King Cyrus Favoured As ‘Darius The Mede’

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IDENTIFICATION OF DARIUS THE MEDE

George R. Law

Ready Scribe

Press

Pfafftown, NC


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2

IDENTIFICATION

OF

DARIUS THE

MEDE

Copyright © 2010

by Ready Scribe Press

All Rights

Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system,

or

transmitted in

any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying

and

recording,

without the prior written permission of the publisher, except as may be

expressly

permitted by the

1976 Copyright Act. Brief quotations in critical publications or reviews

are

encouraged.

Otherwise, requests for permission should be addressed to the Publisher:

3655

Transou Rd.,

Suite 706, Pfafftown, NC 27040.

This book is the

published version of the 2010 dissertation written by George R. Law in

order

to complete his

Ph.D. in O.T. Studies at Piedmont Baptist College and Graduate

School.

Cover Illustration / by Elizabeth J. Law (© Elizabeth J. Law). The scene suggests a well-known

practice among

Mesopotamian kings: here a Medo-Persian king is engaged in physical

combat

with a mature

male lion in order to prove his divinely-ordained status and favor.

Law, George

R.

Identification

of Darius the Mede / by George R. Law.

ISBN

978-0-9827-6310-0 (paper binding)

Printed in the

United Stated of America


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3

158

Identification of
Darius the Mede

Biblical
Portrayal of Cyrus as “Darius the Mede”

The author of

Daniel had theological reasons for his purposeful portrayal of Cyrus as

“Darius

the Mede.” The

events and actions of each biblical passage referring to Darius the

Mede

suggest that he

and Cyrus the Persian are one and the same person. In the book of

Daniel,

Darius the Mede

is mentioned by the name “Darius” eight times (Dan 5:31; 6:1, 6, 9, 25,

28;

9:1; 11:1). In

chapter six alone, the author of Daniel uses the word “king” thirty times to

refer

to Darius the

Mede. Cyrus is mentioned three times (Dan 1:21; 6:28;

10:1).

(1906; repr.,

Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2001), 31 (hereafter BDB). Also,

“ןָרְתְשַׁחֲא adj. (?) royal

(fr.

Pers.

Khshatřa, lordship, realm)”; see BDB, 31. Kent notes that

“Khshathrita” was the name of Phraortes, the

Median who

rebelled against Darius the Great and claimed to be a descendant of the Median

king Cyaxares; see

Kent, 180.


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Double
Perspectives: Darius, Namely, Cyrus

159

The Book of

Daniel is literature—an ancient masterpiece. In each passage

specifically

referring to

Darius the Mede, the author has purposefully supplied information in order

to

reveal to the

audience his ultra identity as “Cyrus the Great.” These hints were not just for

the

original

audience of his book, but are even more important for later generations of

readers who,

being ignorant

of most of the historical facts, might lose track of the identity of “the

Great”

conqueror of the

Chaldeans.

Daniel

5:30-31

In that night

was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. And Darius the Median

took

[ַבּ ְקל] the kingdom, being about threescore and

two years old (Dan 5:30-31).

The night of the

fall of Babylon (539 BC), Belshazzar was

slain and his kingdom was taken by

Darius the Mede.

Besides the obvious question concerning the identity of Darius the

Mede,

other questions

arise from the information contained in this verse. In this context, the

first

question

concerns the name Darius and its meaning. A second question concerns agency:

who

took (received)

the kingdom and who gave the kingdom?

The first

question concerns the name Darius and its meaning in this context.

Joseph

Wiesehofer and

Azizeh Azodi report the reputable understanding that the name Darius “may

be

translated as

‘holding the good.’”

155

This name was

not always a proper name, but was in most

cases an

appellative title, here applied by the author of Daniel to the Medo-Persian

conqueror

of Babylon.

In 1878 William

Saint Chad Boscawen wrote an article entitled “Babylonian Dated

Tablets, and the

Canon of Ptolemy.”

156

As he worked

through the Ptolemy’s list of ancient

kings,

157

he discussed the

various Aryan titles used by the Persian rulers and noted the

confusion caused

by these now obscure titles. In the middle of this discussion of titles, as

he

worked through

the succession of Babylonian rulers, Boscawen came to ask the quite

logical

question: “Now,

if Cyrus conquered Belshazzar, and took Babylon in B.C. 539, is he to be

identified with

Darius the Mede?”

158

Apparently, a

normal reading of the list of kings prompted Boscawen to ask this

question. He

follows this question with a review of the work of Ernst von Bunsen

concerning

the definition

of “Darius.” Von Bunsen had explained that Darius may be a title which

means

“firm holder”

(“ruler” or “king”) and that it could be used as an alternative appellative

for

Artaxerxes (from

Arya + khshatra = Aryan

warrior/king).

