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Darius the Mede: His Identity Revealed


Posted on June 15th, by Present Truth in Archives. 16 comments

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 “Dariuses” 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 “Darius” is attached to Persia, so “the Mede” 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. “Yes I am Darius, an established ruler of Persia, but you may call me the Mede, for this I will forever be.”    

(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: 

[8.5.17] “And 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. [18] 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. [19] The maiden placed the crown upon the head of Cyrus, and as she did so Cyaxares said:

‘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 “Cyrus.” And for her dowry I will give her the whole of Media: since I have no lawful son.’ “—Xenophon (translated by H. G. Dakyns,) The project Gutenberg Etext of Cyropaedia, Book 8, C-4, line 17-19—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.

“The 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.”— John Kofal, Help & Food, vol. 40, p. 314; www.fool4him.com/articles/, darius.htm, October 7, 2000.

” ‘And Darius the Median took the kingdom,’ 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;. . . ”—Philologos, Bible Prophecy Research, Title: Darius the Mede, Submitted by: research-bpr@philologos.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. “Babylon was besieged by Cyrus, nephew of Darius the Mede, and commanding general of the combined armies of the Medes and Persians.”— Prophets and Kings, p. 523. 

“Darius 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 ‘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.’ So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.”—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 Xenophon’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.

 





16 Responses to “Darius the Mede: His Identity Revealed”

  1. Paul Burbidge says:

    Sounds pretty accurate. Have you read Bishop Ussher’s Annals of the World. Much the same conclusion.

  2. other says:

    you still did not prove the identity of Darius. You only can assume by your statement ” I concluded wholeheartedly that Cyrus was the nephew of Darius ( Cyaxares).” Nowhere, does it state that Cyaxares was indeed Darius the Mede!

  3. Bryant says:

    I think you might also find these statements interesting from two of our pioneers as i stumbled upon this same apparent problem and like you began to do some research. here they are:

    1. In the first year of Neriglissar, only two years after the death of Nebuchadnezzar, broke out that fatal war between the Babylonians and the Medes, which was to result in the utter subversion of the Babylonian kingdom. Cyaxares, king of the Medes, who is called “Darius” in Dan. 5:31, summoned to his aid his nephew, Cyrus, of the Persian line, in his efforts against the Babylonians. Uriah smith, Daniel and the Revelation, Pg. 51

    2. It is Cyaxares who is called in Scripture Darius the Mede, and we shall find that under his reign, which lasted but two years, Daniel had several revelations.” At the death of Darius, Cyrus very naturally assumed sole control of the empire. See Dan. 6:28. Joseph Waggoner, signs of the times “The Four Kingdoms”. thank you for your research to complete mine. God bless

  4. Katie Phillips says:

    I feel it is not only logical and sound but also prudent to allow the Holy Scriptures to weigh in with its account and historical details because of its proven record of historical accuracy throughout its entirety. It is not a mythical or mystical book. It is a historical record for the purpose of drawing men to faith in the God of history. The God of this book is truth, and that is its claim throughout. It has been proven over and over in astounding ways to be absolutely correct. So when men have done their best at objective observations and fact gathering and they end up with a choice before them what to believe is true, or to choose who among men is correct in their conclusions, to be objective and fair they should weigh in the balance what the Word of God has historically recorded and if need be the Word should be the one evidence that tips the scales in favor of agreement with what God has said on the matter. I love that I now have a name: Cyaxares to give my students as we study the book of Daniel.

  5. Abel says:

    “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).”

    Hi – could you at least reference these other reams of material you have read because as far as I can see Xenophon is the only person in history who thought that Cyaxares II actually existed (other than Ellen White whose only source of information on Cyaxares II would have been Xenophon).

    In your point (C) you make mention of Ctesias’ account of Cyrus’ marriage to the daughter of a Median king – but according to Ctesias that king was Astyages and indeed according to Ctesias’ version of events Cyaxares II never even existed. I’m not sure how you believe your statements under (C) from Ctesias corroborate your argument.

    Ctesias notes that Cyrus married Astyages daughter after killing her first husband in order to claim authority to the throne of Media after he had militarily conquered it – this is in direct conflict with Xenophons account that Cyrus married into the Median royal family by union with the daughter of Cyaxares II and that the kingdom was a dowry (gift) to Cyrus and was never militarily conquered.

    Furthermore your only source of information on the existence of Cyaxares II, Xenophon, contradicts himself completely with two different accounts:

    In “Cyropaedia” Xenophon states that Cyrus married the daughter of Cyaxares II and received the kingdom as a gift, but ten years earlier Xenophon himself wrote in “Anabasis” that Cyrus had conquered Ecbatana (Astyages capital) by force.

