Chapter 9

Studies In The Book Of Daniel: A Discussion of the Historical Questions by Robert Dick Wilson

CHAPTER IX

DARIUS THE MEDE AND THE KINGS OF PERSIA

  In this and the following chapters, will be considered a number of objections against the book of Daniel on the allegation that it is clear that the author was deficient in knowledge or confused in thought. I shall endeavor to show that these objections are based, not upon what the author really says, but upon false interpretations of what he says. These false interpretations arise partly from wrong definitions of terms, partly from a misinterpretation of the meaning of the author’s statements, and partly from the pure creative imagination of the objectors. To the first of these belong the objections which are based upon wrong definitions of such words as satrap, peoples, nations, and tongues; to the second, the assumptions as to the number of the kings of Persia that were known to the author of Daniel, and that are mentioned in the Old Testament; to the third, the assertions that Darius the Mede was a reflection into the past of Darius Hystaspis, that the author confused Darius Hystaspis with Xerxes, and with Darius Codomannus and that he states that Alexander the Great repulsed an attack upon Greece made by the last king of Persia.

OBJECTIONS STATED

  When we find him (i.e., Daniel) attributing to the Persian empire a total of only four kings (Dan. 11:2; comp., also,

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7:6), this clearly arises from the fact that by accident the names of only four Persian kings are mentioned in the O. T.; when we find that he makes the fourth of these exceedingly rich, provoke a mighty war against Greece, and in a triumphant repulse of this attack by the Greek king Alexander the Great to be defeated and dethroned—it is clear that the author has confused Xerxes and Darius Hystaspis by making them one and the same person, and mistaken the latter for Darius Codomannus.1

  In 6:1, the temptation to suspect a confusion (of Darius the Mede) with Darius Hystaspis—who actually organized the Persian empire into “satrapies” though much fewer than 120—is strong. Tradition, it can hardly be doubted, has here confused persons and events in reality distinct.2

  “Darius the Mede” must be a reflection into the past of Darius Hystaspis, father—not son—of Xerxes, who had to reconquer Babylon in B.C. 521 and again in 515, and who established the system of satrapies, combined, not impossibly, with indistinct recollections of Gubaru (or Ugbaru), who first occupied Babylon in Cyrus’ behalf, and who, in appointing governors there, appears to have acted as Cyrus’ deputy.3

  Dr. Driver further cites Prof. Sayce’s Higher Criticism and the Monuments, pp. 524-537, as showing “that the representations in the book of Daniel are inconsistent with the testimony of the inscriptions,” and “that the aim of the author was not to write history, in the proper sense of the word, but to construct, upon a historical basis, though regardless of the facts as they actually occurred, edifying religious narratives (or ‘Haggadah’).”

1 Cornill, Introduction to the Canonical Books of the Old Testament, pp. 385, 386.

2 Behrmanns, Daniel, p. xix.    3 Driver, Lit. of the O. T., p. 500.

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  ASSUMPTIONS INVOLVED

  There are here the following assumptions:

  I. That the author states that the Persian empire had a totality of only four kings.

  II. That only four Persian kings are mentioned in the Old Testament.1

  III. That Darius the Mede is represented as absolute ruler of the Persian empire and as having divided it into 120 satrapies.2

  IV. That the author of Daniel supposed Xerxes the Great to be the father and not the son of Darius Hystaspis.3

  V. That the author of Daniel confused Darius the Mede with Darius Hystaspis.4

  VI. That Darius the Mede must have been a reflection into the past of Darius Hystaspis.5

  VII. That the author confused Darius Hystaspis and Xerxes by making them one and the same person.6

  VIII. That he mistakes Darius Hystaspis for Darius Codomannus.7

  IX. That the author states that the attack of the fourth king of Persia on Greece was repulsed by Alexander the Great.8

ANSWER TO THE ASSUMPTIONS

  I. The author does not say that the Persian empire had only  four kings. Daniel 11:2, which Prof. Cornill cites to show this, reads as follows: “And now will I show thee the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer

1 See p. 165.    2 See p. 172.    3 See p. 199.    4 See p. 200.    5 See p. 221.

6 See p. 264.    7 See p. 272.    8 See p. 274.

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than they all: and when he is waxed strong through his riches, he shall stir up all against the realm of Greece.” Daniel 7:6, with which Prof. Cornill compares 11:2, reads: “After this I beheld, and, lo, another, like a leopard, which had upon its back four wings of a bird; the beast had also four heads; and the dominion was given to it.”

  1. It is obvious that before this second verse can even be considered in this connection, it must be clearly shown that it really refers to the Persian empire at all. But this cannot be clearly shown. It will only be regarded as referring to the Persian empire by those who believe that the third kingdom of Daniel’s prophecies is the Persian, rather than the Grecian. But this itself is an assumption, which, while it may be accepted by some, cannot be proven. There are in our opinion stronger reasons for holding that the leopard (or panther) of the verse cited refers to Alexander the Great than to the Persian empire. The lion of verse 4 would then be the Babylonian empire; the bear, the Persian; and the leopard, the Macedonian. Certainly, if we accept the view that Darius the Mede reigned contemporaneously with Cyrus the Persian as a sub-king under him, there seems to be no reason for speaking of a separate Median empire as set forth in any of the visions of Daniel. If such a separate Median kingdom be ruled out, the leopard must refer to Alexander’s rapid conquests. The number four, used with reference to the wings and heads of the beast, cannot be pressed further than the figure of the vision allows. Daniel himself merely makes them a part of the wings of the flying and devouring leopard, to which dominion was given.

