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pur’-sha, (parats; Persia; in Assyrian Parsu, Parsua; in Achemenian Persian Parsa, modern Fars): In the Bible (2Ch 36:20,22-23; Ezr 1:1,8; Es 1:3,14,18; 10:2; Eze 27:10; 38:5; Da 8:20; 10:1; 11:2) this name denotes properly the modern province of Fars, not the whole Persian empire. The latter was by its people called Airyaria, the present Iran (from the Sanskrit word arya, “noble”); and even now the Persians never call their country anything but Iran, never “Persia.” The province of Persis lay to the East of Elam (Susiana), and stretched from the Persian Gulf to the Great Salt Desert, having Carmania on the Southeast. Its chief cities were Persepolis and Pasargadae. Along the Persian Gulf, the land is low, hot and unhealthy, but it soon begins to rise as one travels inland. Most of the province consists of high and steep mountains and plateaus, with fertile valleys. The table-lands in which lie the modern city of Shiraz and the ruins of Persepolis and Pasargadae are well watered and productive. Nearer the desert, however, cultivation grows scanty for want of water. Persia was doubtless in early times included in Elam, and its population was then either Semitic or allied to the Accadians, who founded more than one state in the Babylonian plain. The Aryan Persians seem to have occupied the country in the 8th or 9th century BC.
Persian history, as known to us, begins with Cyrus the Great. His ancestors, for at least some generations, seem to have been chiefs or “kings” of Anshan, a district in Persia or Elam. Cyrus himself (Western Asiatic Inscriptions, V, plate 35) gives his genealogy up to and including Teispes, entitling all his ancestors whom he mentions, kings of Anshan. Phraortes, king of the Medes, is said to have first subjugated the Persians to that kingdom about 97 years before Cyrus (Herodotus i.102). Cyrus himself headed his countrymen’s revolt against Astyages, who advanced to attack Pasargadae (549 BC). His army mutinied and surrendered him to Cyrus, whom the Greeks held to be his grandson on the mother’s side. Cyrus, becoming supreme ruler of both Medes and Persians, advanced to the conquest of Lydia. He defeated and captured Croesus, overran Lydia, and compelled the Greek colonies in Asia Minor to pay tribute (547 BC).
His Country, Ansan or Anzan
As, in the Babylonian inscriptions, Assan (Ansan, Anzan) is explained as Elam–the city was, in fact, the capital of that country–it is probable that Cyrus’ name was Elamite, but the meaning is doubtful. The Greek etymology connecting it with khor, “the sun” in Persian, may, therefore, be rejected. According to Strabo, he was at first called Agradates, the name by which he was universally known being taken from that of the river Cyrus. This, however, is more likely to have been the reason why his grandfather (after whom he was probably named) was called Cyrus.
His Origin (Herodotus)
Several versions of his birth and rise to power are recorded. Herodotus (i.95) mentions three. In that which he quotes (i.107 ff), it is said that Mandane was the daughter of the Median king Astyages, who, in consequence of a dream which he had had, foretelling the ultimate triumph of her son over his dynasty, gave her in marriage to a Persian named Cambyses, who was not one of his peers. A second dream caused him to watch for her expected offspring, and when Cyrus came into the world Astyages delivered the child to his relative, Harpagus, with orders to destroy it. Being Unwilling to do this, he handed the infant to a Shepherd named Mitradates, who, his wife having brought forth a still-born child, consented to spare the life of the infant Cyrus. Later on, in consequence of his imperious acts, Cyrus was recognized by Astyages, who came to learn the whole story, and spared him because, having once been made king by his companions in play, the Magians held the predictions concerning his ultimate royal state to have been fulfilled. The vengeance taken by Astyages upon Harpagus for his apparent disobedience to orders is well known: his son was slain, and a portion, disguised, given him to eat. Though filled with grief, Harpagus concealed his feelings, and departed with the remains of his son’s body; and Cyrus, in due course, was sent to stay with his parents, Cambyses and Mandane. Later on, Harpagus persuaded Cyrus to induce the Persians to revolt, and Astyages having blindly appointed Harpagus commander-in-chief of the Median army, the last-named went over to the side of Cyrus. The result was an easy victory for the latter, but Astyages took care to impale the Magians who had advised him to spare his grandson. Having gathered another, but smaller, army, he took the field in person but was defeated and captured. Cyrus, however, who became king of Media as well as of Persia, treated him honorably and well.
