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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

Darius

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was the name of several princes in history, some of whom are mentioned in Scripture.

1. DARIUS the Mede, spoken of in Daniel 5:31; Daniel 9:1; Daniel 11:1 , &c, was the son of Astyages, king of the Medes, and brother to Mandane, the mother of Cyrus, and to Amyit, the mother of Evil-merodach, and grandmother of Belshazzar. Darius the Mede, therefore, was uncle by the mother's side to Evil-merodach and Cyrus. The Septuagint, in Daniel vii, give him the name of Artaxerxes; the thirteenth, or apocryphal chapter of Daniel, calls him Astyages; and Xenophon designates him by the name of Cyaxares. He succeeded Belshazzar, king of Babylon, his nephew's son, or his sisters grandson, in the year of the world, 3448, according to Calmet, or in 3468, according to Usher. Daniel does not inform us of any previous war between them; but the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah supply this deficiency. Isaiah 13, 14, 45, 46, 47; Jeremiah 50, 51.

2. DARIUS, the son of Hystaspes, has been supposed by some, on the authority of Archbishop Usher and Calmet, to be the Ahasuerus of Scripture, and the husband of Esther. But Dr. Prideaux thinks, that Ahasuerus was Artaxerxes Longimanus. This prince recovered Babylon after a siege of twenty months. This city, which had been formerly the capital of the east, revolted from Persia, taking advantage of the revolution that happened, first at the death of Cambyses, and afterward on the massacre of the Magi. The Babylonians employed four years in preparations, and when they thought that their city was furnished with provisions for a long time, they raised the standard of rebellion. Darius levied an army in great haste, and besieged Babylon. The Babylonians shut themselves up within their walls, whose height and thickness secured them from assault; and as they had nothing to fear but famine, they assembled all their women and children, and strangled them, each reserving only his most beloved wife, and one servant. Thus was fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 47:7-9 . Some believe that the Jews were either expelled by the Babylonians, as being too much in the interest of Darius; or that, in obedience to the frequent admonitions of the prophets, they quitted that city when they saw the people determined to rebel, Isaiah 48:20; Jeremiah 50:8; Jeremiah 51:6-9; Zechariah 11:6-7 . Darius lay twenty months before Babylon, without making any considerable progress; but at length, Zopyrus, one of his generals, obtained possession of the city by stratagem. Darius ordered the hundred gates of brass to be taken away, according to the prediction of Jeremiah 51:58 , "Thus saith the Lord, The broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly broken, and her high gates shall be burnt with fire, and the people shall labour in vain." This is related in Herodotus.

3. DARIUS CODOMANUS was of the royal family of Persia, but very remote from the crown. He was in a low condition, when Bagoas, the eunuch, who had procured the destruction of two kings, Ochus and Arses, placed him on the throne. His true name was Codoman, and he did not take that of Darius till he was king. He was descended from Darius Nothus, whose son, Ostanes, was father to Arsames, that beget Codomanus. He was at first only a courier to the emperor Ochus. But one day when he was at this prince's army, one of their enemies challenged the bravest of the Persians. Codomanus offered himself for the combat, and overcame the challenger, and was made governor of Armenia. From this situation, Bagoas placed him on the throne of Persia. Alexander the Great invaded the Persian empire, and defeated Darius in three successive battles. After the third battle, Darius fled toward Media, in hopes of raising another army. At Ecbatana, the capital of Media, he gathered the remains of his forces, and some new levies. Alexander having wintered at Babylon and Persepolis, took the field in search of Darius, who quitted Ecbatana, with an intention of retreating into Bactria; but, changing his resolution, Darius stopped short, and determined to hazard a battle, though his army at this time consisted only of forty thousand men. While he was preparing for this conflict, Bessus, governor of Bactria, and Narbazanes, a grandee of Persia, seized him, loaded him with chains, forced him into a covered chariot, and fled, carrying him with them toward Bactria. If Alexander pursued them, they intended to purchase their peace by delivering Darius into his hands; but if not, to kill him, seize the crown, and renew the war. Eight days after their departure, Alexander arrived at Ecbatana, and set out in pursuit of them, which he continued for eleven days: at length he stopped at Rages, in Media, despairing to overtake Darius. Thence he went into Parthia, where he learned what had happened to that unfortunate prince. After a precipitate march of many days, he overtook the traitors, who, seeing themselves pressed, endeavoured to compel Darius to get upon horseback, and save himself with them; but he refusing, they stabbed him in several places, and left him expiring in his chariot. He was dead when Alexander arrived, who could not forbear weeping at so sad a spectacle. Alexander covered Darius with his own cloak, and sent him to Sisygambis his wife, that she might bury him in the tombs of the kings of Persia. Thus were verified the prophecies of Daniel, viii, who had foretold the destruction of the Persian monarchy, under the symbol of a ram, which butted with its horns westward, northward, and southward, and which nothing could resist; but a goat which had a very large horn between his eyes, and which denoted Alexander the Great, came from the west, and overran the world without touching the earth; springing forward with impetuosity, the goat ran against the ram with all his force, attacked him with fury, struck him, broke his two horns, trampled him under foot, and no one could rescue the ram. Nothing can be clearer than these prophecies.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Darius'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/wtd/d/darius.html. 1831-2.

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