  If this interpretation of 7:6, be admitted, it is obvi-

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ous that it cannot be brought in to show Daniel’s opinion as to the number of the Persian kings. But, even if Dan. 7:6 did refer to the Persian empire, the four wings and four heads cannot possibly be used to show that Daniel believed that the empire of the Persians had only four kings. We repeat, these four wings and four heads most naturally refer to the rapidity of the movements and to the voracity of the beast. The assumption that they refer to four kings (an assumption which is not the obvious nor the most natural interpretation), and the further assumption that the leopard refers to the Persian empire, cannot be used to support the assumption that the author of Daniel “attributes to the Persian empire a total of only four kings.”

  2. As to Daniel 11:2, it is certain that if the writer saw his vision in the first year of Darius the Mede, who was sub-king, or contemporary of Cyrus, king of Persia, and there were still to be three kings of Persia and the fourth was to stir up all against Greece, that the three kings would be in the order of their reigns Cambyses, the Pseudo-Smerdis, and Darius Hystaspis. The fourth king would be either Darius Hystaspis, or his son and successor Xerxes. It would be the former if we begin to count with Cyrus as first; and Xerxes, if we count Cambyses as first. It seems, then, that the most likely interpretation would make Darius Hystaspis to be the fourth king. This would agree best with the history of the Persian expedition against Greece as recorded in Herodotus,1 where it is stated positively that it was Darius who was the instigator of the first war against Greece which culminated at Marathon; and that he prepared before his death for the second expedition, which was repulsed at Salamis and Platæa, Xerxes

1 Bk. VI.

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himself being disinclined to the war.1 To represent Darius Hystaspis as the arranger of these expeditions against Greece, harmonizes with the alleged motive of Alexander’s subsequent expedition against Persia. For Quintus Curtius,2 says that the cause of his attack on Persia was said by Alexander in a letter to Darius III to be that Darius I had devastated the Ionian colonies of the Greeks, had crossed the sea with a great army and borne arms against Macedonia and Greece, and that Xerxes had come again with a force of cruel barbarians to fight against them. Arrian, also, in his history of the expedition of Alexander3 gives a letter to Darius Codomannus in which Alexander says that the cause of his expedition against the Persians was to take vengeance on them because their “ancestors having come into Macedonia and the rest of Greece had entreated them evilly.” If Alexander could thus connect his expedition in B.C. 332 with the expeditions of Darius and Xerxes of 490-480 B.C., and rightly so, why may not the prophet in vision have seen them in this close connection? At any rate, the placing of the counter movements of the two empires in juxtaposition, whether by prediction or post eventum, would not prove that the author of Daniel was ignorant of the other kings of Persia, any more than it would prove that Alexander himself, or his historians, Curtius and Arrian, were thus ignorant. No one that knew the history of the Persian expeditions against Greece could well avoid placing them in contrast with the Greek expedition against Persia.

  II. Prof. Cornill states that only four Persian kings

1 Id., Bk. VII, 5.    2 Life and Exploits of Alexander the Great, Bk. IV, § 2.    3 Bk. II, § 14.

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are mentioned in the Old Testament and implies that the author of Daniel supposed from this that Persia had had only four kings.1

  But it is impossible to prove that only four Persian kings are mentioned in the Old Testament. It must be admitted that only four different names of Persian kings are found there. But since there were certainly three kings of Persia who bore the name of Darius, let alone others of the name who were not kings, such as Darius the son of Xerxes mentioned in Ctesias,2 it will have to be shown that the author of Daniel was ignorant of more than one Darius, before Prof. Cornill’s contention can be admitted. The sangfroid with which this can be asserted without any proof to establish the assertion is astonishing, to say the least. Of course, we admit that such ignorance on the part of the author of Daniel is possible, but affirm that it is very far from probable, and most certainly far removed from such a degree of certainty as would enable any cautious historian to calmly state it as a fact, without even so much as a qualifying particle. If, as Prof. Cornill believes, we know nothing about the author of the book of Daniel, except that we are compelled “to recognize in Daniel the work of a pious Jew, loyal to the law, of the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, who was animated with the desire to encourage and support his persecuted and suffering comrades in the faith by the promise that the kingdom of heaven had nearly arrived,”3 how can he be so certain as to his ignorance of either Jewish or profane history? The author, whoever he was, whenever he wrote, must have had some means of information as to the history

1 See p. 160.    2 Exc. Pers., § 20.    3 Introduction to the Canonical Books of the Old Testament, page 388.

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of Babylon and Persia other than that to be derived from Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and Nehemiah-Ezra, or any other known book or writer of the Jews who lived before 165 B.C.; else, how could he have known there was a Belshazzar at all, especially since his name even is not found in Herodotus, Xenophon, Ctesias, Berosus, or any other known writer sacred or profane? As to Nebuchadnezzar, also, if the author got his information from Jeremiah, how can he have said that he made a campaign against Jerusalem in the 3rd year of Jehoiakim, if, as some critics contend, Jeremiah states, or implies, that his first expedition against that city was in Jehoiakim’s 4th year? And if Jeremiah and Ezekiel were the sources of his information, what becomes of the argument against the early date of Daniel, based upon his manner of spelling the name Nebuchadnezzar?1 The early Greek writers, so far as they are known to us, cannot have been the source of his knowledge; for they do not even so much as mention the name of Nebuchadnezzar.

