Chapter 12

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





  Secondly, the author of the book of Daniel cannot have reflected backward upon the age of Darius Hystaspis at the time when he became king of Persia.1 In Dan. 5:31, it is said, that Darius the Mede received the kingdom when he was about 62 years of age. Herodotus states that Darius was only “about 20 years of age” when Cyrus just before his death had passed the Araxes on his fatal expedition against the Massagetæ; and that Darius “had been left in Persia, because he had not yet attained the age of military service.”2 He further says,3 that Hystaspis, the father of Darius, was governor (hyparchos) of Persia, at the time when Darius arrived at Susa when Otanes and Gobryas, “the noblest of the Persians,” were preparing their conspiracy against the false Smerdis. As the false Smerdis was killed in 521 B.C., this would make Darius to have been 79 years of age at the death of Smerdis and his father about 100 if the former had been 62 at the time of the death of Cyrus.

  Further, Darius in his Behistun Inscription4 speaks of his father Hystaspis as being still in active service as general of his forces in the war against the rebellious Parthians and Hyrcanians. His words are as follows:

1 See p. 223.    2 Bk. I, 209.    3 Bk. III, 70.    4 Col. ii, 92–Col. iii, 10.

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  Thus speaks king Darius: Parthia and Hyrcania rebelled and went over to Fravartish. Hystaspis, my father, was in Parthia; the people left him and rose in insurrection. Then Hystaspis took the people who stood by him and drew out. There is a city in Parthia called Vispauzatish; where a battle with the rebels took place. Auramazda helped me. Through the grace of Auramazda Hystaspis smote the rebels hard. On the twenty–second day of the month Viyakhna the battle was fought. Then I sent a Persian army to Hystaspis from Raga. When this army came to Hystaspis, he drew out with this army and fought a battle with the rebels at a city of Parthia called Patigrabana. Auramazda helped. Through his grace, Hystaspis smote the rebel host. On the first day of the month Garmapada, the battle was fought; whereupon the province became mine. This is what I did in Parthia.

  It is obvious that a man who must have been at least about 80 years of age, if his son were 62 and more, could not have carried on in person such an arduous campaign.

  Finally, it is scarcely within the range of probability that Darius Hystaspis himself could have conducted so many expeditions as both his own descriptions and the records of the classical writers impute to him, if he had been 62 years old at the time of the death of Belshazzar in 538 B.C. or at that of his succession to the throne of Cyrus in 521 B.C. If he had been 62 years old in 538 B.C., he would have been 114 at the time of his death in 486 B.C.; if he were 62 at the death of Smerdis in 521 B.C., he must have been 97 at the time of his death. It is not probable, that the Greek historians would not have noted this extreme old age in one so well known as he, and especially in one so active as he was even up to the time of his decease. So that we may think that we are justified in concluding that whatever may have been

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the source or the object or the date of the writer of Daniel, he could not have meant to reflect to his Darius the age of Darius Hystaspis at the time of his accession.

  Thirdly, the same may be said as to the manner in which the two Dariuses are said to have become kings.1 Herodotus, who shortly after the death of Darius Hystaspis was born at Halicarnassus in Asia Minor, a city subject at that time to the Persians, and who had traveled extensively in the Persian empire and studied the stories of its origin, has given us the longest, most thorough, and probably the most reliable account of the life of Darius Hystaspis. In his relation of the accession of Darius to the throne of Persia, he is explicit in stating how he succeeded the false Smerdis, the Magian; and by what a marvelous series of events, he and his fellow conspirators among the nobility of Persia, whose names he gives, succeeded in wresting the domination of Western Asia from the usurping power of the Medes and and the Magi.2

 Not one word is said about Belshazzar, or about any other Babylonian or Chaldean king in all of his long account. Moreover, the Darius of Herodotus was the Persian leader of the Persians against the Magian leader of the Medes, and not a Median ruler succeeding to a Chaldean king.

  These statements of Herodotus are confirmed as to these points by the inscriptions of Darius. The Behistun Inscription tells at length how the false Smerdis, having rebelled against Cambyses, assumed and maintained the kingship. On Col. i, lines 38–72, he says:

When Cambyses had gone to Egypt, the army became hostile and lying increased in the country, both in Persia

