Chapter 13




  VII.1 It is assumed that when the author of Daniel makes the fourth of the Persian kings mentioned in Chapter 11:2, to “be exceedingly rich and to provoke a mighty war against Greece,” it is clear that he has confused Xerxes and Darius Hystaspis by making them one and the same person.2

  In support of this assumption, appeal is made to Dan. 11:2, with which it is said, Dan. 7:, is confused. The latter verse reads in the Reviser’s text: “After this I beheld, and lo, another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given it.”

  The natural interpretation of this figure is that the wings denote velocity and the head voracity. There is absolutely no proof that the wings denote swiftness and the heads four kings, as Von Lengerke and others assert. Besides, it is an assumption, which itself needs to be proven, that the leopard is meant to denote Persia, and not Alexander the Great. Since the Scriptures outside of Daniel, as well as the monuments and the classical authors, uniformly represent Cyrus as the one who overthrew the Babylonian empire, it is

1 See p. 162.    2 Cornill, Introduction, p. 385.

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impossible for us to conjecture where the author of Daniel could have received the false information which would have led him to believe that a Median empire intervened between the Babylonian and the Persian. Even if he had been writing a fiction, as the writer on Daniel in a recent Bible dictionary affirms that he did, he would scarcely have made so many unnecessary a blunder and one so easy to be detected.  We can only conclude, then, that he was an ignoramus, who knew nothing about the sources of information which were easily accessible to him; or an imposter, who presumed on a crass and impossible ignorance of their own, as well as of Persian history, on the part of the Jews of Maccabean times; whom, according to his modern critics, he was wishing to comfort and encourage by his “edifying religious narrations.” But, how can a man who is supposed to have known that “the names of only four Persian kings are mentioned in the O. T.” have been so ignorant of the contents of the Old Testament as not to know that they uniformly represent Cyrus as the conqueror of Babylon and the Persians as the immediate successors of the Babylonians? However late the second part of Isaiah may have been written, no one can doubt, that it was written long before the middle of the second century B.C., and that it represents Jehovah’s servant Cyrus as fulfilling his will upon Babylon.1 In Ezra and 2 Chronicles, also, Cyrus is the one uniformly designated as the conqueror of Babylon.2 No mention is made anywhere in the Bible or outside or inside of Daniel of the name of any king of Media, nor of any special conquest of Babylon by the Medes

1 Isa. xliv, and xlv.

2 Ezra 1:1, 2, 7, 8; 3:7; 4:3, 5; 5:13, 14, 17; 6:3, 14; 2 Chron. 36:22, 23.

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alone, nor of any ruling of Median kings over Babylon. Appeal is made to Isaiah 13:17, and 21:2, and to Jeremiah 51:11, 28, to show that these were the sources of his information. Isaiah 13:17 reads: “Behold, I will stir up the Medes1 against them [i.e., the Babylonians.]” Isaiah 21:2, reads: “Go up, O; Elam besiege, O Media,” and verse 9 shows that Babylon is the object of the attack. In Jeremiah 51:11, we read, “The Lord hath stirred up the spirit of the kings of the Medes, because his device is against Babylon to destroy it.” In Jeremiah 51:27–29, we read:

  Set ye up a standard in the land, blow the trumpet among the nations, prepare the nations against her, call together against her the kingdom of Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz: appoint a marshal2 against her; cause the horses to come up as the rough canker–worm. Prepare against her the nations, the kings of the Medes, the governors3 thereof, and all the deputies4 thereof, and all the land of their dominion. And the land trembleth and is in pain; for the purposes of Jehovah against Babylon do stand, to make the land of Babylon a desolation, without inhabitant.