  As to his knowledge of Darius the Mede, moreover, the author cannot have derived his information from the Jewish writings, nor from the profane, so far as we know; for there is not one of them who mentions such a man, at least under the name of Darius, and with the appellative “the Mede.” If writings existed in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, which described the times from Nebopolassar to Cyrus, then they must either have mentioned Darius the Mede, or not. If they did mention him, the author of Daniel would on this supposition and to this extent be confirmed as to

1 Nebuchadnezzar may be the Aramaic translation of the Babylonian Nebuchadrezzar. Kudur in the sense of worshiper is the same in meaning as the Aramaic kedin or kedan.

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his statements with reference to him. If they did not mention him, then how can this author have supposed that he might console the Jews of his time with an easily exposed fiction about an imaginary king? The fortunate escape from deadly perils of a Don Cæsar, a David Balfour, a Count of Monte Christo, or any other hero of fiction can have no comfort for a miserable person. The divine intervention in behalf of Æneas, as portrayed in the Æneid, would not inspire with the expectation of a like divine assistance anyone who did not believe in the reality of the wanderings and deliverances of Anchises’ son. Just so, a supposititious deliverance of an imaginary Daniel from the tyrannical edicts of a king whose very existence the Jews were not aware, would be a poor consolation in the midst of the cruel torments of the atrocious Epiphanes. The critic draws too much on our credulity, when he asks us to believe that the contemporaries of the heroic Judas Maccabeus would have been encouraged for their deadly conflict by any old wives’ fables, or the cunningly devised craftiness of any nameless writer of fiction, however brilliant. People do not die for fiction, however brilliant. People do not die for fiction but for faith. The writer of the First Book of Maccabees, the best and only first-class Jewish authority upon the history of the wars of the Jews against the Seleucids, states that Mattathias stirred up his followers to revolt against the tyrant by an appeal to the deliverance of the three children from Nebuchadnezzar’s wrath. To have had any effect upon the auditors, they must not merely have known of, but have believed as true, the story to which he appeals by way of example to prove God’s interest in his people. To have believed it, they must have known it. So, also, when the writer of First Maccabees uses the story of the den of lions and Daniel’s de-

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liverance from it to encourage his readers, not he only, but they, must have believed in the actuality of that story. This belief would involve a belief in the existence of Darius the Mede. This belief must have been founded upon some knowledge of him, as well as of Daniel. Such a knowledge is best to be accounted for by supposing that the book of  Daniel, certainly at least that portion of Daniel which mentions him, or some other book now lost but then known by his readers, and from which the author of the present book of Daniel derived his information, was in existence before the time of Maccabees. In the absence of all other books which mention him, and in view of the generally admitted unity of the book, and of the claims of that book to be the record of actual events occurring in the life of Daniel, many of which are such as could have been known to him alone, we can rest our case as far as the story of Darius the Mede is concerned, by saying, first, that the Jews who first read the book must have believed that Darius the Mede existed and reigned; and secondly, that they must have believed that a Daniel once lived in the time of  that Darius who suffered such indignities for God’s sake and was by Him delivered from the tyrant’s power. But if the writer and his readers believed in the existence of Darius the Mede, they can scarcely have failed to have had knowledge also of the Darius “the Persian” of Neh. 12:22. These Jews were fighting not merely for the law but for all the sacred writings. The second book of Maccabees (chapter one) refers to Nehemiah, and Jesus ben Sira numbers him among his great men of Israel (ch. xlix, 13). The author of Daniel, if he wrote after the book of Nehemiah was written, must have meant another king than Darius the Persian by his Darius the Mede. He must have known of Cyrus,

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also; for he mentions him by name three times. He can hardly have been ignorant of Xerxes, son of Darius Hystaspis; for he is mentioned not merely in Esther, but in Ezra 4 also. Nor can he have been unacquainted with the name of Artaxerxes, —a name occurring twelve times in Ezra and three times in Nehemiah. Since, then, all are agreed that a writer living in the second century B.C. must almost certainly have known the names of four kings of Persia, that is, Cyrus, Darius, Xerxes, and Artaxerxes, he who believes in the assumption that he knew only one each of the kings who bore these names must also assume also:

  (1) That the writer of Daniel can have thought that all of the kings of Persia mentioned in the books of Ezra-Nehemiah, Haggai, and Zechariah under the name of Darius were the same person.

  (2) That he must have been ignorant of Cambyses, of the Pseudo-Smerdis, of two of the three kings named Artaxerxes, of two of the three kings named Darius, and of Xerxes II, Sogdianus, and Arses.