 1 See p. 223.    2See his History, Book III, 61–88.

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and Media and the other countries. Then a man, a Magian, of Paishiyauvada called Gaumata rebelled at a fortress called Arakadrish. In the month Viyakhna, on the 14th day of the month, he rebelled. He lied to the people and said: “I am Bardiya, the son of Cyrus and brother of Cambyses.” Therefore, the whole kingdom broke into rebellion, going over to him from Cambyses, both Persia and Media as well as the other lands. He seized the government. On the 9th day of the month Garmapada he seized the government. Then Cambyses died by suicide. This government which Gaumata seized, —this government has been from of old in our family. Then Gaumata the Magian took from Cambyses both Persia and Media and the other countries. He acted as he pleased. He was king. No one, neither Persian or Mede, nor anyone of our family would have snatched the kingdom from Gaumata the Magian. The people feared him on account of his cruelty. He would have killed many people who had known Bardiya; he would have killed them, “so that no one should know, that I am not Bardiya the son of Cyrus.” No one dared to speak about Gaumata the Magian, until I came. Then I cried to Auramazda for help. Auramazda granted me aid. In the month Bagayadish, in the tenth day, I and a few men killed that Gaumata the Magian and those who were his noblest adherents. At a fortress called Sikayauvatish in the district of Media called Nisaya; there I killed him and took the kingdom away from him. Through the grace of Auramazda, I became king. Auramazda gave over to me the kingdom. he government which had been wrested from our family, reëstablished as it had been before. The places of prayer which Gaumata the Magian had destroyed I preserved to he people. The pastures, the hearths, the dwellings of the clans which Gaumata the Magian had taken away, I restored. I restored all things as they had been before. Through the grace of Auramazda, have I done this. I have worked until I have placed our clan again in its place, as it was before. I have worked through the

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grace of Auramazda, so that it was before Gaumata the Magian had robbed our clan. This is what I did when I became king.

  Another point at which Herodotus’ account of the conspiracy against the false Smerdis is confirmed by the inscriptions is in the list of names of the conspirators. According to Herodotus III, 70, there were six of these, to wit: Otanes, Aspathines, Gobryas, Intaphernes, Megabysus, and Hydarnes. The names of five of these are given by Darius on Col. iv, 80–86,1 of the Behistun Inscription, where we read:

  Thus saith Darius the king: These are the men who were present when I slew Gaumata the Magian, who called himself Bardiya. At that time these men helped me as my adherents: Vindafrana, the son of Vayaspara, a Persian; Utana, the son of Thukhra, a Persian; Gaubaruva, the son of Marduniya, a Persian; Vidarna, the son of Bagabigna, a Persian; Bagabukhsa, the son of Daduhya, a Persian; Ardumanish, the son of Vakauka, a Persian.

  It will be seen that all but the second of the names as given by Herodotus are easily recognizable in the list given in the inscription, and that there is but a slight difference in the order of the names; and the spelling in one case is Greek and in the other Persian. As to Aspathines, however, we find his name given by Darius on the Naksh–i–Rustam inscription as that of one of the companions of the king; so that it is possible, that he had two names, Aspathines and Ardumanish (Artabanus).

  From the explicitness, then, of the accounts of the manner of the accession of Darius Hystaspis to the throne of Persia, it is impossible to suppose that a late

1Weissbach, Die Achämeniden Inschriften, § 68.

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writer who wished to reflect backwards the history of his succession to the kingdom could have said in the language of the book of Daniel: “That same night was Belshazzar the Chaldean slain; and Darius the Median received (or took) the kingdom” (v. 30, 31), or as it is said in 9:1, “Darius the son of Ahasuerus of the seed of the Medes which had been made king over the realm of the Chaldeans.”

  Fourthly, the author of Daniel does not reflect backward the name of the kingdom over which Darius Hystaspis had been made king.1 In his own inscription, Darius Hystaspis calls himself  “king of Persia”;2 “king of lands”;3 “king of the lands of many tongues”;4 “king of the lands of all tongues”;5 “king of the great wide earth”;6 and “king of numerous countries.”7 On the Babylonian tablets, he is uniformly called “king of lands,” “king of Babylon,” or “king of Babylon and of lands.”8 So, likewise, Herodotus and the classical writers uniformly call him king of Persia.9 Never once anywhere is he called “king of the Medes,” “king of Babylon,” or “king of the Chaldeans.” In glaring contrast with this, the Darius of Daniel is called a Mede,10 which may possibly mean that he was a Median by race, or a king of the Medes, or at least of a part of the Medes; also, “king over the realm of the Chaldeans”;11 and by implication, at least, king of

1See p. 223.    2Behistun i, 2, A 2.    3,

4Elwend, 14–16; Suez, b, 5.    5NR, a 10.    6NR, a 11–12.

7Persepolis, i, 3–4.

8So on all those published by Strassmaier and in all the “Cuneiform Texts” and in the Vorderasiatische Schriftdenkmäler.

9 See the author’s articles on the Titles of the Kings in the Princeton Theological Review for 1904–5, and his articles on the Titles of the Kings of Persia in the Festschrift Eduard Sachau, 1915.

10Dan 5:31.    11Dan 9:1.