His Origin (Xenophon)
According to Xenophon, Cyropedia i. section 2, Cambyses, the father of Cyrus, was king of Persia. (NOTE: He may have added Persia to his dominion, but according to Cyrus himself, he was king of Ansan or Elam.) Until his 12th year, Cyrus was educated in Persia, when he was sent for, with his mother, by Astyages, to whom he at once manifested much affection. Astyages is said to have been succeeded by his son Cyaxares, and Cyrus then became his commander-in-chief, subduing, among others, the Lydians. He twice defeated the Assyrians (= Babylonians), his final conquest of the country being while the Median king was still alive. As, however, the Cyropedia is a romance, the historical details are not of any great value.
His Origin (Nicolaus of Damascus)
Nicolaus of Damascus describes Cyrus as the son of a Mardian bandit named Atradates, his mother’s name being Argoste. While in service in the palace of Astyages, he was adopted by Artembarks, cupbearer, and thus obtained prominence. Cyrus now made his bandit-father satrap of Persia, and, with base ingratitude, plotted against his king and benefactor. The preparations for a revolt having been made, he and his general Oibaras were victorious at Hyrba but were defeated at Parsagadae, where his father Atradates was captured and later on died. Cyrus now took refuge in his mountain home, but the taunts of the women sent him and his helpers forth again, this time to victory and dominion.
His Origin (Ctesias)
Ctesias also states that there was no relationship between Cyrus and Astyages (Astyigas), who, when Cyrus conquered Media, fled to Ecbatana, and was there hidden by his daughter Amytis, and Spitamas her husband. Had not Astyages yielded, Cyrus, it is said, would have tortured them, with their children. Cyrus afterward liberated Astyages, and married his daughter Amytis, whose husband he had put to death for telling a falsehood. The Bactrians are said to have been so satisfied at the reconciliation of Cyrus with Astyages and his daughter, that they voluntarily submitted. Cyrus is said by Ctesias to have been taken prisoner by the Sacae, but he was ransomed. He died from a wound received in battle with the Derbices, assisted by the Indians.
Babylonian Records of His Reign–the Cylinder of Nabonidus
In the midst of so much uncertainty, it is a relief to turn to the contemporary documents of the Babylonians, which, though they do not speak of Cyrus’ youth in detail, and refer only to other periods of his career in which they were more immediately interested, may nevertheless, being contemporary, be held to have an altogether special authority. According to the inscriptions, the conflict with Astyages took place in 549 BC. From the cylinder of Nabonidus, we learn that the Medes had been very successful in their warlike operations, and had gone even as far afield as Haran, which they had besieged. The Babylonian King Nabonidus desired to carry out the instructions of Merodach, revealed in a dream, to restore the temple of Sin, the Moon-god, in that city. This, however, in consequence of the siege, he could not do, and it was revealed to him in a dream that the power of Astyages would be overthrown at the end of three years, which happened as predicted. “They (the gods Sin and Merodach) then caused Cyrus, king of Anzan, his (Merodach’s) young servant, with his little army, to rise up against him (the Median); he destroyed the extensive Umman-manda (Medes), Istuwegu (Astyages), king of the Medes, he captured, and took (him) prisoner to his (own) land.” The account of this engagement in the Babylonian Chronicle (which is, perhaps, Cyrus’ own), is as follows: “(Astyages) gathered his army, and went against Cyrus, king of Ansan, to capture him, and (as for) Astyages, his army revolted against him and took him, and gave him to Cyrus.
The Babylonian Chronicle
Cyrus went to the land of Ecbatana, his royal city. He carried off from Ecbatana silver, gold, furniture, merchandise, and took to the land of Ansan the furniture and merchandise which he had captured.”
The above is the entry for the 6th year of Nabonidus, which corresponds with 549 BC; and it will be noticed that he is here called “king of Ansan.” The next reference to Cyrus in the Babylonian Chronicle is the entry for Nabonidus’ 9th year (546 BC), where it is stated that “Cyrus, king of the land of Parsu (Persia) gathered his army, and crossed the Tigris below Arbela,” and in the following month (Iyyar) entered the land of Is- …., where someone seems to have taken a bribe, garrisoned the place, and afterward a king ruled there. The passage, however, is imperfect, and therefore obscure, but we may, perhaps, see therein some preparatory move on the part of Cyrus to obtain possession of the tract over which Nabonidus claimed dominion. The next year (545 BC) there seems to have been another move on the part of the Persians, for the Elamite governor (?) is referred to, and had apparently some dealings with the governor of Erech. All this time things seem to have been the same in Babylonia, the king’s son (he is not named, but apparently Belshazzar is meant) and the soldiers remaining in Akkad (possibly used in the old sense of the word, to indicate the district around Sippar), where it was seemingly expected that the main attack would be delivered. The reference to the governor of Erech might imply that some conspiracy was on foot more to the south–a movement of which the native authorities possibly remained in ignorance.