  (3) That he must have thought either (a) that Darius the Mede was a king of Persia and the same as the Darius of Ezra-Nehemiah and as the Darius of Haggai-Zechariah, and that these last two Dariuses were the same person, or (b) that Darius the Mede was a Median king who succeeded the Chaldean kings and preceded the Persian kings as monarch of the Babylonian empire, or finally (c) that Darius the Mede was a sub-king under Cyrus, who succeeded Belshazzar as king of Babylon, or of the Chaldeans, or of both the Babylonians and Chaldeans.

  That is, the assumption that the writer of Daniel knew of only four kings of Persia would involve the assumptions one, two, and three (a), (b), or (c). Not

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merely one of the three assumptions but the first two and one of the suppositions under three. That Darius the Mede was a Median king who became monarch of the Babylonian empire before, and independent of, Cyrus [(3) (b) above], is supported by no good evidence; and claimed nowadays by no one. So we may rule it out.

  Can we suppose that in an age when Jewish scholars who knew Greek were flourishing in Egypt and Syria and Babylonia, that these Græcized Jews would be so ignorant of the classical Greek historians as to accept as genuine and canonical the work of an author who thought that there had been only four kings of Persia? Can we suppose that the educated Jews of Egypt were so ignorant of the Egyptian history and monuments as not to know that from Cambyses to Darius Codomannus there had been many Persian kings who ruled over Egypt, among them three Dariuses?1

  Can we believe that among the Jews in Babylonia —where cuneiform was written and read as late as the first century B.C.—there were none who could read the documents of their adopted country well enough to reject as fabulous the supposititious history and falsely claimed predictions of the so-called Pseudo-Daniel? Are we to believe, that 150 years after the time when Berosus had written the history of Babylon, and Menander that of Tyre, and Manetho that of Egypt, that in the age of Polybius and Diodorus Siculus and a host of other great historians writing in the lingua franca of the educated world; are we to believe, I repeat, that the nation of the Jews throughout the world,

1The Egypto-Aramaic papyri already known contain part of the Behistun inscription of Darius Hystaspis, and mention by name, Cambyses, Darius I, Xerxes, Artaxerxes I, and Darius II..

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many of whom certainly spoke and read Greek, should be so unacquainted with the history of the world in which they lived, as not to be able to detect and expose the falsities of such a pseudograph and to confute its claims to historicity and canonization? Why, 164 B.C., or thereabout, when some critics claim that the book of Daniel was written, was 16 years later than the time when Jesus ben Sira, according to the same critics, wrote the book of Ecclesiasticus, and just 32 years before the time when the same book was translated into Greek by his no less thoroughly enlightened grandson. It was just a short time before the time when the first books of the Maccabees were written. It was the time when, according to these same critics, much of the Old Testament was written. Can we believe that, at such a time, credence and canonization can have been given to a book, claiming to be historical, but which was at variance with what was known about such easily ascertained matters as the number and names of the kings of Persia? Let those believe who can, that the foisting of such a pseudograph upon the public of that time was possible; but let all remember that such a belief is based upon pure assumption, and has no foundation in any known facts, nor in any reasonable probability, to be derived either from the text of Daniel, from a sensible interpretation of the books of Ezra-Nehemiah and Haggai-Zechariah, or from a likely supposition as to the knowledge of profane history current among the Jews of the second century B.C.

  III. However, even if it could be proven that the other Old Testament scriptures mention only four kings of Persia, this would not indicate that the author of Daniel thought Darius the Mede was one of

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them. Those who assert that the author of Daniel was of the opinion that Darius the Mede was a king of Persia1 base their assertion upon the following further assumptions:

  1. That “the realm of the Chaldeans” was the same in extent as the “empire of the Persians.”

  2. That “from the fact that in 6:25, Darius the Mede is represented as the absolute ruler of the Babylonian empire and in 6:1 as having divided this empire into 120 satrapies, the temptation is strong to suspect that the author has confused Darius the Mede with Darius Hystaspis who actually organized the Persian empire into 20 to 29 satrapies.”

  3. That “the author of Daniel supposed Xerxes to be the father and not the son of Darius.”2

  1. In answer to assumption number one, that the “author of Daniel thought the realm of the Chaldeans to be equivalent to the empire of the Persians,” it is sufficient to say, that it is an assertion absolutely unsupported by evidence. If we assume that he meant them to be the same, we are met by a host of difficulties, inasmuch as such a king as Darius the Mede preceding Cyrus in the government of the Persian empire is unknown in both the Hebrew Scriptures and in the Persian, Greek, and Babylonian records. But if we allow that the author meant them to connote different dominions, the one local, the other the vast empire of Cyrus, extending from the Ægean Sea to the River Indus, embracing within its limits, as a part of it, the former kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar, no inconsistency is found between the statements of Daniel and the other biblical or extra-biblical sources. Let it be remembered by the reader, that in testing with other

1 See p. 162.    2 See IV, p. 199 and VII, p. 264.

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testimony the veracity or consistency of a document, it is not fair to take the statements of the document in a sense different from that which the words most naturally imply; nor of two possible interpretations of a passage to take the one which is inconsistent with veracity, while casting aside the one which is consistent. The burden of proof rests upon the man who impugns another’s veracity or the truth of his statements. Pennsylvania is not the United States of America. Prussia is not Germany. England is not the British Empire. Nor was the realm of the Chaldeans even at the height of its glory ever equal in extent, or equivalent in power or dominion to the empire of the Persians. Nor can we believe that any of the critics, nor that any writer of history, sacred or profane, early or late, ever thought that they were the same. The critic may call the author of Daniel an ignoramus doubly dyed; but such an assertion does not prove that the author ever said, or thought even, that the Chaldean kingdom had the same extent as the Persian empire.

