Darius the Mede
Darius the Mede is not to be confused with the later Pers. monarch, Darius I Hystaspes (521-486 b.c.), for he was of Median extraction (“of the seed of the Medes,”
A major assumption of negative higher criticism has been that the b.c.) who mistakenly thought that an independent Median kingdom ruled by Darius the Mede followed the fall of Babylon and preceded the rise of Persia under Cyrus. Darius the Mede, however, is not depicted in the book as a universal monarch. His subordinate position (under Cyrus) is clearly implied in the statement that he “was made king (Heb. passive, homlak) over the realm of the Chaldeans” (
The early 20th cent. publication of additional cuneiform texts from this period has enabled one to understand much better the circumstances surrounding the fall of Babylon in 539 b.c. It seems quite probable that Darius the Mede was another name for Gubaru, the governor under Cyrus who appointed sub-governors in Babylonia immediately after its conquest (“Nabonidus Chronicle,” ANET, 306; cf.
The Book of Daniel gives more information concerning the personal background of Darius the Mede than of Belshazzar or even of Nebuchadnezzar; for he is the only monarch in the book whose age, parentage, and nationality are recorded. Although he was a subordinate ruler like Belshazzar, it is evident that he ruled Babylonia with far greater zeal and efficiency than did his profligate predecessor; and even more important, he honored the God of Daniel (
R. D. Wilson, Studies in the Book of Daniel: A Discussion of the Historical Questions (1917); H. H. Rowley, Darius the Mede and the Four World Empires of the Book of Daniel (1935); E. J. Young, The Prophecy of Daniel (1949); J. C. Whitcomb, Jr., Darius the Mede: A Study in Historical Identification (1963); D. J. Wiseman, et al., Notes on Some Problems in the Book of Daniel (1965), 9-16.