159

Therefore,

Boscawen took von

155 Josef Wiesehofer and Azizeh Azodi, Ancient Persia: From 550 BC to 650 AD (London: I B Tauris,

2006),

30. Also see

The Encyclopedia Americana; A Library of Universal Knowledge (New York:

Encyclopedia

Americana Corp,

1918), 477.

156 William Saint Chad Boscawen, “Babylonian Dated Tablets,

and the Canon of Ptolemy” in Transactions
of

the Society
of Biblical Archaeology
, vol. 6 (London: Office of Society of Biblical

Archaeology, 1878), 1-78.

157 Boscawen did not only synchronize the chronology of the

Babylonian kings, but in this process he

also

synchronized

some other Babylonian officials including a house (firm) of bankers. The

successive service of three

top officials of

this banking house spanned 77 years during the reign of 7 kings (from

Nebuchadnezzar until

Darius the

Great). See F. Hilton Price, “Notes on Ancient bankers and Early Goldsmiths to

the Close of the

Seventeenth

Century,” in Journal of the Institute of Bankers (London: Waterlow and

Sons, 1880), 110.

158 Boscawen, “Babylonian Dated Tablets,”

29.

159 Von Bunsen, 61-62.


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160

Identification of
Darius the Mede

Bunsen’s

definitions and recognized a parallel between the title Artaxerxes, “the great

king of

the Aryans,” and

the meaning of Darius the Mede, “the firm holder/ruler of the

Medes.”

Concerning the

connection between these titles Boscawen states:

Admitting this

use of the titles. . . we may see in the Chaldee [Aramaic] אָי ָד ָמ־שֶׁוָי ְר ָד

Darius the Mede,

only Dariyavush Madai, the king or ruler of the Medes, a fit title

for

Cyrus, the

conqueror of Babylon, supported both by his birth and his rule. (Dan. v,

31.)

If we take this

conclusion of the use of these apparently royal names in the Books

of Daniel and

Ezra, we shall be able to reconcile many apparently contradictory

statements.

160

Boscawen’s use

of Bunsen’s explanation that “Darius” was a

title

161

in order

to

harmonize the

scriptural “Darius the Mede” with Ptolemy’s Canon did not sit well with

other

scholars.

162

A few years

later, George Rawlinson responded to Boscawen’s theory identifying

“Darius the

Mede” with Cyrus and called it “extraordinary,” but not in a positive way.

The first

argument Rawlinson posed against this theory is that, according to

his

thinking, it

would cause Daniel 6:28 to read “So this Daniel prospered in the reign of

Cyrus,

and in the reign

of Cyrus the Persian.” After a few more comments, he suggested that

to

continue might

“insult our readers’ intelligence.” But he continued anyway, and presented

a

second argument:

that Dan 5:31 and 9:1 indicate that Darius passively “received the

kingdom”

(from the hands

of another)—meaning that since the one who received the kingdom was

Darius

the Mede, he

could not be the same as Cyrus the Persian, because Cyrus did not

passively

receive the

kingdom. Rawlinson drives home the point that Cyrus was a conqueror and

could

not be described

as receiving the kingdom: “No one would say of Alexander the Great,

when

he conquered

Darius Codomannus, that he ‘was made king over Persia.’ The expression

implies

the reception of

a kingly position by one man from the hands of

another.”

163

One of the great

champions of the historicity of Daniel in the early part of the

twentieth

century was

Robert Dick Wilson. Wilson continued Rawlinson’s line of reasoning:

In fact, on the

face of it, the author treats him [Darius] as a real king (Aramaic,

malka)

exactly in the

same manner as he treats Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and Cyrus, as

being

real kings; but

with this noteworthy exception, that Darius the Mede alone is said to

have

received the

kingdom and to have been made king.

164

Therefore,

according to this argument, only Gubaru qualifies to be Darius the

Mede

because he

“took” the kingdom and then was “made king” by Cyrus and reigned as his

vassal.

The historical

fact is offered that it was Cyrus along with his generals (including Gubaru)

and

160 Boscawen, “Babylonian Dated Tablets,”

29-30.

161 Concerning Darius being a title, Hormuzd Rassam, the

archaeologist who discovered the

Nabonidus

Cylinder, reports: “The Greek historian, Syncellus, who lived in the eighth century, calls this Cyrus of Herodotus

and Xenophon

‘Darius Astyages,’ which shows that at his time there must have been some record

in existence

which explained

the various appellations of both Cyrus and Darius.” Hormuzd Rassam,

Babylonian Cities,

London: E.

