Who Was Darius In The Bible

Darius the Great (Old Persian: Dārayava(h)uš, New Persian: داریوش بزرگ) (ca. 550–486 BCE) was the fourth king of kings of the Achaemenid Empire. Darius ascended the throne by overthrowing Gaumata, the alleged magus usurper of Bardiya with the assistance of six other Persian noble families. The new king met with rebellions throughout his kingdom and quelled them each time. A major event in Darius’s life was his expedition to punish Athens and Eretria for their aid in fomenting the Ionian Revolt (499–494 BCE). He is known as “Darius the Great” by many historians due to his military power and his political flexibility which are attested by his finest decision making in times of crisis like those during the battles of Marathon, Thermopylae and Salamis

Darius I was the fourth king of the Persian Achaemenid Empire. Following the forced abdication of the Persian king Cambyses II, Darius ascended to the throne as a youth in 522 BC. He ended up building one of the largest empires in ancient history, despite his not having any military, political, or martial background.

Darius is a well-known figure across Persian culture and literature. He was the successor of Cyrus The Great, who led the conquest of Babylon. Darius was hailed as one of the best emperors in Persian history. Now that’s saying something!

Who Was Darius In The Bible

Darius, king of Persia, was the son of Hystaspes, of the royal family of the Achaemenidae. He did not immediately succeed Cyrus on the throne. There were two intermediate kings, viz., Cambyses (the Ahasuerus of Ezra), the son of Cyrus, who reigned from B.C. 529-522, and was succeeded by a usurper named Smerdis, who occupied the throne only ten months, and was succeeded by this Darius (B.C. 521-486). Smerdis was a Margian, and therefore had no sympathy with Cyrus and Cambyses in the manner in which they had treated the Jews. He issued a decree prohibiting the restoration of the temple and of Jerusalem ( Ezra 4:17-22 ). But soon after his death and the accession of Darius, the Jews resumed their work, thinking that the edict of Smerdis would be now null and void, as Darius was in known harmony with the religious policy of Cyrus.

The enemies of the Jews lost no time in bringing the matter under the notice of Darius, who caused search to be made for the decree of Cyrus (q.v.). It was not found at Babylon, but at Achmetha ( Ezra 6:2 ); and Darius forthwith issued a new decree, giving the Jews full liberty to prosecute their work, at the same time requiring the Syrian satrap and his subordinates to give them all needed help. It was with the army of this king that the Greeks fought the famous battle of Marathon (B.C. 490). During his reign the Jews enjoyed much peace and prosperity. He was succeeded by Ahasuerus, known to the Greeks as Xerxes, who reigned for twenty-one years.

Who Was Darius In The Bible

There are three references to rulers named Darius in the Bible. The first, chronologically, occurs in the book of Daniel, where the ruler is called Darius the Mede (Daniel 6:1). This Darius ruled for only two years (538–536 BC) and is best known as the ruler who promoted Daniel to a high position in the kingdom and then cast him into the lions’ den, much against his better judgment. When he saw that Daniel was unhurt by the lions, Darius decreed that “people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end” (Daniel 6:1–28). It is possible that Daniel used the word Darius (which means “lord”) as a title for the ruler in Babylon, rather than a proper name. Daniel 6:28 refers to “the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian,” showing that Darius and Cyrus ruled concurrently. This has caused Bible scholars to posit that Darius was appointed viceroy over Babylon by his nephew, King Cyrus.

The book of Ezra mentions another king named Darius, also known as Darius I or Darius the Great. This was the son of Hystaspes, a king of Parsa. Darius I ruled Persia from about 521 to 486 BC. Darius I is presented in Ezra as a good king who helped the Israelites in several ways. Prior to Darius’s reign, the Jews who had returned from the Babylonian Captivity had begun rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem. At that time, Israel’s enemies did everything in their power to disrupt the construction, and they had succeeded in halting the building during the reigns of the kings Ahasuerus and Artaxerxes (Ezra 4:1–24).

There is some debate about the identity of the “Ahasuerus” or “Xerxes” mentioned in Ezra 4:6 as ruling before Darius I. It is likely that this king is also known in history as Cambyses II, a son of Cyrus the Great. The “Artaxerxes” in verse 7 is called, in other historical records, “Smerdis” or “Bardiya,” another son of Cyrus (or possibly an impostor taking his place). That king ruled only seven or eight months. A related theory suggests that Ezra spoke of Cambyses using his Chaldee name (Ahasuems) in verse 6, and by his Persian name or title (Artaxerxes) in verse 7. In that case, Ahasuerus and Artaxerxes refer to the same person—the king who immediately preceded Darius.

When Darius became king, construction of the temple resumed in the second year of his reign. But the Jews’ enemies again attempted to thwart their efforts. Tattenai, the Persian governor of Judea, wrote a letter to Darius in an effort to turn the king against the Israelites and stop the building of the temple. But Darius responded by commanding Tattenai and his companions to stay far away from the site and let the Jewish elders continue with the rebuilding. Furthermore, the king decreed that the Jewish workers were to be paid from the royal treasury, that the builders would be given whatever was needed for the burnt offerings, and that anyone attempting to destroy the temple or disobey his decree would be impaled on a beam from his own house, which would be made a pile of rubble (Ezra 6:1–12). By his decrees, Darius I showed himself to be a friend of Israel, and the Jews in Jerusalem prospered under his watch. The temple was completed in the sixth year of his reign (Ezra 6:15).

A third reference to a ruler named Darius occurs in Nehemiah 12:22, which refers to the “reign of Darius the Persian.” It is unclear exactly who this Darius is, but most historians believe it to be Darius Codomannus (336–331 BC), the last king of the Persian monarchy who was defeated by Alexander the Great.

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