Darius the Mede: His Identity Revealed
By: Kelly Santee
The question concerning that of Darius the Mede was one of the particular subjects I found myself greatly involved in researching. Though being denied his existence in secular recorded history, the Bible remains quite clear that he not only lived but that he played a major role in the downfall of the Babylonian kingdom, as well. And after days worth of investigating a variety of material and secular resources abroad, I drew the following conclusions.
(A) Darius was not his real personal name but was given more as a title and reflection for the kingdom of which he governed. You can see this clearly in the original names attached to the rest of the â€œDariusesâ€ yet to come. I.e.: Darius I, The Great; Darius II, Ochus; and Darius III, Codomannus. Other examples of this can be found in the Roman titles of the Caesars or that of the many king Herods, as well. It also clearly can be seen throughout the different Greek titles of Antiochus, Seleucus, and Ptolemy. In fact, one can go as far back as the pharaohs of Egypt or to the many popes of Rome (Leo, John, Paul, etc).
Yet, the irony of the name of Darius the Mede goes even farther than a mere title of recognition. For just as â€œDariusâ€ is attached to Persia, so â€œthe Medeâ€ is attached to the kingdom of Media. Thus in merely pronouncing the name, you can get a picture of the patriotism of his heritage, as well as his loyalty to his newfound government. â€œYes I am Darius, an established ruler of Persia, but you may call me the Mede, for this I will forever be.â€Â Â Â Â
(B) As Cyrus the Great also was recorded as having conquered the kingdom, the two had to have worked closely together in some form or another, as well. And from an excerpt taken from the Greek historian Xenophon, we can read the following two paragraphs:Â
[8.5.17] â€œAnd now when the march had brought them into Media, Cyrus turned aside to visit Cyaxares. After they had met and embraced, Cyrus began by telling Cyaxares that a palace in Babylon, and an estate, had been set aside for him so that he might have a residence of his own whenever he came there, and he offered him other gifts, most rich and beautiful.  And Cyaxares was glad to take them from his nephew, and then he sent for his daughter, and she came, carrying a golden crown, and bracelets, and a necklace of wrought gold, and a most beautiful Median robe, as splendid as could be.  The maiden placed the crown upon the head of Cyrus, and as she did so Cyaxares said:
â€˜I will give her to you, Cyrus, my own daughter, to be your wife. Your father wedded the daughter of my father, and you are their son; and this is the little maid whom you carried in your arms when you were with us as a lad, and whenever she was asked whom she meant to marry, she would always answer â€œCyrus.â€ And for her dowry I will give her the whole of Media: since I have no lawful son.â€™ “â€”Xenophon (translated by H. G. Dakyns,) The project Gutenberg Etext of Cyropaedia, Book 8, C-4, line 17-19â€”http://www.gutenberg.net/etext00/cyrus10.yxt
Without publishing further the reams of his material and that of many others of which I have read, I concluded wholeheartedly that Cyrus was the nephew of Darius ( Cyaxares).
(C) From a couple other resources on line, I also was able to find the following fascinating statements.
â€œThe Encyclopedia Britannica informs us that, according to Ctesias, an ancient historian, the wife of Cyrus (mother of Smerdis and Cambyses) was the daughter of the Median king. If so, it would seem no more than natural that Cyrus, under moral obligation, should grant to his father-in-law the first place in the united kingdom (Cyrus being king of Persia all the same) till after Darius’ death, only two years later (536 b.c.), when Cyrus became head of the empire.â€â€” John Kofal, Help & Food, vol. 40, p. 314; www.fool4him.com/articles/, darius.htm, October 7, 2000.
” â€˜And Darius the Median took the kingdom,â€™ This was Cyaxares the son of Astyages, and uncle of Cyrus; he is called the Median, to distinguish him from another Darius the Persian, that came after, (Ezra 4:5), the same took the kingdom of Babylon from Cyrus who conquered it; he took it with his consent, being the senior prince and his uncle. Darius reigned not long, but two years;. . . â€â€”Philologos, Bible Prophecy Research, Title: Darius the Mede, Submitted by: firstname.lastname@example.org, Update: April 06, 2001, URL: philologos.org/bpr/files/d003.htm
Thus I began to see an even clearer picture of this joint effort in the conquering and reestablishment of the Babylonian (now Media Persian) Empire. And I felt quite certain at this point that Darius the Mede, also known as Cyaxares II, was definitely the uncle of Cyrus the Great, who probably reigned for about two years until his death, when Cyrus took full control of the throne.
(D) Yet in the end, after much study throughout secular history, I turned to the inspired writings of Ellen White and read the following two statements. â€œBabylon was besieged by Cyrus, nephew of Darius the Mede, and commanding general of the combined armies of the Medes and Persians.â€â€” Prophets and Kings, p. 523.Â
â€œDarius reigned over Medo-Persia two years after the fall of Babylon. During this time, Daniel was cast into the lions’ den and came out unharmed. This deliverance led Darius to write â€˜unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. I make a decree, That in every dominion in my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and steadfast forever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.â€™ So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.”â€”Review and Herald, March 21, 1907, emphasis supplied.
In conclusion, I knew for a certainty that Ellen had it right. And thus my position as Cyaxares II being Darius the Mede, uncle of Cyrus the Great. Being 62 years of age when he took the kingdom in 539 b.c., he probably was born around 601 b.c., dying two years later in 537 / 536 b.c. Though many still dispute the accuracy of Xenophonâ€™s records and prefer to recognize Gubaru or Gobryas as Darius, an unrelated historical general who reined for only a year, I believe the Spirit of Prophecy cannot be overlooked or disregarded on this point.