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?

  • 1
    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 Sep 2 '17 at 7:27

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).

  • Ancestor, as in predecessor (to the throne). Family, as in dynasty. – Lucian Sep 2 '17 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 – collen ndhlovu Sep 2 '17 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 Sep 2 '17 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 Sep 2 '17 at 15:48

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?


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 Jun 22 '19 at 23:06

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 Sep 1 '18 at 5:48

Solving the contradiction:


  • Verse: 5:31 actually is verse 6:1, which is what the new TLV translation mentions (1), the distance between chapters 5 and 6 isn't specified.

  • The king's title changed with Xerxes from "king of the Babylonians/Chaldeans" to "king of the Persians and the Medes" (2), which change also can be found in the book of Daniel. This identifies the kings in the book of Daniel as Darius I and Xerxes (grandson and probable namesake of Cyrus the Great).

About 62 years:

The about 62 years of Daniel 6:1 don't refer to Darius' age but to the distance to the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple (similar to the distance at Darius I's first year).

An equal use of the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple as a point of reference can be seen on Tombstone XXX, found in Zoar:

"This is the tombstone of Hannah daughter of Haniel the priest, who died on the Sabbath, the first festival day of Passover, on the fifteenth day of the month of Nisan, in the fifth year of the sabbatical cycle, which is the year three hundred and sixty-nine years after the destruction of the Temple." (3)

Another silent remark regarding the Jerusalem Temple similar to Daniel 6:1 is made in Daniel 1:21 which refers to it's rebuild (Ezra 1:1-2).

(1) https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Daniel%206%2CDaniel%206%3A1-28&version=TLV

(2) Roman Ghirshman, Iran (1954), Penguin Books, p 191 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Ghirshman)

(3) https://www.academia.edu/2232770/Two_Jewish_Tombstones_from_Zoar

For a more comprehensive study see: Who is the Artaxerxes of Ezra 7?

  • "The about 62 years don't refer to Darius' age but instead to the distance to the destruction of the Jerusalem temple" Why do you think this is a good understanding of the verse? Do you have any evidence from the Hebrew of Daniel 5:31? Any verses where a similar phrase means what you say? – curiousdannii Jul 31 '19 at 7:09
  • curiousdannii, You may want to remove your banner. – Evert Aug 7 '19 at 11:00
  • It's not my banner, it was put there by a mod. And even if I could remove it, I wouldn't, as I don't think your explanation really helps very much. – curiousdannii Aug 7 '19 at 11:23
  • curiousdanni, I responded to most of your demands in your earlier comment, but still your aren't satisfied? For the mod, apparently you put the banner there, so why not remove it as well, perhaps you should tag your name to your banners. – Evert Aug 8 '19 at 0:34

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