2

I believe it is the same Darius, do you agree? If not - can you let me know why providing Biblical evidence.

Daniel 11:1, Daniel 6:28, Daniel 9:1 and Ezra 4:5, Ezra 4:24, Ezra 5:5-7, Ezra 6:1, Ezra 6:12-15

1
  • @Lucian The article you refer to (your own article) does not give sufficient historical and archaelogical substantiation to be reliable.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 27, 2020 at 3:43

5 Answers 5

4

It is almost certain that there are two different people named "Darius". One of these is well-known historically, and the other is highly debatable.

  • King Darius of Persia, also known as "Darius the Great" (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darius_the_Great) reigned from 522 BC to 486 BC. This is almost certainly the "Darius" mentioned many times in the Book of Ezra.
  • King Darius the Mede, is much more contentious. Whoever he was, he lived at a much earlier time than Darius the Persian (see above) because the only record we have of him is near the beginning of the reign of Cyrus the Great in 538 BC. It appears that he died soon after, so the lives of the two men called Darius never overlapped. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darius_the_Mede

My personal opinion, which is difficult to verify, is that Darius the Mede was probably Astyages, the last king of the Medes and probably father-in-law to Cyrus the Great. After Cyrus conquered Babylon, he was probably placed as titular king of Babylon in the last two or three years of his life. This political marriage was what effectively created the Medo-Persian empire.

However, it must be admitted that all this is quite uncertain.

What is certain is that Daniel's Darius the Mede, and Ezra's Darius the Persian are different people. Here is more detail -

  • Daniel was taken captive in the first campaign of Nebuchadnezzar against Jerusalem (Dan 1:1) in 605 BC. Let us assume he was about 20 years old at that time.
  • Daniel served until shortly before his death in the third year of Cyrus the Great (Dan 1:1, 10:1) about 536 BC - 70 years later when Daniel was about 90 years old.
  • Cyrus reigned from about 539/538 BC to 530 BC. He was followed his son Cambyses who reigned until 522 BC. There followed a brief "false Smerdis" and then came Darius the Great who reigned from 522 BC to 486 BC.

Now, for Daniel to write about Darius the Great would require that he live until the age of about 105 years. Darius was the Persian king discussed in Ezra when the second Temple was begun - a long time AFTER Daniel.

Darius the Great was definitely Persian and lest there be any confusion, the Darius in Daniel is referred to as a "Mede", see Dan 5:31, 6:1, 9:1, 11:1. Further, Daniel 5:31 specifically tells us that following the collapse of the Babylonian kingdom, it was Darius the Mede that took over (as explained above) at the age of 62. This could not have been Darius the Persian who was much later.

13
  • I don’t trust Wikipedia for the interpretation of scripture (I did see that). Daniel 9 vs 1 specifically calls him out as of Mede descent, which to me could also mean that he could also be regarded Persian. And I wonder how he could have reigned for only 2 years and developed such a close bond with Daniel, appoint him in high office & send him to the lions? Angel Gabriel also in Daniel 11:1 talks about how he rose up to support Darius; this all seems like a big investment for a short space of time. In my view Angel Gabriel was strengthening Darius to further the God’s plans for Israel. Oct 26, 2020 at 10:36
  • 1
    @LaraOlutunbi - I agree that I would not use Wikipedia to interpret the bible. It is reasonable for history. Darius the Persian could NOT be in Daniel's day because he is far too late!
    – Dottard
    Oct 26, 2020 at 10:45
  • I really am looking for scriptural evidence that he is indeed far too late; that Daniel was not an old man during the rebuilding of the temple? I understand from some that Darius may be a generic name used for king/lord or simply 2 men with same name, I just would like to see evidence in scripture to support this. Thanks! Oct 26, 2020 at 11:02
  • 1
    @LaraOlutunbi Not every historical question has a scriptural answer. In this case there is a bit of ambiguity between the naming of these two individuals but does considering them to be the same person or two different persons significantly change your faith? In matter such as this one, extra-biblical sources can shed some light on their identities without compromising your worldview.
    – jwh20
    Oct 26, 2020 at 12:04
  • 1
    @LaraOlutunbi - I have provided Bible evidence of the impossibility of Darius the Mede and Darius the Persian being the same person. If you do not accept that, OK, but then I do not know what you want except for someone to simply agree with you which you will not get.
    – Dottard
    Oct 27, 2020 at 5:52
4

Why do Bible commentators not regard the Darius (the Mede) in the book of Daniel and the Darius in the book of Ezra as same person?

The dates of the period are:

605 (autumn) - Nebuchadnezzar takes Daniel captive to Babylon plus Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo, and others.

