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When H. H. Rowley in 1935 gave the definitive refutation of various proposals for identifying Darius the Mede with someone known to history,1 he made no mention of any attempt to solve the problem in line with Theodotion’s text of and Bel the Dragon. Here the king who has Daniel consigned to the lions’ den is “Cyrus of Persia”; an opinion attested elsewhere in early Jewish thought.2 But in 1957 Donald J. Wiseman came to this conclusion,3 though without reference to the apocryphal story or ancient commentary. He appealed to the Harran inscription, which refers to the king “of the Medes,”4 who in that year 546 B.C. could be “no other than Cyrus the Persian”5—Media having been incorporated into what became the greater realm of Persia in 550 B.C. Actually, the inscription only authenticates what is found in Herodotus6 and the Midrash.7 Wiseman’s theory was sympathetically considered, though rejected, by John C. Whitcomb in 1959.8 Modifying a view often put forth in this century, he maintained that Darius was a subordinate of Cyrus and the same as Gubaru, governor of
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Babylon. He claimed that more recent cuneiform study showed Rowley’s criticism to be unfounded. In 1960 George G. Cameron, agreeing in part with Whitcomb’s argument against Rowley, said few serious scholars now would dispute the possibility that Gubaru provided the historical basis for the biblical account; but he stressed that this account must then be mistaken in ascribing such authority and honor to a subordinate.9 More recently, Wiseman has published another study, seeking to meet Whitcomb’s criticism particularly.10
1 1. Darius the Mede and the Four World Empires in the Book of Daniel: A Historical Study of Contemporary Theories (University of Wales Press, Cardiff, 1935).
2. Midrash Rabbah, Leviticus, Chapters I‐XX, E. T. (Soncino Press, London, 1951), p. 173n.
3. Christianity Today, II, 4 (Nov. 25, 1957), pp. 7‐10; cf. Documents from OT Times, ed. D. Winton Thomas (Thomas, Nelson and Sons, London, 1958), p. 83.
4. C. J. Gadd, AS, VIII (1958), p. 77 5. Wiseman, Christianity Today, p. 10. 6. Hist. I, 206. 7. Midrash Rabbah, Genesis, Vol. I, E. T. (Soncino Press, London, 1951), p. 370, n. 12. 8. Darius the Mede: A Study in Historical Identification (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1959). 9. JBL, LXXIX (1960), pp. 70f. 10. Notes on Some Problems in the Book of Daniel, Wiseman, et al. (Tyndale Press, London, 1965).
The present paper will explore Wiseman’s thesis from a somewhat different standpoint. Here it will be argued that Darius’ identity with Cyrus is allowed by the Book of Daniel, is in accord with the character of the book, and is supported in that it offers explanation for certain exegetical difficulties; and that this supposition is in agreement with sources, secular and sacred, outside this book; and that there is an apparent reason why the author may be thought to have told the story this way.
I. Darius and Cyrus in the Book of Daniel
1. The possibility of Darius’ identity with Cyrus
Wiseman translates Dan 6:29, 11 “Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, even12 in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” This he compares with the identification in 1 Chron 5:26, which agrees with cuneiform evidence13 and has become increasingly accepted by scholars.14 The relevant portions of the two passages are as follows: …the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, even (wāw) the spirit of Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria,…
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…in the reign of Darius, even (wāw) in the reign of Cyrus the Persian. We readily observe that in the one passage the “king” in each case is of “Assyria.” The sphere of Darius’ “reign” is not defined and so could be the same as that of “Cyrus the Persian,” according to the passage itself as translated above; but we must consider his designation as “the Mede” (6:1; 9:1; 11:1) and certain other representations elsewhere. J. A. Montgomery, with many others, said Darius was head of a “Median empire,” a “supposititious” empire “intervening” after Babylon and before Persia.15 His argument—apart from alleging distinction between Darius and Cyrus—was based on a theory of the four world kingdoms: to make the fourth kingdom Greece, preceded by Persia, requires that the second be Media. That Media and Persia are “assembled” in 8:20 as “the two horns of the Ram,” Montgomery said, is not to be pleaded against the interpretation of a separate and preceding Median kingdom, “if we are justified in seeking the missing second kingdom.”16 Naturally, “if”
11 11. Biblical citations throughout are according to the Massoretic Text. 12. From such use of the wa„w in Hebrew, the possibility for Aramaic should be considered; cf. Gesenius‐Kautsch, Hebrew Grammar (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1910), 154a, n. 1b; L. Koehler, Lexicon (E. J. Brill, Leiden, 1958), p. 245. 13. The one name is given in a Babylonian king list, and the other in the Babylonian Chronicle: P. Rost, MVAG, Vol. II, 2 (1897), p. 242; H. Winckler, ZA, 2 (1887), pp. 163‐168.
14 13 12
14. Cf., e.g., NEB. 15. Daniel, ICC (Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1927), pp. 61, 65. 16. Montgomery, op. cit., p. 61.
