1 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom one hundred twenty satraps, who should be throughout the whole kingdom; 2 and over them three presidents, of whom Daniel was one; that these satraps might give account to them, and that the king should have no damage. 3 Then this Daniel was distinguished above the presidents and the satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm. 4 Then the presidents and the satraps sought to find occasion against Daniel as touching the kingdom; but they could find no occasion nor fault, because he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. 5 Then these men said, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God. 6 Then these presidents and satraps assembled together to the king, and said thus to him, King Darius, live forever. 7 All the presidents of the kingdom, the deputies and the satraps, the counselors and the governors, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a strong decree, that whoever shall ask a petition of any god or man for thirty days, except of you, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. 8 Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it not be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which doesn't alter. 9 Therefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree. 10 When Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house (now his windows were open in his room toward Jerusalem) and he kneeled on his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did before. 11 Then these men assembled together, and found Daniel making petition and supplication before his God. 12 Then they came near, and spoke before the king concerning the king's decree: Haven't you signed an decree, that every man who shall make petition to any god or man within thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which doesn't alter. 13 Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, who is of the children of the captivity of Judah, doesn't respect you, O king, nor the decree that you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day. 14 Then the king, when he heard these words, was very displeased, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him; and he labored until the going down of the sun to rescue him. 15 Then these men assembled together to the king, and said to the king, Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians, that no decree nor statute which the king establishes may be changed. 16 Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. (Now) the king spoke and said to Daniel, Your God whom you serve continually, he will deliver you. 17 A stone was brought, and laid on the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. 18 Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting; neither were instruments of music brought before him: and his sleep fled from him. 19 Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste to the den of lions. 20 When he came near to the den to Daniel, he cried with a lamentable voice; the king spoke and said to Daniel, Daniel, servant of the living God, is your God, whom you serve continually, able to deliver you from the lions? 21 Then Daniel said to the king, O king, live forever. 22 My God has sent his angel, and has shut the lions' mouths, and they have not hurt me; because as before him innocence was found in me; and also before you, O king, have I done no hurt. 23 Then was the king exceeding glad, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. 24 The king commanded, and they brought those men who had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and broke all their bones in pieces, before they came to the bottom of the den. 25 Then king Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages, who dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you. 26 I make a decree, that in all the dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel; for he is the living God, and steadfast forever, His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed; and his dominion shall be even to the end. 27 He delivers and rescues, and he works signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions. 28 So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.
Section I. - Authenticity of the Chapter
This chapter Daniel. 6, like the previous ones, has not escaped serious objections as to its authenticity and credibility. The objections which have been made to it have been derived from what is regarded as incredible in its statements. It is important, as in the previous chapters, to inquire whether the objections are insuperable, or whether this is so free from reasonable objection as to be worthy to be received as a portion of Divine truth. The objections, as urged by Bertholdt (Daniel aus dem Hebraisch-Aramaischen neu ubersetzt, etc., pp. 72-75, and pp. 357-364) and by Bleek, are capable of being reduced to the four following:
I. That it is wholly improbable that a monarch, in the circumstances of Darius, would give an order so unreasonable and foolish as that no one of his subjects should present any petition for a month to anyone, God or man, but to himself. It is alleged that no good end could have been proposed by it; that it would have perilled the peace of the empire; that among a people who worshipped many gods - who had gods in all their dwellings - it would have been vain to hope that the command could have been carried peaceably into execution; and that, whoever proposed this, it could not have been executed without shaking the stability of the throne. Bertholdt asks (p. 357, following), "Can one believe that among a people so devoted to religion as the Babylonians were, it should have been forbidden them to address their gods for one single day? Is it credible that the counselors of the king were so irreligious that without fear of the avenging deities, they would endeavor to enforce such an order as that here referred to - that no petition should be addressed to God or man for a month, except to the king? And was Cyaxares so destitute of religion as not to refuse to sanction such a mandate? And does this agree with the fact that in the issue itself he showed so much respect to a foreign God - the God of the Jews? Under what pretence could the ministers of the king give him this counsel? Could it be under any purpose of deifying his own person? But it remains to be proved that either then, or soon after that time, it was customary in Asia to attribute Divine honors to a monarch, whether deceased or living."
To this objection, Hengstenberg (Die Authentie des Daniel, p. 125, following) replies, by an endeavor to show that it was a common opinion in Persia that the king was regarded "as a representative, and an incarnation of Ormuzd;" and that nothing is more probable than that such a monarch coming to the throne of Babylon would be willing to appear in that character, claiming Divine honors, and early testing the inclination of his new subjects to receive him in that character in which he was recognized in his own land. In confirmation of this, he quotes two passages from Heeren (Ideen 3te Ausg. I. i. p. 446, 51) in proof that these ideas thus prevailed. "The person of the king," Heeren says, "is in Asiatic kingdoms the middle point around which all revolves. He is regarded, according to the Oriental notions, not so much the ruler as the actual owner of the people and land. All their arrangements are formed on this fundamental idea, and they are carried to an extent which to Europeans appears incredible and ridiculous. "The idea of citizenship, according to the European nations, is altogether a strange idea to them; all, without exception, from the highest to the lowest, are the servants of the king, and the right to rule over them, and to deal with them as he pleases, is a right which is never called in question."
Hengstenberg then remarks, that it is capable of the clearest proof that the kings of the Medes and Persians were regarded and honored as the representatives and incarnations of Ormuzd. In proof of this, he quotes the following passage from Heeren (p. 474), showing that this idea early prevailed among the followers of Zoroaster. "Zoroaster," says he, "saw the kingdom of light and of darkness both developed upon the earth; Iran, the Medo-Bactrish kingdom, under the scepter of Gustasp, is to him the image of the kingdom of Ormuzd; the king himself is an image of him; Turan, the Northern Nomadland, when Afraslab reigned, is the image of the kingdom of darkness, under the dominion of Ahriman." This idea, says Hengstenberg, the magi made use of when they wished to bring the king to their own interests, or to promote any favorite object of their own. The king was regarded as the representative, the visible manifestation of Ormuzd, ruling with power as uncircumscribed as his; the seven princes standing near him were representatives of the seven Amshaspands, who stood before the throne of Ormuzd. The evidence that the Persian kings were regarded as an embodiment of the deity, or that they represented him on earth, Hengstenberg, remarks (p. 126), is clear in the classic writings, in the Scriptures, and in the Persian monuments.
In proof of this, he appeals to the following authorities among the classic writers: Plutarch (Themistocl. cap. 27); Xenophon (Agesil.); Isocrates (Panegyri de Pets. princ. p. 17); Arrian (6. 29); Curtius (8. 5). Curtius says, Persas reges suos inter deos colere. For the same purpose, Hengstenberg (pp. 128, 129) appeals to the following passage of Scripture, Esther 3:4, and the conduct of Mordecai in general, who refused, as he supposes, the respect which Haman demanded as the first minister of the king, on religious grounds, and because more was required and expected of him than mere civil respect - or that a degree of homage was required entirely inconsistent with that due to the true God. In proof of the same thing, Hengstenberg appeals to Persian monuments, pp. 129-132. The proof is too long to be inserted here. These monuments show that the Persian kings were regarded and adored as impersonations of Ormuzd. To this may be added many of their inscriptions. In the work by De Sacy, Memoires s. divers. Antiq. de la Perse, Pl. i. p. 27, 31, the Persian kings are mentioned as ἔκγονοι θεῶν, ἐκ γένους θεῶν ekgonoi theōn, ek genous theōn, and θεοῖ theoi - both as offsprings of the gods, as of the race of the gods, and as gods.