587 - Fall of Jerusalem.

539 - Fall of Babylon on Oct 11 (Julian) to Cyrus the Great with Belshazar slain (Daniel 5).

539 - Darius the Mede "is made king over the realm of the Chaldeans" (Dan 9:1), at 62 years of age (Dan 5:31); This is an unusual way of saying someone became king; The usual view is he was made king over the Babylonian region of the Persian Empire by Cyrus the Great who was king of the whole empire, King of kings; Darius the Mede lives just a few years as ruler of the Babylonian "satrapy" of the Persian Empire.

530 - Cyrus killed in battle; Cambyses II becomes king; adds Egypt to the empire.

522 - Cambyses II dies; the year of imposters? Bardiya/Smerdis/Gaumata.

522 - Darius I (Darius the Great) becomes king; the days of Haggai, Zechariah; Temple rebuild finished in early 515 BC.

486 Xerxes (Ahasuerus) becomes king; the husband of Esther; Xerxes assassinated.

464 Artaxerxes I becomes king; features prominently in Ezra and Nehemiah; ruled until 424.

Another period of instability with "Xerxes II" 424 and "Sogdiamus" 423.

424 Darius II becomes king; this is the "Darius the Persian" of Nehemiah 12:22; ruled until 404 BC, and is chronologically the last king mentioned in the Old Testament. (The next Persian king was Artaxerxes II.)

The Ahasuerus of the Bible is Xerxes not Artaxerxes. The first major pioneer in the decipherment of (all) cuneiform was Georg Grotefend (1775-1853), a German school teacher. He made progress by assuming "Ahasuerus" was "Xerxes". "Xerxes" is the Greek name, and Greek was/is not a semitic language. So he looked at the Bible Hebrew name "Ahasuerus" and the Avestan (Zoroastrian) name (something like) "Khshhershe" and proceeded to fit these to the cuneiform patterns he had realized must be names of kings. The order of the Persian kings he had arrived at presumably from the Old Testament. It was from his work that the first symbols of cuneiform for "Old Persian" were deciphered. (See "The Story of Writing" by Andrew Robinson, 1995, reprinted 2001, pages 74,75). All I am saying is the link between the names "Ahasuerus" in Scripture and the "Xerxes" of history is emphatically certain and fixed. From Grotefend's beginnings we now have the deciphment of other languages of cuneiform, via the Behistun Inscription.

Without this Ahasuerus/Xerxes link there might be no understanding/deciphment of any language of cuneiform script that exists today.

The first nation to have a standard coinage was Phyrgia, which was in modern Turkey. Before this money was valued by weight. The coinage was gold, and the king was King Midas - yes, the one who mythologically turned everything to gold. Seeing the benefits to the Phyrgian economy, the Persians were the first major nation to have a standard gold coin, the "Daric". This was named after "Darius".

It has often been supposed it was named after Darius I, Darius the Great. But an ancient source states it was named after a King Darius who reigned before Darius the Great. This would point to Darius the Mede, king over the Babylonian "satrapy" of the Persian Empire. Speculatively, as the chief administrator of the Babylonian satrapy it would also point tantalisingly to Daniel as the chief instigator of this innovation.

See my answer, amongst others, here https://christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/44691/who-was-darius-the-mede/83714#83714

3
  • + 1 thanks for reviving this question. I would have seen neither your answer nor @Dottard's otherwise. Do you know any online resources that cover the material in "The Story of Writing" by Andrew Robinson? Nov 13, 2023 at 23:17
  • @DanFefferman - Sorry, I don't.. but if you can get a copy it is beautifully written and v informative. Nov 13, 2023 at 23:32
  • @DanFefferman - If you live in UK then its £3.55 from Better World Books, free postage. Nov 13, 2023 at 23:42
0

To Andrew Shanks,

I wrote my answer to your question as a comment under my post:

Persian kings and their names in different languages:

"@Evert - what is your evidence that Darius I did not build at Susa or Persopolis?? Wikipedia says he did...at both. – Andrew Shanks " Why do Bible commentators not regard the Darius (the Mede) in the book of Daniel and the Darius in the book of Ezra as same person?

-2

Looking at scripture, angel Gabriel came to Daniel during the reign of Cyrus (see Daniel 10:1); it is in that same visitation that he talks to Daniel about how he HAD strengthened and confirmed the appointment of Darius the Mede/of Mede descent - indicating prior to Cyrus.

