Dissertation 21.


Daniel 5:31

THE received views respecting this celebrated monarch have lately been impugned by the noble author of "The Times of Daniel." He gives five reasons for believing him to be Darius Hystaspes instead of the Cyaxares of Xenophon, the uncle and father-in-law of Cyrus. This assertion will therefore require some notice in detail, and compel us to repeat some statements with which the student of ancient history is familiar.

The views of the author already alluded to are, thus expressed, -- "Three kings," it is said, "of the name of Darius occur in Scripture; must we not presume that the first Darius there corresponds with Darius the first in profane history? that the second in each equally agree; and that the third Darius, with whom the list terminates in Scripture, is the third Darius with whom the line of Persian kings closes?" There are strong marks in corroboration of the Median of this verse being Hystaspes; some of these are as follows: -- First, each is said to have taken Babylon. Both levied taxes, so that the second verse of chapter. 6 is said to be parallel to Herodotus, Book 3, and Strabo, 1 Book 15. This levying taxes leads to a similar assertion respecting Ahasuerus in Esther, Esther 10:1, who reigned "from India even to Ethiopia." (Esther 1:1.) "Now, Ahash-verosh, (meaning Ahasuerus,) who succeeded Darius the Median, reigned over India," and, according to Herodotus, Darius Hystaspes conquered India; hence this Mede was Darius Hystaspes. Pliny's testimony is brought forward to shew that Susa was built by this Darius; 2 Ahasuerus resided at Shushan, which is identical with Susa, hence the conclusion is the same. Other reasons are given, and other collateral assertions made. Authorities are quoted by which it is laid down that Ahasuerus was Xerxes, the history of Esther occurred during the captivity, the son of Ahasuerus was Darius Nothus, the third Darius was Codomanus. "To complete the evidence, I will contrast the identification which I propose with that which is now most generally approved of." 3



Darius the First

Darius the Median.



Artaxerxes the First.

Artaxerxes the First, (Coresch.)

Darius the Second.

Darius the Second.

Artaxerxes the Second.

Son of Ahashverosh.


Artaxerxes the Second.



Darius the Third.

Darius the Third, (fourth from Coresch, Daniel 11.)


It is also suggested that Jeremiah 50 and Jeremiah 51 of Jeremiah apply to this Darius and not to Cyrus, as Dr. Keith asserts. Jeremiah 51:11 and 28, are said to apply to Zopyrus, and the language of the chapter is on the whole more suitable to the capture of Babylon by this Darius, according to Herodotus, Book 3, than to that by Cyrus.

The commonly received view is stated shortly by Rosenmuller, -- that this Mede was the Cyaxares II. of Xenophon, 4 the son of Astyages, the uncle and father-in-law of Cyrus. AEschylus, in his tragedy of the Persae, 5 introduces Darius the son of Hystaspes, recounting his origin from Darius the Mede. Josephus, in the tenth Book of his Antiquities, says he was the son of Astyages; and Theodoret, in his Commentary, identifies him with Cyaxares. Jerome states that, in conjunction with his uncle Cyrus, he subverted the Chaldean empire.

"If Xenophon's account of Cyrus be in general admitted," 6 says Wintle, "we cannot be at a loss to determine who was Darius the Mede; and if even the defeat of Astyages be received according to Herodotus, and it be placed in the tenth year of Cyrus's reign over Persia Proper, yet there seems no necessity to conclude but that the kingdom of Media might still, with the consent of Cyrus, be continued to Cyaxares, his mother's brother, who might retain it till his death, after the conquest of Babylon, which Herodotus attributes to Cyrus, after he had reduced the neighboring powers." He next proceeds to obviate one or two chronological difficulties often considered as weighty objections to Xenophon's account. "The name of Darius is omitted in the Canon, although he is allowed to have reigned more than one year, if he reigned at all. How shall we then reconcile his history with the Canon? and where or in what part must this reign be placed? The same answer will serve for both inquiries. The Canon certainly allots nine years to Cyrus over Babylon, of which space the two former years are usually allowed to coincide with the reign of Cyaxares or Darius the Mede by the advocates of Xenophon." A MS. of Archbishop Secker is then quoted, in which he gives reasons why Berosus might have overlooked this reign as short-lived and nominal. Prideaux and Usher, and the Ancient Universal History, are referred to for additional information. 7 With reference to the period before us, it is concluded, from the close of this Daniel 5, "that Darius the Mede did not begin his reign till after the capture of Babylon; and this event I am inclined to place in the next year after the 17th of Nabonadius, in the 210th year of the Chaldean era, or 538 years before Christ, which was the first of Cyrus's nine years. Whether the defeat of Nabonadius and the taking of the city happened near the same time, I need not determine; but it seems clear from Daniel, (Daniel 5:31,) as well as from Xenophon, that the king was slain on the same night that the city was taken; and this, I apprehend, must have happened about the real year of the captivity 67, supposing the fourth of Jehoiakim to agree with the year 605 before Christ, according to Blair."

Here again the researches of Hengstenberg afford us valuable aid in discussing and reconciling the various statements of historians. The silence of Herodotus and Ctesias concerning a Median king of Babylon is noticed, and even concealment on the part of the Persians is shewn to be highly probable.

1 § 89. Jahn points out what he considers a mistake of Strabo's, Arch. Bib., chapter ii. § 233.

2 Lib. 6 chapter. 27

3 P. 90.

4 Cyrop., lib. i. chaps. 4, 5, and lib. iii. chapter 3, § 20.

5 Line 762.

6 Preliminary Dissertation, p.24.

7 Con., part 1 Books 2, 3; Annals, pp. 80, 81; History of the Medes and Persians, volume v.