Further in 2 Kings 17:6, and 18:11, it is said that the king of Assyria, in the time of Hezekiah and Isaiah, settled the captive children of Israel in the cities of Media. From these passages it is evident that Media must have been well known in the time of Isaiah and we may well believe to every succeeding Jewish writer of any ordinary intelligence. The better one knows the history of the land of Media, the better also will he recognize the appropriateness with which Isaiah and Jeremiah

1 Heb. Maday.    2Hebrew. tifsar.    3Hebrew. păhôth.    4 Hebrew. sagan.

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use the designation. According to Winckler,1 the conquering Aryans, who were conquerors of the Persians, assumed, or were given by their neighbors, the name of the country and people that they had subdued. During the time of the Assyrian dominations, it was, and remained unto classical times, the name of the northern part of the plateau of Iran; the latter being the new name afterward given it from its Aryan conquerors. Elam, on the other hand, was the well known designation of the country between the Median or Iranian plateau and the Persian Gulf; and included not merely Susiana (the Uvaya of the Persian recension of the Behistun Inscription), but Anshan, the land which Cyrus and his ancestors ruled, and Persia proper, which Darius and his ancestors ruled for a century or two before the capture of Babylon by Cyrus. The Behistun Inscription also puts Elam under the Persian dominion; though Herodotus calls it part of Susa and the rest of the country the land of the Cissians.2 The other lands mentioned by Jeremiah —Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz— constituted what Winckler has identified as having been called Gutium by the Babylonians; though the name probably been changed as to the extent of the country denoted by it at the time when Ugbaru was its satrap, or sub–king. It will be noted, also, that Jeremiah speaks of Media as having kings and not a king, when it is stirred up against Babylon. This harmonizes with our views as to the relation in which Ugbaru stood to Cyrus. He was one king of many who were under the king of kings. Another, according to the Behistun Inscription, must have been Hystaspis the father, or Arsames, the grandfather of Darius Hys–

1 Untersuchungen zur altorient. Geschichte, p. 217.    2Bk. III, 91.

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taspis; for Darius declares in both the great inscriptions at Behistun and the lesser one, called A, that eight of his ancestors had been king before him, and Herodotus states that Hystaspis was governor (hyparch) of Persia in the time of Smerdis the Magian.1

  From the above discussion, it will appear, then, to be true, that while Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel all use the name Media correctly, and say only what is absolutely exact with regard to it; that it would have been impossible for anyone in later times to have constructed out of the meager details afforded by the first two, such an account as we find recorded in the book of Daniel. They are all three perfectly in harmony with what we have from other sources; but no one of them could have drawn his information from the others, —least of all Daniel. There being, then, no statement anywhere in the Scriptures to the effect that there ever was an independent Median kingdom, which included in it the land of Babylon; nor of any king of a Median empire, who ever conquered it, ruled over it; it seems farfetched to maintain, that the author of Daniel ever imagined that a Median kingdom came between the Babylonian and the Persian. In Daniel 1:21, it is said that Daniel continued unto the first year of king Cyrus; in 6:28, it is said that he prospered in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian. Since Isaiah 44 and 45 had attributed the conquest of Babylon to Cyrus; Isaiah 13:7, to the Medes; Isaiah 21:2, to Elam2; and Jeremiah 51 to Medes and others3; it is easy to reconcile all the statements by supposing that all of these people together, under Cyrus as king, were engaged in the attack on Babylon. There is every

1Bk. III, 70.    2I.e., Anahan where Cyrus ruled.    3I.e., Gutium, of which Gobryas was governor under Cyrus.

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reason, however, for believing that native kings, who submitted to Cyrus and the other Persian kings after him, were not disturbed in their sovereignty over their subjugated states. Witness the Seyenneses, kings of Cilicia, one of whom was and remained king under Cyrus,1 another under Darius,2 and a third under Xerxes.3 Witness Damasithymus, king of the Calyndians who served in the Persian fleet and was killed at Salamis.4 Witness the kings of Cyprus,5 Gorgus, king of the Salaminians;6 Aristocyprus, son of Philocyprus, king of Soli.7 Witness Thannyear, the son of Inarus, the Libyan, and Pausirus, the son of Amyrtæ, who received from the Persian king the governments which their fathers had; “although none ever did more injury to the Persian than Inarus and Amyrtæus”; for “the Persians are accustomed, ” says Herodotus, “to honor the sons of kings, and even if they have revolted from them, nevertheless bestow the government upon their children.”8 So, Cyrus says in his Cylinder–inscription, line 29–31, that the kings brought to him their rich tribute. The kings who were dethroned were not ordinarily killed, unless they aimed, not at independence, but at the supreme sovereignty. Thus Astyages, king of the Medes (or Mandeans); Crœsus, king of Lydia; and Nabunaid, king of Babylon, were all spared by Cyrus9 ; and according to Abydenus, the last of these was given the government of Carmania.