If this is correct, and the Persian kings were regarded as divine - as an impersonation or incarnation of the god that was worshipped - then there is no improbability in the supposition that it might be proposed to the king that for a given space of time he should allow no petition to be presented to anyone else, god or man. It would be easy to persuade a monarch having such pretensions to issue such a decree, and especially when he had subjected a foreign people like the Babylonians to be willing thus to assert his authority over them, and show them what respect and homage he demanded. In judging also of the probability of what is here said, we are to remember the arbitrary character of Oriental monarchs, and of the Persian kings no less than others. Assuredly there were as strange things in the character and conduct of Xerxes, one of the successors of this same Darius, as any that are recorded in this chapter of the book of Daniel; and if the acts of folly which he perpetrated had been written in a book claiming to be Divinely inspired, they would have been liable to much greater objection than anything which is stated here. The mere fact that a thing is in itself foolish and unreasonable, and apparently absurd, is no conclusive evidence that a man clothed with absolute authority would not be guilty of it.
To all that has been said on this point, there should be added a remark made by Bertholdt himself (p. 357) respecting Darius, which will show that what is here said of him is really not at all inconsistent with his character, and not improbable. He says, speaking of Darius or Cyaxares, that "from his character, as given by Xenophon, a man of weak mind (Cyrop. i. 4, 22; iv. 1, 13); a man passionate and peevish (iii. 3, 29; iv. 5, 8; v. 5; i. 8); a man given to wine and women (iv. 5, 52; v. 5, 44), we are not to expect much wisdom." There is nothing stated here by Daniel which is inconsistent with the character of such a man.
II. A second objection made to the probability of this statement is drawn from the character of the edict which Darius is said to have proclaimed, commanding that honor should be rendered to Jehovah, Daniel 6:25-27. It is alleged that if such an edict had been published, it is incredible that no mention is made of it in history; that the thing was so remarkable that it must have been noticed by the writers who have referred to Darius or Cyaxares.
To this it may be replied:
(1) that, for anything that appears to the contrary, Daniel may be as credible an historian as Xenophon or Herodotus. No one can demonstrate that the account here is not as worthy of belief as if it bad appeared in a Greek or Latin classic author. When will the world get over the folly of supposing that what is found in a book claiming to be inspired, should be regarded as suspicious until it is confirmed by the authority of some pagan writer; that what is found in any other book should be regarded as necessarily true, however much it may conflict with the testimony of the sacred writers? Viewed in any light, Daniel is as worthy of confidence as any Greek or Latin historian; what he says is as credible as if it had been found in the works of Sanchoniathon or Berosus.
(2) there are, in fact, few things preserved in any history in regard to Darius the Mede. Compare Section II. The information given of him by Xenophon consists merely of a few detached and fragmentary notices, and it is not at all remarkable that the facts mentioned here, and the proclamation which he made, should be unnoticed by him. A proclamation respecting a foreign god, when it was customary to recognize so many gods, and indeed to regard all such gods as entitled to respect and honor, would not be likely to arrest the attention of a Greek historian even if he knew of it, and, for the same reason, it would be scarcely probable that he would know of it at all. Nothing would be more likely to pass away from the recollection of a people than such an edict, or less likely to be known to a foreigner. So far as the evidence goes, it would seem that the proclamation made no disturbance in the realm; the injunction appeared to be generally acquiesced in by all except Daniel; and it was soon forgotten. If it was understood, as it was not improbable, that this was designed as a sort of test to see whether the people would receive the commands of Darius as binding on them; that they would honor him, as the Persian monarch was honored in his own proper kingdom, it would seem to have been entirely successful, and there was no occasion to refer to it again.
III. A third objection urged by Bertholdt (p. 361), is derived from the account respecting the lions in this chapter. It is alleged by him that the account is so full of improbabilities that it cannot be received as true; that though the fact that they did not fall on Daniel can be explained from the circumstance that they were not hungry, etc., yet that it is incredible that they should have fallen on the enemies of Daniel as soon as they were thrown into the den; that the king should expect to find Daniel alive after being thrown among them; that he should have called in this manner to Daniel, etc.
To all this it is sufficient to reply, that no one can suppose that the facts stated here can be explained by any natural causes. The whole representation is evidently designed to leave the impression that there was a special Divine interposition - a miracle - in the case, and the only explanation which is admissible here is what would be proper in the case of any other miracle. The only questions which could be asked, or which would be proper, are these two; whether a miracle is possible; and whether this was a suitable occasion for the miraculous exertion of Divine power. As to the first of these questions, it is not necessary to argue that here - for the objection might lie with equal force against any other miracle referred to in the Bible. As to the second, it may be observed, that it is not easy to conceive of a case when a miracle would be more proper. If a miracle was ever proper to protect the innocent; or to vindicate the claims of the true God against all false gods: or to make a deep and lasting impression on the minds of men that Jehovah is the true God, it is not easy to conceive of a more appropriate occasion than this. No situation could be conceived to be more appropriate than when an impression was designed to be made on the mind of the sovereign of the most mighty empire on the earth; or that when, through a proclamation issued from the throne, the nations subject to his scepter should be summoned to acknowledge him as the true God.
IV. A fourth objection urged by Bleek (Theologische Zeitschrift, pp. 262-264) is, substantially, the following: that it is remarkable that there is in this account no allusion to the three companions of Daniel; to those who had been trained with him at the Chaldean court, and had been admitted also to honor, and who had so abundantly shown that they were worshippers of the true God. The whole story, says Bleek, appears to have been designed to produce a moral effect on the mind of the Jews, by the unknown author, to persuade them in some period of persecution to adhere to the God of their fathers in the midst of all persecution and opposition.
To this objection it may be replied:
(1) That it is wholly probable that there were many other pious Jews in Babylon at this time beside Daniel - Jews who would, like him, adhere to the worship of the true God, regardless of the command of the king. We are not to suppose, by any means, that Daniel was the only conscientious Jew in Babylon. The narrative evidently does not require that we should come to such a conclusion, but that there was something peculiar in regard to Daniel.
(2) as to the three companions and friends of Daniel, it is possible, as Hengstenberg remarks (Authentic, etc. p. 135), that they may either have been dead, or may have been removed from office, and were leading private lives.
(3) this edict was evidently aimed at Daniel. The whole narrative supposes this. For some cause, according to the narrative - and there is no improbability that such an opposition weight exist against a foreigner advanced to honor at court - there was some ground of jealousy against him, and a purpose formed to remove or disgrace him. There does not appear to have been any jealousy of others, or any purpose to disturb others in the free enjoyment of their religion. The aim was to humble Daniel; to secure his removal from office, and to degrade him; and for this purpose a plan was laid with consummate skill. He was known to be upright, and they who laird the plot felt assured that no charge of guilt, no accusation of crime, or unfaithfulness in his office, could be alleged against him. He was known to be a man who would not shrink from the avowal of his opinions, or from the performance of those duties which he owed to his God. He was known to be a man so much devoted to the worship Jehovah, the God of his people, that no law whatever would prevent him from rendering to him the homage which was his due, and it was believed, therefore, that if a law were made, on any pretence, that no one in the realm should ask anything of either God or man, except the king, for a definite space of time, there would be a moral certainty that Daniel would be found to be a violator of that law, and his degradation and death would be certain. What was here proposed was a scheme worthy of crafty and jealous and wicked men; and the only difficulty, evidently, which would occur to their mind would be to persuade the king to enter into the measure so far as to promulgate such a law. As already observed, plausible pretences might be found for that; and when that was done, they would naturally conclude that their whole scheme was successful.
(4) there is no improbability, therefore, in supposing that, as the whole thing was aimed at Daniel, there might have been many pious Jews who still worshipped God in secret in Babylon, and that no one would give information against them. As the edict was not aimed at them, it is not surprising that we hear of no prosecution against them, and no complaint made of them for disregarding the law. If Daniel was found to violate the statute; if he was ensnared and entrapped by the cunning device; if he was humbled and punished, all the purposes contemplated by its authors would be accomplished, and we need not suppose that they would give themselves any trouble about others.