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Babylon, since he received apparently the kingdom of Belshazzar,1 and Belshazzar is called “king of Babylon.”2 When we remember, that the author of Daniel is careful to distinguish Nebuchadnezzar as “king of Babylon”;3 Cyrus, as “the Persian,”4 or as “king of Persia”;5 and Belshazzar as “the Chaldean,”6 or as the “king of Babylon”7 the fact, that Darius is called “the Mede,”8 or king “over the realm of the Chaldeans.”9 is especially worthy of notice. Particularly, is this careful discrimination of titles to be noted in view of the fact that a “Darius king of Persia” is mentioned by Ezra10 and a “Darius the Persian” in Nehemiah 12:22; one of which is most probably Darius Hystaspis. Accordingly, the author of Daniel cannot have gotten his knowledge of a Darius the Mede from the Scriptures. That is, since the Scriptures outside of Daniel speak only of a Darius the Persian, or a Darius, king of Persia, the author of Daniel did not reflect him back into his Darius the Mede, whom he never calls a Persian nor a king of Persia. So that here again we find that there is no evidence either on the monuments, or in the classical writers, or in the Scriptures, that Darius the Mede was a reflection of Darius Hystaspis.

  Fifthly, nor does the Darius of Daniel reflect the relations of Darius Hystaspis to other kings.11

  According to the Behistun inscription, Darius Hystaspis conquered two men who had rebelled against him and usurped the throne of Babylon. Each of these

1Dan. 5:31, 6:1.    2Dan. 7:1, where Theodotion, however, reads “king of the Chaldeans.”

3See 1:1.    46:29.    510:1.    65:30.

77:1, where, as we have before mentioned, Theodotion reads “king of the Chaldeans.”

86:1.    99:1.    104:5, 24, 6:14 (?).    11See p. 223.

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called himself Nebuchadnezzar and claimed to be a son of Nabunaid. The first of these is called by Darius “Nadintu–Bel the son of Aniri,”1 and the second “Arakha, the son of Haldita an Armenian.”2 To show that the author of Daniel in his account of the overthrow of Belshazzar the Chaldean cannot have reflected backward the conquest of either of these rebel kings by Darius Hystaspis, I shall insert here at length the accounts of the rebellions of these men, as they appear in the Persian recension of the Behistun Inscription in the words of Darius Hystaspis himself.

After the death of Gaumata the Magian, Susiana revolted and a man named Atrina, the son of Upadarma, set himself up as king. At the same time, a Babylonian called Naditabaira3 the son of Aniri, rebelled in Babylon and deceived the people, saying “I am Nebuchadnezzar, the son of Nabunita.” The whole Babylonian people went over to this Naditabaira. Babylon was rebellious and he seized the government in Babylon. Darius, therefore, sent an army against Susiana while he himself advanced against Naditabaira whose army held the (fords of the) Tigris, there awaiting his attack on ships. Through the grace of Auramazda, Darius passed the Tigris and defeated the army of Naditabaira on the 27th of the month Atriyadiya. Then he advanced to Babylon, fighting on the way a battle at Zazana on the Euphrates, driving a portion of the Babylonian army into the river which carried it away. This battle was on the 2nd day of the month Anamaka. Naditabaira escapes with a few horsemen to Babylon, whither Darius followed him, seized Babylon; and captured and killed Naditabaira in Babylon.

  Sometime after, while Darius was in Persia and Media,4 “the Babylonians rebelled a second time

1Beh. Insc. § 16.    2Id., § 16.    3i.e., Nadintu–Bel.    4Beh. Insc. § 49.

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under the leadership of Arakha an Armenian, son of Haldita, whose headquarters were in the district of Dubala.” He deceived the people, saying:

“I am Nebuchadnezzar, the son of Nabunita.” The Babylonian army (or people) rebelled and went over to him and he took, and became king in, Babylon. Therefore, Darius sent an army against Babylon, under the command of Vindaparna, a Mede, his servant whom he had made general. Through the grace of Auramazda, he captured Babylon on the 2nd day of the month Markazana. “This” says Darius, “is what I did in Babylon.”

  Herodotus, also, describes at length1 a capture of Babylon by Darius in addition to the first which had been made by Cyrus.2 It is most probable that the first revolt under Nadintu–Bel is the one meant by Herodotus inasmuch as he makes Darius to have commanded in person; and according to the Behistun Inscription, this was done only in the first revolt; but he seems to have confused in a measure the two revolts, since he says, that Darius started on his expedition against the Scythians “after the capture of Babylon,”3 and the inscription would indicate that this Scythian expedition did not take place till after the second revolt. Herodotus does not mention any name for the leader of the rebellious Babylonians. He does state, however, that the city was captured through the ingenuity of Zopyrus, a son of Megabysus, one of the seven noble Persians who had conspired against the Magian; and that as a reward Darius gave Zopyrus the government of Babylon “free from taxes during his life,” and that he “every year presented him with those gifts which are

1Book III, 150–159.    2Id., Book I, 188–192.    3 Id., Book IV, 1.

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most prized by the Persians,” “and many other things in addition.”