this interpretation is correct, then the text, unless self-contradictory, cannot mean the contrary. Montgomery did not mention (nor did Rowley in his extended discussion) that here Media and Persia are destroyed simultaneously: Greece “broke” the “two horns” (8:6, 7, 20, 21); as according to 1 Macc 1:1 Alexander defeated the “king of the Persians and Medes.” By itself, 5:28 could mean that Babylon was to be divided by Media and Persia separately. However, the announcement, “thy kingdom is divided [dissolved17], and given to the Medes and Persians” (5:28), is followed closely by the statement that Darius “took the kingdom” (6:1). Darius’ designation as “the Mede” (6:1) need not indicate that Babylon was taken by Media, and later acquired by Persia;18 for he was “the Mede,”
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so far as our information goes, only in that he was “of the seed of the Medes” (9:1). He could have been ruler over the Medes and Persians according to 5:28–6:1; as, according to the sequel, the unalterable interdict of the “Medes and Persians” (6:9, 13, 16) established only by the “king” (6:9, 16; cf. Esther 1:19; 8:8), by which title Darius is called (twenty-eight times, 6:3–26), was established by Darius (6:10, 13, 14). Therefore, Darius’ “reign” in 6:29 could be that over the conquering “Medes and Persians.” However, the reference could be to the conquered kingdom; as the “reign” in 9:1, 2 is that of Darius “who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans.” 6:29 is the conclusion of the narrative which begins by saying that Darius, who took the “kingdom” of Babylon (6:1), set over the “kingdom” satraps (vs. 2), and proceeds to tell of Daniel’s work in that “kingdom” (vs. 4).19 Darius is said to be “the Mede,” we have seen, in respect to ancestry; not as ruler over the Medo-Persian realm designated according to one of its parts, as the Harran inscription and other sources speak of Cyrus as king “of the Medes.” Cyrus, on the other hand, need not be “the Persian” because of ancestry, but may be so regarded simply in that he was “king of Persia”
17 17. E. J. Young, The Prophecy of Daniel (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1949), p. 127. 18. The interpretation of a successive partitioning would be required only on the theory of an intervening Median kingdom. The theory is not above the accepted canons of logic: perhaps one may be permitted to say, in view of the statement of one of its most prominent advocates as to the “absurdity” that one contemporary with the fall of Babylon could have reported an intervening Median kingdom, since Cyrus was the conqueror according to “Greek” and other sources—followed immediately by the statement that it is “perfectly intelligible” that the supposed Maccabean author of Daniel misrepresented the situation, since “he was following…the Gr. historians” (Montgomery, op. cit., p. 61 n. 5; emphasis supplied). 19. Thus Darius’ decree, describing those “in all the dominion of my kingdom” (6:27) as “all people, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth” (vs. 26), probably refers to that “land,” i.e. the area which had been ruled by Nebuchadnezzar and was now under control of the Medes and Persians. The terminology here (vs. 26) is the same as in the decree which had been made by Nebuchadnezzar (3:31) and is understandable because of “the cosmopolitan and heterogeneous populations that inhabited that particular region in the sixth century B.C.” (Whitcomb, op. cit., pp. 38f).
(10:1): the title, also held by his successors (11:2), referring to the dominant part (8:3) of the dual realm (8:20).20
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Persia apparently held this position throughout, or from the time of Darius, and/or Cyrus, unto the end when the two unequal horns were broken (8:3, 7). That “the Persians were the dominant power in the dividing or dissolving of Babylon” would seem to follow from 5:28, as E. J. Young contended;21 for in the statement that Babylon was to be “divided,” we have a play on words indicating Persia—”despite the fact,” so Montgomery put it,22 that in the narration immediately following it is Darius the Mede who is the conqueror. Thus the subsequent rise of the one horn (8:3) would be Persia’s ascendancy, known to history, occurring before the conquest of Babylon: the achievement of the two-horned Ram (its pushing westward apparently including Babylon23) is described as coming after the rise of the horn (8:3, 4). From what has been said, 6:29 may mean: (1) …in the reign (over Medo-Persia) of Darius (the Mede by descent), even in the reign (over Medo-Persia) of Cyrus the Persian (by title). (2) Or, the reign in each case may be that over Babylon. (3) These two explanations may be combined so as to indicate in each case the reign over conquered Babylon and conquering Medo-Persia. (4) But the reign in the one case may be distinguished from the other. Taking the wāw in its ordinary meaning, the reference would be to the reign over Babylon and the reign over the larger realm, designated according to its dominant part, Persia. Each of these explanations allows the identification of Darius with Cyrus, though not requiring it. In the first three, the “reign” of Darius is that of Cyrus; but these names could refer to co-rulers or to one as a subordinate of the other, apart from historical considerations.24 The different “reigns” in the fourth
20 20. All the versions read as though melech instead of malchi, MT, 8:20. The reference is often taken of “kings” standing for “kingdoms”; but the meaning may be that the Ram represents the successive kings of the empire (cf. 11:2).