Section II. - The Question About the Identity of Darius the Mede
Considerable importance is to be attached to the question who was Darius the Mede," as it has been made a ground of objection to the Scripture narrative, that no person by that name is mentioned in the Greek writers.
There are three Medo-Persian kings of the name of Darius mentioned in the Old Testament. One occurs in the book of Ezra Ezra 4:5; Ezra 6:1, Ezra 6:12, Ezra 6:15, in Haggai Haggai 1:1; Haggai 2:10, and in Zechariah Zac 1:7, as the king who, in the second year of his reign, effected the execution of those decrees of Cyrus which granted the Jews the liberty of rebuilding the temple, the fulfillment of which had been obstructed by the malicious representations which their enemies had made to his immediate successors. It is commonly agreed that this king was Darius Hystaspis, who succeeded the usurper Smerdis, 521 b.c., and reigned thirty-six years.
A second is mentioned as "Darius the Persian," in Nehemiah 12:22. All that is said of him is, that the succession of priests was registered up to his reign. This was either Darius Nothus, B. c. 423, or Darius Codomanus, 336 b.c. See Kitto's Cyclop., art. Darius.
The remaining one is that mentioned in Daniel only as Darius the Median. In Daniel 9:1, he is mentioned as Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes. Much difference of opinion has prevailed as to the person here intended; but a strict attention to what is actually expressed in, or fairly deduced from, the terms used in Daniel, tends to narrow the field of conjecture very considerably, if it does not decide the question. It appears from the passage in Daniel 5:30-31; Daniel 6:28, that Darius the Mede obtained the dominion over Babylon on the death of Belshazzar, who was the last Chaldean king, and that he was the immediate predecessor of Koresh (Cyrus) in the sovereignty. The historical juncture here defined belongs, therefore, to the period when the Medo-Persian army led by Cyrus took Babylon (538 b.c.), and Darius the Mede must denote the first king of a foreign dynasty who assumed the dominion over the Babylonian empire before Cyrus. These indications all concur in the person of Cyaxares the Second, the son and successor of Astyages (Ahasuerus), and the immediate predecessor of Cyrus. - Kitto's Cyclop., art. Darius
In reference to the question, who was Darius the Mede, Bertholdt has examined the different opinions which have been entertained in a manner that is satisfactory, and I cannot do better than to present his views on the subject. They are found in his Vierter Excurs. uber den Darius Medus, in his Commentary on Daniel, pp. 843-858. I will give the substance of the Excursus, in a free translation:
"Who was Darius the Mede, the son of Ahasuerus, of whom mention is made in the sixth chapter of the book of Daniel, and again in Daniel 9:1; Daniel 11:1? It is agreed on all hands that he was the immediate successor of Belshazzar, the king of the Chaldeans Daniel 5:30. Compare Daniel 6:1. But, notwithstanding this, there is uncertainty as to his person, since history makes no mention of a Median, Darius. It is, therefore, not to be wondered at that various opinions have been entertained by commentators on the Scriptures, and by historical inquirers. Conring (Advers. Chronol. c. 13), whom many have followed, particularly Harenberg (Aufklarung des Buchs Daniels, s. 454, following), has endeavored to show that Darius the Mede was the fourth Chaldean monarch, Neriglissar, and that Belshazzar, his predecessor, was Evil-Merodach. John Scaliger (DeEmendat. Temporum, p. 579, seq.) recognized in Darius the Mede the last Chaldean king in Babylon, Nabonned, and in Belshazzar, the one before the last, Laborosoarchod, which hypothesis also Calvisius, Petavius, and Buddens adopted.
On the other hand, Syncellus (Chronogr. p. 232), Cedrenus (Chr. p. 142), the Alexandrine Chronicle, Marsham (Can. Chr. p. 604, following), the two most recent editors of AEschylus, Schutz (in zweiten Excurs. zu AEschylus' περσαι persai), and Bothe (AEsch. dramata, p. 671), held that Darius the Mede was the Median king Astyages, the maternal grandfather of Cyrus. Des Vignolles (Chronologie, t. 2. p. 495), and Schroer (Regnum Babyl. Sect. 6, Section 12, following), held him to be a prince of Media, a younger brother of Astyages, whom Cyrus made king over Babylon. Another opinion, however, deserves more respect than this, which was advanced by Marianus Scotus, a Benedictine monk of the eleventh century, though this hypothesis is not tenable, which opinion has found, in modern times, a warm advocate in Beer (Kings of Israel and Judah, p. 22, following) According to this opinion, it was held that Darius the Mede is the same person as the third Persian king after Cyrus, Darius Hystaspis, and that Belshazzar was indeed the last Chaldean king, Nabonned, but that in the first capture of Babylon under Cyrus, according to the account of Berosus in (Joshua. c. Ap. i. 20) and Megasthenes (in Euseb. Proep. Evag. ix. 44), he was not put to death, but was appointed by Cyrus as a vassal-king; and then in the second taking of Babylon under Darius Hystaspis (Herod. iii. 150, following), from whom he had sought to make himself independent, he was slain.
This opinion has this advantage, that it has in its favor the fact that it has the undoubted name of Darius, but it is not conformable to history to suppose that Darius Hystaspis was a son of Ahasuerus the Mede, for his father, Hystaspis, was a native-born prince of Persia (Xenop. Cyrop. iv. 2, 46), of the family of the Achaemenides (Herod. i. 209, 210). Darius Hystaspis was indeed remotely related by means of the mother of Cyrus, Mandane, with the royal family; but this relation could not entitle him to be called a Mede, for, since she was the mother of Cyrus, it is altogether inexplicable that since both were thus connected with each other, that Cyrus should be called "the Persian" (פרסיא pâresâyâ'), and Darius the Mede (מדיא mâdây'ā), Daniel 6:28 (29). The supposition, moreover, that Nabonned, after the taking of Babylon, was appointed as a tributary king by Cyrus, is wholly gratuitous; since Nabonned, according to the express testimony of Xenophon (Cyrop. vii. 5, 26, following), was slain at the taking of Babylon.
"There is yet one other opinion respecting Darius the Mede, to which I will first prefix the following remarks:
(1) Darius the Mede is mentioned in Daniel 6:28 (29) as the immediate predecessor of Cyrus in Babylon.
(2) Belshazzar was the last Babylonian Chaldee king.
(3) the account of the violent death of Belshazzar, with which the fifth chapter closes, stands in direct historical connection with the statement in the beginning of the sixth chapter that Darius the Mede had the kingdom.
(4) Darius the Mede must, therefore, be the first foreign prince after the downfall of the Chaldean dynasty, which directly reigned over Babylon.
(5) the chronological point, therefore, where the history of Belshazzar and of Darius the Mede coincide, developes itself: the account falls in the time of the downfall of Babylon through the Medo-Persian army, and this must be the occasion as the connecting fact between the fifth and sixth chapters. According to this, Darius the Mede can be no other person than the Medish king Cyaxares II, the son and successor of Astyages, and the predecessor of Cyrus in the rule over Babylon; and Belshazzar is the last Chaldee monarch, Nabonned, or Labynet. With this agrees the account of Josephus (Ant. x. 11, 4); and later, this opinion found an advocate in Jerome.