The Babylonian Chronicle–the Capture of Babylon
After a gap which leaves four years unaccounted for, we have traces of four lines which mention the goddess Ishtar of Erech, and the gods of the land of Par …. (?Persia) are referred to. After this comes the long entry, which, though the date is broken away, must refer to the 17th year of Nabonidus. A royal visit to a temple is referred to, and there is mention of a revolt. Certain religious ceremonies were then performed, and others omitted. In the month Tammuz, Cyrus seems to have fought a battle in Opis, and succeeded in attacking the army of Akkad situated on the Tigris. On the 14th of the month, Sippar was taken without fighting, and Nabonidus fled. On the 16th Ugbaru (Gobryas) governor of Media, entered Babylon, with the army of Cyrus, without fighting, and there Nabonidus was captured with his followers. At this time E-saggil and the temples of the land seem to have been closed, possibly to prevent the followers of Nabonidus from taking sanctuary there, or else to prevent plotters from coming forth; and on the 3rd of Marcheswan (October), Cyrus entered Babylon. “Crowds collected before him, proposing peace for the city; Cyrus, command the peace of Babylon, all of it.” Gobryas, his vice-regent, then appointed governors in Babylon, and the gods whom Nabonidus had taken down to Babylon, were returned to their shrines. On the night of the 11th of Marcheswan, Ugbaru went against (some part of Babylon), and the son of the king died, and there was mourning for him from the 27th of Adar to the 3rd of Nisan (six days). There is some doubt as to whether the text speaks of the king or the son of the king, but as there is a record that Nabonidus was exiled to Carmania, it would seem most likely that the death of Belshazzar “in the night” is here referred to. The day after the completion of the mourning (the 4th of Nisan), Cambyses, son of Cyrus, performed ceremonies in the temple E-nig-had-kalamma, probably in connection with the new year’s festival, for which Cyrus had probably timed his arrival at Babylon. According to Herodotus (i.191), Babylon’ was taken during a festival, agreeing with Da 5:1 ff.
The Cylinder of Cyrus
The other inscription of Cyrus, discovered by Mr. H. Rassam at Babylon, is a kind of proclamation justifying his seizure of the crown. He states that the gods (of the various cities of Babylonia) forsook their dwellings in anger that he (Nabonidus) had made them enter within Su-anna (Babylon). Merodach, the chief divinity of Babylon, sought also a just king, the desire of his heart, whose hand he might hold–Cyrus, king of Ansan, he called his title–to all the kingdoms together (his) name was proclaimed.
The glory of Cyrus’ conquests probably appealed to the Babylonians, for Cyrus next states that Merodach placed the whole of the troops of Qutu (Media) under his feet, and the whole of the troops of the Manda (barbarians and mercenaries). He also caused his hands to hold the people of the dark head (Asiatics, including the Babylonians)–in righteousness and justice he cared for them. He commanded that he should go to his city Babylon, and walked by his side like a friend and a companion–without fighting and battle Merodach caused him to enter Su-anna. By his high command, the kings of every region from the upper sea to the lower sea (the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf), the kings of the Amorites, and the dwellers in tents brought their valuable tribute and kissed his feet within Su-anna (Babylon). From Nineveh(?), the city Assur, Susa, Agade, the land of Esnunnak, Zamban, Me-Turnu, and Deru, to the borders of Media, the gods inhabiting them were returned to their shrines, and all the people were collected and sent back to their dwellings. He finishes by soliciting the prayers of the gods to Bel and Nebo for length of days and happiness, asking them also to appeal to Merodach on behalf of Cyrus “his worshipper,” and his son Cambyses.