    The historian Heorotus is also in conflict with the story of Cyaxares II and states that Astyages was the last king of the Medes, that he never had a son and that he was defeated militarily by Cyrus after the commander of the Medean army deserted to Cyrus.

    Babylonian sources also conflict with the story of Cyaxares II:

    “According to the Sippar cylinder of the third regnal year (553 b.c.e.) of Nabonidus, the god Marduk caused “KuraÅ¡ [Cyrus], king of the country AnÅ¡an [Persia]” to rise against the Medes; “with a small army he defeated decisively the large troops of the Ummanmanda [the Medes]. He captured IÅ¡tumegu [Astyages], king of Ummanmanda and brought him in chains to his land” (Langdon, p. 220, col. 1 ll. 26-32). In the Babylonian chronicle it is recorded that Astyages advanced against Cyrus, “King of AnÅ¡an, for conquest . . . . The troops of IÅ¡tumegu revolted against him and he was taken prisoner. They [delivered him] to KuraÅ¡ [ . . . ]. KuraÅ¡ (advanced) against the capital Agamtanu [Ecbatana].” Then KuraÅ¡ transferred booty from Ecbatana to AnÅ¡an (Grayson, 1975a, p. 106, col. 2 ll. 1-4).”

    Therefore to summarize, your only sources of information on Cyaxares II is Xenophon (and Ellen White, whose only source of information was in turn Xenophon, and who speaking on the subject of her own infallibility said, “I never claimed it; God alone is infallible.”).

    Those who disagree with them include Xenophon himself, Ctesias, Herodotus and the contemporary Babylonian historians.

    This is obviously the reason for asking what the other “reams of many others” you have read are that support your conclusion, because they just don’t seem to exist – much like Cyaxares II himself.

    The Bible itself is silent on the issue, which presumably means that the exact identity of “Darius the Mede” is utterly meaningless with regards to our salvation.

  6. Abel says:

    “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).”

    Hi – could you at least reference these other reams of material you have read because as far as I can see Xenophon is the only person in history who thought that Cyaxares II actually existed (other than Ellen White whose only source of information on Cyaxares II would have been Xenophon).

    In your point (C) you make mention of Ctesias’ account of Cyrus’ marriage to the daughter of a Median king – but according to Ctesias that king was Astyages and indeed according to Ctesias’ version of events Cyaxares II never even existed. I’m not sure how you believe your statements under (C) from Ctesias corroborate your argument?

    Ctesias notes that Cyrus married Astyages daughter after killing her first husband in order to claim authority to the throne of Media, after he had militarily conquered it – this is in direct conflict with Xenophons account that Cyrus married into the Median royal family by union with the daughter of Cyaxares II and that the kingdom was a dowry (gift) to Cyrus and was never militarily conquered.

    Furthermore your only source of information on the existence of Cyaxares II, Xenophon, contradicts himself completely with two different accounts:

    In “Cyropaedia” Xenophon states that Cyrus married the daughter of Cyaxares II and received the kingdom as a gift, but ten years earlier Xenophon himself wrote in “Anabasis” that Cyrus had conquered Ecbatana (Astyages capital) by force.

    The historian Herodotus is also in conflict with the story of Cyaxares II and states that Astyages was the last king of the Medes, that he never had a son and that he was defeated militarily by Cyrus after the commander of the Medean army deserted to Cyrus.

    Babylonian sources also conflict with the story of Cyaxares II:

    “According to the Sippar cylinder of the third regnal year (553 b.c.e.) of Nabonidus, the god Marduk caused “KuraÅ¡ [Cyrus], king of the country AnÅ¡an [Persia]” to rise against the Medes; “with a small army he defeated decisively the large troops of the Ummanmanda [the Medes]. He captured IÅ¡tumegu [Astyages], king of Ummanmanda and brought him in chains to his land” (Langdon, p. 220, col. 1 ll. 26-32). In the Babylonian chronicle it is recorded that Astyages advanced against Cyrus, “King of AnÅ¡an, for conquest . . . . The troops of IÅ¡tumegu revolted against him and he was taken prisoner. They [delivered him] to KuraÅ¡ [ . . . ]. KuraÅ¡ (advanced) against the capital Agamtanu [Ecbatana].” Then KuraÅ¡ transferred booty from Ecbatana to AnÅ¡an (Grayson, 1975a, p. 106, col. 2 ll. 1-4).”

    Therefore to summarize, your only sources of information on Cyaxares II is Xenophon (and Ellen White, whose only source of information was in turn Xenophon, and who speaking on the subject of her own infallibility said, “I never claimed it; God alone is infallible.”).

    Those who disagree with Xenophon include Xenophon himself, Ctesias, Herodotus and the contemporary Babylonian chroniclers.