  From the above, it will be clear to our readers, that Cyrus may have had a king of Media, or a Median

1Herodotus, I, 74.    2I.e., V, 118.    3  I.e., VII, 98.

4  I.d., VII, 98, VIII, 87.     5   I.d., XII, 100.    6  I.d., V, 104.

7   I.d., V, 113.    8   I.d., III, 15.   

9   Herodotus, I, 130, 208; Abu Habba Cylinder, i, 32, 55; Nabunaid–Cyrus Chronicle, obverse Col. ii, 2, reverse Col. ii, 16.

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king, ruling a part of his empire under him, But further, before leaving this subject, let it be remembered, that it is not fair to accuse the Scriptures of making statements about the Medes having conquered Babylon; whereas, as a matter of fact, the Persians did it. For, it is evident, that the subjects and neighbors of the Persian government both looked upon the Achæmenid kings as kings of the Medes, also, and addressed them as such. For example, Herodotus says that Tomyris, queen of the Massagetæ, addressed Cyrus as “king of the Medes,”1 and the two Spartans who went to Susa to make satisfaction for the death of the Persian heralds who had perished at Sparta, addressed the king as “King of the Medes.”2 Moreover, Xerxes, as we have shown above, is called “king of Persia and Media,” “king of Medo–Persia,3 etc., on a number of Babylonian contract tablets. Herodotus and Thucydides, also, represent the Greeks as using the names almost indiscriminately for the allied peoples and for their kings as well; and both the monuments of the Persian kings and the classical writers place the Medes in a position little inferior to the Persians but much superior to any other nation in the kingdom of the Achæmenids. Both by Cyrus and Darius Hystaspis, a large number of Medes as well as Persians were entrusted with the highest commands in the empire; while but a few exceptional cases can be cited where a man of any other nation received an appointment to a high command. So that the old designation of Medo–Persian may well be employed to designate the kingdom founded by Cyrus; though, perhaps, Perso–Median would be better still. If then, the Medo–Persian empire was one, and succeeded immediately to that of Babylon, on the interpre–

1I., 205.    2Id., XII, 134–136.    3Shar Par–sa, Mada.

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tation of Daniel 7:5, 6, which makes the bear to mean Media and the leopard Persia, falls to the ground; and so also does the interpretation which makes the four heads of the leopard refer to four kings of Persia. It follows that Daniel 7:6, cannot be used to prove that in Daniel 11:2, we find the author “attributing to the Persian empire only four kings,” and that consequently he must have confused Darius Hystaspis and his son Xerxes when he makes the fourth king stir up all against the realm of Greece.

  Dan. 11:2, which is the only text except 7:6, which is cited by Prof. Cornill to prove this confusion of the two kings reads as follows:

  And now, I will show thee the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be much richer than they all; and when he is waxed strong through his riches, he shall stir up all against the realm of Greece.

  The first verse of this chapter says that this vision was in the first year of Darius the Mede. Since, as we have endeavored to show, Darius the Mede was never an independent king, but was merely a sub–king under Cyrus, it seems best to consider Cambyses, Smerdis the Magian, and Darius Hystaspis, to be the three kings meant by the author of this verse. The fourth would then be Xerxes; though this may possibly be Darius, if we count Cyrus as the first. The confusion, however, if there be any, is with us and not with the author. That is, we may not know which of the two he meant; but this does not prove that he did not know which of the two he meant. Remember, no names are given. he naming of the kings of the vision rests with the interpreters of it. It is not necessary to

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maintain that the prophets were themselves able clearly to distinguish the persons of their visions. We are told by Peter,1 that the prophets searched diligently to find out what the visions which they saw might mean. There would be no possible objection, therefore, to this verse, even if it were definite and somewhat confused, provided that we could only recognize that it was prediction; and not try to force it to be an account written in the second century B.C.

