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.
2ND YEAR (RULE) CONFIGURATIONS
"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.
WHO THEN WAS DARIUS THE MEDE?
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.