"The existence of such a person as Cyaxares II has been indeed denied. because, according to Herodotus (i. 109), and Justin (i. 4, 7), Astyages had no son. But it should be remarked, that the latter of these writers only copies from the former, and what Herodotus states respecting Astyages has so much the appearance of fable that no reliance is to be placed on it. It has been objected also that Dionysius of Halicarnassus (b. i. Section. 1) says that the Medish kingdom continued only through four reigns, so that if we reckon the names of the reigning kings. Dejoces, Phraortes, Cyaxares (the contemporary of Nebuchadnezzar), and Astyages, there will be no place for a second Cyaxares. But is it not probable that Dionysius meant, by these words, only that the Median kingdom came to an end under the fourth dynasty? Finally, it has been objected that, according to Herodotus (i. 128, following), and Ctesias (Persik 2 and 5) Median prince sat upon the throne in Ecbatana after Astyages, but that with Astyages the kingdom of the Medes came to an end, and with Cyrus, his immediate successor, the Persian kingdom took its beginning.
Therewith agree nearly all the historians of the following times, Diodorus (ii. 34), Justin (i. 6, 16, 17, vii. 1), Strabo (ix. p. 735; xv. p. 1662), Polyan (vii. 7), and many others. But these writers only copy from Herodotus and Ctesias, and the whole rests only on their authority. But their credibility in this point must be regarded as doubtful, for it is not difficult to understand the reasons why they have omitted to make mention of Cyaxares II. They commenced the history of the reign of Cyrus with the beginning of his world-renowned celebrity, and hence, it was natural to connect the beginning of his reign, and the beginning of the Persian reign, with the reign of his grandfather Astyages, for, so long as his uncle Cyaxares II reigned, Cyrus alone acted, and he in fact was the regent. But if the silence of Herodotus and Ctesias is not to be regarded as proof that no such person as Cyaxares II lived and reigned, there are in favor of that the following positive arguments:
"(1) The authority of Xenophon, who not only says that a Cyaxares ascended the throne after Astyages, but that he was a son of Astyages (Cyr. i. 5. 2), and besides relates so much of this Cyaxares (i. 4, 7; iii. 3, 20; viii. 5, 19) that his Cyropaedia may be regarded as in a measure a history of him. Yea, Xenophon goes so far (viii. 7, 1) that he reckons the years of the reign of Cyrus from the death of Cyaxares II. Can anyone conceive a reason why Xenophon had a motive to weave together such a tissue of falsehood as this, unless Cyaxares II actually lived? If one should object, indeed, that he is so far to be reckoned among fictitious writers that he gives a moral character to the subjects on which he writes, and that he has passed over the difference between Cyrus and his grandfather Astyages, yet there is no reason why he should have brought upon the stage so important a person, wholly from fiction, as Cyaxares. What a degree of boldness it must have required, if he, who lived not much more than a century after the events recorded, had mentioned to his contemporaries so much respecting a prince of whom no one whatever had even heard. But the existence of Cyaxares II may be proved,
"(2) From a passage in Eschylus (Pers. verses 762, following) -
Μῆδος γάρ ἦν ὁ πρῶτος ἡγεμὼν στρατοῦ
Αλλος δ ̓ ἐκείνου παῖς τό δ ̓ ἔργον ἤνυσε;
Τρίτος δ ̓ ἀπ ̓ αὐτοῦ Κῦρος, εὐδαίμων ἀνήρ,
Mēdos gar ēn ho prōtos hēgemōn stratou
Allos d' ekeinou pais to d' ergon ēnuse;
Tritos d' ap' autou Kuros, eudaimōn anēr,
The first who is mentioned here as the Mede (Μῆδος Mēdos) is manifestly no other than Astyages, whom, before Cyrus, his son succeeded in the government, and who is the same whom we, after Xenophon, call Cyaxares. This testimony is the more important as Eschylus lived before Xenophon, in the time of Darius Hystaspis, and is free from all suspicions from this circumstance, that, according to the public relations which Eschylus sustained, no accounts of the former Persian history could be expected from any doubtful authorties to have been adduced by him. But the existence of Cyaxares II does not depend solely on the authority of Xenophon, in his Cyropaedia. For,
"(3) Josephus (Ant. x. 11, 4), who speaks of this person under the name of Darius, adds, νἦ Ἄστυάγους ὑιὸς, ἔτερον δέ παρὰ τοῖς Ἕλλησιν ἐκαλεῖτο ονομα nē.Astuagous huios, heteron de para tois Hellēsin ekaleito onoma - 'he was the son of Astyages, but had another name among the Greeks.' This name, which he had among the Greeks, can be found only in their own Xenophon.
"(4) To all this should be added, that many other data of history, especially those taken from the Hebrew writings, so set out the continuance of the reign of the Medes over Upper Asia that it is necessary to suppose the existence of such a person as the Medish king, Cyaxares, after the reign of Astyages. Had Cyrus, after the death of Astyages, immediately assumed the government over Upper Asia, how happened it that until the downfall of the Babylonian-Chaldee kingdom mention is made almost always of the Medes, or at least of the Persians, of whom there is special mention? Whence is it that the passage of Abydenus, quoted from Megasthenes, p. 295, speaks of a Mede, who, in connection with a Persian, overthrew the Babylonian kingdom? Is not the Mede so represented as to show that he was a prominent and leading person? Is it not necessary to attribute to this fragment a higher authority, and to suppose that a Medish monarch, in connection with a Persian, brought the kingdom of Babylon to an end?
Whence did Jeremiah, Jeremiah. 1; 51, expressly threaten that the Jews would be punished by a Median king? Whence does the author of Isaiah. 13; 14 mention that the destruction of the Chaldean monarchy would be effected by the Medes? The acceasion of Cyrus to the throne was no mere change of person in the authority, but it was a change of the reigning nation. So long as a Mede sat on the throne, the Persians, though they acted an important part in the affairs of the nation, yet occupied only the second place. The court was Medish, and the Medes were prominent in all the affairs of the government, as every page of the Cyropaedia furnishes evidence. Upon the accession of Cyrus, the whole thing was changed. The Persians were now the predominant nation, and from that time onward, as has been remarked, the Persians are always mentioned as having the priority, though before they had but a secondary place. As the reign of Astyages, though he reigned thirty-five years (Herod. i. 130), could not have embraced the whole period mentioned to the accession of Cyrus, so the royal race of the Medes, and the kingdom of the Medes, could not have been extinguished with him, and it is necessary to suppose the existence of Cyaxares II. as his successor, and the predecessor of Cyrus."
These considerations, suggested by Bertholdt, are sufficient to demonstrate that such a person as Cyaxares II lived between the reign of Astyages and Cyrus, and that, after the destruction of Babylon, he was the immediate successor of Belshazzar, or Nabonned, and was the predecessor of Cyrus. He was the first of the foreign princes who reigned over Babylon. It has been made a question why, in the book of Daniel, he is mentioned under the name of Darius, and not by his other name Cyaxares. It may be difficult to answer this question, but it will be sufficient to remark
(a) that it was common for Oriental kings to have many names, and, as we have seen, in regard to the kings of Babylon, one writer might designate them by one name, and another by another. This is indeed the occasion of much confusion in ancient history, but it is inevitable.
(b) As we have seen, Josephus (Ant. x. 11, 4) expressly says that this Darius had another name among the Greeks, and, as Bertholdt remarks, it is natural to seek that name in the writings of their own Xenophon.
(c) Darius was a common name in Persia, and it may have been one of the names by which the princes of Persia and Media were commonly known. Three of that name are mentioned in the Scriptures, and three who were distinguished are mentioned in profane history - Darius Hystaspis, Darius Ochus, or Darius Nothus, as he was known among the Greeks, and Darias Codomanus, who was overthrown by Alexander the Great.
An important statement is made by Xenophon respecting Cyaxares II, the son of Astyages, which may account for the fact that his name was omitted by Herodotus and Ctesias. He describes him as a prince given up to sensuality, and this fact explains the reason why he came to surrender all authority so entirely into the hands of his enterprising son-in-law and nephew Cyrus, and why his reign was naturally sunk in that of his distin. guished successor. - Cyrop. i. 5, viii. 7.
