DARIUS (dă-rī'ŭs, Heb. dāryāwesh, Gr. Darios). A common name for Medo-Persian rulers. Numerous cuneiform tablets contain references to them, especially to Darius Hystaspes.
Darius Hytaspes was the greatest of the Persian rulers. Cambyses, the son of Cyrus, continued the conquests that his noted father had started. He did not, however, recognize the claims of the Jews (Jos. Antiq. 11.1.2). In one of his campaigns he was defeated by the Egyptians, and on his way home he committed suicide. Taking advantage of the king’s defeat, a pretender named Smerdis was made king by zealots of the Magian religious sect, and he ruled one year until killed by Darius and other princes, Darius having had himself made king. He was of the same family line as Cyrus but not a direct descendant. Cyrus, according to tradition, had selected Darius to succeed him. Between the reign of Cyrus and that of Darius, the Jews had been mistreated, and work on rebuilding Jerusalem had stopped (
Darius the Persian (
Bibliography: D. J. Wiseman, Notes on Some Problems in the, 1965, pp. 9-16; J. G. Baldwin, Daniel (TOTC), 1978, pp. 23-28.——JDF
DARIUS də rī’ əs. In addition to (q.v.), it is the name of two Pers. kings mentioned in Haggai, Zechariah, Ezra, and Nehemiah.
Darius I Hystaspes
(521-486 b.c.), fourth ruler of the Pers. empire (after Cyrus, Cambyses, and Gaumata; cf.
In one of these campaigns a Babylonian usurper claiming the title Nebuchadnezzar IV was trapped with his followers within Babylon. After a long siege the city was taken and three thousand of its leading citizens were crucified as a warning to other potential rebels (Herodotus, III, 159). This helps to explain the amazing zeal of Tattenai to obey a decree of Darius I about a year later to which the following warning was appended “whosoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be hanged thereon; and let his house be made a dunghill for this” (
The remaining years of his reign were devoted to the reorganization of the empire into twenty satrapies and many provinces; the establishment of a highly efficient postal system similar to the 19th cent. American pony express (Herodotus VIII, 98; cf.
Darius was buried in a rock-hewn tomb at Naqsh-i-Rustam, a few m. NE of Persepolis. The trilingual inscr. includes these words: “Says Darius the king: By the favor of Ahuramazda I am of such a sort that I am a friend to right, I am not a friend to wrong; it is not my desire that the weak man should have wrong done to him by the mighty; nor is that my desire, that the mighty man should have wrong done to him by the weak.”
Early in his reign, just after securing his throne, Darius I became God’s instrument for encouraging the Jews to complete their second Temple. In 520 b.c., Tattenai, the recently-appointed Pers. governor of W Euphrates provinces (formerly included in the realm of Darius the Mede), challenged the Jews who had started to build their Temple through the encouragement of Haggai and Zechariah (
The transition of royal power from Cambyses to Darius I was so traumatic that it is a testimony to Pers. efficiency that the document was ever discovered. An expanded form of the decree of Cyrus on a parchment scroll had been filed away in a branch library in the distant city of Ecbatana (
With this substantial material assistance (and with additional words from the Lord during Darius’ fourth year [518 b.c., cf.
Darius II Ochus
(423-404 b.c.), seventh ruler of the Pers. empire, and son of Artaxerxes I by a Babylonian concubine. His cruel and scheming queen, Parysatis, was frequently the real ruler. The empire disintegrated at an accelerated pace under his administration, with revolts in Sardis, Media, Cyprus, Cadusia and Egypt. In the latter case, the Jewish colony at Elephantine lost their temple (on an island in the Nile of Upper Egypt) and wrote desperate letters to Jerusalem and Samaria for help, all in vain.
A. T. Olmstead, History of the Persian Empire (1948); J. B. Pritchard (ed.), Ancient Near Eastern Texts (1950); G. C. Cameron, “Darius Carved History on Ageless Rock” National Geographic Magazine (Dec., 1950); R. Ghirshman, Iran (1954); J. Finegan, Light From the Ancient Past (1959); Pfeiffer and Vos, The Wycliffe Historical Geography of Bible Lands (1967).