21. Young, loc. cit. 22. Montgomery, op. cit., p. 263. 23. Cf. Young, op. cit., p. 168.
24. The idea of a co‐regency for the beginning of Cyrus’ reign, as W. H. Dubberstein states, “has no support in the text or in tradition,” and would be excluded by this scholar’s interpretation of Cyrus’ appointment of his son Cambyses to this status only just before the end of his life (AJSL, LV (1938), p. 419). We have noted (see n. 9 above) the alleged incompatibility of the subordinate position of Gubaru, governor of Babylon, with that of Darius, the king who assumed divine honor—”the ne plus ultra of royal autocracy” (Montgomery, op. cit., p. 65). It has been argued that one of such power as Gubaru,
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explanation would suggest prima facie different kings. However, since Darius was called “the Mede” because of ancestry, he could have borne the title of ruler of Persia. He could, for some reason, have been referred to in one way in respect to Babylon and in another way in respect to the larger realm. Preference for this explanation will be expressed later in this paper. Whitcomb remarks that it would be “highly perplexing” to find the author “referring to Darius the Mede in some passages…and to Cyrus the Persian in others…, if he intended us to understand these names as referring to the same person throughout.”25 So it might be for one to read on a single page about “Bonaparte” and “Napoleon,” the “Corsican” and the “Emperor of the French,” if he did not know the relevant history. The author may have assumed that 6:29 would make the identification clear enough for the circle addressed.26
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2. Accordance of this identity with the character of the book
Later, a reason will be offered for the supposed use of two names for the same king. At this point, it is submitted that such a duplex factor should not seem unusual for this book, composed in Hebrew and Aramaic—something for which, so R. H. Pfeiffer said, a sensible motive cannot
while never designated “king” in the extant sources, could have been so called, and more appropriately than were those “governors of various districts within the Persian Empire” by the Behistun inscription (Whitcomb, op. cit., p. 31). But, supposing Daniel’s monarch was a subordinate, would a subordinate such as Gubaru have been described by this book in the terms used of Darius? If the term “king,” given to Nebuchadnezzar, the co‐regent Belshazzar, and Cyrus, was used of Darius as a subordinate, he would seem to have been a truly “royal” subordinate in issuing the interdict claiming divine honor. The irrevocable decree described in Esther was issued by the king of the Medo‐Persian realm, and that described by Diodorus Siculus (xvii. 30) as of such a nature because of “royal (basilikh”) authority,” was issued by Darius III. That a subordinate under Cyrus would have claimed divine honor is not easily reconciled with the report of Arrian (to be considered later) concerning the origin of the practice. These difficulties, if perhaps not insuperable, are such that Gubaru fits Daniel’s description much less than would a sole ruler; as would seem to be shown by the comparison (later to be made) of Darius with Cyrus as known from secular and biblical sources.
25. Whitcomb, op. cit., p. 48.
26. Accepting the identification proposed, to take the wa„w as Wiseman suggests could well mean that Dan 6:29 was intended as an explanatory note (cf. Wiseman, op. cit., p. 14). But to take the wa„w in its regular sense would most likely mean that this vs. assumed common knowledge of the one king as known by the two names—while, similar to the case of Belshazzar, knowledge of the situation was lost to the later historians and Bible readers.
be found27—and having this striking characteristic: the different designations for Daniel and his three friends. “Daniel” occurs seventy-five times; his Babylonian name, “Belteshazzar,” ten times. The friends are called “Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah” five times; and “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego” fifteen times—roughly the same distribution as between “Cyrus” and “Darius,” three for the former and eight for the latter. Both names for Daniel and his friends are found in the Hebrew and Aramaic sections; and “Cyrus” and “Darius” are each found in these two sections. The most noteworthy feature is that the name “Darius” is mainly confined to a single chapter, as is true of the Babylonian names of Daniel and his friends. Of the eight occurrences of “Darius,” six are found in a single chapter (6:1–29); of the ten occurrences of Daniel’s Babylonian name, six are found in a single chapter (4:5–16), while of the fifteen occurrences of the Babylonian names of Daniel’s friends, thirteen are found in a single chapter (3:2–30).
3. The identity as a solution for some difficult passages
(1) 1:21 says that Daniel continued “until the first year of king Cyrus,” whereas 10:1 places him in the “third” year of Cyrus. Scholars often use the knife on 10:1; or say the author just overlooked the contradition; or try to show that “until” in 1:21 can mean “up to a certain point and beyond.” If Cyrus is the same as Darius, the conqueror of Babylon (6:1), the “first year of king Cyrus” may refer to the time commencing with Babylon’s fall. Before showing how this understanding of 1:21
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allows the passage to be adjusted consistently with 10:1, it is necessary to show that the reference to Cyrus’ “first” year may be so taken. In the Babylonian cuneiform reckoning Cyrus’ “accession year” began with the conquest in October, while his official “first year” began nearly six months later. Dan 1:21 may have used a non-accession computation, as did the Old Testament several times.28 But there is reason to think 1:1 reckons the “third” year of Jehoiakim on an accession basis, with the month Tishri as the starting point,29 the Persian kings’ being dated according to the Jewish calendar.30 In approaching 1:21 in this way, we face the question as to how the author might have distinguished the accession year from the official first year. Hayim Tadmore takes השנה הראשניתin Jer 25:1,
27 27. Introduction to the OT (Harper, New York, 1941), p. 762. More recently, O. Eissfeldt, The Old Testament: An Introduction, E. T. (Harper and Row, New York, 1965), p. 528, concludes that an entirely satisfactory solution has not been offered. 28. E. R. Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1965), p. 38; J. M. Miller, JBL, LXXXVI (1967), p. 288. 29. Thus the passage is harmonized with the reference to the “fourth” year of Jehoiakim (Jer 25:1, 3; 46:2); cf. Thiele, op. cit., pp. 162, 166. 30. This practice is shown by the Aramaic Elephantine papyri: S. H. Horn and L. H. Wood, JNES, XIII (1954), pp. 1‐20. Thiele, op. cit., p. 30, argues that in Neh. 1:1 and 2:1 the year of the Persian king is marked from Tishri as the beginning of the year.
