[b-hebrew] Darius the Mede

Ron Snider sarasotapt at comcast.net
Sun Apr 18 15:58:25 EDT 2010

The following represents the work I did in Daniel, addressing this 
subject of the identity of Darius.

1. Chapter nine begins with a chronological note that places this event 
just following the events of chapter 5.
2. The only real chronological question to be answered is how this 
chapter relates to Daniel 6.
a.  The first year of Belshazzar.    553 BC
b.  Chapter 7.            553 BC
c.  Chapter 8.            551 BC
d.  Chapter 5.            539 BC
e.  Chapter 6 & 9            539-538 BC
3. The events of chapter six tend to suggest that Darius was still 
relatively new to the throne and that fact made him more easily 
manipulated by the unscrupulous commissioners and satraps.
4. Therefore, apart from further evidence, we will place this event 
during the same general time of chapter six, either just before or just 
following those events.
5. This chapter fits very well into the revealed practice of Daniel to 
pray three times each day.  Dan. 6:10
6. We know from Daniel 6 and secular history that Babylon was taken 
without a fight by the shrewd plan of diverting the Euphrates and 
entering the city via the riverbed.
7. Xenophon concurs with Herodotus and relates how Cyrus engineered the 
surprise attack through the skillful leadership of his generals Gadatas 
and Gobryas.  Cyropaedia 7.20
8. All the historians generally agree, despite minor variations in 
detail, that Babylon fell to the united forces of the Medes and Persians 
under the command of Cyrus.
9. This brings us to the problem of identifying Darius the Mede, who is 
unknown in history by that name.
10. Anyone that discusses this issue must necessarily base their 
arguments on a relative scarcity of factual material; therefore, the 
Word of God will be given more consideration than fragmentary records 
outside the Bible.
11. It must be emphasized that there is no established fact that 
contradicts a person by the name of Darius the Mede reigning over 
Babylon; those that suggest Daniel is in error must do so without proof.
12. Daniel states that Darius was definitely of Median descent, born to 
one Ahasuerus (Xerxes?), who is otherwise unknown, at least by this 
name.  Dan. 9:1
13. Ahasuerus is the Hebrew name for Xerxes, which was a common name 
among the royalty of the Medes and the Persians, who often took several 
14. Both passages in Daniel 5:31 and 9:1 state that the kingdom was 
conferred on him from some outside agent and that he did not win the 
right to rule Babylon by some conquest of his own. 
a. Dan. 5:31 Darius the Mede received the kingdom...
b. Dan. 9:1 employs a Hophal perfect, the causative passive stem, and 
should be translated was caused to rule.
15. Some have suggested that the term Darius is not a name, but an 
honorific derived from the Old Persian dialect and meant The Royal One.
16. However, Daniel does not seem to use the term Darius as a title, but 
it may have been used so much that it basically became a nickname that 
indicated that he was descended from royalty.  Dan. 6:6,9
17. That a Mede was given the throne after the Medo-Persian conquest is 
consistent with the well-known practice of Cyrus of promoting goodwill 
and loyalty on the part of the Medes by choosing the ablest of them for 
high offices in the newly constituted Medo-Persian Empire.
18. Both Herodotus and Xenophon often referred to the officials and 
armies of Darius and Xerxes alternating the name Medes with the name 
19. This brings us to two men that are often confused due to the 
similarity of their names, Ugbaru and Gubaru.
20. That they are distinctly separate persons is obvious since Ugbaru 
was known to have died during the year 539 BC.
21. He died less than a month after Babylon was captured on Oct. 12, 539 
BC, losing his life to a fatal illness on Nov. 6, 539 BC.
22. The Nabonidus Chronicle and other texts of that era indicate that 
Gubaru (a.k.a. Darius) was appointed as ruler on Oct. 29, 539 BC and 
continued to reign for at least fourteen years.
23. This Gubaru appears as the governor of Babylon and Ebir-nari (the 
western domain of Chaldean sovereignty) in tablets dated from the fourth 
to the eighth year of Cyrus, and even as late as the fifth year of 
Cambyses.  c. 525 BC
24. If this man was the uncle of Cyrus, this makes it altogether 
probable that he was appointed as the viceroy over Babylon for the 
purpose of bringing it into full submission and cooperation with the 
Medo-Persian Empire.
25. Gubaru/Gobryas/Darius was about 62 years old when he received his 
confirmation as the new king of the Babylonian portion of the empire 
under Cyrus.
26. He continued as ruler for some time although Cyrus probably took 
over the royal title at a solemn public coronation when he arrived in 
Babylon two years later.
27. Although Cyrus would have eventually been formally installed as 
ruler of Babylon, The Nabonidus Chronicle and other, cuneiform texts of 
that era indicate that Gubaru continued as governor of Babylon for at 
least fourteen years.


Ron Snider

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