  2. But, says the critic, does not Daniel say that Darius is represented in 6:25, as absolute ruler of the Persian empire, and in 6:1, as having divided this empire into 120 satrapies?1 To both of these questions I answer: No.

  (1) For, first, no such representation as that Darius the Mede was ruler of the Persian empire is made in 6:25. This verse in the Revised Version reads as follows: “Then king Darius wrote unto all the peoples, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied unto you.” Now, it is a fact that can scarcely need more than a statement from us, that the Aramaic word here translated “earth” may just as

1See p. 162.

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well be translated “land.” the corresponding word in Hebrew, Assyrian, and Arabic may, also, have either of these senses. “All the earth” may mean simply “all the land.” Instead, therefore, of meaning “empire,” as Dr. Driver implies, it is doubtful if a single example of its use in this sense can be found in any literature of any age.1

  (22) As to Daniel 6:1, on the basis of which it is asserted that Darius the Mede divided the Persian empire into 120 satrapies, the verse says merely that he placed these satraps over (literally “in”) all the kingdom. The natural interpretation of this kingdom would be, of course, the kingdom over which he ruled. As we have shown above that by this kingdom was not meant the Persian empire, the only further inquiry needed is as to whether or not the sub-kingdom above defined could have had 120 satraps. This inquiry demands consideration of the meaning of the word satrap and of the extent of country over which a satrap may have been placed.

  The word satrap is derived from the Old Persian Khshatrapavan, which according to Spiegel is compounded of khshatra, “kingdom,” and pa, “to protect.” Its meaning, then would be “protector of the kingdom.” It is used twice only in the Persian inscriptions: in Behistun, iii, 14, where a Persian Dadarshish is called the servant of Darius and satrap of Bactria; and in iii, 55, of the same, where the Persian Vivana is called the servant of Darius and satrap of Arachosia. In the Avesta, the corresponding word is shoithrapan, which

1In support of this statement, see the Excursus at the end of this chapter, pages 186-192.   

2See p. 161.

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Justi, with whom Bartholomae agrees, renders “protector of the country” (Beschützer des Landstrichs) and derives from shoithra-pa. Shoithra he defines as “dwelling place, Wohnort, rus, pagus in opposition to city, about the extent of country occupied by a zantu.” Zantu he defines as a “communion of thirty men and women.”

  Now, if we accept of these derivations and definitions, a satrap may have been originally merely a chief of a small body of wandering Medes, or Persians. According to Justi, a daqyu was a region (Gaubezirk) containing several zantus; so that each daqyu might have had several satraps. This daqyu, however, is said by Spiegel to be the same as the Old Persian dahyu of the monuments, which means both country and a sub-division of a country. We have seen above that on the monuments dahyu is always used in the singular to denote a country like Media, Bactria, Babylonia, Assyria, etc., and the subdivisions, or provinces of the same. So that a country like Media may have had many subdivisions each called dahya and each of these may have had several satraps. When Cyrus and Gobryas took Babylon, Gobryas who was already governor (pihatu) of the land of Gutium, a part of Media (?), was made governor of Babylon also. If Gobryas is the same as Darius the Mede, then, according to Dan. 6:1, he may have become king of Chaldea, also, at the time including probably a part of Elam. According to the Cyrus chronicle this Gobryas, himself a pihatu of Cyrus, appointed pihats under him. According to the same chronicle somebody (most probably Cyrus) broke into the land of Accad from Elam at an earlier time and placed a shaknu, or governor, in Erech. This shaknu of Erech and others, who were probably

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placed over other cities, as well as the pihat placed in Babylon by Gobryas, might all very well be called satraps in Persian for all anyone knows to the contrary. Remember, that satrap occurs nowhere on the Persian monuments save in two places of the Behistun Inscription mentioned above, to wit, Col. iii, lines 14 and 55. While Darius in the Behistun Inscription mentions the names of 23 countries over which he reigned and in the Naksh-i-Rustam inscription mentions 29 of them, it is not said in either that he had set satraps over them; but that he ruled them himself and that they brought tribute directly to him. Besides, even if Darius had called the men who ruled these countries under him by the name of satrap, this would not prove that the rulers of the provinces in these countries may not also have been called satraps by him; and certainly it would not prove that at an earlier time the word may not have been used to denote them. For all we know from the Old Persian inscriptions, it was the only proper Persian title to apply to them.1