30 29 28
in agreement with the cuneiform chronology, to cover “the whole period from the accession of Nebuchadnezzar until the beginning of his second regnal year, so that no distinction was made between the ‘accession year’ and the first full year.”31 From the passage itself this meaning is tentative, as Tadmor acknowledges, since the term is found only here in the Old Testament. Any of the references in the Old Testament to the “first” year or the “beginning” of a reign, in so far as the terms themselves are concerned, could have such a meaning as Tadmor supposes for Jer 25:1.32
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The word in Dan 1:21 ,אחתis used in reference to Darius in 9:1, 2 and 11:1; in 7:1 חדהis used in reference to Belshazzar: there being no indication whether or not these terms thus used elsewhere in the book mean an accession year. The two words used by Daniel are found elsewhere in the OT for the “first” year of a king: in every instance (2 Chron 36:22; Ezra 1:1, 5:13; 6:3) in reference to the same thing as in Dan 1:21 (the “first year of Cyrus”)! Each of these instances outside the Book of Daniel concerns Cyrus’ benefaction to the Jews. From the terminology and the context, we cannot determine whether this benefaction was extended in the accession year or in the first full year. These references when correlated with the cuneiform texts could indicate Cyrus’ accession year.33
31 31. JNES, XV (1956), p. 227, n. 11. 32. J. Finegan, Handbook of Biblical Chronology (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1964), p. 195, claims that the phrase twklm ty?arb (Jer 26:1; 27:1; 28:1; 49:34) is “the normal designation of an accession year.” This is impossible for Jer 28:1, where the phrase covers so wide a period as to embrace Zedekiah’s “fourth” year. It would be more plausible to understand ?ar‐ja wklp tk?b in 2 Kings 25:27 and Jer 52:31 as meaning the accession year; but Finegan thinks it is the first regnal year. Nor can we determine the meaning of hnw?arh (2 Chron 29:3) and tljt (Ezra 4:6). 33. The Nabonidus Chronicle, describing Cyrus’ entry into Babylon (Sidney Smith, Babylonian Historical Texts [Methuen and Co., London, 1924], Col iii, line 21), states (trans. A. L. Oppenheim, ANET [Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1950], p. 306): “From the month of Kislimu to the month of Addaru, the gods of Akkad which Nabonidus had made come down to Babylon…returned to their sacred cities.” The Cyrus Cylinder (H. C. Rawlinson, The Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia, Vol. V [London, 1884], pl. 35) states (Oppenheim, op. cit., p. 316): “I returned to (these) sacred cities on the other side of the Tigris, the sanctuaries of which have been ruins for a long time, the images which (used) to live therein and established for them permanent sanctuaries. I (also) gathered all their (former) inhabitants and returned (to them) their habitations. Furthermore, I resettled upon the command of Marduk, the great lord, all the gods of Sumer and Akkad whom Nabonidus has brought into Babylon….” If the statement in the Cylinder may be regarded as an expansion of that in the Chronicle (concerning the brevity of which, see R. P. Dougherty, Nabonidus and Belshazzar [Yale University Press, New Haven, 1929], p. 168), and as including the event described in 2 Chron 36:22, 23, etc. as occurring in the “first year of Cyrus,” then this event took place sometime during the accession year (“from the month Kislimu to the month Addaru”). A. T. Olmstead, History of the Persian Empire (University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1948), p. 57, interpreted Cyrus’ restoration of the Jews as occurring after his acts of leniency referred to in the
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Now let us consider how the seemingly incoherent note in 10:1 is affected by allowing the “first” year of Cyrus to have begun with the fall of Babylon, the event associated with the name “Darius.” Daniel’s position in 1:21 is described relative to the Babylonian king. He and his friends stood before that king (vs. 19); and he (perhaps in contrast to these friends) continued to do so, on under Nebuchadnezzar’s successor Belshazzar—”until” the overthrow of Babylon by Cyrus. This would be at least partly parallel with 2 Chron 36:20 (all the more interesting since Dan 1:2 is regarded as a duplicate of 2 Chron 36:6, 734). Here it is stated, in implicit exclusion of an intervening Median kingdom, that the Jews served Nebuchadnezzar “and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia.”35 The parallel with Dan 1:21, as here interpreted, would be complete for the point at issue if the commencement of the “first year of Cyrus” (2 Chron 36:22), during which the benefaction to the Jews is said to have been extended, is equated, as is allowable,36 with the commencement of “the reign of the kingdom of Persia.” Thus in relation to the Babylonian king, Daniel held office until that king no longer reigned. After the conquest of Babylon, Daniel “prospered” (6:29). We learn
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from 10:1 that his career had not ended yet “in the third year of Cyrus king of Persia.” Daniel’s career is perhaps best understood according to the preference earlier mentioned for the particular interpretation of 6:29. Daniel prospered in the reign described in the preceding
cuneiform texts: “Cyrus had already returned the gods carried off by Nabu‐naid, not only to their native Babylonian cities, but also to Assyria and to Elam, and had rebuilt their ruined temples; it would only be following the same policy if he ordered the temple in Jerusalem to be restored, and, since the Jews now employed no images, to substitute the temple utensils for the exiled divinity. Leaving the more prosaic details of satrapal organization to Gobryas, toward the end of his accession year Cyrus returned from Babylon and returned to Ecbatana…Cyrus issued from his palace at Ecbatana during his first regnal year (538) the following decree’…’“ (quoting from Ezra 6:3–5; emphasis supplied; new paragraph beginning with “Leaving”). It would seem that Olmstead thought the decree to have been issued at Ecbatana because it was here, according to Ezra 6:2, that the document was found some years later. However, Cyrus could have issued the decree in Babylon and brought it with him to Ecbatana, or it might have been sent there later. Or what was found at Ecbatana might have been a copy of the original (in accordance with the Persian custom of publishing documents in different languages; cf. Herodotus, Hist. IV. 87) which had been placed elsewhere and was no longer to be obtained when later the search was made. But, still, the decree might have been issued at Ecbatana “toward the end of his accession year.” Evidently Olmstead took for granted that the biblical references to the “first” year of Cyrus (as in Ezra 6:3, here cited) have the same meaning as the cuneiform references to the “first” year in distinction from the “accession” year. This, of course, is the very point to be established.
