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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Medes, Media

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MEDES, MEDIA. A people and country called by the same word, Madai in Hebrew and Assyrian. The Medes were the first of the Iranian immigrants to form a settled government on the borders of the old Semitic realm. As early as the 9th cent. b.c. they began to occupy the mountainous country south and south-east of the Caspian Sea, and by the middle of the 7th cent. their territory extended southward to the borders of Elam. Their chief city was Ecbatana, the Achmetha of Ezra 6:2 and the modern Hamadân . The Assyrians opposed them, and finally subdued them under Tiglath-pileser iii. and Sargon, and the latter deported (b.c. 721) some of them as captives to Samaria ( 2 Kings 17:6; 2 Kings 18:11 ). In the later years of the Assyrian empire they regained their independence, and under their king, Cyaxares, who had formed an alliance with the rising Chaldæan power, they destroyed the city of Nineveh (b.c. 607), and therewith the Assyrian dominion itself. By agreement with the Chaldæans, who restricted themselves to the lowlands, they speedily occupied the northern highlands as far as Cappadocia. Meanwhile the southern immigration from eastern Iran had settled to the east of the Persian Gulf and founded the Persian community. The southern portion of Elam soon fell to them, but they became vassals of their Median kindred. Under Cyrus the Great, Astyages, king of the Medes, yielded his throne to the Persians (b.c. 550), who henceforth held the hegemony of the Iranian race.

Among the Semitic peoples, however, the name of the Medes continued long to be more familiar than that of the Persians, partly by reason of their greater antiquity, and partly because the Medes formed the principal portion of the Iranian population. Hence the word is more frequent than ‘Persia,’ except in the later books of the OT. Madai is mentioned in Genesis 10:2 among the sons of Japheth, with no allusion to the Persians. So the Medes and not the Persians are mentioned in prophecy as the prospective destroyers of Babylon ( Isaiah 13:17; Isaiah 21:2 , Jeremiah 25:25; Jeremiah 51:11; cf. Elam, p. 211 b ). in Acts 2:9 the Medes are vaguely mentioned, where the reference is to Jews or proselytes living in Media and using the language of the country. Media was of great importance in the history of religion, since it was there, probably in the early years of the 7th cent. b.c., that Zoroaster lived and taught.

J. F. M‘Curdy.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Medes, Media'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdb/m/medes-media.html. 1909.

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