Cyrus’ History from Greek Sources
It was probably between the defeat of Astyages and the capture of Babylon that Cyrus defeated Croesus and conquered Lydia. After preparing to attack the Greek cities of Asia Minor, he returned to Ecbatana, taking Croesus with him. The states which had formed the Lydian empire, however, at once revolted, and had again to be reduced to submission, this time by Harpagus, his faithful general, after a determined resistance. It was at this period that Cyrus subdued the nations of Upper Asia, his next objective being Babylonia (section 9 and the two preceding paragraphs). In this connection it is noteworthy that, in the Babylonian official account, there is no mention of his engineering works preparatory to the taking of Babylon–the turning of the waters of the Gyndes into a number of channels in order to cross (Herod. i.189); the siege of Babylon, long and difficult, and the final capture of the city by changing the course of the Euphrates, enabling his army to enter by the bed of the river’ (Herodotus, i.190-91). There may be some foundation for this statement, but if so, the king did not boast of it–perhaps because it did not entail any real labor, for the irrigation works already in existence may have been nearly sufficient for the purpose. It seems likely that the conquest of Babylon opened the way for other military exploits. Herodotus states that he next attacked the Massagetae, who were located beyond the Araxes.
One-third of their army was defeated, and the son of Tomyris, the queen, captured by a stratagem; but on being freed from his bonds, he committed suicide. In another exceedingly fierce battle which followed, the Persian army was destroyed, and Cyrus himself brought his life to an end there, after a reign of 29 years. (He had ruled over Media for 11, and over Babylonia (and Assyria) for 9 years.) According to the Babylonian contract-tablets, Cambyses, his son, was associated with him on the throne during the first portion of his 1st year of rule in Babylon.
The Sacae, Berbices, etc.
According to Ctesias, Cyrus made war with the Bactrians and the Sacae, but was taken prisoner by the latter, and was afterward ransomed. He died from a wound received in battle with the Berbices. Diodorus agrees, in the main, with Herodotus, but relates that Cyrus was captured by the Scythian queen (apparently Tomyris), who crucified or impaled him.
Doubt as to the Manner of His Death
It is strange that, in the case of such a celebrated ruler as Cyrus, nothing certain is known as to the manner of his death. The accounts which have come down to us seem to make it certain that he was killed in battle with some enemy, but the statements concerning his end are conflicting. This absence of any account of his death from a trustworthy source implies that Herodotus is right in indicating a terrible disaster to the Persian arms, and it is therefore probable that he fell on the field of battle–perhaps in conflict with the Massagetae, as Herodotus states. Supposing that only a few of the Persian army escaped, it may be that not one of those who saw him fall lived to tell the tale, and the world was dependent on the more or less trustworthy statements which the Massagetae made.
That he was considered to be a personage of noble character is clear from all that has come down to us concerning him, the most noteworthy being Xenophon’s Cyropedia and Institution of Cyrus. The Babylonian inscriptions do not reproduce Babylonian opinion, but the fact that on the occasion of the siege of Babylon the people trusted to his honor and came forth asking peace for the city (apparently with every confidence that their request would be granted); and that the Babylonians, as a whole, were contented under his rule, may be regarded as tacit confirmation. Nabonidus, before the invasion of his territory by the Persian forces, was evidently well disposed toward him, and looked upon him, as we have seen, as “the young servant of Merodach,” the patron deity of Babylon.
Why Did the Babylonians Accept Him?
It is not altogether clear, however, why the Babylonians submitted to him with so little resistance–their inscriptions contain no indication that they had real reason to be dissatisfied with the rule of Nabonidus–he seems to have been simply regarded as somewhat unorthodox in his worship of the gods; but could they expect an alien, of a different religion, to be better in that respect? Dissatisfaction on the part of the Babylonian priesthood was undoubtedly at the bottom of their discontent, however, and may be held to supply a sufficient reason, though it does not redound to the credit of Babylonian patriotism. It has been said that the success of Cyrus was in part due to the aid given him by the Jews, who, recognizing him as a monotheist like themselves, gave him more than mere sympathy; but it is probable that he could never have conquered Babylonia had not the priests, as indicated by their own records, spread discontent among the people. It is doubtful whether we may attribute a higher motive to the priesthood, though that is not altogether impossible. The inner teaching of the Babylonian polytheistic faith was, as is now well known, monotheistic, and there may have been, among the priests, a desire to have a ruler holding that to be the true faith, and also not so inclined as Nabonidus to run counter to the people’s (and the priests’) prejudices. Jewish influence would, in some measure, account for this.
