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Daniel 5.31 [6.1]-Darius the Mede Receives the Babylonian Kingdom from Cyrus at the Age of About Sixty-Two

Daniel Chapter Six  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  52:54
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Daniel: Daniel 5:31 (6:1)-Darius the Mede Receives the Babylonian Kingdom at the Age of About Sixty-Two-Lesson # 171

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Wenstrom Bible Ministries

Pastor-Teacher Bill Wenstrom

Wednesday February 6, 2013

www.wenstrom.org

Daniel: Daniel 5:31 (6:1)-Darius the Mede Receives the Babylonian Kingdom at the Age of About Sixty-Two

Lesson # 171

Please turn in your Bibles to Daniel 5:31.

In the Aramaic text, Daniel 5:31 actually begins chapter 6 since the verse numbers beginning with 5:31 through 6:28 in the English Bible differ from the verse numbers in the Aramaic text of Daniel (BHS).

Thus, Daniel 5:31 in the English translations should be Daniel 6:1 since this is the case in the Aramaic text of Daniel.

Correspondingly, Daniel 6:1 is Daniel 6:2 in the Aramaic text, Daniel 6:2 is Daniel 6:3 and so on throughout the rest of Daniel chapter 6.

However, the verse numbers in the English Bible beginning with Daniel 7:1, correspond to the Aramaic text of Daniel once again.

So Daniel 5:31 is actually Daniel 6:1 in the original Aramaic text of Daniel.

Daniel 5:31 So Darius the Mede received the kingdom at about the age of sixty-two. (NASB95)

This verse is composed of the conjunction wa (וְ) (waw), “so” which is followed by the masculine singular proper name dār·yā·wěš (דָּרְיָוֶשׁ) (daw-reh-yaw-vaysh´), “Darius” which is modified by the feminine singular proper noun mā·ḏǎy (מָדַי) (maw-dah´ee), “the Mede” and then we have the third person masculine singular puʿʿal (Hebrew: pual) perfect form of the verb qeḇǎl (קְבַל) (keb-al´), “received” which is followed by the feminine singular construct form of the noun mǎl∙ḵûṯ (מַלְכוּת) (mal-kooth), “kingdom” and then we have the preposition k- (כְּ־) (kee) “at about” and its object is the masculine singular construct form of the noun bǎr (בַּר) (bar), “the age” which is modified by the feminine plural noun šenā(h) (שְׁנָה) (shen-aw´) and then we have the masculine plural cardinal number šit∙tîn (שִׁתִּין) (shit-teen´), “sixty” and then we have the conjunction wa (וְ) (waw), which is not translated and followed by the feminine dual noun terên (תְּרֵין) (ter-ane´), “two.”

The conjunction wa is used in a transitional sense and means “now.”

This word is introducing a statement that marks a transition from the events recorded in Daniel chapter five to the events recorded in Daniel chapter six.

The former records God deposing the Babylonian king Belshazzar from power whereas the latter records the God of Israel delivering Daniel from the power of Darius the Mede who unwillingly puts Daniel to death because of a conspiracy against him by certain officials in the Medo-Persian kingdom.

Here in Daniel 5:31 (Aramaic 6:1), the conjunction wa is introducing a statement which records Darius the Mede receiving the Babylonian kingdom from Cyrus when he was about sixty-two years of age.

Therefore, the transition is from a discussion regarding the God of Israel dealing with Belshazzar to dealing with Darius the Mede. The former never became a believer in the God of Israel whereas the latter, like Nebuchadnezzar did.

Some interpret this conjunction as a marker of result which would indicate that Darius the Mede assumed power over the Babylonian kingdom “as a result of” Belshazzar’s death.

However, he assumed power over the Babylonian kingdom because of being appointed by Cyrus the Persian.

This word could also be translated “next” or “then” as a result of interpreting it as a marker of a sequence of closely related events.

This would mean that Darius the Mede receiving the Babylonian kingdom when he was about sixty-two years o age was the next event that took place after Belshazzar was killed by the Medo-Persian army.

However, though this interpretation makes perfect sense, the emphasis of the word appears to be more of introducing a statement which presents a transition from the God of Israel dealing with Belshazzar to dealing with Darius the Mede.

The emphasis of the word is marking a new topic of discussion.

The proper name dār·yā·wěš means “Darius” and the proper noun mā·ḏǎy means “Medes” who were the inhabitants of northwest Iran, southwest of the Caspian Sea and north of the Zagros Mountains.

This nation covered the modern province of Azerbaijan and part of Persian Kurdistan.

These two words identify an individual who was a Mede and whose name was Gubaru, who was the governor appointed over Babylon by Cyrus.

This interpretation is strongly supported by the biblical text because Daniel 5:31 (6:1) and Daniel 9:1 make clear that Darius the Mede was appointed king over Babylon.

The verb qeḇǎl means “to receive” and its subject is Darius the Mede and its object is the feminine singular construct form of the noun mǎl∙ḵûṯ (מַלְכוּת) (mal-kooth), “kingdom” which refers to the Babylonian kingdom.