  In the Old Testament outside of Daniel, the only mention of a Darius along with and in relation to any other king is in Ezra 6:14, where it is said that the temple was built at the command of the God of Israel and at the command of Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes, kings of Persia.

  In the book of Daniel, however, Darius the Mede is said to have succeeded Belshazzar as king of Babylon and as king over the realm of the Chaldeans;1 and to have reigned before, or contemporaneously with, Cyrus king of Persia.2 So that we can safely affirm with assurance that, as to his relations to other kings, the Darius of Daniel was not a reflection of Darius Hystaspis.

  Sixthly, the same is true, also, with reference to their methods of government.3 As we have shown above, the satrapial system of government had been in use as early as the time of Sargon, and it was employed by every king between Sargon and Darius Hystaspis, and by every king of Persia after Darius Hystaspis. Nor was it substantially modified, so far as we know, by Alexander or by the Greek Seleucid rulers; and in fact, it has continued in use in that part of the world through all changes of government, Persian, Seleucid, Parthian, Sassanid, Arab, and Turk, down to the present time. It is the method of absolute, autocratic monarchies, and always has been, and always will be. There may be differences of names and modifications in minor particulars of administration; but the system itself from its very nature will always remain unchanged in its essential features. As to the number, character, and

15:30, 31, 9:1.    26:29.    3See p. 223.

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authority of the satraps said to have been appointed by Darius the Mede, there is, however, no evidence of a reflection from Darius Hystaspis. Nor is it otherwise with regard to the three presidents appointed by the Darius of Daniel and as to the governors and deputies and other officials, who are said to have taken part in the administration of his kingdom. The inscriptions of Darius Hystaspis, as we have seen above, mention satraps and generals alone; and Herodotus speaks of archons, hyparchons, monarchs, and epitropoi, beside generals and admirals with their subordinates. From any source of information that we possess with regard to the administration and names of officials of Darius Hystaspis, it is utterly impossible for anyone to construct the system of government or the names of officials, recorded in the sixth chapter of Daniel. The system of government of Darius the Mede, and the names of the officials, half Persian, half Babylonian, accord excellently with a period of transition from Babylonian to Persian rule. But in the points wherein the government of Darius the Mede corresponds with that of Darius Hystaspis, it corresponds, also, with any other satrapial system; and in the points where it disagrees, it cannot be a reflection of the latter. And if anyone should say, that these disagreements exist merely because of our lack of complete information as to the particulars of the system introduced, or organized, by Darius Hystaspis, we answer: When the evidence is forthcoming, we shall yield the point. But until evidence be produced, let it be observed, that here also there is no reflection of Darius Hystaspis to be found in the Darius of Daniel.

  Nor is it different with regard to the laws and the decrees of the Darius of Daniel. to be sure, Darius

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Hystaspis says in the Behistun Inscription, iv, 64, that be ruled according to the law, and Darius the Mede is apparently bound by the law of the Medes and Persians which changeth not. But Herodotus says that Cambyses, likewise, was bound by the law in the same way (Book III, 31). And, in fact, it is not for one moment to be supposed, that there ever was a king that did not rule his kingdom in accordance with some system of laws and customs which he could not transgress if he would, except in peril of losing his throne. The Babylonian kings from Hammurabi to Nabunaid boast of their observance of the laws of the lands which they ruled; and the cause of the overthrow of the latter is said in the Cyrus Cylinder to have been that he had not observed the laws. What it is necessary to show, however, in this connection is, not that Daniel Hystaspis and the Darius of Daniel both observed laws: nor that they were both bound by laws beyond their control; but that Darius Hystaspis issued some particular edict, or broke some particular law, which the author of Daniel asserts to have been done by Darius the Mede. So, also, with regard to the edicts of the Darius of Daniel, it will not suffice to prove that he is a reflection of Darius Hystaspis to show that both issued edicts; but, it must be shown at least that they issued the same, or similar, edicts with reference to the same or similar subjects in the same or similar circumstances, and with the same or similar enacting clauses. Now, it is absolutely certain that this cannot be shown; and until it be shown, we can confidently believe, that Darius the Mede is in this respect, also, no reflection of Darius Hystaspis. For example, it would not be enough to show that Darius Hystaspis had a den of lions, and that he punished offenders by throwing them

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to these lions, to render it certain that the den of lions of the book of Daniel was a reflection of that of Darius Hystaspis. It would need to be proven that other kings before and and after Darius Hystaspis did not possess such a den. The probability is that if one king had a den of lions, another, also, would have one, and not the reverse. And, if a king had a den of lions, they must be fed; and so it is not far to the cry: “The Christians to the lions,” It would be exemplary, condign, and effective punishment. It would save the double expense of the executing of the criminal and of the food for the lions!