Cyrus and the Jews
If the Jews thought that they would be more sympathetically treated under Cyrus’ rule, they were not disappointed. It was he who gave orders for the rebuilding of the Temple at Jerusalem (2Ch 36:23; Ezr 1:2; 5:13; 6:3), restored the vessels of the House of the Lord which Nebuchadnezzar had taken away (Ezr 1:7), and provided funds to bring cedar trees from Lebanon (Ezr 3:7). But he also restored the temples of the Babylonians and brought back the images of the gods to their shrines. Nevertheless the Jews evidently felt that the favors he granted them showed sympathy for them, and this it probably was which caused Isaiah (44:28) to see in him a “shepherd” of the Lord, and an anointed king (Messiah,. to Christo mou, Isa 45:1)–a title suggesting to later writers that he was a type of Christ (Hieron., Commentary on Isa 44:1).
From Persia we do not get any help as to his character, nor as to the estimation in which he was held. His only inscription extant is above his idealized bas-relief at Murghab, where he simply writes: “I am Cyrus, the Achemenian.” The stone shows Cyrus standing, looking to the right, draped in a fringed garment resembling those worn by the ancient Babylonians, reaching to the feet. His hair is combed back in the Persian style, and upon his head is an elaborate Egyptian crown, two horns extending to front and back, with a uraeus serpent rising from each end, and between the serpents three vase-like objects, with discs at their bases and summits, and serrated leaves between. There is no doubt that this crown is symbolical of his dominion over Egypt, the three vase-like objects being modifications of the triple helmet-crown of the Egyptian deities. The king is represented as four-winged in the Assyro-Babylonian style, probably as a claim to divinity in their hierarchy as well as to dominion in the lands of Merodach and Assur. In his right hand, which is raised to the level of his shoulder, he holds a kind of scepter seemingly terminating in a bird’s head–in all probability also a symbol of Babylonian dominion, though the emblem of the Babylonian cities of the South was most commonly a bird with wings displayed.
Capture of Babylon
He overthrew the Sute (Bedouin) across the Tigris the following year, and was then invited by a large party in Babylonia to come to their help against the usurper Nabunahid, whose religious zeal had led him to collect as many as possible of the idols from other parts of Babylonia and remove them to Babylon, thereby increasing the sacredness and magnificence of that city but inflicting injury on neighboring and more ancient sanctuaries. Defeating Nabunahid’s army and capturing the king, Cyrus sent his own forces under Gobryas (Gubaru, Gaubaruva)to take possession of Babylon. This he did in June, 538, “without opposition and without a battle.” The citadel, however, where Belshazzar “the king’s son” was in command, held out for some months, and was then taken in a night attack in which “the king’s son” was slain. Cyrus made Gobryas viceroy of Chaldea, and he “appointed governors in Babylonia (Cyrus’ “Annalistic Tablet”). When Gobryas died within the year, Cyrus’ son Cambyses was made viceroy of the country, now become a province of the Persian empire. Cyrus restored the gods to their sanctuaries, and this doubtless led to permission being given to the Jews to return to Jerusalem, taking with them their sacred vessels, and to rebuild their temple. Cyrus was killed in battle against some frontier tribe (accounts differ where) in 529 BC. His tomb at Murghab, near the ruins of Pasargadae, is still standing.
kam-bi’-sez (Aram., c-n-b-n-z-y; Persian, Kambujiya; Assyrian, Kambuzia; Egyptian, Kambythet; Susian, Kanpuziya): The older son of Cyrus, king of Persia. Some have thought that he is the Ahasuerus of Ezr 4:6. This seems to be most improbable, inasmuch as the Hebrew form of Ahasuerus is the exact equivalent of the Old Persian form of Xerxes, and we have no evidence that Cambyses was ever called Xerxes.
Cyrus’ son and successor, Cambyses, invaded Egypt and conquered it after a great battle near Pelusium (525 BC). During his absence, a Magian, Gaumata, who pretended to be Smerdis (Bardiya), Cambyses’ murdered brother, seized the throne. Marching against him, Cambyses committed suicide.