The entry of Darius was a fulfilment of Jeremiah 51:11 ‘...the Lord has stirred up the kings of the Medes and His plan is to destroy Persia’

Psalm 103:20 ‘Praise The Lord you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey His word’

Ezra 5 & 6 points to the chronological order of Darius the Persian king being after Cyrus the Persian king.

-2

Persian kings and their names in different languages:

Xerxes was the grandson of Cyrus the Great. Therefore the names Cyrus (Elamite, the Old Persian script was't developed yet) and Xerxes probably are the same. In the book of Daniel, simular to Darius I, Darius is followed by Cyrus/Xerxes.

The Darius of Ezra was identified by the Elephantine papyri as Darius II. The papyri date the high priest Johanan also mentioned in the book of Ezra as a contemporary of Darius II.

The names AhaSuerus (note the phonetic simularity between Suerus and Cyrus) and ArtaXerxes probably are similar as well, being written in different languages.

This suggests the books of Daniel and Ezra without hiatus show the Persian kings from Darius I - Artaxerxes II:

The Darius of the book of Daniel is Darius I, the Cyrus is Xerxes. The Cyrus of the book of Ezra (Ezra 1) again is Xerxes, the first Artaxerxes and Ahasuerus (Ezra 4) both are Artaxerxes I, the Darius (Ezra 6) is Darius II, and the second Artaxerxes (Ezra 7) of the book of Ezra is Artaxerxes II.

The Artaxerxes and Ahasuerus of the books of Nehemiah and Esther also being Artaxerxes I.

Some details

As for the title of the Persian kings, it changed with Xerxes to king of the Persians and Medes. Before it was king of the Babylonians (or Chaldeans, which is the same). Head archeologist Roman Ghirshman mentions this in his book "Iran" of 1954. This shift also is visible in the book of Daniel. Which confirms the Darius of the book of Daniel is Darius I. At the start of his reign the destruction of the temple was about 62 years away.

The 120 satraps appointed in Daniel 6:1-2 also can be translated as 20 tax owing satraps (since 100 as well can mean tax). This is similar to the reign of Darius I, who also divided his kingdom into 20 tax owing satrapies.

Simular to the comments about Daniel in Daniel 6:28 and 10:1 Heidemarie Koch in her book "Es kundet Dareios der Konig" mentions Darius I's highest official (who's position had been vacant for three years) from Darius' 28th year on remained in office until the third year of Xerxes.

The above proves the books of Daniel and Ezra fit the historical events.

A mistake of the later editor

However in the book of Daniel there are several indications the Daniel of Daniel 6 is a different person than the Daniel of Daniel 1-5:

Daniel 6:28 omits Nebuchadnezzar in: "Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian". Furthermore the Daniel of chapters 1-5 is a clergyman, while the Daniel of chapter 6 is a ruler.

Amazing distances

When you with the above analysis calculate distances, something amazing happens. The distance between the start of the exile (Daniel 1:1) until the end is 120 years. The distance between the destruction of the first temple and the consecration of the altar of the second temple is 100 years. From this point to the birth of Jesus is 480 years (1 Kings 6:1).

5
  • In my answer I reiterate that It is well established that Ahasuerus was Xerxes. Nov 13, 2023 at 20:25
  • I don't have enough points to comment on your question above, so I will answer it here: I found it in: Der Grosse Ploetz, Die Daten-Enzyklopädie der Weltgeschichte.
    – Evert
    Nov 18, 2023 at 0:49
  • Ezra 6:2 mentions: The following was found written on a scroll in Ecbatana at the summer palace of the province of Media. The Elephantine papyri prove the Darius in the book of Ezra is Darius II. The fact that the most valuable scrolls were stored not in Persia but in Media indicates that this was the most save place for Darius I and Xerxes. It also suggests Darius I was a Mede.
    – Evert
    Nov 18, 2023 at 2:25
  • As for Ahasuerus, it is the Hebrew version of the name, but you can look at it phonetically: When you split the name in two you get Aha and Suerus. Phonetically this sounds like Arta and Cyrus. Now the question is was Xerxes named after his grandfather from his mother's side. Since his kingship was based on inheritance and Cyrus the Great was the founder of the empire, I think he was. You can also look at the names meaning wise: Cyrus and Xerxes both have the notion of light/star/shepherd/king. So apart from the phonetic simularity they have a simular meaning as well.
    – Evert
    Nov 18, 2023 at 2:26
  • Arta means unwavering/firm/righteous. As in an unwavering star = a planet. While Cyrus/ Xerxes means star/light/shepherd/king. This way you get: the name Cyrus = Xerxes and Arta + Cyrus = AhaSuerus = ArtaXerxes.
    – Evert
    Mar 12 at 12:27

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.