  But since the author of Daniel represents his Darius as casting a man into a den of lions a similar case with the same name and offense and punishment found recorded as having occurred in the reign of Darius Hystaspis would afford a strong presumption that one had been copied, or was a reflection of the other; but it would still have to be proven (even if it were admitted, that the two accounts referred to the same event) which of the authors it was who copied from the other. If, for example, Herodotus had said that Darius Hystaspis had cast a man called Daniel into a den of lions, it would be possible, that Herodotus had made a mistake as to his Darius. It would not prove, that the author of Daniel had made a mistake in saying that another Darius did so. Much less would it prove, that a late author had  simply reflected back this story from the later to a supposed earlier Darius. Besides, each king may have cast a man, or many men for that matter, into a den of lions; and there may have been a mistake in names merely. Take, for illustration, the cases of the Decii and of the two Henrys mentioned by Prof. Edward A.

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Freeman in his Methods of Historical Study.1 He says:

  The practice of rejecting a story merely because some thing very like it happened once before is one that must be used with great caution. As a matter of fact, events often do repeat one another;  it is likely that they should repeat one another; not only are like causes likely to produce like results, but in events that depend on the human will it is often likely that one man will act in a certain way simply because another man acts in the same way before him. I have often thought how easily two important reigns in or own history might be dealt with in the way that I have spoken of, how easily the later reign might be judged to be a mere repetition of the former, if we knew no more of them than we know of some other parts of history. Let us suppose that the reigns of Henry the First and Henry the Second were known to us only in the same meager way that we know the reigns of some of the ancient potentates of the East. In short and dry annals they might easily be told so as to look like the same story. Each king bears the same name; each reigns the same number of years; each comes to the crown in a way other than succession from father to son; each restores order after a time of confusion; each improves his political position by his marriage; each is hailed as a restorer of the old native kingship; each loses his eldest son; each gives his daughter Matilda to a Henry in Germany; each has a controversy with his archbishop; each wages war with France; each dies in his continental dominions; each, if our supposed meager annals can be supposed to tell us of such points, shows himself a great lawgiver and administrator and each, to some extent, displays the same personal qualities, good and bad. Now when we come really to study the reigns, we see that the details of all these supposed points of likeness are utterly

1Pp. 138, 139.

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different; but I am supposing very meager annals, such as are very often all that we can get, and in such annals, the two tales would very likely be so told that a master of the higher criticism might cast aside Henry the Second and his acts as a mere double of his grandfather and his acts. We know how very far wrong such a judgment would be; and this should make us cautious in applying a rule which, though often very useful, is always dangerous in cases where we may get utterly wrong without knowing it.

  Again, he says, on page 135 of the same work: There is

in some quarters a tendency to take for granted that any story which seems to repeat another must necessarily be a repetition of it, a repetition of it in the sense which implies that the second story never happened. I have read a German writer who holds that the devotion of the second Publius Decius at Sentinum is simply the devotion of the first Publius Decius by Vesuvius over again. Now, setting aside whatever amount of evidence we may think that we have for the second story, if we bring it to a question of likelihood, there is certainly the likelihood that the exploit of the father should be told again as an exploit of the son; but there is also the likelihood that the son, finding himself in the like case with his father, should be stirred up to follow the example of his father. Most people, I fancy, accept the story of the second Decius.

While the Decii and the first two Henrys of England may thus be taken as examples of the fact that men of the same name may perform different deeds in a like way, we may take the various recorded captures of Babylon as illustrating how like events may be performed by different persons and in widely different times. Passing by the successive seizures of the city of Babylon by Tiglath–Pileser, Sargon, Sennacherib, Esar–

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haddon, and Ashurbanipal —all of which had points of similarity, —attention may be specifically called to the different captures by the Persian kings, Cyrus, Darius (at two different times), and Xerxes. From the scanty information in our possession, it is utterly impossible for us to distinguish many of the features of these numerous seizures and capitulations, although we are certain as to the fact of their occurrence. To be noted is the fact, that the position of Babylon and its power rendered the head center of the rebellious forces and the objective of the attack of the contending powers.

  So, then, even if it could be shown that it was recorded of Darius the Mede, and likewise of Darius Hystaspis, that each of them had cast a man into a den of lions, this would not prove that one of these accounts was copied from the other, or that one one of them had not cast a man into the lions. It would rather raise a presumption that the kings of those times were in the habit of casting men to the lions. Fortunately for our present argument, there is no record of the casting of men into the lions on the part of Darius Hystaspis, nor in fact by any other Persian king; and hence the account in Daniel cannot, so far as we know, be a reflection, a casting back upon the canvas depicting the deeds of Darius the Mede, of an event which really transpired under another’s reign. Nothing reflects nothing, whether in the realm of matter, or in that of history, or in that of fiction.

  Seventhly, is it possible that a man like Daniel may have stood in such a relation to Darius the Mede as the book of Daniel represents?1 Or, putting it in other words, if it be possible that a man like Daniel could have occupied such a relation, wherein consists the

1See p. 223

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impossibility? Is it because no man could have occupied such a relation to him? Or, because Darius the Mede was such a king that no man could have stood in such a relation to him? Or, is it because Daniel was such a man that he could not have stood in such a relation to a king? Let us answer the above questions in their order.