34. Cf., e.g., Montgomery, op. cit., pp. 114,116. 35. Cf. Whitcomb, op. cit., p. 54. 36. See n. 33 above.
context as that of Darius over the conquered realm, Babylon (5:28, 30; 6:1, 2, 4), and in a subsequent section as that of the king as thus named “over the realm of the Chaldeans” (9:1, 2); “and” in the reign described in 6:29 and 10:1 as that of the same king as named “Cyrus” over the larger realm, “Persia.” Thus in the “third year of Cyrus king of Persia,” Daniel is found by the river Hiddekel (10:4), outside the city of Babylon, and quite possibly outside that whole province. (2) The proposed identity makes more understandable the reference to “the correct historical tradition of Cyrus’ conquest” which Montgomery, as have other scholars, found in the announcement that the Babylonian kingdom was to be “divided” (Dan 5:28)—a play on words, we have seen, indicating Persia, “despite,” Montgomery said, the reference immediately to Darius the Mede as taking the kingdom.37 (3) In the “first year of Darius” (Dan 9:1, 2), Daniel prayed that God would look with favor on the desolate holy city and temple (vss. 16–19). Then he is told by the angel that at the beginning of his prayer, a “word” had “gone forth”; and that now he is to be informed of the significance of this (vs. 23). Whereupon, the angel relates the “going forth” of a “word” to restore and build Jerusalem (vs. 25). Contrary to the accepted interpretation, we may take the “going forth” of the “word” in the one case (vs. 23) to be the same as the other (vs. 25). Thus the divine command for restoring the Jews is in answer to the prayer of Daniel, similar to the interpretation in the Assumption of Moses (4:1–6). The divine word was evidently made effectual on the human plane by an edict of Darius in his first year. This explanation has a bearing on Dan 11:1, which
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commentators have found troublesome. Here it is said that Michael, the angel who intercedes for Israel (10:2; 12:1), was successful in the “first year of Darius.” But the LXX and Theodotion read “the first year of Cyrus.” Assuming that their Hebrew text was here the same as ours, it seems that these ancient translators looked upon the favorable turn of events for the Jewish people alluded to in 11:1 as to be equated with the action of Cyrus (Isa 44:28, 2 Chron 36:22, 23; Ezra 1:1–4; 4:3; 5:13; 6:3–5, 14), and departed from the text accordingly. The difficulty is such that Dan 11:1 is often regarded as a gloss, or the Hebrew text is set aside in favor of the Greek versions. Some scholars have sought to find reference here to Darius’ conquest of Babylon, which was to result in the Jewish restoration. But the conquest evidently was not “in the first year of Darius,” but rather began the first year; the occurrence “in” his first year, according to 9:1ff, was after Darius “was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans” (cf. 5:28; 6:1). As a
37 37. Granting the espoused identification, the answer could be said to have been before us in the handwriting on the wall, but the scholars have not read the interpretation thereof—though Montgomery seemed to be getting close “despite” being hampered by a theory precluding disclosure of the enigma!
reference to action elsewhere in the Old Testament said to have been that of Cyrus, 11:1 is understandable on the assumption, in accord with 9:1ff, that Cyrus is the same as Darius.38
II. Darius of the Book of Daniel compared with Cyrus as known from other Sources
Proceeding on the view that the Book of Daniel allows, is consonant with, and in some measure supports the identification proposed, and that its account is historically accurate, we inquire now whether the description of Darius agrees with the information concerning Cyrus in secular data and in the other biblical books. There are eleven references to Darius, covering essentially everything of importance said about him, each of which in some measure corresponds with a reference to Cyrus found outside the Book of Daniel in either a secular or biblical (including
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apocryphal ) source, or in both. All of these points of comparison are not of the same value. However, when a picture is compared with a certain person, there are features which in themselves would do little to suggest identity, yet their extent of correspondence and lack of contrariety would serve to support the more definite indications. But first of all, it is to be noted that there are several examples of the use of two names by a king, as of Pul, given above, and Shalmaneser V (“Ululai”);40 and that Cyrus himself had another name according to Herodotus,41 while according to Josephus this was the case with Darius.42
1. Correspondence of reign over dual realm
Darius may be regarded as ruler of a kingdom composed of two parts, “Medes and Persians” (Dan 5:28; 6:1, 9, 13, 16); the latter part, apparently, being dominant (5:28; 8:3, 4). Secular sources call Cyrus, following the incorporation of Media into Persia under his rule, “king” of “the Medes”43 as well as of “Persia,”44 in such a way as to allow that he ruled the “Persians and
38 38. The interpretation given above (for Dan 1:21; 5:28; 9:1ff; 11:1) could as well fit the view that Darius was a subordinate of Cyrus in that the action of the one would, and at the same time, fall within the reign of the other. But, of course, the theory of a subordinate faces difficulties otherwise; see n. 24 above. 39. For purposes of the present investigation, this literature is properly included as a part of the Jewish tradition.
40. ANET, p. 272. 41. Hist., I,113,114. 42. Antiq. X,11, 4. Darius is here regarded as a kinsman of Cyrus. 43. See ns. 4, 6, 7 above.
44. The frequent charge that the biblical title “king of Persia” is technically anachronistic does not affect the substance of the matter of concern here. As to the charge, see E. Bickerman, JBL, LXV (1946), who properly contends that we “cannot infer from the official style of one type of documents results
Medes.”45 While the biblical material several times refers to Cyrus as “king of Persia” (2 Chron 36:22, 23; Ezra 1:1, 2, 8; 3:7; 4:3; 5), it does not explicitly refer to him
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in such connection with Media. But it seems not unlikely that the author of Esther regarded Cyrus as founder of the throne of Ahasuerus, whose realm was “Persia and Media” (Esther 1:3, 14, 18, 19; 10:2). The same applies to the statement in 1 Macc 1:1 concerning Alexander’s defeat of the “king of the Persians and Medes.”