  VIII. But eighthly, it is said, that not merely did the author confuse Xerxes and Darius Hystaspis, but that this confused fourth king of Persia was further confused with Darius Codomannus, the fourteenth and last king of Persia, who was overthrown by Alexander the Great.2 This confusion is said to have been shown by Daniel 11:2, which reads: “And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion and do according to his will.” Taken in connection with the verse preceding it, we admit and all admit, that this refers to Alexander of Macedon. But we fail to see the confusion. The prophecy might have been more explicit, but it is not confused. It does not say when this mighty king should arise. It does not say that he would have any direct or personal relation with the fourth king of Persia; though it may and, we think, does indicate and mean, that the great king would be instigated to his course of conduct by the activities of the fourth king against the dominion of Greece. As a matter of fact, Alexander the Great is said both by Arrian and Quintus Curtius to have declared that he undertook his expedition against Persia in order to avenge the earlier assaults on Greece and Macedon made by Darius Hystaspis and his son Xerxes. And who can or would do other–

1I Pet. 1:10, 11.    2See p. 162.

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wise in thinking of the two great expeditions, than to put them in contrast and in a certain juxtaposition and relation of cause and effect with each other? Herodotus begins his great history by an attempt to show what was the original cause of the enmity between the Greeks and Asiatics; and he says that the Persians ascribed to the capture of Troy, to the expedition of the Greeks into Asia about five hundred years before that of Darius Hystaspis against Greece, the commencement of their enmity to the Greeks.1

  But even if there was a confusion of these kings of Persia in the statements of the book of Daniel, it must be evident to all, that, while this might be looked upon as a reason for distrusting these statements, it certainly cannot be used to prove that the author wrote after rather than before the history was enacted. We object, therefore, to the bringing forward of this claim of confusion as a proof of the late date of the book. And we object especially in this charge against the author of Daniel that he confused the composite Darius Hystaspis–Xerxes with Darius Codomannus, to laying stress upon an interval of time between the cause and the effect, between the attack on Greece and the counter attack on Persia; inasmuch as no one in his senses would think of charging Herodotus with confusion because he skips over the five hundred years between the attack on Priam’s citadel and that on the Acropolis, or of charging Alexander the Great with confusion or ignorance, because he declares his attack on Darius Codomannus in 334 B.C., to have been an act of vengeance for the attacks of Darius Hystaspis and Xerxes upon Greece and Macedon in the wars which culminated at Marathon in the wars which culminated at Marathon and Salamis.

1See Bk. I, 1–5.

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  IX.1 Ninthly, and lastly, it is assumed, that the author states that the war of the fourth king of Persia against Greece ended “in a triumphant repulse of the attack by the Greek king Alexander the Great” and in the defeat and dethronement of the fourth king.2

  It is a sufficient answer to this assumption to repeat the verse upon which this is founded: “A mighty king shall stand up and shall rule with great dominion and do according to his will.”3 Here, is no mention of the defeat and dethronement of any king, let alone the fourth king of Persia alluded to in the preceding verse. Here is no mention of the name of Alexander of Macedon, nor of his having repulsed any attack nor of his being a great king. The whole verse is absolutely within the sphere of ordinary predictive prophecy, and puts one in mind in its indefiniteness of the verse of Balaam: “There shall come forth a star out of Jacob”4; and of the verse in Jacob’s blessing: “The sceptor shall not depart from Judah,” etc.5


  In the discussions of the last five chapters, we have attempted to show that the author of Daniel does not attribute to the Persian empire a total of only four kings; that it is scarcely possible that the author of Daniel, if he wrote after the time of Alexander the Great, can have thought that this empire had only four kings; that it is not proven that only four kings of Persia are mentioned in the Old Testament outside of Daniel; that Darius the Mede cannot have been a reflection of Darius Hystaspis; that the author of Daniel has not

1See p. 162.    2 Cornill,  p. 385.    3 Dan. 11:3.    4 Num. 24:17.    5Gen. 49:10.

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confused Darius Hystaspis and Xerxes his son; that he does not mistake Darius Hystaspis for Darius Codomannus; and he does not state that the war of the forth king of Persia against Greece was repulsed by Alexander the Great. We leave the reader to judge whether we have succeeded in our attempt.

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Home Up Chapter 14

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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