1 In proof of this statement, we have carefully gone through all the old Persian inscriptions, with the result that we find there the following words for government officials: Khshayathiya, “king, ” khshatrapavan, “satrap,” aura Lord (used only once and then of Auramazda, the supreme God), framatar “commander” (used only once of the king of kings and only in the phrase, “the unique, or only, commander of many”), and mathasta, literally “the greatest,” the general-in-chief of an army. The word fratama, which in Daniel means “prince,” is always used in the Persian inscriptions as an adjective and only in the phrase fratama martiya an’ushiya (literally, “the chief man followers”). There is no reference, however, to his official position or duties. We have seen above that the Old Persian word for country, dahya, was used, also, to denote a part of the country; that is, we have dahya, “country,” and dahyava dahyaush, “the countries (or provinces) of a country”; and that Gobryas, the pihatu (or governor) of Babylon under Cyrus king of Persia, had under him other pihatus (or governors). The only Persian word of the inscriptions which corresponds to pihatu is the word satrap, as in §45 of the Behistun Inscription. So that writing in Persian we would say that Gobryas the satrap of the dahyaush of Babylon under Cyrus appointed under himself other satraps of the dahyava, or sub-divisions of his satrapy. In other words there were small countries within a larger country and small satraps under a great satrap, just as there was a Shah-in-Shah, or king of kings; just as there used to be a king of Oudh and other sovereigns under the headship of the queen of England. What has thus been shown to be true of the Old Persian inscriptions is true, also, of the Persian of the Avesta. It contains four words for king; to wit, kavan, khsaeta, khshaetar, and khshathia: according to Justi, the first of these, kavan, is a title which has been found used only for the one dynasty beginning with Kavata. The others are all connected with the khshayathiya, of the inscriptions. For satrap, the modernized shoithrapan is found. Other words for governor are shoithrapaiti, “lord of a district” (Herr eines Landstriches); danhupaiti, “lord of a country” (Herr eines Gaues); Zantupaiti, “chief” (Herr einer Genossenshaft); fraçaçtar, “ruler” (Herrscher); ratu, “leader” (Führer); hara, “protector” (Beschützer); fratema, “chief.” There would seem to be an order of rank in shoithrapaiti, danhupaiti, and zantupaiti, corresponding closely to our governor, mayor, and alderman or magistrate. We see no reason why any one of these three might not have been called a shoitrapan, “satrap,” just as our governors, mayors, and aldermen may be called “protectors of the law.” The king was above all satraps of every kind, just as the president is above all governors, mayors, and aldermen.

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  In view of this fact, our readers will doubtless consent to the statement that there is no reason why Darius the Mede may not have appointed 120 satraps to rule under him in the kingdom which according to 6:1, he had received, and over which according to 9:1, he “had been made king,” as we suppose, by is over-lord Cyrus king of Persia. Notice, whether the kingdom was greater or smaller in extent than Babylonia merely, he may have had satraps under him, and the number of these satraps may have been as large as one hundred and twenty, for all we know to the contrary; and so the statement of Daniel 6:1, stands unimpugned.

  Before closing the discussion of the word satrap, it might be well to  ask whether the use of the word would

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best agree with the dating of the book of Daniel in the latter part of the sixth century, say 535 B.C., or with the date 164 B.C., when many think that the book must have been written.

  As to the earlier of these dates, 535 B.C., the only objections to its use at that time are, first, that the writer could scarcely employ the word in an Aramaic document so soon after the Persian conquest of Babylon, which had been accomplished in 538 B.C.; and secondly, that he would hardly have used a Persian word to denote officers of Nebuchadnezzar.

  As to the former of these objections, it may be said, that the question is, not whether an author writing in Babylonian would have probably made use of the Persian word satrap in the year 535 B.C.; but whether a man writing for the Aramaic-speaking Jews living at the time might have used it. We must remember, that the Aramean inscriptions go back to about 1000 B.C.; that the Aramean tribes had been largely subject peoples from the time of Tiglath-Pileser in 1100 B.C.; that their vocabulary in all stages of its existence was more or less filled with the words of their conquerors, especially in the sphere of governmental terms.1

1It must be remembered, also, that these Aramean tribes extended from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean, and included the Syrians of the Old Testament, as well as the Arameans of the Assyrian monuments;  that the Jews for whom Daniel wrote had been brought into contact with them from their earliest history down; and that many of the Jews as early as the middle of the sixth century certainly had learned the Aramaic tongue, the lingua franca of the period. We must remember, further, that many of the Jews had been settled about the middle of the eighth century B.C. in the cities of the Medes; that the language and government of the Medes are known to have been similar to, and in many respects the same as, those of the Persians; that some Aramean tribes, at least, had probably been subject to the Median rulers since the destruction of Nineveh about 606 B.C.: that these Arameans and Jews would naturally adopt the native terms of their Median rulers; and hence that the word satrap may have been familiar to the captive Jews since the middle of the eighth century B.C.; and to the conquered Aramean tribes of that portion of the Assyrian empire which fell to them from 606 B.C. Further, we must remember, that while Cyrus did not take the city of Babylon until 538 B.C., he had conquered Media and Assyria as early as 553 B.C., the third year of Nabunaid (see Abu–Habba insc., Col. i, 28–33), and that the Jews and Arameans in those countries would thus have been ruled by satraps, long enough before the writing of the book, about 535 B.C., to be familiar with the meaning of the term satrap.