Ancient authorities differ as to who was the mother of Cambyses. It is variously said that she was Cassandane, a Persian princess, Amytis, a Median princess, or Nititis, a daughter of Apries king of Egypt. He had one brother, Bardes or Smerdes, whom he put to death secretly shortly after his accession, probably because of an attempted rebellion. Cambyses organized an expedition for the conquest of Egypt, which was rendered successful by internal treachery and by the aid of the Phoenician, Cyprian, and Greek fleets. During this campaign, Cambyses seems to have acted with good generalship and with clemency toward the conquered. After the subjugation of Egypt, Cyrene, and Barca, the modern Tripoli, submitted to his sway. He then desired to undertake the conquest of Carthage but was compelled to give it up, because his Phoenician allies, without whose ships it was impossible for him to conduct his army in safety, refused to join in an attack upon a country that had been colonized by them. He is said to have sent an army of 50,000 men against the oasis of Jupiter Ammon. This army is said to have perished in the sands. A little less unsuccessful expedition was made against Ethiopia. After some initial successes, Cambyses was forced to return to Egypt with the shattered remains of his army. He found that the Egyptians were in revolt, led by their king Psammetichus III, whose life he had formerly spared. This revolt was put down with great harshness, the Egyptian king being taken and executed, and many of the temples being destroyed. Shortly after this, Cambyses heard that a certain Magian, who claimed to be his brother Smerdes whom he had secretly put to death, had set himself up as king of Persia, and that almost the whole of his Asiatic dominions had acknowledged him as king. With the fragments of his army he started toward Persia to attack the usurper, but on the way was killed by a wound inflicted by himself, it is uncertain whether by accident or with intention. His general and cousin, Darius Hystaspis, soon put down the false Smerdis and reigned in his stead.
For two or more years Cambyses was king of Babylon, while his father was king of the lands. The son was a drunkard and subject to fits of unbridled passion but seems to have been of good capacity as a general and as an administrator. Many of the tales that have been told against him were doubtless invented by his enemies, and he has left us no records of his own. That he married his own sisters is probable, but it must be remembered that this was the custom of the Egyptian kings of that time and may have been of the Persian kings as well. As to his conduct in Egypt, the only contemporary Egyptian authority says that he worshipped before the holiness of Neit as all the pious kings had done, that he ordered that the temple of Neit should be purified and that its revenues should be restored as they had been before they had been confiscated by Akhmes for his Greek troops. He adds also that not merely were the strangers who had taken up their abode in the temple of Neit ejected from her sanctuary, but that their goods were taken away and their houses destroyed. Darius Hystaspis, the only other contemporary source of information, says of him simply that he was the son of Cyrus, of the same father and mother as Bardes, whom he slew secretly at some time before he set out on his Egyptian campaign; and that he died by suicide shortly after he had heard of the rebellion of Persia, Media and the other provinces against him, and of the establishment of Gaumata the Magian as king under the claim that he was “Barzia, the son of Cyrus and brother of Cambyses.”
The name of Cambyses is found in three of the Elephantine papyri recently published (September 1911) by Professor Sachau of Berlin. The fragment numbered 59 1 is so broken that it is impossible to make out the connection or the sense. In papyrus I, we are told that when Cambyses came to Egypt he found in the fortress of Yeb (Elephantine) a temple or synagogue (‘agora’), which had been built in the days of the Egyptian kings; and that although he had torn down the temples of the Egyptian gods, he had allowed no harm to be done to that of Yahweh. The third papyrus is so interesting, because of its mention of Bagoas, the Persian governor of Jerusalem in 407 BC, who had hitherto been known only from Josephus, and of Dalayah the son of the Sanballat who opposed the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem in the time of Ezra-Nehemiah, that we shall now give a translation of it in full: “A memorial of that which Bagoas and Dalayah said to me: Thou shalt say in Egypt unto Arsames with regard to the house of the altar of the God of heaven that was built in the fortress of Yeb before the time of Cambyses and which the accursed(?) Waidrang destroyed in the 14th year of Darius the king, that it shall be built again upon its place as it was before, and that meal-offerings and incense-offerings shall be offered upon that altar as they used to be.”
After a reign of 7 months, the usurper was overthrown and slain by Darius and his 6 brother-nobles (their names in Herodotus iii.70 are confirmed with one exception in Darius’ Besitun Inscription, column iv, 80-86). Darius became king as the heir of Cambyses (521 BC). But in nearly every part of the empire rebellions broke out, in most cases headed by real or pretended descendants of the ancient kings of each country.
5. Darius I
da-ri’-us: The name of three or four kings mentioned in the Old Testament. 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.”
