Medo-Persian Kings

MEDO-PERSIAN KINGS

CHRONOLOGY

The chronology of the kings of the Medes and the Persians is confusing, for there were periods where two kings reigned simultaneously over different parts of the kingdom. Additionally, many of the kings had multiple names, or were given the same name as a previous king.
Timeline for the Prophets and the books of the Bible
•    Ezra 1-6
•    Esther – Fausset's Bible Dictionary states, “The gap between Ezra 6 and Ezra 7 is filled up with the book of Esther.” (“Ahasuerus” Fausset's Bible Dictionary)
•    Ezra 7-13
•    Nehemiah 1-13

The kings of Media and Persia are:
1. Astyages

2. Cyrus

3. Darius The Mede

4. Cambyses

5. Cyaxares / Ahasuerus
6. Artaxerxes (Pseudo-Smerdis)
7. Darius Hystapses
8. Ahasuerus / Xerxes I
9. Artaxerxes Longimanus

ASTYAGES
First king of Media – The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states, “The daughter of Astyages (Mandane) married a Persian, Cambyses, and a son was born to them who later became Cyrus the Great. Astyages had given orders to expose the babe; but Harpagus, on whom the task had been imposed, gave the child to a herdsman, with instructions to kill him. When the boy, who had been brought up as his own by the herdsman, arrived at the age of twelve, Astyages discovered that he was the son of Mandane. The king in wrath then had the son of Harpagus killed and served to his father as food. The latter concealed his feelings of hatred and resentment, and bided his time; and when the young Cyrus had grown to manhood, he stirred up the grandson in insurrection against Astyages, who was defeated and taken prisoner (Herodotus i.127-30). When Astyages marched against the Persians, the Medes, under the command of Harpagus, deserted their king, and sided with the disappointed Persians; and Cyrus was crowned king … The dethroned monarch was treated with kindness by his conqueror. According to Ktesias, a home was provided for him by Cyrus in Hyrcania.” (“Astyages” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)

CYRUS
•    Cyrus was the king who made the decree to rebuild the temple at Jerusalem: “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is among you of all His people? May the Lord his God be with him, and let him go up!” (2 Chronicles 36:23 NKJV)
•    Cyrus may have been a description of his origin rather than a name. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states, “According to Strabo, he was at first called Agradatēs, the name by which he was universally known being taken from that of the river Cyrus. This, however, is more likely to have been the reason why his grandfather (after whom he was probably named) was called Cyrus.” (“Cyrus” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)
•    The word translated as “Cyrus” means “possess thou the furnace.” (Kowresh OT:3566 Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon)
•    The article “Cyrus and the Jews” (http://www.3amthoughts.com/article/people-and-places/cyrusandthejews) indicates that Cyrus may have been a believer in the God of Israel.

DARIUS THE MEDE
•    The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states, “From Daniel 6:28 we may infer that Darius was king contemporaneously with Cyrus. Outside of the Book of Daniel there is no mention of Darius the Mede by name, though there are good reasons for identifying him with Gubaru, or Ugbaru, the governor of Gutium, who is said in the Nabunaid-Cyrus Chronicle to have been appointed by Cyrus as his governor of Babylon after its capture from the Chaldaeans.” (“Darius” International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia)
•    Darius the Mede was the king who conquered the Babylonians: “That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain. And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.” (Daniel 5:30-31 NKJV)
•    It appears that Darius was the son of a man named Ahasuerus: “In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans - in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.” (Daniel 9:1-2 NKJV) Ahasuerus, the father of Darius, is a different person than the husband of Esther. The Tyndale Bible Dictionary states, “The identity of this father and son in secular history is uncertain.” (“Ahasuerus” Tyndale Bible Dictionary)
•    Darius the Mede was the king who was in power when Daniel was sent to the lion’s den: “Therefore King Darius signed the written decree.” (Daniel 6:9 NKJV)

CAMBYSES
Cambyses was the son of Cyrus. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states, “Cambyses organized an expedition for the conquest of Egypt, which was rendered successful by internal treachery and by the aid of the Phoenician, Cyprian and Greek fleets. During this campaign Cambyses seems to have acted with good generalship and with clemency toward the conquered. After the subjugation of Egypt, Cyrene and Barca, the modern Tripoli, submitted to his sway. He then desired to undertake the conquest of Carthage, but was compelled to give it up, because his Phoenician allies, without whose ships it was impossible for him to conduct his army in safety, refused to join in an attack upon a country that had been colonized by them … Shortly after this, Cambyses heard that a certain Magian, who claimed to be his brother Smerdes whom he had secretly put to death, had set himself up as king of Persia, and that almost the whole of his Asiatic dominions had acknowledged him as king. With the fragments of his army he started toward Persia to attack the usurper, but on the way was killed by a wound inflicted by himself, it is uncertain whether by accident or with intention … For two or more years Cambyses was king of Babylon, while his father was king of the lands. The son was a drunkard and subject to fits of unbridled passion, but seems to have been of good capacity as a general and as an administrator. Many of the tales that have been told against him were doubtless invented by his enemies, and he has left us no records of his own. That he married his own sisters is probable; but it must be remembered that this was the custom of the Egyptian kings of that time and may have been of the Persian kings as well.’” (“Cambyses” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)

CYAXARES / AHASUERUS
Fausset's Bible Dictionary states, “[Ahasuerus is] the Graecised form is Cyaxares; king of Media, conqueror of Nineveh … … Ahasuerus reigned seven and a half years. Then the Magian Pseudo-Smerdis, Artaxerxes, usurped the throne for eight months.” (“Ahasuerus” Fausset's Bible Dictionary)

ARTAXERXES (PSEUDO-SMERDIS)