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  Finally, let it be noticed that an “and” is inserted in the text between the second and third words of Dan. 3:2, as if the author intended to say “to the satraps, both deputies and governors.” The last two words are the Assyrio–Babylonian shaknu and pihu (pihatu), the ordinary words for the rulers deputed by the king to rule over subject cities and provinces. The former of these words, shaknu, is found once in the Tel–el–Amarna letters of about the year 1500 B.C., and twice in its Phenician equivalent, on one of the two earliest specimens of Phenician writing which have come down to us, dating from the eighth century B.C., at the latest.1 It is found, also, on the Egypto–Aramaic papyrus D14, dating from the sixth year of Artaxerxes I, i.e., 459 B.C., and in the Sachau papyri seven or eight times. In Hebrew and in late Aramaic, it is not used to denote a deputy governor, but a deputy priest. The latter of the two, pihu, occurs in the Hebrew, referring to the reign of Solomon (I Kings 10:15); in the Aramaic of the Sendshirli inscriptions of about 720 B.C.; and once in the Aramaic recension of the Behistun Inscription from the fifth century B.C. Both terms, therefore, suit the age of Cyrus, since

1Cooke, North Semitic Inscriptions, p. 53.

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they would then be understood by everyone, inasmuch as all that part of the world had been ruled for hundreds of years by kings using these terms to denote their sub–ordinate officials. The newer Persian word, satrap, may very well have been explained by the two old Babylonian terms, shaknu and pihu. In fact, we find the latter of these employed by the Aramaic version of the Behistun Inscription as well as by the Babylonian in rendering the Old Persian Khshatrapavan, or satrap.1 The author of Daniel, then, merely collects for his Judeo–Aramaic readers of all sections the various terms for governor known to each or all of them, in order to convey to them the sense of the proclamation of Nebuchadnezzar.2

  It is not sufficient to reply to this, that the word satrap has not been found in the inscriptions from his time; for these inscriptions, except the Aramaic dockets, are all in Babylonian. They are either building inscriptions or contract tablets, with exception of the broken historical tablet recording the Egyptian campaign, and this fragment contains only one word for ruler, the ordinary word for king, sharru, and but one word for any other official, the word abkallu, “general of the army (?).” the building inscriptions of Nebuchadnezzar, moreover, are not concerned especially with political matters,3 and so far as can be known, Nebu–

1Sachau, Aramäische Papyrus, p. 53.

2Nebuchadnezzar may have used in Babylonian such a phrase as ana naphar kepani (or malki), shaknuti, u pihate, etc., i.e., to the totality of officers (or kings),  deputies, and governors.

3The only titles for rulers besides king and the titles of the gods and kings of Babylon to be found in all the published building inscriptions of Nebuchadnezzar, are pihati in Langdon, number xvii, Col. ii, B 10; and shagganakku mati Hattim “chiefs of the land of the Hittites” (i.d., Col. iii, 8).

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chadnezzar may have used satrap in his proclamations, even in the Babylonian rendition of them.1

  But as to the Aramaic translations of the proclamations of the Babylonian kings, whenever such translations may have been made, it was absolutely necessary to employ foreign words to express governmental ideas, inasmuch as the pure Aramaic did not possess a native vocabulary sufficient for expressing them.2

  When the Arameans came under subjection to any foreign potentate, we find them uniformly adopting some of the governmental terminology of their latest conquerors, and gradually eliminating from their literature traces of former subjugations.3

  The satrap of Ezra 3:2, (Peshitto), of Ephraem Syrus, and of Julian the apostate, is evidently taken over from the Greek and not directly from the Persian; so that the use of the word in Syriac does not prove a continuous use of the term in Aramaic from Achæmenid period down, but rather the contrary. Further, along this line, may be noted the fact, that if we place the writing of the book of Daniel in the second century B.C., it is impossible to account for the manner in which

1However, it is worthy of remark, that, in the Babylonian after the Persian conquest the word satrap has not been found at all. Even in the Babylonian version of the inscriptions of the Persian kings the only words for governmental officials are sharru “king,” rabu, “general” (Behistun, 42, 82), and bel “lord” (Behistun: Small, Insc., 9).

2The pure Aramaic has the word for king, malka, the word for ruler, shallit or shilton, the word for judge, dayyan, the word rab, magnate, the words resh and rashan, “head, or chief,” and the word mar, “lord” or “sir.”

3Thus the word translated governor in Dan. 3:2, is the Assyrian pihu and is found in Aramaic first in the inscription of Panammu which was written about 725 B.C. and in the Aramaic recension of the Behistun Inscription; and is last used in Daniel and Ezra. Again, sagan, the “deputy” of Dan. 3:2, is found, perhaps in a political sense, in the Tel–el–Amarna letters and again in the Egypto–Aramaic of the fifth century B.C. It occurs, also, in the earliest Phenician inscription, to be dated certainly no later that the eighth century B.C. Its most recent use in this sense in Aramaic is in Daniel, though it is found in the Hebrew of Nehemiah and Ezra. The Greek strategos, “general,” is found on a Nabatean monument of 37 A.D., on Palmyrene monuments from the third century A.D., and in ancient Syriac frequently before the Mohammedan conquest. In the Targum (2 Chron. 28:7) and in a Palmyrene inscription from 264 A.D., when Palmyra was at times under the influence or domination of the Persian Sassanids, argabat, a late Persian word not found in the Avesta nor in the old Persian inscriptions (de Vog., La Syrie Centrale, 26), is used in the sense of satrap, or deputy. In the same inscription we find the Latin ducenarius and the Greek epitropos and hippikos. In Roman times, also, dux “duke” and comes “count” are found in Syriac. After the Arab conquest, we find the Arabic words kalifah, “caliph,” wazir, “vizier,” and kadi, “cady.” In later times are found the Turkish, Kurdish, and Persian words shah, “king”; agha, “lord of a village”; mudir, “deputy–governor”; wazir, “minister , or governor”; sultan, “sultan”; mutasarip, “sub–governor”; wali, “governor–general”; wali’ad, “crown–prince.” Many of these last were originally Arabic.