Section Iii. - Analysis of the Chapter
This sixth chapter of Daniel contains the history of Daniel under the government, or during the reign of Darius the Mede, or Cyaxares II, from a period, it would seem, soon after the accession of Darius to the throne in Babylon, or the conquest of Babylon, until his death. It is not indeed said how soon after that event Daniel was exalted to the premiership in Babylon, but the narrative would lead us to suppose that it was soon after the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus, acting under the authority of Cyaxares. As Daniel, on account of the disclosure made to Belshazzar of the meaning of the handwriting on the wall, had been exalted to high honor at the close of the life of that monarch Daniel. 5, it is probable that he would be called to a similar station under the reign of Darius, as it cannot be supposed that Darius would appoint Medes and Persians entirely to fill the high offices of the realm. The chapter contains a record of the following events:
(1) The arrangement of the government after the conquest of Babylon, consisting of one hundred and twenty officers over the kingdom, so divided as to be placed under the care of three superior officers, or "presidents," of whom Daniel held the first place Daniel 6:1-3.
(2) The dissatisfaction or envy of the officers so appointed against Daniel, for causes now unknown, and their conspiracy to remove him from office, or to bring him into disgrace with the king Daniel 6:4.
(3) The plan which they formed to secure this, derived from the known piety and integrity of Daniel, and their conviction that, at any hazard, he would remain firm to his religious principles, and would conscientiously maintain the worship of God. Convinced that they could find no fault in his administration; that he could not be convicted of malversation or infidelity in office; that there was nothing in his private or public character that was contrary to justice and integrity, they resolved to take advantage of his well-known piety, and to make that the occasion of his downfall and ruin Daniel 6:5.
(4) The plan that was artfully proposed was, to induce the king to sign a decree that if anyone for thirty days should ask any petition for anything of God or man, he should be thrown into a den of lions - that is, should be, as they supposed, certainly put to death. This proposed decree they apprehended they could induce the king to sign, perhaps because it was flattering to the monarch, or perhaps because it would test the disposition of his new subjects to obey him, or perhaps because they knew he was a weak and effeminate prince, and that he was accustomed to sign papers presented to him by his counselors without much reflection or hesitation Daniel 6:6-9.
(5) Daniel, when he was apprised of the contents of the decree, though he saw its bearing, and perhaps its design, yet continued his devotions as usual - praying, as he was known to do, three times a day, with his face toward Jerusalem, with his windows open. The case was one where he felt, undoubtedly, that it was a matter of principle that he should worship God in his usual manner, and not allow himself to be driven from the acknowledgment of his God by the fear of death Daniel 6:10.
(6) they who had laid the plan made report of this to the king, and demanded the execution of the decree. The case was a plain one, for though it had not been intended or expected by the king that Daniel would have been found a violator of the law, yet as the decree was positive, and there had been no concealment on the part of Daniel, the counselors urged that it was necessary that the decree should be executed Daniel 6:11-13.
(7) The king, displeased with himself, and evidently enraged against these crafty counselors, desirous of sparing Daniel, and yet feeling the necessity of maintaining a law positively enacted, sought some way by which Daniel might be saved, and the honor and majesty of the law preserved. No method, however, occurring to him of securing both objects, he was constrained to submit to the execution of the decree, and ordered Daniel to be cast into the den of lions Daniel 6:14-17.
(8) The king returned to his palace, and passed the night fasting, and overwhelmed with sadness Daniel 6:18.
(9) in the morning he came with deep anxiety to the place where Daniel had been thrown, and called to see if he were alive Daniel 6:19-20.
(10) The reply of Daniel, that he had been preserved by the intervention of an angel, who had closed the mouths of the lions, and had kept him alive Daniel 6:21-22.
(11) The release of Daniel from the den, and the command to cast those in who had thus accused Daniel, and who had sought his ruin Daniel 6:23-24.
(12) an appropriate proclamation from the king to all men to honor that God who had thus preserved his servant Daniel 6:25-27.
(13) a statement of the prosperity of Daniel, extending to the reign of Cyrus Daniel 6:28.
Darius the Median, who succeeded Belshazzar in the kingdom of Babylon, having heard of Daniel's extraordinary wisdom and understanding, constitutes him the chief of the three presidents who were over the whole empire, and purposed also to make him prime minister or viceroy, Daniel 6:1-3. This great partiality of the king towards a stranger of Jewish extraction, and who had been carried captive into Chaldea, raised up a great many enemies to Daniel; and a scheme was even contrived by the presidents and princes to ruin him, Daniel 6:4-15; which succeeded so far that he was cast into a den of lions, but was miraculously delivered, Daniel 6:16-23. Darius, who was greatly displeased with himself for having been entrapped by the governors of the provinces to the prejudice of his faithful minister, is pleased and astonished at this deliverance; punished Daniel's enemies with the same kind of death which they had designed for the prophet; and made a decree that, throughout his dominions, the God of Daniel should be had in the greatest veneration, Daniel 6:24-28.
INTRODUCTION TO DANIEL 6
This chapter gives an account of Daniel's being cast into the den of lions, and the causes of it, and the steps leading to it; and also of his wonderful deliverance out of it, and what followed upon that. It first relates how Daniel was made by Darius first president of the princes of the kingdom, which drew their envy upon him, Daniel 6:1, and that these princes finding they could get no occasion against him, but in religion, proposed to the king to make a law forbidding prayer to any god for thirty days, which they got established, Daniel 6:5, and Daniel breaking this law, is accused by them to the king; and the penalty, casting into the den of lions, is insisted on to be executed, Daniel 6:10, which the king laboured to prevent, but in vain; and Daniel is cast to the lions, to the great grief of the king, Daniel 6:14, who visited the den the next morning, and to his great joy found Daniel alive, Daniel 6:19, upon which, by the law of retaliation, his accusers, their wives, and children, were cast into it, Daniel 6:24, and an edict was published by the king, commanding all in his dominions to fear and reverence the God of Daniel, Daniel 6:25.
Daniel in the Den of Lions
Darius, the king of the Medes, had it in view to place Daniel as chief officer over the whole of his realm, and thereby he awakened against Daniel (vv. 1-6 [Daniel 5:31]) the envy of the high officers of state. In order to frustrate the king's intention and to set Daniel aside, they procured an edict from Darius, which forbade for the space of thirty days, on the pain of death, prayer to be offered to any god or man, except to the king (vv. 7-10 [Daniel 6:6]). Daniel, however, notwithstanding this, continued, according to his usual custom, to open the windows of his upper room, and there to pray to God three times a day. His conduct was watched, and he was accused of violating the king's edict, and thus he brought upon himself the threatened punishment of being thrown into the den of lions (vv. 11-18 [Daniel 6:10]). But he remained uninjured among the lions; whereupon the king on the following morning caused him to be brought out of the dean, and his malicious accusers to be thrown into it (vv. 19-25 [Daniel 6:18]), and then by an edict he commanded his subjects to reverence the God of Daniel, who did wonders (vv. 26-28 [Daniel 6:25]). As a consequence of this, Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and of Cyrus the Persian (v. 29 [Daniel 6:28]).
From the historic statement of this chapter, that Darius the Mede took the Chaldean kingdom when he was about sixty-two years old (v. 1 [Daniel 5:31]), taken in connection with the closing remark (v. 29 [Daniel 6:28]) that it went well with Daniel during the reign of Darius and of Cyrus the Persian, it appears that the Chaldean kingdom, after its overthrow by the Medes and Persians, did not immediately pass into the hands of Cryus, but that between the last of the Chaldean kings who lost the kingdom and the reign of Cyrus the Persian, Darius, descended from a Median family, held the reins of government, and that not till after him did Cyrus mount the throne of the Chaldean kingdom, which had been subdued by the Medes and Persians. This Median Darius was a son of Ahasuerus (Daniel 9:1), of the seed of the Medes; and according to Daniel 11:1, the angel Gabriel stood by him in his first year, which can mean no more than that the Babylonian kingdom was not taken without divine assistance.
