post for formatting. Please use > for quotations in the future. Also, be aware that you can always edit your posts if the formatting didn't come out very well.
    – user2672
    Commented Sep 1, 2018 at 5:48
  • Josephus names Astyages (the last king of the Medes) as the father of Darius the Mede. This would point to Cyaxares II as Darius the Mede, See math777.wixsite.com/divisionsofhistory/cyrus
    – MATH777
    Commented Jun 18, 2020 at 10:26

How can we understand the different dates in Haggai & Daniel about King Darius?

Kept coming across this question while perusing all current questions. I guess it kept coming up because of the numerous edits of one member in particular, but enough said about that. What made me finally look into it was mainly because of my interest in the book of Daniel, along with the fact that I have long been puzzled by the lack of historical evidence that one "Darius the Mede" ever existed. I had even entertained, like many others, the idea that he and "Cyrus the Great" (founder of the Achaemenid Empire) were one and the same person. So let me tell you now what I found, which mostly just involved checking out the two personages via "Wikipedia". Although, I also googled: the "Fall of Babylon" in 539 BC; Medo-Persian Empire and of course " Darius I (the Great) himself, who, unlike the personage of "Darius the Mede", is known to history.


First off: There is no contradiction between the renderings of the two prophets, Haggai & Daniel. We are most definitely talking about two different Darius'. If the "Mede" was 62 years old (Dan,5:31) at the overthrow of Babylon in 539 BC, then he would have to have been born in 601 BC, whereas we are told from the historical record that "Darius the Great" was born in 550 BC. The former was the son of one Ahasuerus (Dan, 9:1), who history tells us was the last Median king. Whereas the latter was the son of one Hystaspes, who history informs us was the grandfather of the famed King Xerxes, making Darius the Great, the father of Xerxes.


"In the second year of Darius the king (in this case "the Mede", i.e. 538 BC) - 539 BC, saw the start of the Medo/Persian Empire (chest and arms of silver of the great statue, Dan,2:32) - the word of the Lord came by the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua, the high priest saying...." Haggai 1, NASB. The note, regarding this verse in the NASB, Ryrie Study Bible, is with regard to, at the very least, 16 years hence and is correctly referencing Darius I, who did indeed come to the Persian throne in 522 BC and only serves to confuse the two rulers to the one studying. At which time Darius the Mede was already dead, having apparently died some 2 years after the fall of Babylon, which is probably why all one hears, from that time on, is in reference to Cyrus the Great, who was the Persian part (indeed the greater part) of the early Medo/Persian rule.


Darius the Mede (of bible fame only) could very well have been "GUBARU" (see the Nabonidus Chronicle) - although there is some evidence that Gubaru lived longer than 2 years after the fall of Babylon - being the ruler placed over Babylon, presumably as a proxy for Cyrus, who was probably, in turn, otherwise known as "CYAXARES II", (see the Cyropedia of Xenophan). See also: Cyaxares II - Wikipedia, for that matter.

Compare: (1) Darius the Mede: A solution to his identity, by Steven Anderson, and (2) Encyclopedia of the Bible - Darius the Mede.


There happen to be two versions of the Greek text for the book of Daniel (Old Greek & Theodotion) , and the NETS project has graciously provided side-by-side English translations of both.

The NETS preface to the book of Daniel says this about chapters 4-6:

A detailed comparison of the Greek texts in Daniel 4–6 reveals that less than 19% of any of the vocabulary of TH agrees with the OG. However, when the vocabulary is similar, about 83% of it is exact. Agreements are so few that it is clear that TH is not a revision of the OG in these chapters. At the same time, given the high percentage of verbatim agreements despite the low frequency of shared readings overall, the only reasonable explanation is that the majority of these agreements are due to textual corruption of the OG with TH readings. Indeed, numerous passages can be isolated where there are double translations in the OG that include the reading of TH.

The fact that in places the OG has both its own reading and the TH reading, suggests to me that the OG is similar to our modern versions of Greek texts that have alternatives bracketed alongside the version's preferred variation. The TH, it would appear, has rationalised the OG text, and among other things, has dropped the additional material.

So, which text is right?

For me, if there is a choice, then a passage that produces inconsistencies should be discarded in favour of the one that doesn't. That's not to say one text should be held superior to the other, but that when a problem arises choose the text that resolves it. Why would anyone choose in favour of inconsistencies?

Having said that, the Theodotion version of Daniel 5:30-31 has this ...

30In that very night Baltasar, the Chaldean king, was killed. 31(6.1)And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being sixty-two years old.

..., which is pretty-much what is found in the Hebrew. However, the Old Greek version has this:

30And the meaning 1 came upon Baltasar the king, and the rule was taken away from the Chaldeans and was given to the Medes and to the Persians, 31(6.1)and Xerxes, who was king of the Medes, received the kingdom.

So, the OG doesn't declare Belshazzar died on the same night that Daniel was honoured by him for interpreting the writing on the wall. Thus the contradiction disappears.

Someone might argue that the OG differs from the MT (Masoretic Text), so it should be discarded for that reason. But the OG is much older than the MT, and since the sense of the MT is the same as the TH, then the TH is likely the source of the MT.

Again, asserting the superiority of the TH/MT over the OG as far as this passage is concerned, is choosing in favour of inconsistency. Why would anyone do so?

###Conclusion### There is no contradiction if one takes the very hermeneutic approach of making use of all the data available for interpreting a text.

  1. NETS has rendered the Greek τὸ σύγκριμα as "the meaning", but according to the Koine Greek Lexicon, σύγκριμα can mean "judgment/decree". So, given the context, a better translation of the Greek would be, "And judgment came upon Baltasar the king ..."
  • Why would anyone choose in favour of inconsistencies ? - That's a very good question; let's think about it. Daniel's conflation (a common literary device) of Darius and Cyrus throughout its fifth and sixth chapters (where Darius is named, but Cyrus' deeds are actually listed) allows us to correctly decipher the seventy weeks prophecy from its ninth chapter; after all, counting 490 years from 423 BCE lands us far closer to 70 CE than starting the same count from 539 BCE.
    – Lucian
    Commented Jun 22, 2019 at 23:06

After the fall of Babylon to the Medo-Persians in 539 BC, Cyrus was appointed king of the entire Babylon Empire. In 539 BC, Cyrus appointed Darius as king over the Babylon Empire. Also, in 538 BC, Cyrus issued his decree for the return of the Jews to the holy lands. It was not until 522 BC that this same Darius became king of the Medo-Persian Empire.

  • 1
    "This same Darius"... er... ruling until 486 bc when you are supposing he died at 114 years of age (Dan 5:31)?!! Yours is very much a minority opinion. -1. Commented Nov 13, 2023 at 20:46
  • Well, since the majority is almost never right, I'll take that as a complament. +1
    – oldhermit
    Commented Nov 13, 2023 at 22:49
  • "the majority is almost never right" - I know what you mean, but it just feels like that. Commented Nov 13, 2023 at 23:35
  • Rather than going on your feelings, try tracing out the history of the Medo-Pursian monarchs. It is not that difficult
    – oldhermit
    Commented Nov 13, 2023 at 23:41
  • I have done that and posted here today: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/52558/… Commented Nov 13, 2023 at 23:44

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