Daniel 6 – Daniel in the Lion’s Den & Darius the Mede

I don’t believe that the book of Daniel is fiction for three reasons, but the first two aren’t important.

1. It was tested with all the other books of the Bible as being authentic,

2. The life style and incidents in it are parallel to many of the other books, and mainly,

3. You wouldn’t have let it in the Bible if it was false. Like You didn’t let the Catholics put in their bogus stories, that’s why they have their own Bible.

The existence or non-existence of Darius the Mede isn’t important, the life of Daniel and You is what’s important.  The things that happened to Daniel and his friends is quite bizarre and could be difficult to believe for some. I never had any out of the world instances happen to me, but I know You and I have seen what You have done for me and others. What happened in the book of Daniel is true to fact.

Anyway, what is…

Daniel 6
Daniel in the Lion’s Den

Cyrus (580-529 BC) was the first Achaemenid Emperor. He founded Persia by uniting the two original Iranian Tribes- the Medes and the Persians. Although he was known to be a great conqueror, who at one point controlled one of the greatest Empires ever seen, he is best remembered for his unprecedented tolerance and magnanimous attitude towards those he defeated.

1 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom;

2 And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage.

3 Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.

4 Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.

5 Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.

6 Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live forever.

7 All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counselors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions.

8 Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.

9 Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.

The cylinder of Cyrus the Great is barrel-shaped, around 23cm long and 11cm wide, and is inscribed in Akkadian cuneiform.
It includes a detailed account by Cyrus of his conquest of Babylon in 539 B.C. and his subsequent humane treatment of his conquered subjects. It has been hailed as the world’s first declaration of human rights.

10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.

11 Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God.

12 Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king’s decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.

13 Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day.

14 Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him.

15 Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed.

This ancient Babylonian tablet is part of the Babylonian Chronicles, which, among other events, records the capture of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 597 BC. The event is also recorded in the Bible in 2 Kings 25. The tablet was written in the 6th century BC, and is made of baked clay. It is a little over three inches in height and the writing is in the Akkadian language using cuneiform script. It was discovered in the late 1800s in Babylon.

16 Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.

17 And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.

18 Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of music brought before him: and his sleep went from him.

19 Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions.

20 And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?

21 Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live forever.

22 My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.

23 Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.

The Tomb of Cyrus the Great
The tomb is in Pasargadae, the capital of Cyrus the Great and also his last resting place, was a city in ancient Persia, and is today an archaeological site and one of Iran’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

24 And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den.

25 Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you.

26 I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and steadfast forever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.

27 He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.

28 So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

Darius the Mede

Daniel 6 informs us that after the Persian conquest of Babylon, the city was ruled by a king called “Darius the Mede.” This statement poses a problem: There is no record of such an individual outside of the Bible – a fact that has brought the historicity and authorship of Daniel into question.

Darius the Mede???
Although mentioned in the Book of Daniel, the works of Flavius Josephus, and Jewish midrashic material, Darius the Mede is not known from any other primary historical sources. Neither the Babylonian nor the Persian histories record such a person. Herodotus, who wrote his Histories about 440 BCE, records that Babylon fell to the Persian army, under the control of King Cyrus, who had conquered the Median Empire as early as 550 BCE.
The conqueror of Babylon was Gobryas, governor of Gutium, a general of Cyrus the Great, king of Persia. A successor of Cyrus as king of Persia was known as Darius the Great.

Many believe that an unknown author wrote Daniel hundreds of years after the fall of Babylon and that the figure Darius the Mede, like most of Daniel, is pure fiction.  But is it appropriate to patently dismiss Darius the Mede on the assumption that he never existed?

Darius the Mede cannot be the Persian king known as Darius I, since this later Darius was the successor of Cyrus, not his predecessor. Furthermore, Darius the Mede, who was purported to be sixty-two years old at the time of the fall of Babylon (5:31), was born in 601/600 B.C., whereas history indicates that Darius I was born in 521 B.C.

Those who believe that Daniel is not a historical book sometimes suggest that the author was simply confused about Persian history and thought that Darius I preceded Cyrus the Great, if this were the case, however, the author’s ignorance would truly be astounding.

Cyrus the Great, the creator of the Persian Empire, is a prominent figure in the Old Testament.  Also, Darius I is always presented as a Persian, but Darius the Mede is obviously asserted to be a Mede.

Darius the Mede could have been Cyrus the Great.  Dan 6:28 might, according to this theory, be translated, “Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius, that is, in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.”

Gubaru was governor of Babylon and the land Beyond the River; his successor was Ushtannu. During Ushtannu the western province was under the control of Tattenai (Tattennu) Ezra 5-6

Normally, however, this would be translated simply, “and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian” (emphasis added), as most versions render it. Though a possibility, this interpretation is not persuasive.

Darius the Mede could also have been a subordinate king appointed by Cyrus to rule over Babylon. The Hebrew of 9:1 supports this position, stating that Darius was made king using a passive verb.

Also, the Aramaic of Dan 5:31 states that Darius “took the kingdom.”  It is important to note that the book of Daniel never refers to this Darius as the king either of Persia or of the Medes, but simply as the ruler of Babylon.

Darius the Mede’s personal name might have been Gubaru, that of a governor appointed by Cyrus.  Gubaru is mentioned in cuneiform documents, including the Nabonidus Chronicles. 

…the Ptolemies?