Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Journey to The Past to Visit King(s) Darius

Who is King Darius?

Darius is a common Persian male name. Three kings of the ancient Achaemenid Empire of Persia were named Darius:

  • Darius I of Persia or Darius the Great.
  • Darius II of Persia
  • Darius III of Persia
When King Cyrus took Babylon in 539 B.C., he appointed Darius I to rule there as the "governer." Photos are from Flickr.

Iran Naqsh-e Rostam _DSC6306

This area is called Naqsh-e Rostam, location of the tombs of the great Achemaenid Kings. One of the tombs is explicitly identified by an accompanying inscription to be the tomb of Darius I (r. 522-486 BCE). The other three tombs are believed to be those of Xerxes I (r. 486-465 BCE), Artaxerxes I (r. 465-424 BCE), and Darius II (r. 423-404 BCE) respectively. A fifth unfinished one might be that of Artaxerxes III, who reigned at the longest two years, but is more likely that of Darius III (r. 336-330 BCE), last of the Achaemenid dynasts.

On the far right, the mysterious Kaba or Zoroastrian fire temple juts square out of the ground. This is also another interesting topic itself that I'd like to talk about later.

Iran Naqsh-e Rostam _DSC6253

This is the tomb of Darius the Great, ruled Persia from 522 to 486BC based in Persepolis.

Iran Naqsh-e Rostam _DSC6282

This is the tomb of Darius III, great cousin of Artaxerxes III, ruled Persia from 336 - 330BC until defeated by Alexander the Great, and so becoming the last Achaemenid ruler.

Now it's the time to have a look at the Bible and see how Darius is described there. Here is a relativelty long story from the Bible, Daniel 6:1-28 about Darius and Daniel. However, no one is sure which Darius he is.

1 It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, 2 with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. 3 Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. 4 At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. 5 Finally these men said, "We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God."

6 So the administrators and the satraps went as a group to the king and said: "O King Darius, live forever! 7 The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or man during the next thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into the lions' den. 8 Now, O king, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed." 9 So King Darius put the decree in writing.

10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. 11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. 12 So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: "Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or man except to you, O king, would be thrown into the lions' den?"
The king answered, "The decree stands—in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed."

13 Then they said to the king, "Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day." 14 When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him.

15 Then the men went as a group to the king and said to him, "Remember, O king, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed."

16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions' den. The king said to Daniel, "May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!"

17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel's situation might not be changed. 18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.

19 At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions' den. 20 When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?"

21 Daniel answered, "O king, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king."

23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

24 At the king's command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions' den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.

25 Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language throughout the land:
"May you prosper greatly!

26 "I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.
"For he is the living God
and he endures forever;
his kingdom will not be destroyed,
his dominion will never end.

27 He rescues and he saves;
he performs signs and wonders
in the heavens and on the earth.
He has rescued Daniel
from the power of the lions."

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

Naghsh-e Rostam, Shiraz, Iran


Dina said...

Wow, another great post, Meead!
Those tombs are amazing. Do many people go to visit them?
Daniel in the lions' den is an exciting story. Thanks for the history to go with it.

I'll post something for you within the next few hours.

Meead said...

Thank you Dina. Yes, those tombs are one of the most attractive sites in Shiraz for tourists. Unfortunately my hometown was far, far away from Shiraz and I haven't had the chance to visit those sites in person. They are quite amazing and mysterious with many ancient inscriptions and rock carvings.

Babooshka said...

This is spectacular both the photography and the narrative. Very informative post.

Sara said...

This is marvelous...I never imagined tombs of these particular ancient kings were still able to be visited all these centuries later!

They remind me a bit of Petra, though the carvings are different.

spacedlaw said...

This is a most beautiful site.
Thank you for the post.

Vagabonde said...

I just found your blog via Jerusalem Hill Daily photo and I am very pleased that I did. Your photos are beautiful and the accompanying text is very informative. I shall be back to read more of your posts.

Caprice- said...

Great photos! I am doiing a study of Daniel right now and this is an incredible find! I can't wait to show your blog site to study group. Isn't it incredible to think what Daniel went through that night! He SAW an angel holding the mouth of the lion! And to think that Darius was so concerned for Daniel that he was up all night worried about him.
Thank you so much for your posting, the info and the photos. I look forward to reading more.

Cloudia said...

I am grateful to Dina for leading me here! Very good job. As a new subscriber I look forward with pleasure to your future posts!
Aloha from Hawaii