  (1) It is not impossible that a man should stand in such a relation to a king as Daniel is said to have occupied to Darius the Mede. The very fact that the writer of Daniel says that he occupied this relation argues for its possibility. For, whatever and whoever the writer of Daniel was, he was certainly anything but a fool. Whether he has written history or fiction, he must have thought this relation possible.

  Besides, the critics who deny the historicity of Daniel claim that he wrote to comfort the Jews of Maccabean times with a fictitious narrative bearing the similitude of truth. To those Jews for whom Daniel wrote the account, such a relation must, therefore, have seemed possible. Otherwise, the whole story of the book would have been absurd, and the purpose for which it was written would have been made of no effect. But no one claimed that it was of no effect. On the contrary, all admit that few books have exerted a greater influence upon after times than this book of Daniel. It has remained for the modern critic to discover that one of the main features of the story —Daniel’s relation to Darius the Mede— was impossible. Apparently, this view of the case never struck the people who lied in the times when there were kings of Persia, and others of like character. To them it seemed to be in harmony with what they knew of kings, that they should have men like Daniel occupying such relations to them.

  But to specify and illustrate. If it were impossible

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for Daniel to have stood in such a relation to Darius, how was it possible for Joseph to have been in such relations with the king of Egypt as Genesis represents him to have been? If this last relationship, also, is said to have been impossible, for what purpose, then, did the author say that it actually existed? He, at least, must have thought that it was possible.

  Again, if this story of Daniel in relation to Darius is impossible, how about Achibar, the sage of Nineveh, in his relation to Sennacherib and Esarhaddon, kings of Assyria? The author of this story certainly thought that it was possible for a man like Daniel to have occupied such a relationship to a king. Again, the Arabian Nights, that best of all illustrators of Eastern manners and customs, gives us numerous examples of just such men as Daniel occupying the same relations to the king they served. Such men are the sage Douban in his relation to the Grecian king, and vizier Giafar in his relation to the caliph Haroun al Rashid.1

  What we know of the kings of Persia, also, shows us that they did have such counsellors. It is necessary only to mention Democedes under Darius Hystaspis, Demaratus under Xerxes, and Ctesias under Artaxerxes.

  (2) Secondly, is the character of Darius the Mede such as would justify us in supposing that Daniel could not have stood in the relation to him that the sixth chapter of Daniel describes?

  The answer to this question must be derived from the account of Darius given in the sixth chapter of Daniel; and, if we identify Darius with Gobryas, from the records of the Cyrus Cylinder also. From these sources we learn that he had the following characteristics:

1See Lane, vol. i, 37, 61.

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  First, he was a good and successful general.

  Secondly, he was deemed worthy to receive from Cyrus the realm of Belshazzar the Chaldean.

  Thirdly, he showed great ability as an organizer.

  Fourthly, he listened to and followed the advice of his counsellors.

  Fifthly, he showed wisdom in the choice of a prime minister; for he preferred Daniel, because an excellent spirit was in him.

  Sixthly, he was faithful to his friends, as is shown by the way he sought to release Daniel.

  Seventhly, sometimes, at least, he was weak and easily deceived, as is shown by the way he allowed himself to be imposed upon by the enemies of Daniel.

  Eighthly, he was pious; for he believed that the God of Daniel was able to deliver him out of the mouth of the lions.

  Ninthly, he was vain and filled with a heathenish sense of the divinity of kings; else, he would never have allowed a decree to have been made that no one should ask a petition of anyone for forty days, save of him.

  Tenthly, and yet he was just. When things went wrong, he was sore and displeased with himself. He obeyed the law, even when it was against his will and judgment. In accordance with the lex talionis, he punished those who had sought to encompass the death of Daniel with the same death they had attempted to inflict on him; and apparently restored Daniel to the position from which he had been unjustly deposed.

  Eleventhly, he was sorry when he had done wrong. He was sore displeased with himself, and fasted and lay awake all night; and was exceedingly glad when Daniel was saved.

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  Twelfthly, he was laborious. He organized the kingdom, receiving reports from his counsellors, labored all day to deliver Daniel, rose early in the morning to hasten to the den of lions, and himself wrote a decree to honor the God of Daniel.

  In short, Darius the Mede was no fickle, vengeful, lustful, oriental tyrant; but a wide–awake, beneficent, and very human ruler. Why should it be thought an impossible thing that such a king should have selected for his chief adviser and administrator such a man as Daniel?

