DARIUS (Heb. and Aram. (from the Elephantine papyri) דריוש; in the Elephantine papyri also דריוהוש, דריהוש; old Persian darayavahus), name of three Persian kings of the Achaemenid royal family.
darius i (522–486 b.c.e.), a descendant of a collateral line of the Achaemenid royal family, followed Cambyses, son of Cyrus, on the throne of Persia after a period of political turmoil. He defeated Gaumata, who claimed to be Bardiya, brother of Cambyses, and rebels elsewhere in the empire. Darius gave his account of the struggle in the trilingual Behistun inscription (Old Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian; a fragmentary Aramaic version was found at Elephantine). This inscription, as well as that on his tomb at Naqsh-i Rustam, affords an insight into Persian religious beliefs of that period. Darius extended the empire to include Lybia, Thracia, Sogdiana, and India as its borders. His attempt to conquer Greece ended in defeat at Marathon in 490. He organized the empire into satrapies and set up a network of roads and a postal system. He also reformed the laws of the provinces and consolidated internal administration and taxation. According to Ezra 6:12 Darius forbade further obstruction to the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem and supplied its needs: the Temple was completed in the second year of his reign (Haggai 1:15).
darius ii Nothus (442–404 b.c.e.), son of Artaxerxes i, was essentially a weak king whose rule over the western part of the empire was often lax. During his reign there was turmoil in Media, Lydia, Syria, and Egypt. Many of the Elephantine papyri are dated by his regnal years. During his fifth year the papyrus ordering the Jews of Elephantine to observe the Passover was issued in his name (Pritchard, Texts, 491), and it was in his 14th year (410 b.c.e.) that the Elephantine temple was destroyed. The reference to Darius the Persian in Nehemiah 12:22 is in all likelihood to Darius ii and permits the dating of the list of priests given there.
darius iii codomanus (336–330 b.c.e.), the last Achaemenian king, was defeated by Alexander the Great at Issus (333) and at Gaugamela (331), an event mentioned in i Maccabees 1:1. He was murdered by the satrap of Bactria.
P.J. Junge, Dareios I (Ger., 1944); Olmstead, Hist, index; R.G. Kent, Old Persian (1953), 107–63, 189; B. Porten, Archives from Elephantine (1968), index.
[Jonas C. Greenfield]
Darius the Mede
DARIUS THE MEDE
DARIUS THE MEDE , Persian king. According to the Bible in Daniel 6:1 (cf. 11:1) Darius the Mede succeeded Belshazzar as king of Babylon. The reference is historically impossible and has caused much confusion. A possible explanation may be found in the recapture of Babylon in 520 b.c.e. by *Darius i and the loose use of the term Mede for Persian by the Greeks and Mineans. A more recent explanation is based on the Achaemenian Persian doctrine of three world monarchies of which Persia was the third. The Chaldeans were assumed to be the founders of the first great empire; they were followed by the Medes and finally by the Persians. The Jews substituted the Chaldeans for the Assyrians and the Persians. Darius, who conquered Babylon, was regarded by the Judean writer as Darius the Mede, successor to the Chaldean, Belshazzar, and as the predecessor of Cyrus the Persian.
H.H. Rowley, Darius the Mede and the Four World Empires in the Book of Daniel (1935); H.L. Ginsberg, Studies in Daniel (1948), 5, 63–64, 69.
[Jonas C. Greenfield]
Darius was also the name of the last Achaemenid king of Persia (553–330 bc), defeated and dethroned by Alexander the Great (see Alexander1).