Stanford, [1884]), 13.

162 Thomas Tyler and others recognized the problem posed by

Daniel 6:28; see Thomas Tyler, “Review”

of

Babylonian
Life and History
by E. A. Wallis Budge in The Academy (London: J.

Murray, July-Dec 1884), 211.

163 George Rawlinson, Egypt and Babylon from Sacred and Profane Sources
(New York: J. B. Alden,

1885),

89-90.

164 Robert Dick Wilson, “Darius the Mede,” Princeton Theological Review 20 (2) (1922), 185-186.


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Double
Perspectives: Darius, Namely, Cyrus

161

his army who

“took” the city of Babylon.

165

But here is the

difference, the crux of Rawlinson’s

and Wilson’s

argument: both Cyrus and his general Gubaru can be described as

“taking/receiving”

(Dan 5:31) the kingdom, but only Gubaru, as a vassal king of Cyrus, can

be

described as

being “made king” (Dan 9:1).

166

In opposition to

this, Rowley and others argue that the phrase “took the kingdom”

can

be taken as an

“idiom to express either normal inheritance or inheritance by

sword.”

167

But

a

concept against

Rowley’s argument and somewhat hard to ignore is what Rowley recognizes

as

a “unique

expression,” specifically, the occurrence of Hoph‘al (causative-passive tense)

verb

ַלְמָה in Daniel 9:1; but

Rowley

168

and

Montgomery

169

ignored it

anyway.

For some the

first reading of the phrase “took the kingdom” might be misleading.

The

Aramaic word

ַבּ ְקל (Pael / “D” stem) indicates that a

person presents himself “before” or “in

front of”

another to “receive” something.

170

This Aramaic

word occurs three times in Daniel

(2:6; 5:31;

7:18). An imperfect of ַבּ ְקל is used in

Dan. 2:6 when Nebuchadnezzar promises to

the

interpreters, “ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards.” In Dan 7:18 an

imperfect of ַבּ ְקל is

used to describe

the future event when “the saints of the most high shall take the

kingdom.”

Returning to

Daniel 5:31, ַבּ ְקל is used to describe the

apparent result of the victory won by the

Medo-Persian

army: Darius the Mede “took” the kingdom previously belonging to

the

Chaldeans. This

definition of the word ַבּ ְקל “to present

oneself ‘before’ or ‘in front of’ another

to ‘receive’

something” implies, even without being a passive, that another person, a giver,

is

involved.

But in this

case, the theory that Gubaru (as Darius the Mede) passively received

the

kingdom, the

argument that this is an implied passive, is not even necessary. The context

makes

it clear that

Darius the Mede and the Medo-Persians received the kingdom from someone

else.

In human terms,

Darius the Mede gained the kingdom by means of the army’s

successful

conquest over

the Babylonians. But, the context of this passage includes a decree of God.

By

God’s decree,

the kingdom was to be taken away from the Chaldeans and Belshazzar and to

be

given to the

Medo-Persians, and therefore also to Darius the

Mede:

165 The matter of agency, it might be argued, does not

really matter in the conquering of a nation.

The

generals and the

army are agents of the king (state). The officers and soldiers comprise of the

army, and they fight

the battles, and

if successful they take the city. But it is the king, no matter who is credited

with winning the

battles, who

wins the real prize of the war and “takes the

kingdom.”

166 Rowley lists six scholars (Venema, Pusey, Keil, Wright,

Wilson, and Boutflower) as holding that

these

phrases

“received the kingdom” (5:31) and “was made king” (9:1) imply that Darius the

Mede’s authority was

delegated to

Gubaru by Cyrus; see Rowley, 51. It would be good to add Whitcomb and Shea to

this list of

excellent

scholars opposed by Rowley.

167 Rowley, 51-52. Rowley enlists the support of Kliefoth,

Bevan, Charles, Margoliouth, and others to

prove

that “the

phrase

לֵבַּק

א ָתוּכ ְל

ַמ

in vi. 1 merely

states that the kingdom passed to Darius, without the slightest

indication as to

the manner of the transfer.” Rowley, 51-52.

168 Rowley, 52-53.

169 Montgomery gives permission to change the text: “The

Hof. is found only here, and a pass, is

most

unlikely. We may

point it as Hif., and so ‘reigned,’ after the Syr. use of the Afel.

Misunderstanding of the alien

idiom produced a

Hof. in [the Massoretic text]” James A. Montgomery, A Critical and Exegetical
Commentary on

the Book of
Daniel
. 1927, repr., New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1959, 360(-361), n.