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
da-ri’-us: The name of three or four kings mentioned in the. In the original Persian it is spelled "Darayavaush"; in Babylonian, usually "Dariamush"; in Susian(?), "Tariyamaush"; in Egyptian "Antaryuash"; on Aramaic inscriptions, d-r-y-h-w-sh or d-r-y-w-h-w-sh; in Hebrew, dareyawesh; in Greek, Dareios; in Latin, "Darius." In meaning it is probably connected with the new Persian word Dara, "king." Herodotus says it means in Greek, Erxeies, coercitor, "restrainer," "compeller," "commander."
(a) Gubaru is possibly a translation of Darius. The same radical letters in Arabic mean "king," "compeller," "restrainer." In Hebrew, derivations of the root mean "lord," "mistress," "queen"; in Aramaic, "mighty," "almighty."
(b) Gutium was the designation of the country North of Babylon and was in all possibility in the time of Cyrus a part of the province of Media.
(c) But even if Gutium were not a part of Media at that time, it was the custom of Persian kings to appoint Medes as well as Persians to satrapies and to the command of armies. Hence, Darius-Gubaru may have been a Mede, even if Gutium were not a part of Media proper.
(d) Since Daniel never calls Darius the Mede king of Media, or king of Persia, it is immaterial what his title or position may have been before he was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans. Since the realm of the Chaldeans never included either Media or Persia, there is absolutely no evidence in the Book of Daniel that its author ever meant to imply that Darius the Mede ever ruled over either Media or Persia.
(e) That Gubaru is called governor (pihatu), and Darius the Mede, king, is no objection to this identification; for in ancient as well as modern oriental empires the governors of provinces and cities were often called kings.
Moreover, in the Aramaic language, no more appropriate word than "king" can be found to designate the ruler of a sub-kingdom, or province of the empire.
(f) That Darius is said to have had 120 satraps under him does not conflict with this; for the Persian word "satrap" is indefinite as to the extent of his rule, just like the English word "governor." Besides, Gubaru is said to have appointed pihatus under himself. If the kingdom of the Chaldeans which he received was as large as that of Sargon he may easily have appointed 120 of these sub-rulers; for Sargon names 117 subject cities and countries over which he appointed his prefects and governors.
(g) The peoples, nations and tongues of chapter 6 are no objection to this identification; for Babylonia itself at this time was inhabited by Babylonians, Chaldeans, Arabians, Arameans and Jews, and the kingdom of the Chaldeans embraced also Assyrians, Elamites, Phoenicians and others within its limits.
(h) This identification is supported further by the fact that there is no other person known to history that can well be meant. Some, indeed, have thought that Darius the Mede was a reflection into the past of Darius Hystaspis; but this is rendered impossible inasmuch as the character, deeds and empire of Darius Hystaspis, which are well known to us from his own monuments and from the Greek historians, do not resemble what Daniel says of Darius the Mede.
(2) Darius, the fourth king of Persia, called Hystaspes because he was the son of a Persian king named Hystaspis, is mentioned in Ezr (4:5, et al.), Hag (1:1) and Zec (1:1). Upon the death of Cambyses, son and successor to Cyrus, Smerdis the Magian usurped the kingdom and was dethroned by seven Persian nobles from among whom Darius was selected to be king. After many rebellions and wars he succeeded in establishing himself firmly upon the throne (Ant., XI, i). He reorganized and enlarged the Persian empire. He is best known to general history from his conflict with Greece culminating at Marathon, and for his re-digging of the Suez Canal. In sacred history he stands forth as the king who enabled the Jews under Jeshua and Zerubbabel to rebuild the temple at Jerusalem.
(3) Darius, called by the Greeks Nothus, was called Ochus before he became king. He reigned from 424 to 404 BC. In the Scriptures he is mentioned only in
It is not necessary to suppose that Darius Codomannus who reigned from 336 to 330 BC, is meant by the author of
According to the Eshki Harran inscription, which purports to have been written by himself, the priest of the temple in that city had served for 104 years. In our own time how many men have been vigorous in mind and body at the age of 90, or thereabouts; Bismarck and Gladstone, for example?
R. Dick Wilson