2. Correspondence of reign as dated according to conquest
Darius obtained Babylon at its overthrow and his reign is evidently dated by this event (Dan 5:28, 30; 6:1; 9:1, 2). According to the Babylonian cuneiform texts, Cyrus’ reign is dated from his conquest of Babylon.46 Since according to 2 Chron. 36:17, 20, 22, the Jews were captives to the “king of the Chaldeans” and his sons “until the reign of the kingdom of Persia” and were restored in the “first year of Cyrus,” Cyrus may here be regarded as conquering Babylon and exercising a reign dated by this event. The same may be implied in Ezra 5:12, 13.
3. Correspondence of title upon conquest
Darius, upon his conquest of Babylon, became “king over the realm of the Chaldeans” (Dan 6:1; 9:1), the equivalent of “king of Babylon” (5:30; 7:1). In the cuneiform texts, Cyrus, upon his conquest there, is styled “king of Babylon.”47 Ezra 5:13 refers to “Cyrus the king of Babylon” in a context implying that a change in Babylonian rule had occurred.
4. Correspondence of age at conquest
Darius was “sixty-two years old” at the overthrow of Babylon (Dan, 6:1). Cicero says that Cyrus died when seventy years of age,48 and the cuneiform texts report that Cyrus reigned nine
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years after he took Babylon. If we may follow the translation represented by AV through RSV, that Darius was then “about” sixty-two years old, the correspondence could not be better expressed.
valid for another” (p. 254), and furthermore contests the alleged anachronism (p. 256) in view of an inscription reading, “Cyrus, king of all, king of Anshan,” from the beginning of his Babylonian reign. Cf. C. J. Gadd and L. Legrain, Ur Excavations I: Royal Inscriptions, No. 194. 45. Thus the reference of Arrian, Anabasis Alexandri IV, 11 (a passage to be considered later) to a religious policy of Cyrus as having become traditional with “Persians and Medes.” 46. Smith, op. cit., col. iii, line 15 (reference to Cyrus’ triumphal entry into Babylon); J. N. Strassmaier, Inschriften von Cyrus, König von Babylon (Verlag von Eduard Pheiffer, Leipzig, 1890), No. 1 (reference to “accession year of Cyrus king of Babylon and of the countries”).
47 46 45
47. Strassmaier, loc. cit.; frequently so in many texts. 48. De Divin. I. xxiii; Dinon is given as authority.
5. Correspondence of administrative policy following conquest
Following the overthrow of Babylon, satraps were appointed over this territory by Darius (Dan 6:2). The cuneiform texts report that, after Cyrus took Babylon, satraps were appointed there.50
6. Correspondence of inaugurating assumption of divine honor
Prayer was offered to Darius; this being a new practice (Dan 6:8, 13). According to Arrian, Cyrus was the first king unto whom men bowed down in religious adoration.51 Thus the feature of the portrait of Darius that is so hard to reconcile with the theory that he was a subordinate, is a positive support for the view here proposed.
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7. Correspondence of punitive treatment of the man Daniel
Following a conspiracy, Darius was forced to have Daniel cast into the lions’ den (Dan 6:5– 17). According to Bel and the Dragon, the king, who is “Cyrus of Persia” (Theodotion), forced by certain conspirators “delivered Daniel unto them: who cast him into the lions’ den” (vss. 1, 28, 30b–31a).
8. Correspondence of public acknowledgment of the God of the Jews
Darius issued a decree acknowledging “the God of Daniel” (Dan 6:27), unto whom, “Yahweh,” Daniel prayed (9:4, 20), customarily, “toward Jerusalem” (6:11). Ezra 1:1–3 relates that Cyrus made a proclamation acknowledging “Yahweh,” the God “who is in Jerusalem.” While here there is no secular support specifically, the investigation of E. Bickerman should be consulted for indications of such, generally in view of Cyrus’ attitude to the national gods.52
49 49. As stated by Dubberstein, loc. cit., p. 417: “From the seventh month of Cyrus’ accession year (539) business texts dated to him continue without break to the twenty‐seventh day of the fourth month (Du’uzu) of his ninth year, July, 530 B.C.” (cf. Strassmaier, op. cit., Nos. 1,341), and less than two months later, “on the twelfth day of the sixth month (Ulûlu), September, 530, business documents dated in the accession year of Cambyses indicate that he had been recognized as his father’s successor” (cf. Strassmaier, Inschriften von Cambyses, König von Babylon [Verlag von Eduard Pheiffer, Leipzig, 1890], No. 1). See Wiseman, op. cit., p. 15. 50. Smith, op. cit., col. iii, line 20. Cyrus entered Babylon and “his governor” then “installed (sub‐ )governors in Babylon” (trans. Oppenheim, op. cit., p. 306). Cf. Wiseman, op. cit., p. 14. 51. Anabasis Alexandri IV, 11, trans. E. I. Robson, Loeb ed. (Heinemann, London, 1929). Callisthenes, objecting to “prostration” before kings, and thus to their “investing themselves with divine honours,” declared, “But if it is said of Cyrus son of Cambyses that Cyrus was the first of men to receive this homage of bowing to the ground, and that therefore this humiliation became tradition with Persians and Medes, yet you must remember that this very Cyrus was brought to a better mind by Scythians, a poor but free people.”
52 51 50
52. Bickerman, op. cit., pp. 256f.
9. Correspondence of benefaction to the Jews
The implication is that the restoration of the Jews occurred under Darius (Dan 9:1ff; 11:1). The cuneiform texts report that Cyrus restored to the captives their former habitations.53 The biblical sources several times tell of Cyrus’ decree of restoration (2 Chron 36:22; Ezra 1:1ff; 4:3; 5:13–15; 6:3–5).