This Darius the Mede and his reign are not distinctly noticed by profane historians. Hence the modern critics have altogether denied his existence, or at least have called it in question, and have thence derived an argument against the historical veracity of the whole narrative.
According to Berosus and Abydenus (Fragmenta, see p. 163), Nabonnedus, the last Babylonian king, was, after the taking of Babylon, besieged by Cyrus in Borsippa, where he was taken prisoner, and then banished to Carmania. After this Cyrus reigned, as Alex. Polyhistor says, nine years over Babylon; while in the Fragments preserved by Eusebius in his Chron. Armen., to the statement that Cyrus conferred on him (i.e., nabonet), when he had obtained possession of Babylon, the margraviate of the province of Carmania, it is added, "Darius the king removed (him) a little out of the country." Also in the astronomical Canon of Ptolemy, Nabonadius the Babylonian is at once followed by the list of Persian kings, beginning with Κῦρος, who reigned nine years.
When we compare with this the accounts given by the Greek historians, we find that Herodotus (i. 96-103, 106ff.) makes mention of a succession of Median kings: Dejoces, Phraortes, Cyaxares, and Astyages. The last named, who had no male descendants, had a daughter, Mandane, married to a Persian Cambyses. Cyrus sprung from this marriage. Astyages, moved with fear lest this son of his daughter should rob him of his throne, sought to put him to death, but his design was frustrated. When Cyrus had reached manhood, Harpagus, an officer of the court of Astyages, who out of revenge had formed a conspiracy against him, called upon him at the head of the Persians to take the kingdom from his grandfather Astyages. Cyrus obeyed, moved the Persians to revolt from the Medes, attacked Astyages at Pasargada, and took him prisoner, but acted kindly toward him till his death; after which he became king over the realm of the Medes and Persians, and as such destroyed first the Lydian, and then the Babylonian kingdom. He conquered the Babylonian king, Labynetus the younger, in battle, and then besieged Babylon; and during a nocturnal festival of the Babylonians he penetrated the city by damming off the water of the Euphrates, and took it. Polyaenus, Justin, and others follow in its details this very fabulous narrative, which is adorned with dreams and fictitious incidents. Ctesias also, who records traditions of the early history of Media altogether departing from Herodotus, and who names nine kings, yet agrees with Herodotus in this, that Cyrus overcame Astyages and dethroned him. Cf. The different accounts given by Greek writers regrading the overthrow of the Median dominion by the Persians in M. Duncker's Ges. d. Alterh. ii. p. 634ff., 3rd ed.
Xenophon in the Cyropaedia reports somewhat otherwise regarding Cyrus. According to him, the Median king Astyages, son of Cyaxares I, gave his daughter Mandane in marriage to Cambyses, the Persia king, who was under the Median supremacy, and that Cyrus was born of this marriage (i. 2. 1). When Cyrus arrived at man's estate Astyages died, and was succeeded on the Median throne by his son Cyaxares II, the brother of Mandane (i. 5. 2). When, after this, the Lydian king Croesus concluded a covenant with the king of the Assyrians (Babylonians) having in view the overthrow of the Medes and Persians, Cyrus received the command of the united army of the Medes and Persians (iii. 3. 20ff.); and when, after a victorious battle, Cyaxares was unwilling to proceed further, Cyrus carried forward the war by his permission, and destroyed the hots of Croesus and the Assyrians, on hearing of which, Cyaxares, who had spent the night at a riotous banquet, fell into a passion, wrote a threatening letter to Cyrus, and ordered the Medes to be recalled (iv. 5. 18). But when they declared, on the statement given by Cyrus, their desire to remain with him (iv. 5. 18), Cyrus entered on the war against Babylon independently of Cyaxares (v. 3. 1). Having driven the Babylonian king back upon his capital, he sent a message to Cyaxares, desiring him to come that he might decide regarding the vanquished and regarding the continuance of the war (v. 5. 1). Inasmuch as all the Medes and the confederated nations adhered to Cyrus, Cyaxares was under the necessity of taking this step. He came to the camp of Cyrus, who exhibited to him his power by reviewing before him his whole host; he then treated him kindly, and supplied him richly from the stores of the plunder he had taken (v. 5. 1ff.). After this the war against Babylonia was carried on in such a way, that Cyaxares, sitting on the Median throne, presided over the councils of war, but Cyrus, as general, had the conduct of it (vi. 1. 6); and after he had conquered Sardes, taken Croesus the king prisoner (vii. 2. 1), and then vanquished Hither Asia, he returned to Babylon (vii. 4. 17), and during a nocturnal festival of the Babylonians took the city, whereupon the king of Babylon was slain (vii. 5. 15-33). After the conquest of Babylon the army regarded Cyrus as king, and he began to conduct his affairs as if he were king (vii. 5. 37); but he went however to Media, to present himself before Cyaxares. He brought presents to him, and showed him that there was a house and palace ready for him in Babylon, where he might reside when he went thither (viii. 5. 17f.). Cyaxares gave him his daughter to wife, and along with her, as her dowry, the whole of Media, for he had no son (viii. 5. 19). Cyrus now went first to Persian, and arranged that his father Cambyses should retain the sovereignty of it so long as he lived, and that then it should fall to him. He then returned to Media, and married the daughter of Cyaxares (viii. 5. 28). He next went to Babylon, and placed satraps over the subjugated peoples, etc. (viii. 6. 1), and so arranged that he spent the winter in Babylon, the spring in Susa, and the summer in Ecbatana (viii. 6. 22). Having reached an advanced old age, he came for the seventh time during his reign to Persia, and died there, after he had appointed his son Cambyses as his successor (viii. 7. 1ff.).
This narrative by Xenophon varies from that of Herodotus in the following principal points: - (1) According to Herodotus, the line of Median kings closes with Astyages, who had no son; Xenophon, on the contrary, speaks of Astyages as having been succeeded by his son Cyaxares on the throne. (2) According to Herodotus, Cyrus was related to the Median royal house only as being the son of the daughter of Astyages, and had a claim to the Median throne only as being the grandson of Astyages; Xenophon, on the other hand, says that he was related to the royal house of Media, not only as being the grandson of Astyages and nephew of Cyaxares II, but also as having received in marriage the daughter of his uncle Cyaxares, and along with her the dowry of the Median throne. (3) According to Herodotus, Cyrus took part in the conspiracy formed by Harpagus against Astyages, slew his grandfather in battle, and took forcible possession of the dominion over the Medes; on the contrary Xenophon relates that, though he was at variance with Cyaxares, he became again reconciled to him, and not only did not dethrone him, but permitted him to retain royal dignity even after the overthrow of Babylon, which was not brought about with his co-operation.