    This is obviously the reason for asking what the other “reams of many others” you have read are that support your conclusion, because they just don’t seem to exist – much like Cyaxares II himself.

    The Bible itself is silent on the issue, which presumably means that the exact identity of “Darius the Mede” is utterly meaningless with regards to our salvation.

  7. sdenne says:

    CYAXARES [*Darius aka Ahasuerus?], Mede (625 BC-585 BC)
    |
    MADIUS, Scythian (653 BC-625 BC)
    |
    ASTYAGES [Darius aka Ahasuerus, more probably] (585 BC-550 BC)
    |
    CYRUS The Great, Persian (576 BC-530 BC)

    CYAXARES doesn’t seem to fit.

  8. Curious about Darius says:

    Good point Abel. It’s good to hear some sense. I want the Bible to make sense, but nobody is offering anything but drivel to explain who Darius the Mede was, in a historical context.

    If they are just going to say, with no proof and justification at all, historically speaking, that Darius was some other guy with a name nothing like Darius, why don’t they just say he was Cyrus the Great. That would make by far the most sense.

    Darius the Mede took Babylon. That matches Cyrus. Cyrus was the first ruler of the true Persian Empire, as was Darius the Mede. Darius the Mede was said to be a king. So was Cyrus the Great. If they want to substitute a historical personage in the place of Darius the Mede, I recommend they choose Cyrus…
    The reason they don’t is because that would imply an error in the Book of Daniel, so I guess they see it as being not an option.
    In any case, Darius the Mede cannot be apologeticsed away for the meantime….. I would love if someone could, but reading this kind of stuff doesn’t relax my desire for some kind of historical proof.

  9. W.D. Albertson says:

    Hi, that soundsto be a good justification of the Scripture. But Daniel says “Darius the son of Ahasuerus”… Cambyses II (529–522 bc) S/o. Cyrus II who conquered Egypt c. 525 BC is called Ahasuerus (Ezra 4:6). Xerxes (486-465 BC) S/o. Darius-I who ruled from India to Ethiopia (Esther 1:1) is also called Ahasuerus (Esther 1:1-2,9-10,15-17,19; 2:1,12,16,21; 3:1,6-8,12; 6:2; 7:5; 8:1,7,10,12; 9:2,20,30; 10:1,3). In the Book of Tobit Cyaxares-I is referred as Ahasuerus (Tobit 14:15). I think your article must bring some clarity on this name too. As of now, only Daniel knows who the Darius of Mede is. Wish you better luck in your research. God Bless.

  10. Alan says:

    It is really all quite simple.
    1. An unpronounceable Persian name used by at least one Median king and a few Persian ones has come down to us via Aramaic & Hebrew as Ahasuerus.
    The Greeks got it first time (for the Median one) as Cyaxeres, and later for the Persian ones as Xerxes. This means that the NAMES Cyaxeres, Xerxes, Ahasuerus are all the same name, but in different contexts may refer to different people.
    .
    2. We are here only concerned with Median kings and Cyrus.
    Cyaxeres the Mede destroyed Nineveh (with help from others) according to Greeks etc.
    Ahasuerus destroyed Nineveh according to the Apocrypha book Tobit (near the end).
    This fits. No problems. The same person, even the same name.
    .
    3. Daniel mentions Darius the Mede, son of Ahasuerus. The latter was obviously the same
    Cyaxeres. There are three possibilities:
    (i) Darius was Astyages, so Herodotus who says that Cyrus disposed of Astyages much earlier got it wrong. This is quite likely.
    (ii) Darius was a brother of Astyages. Possible.
    (iii) In the Bible generations are often omitted, so `son of’ can be grandson of. In that case
    Xenophon could be correct, and Darius was the grandson of Cyaxeres, possiblke but less likely on account of his age.
    .
    4. Darius the Mede was not Cyrus himself, for two reasons:
    (a) the Bible clearly distinguishes between Darius and Cyrus and does not mix them.
    (b) Daniel 9:1 says that Darius `was made king’ — by whom? Not the Babylonians, only by
    Cyrus. Cyrus was not made king, he made himself king.
    .
    5. He was not a general, because as in 4(b) above he was made king by Cyrus. The probability is that Cyrus appointed him as king or emperor in charge of the empire and its affairs and administration while he, Cyrus, carried on as general fighting wars and conquering. Cyrus would only entrust this to a near relative, not to a general.
    .
    6. The 120 satrapies Darius the Mede created were each under a Persian official, a satrap. They were supervised by three presidents. Much later, when Darius the Great the Persian (do not confuse) created about 20 satrapies and 127 provinces this was because the twenty satraps were Persian officials, but the provinces had governors who were often local men — we have examples in Sheshbazzar, Zerubbabel and Nehemiah, who were governors of Judah, and Sanballat the Samaritan, governor of Samaria. It was a different
    system, which he preferred to the earlier one. That does not invalidate the earlier system, it merely changed it.
    .
    7. Darius the Mede was therefore either Astyages, or his brother, or (far less likely, and only stated by Xenophon), his son. He was an old man, who apparently died a year or two later, when Cyrus then took over himself. (There is a small possibility that he was Astyages, that he tried to rebel, and that Cyrus then disposed of him, Herodotus confusing this and wrongly assuming that Cyrus disposed of Astyages earlier.)
    .
    8. Darius the Mede is not chronicled anywhere else (outside the Book of Daniel) because in his short reign he did nothing that affected other countries that anyone bothered to chronicle about, unless they did and we have not yet found it. Alternatively, anything he did do was attributed to Cyrus.
    .
    I think that is all. Alan.