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the word rendered satrap is spelled in the original, except on the assumption that the author copied the word from the Hebrew of Esther or Ezra; simply changing the ending to suit the Aramaic form. For notice, that the word, as spelled in Daniel, cannot have been transliterated from the Greek satrap, nor apparently from the Babylonian, nor from the later Persian form found in the Avesta. Whenever the word came into the Hebrew and Aramaic of the Old Testament, it must have come directly from the Old Persian, which is known to us only from the inscriptions of the Achæmenids, and in the case of this particular word from the Behistun Inscription of Darius Hystaspis alone.

  For first, the word satrap in its Greek form has for its first letter a sigma, or s sound. Now, in the transliteration of Greek words taken over into Hebrew

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or Aramaic or Syriac, not a single one begins with an Aleph, followed by a Heth, followed by a Shin, as does this word ’ahashdarpan in the Hebrew and Aramaic of the O. T. Nor does a single word begin with Heth followed by a Shin. Nor does one begin even with a shin. This statement may be tested by anyone who will take the trouble, as the writer of this chapter has done, of looking over all the words beginning with the above–mentioned letters, as they are to be found in Dalman’s Aramäisch–neuhebräisches Wörterbuch and Brockelmann’s Lexicon Syriacum.

  On the other hand, we are fortunate enough to be able to certify to the manner in which the Hebrew and Aramaic of the Old Testament transliterated an Old Persian word beginning with the same letters in Persian as does the word for satrap. The Old Persian word which the Greek renders by Xerxes, has on the Achæmenid inscriptions the letters khshayarsha; the word for satrap is khshatrapavan. It will be noted that these words both begin with a kh (Hebrew Heth) followed by a sh (Hebrew Shin). Now, anyone can see in a Hebrew Bible, or Dictionary, that Xerxes in its Hebrew form begins with Aleph, followed by Heth, followed by Shin, just as the word satrap does. In like manner, we might reason, that the Hebrew and Aramaic did not take over the word through the medium of the Babylonian; for, if we look at the way in which Xerxes was transliterated in Babylonian, we find at least twenty–four different ways of spelling the whole word and four different ways of reproducing the first two letters. Only one of these twenty–four ways corresponds to the Hebrew and Aramaic transliteration, and written in this way the word occurs but twice, and

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even there has a difference of one consonantal letter (Evetts, 3, 5).1

  As to the Aramaic form of the word used in Daniel having been derived from the later Persian of the Avesta, this is ruled out by the fact that in this Middle Persian the word for satrap is spelled shoithrapan, a form which might be transliterated into Hebrew with a prosthetic Aleph, but never with a prosthetic Aleph and Heth both. Finally, there is no evidence that the word satrap was used in any Aramaic dialect from Greek of Roman times, except in the Syrian. Here, the forms satrapa and satrapis show clearly that the Syriac took over the word from the Greek.

  From the above induction of evidence bearing on the word satrap, we may conclude, that the word satrap can have been used by a writer in the latter part of the sixth century B.C., because:

  First, the form of the word as spelled in the book of Daniel corresponds with the spelling of the Persian of the inscriptions; whereas the spelling of the word in Syriac, the only Aramaic dialect from Greek or Roman times that employs it, shows that the Syriac imported the word from the Greeks.

  Secondly, because this spelling shows, that the word as used in Daniel cannot have been taken over from the Greeks, nor from the Persian of the Avesta or later times, nor, most probably, from the Babylonian; but directly from the Old Persian to which it exactly corresponds.

1For the different ways of writing Xerxes in Babylonian, see my article in the Princeton Theolog. Rev., vol. iii, p. 161; to which add the readings of the tablets given in the Vorderasiatische Schriftdenkmäler, vols. iii, iv, v, and vi.

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  Thirdly, because the sense of the word as used by Daniel has nothing inconsistent with the derivation and use of the word among the Persians themselves.

  IV. The assumption that the author of Daniel supposed Xerxes the Great to be the father of Darius the Mede, after having confused the latter with Darius Hystaspis, is so unwarranted, that it may be safely left to the judgment of the reader.1 There is absolutely no evidence in support of such an assumption.2

1See p. 162.    2 For a discussion of this matter see p. 264.

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Home Up Excursus on Land

Studies In The Book Of Daniel: A Discussion Of The Historical Questions by Robert Dick Wilson. New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, The Knickerbocker Press, 1917.

E-Text transcribed by hand from the 1917 edition.

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Book of Daniel Study Resources by Michael Malorny

07/26/04