Of these discrepancies the first two form no special contradiction. Xenophon only communicates more of the tradition than Herodotus, who, according to his custom, makes mention only of the more celebrated of the rulers, passing by those that are less so,
(Note: Solere Herodotum praetermissis mediocribus hominibus ex longa regum serie nonnisi unum alterumve memorare reliquis eminentiorem, et aliunde constat et ipsa Babyloniae historia docet, et qua unius Nitocris reginae mentionem injicit, reliquos reges omnes usque ad Labynetum, ne Nebucadnezare quidem excepto, silentio transti (i. 185-187). - Ges. Thes. p. 350.)
and closes the list of Median kings with Astyages. Accordingly, in not mentioning Cyaxares II, he not only overlooks the second relationship Cyrus sustained to the Median royal house, but also is led to refer the tradition that the last of the Median kings had no male descendant to Astyages. The third point only presents an actual contradiction between the statements of Herodotus and those of Xenophon, viz., that according to Herodotus, Cyrus by force of arms took the kingdom from his grandfather, overcame Astyages in a battle at Pasargada, and dethroned him; while according to Xenophon, the Median kingdom first fell to Cyrus by his command of the army, and then as the dowry of his wife. Shall we now on this point decide, with v. Leng., Hitzig, and others, in favour of Herodotus and against Xenophon, and erase Cyaxares II from the list not only of the Median kings, but wholly from the page of history, because Herodotus and Ctesias have not made mention of him? Has then Herodotus or Ctesias alone recorded historical facts, and that fully, and Xenophon in the Cyropaedia fabricated only a paedagogic romance destitute of historical veracity? All thorough investigators have testified to the very contrary, and Herodotus himself openly confesses (i. 95) that he gives only the sayings regarding Cyrus which appeared to him to be credible; and yet the narrative, as given by him, consists only of a series of popular traditions which in his time were in circulation among the Medes, between two and three hundred years after the events. Xenophon also has gathered the historic material for his Cyropaedia only from tradition, but from Persian tradition, in which, favoured by the reigning dynasty, the Cyrus-legend, interwoven with the end of the Median independence and the founding of the Persian sovereignty, is more fully transmitted than among the Medes, whose national recollections, after the extinction of their dynasty, were not fostered. If we may therefore expect more exact information in Xenophon than in Herodotus, yet it is imaginable that Xenophon transformed the narrative of the rebellion by Cyrus and his war against Cyaxares into that which he has recorded as to the relation he sustained towards Cyaxares, in order that he might wipe out this moral stain from the character of his hero. But this supposition would only gain probability under the presumption of what Hitzig maintains, if it were established: "If, in Cyrop. viii. 5. 19, the Median of his own free will gave up his country to Cyrus, Xenophon's historical book shows, on the contrary, that the Persians snatched by violence the sovereignty from the Medes (Anab. iii. 4. 7, 11, 12);" but in the Anab. l.c. Xenophon does not say this, but (8) only, ὅτε παρὰ Μήδων τὴν ἀρχὴν ἐλάμβανον Πέρσαι.
(Note: Concerning the expression ἐλάμβανον τὴν ἀρχὴν , Dindorf remarks: "Verbum hoc Medos sponte Persarum imperio subjectos significat, quanquam reliqua narratio seditionem aliquam Larissensium arguere videatur. Igitur hic nihil est dissensionis inter Cyropaediam et Anabasin . Gravius est quod Xenophon statim in simili narratione posuit, ὅτε ἀπώλεσαν τὴν ἀρχὴν ὑπὸ Περσῶν Μῆδοι. Sed ibidem scriptor incolarum fidem antestatur." Thus the philologists are in their judgment of the matter opposed to the modern critics.)
Thus, supposing the statement that the cities of Larissa and Mespila were besieged by the Persia king at the time when the Persians gained the supremacy over the Medes were historically true, and Xenophon communicated here not a mere fabulam ab incolis narratam, yet Xenophon would not be found contradicting his Cyropaedia, since, as Kran. has well observed, "it can be nothing surprising that among a people accustomed to a native royal dynasty, however well founded Cyrus' claim in other respects might be, manifold commotions and insurrections should arise, which needed to be forcibly suppressed, so that thus the kingdom could be at the same time spoken of as conquered."
Add to this the decisive fact, that the account given by Herod. of Cyrus and the overthrow of Astyages, of which even Duncker, p. 649, remarks, that in its prompting motive "it awakens great doubts," is in open contradiction with all the well-established facts of Medo-Persian history. "All authentic reports testify that in the formation of Medo-Persia the Medes and the Persians are separated in a peculiar way, and yet bound to each other as kindred races. If Herod. is right, if Astyages was always attempting to take Cyrus' life, if Cyrus took the kingdom from Astyages by force, then such a relation between the 'Medes and Persians' (as it always occurs in the O.T.) would have been inconceivable; the Medes would not have stood to the Persians in any other relation than did the other subjugated peoples, e.g., the Babylonians" (Klief.). On the other hand, the account gives by Xenophon regarding Cyaxares so fully agrees with the narrative of Daniel regarding Darius the Mede, that, as Hitzig confesses, "the identity of the two is beyond a doubt." If, according to Xen., Cyrus conquered Babylon by the permission of Cyaxares, and after its overthrow not only offered him a "residence" there (Hitzig), but went to Media, presented himself before Cyaxares, and showed him that he had appointed for him in Babylon, in order that when he went thither εἰς οἰκεῖα κατάγεσθαι, i.e., in order that when, according to Eastern custom, he changed his residence he might have a royal palace there, so, according to Daniel, Darius did not overthrow the Chaldean kingdom, but received it (Daniel 6:1), and was made king (המלך, Daniel 9:1), namely, by Cyrus, who, according to the prophecies of Isaiah, was to overthrow Babylon, and, according to Daniel 6:29, succeeded Darius on the throne. The statement, also, that Darius was about sixty-two years old when he ascended the throne of the Chaldean kingdom, harmonizes with the report given by Xenophon, that when Cyaxares gave his daughter to Cyrus, he gave him along with her the kingdom of Media, because he had no male heir, and was so far advance din years that he could not hope to have now any son. Finally, even in respect of character the Cyaxares of Xen. resembles the Darius of Daniel. As the former describes the conduct of Cyrus while he revelled in sensual pleasures, so Darius is induced by his nobles to issue an edict without obtaining any clear knowledge as to its motive, and allows himself to be forced to put it into execution, however sorrowful he might be on account of its relation to Daniel.
After all this, there can be no reason to doubt the reign of Darius the Mede. But how long it lasted cannot be determined either from the book of Daniel, in which (Daniel 9:1) only the first year of his reign is named, or from any other direct sources. Ptolemy, in his Canon, places after Nabonadius the reign of Cyrus the Persian for nine years. With this, the words of Xenophon, τὸ ἕβδομον ἐπὶ τῆς αὑτοῦ ἀρχῆς, which by supplying ἔτος after ἕβδομον are understood of even years' reign, are combined, and thence it is concluded that Cyaxares reigned two years. But the supplement of ἔτος is not warranted by the context. The supposition, however, that Darius reigned for two years over Babylon is correct. For the Babylonian kingdom was destroyed sixty-eight years after the commencement of the Exile. Since, then, the seventy years of the Exile were completed in the first year of the reign of Cyrus (2-Chronicles 36:22.; Ezra 1:1), it follows that Cyrus became king two years after the overthrow of Babylon, and thus after Darius had reigned two years. See at Daniel 9:1-2.
From the shortness of the reign of Darius, united with the circumstance that Cyrus destroyed Babylon and put an end to the Chaldean kingdom, it is easy to explain how the brief and not very independent reign of Darius might be quite passed by, not only by Herodotus and Ctesias, and all later Greek historians, but also by Berosus. Although Cyrus only as commander-in-chief of the army of Cyaxares had with a Medo-Persian host taken Babylon, yet the tradition might speak of the conquering Persian as the lord of the Chaldean kingdom, without taking at all into account the Median chief king, whom in a brief time Cyrus the conqueror succeeded on the throne. In the later tradition of the Persians,
(Note: "In the Babylonian tradition," Kranichfeld well remarks, "the memorable catastrophe of the overthrow of Babylon would, at all events, be joined to the warlike operations of Cyrus the conquering Persian, who, according to Xenoph., conducted himself in Babylon as a king (cf. Cyrop. vii. 5. 37), and it might be very indifferent to the question for whom he specially undertook the siege. The Persian tradition had in the national interest a reason for ignoring altogether the brief Median feudal sovereignty over Babylon, which, besides, was only brought about by the successful war of a Persian prince.")
from which all the historians known to us, with the exception of Berosus, have constructed their narrative, the Median rule over the Chaldean kingdom naturally sinks down into an insignificant place in relation to the independent government of the conqueror Cyrus and his people which was so soon to follow. The absence of all notice by Berosus, Herod., and Ctesias of the short Median reign can furnish no substantial ground for calling in question the statements of Xen. regarding Cyaxares, and of Daniel regarding the Median Darius, although all other witnesses for this were altogether of no force, which is indeed asserted, but has been proved by no one.