1.

170 BDB, 1110.

BDB indicates that the Hebrew form לַבְק is an Aramaic

loan word; see BDB, 867.


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162

Identification of
Darius the Mede

This is the

interpretation of the thing:

MENE; God has

numbered your kingdom, and finished it.

TEKEL; You are

weighed in the balances, and are found wanting.

PERES; Your

kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.

(Dan.

5:26-28)

The Aramaic word

ב ַהְי (Peil, be given) in 5:28 is in this

context the counterpart to the word

ַבּ ְקל (receive) in 5:31. Therefore, in the context of Daniel

5:31, God is “giving” the kingdom of

the Chaldeans to

the Medo-Persians who are “receiving” it. And more specifically, in

Daniel

5:31 the king of

the Medo-Persians is identified as the one who took the kingdom.

In a similar

manner, the saints of God will receive the kingdom after dominion is

taken

from the four

beasts (Dan 7:18) This simultaneous action—God’s giving dominion to

the

people who are

receiving it—is consistent with one of the main

themes

171

which is

repeated

throughout the

book of Daniel: “The most high God has authority to rule in the kingdoms

of

men and gives

these kingdoms to whomsoever He will” (Dan. 4:32).

This theme of

God’s authority and active rule over the kingdoms of men is mentioned

at

least fifteen

times in the book of Daniel (listed below). In fact, the first two verses of the

book

(Dan 1:1-2) set

the stage for this theme and its variations, which are woven throughout

Daniel’s

narratives. The

following is a list of this theme’s fifteen specific occurrences throughout

the

book of

Daniel:

1. God gives

Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar:

“Nebuchadnezzar

king of Babylon came unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. And the

Lord gave

Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand” (Dan 1:1-2).

2. God takes

kingdoms away from one king and gives the kingdom to another king:

“He removes

kings, and sets up kings” (Dan 2:21).

3. God gave a

great dominion to Nebuchadnezzar:

“You, O king,

are a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given you a

kingdom,

power, and

strength, and glory” (Dan 2:37, 47).

4. God’s

authority and power is greater than Nebuchadnezzar’s:

“Our God whom we

serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he

will deliver us

out of your hand, O king. . . . God. . . delivered his servants that

trusted

in him, and have

changed the king’s word (Dan 3:17, 28).

5. God gives

kingdoms to the basest of men:

“This matter is

by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the

holy

ones: to the

intent that the living may know that the most High rules in the kingdom

of

men, and gives

it to whomsoever he will, and sets up over it the basest of men”

(Dan

4:17).

6. God preserves

the kingdom for Nebuchadnezzar during his illness:

“And whereas

they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; your kingdom

shall be sure

unto you, after that you shall have known that the heavens do rule”

(Dan

4:26).

171 This theme is a focus of the chiastic structure (see p.

12) of the Aramaic portion of the book of Daniel.


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Double
Perspectives: Darius, Namely, Cyrus

163

7. God takes the

kingdom away from Nebuchadnezzar:

“There fell a

voice from heaven, saying, ‘O king Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is

spoken;

The kingdom is

departed from you’” (Dan 4:31).

8. God returned

the glory of the kingdom to Nebuchadnezzar:

“I blessed the

most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever,

whose

dominion is an

everlasting dominion. . . . At the same time my reason returned

unto

me; and for the

glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me”

(Dan

4:34-36).

9. God takes

away the kingdom from Belshazzar:

“Your kingdom is

divided, and given to the Medes and Persians” (Dan 5:28).

10. God’s

kingdom shall not be destroyed and His dominion reaches even into the

Lions’

Den:

“He is the

living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not

be

destroyed, and

his dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivers and rescues,

and

he works signs

and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from

the power of the

lions” (Dan 6:26-27).

11. God gives

dominion to the beast(s) (which represent kingdoms):

“And dominion

was given to it (the beast)” (Dan 7:1-8).

12. God gives an

everlasting dominion to the Son of Man:

“And there was

given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people,

nations, and

languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting

dominion,

which shall not

pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (Dan

7:14).

13. God shall

give dominion and judgment to His saints:

“But the saints

of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom

for

ever, even for

ever and ever. . . . Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment

was

given to the

saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed

the

kingdom” (Dan

7:18, 22).

14. God shall

take away the dominion of the one horn arising out of the ten:

“But the

judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and

to

destroy it unto

the end” (Dan 7:26).