After at least 3 years’ struggle, Darius’ authority was firmly established everywhere. He then divided the empire into satrapies, or provinces (dahyava), of which there were at first 23 (Beh. Inscription, column i, 13-17), and ultimately at least 29 (Naqsh i Rustam Inscription, 22-30). Over these, he placed satraps of noble Persian or Median descent, instead of representatives of their ancient kings. His empire extended from the Indus to the Black Sea, from the Jaxartes to beyond the Nile.
(1) Darius the Mede (Da 6:1; 11:1) was the son of Ahasuerus (Xerxes) of the seed of the Medes (Da 9:1). He received the government of Belshazzar the Chaldean upon the death of that prince (Da 5:30-31; 6:1) and was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans.
From Da 6:28 we may infer that Darius was king contemporaneously with Cyrus. Outside of the Book of Daniel there is no mention of Darius the Mede by name, though there are good reasons for identifying him with Gubaru, or Ugbaru, the governor of Gutium, who is said in the Nabunaid-Cyrus Chronicle to have been appointed by Cyrus as his governor of Babylon after its capture from the Chaldeans. Some reasons for this identification are as follows:
(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 Ne 12:22, where he is called Darius the Persian, probably to distinguish him from Darius the Mede. It is not necessary to suppose that
Darius Codomannus who reigned from 336 to 330 BC, is meant by the author of Ne 12:1-47, because he mentions Jaddua; for (a) Johanan, the father of this Jaddua, was high priest about 408 BC, as is clear from the Aramaic papyrus from Elephantine lately published by Professor Sachau of Berlin, and Jaddua may well have succeeded him in those troubled times before the death of Darius Nothus in 404 BC. And (b) that a high priest named Jaddua met Alexander in 332 BC, is attested only by Josephus (Ant., XI, viii, 5). It is not fair to take the testimony of Josephus as to Jaddua without taking his testimony as to the meeting with Alexander and as to the appeal of Jaddua to the predictions of the Book of Daniel. But even if Josephus be right, there may have been two Jadduas, one high priest in 404 BC, and the other in 332 BC; or the one who was alive and exercising his functions in 404 BC may still have been high priest in 332 BC. He need not have exceeded 90 years of age. 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?
6. Darius’ Suez Canal
Darius united the latter river with the Red Sea by a canal, the partly obliterated inscription commemorating which may perhaps be thus restored and rendered: “I am a Persian; with Persia I seized Egypt. I commanded to dig this canal from the river named the Nile (Pirava), which flows through Egypt, to this sea which comes from Persia. Then this canal was dug, according as I commanded. And I said, `Come ye from the Nile through this canal to Persia.’ “
Darius’ expedition into Scythia, his success in subduing the rebellion among the Asiatic Greeks, his attempts to conquer Greece itself and his overthrow at Marathon (499-490 BC) are part of the history of Greece. A rebellion in Egypt had not been repressed when Darius died in 485 BC.
7. Xerxes I
Xerxes I, who succeeded his father, regained Egypt, but his failure in his attempts to conquer Greece largely exhausted his empire. In 464 BC he was murdered. His son Artaxerxes I, surnamed “the longarmed,” succeeded him, being himself succeeded in 424 BC by his son Xerxes II, who was murdered the following year. This ended the legitimate Achemenian line, the next king, Darius II (styled Nothos, or “bastard,” as well as Ochos), being one of Artaxerxes’ illegitimate sons (we pass over Sogdianus’ brief reign).
8. Artaxerxes II
Artaxerxes II, Mnemon, succeeded his father and left the throne to his son Artaxerxes III, Ochos. The latter was murdered with all his sons but the youngest, Arses, by an Egyptian eunuch Bagoas, probably in revenge for Artaxerxes’ conduct in Egypt (338 BC).
9. Xerxes II
Arses was murdered by Bagoas 3 years later, when Darius III, Codomannus, the son of Sisygambis, daughter of Artaxerxes II, and her husband, a Persian noble, ascended the throne.
10. Later Persian Kings
Darius was completely overthrown by Alexander the Great in the battle of Gaugamela or Arbela, 331 BC, and shortly after fell by an assassin’s hand. This ended the Persian empire of the Achaemenides, the whole of the lands composing it becoming part of the empire of Macedon.
IV. First Mention in Inscriptions.
Persia (Parsua) is first mentioned as a country in an inscription of Rammanu Nirari III (WAI, I, plate 35, number 1, l. 8), who boasts of having conquered it and other lands (he reigned from 812 to 783 or from 810 to 781 BC).
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