(Note: Of these witnesses the notice by Abydenus (Chron. Armen., Euseb.) already mentioned, p. 164, bears in its aphoristic brevity, "Darius the king removed him out of the land," altogether the stamp of an historical tradition, and can be understood only of Darius the Mede, since Eusebius has joined it to the report regarding the dethroning of the last Babylonian king by Cyrus. Also, the often-quoted lines of Aeschylus, Pers. 762-765, are in the simplest manner explained historically if by the work which the first Mede began and the second completed, and which yet brought all the glory to the third, viz., Cyrus, is understood the taking of Babylon; according to which Astyages is the first, Cyaxares II the second, and Cyrus the third, and Aeschylus agrees with Xenophon. Other interpretations, e.g., of Phraortes and Cyaxares I, agree with no single report. Finally, the Darics also give evidence for Darius the Mede, since of all explanations of the name of this gold coin (the Daric) its derivation from a king Darius is the most probable; and so also do the statements of the rhetorician Harpocration, the scholiast to Aristophanis Ecclesiaz. 589, and of Suidas, that the Δαρεικοί did not derive their name, as most suppose, from Darius the father of Xerxes, but from another and an older king (Darius), according to the declaration of Herodot. iv. 166, that Darius first struck this coin, which is not outweighed by his scanty knowledge of the more ancient history of the Medes and Persians.)
This result is not rendered doubtful by the fact that Xenophon calls this Median king Κυαξάρης and describes him as the son of Astyages, while, on the contrary, Daniel calls him Darjawesch (Darius) the son of Ahasuerus (Daniel 9:1). The name Κυαξάρης is the Median Uwakshatra, and means autocrat; ̓Αστυάγης corresponds to the Median Ajisdahâka, the name of the Median dynasty, meaning the biting serpent (cf. Nieb. Gesch. Assurs, p. 175f.). דּריושׁ, Δαρεῖος, the Persian Dârjawusch, rightly explained by Herod. vi. 98 by the word ἐρξείης, means the keeper, ruler; and אחשׁורושׁ, Ahasverus, as the name of Xerxes, in the Persian cuneiform inscriptions Kschajârschâ, is certainly formed, however one may interpret the name, from Kschaja, kingdom, the title of the Persian rulers, like the Median "Astyages." The names Cyaxares and Darjawesch are thus related to each other, and are the paternal names of both dynasties, or the titles of the rulers. Xenophon has communicated to us the Median name and title of the last king; Daniel gives, as it appears, the Persian name and title which Cyaxares, as king of the united Chaldean and Medo-Persian kingdom, received and bore.
The circumstances reported in this chapter occurred, according to the statement in v. 29a, in the first of the two years' reign of Darius over Babylon. The matter and object of this report are related to the events recorded in Daniel 3. As in that chapter Daniel's companions are condemned to be cast into the fiery furnace on account of their transgression of the royal commandment enjoining them to fall down before the golden image that had been set up by Nebuchadnezzar, so here in this chapter Daniel himself is cast into the den of lions because of his transgression of the command enjoining that prayer was to be offered to no other god, but to the king only. The motive of the accusation is, in the one case as in the other, envy on account of the high position which the Jews had reached in the kingdom, and the object of it was the driving of the foreigners from their influential offices. The wonderful deliverance also of the faithful worshippers of God from the death which threatened them, with the consequences of that deliverance, are alike in both cases. But along with these similarities there appear also differences altogether corresponding to the circumstances, which show that historical facts are here related to us, and not the products of a fiction formed for a purpose. In Daniel 3 Nebuchadnezzar requires all the subjects of his kingdom to do homage to the image he had set up, and to worship the gods of his kingdom, and his command affords to the enemies of the Jews the wished-for opportunity of accusing the friends of Daniel of disobedience to the royal will. In Daniel 6, on the other hand, Darius is moved and induced by his great officers of state, whose design was to set Daniel aside, to issue the edict there mentioned, and he is greatly troubled when he sees the application of the edict to the case of Daniel. The character of Darius is fundamentally different from that of Nebuchadnezzar. The latter was a king distinguished by energy and activity, a perfect autocrat; the former, a weak prince and wanting in energy, who allowed himself to be guided and governed by his state officers. The command of Nebuchadnezzar to do homage to his gods is the simple consequence of the supremacy of the ungodly world-power; the edict extorted from Darius, on the contrary, is a deification of the world-power for the purpose of oppressing the true servants of God. The former command only places the gods of the world-power above the living God of heaven and earth; the latter edict seeks wholly to set aside the recognition of this God, if only for a time, by forbidding prayer to be offered to Him. This tyranny of the servants of the world-power is more intolerable than the tyranny of the world-ruler.
Thus the history recorded in this chapter shows, on the one side, how the ungodly world-power in its progressive development assumes an aspect continually more hostile toward the kingdom of God, and how with the decrease of its power of action its hatred against the true servants of God increases; and it shows, on the other side, how the Almighty God not only protects His worshippers against all the intrigues and machinations of the enemy, but also requites the adversaries according to their deeds. Daniel was protected against the rage of the lions, while his enemies were torn by them to pieces as soon as they were cast into the den.
This miracle of divine power is so vexatious to the modern critics, that Bleek, v. Leng., Hitzig, and others have spared no pains to overthrow the historical trustworthiness of the narrative, and represent it as a fiction written with a design. Not only does the prohibition to offer any petition to any god or man except to the king for a month "not find its equal in absurdity," but the typology (Daniel an antitype of Joseph!) as well as the relation to Daniel 3 betray the fiction. Darius, it is true, does not show himself to be the type of Antiochus Epiphanes, also the command, Daniel 6:26 and Daniel 6:27, puts no restraint in reality on those concerned; but by the prohibition, Daniel 6:7, the free exercise of their religion is undoubtedly attacked, and such hostility against the faith found its realization for the first time only and everywhere in the epoch of Antiochus Epiphanes. Consequently, according to Hitzig, "the prohibition here is reflected from that of Antiochus Epiphanes (1 Macc. 1:41-50), and exaggerates it even to a caricature of it, for the purpose of placing clearly in the light the hatefulness of such tyranny."
On the contrary, the advocates of the genuineness of Daniel have conclusively shown that the prohibition referred to, Daniel 6:7, corresponds altogether to the religious views the Medo-Persians, while on the other hand it is out and out in contradiction to the circumstances of the times of the Maccabees. Thus, that the edict did not contemplate the removal or the uprooting of all religious worship except praying to the king, is clearly manifest not only in this, that the prohibition was to be enforced for one month only, but also in the intention which the magnates had in their eye, of thereby effecting certainly the overthrow of Daniel. The religious restraint which was thus laid upon the Jews for a month is very different from the continual rage of Antiochus Epiphanes against the Jewish worship of God. Again, not only is the character of Darius and his relation to Daniel, as the opponents themselves must confess, such as not to furnish a type in which Antiochus Epiphanes may be recognised, but the enemies of Daniel do not really become types of this tyrant; for they seek his overthrow not from religious antipathy, but, moved only by vulgar envy, they seek to cast him down from his lofty position in the state. Thus also in this respect the historical point of view of the hostility to Daniel as representing Judaism, is fundamentally different from that of the war waged by Antiochus against Judaism, so that this narrative is destitute of every characteristic mark of the Seleucidan-Maccabee aera. Cf. The further representation of this difference by Kranichfeld, p. 229ff. - The views of Hitzig will be met in our exposition.
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