  (3) Thirdly and lastly, the alleged impossibility of Daniel’s having stood n the relation to Darius in which the book of Daniel represents him to have been, cannot be shown from what is said of Daniel himself. For, first, it could not have arisen from the fact that he was a Jew. If it did, we would have to reject the stories of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Mordecai, as well as that of Daniel; for these all were Jews who are said to have occupied high official positions at the Persian court. Furthermore, the story of Joseph, also, implies the possibility of an Israelite’s rise to the highest position at a heathen court. The stories of Tobit and Achikar and Aristeas, also, show that the Jews thought at least, that Israelites could be promoted to the first places in the gift of the kings of Egypt and Assyria. Finally, the Jewish writers would scarcely have introduced the Jews as playing such rôles in their works, even if these works were purely fictitious, unless they knew that such positions were open to Jews.

  Nor, secondly, would such a position be impossible to Daniel because he was a slave; for from time immemorial all the officers of an oriental king had been looked upon as his slaves. Thus, in the Tel–el–Amarna letters, all of the officers and sub–kings of the king of Egypt are called

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his slaves. Cyrus even is called by Nabunaid the little slave of Astyages.1 Darius Hystaspis, also, speaks of Wohumis, one of the greatest of his generals whom he had selected to put down the rebellion of the Armenians, as his slave.2

  Further, we may cite the instances of Tobit and Achikar, who are said to have been captives and slaves, and notwithstanding this to have been elevated to the highest positions at the Assyrian court, the former as purveyor, the latter as counsellor or vizier. The Arabian Nights contain not infrequent examples of such promotions of slaves; and the history of India gives numerous instances of it. Unfortunately, the Babylonian and Persian records contain so little information about the officers of the kings that it is impossible to find out much about their origin, race, social position, or even their names.

  Nor, thirdly, can it have been because Daniel was not capable of performing the duties that he is represented as performing. According to the only of his education, that we possess, he had been specially prepared to stand before the king, and God had given him the knowledge and wisdom necessary for the work in life to which he was afterwards called. Furthermore, according to this same account, he discharged his functions so well under Nebuchadnezzar, that he was continued in high service until the reign of Cyrus. Lastly, Ezekiel, the only other biblical record that mentions him, puts him on a par with Noah and Job as one of the three well known wise men to whom the prophet could refer his hearers.3


1KB. ii, iii, ii, 98.    2Bab., gallu; Aram., ‘elam. See Behistun Insc., xxv.    3Ezek. xiv, 14, 20; xxviii, 3.

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  For all these reasons one may justly conclude, that it is entirely possible that a man like Daniel may have stood in relation to Darius the Median king as that in which the book of Daniel represents him to have stood.

  Eighthly, nor is there any evidence of a reflection when we come to consider the character of the two Dariuses.1 The principal trait in common is, that they were both organizers. But this common feature was rendered necessary by the fact that a common situation confronted them. They were both kings of a newly conquered kingdom, whose government had to be reduced to order. If the Ugbaru (i.e., Gubaru, Gobryas) of the monuments be Darius the Mede, we have the evidence that he did organize the country of Babylon by appointing governors under himself, he himself being under Cyrus. So Darius Hystaspis organized his greater kingdom. There is no inconsistency in the statement that they each organized their respective governments; neither does it follow that the author who says that either of then did thus organize his kingdom was reflecting merely the organization made by the other. There must have been an organized government during the reign of Cyrus and Cambyses and their subordinates; there must have been a reorganization by Darius Hystaspis after he had reconquered the empire which had gone to pieces on the death of the Magus. Each organization was absolutely necessary and neither is a reflection of the other.

  Nor, can it be said that the friendship and loyalty which Darius of Daniel showed to Daniel was a reflection of the character of Darius Hystaspis. True, Darius Hystaspis was, in this respect, and in every

1 See p. 223.

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respect, one of the noblest and best of the rulers of all time. He justified his boast: “the man who was my friend, him have I well protected.”1 His treatment of Sylosen, whom he made tyrant of Samos because he had given him a cloak in Egypt before he became king;2 his generosity to the Greek Physician Democedes who had healed him and his queen Atossa of their complaints;3 his faithfulness to Histiæus the Milesian during all of his tergiversations;4 his treatment of Zopyrus and Megabysus,5 and of his fellow conspirators6 all attest this characteristic and approve his claim. But he was not the only monarch who was friendly to his friends. Cyrus, also, was thus faithful and kindly. according to Xenophon in his Cryopædia, he was a model in his respect. Herodotus tells of the position of honor he gave to Harpagus, who aided him in the overthrow of Astyages; and of his kind treatment of Astyages and Crœsus. He himself speaks in his Cylinder Inscription of his kindness to Nabunaid and of his faithful conduct to Ugbaru. Besides, the other kings of Persia such as Artaxerxes I and II and Darius Nothus have left many examples of their generosity and faithfulness. These are not such uncommon traits n kings, that the fact that two kings are said to have had them is evidence  that someone has reflected to his hero the lineaments of the other.