10. Correspondence of time when benefaction occurred
The implication is that the restoration of the Jews occurred in what is called, indefinitely as to whether including an “accession” period, the “first” year of Darius (Dan 9:1ff; 11:1). Cyrus’ leniency toward the captives, as reported by the cuneiform texts, could have been extended to the Jews as early as his accession year.54 According to biblical sources, Cyrus restored the Jews in what is called, indefinitely as to whether including
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an “accession” period, his “first” year (2 Chron 36:22; Ezra 1:1; 5:13; 6:3).
11. Correspondence of genealogy
Darius was “the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes” (9:1). The sources are not always consistent in reporting Cyrus’ ancestry. Attention will be given here only to the testimony allowing the correspondence. Josephus departs from Daniel by saying that Darius was the son of Astyages55—hardly intending to contradict Daniel, but rather to identify Ahasuerus, perhaps a dynastic title,56 with Astyages. According to Herodotus and Xenophon, Cyrus, whose paternal ancestry was Persian, on his maternal side was the grandson of the Median king Astyages.57 If Josephus and these Greek writers were talking about the same Astyages, who is thus to be identified with Ahasuerus, then Cyrus was the “son” of Ahasuerus in the sense in which this word is several times used in the Bible—as a descendant.58 Moreover, according to Josephus’ testimony here, Darius was a descendant of one who had the same name, “Astyages,” as one of whom Cyrus, according to these Greek writers, was a descendant. It is often assumed that lineage was traced through the father always; but Ezra 10:3 implies, and the Talmud and Midrash teach, that a child of a mixed marriage was reckoned according to maternal descent.59 The point here is not that this reckoning may have been employed by the Medes and Persians; although, as will be seen presently, the notion might claim some agreement
53 53. See n. 33 above.
54. See n. 33 above. 55. Antiq. X, 11, 4. 56. Tobit 14:15 identifies the Median king Cyaxares as Ahasuerus. 57. Hist. I, 108; Cyrop. I, ii, 1. 58. Cf. Koehler, op. cit., p. 133.
59. Seder Nashim 68b, The Babylonian Talmud, E. T. (Soncino Press, London, 1936); Midrash Rabbah, Vol. I, E. T. (London, 1951), p. 51.
with Greek literature in reference to the case of Cyrus. The point is that a Jewish book, such as Daniel, could well have described the situation from this viewpoint; just as the Persian kings were dated according to the Jewish calendar.60 In the
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next section, a suggestion will be made as to why Daniel might have found this reckoning suitable for his purpose. To speak of Cyrus as Median would seem all the more appro-priate since Astyages was without male issue and the Median kingdom was acquired by Cyrus.61 Aeschylus omits Cyrus’ Persian ancestry and puts him in the line of Median kings, and apparently as the legal heir of Astyages.62 Also, Bel and the Dragon describes the kingdom of Astyages as inherited by Cyrus (vs. 1).
III. Significance of the two Names
1. Darius the Mede
Two questions are to be considered: (1) why the author may be supposed to have represented the king as of Median descent and (2) why he should have referred to him in this connection by the name Darius. (1) Prophecy had envisaged the downfall of Babylon as to be brought about by Media (Isa 13:17; 21:2; Jer 51:11, 28); as also by Persia (Isa 21:2). The author of Daniel is thus in agreement with both traditions in calling the conquering kingdom that of the “Medes and Persians” (5:28); and also in agreement with certain historical facts: the incorporation of Media into Persia and the closeness of the two by race and association.63 One line of the prophetic tradition—especially as represented
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by Jeremiah, to whom Daniel was indebted (Dan 9:2)—evidently influenced the author to emphasize the Median element. This he did not only by employing the pattern of the dual realm,
60 60. See n. 30 above. Allowing Daniel’s use of the Jewish reckoning in the case of this mixed marriage, the main objection against Wiseman’s thesis would be removed. Indeed, it is the only argument given by R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the OT (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1969), p. 341. From the “custom of the Achaemenid kings to trace their lineage to Persian origins,” he concludes that “the reference to the ‘seed of the Medes’…must imply that the paternal ancestry of Darius was Median” and so could not correctly describe Cyrus as related to the Medes through his mother.
61. Herodotus, Hist. I, 109; Xenophon, Cyrop. VIII, v, 19.
62. Pers. 766–773; H. D. Broadhead, The Persae of Aeschylus (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1960), pp. 192f; 278f. 63. Olmstead, op. cit., p. 37: “the close relationship between Persians and Medes was never forgotten….Medes were honored equally with Persians; they were employed in high office and were chosen to lead Persian armies. Foreigners spoke regularly of the Medes and Persians; when they used the single term, it was ‘the Mede’.”
but particularly by depicting the conquering king as of Median descent. Since already by the time of Ezra the Jews apparently reckoned a child of a mixed marriage according to the maternal line, it may be presumed that the author of Daniel, if writing during the Exile, would have found the reckoning ready at hand for his special purpose. The Jewish concept would seem appropriate for interpreting an event as fulfilling Jewish prophecy. That Darius was not simply of “the seed of the Medes” but such by being the son of “Ahasuerus,” thus is perhaps of particular significance if the latter was a dynastic title.64 If some writers outside the biblical tradition took note of Cyrus’ inheritance of the Median throne, with how much more reason might the author of Daniel have done so, in order to focus upon the transfer of “the realm of the Chaldeans” (9:1), and its beneficent results for the Jewish people (9:2), in the perspective of prophecy (Jer 25:11, 12; 29:10; 51:11, 28). (2) It may be that the conqueror’s Median line was associated with the name Darius simply because this name was somehow a part of his Median connections. If a dynastic title,65 then “Darius the Mede” may have had connotations somewhat similar to, say, “the German Kaiser.” But we may also think of a fond nickname, or an additional personal name. In this case, the important question is not whether Cyrus ever publicly proclaimed himself as “Darius,” but whether there were persons, many or few, who did so refer to him. That he is not so called in any extant cuneiform record may be due to the name’s restricted use or unofficial character. We should not expect to find the late President John F. Kennedy listed on any official document as “Jack” the “Irishman.”66 The “different name” under which,
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according to Herodotus, Cyrus had been brought up in Media,67 could have been “Darius”—and, after he became known as Cyrus, could still have been used, perhaps by his close associates (Dan 6:7).