15. God will

give the dominion of all the kingdoms to His saints:

“And the kingdom

and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole

heaven, shall be

given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom

is

an everlasting

kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him” (Dan 7:27).

To assign the

action of the “giving” of the Chaldean kingdom to a human agent

instead

of God would be

to miss a major point of the book. There is no denial here of the

involvement

and the

responsibility of human activities, such as Nebuchadnezzar’s army coming against

the

city of

Jerusalem (Dan 1:1) or of Cyrus’ army coming against the city of Babylon (Dan

5:31).

The book of

Daniel expressly shows that human activity is used by God, sometimes in

co-

ordination with

heavenly agents (Dan 6:22; 10:20-11:1), to accomplish His purposes. Still,

the

net result is

according to what God wills: “He gives the kingdom to whomsoever He will.”


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164

Identification of
Darius the Mede

God’s decree

took the kingdom from Belshazzar and gave it to Darius the Mede, who

actively

received the

kingdom.

In the

introduction of Darius the Mede, there is an incidental hint, the

approximate

sixty-two-year-old

age of Darius. The identification method employed in chapter four of

this

dissertation

shows the value of knowing someone’s age and using it as an identifying

mark.

The matching of

the age of Cyrus the Great

172

with the age of

Darius the Mede was a

significant

qualifying characteristic which helped to identify Cyrus as Darius the Mede,

but

there might be

another reason why the author provided this hint.

This number,

which is otherwise extraneous information, is specific to three things

in

the book of

Daniel: 1) Darius, 2) Cyrus, and 3) the prophecy of the weeks. The author might

be

using the

approximate age of Darius, sixty-two (62), to emphasize the prophecy of the

seventy

weeks determined

upon Israel and Jerusalem (Dan 9:24).

This prophecy

of the seventy (70) weeks is divided into three segments: seven (7)

weeks +

sixty-two (62) weeks + one (1) week (Dan 9:25-26). Cyrus, the 62-year-old

conqueror,

gave the

commandment granting the Jews permission to return to the land and to rebuild

their

temple in

Jerusalem. In Daniel 9:25, after a commandment is given to initiate the

restoration of

Jerusalem and

its temple, and after the conclusion of the prophesied 62 weeks, that

temple,

which Cyrus

commanded to rebuild, is to be destroyed. The link between the

62-year-old

Darius the Mede

and the 62-year-old Cyrus the Great reinforces this prophecy concerning

the

62 weeks which

is to pass before the new Temple will be destroyed.

Daniel

6

The description

of Darius the Mede throughout the sixth chapter of Daniel contains many

hints

to ensure that

Daniel’s readers will catch his identity. One of the questions usually

asked

concerning

Daniel’s description of Darius the Mede is the following: “Why was Daniel

not

more explicit

concerning his identity?” But there are some who would argue that Daniel

could

not be more

explicit in his description of this supreme ruler, other than just to come out

and

state his

name—which in fact, he did in the final verse of this chapter. Still, this does

not fully

answer why

Daniel was not immediately explicit. But first, the specific details of

Daniel’s

description of

King Darius in Daniel 6 should be reviewed.

172 Muhammad Dandamaev provides a summary of Cyrus’ birth,

reign, and death: “Cicero (De
Divinatione

1.23.46),

following the Greek historian Dinon, reported that Cyrus became king when he was

forty years old and

then ruled for

thirty years. As Cyrus died in 530 b.c.e., he must have been born around 600

b.c.e. and must have

succeeded his

father as king of Persia in 559 b.c.e. (cf. Stronach, p. 286)”; see Dandamaev,

“Cyrus II.”

(Encyclopaedia

Iranica,

iranica.com,

2009)

available

on

the

internet

at

http://www.iranica.com/newsite/articles/unicode/v6f5/v6f5a026.html.

Kuhrt reports that the only other

chronologically

fixed data for Cyrus (aside from his death) are contained in the Babylonian

Chronicle…. It records

Cyrus’ defeat

of the Median ruler, Astyages, in 550, and Cyrus’ conquest of Babylonia in 539”;

see Kuhrt, 48.

Herodotus,

Ctesias, and Dinon all agree that Cyrus died having reigned approximately thirty

years. Dinon is the

only source to

report Cyrus’ age at death: “nam ad septuagesimum pervenit, cum quadraginta

natus annos regnare

coepisset”;

(trans. “for he lived to his seventieth year, having begun to reign at forty”).

(Dinon quoted by Cicero in

De
Divinatione
I.xxiii (46)). The Latin text is available in De Divinatione
by Cicero published in the Loeb’s

Classical

Library, 1923. The English translation is available on the internet

at

….

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