  The same may be said of the piety, belief in God or the gods, manifested in the Darius of the sixth chapter of Daniel. “Thy God,” says Darius to Daniel, “whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.” This

1Behistun Inscr., i, 21.    2Herodotus, Bk. III, 139–149.    3Id., Bk. iii, 129–138.

4Id., Bk. IV, 137–141, V, 11, 23, 24, 30, 38, 105, 107, VI, 1–5, 26–30.

5Id., Bk. III, 160; iv, 143.    6 Behistun Inscr., iv, 80–86.

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sentiment cannot be paralleled in the inscriptions of Darius Hystaspis. It is true that he has what might be called a general piety, a trust in the favor which Auramazda, his god, had for him, expressed in such phrases as: “Through the grace of Auramazda I am king”; “Auramazda gave me the kingdom”;1 “Then cried I to Auramazda for help. Auramazda assisted me”;2 “Through the grace of Auramazda, I did it, I have wrought, until I have placed again this our family in its place, as it was before; so have I done through the grace of Auramazda”; and others of a like nature. Or, as it is expressed in the inscription of Elwend: “A great god is Auramazda, who creates this world, who creates yon heaven, who creates mankind, who creates pleasure for men, who made Darius king, the only king among men, the only lord of many,”3 But, Xerxes and Darius Ochus and Artaxerxes I and II have similar phrases in their inscriptions, and have left us many proofs of a similar piety and trust in their god or gods. Cyrus says that Marduk called him to the kingdom of the totality of all (the world) (Cylinder 10–12); that he looked upon his (Cyrus’) deeds and subdued under him the host of Manda and all men (13–14); that he commanded him to go to Babylon and like a friend and helper went along at his side (15); that he who makes the dead alive approached him graciously (19); that Merodach, his lord whom he worshipped, had drawn nigh to him graciously (27–35). The inscription of Antiochus Soter, who reigned from 280 to 260 B.C., is full, also, of similar pious expressions.4 So that it is obvious, that a general piety which all kings of the

1Behistun, i, ii, 12; 59, 60.    2Id., i, 54, 55.

3So also in the similar inscription of Persepolis and Naksh–i–Rustam.

4See Shrader, KB., iii–ii, 136–139.

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Orient showed toward their gods, or god, cannot be produced when found in any particular one as an argument to show that his piety was reflected from theirs or theirs from his. They were all more or less pious, or, if you prefer, superstitious. Darius Hystaspis, being a Persian, and the Darius of Daniel, being a Mede, and thus of the same family of nations, and with, perhaps, the same religion, may well have worshiped the same god, or gods; but there is no evidence anywhere except perhaps in Ezra, that Darius Hystaspis ever honored the God of Daniel, the God of Israel, or declare his belief in that God’s ability to save a man from anything and certainly not from a den of lions.

  Again, there is a semblance of weakness, of dependence upon others, of susceptibility to flattery, about the Darius of Daniel, for which no parallel can be found in Darius Hystaspis. Neither his inscriptions, nor any of the other sources of information which we have concerning him, give us the slightest intimation, that he was anything other than a strong, independent, self–reliant, conquering hero, a man preëminently sane and free from that susceptibility to flattery which doth surround a throne. All the evidence goes to show that the vacillating, troubled, penitent, sleepless Darius of the realm of the Chaldeans, whatever else he may have been, cannot have been a reflection of the self–satisfied, dominant, and enterprising son of Hystaspis who founded and ruled triumphantly the greatest empire that the world till then had ever seen.

  And lastly, we do not know anything in the history of Darius Hystaspis which would cause us to conclude that he ever had under him a ruler like Daniel from whom a late writer might have made a refection backward to his supposititious Daniel. The monu–

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ments of Darius fail utterly to reveal a man like Daniel of any race or position. In fact, the Persian kings were in general free from the influence of favorites of all kinds, Arses having been an exception in this regard. An autocracy which depends for its existence upon the skill and power of the monarch is not calculated to cultivate such men. So, we find, that in Assyria, Babylonia, and Persia, weaklings soon ceased to reign. Some more aggressive, self–aggressive, or intelligent brother, or rival, speedily made an end of them by assassination or rebellion. Witness Evil–Marduk, Labashi–Marduk, Xerxes II, and Sogdianus and Arses and even Astyages and Nabunaid. When an autocrat ceased to be a real autocrat, his doom was sealed. Richard II, Edward II, and Henry VI are more recent examples. But a Darius Hystaspis! A man, one of the most strenuous, self–dependent, active, intelligent, and successful of all the autocratic monarchs who ever lived! We would not expect to find, we do not find, in any records of Greek, or other, source, any intimation, that he ever submitted for a moment to give over the government of his kingdom into the hands of another, as Darius the Mede is said in Daniel to have done. In so far as Darius the Mede did this, he cannot have been a reflection of Darius Hystaspis.

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Home Up Chapter 13

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 from the 1917 edition.

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