2. Cyrus the Persian
On first glance, there might seem no problem over the author’s occasionally using the popular and official designation. But why only occasionally and in references of such little content, when it would seem to have been significant for one writing in awareness of fulfilled prophecy? Why were not those great events then transpiring connected with the name which Isaiah previously had uttered, “Cyrus”? This is a problem for both the Exilic and Maccabean
64 64. See n. 56 above.
65. Cf. W. F. Albright, JBL, XL (1921), p. 112n.
66. The antiquarian scholars of the future, if having only a few literary remains from our civilization to work with, might question whether Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. was in fact a contemporary, much less a confidant, of the President, with fragments of his biography appearing so out of accord with the Washington archives (cf. his A Thousand Days [Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1965], pp. 5, 78f, 94). 67. See n. 41 above. Strabo gives the earlier name as “Agradatus”; Geography XV, iii, 6. As stated above, we have to choose between conflicting reports of Cyrus’ ancestry. In referring to this situation, Rowley, op. cit., p. 16, remarks: “the traditions recorded by the Greek writers are so diverse, that we can hardly select one as an authority, on its unconfirmed word.”
datings of Daniel. On either account, these words of the Book of Isaiah came first, whether from the time of that prophet himself or from as late as allowable for some successor.68 2 Chron 36:22 refers to Cyrus’ act of restoration as fulfilling prophecy—not of Isaiah, but Jeremiah: clearly because the latter had foretold the seventy years’ Babylonian captivity (vs. 21). So, probably, the mention of Cyrus in Ezra 1:1 is to be explained. Isaiah’s timeless reference— despite the particular name, which then might have carried connotations not the same as for us69—perhaps seemed far less relevant than Jeremiah’s precise prediction of the end of the captivity.
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The author of Daniel pondered the problem of the restoration from reading Jeremiah (Dan 9:2). Unlike the authors of Chronicles and Ezra, however, he does not represent Cyrus as the agent of fulfillment of prophecy. But since Jeremiah, who mentioned no name, emphasized the Medes as conquerors of Babylon, Daniel was led, so it has been argued above, to use the name which was associated with them.
68 68. This would be so unless one should take the anomalous position of holding the Exilic date for Daniel, or something approximating it, and a very late date for this portion of Isaiah. 69. C. C. Torrey, The Second Isaiah (T. and T. Clark, Edinburgh, 1928), pp. 20‐52, argued for a Messianic interpretation of Isa 44:28–45:4 and the context; but to carry this out, the name “Cyrus” was treated as a gloss. With the name retained, a typically Messianic reference is found, as by E. J. Young, The Book of Isaiah, Vol. III (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1972), p. 193. Consideration should be given to the possibility of an essentially thoroughgoing Messianic interpretation with the name retained. Cyrus here is called “shepherd,” a frequent term in the ancient orient for kings (Young, op. cit., p. 193 n. 46). Moreover, the name “Cyrus” is said to have meant “shepherd” (Koehler, op. cit., p. 428). If “Cyrus, My shepherd” (Isa 44:28) meant “the shepherd who is My shepherd indeed,” the import could have been that of such passages as Ezek 34:23. thus the term in 44:28, as “Christ” in 45:1, would not originally have had altogether the same significance as it later acquired. Thus for the authors of Chronicles, Ezra, and Daniel, the connection of the Isaiah passage with the Persian conqueror’s name, an equivalent for a common term of royalty, may have seemed largely adventitious. This is not to reduce the semblance of fulfillment in the case of Cyrus the Persian to “contingency” (which, as defined by the Westminster Confession, would be within the divine will), such as mentioned by W. F. Albright, From the Stone Age to Christianity (Doubleday and Co., New York, 1957), p. 19: “It was no vaticinium ex eventu when Jules Verne described the giant submarine Nautilus, operated by solar power, ninety years before the launching of the U.S. submarine by the same name, powered by nuclear energy.” The Isaiah passage may be said to be ‘typical’: not that the subject is historical and suggests the eschatological; but the subject is the restoration ultimately to be realized through the true Anointed One and Divine Shepherd, which is illustrated somewhat by the restoration in the sixth century. The great pivotal point marked by Cyrus the Persian was not for Daniel the end, but the beginning of a new line of development, which, at a distant date, would issue in the advent of the Messiah (Dan 9:25). Thus the role of the Persian ruler was more significantly interpreted not by the prophecy of Isaiah, but by that of Jeremiah: thus this ruler was viewed as Median—and referred to by his Median name.
Yet, the schematic presentation is fitted onto standard historiography. Thus the former is provided secure location in time and place: the reign represented as that of Darius the Mede over Babylon is seen as a particular phase of that larger reign beginning with the well-known turning point, the first year of Cyrus the king of Persia. The kingdom was Median and Persian, and so was the king. In the one role the kingdom and its king affected, in a special way, the Jewish people, and in the other role occupied the world stage. Oak Ridge, North Carolina
1 Westminster Theological Seminary. (1973; 2002). Westminster Theological Journal Volume 35 (35:247‐ 267). Westminster Theological Seminary.
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