  11. Alan says:

    Sorry about the duplicate comment. There is nothing to say that when I have pressed the thing it actually worked, so I pressed it again to make sure. I find it hard to cope with the internet. Alan

  12. Alan says:

    I sent a full reply but you have not posted it – Alan

  13. Judah says:

    Alan, you explanations are well put. I’ve always wondered WHO actually sacked Babylon during the night when the “handwriting” was on the wall. It is prophesied that Cyrus would do this in Isaiah 45, but ….I’ve heard and read somewhere that Darius was the one who sacked Babylon.
    I think Cyrus was the King and Darius was his right-hand man…

  14. Walt Gee says:

    I think Alan has hit the nail on the head.

    There must be some vital reason for Daniel 5:31 mentioning the precise age of Darius The Mede.

    Assuming that the Babylonian Captivity began some time in the 606-605 BCE time period, we really need to calculate some things. Unlike most of my brethren, I totally dismiss the idea that Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah(Daniel 1:6), were either tween or teenagers. “yeledim” in Hebrew(Ivrit) normally refers to ‘boys.’ As I have often said, Samuel was brought to Eli right after he was weened. This begs an age of between 2 and 4 according to normal weening ages of the times. Thus Daniel had to have been weened, but young enough to be pliant and teachable. Tweens and teens are notoriously rebellious and difficult. Kindergärtners on the other hand are able to quickly adapt. This remains the case until about the age of seven or eight when a boys character is more or less set in stone. The fact that Daniel and the other three had Torah written in steel in themselves, argues for an age of 6-8. Keep in mind that Torah was taught by rabbinical teachers from about the age of 3. The mere fact of the obvious naivte`of the four of them and their Godly idealism to me again reinforces the 6-8 range.

    Assuming the first return after Cyrus captured Babylon intact in 539 BCE of some 42,360 Jews, 7,337 male and female slaves, and 200 male and female singers amounting to 48,897 people(Ezra 2:64-65); the simple logistics took at least a year to organize and at least a five month journey through very dangerous territory. There can be absolutely no doubt that this could have been accomplished by Zerubabel without the help of Daniel(now about 74) and Darius the Mede(about 62). Since Darius the Mede definitely seems to have died about 537-536 BCE, and Cyrus about 530 BCE in battle. There is little doubt in my mind that we are dealing with two separate and distinct individuals.

    What is also obvious is the fact that Cyrus ruled from Persia and not Babylon. Thus upon the death of Darius in or about 537 BCE, SOMEONE had to have been appointed in his place. Curiously, we do not seem to have any record of who that person was that administrated Babylon after Darius. Was it in fact a very grateful King Cyrus? Or was it in fact the survivor of the lion’s den(cf Daniel 6:38) appointed by Cyrus?

    By comparing Biblical material with contradictory secular material, I think I would choose the Biblical account. According to Wikipedia and Creation Wiki the only thing that is undisputed is that the Bible has always proved uncannily accurate despite claims to the contrary.

  15. RAB says:

    Who in the world is Ellen G white as a historian, when a Christian is in search for convincible evidence why do people push assumptions and misstatements that make Christians appear to be groping for the lime light. Just be honest. How can Ellen White make a statement like she is infallible? Who DOES THAT? I believe in the Bible as the true word of GOD, even a prophet in the Bible never said he/she was infallible.
    I did appreciate the guy name Alan information, it was in sync of the History I have research. So many of the ancient historians inflated the kings they wrote about to make them look greater than they were, making the facts fragmented and ambiguous. Plus I believe the pagan historian disliked the Jewish civilization like all the other competing races and had to discredit any ground of victory or fame.
    Ok I’m done.

  16. Darius the Mede may have become Darius, King of Persia.

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