Thus the word denotes that Darius the Mede “received” the Babylonian kingdom as a result of Cyrus the Persian appointing him the ruler of this kingdom.

This interpretation of the word is indicated by Daniel’s statement in Daniel 9:1 which records that in the first year of Darius, the son of Ahasuerus of Median descent, Darius the Mede was made king over the Chaldean kingdom.

The Nabonidus Chronicle reveals that he received this kingdom as a result of being appointed to this position by Cyrus the Persian.

The noun mǎl∙ḵûṯ means “kingdom” and denotes the sphere of Babylon’s authority or control over various nations, ethnicities and language groups and is used to designate the territorial sphere of Babylon.

The term refers to the political boundaries of authority and control, which were determined by the extent to which Belshazzar and his father Nabonidus exercised their authority.

The masculine singular construct form of the noun bǎr means “the age of” and the feminine plural noun šenā(h) means “years” since it refers a definite unit of time involving a complete cycle of seasons and here it is used to give a relative time reference to Darius the Mede becoming ruler over the Babylonian kingdom.

The masculine plural cardinal number šit∙tîn means “sixty.”

The conjunction wa is uniting this word with the feminine dual noun terên, which means “two.”

The masculine singular construct form of the noun bǎr is the object of the preposition k-, which means “at” since it is a marker of a point of time with reference to another point of time.

The two points of time are the age of Darius the Mede and his receiving the Babylonian kingdom from Cyrus.

Therefore, this prepositional phrase is a temporal marker indicating that Darius the Mede was sixty-two years of age when he received the Babylonian kingdom from Cyrus the Persian.

This preposition is not a marker of an indeterminate unit of time indicating that Darius the Mede received the Babylonian kingdom when he was “about” sixty-two years of age since sixty-two is not a round number but a specific number.

If the text said sixty then we would see this use of the word to indicate that Darius the Mede was fifty-nine and had not quite turned sixty.

However, we have a specific age given to Darius which would indicate that the preposition k- is marking Darius’ age with his receiving the Babylonian kingdom from Cyrus (See TNIV, NIV, NCV, GW, YLT, HCSB).

Daniel 5:31 (6:1) Now, Darius the Mede received the kingdom at sixty-two years of age. (My translation)

As we have noted in our introduction to our study of Daniel chapter six, this chapter has been the subject of much controversy and the object of attacks by the liberal critics of the Bible and at the heart of this controversy is the identity of Darius since there is no historical evidence for him outside of the Bible.

Pentecost writes “Critics have long questioned the historicity of Daniel. They challenge Daniel’s reference to the accession of Darius (vv. 1, 28; 9:1; called Darius the Mede in 5:31) because there is no historical evidence outside the Bible for his reign. However, several explanations are possible: (1) Darius may have been another name for Cyrus. Daniel 6:28 may be translated, ‘So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius, even the reign of Cyrus the Persian.’ It was common for ancient rulers to use different names in various parts of their realms. Thus Darius may have been a localized name for Cyrus. (This is the view of D. J. Wiseman, “Some Historical Problems in the Book of Daniel,” in Notes on Some Problems in the Book of Daniel, pp. 12-14.) (2) A second explanation is that Darius was appointed by Cyrus to rule over Babylon, a comparatively small portion of the vast Medo-Persian Empire. According to Daniel 9:1 Darius ‘was made ruler over the Babylonian Kingdom.’ This suggests that he ruled by appointment, rather than by conquest and thus would have been subordinate to Cyrus, who appointed him. The historical situation leading to this appointment, based on the Nabonidus Chronicle, was that Babylon was conquered by Ugbaru, governor of Gutium, who entered the city of Babylon the night of Belshazzar’s feast. After Ugbaru conquered Babylon on October 12, 539 B.C., Cyrus entered the conquered city on October 29 of that same year. Ugbaru was then appointed by Cyrus to rule on his behalf in Babylon. Eight days after Cyrus’ arrival (Nov. 6) Ugbaru died. If Darius the Mede is another name for Ugbaru, as is entirely possible, the problem is solved. Since Darius was 62 years old when he took over Babylon (5:31), his death a few weeks later would not be unusual. According to this view (presented by William H. Shea, ‘Darius the Mede: An Update,’ Andrews University Seminary Studies 20. Autumn 1982, pp. 229-47), Gubaru is another spelling for Ugbaru, with the name Gobryas being a Greek form of the same name and appearing in Xenophon’s Cyropaedia 4. 6. 1-9; 7. 5. 7-34. (3) A third explanation is that Ugbaru, governor of Gutium, conquered Babylon, and that Gubaru, alias Darius, was the man Cyrus appointed to rule over Babylon. (This is the view of John C. Whitcomb, Jr., Darius the Mede. Nutley, N.J.: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Co., 1974.) (4) Still others suggest Darius the Mede should be identified with Cambyses, Cyrus’ son, who ruled Persia 530-522 B.C. (This view is held by Charles Boutflower, In and Around the Book of Daniel. Reprint. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publishing Co., 1977, pp. 142-55.) Any of these four views may be correct, but perhaps the second one is preferable.

It appears the best solution to the problem is accept the view that Darius the Mede is the same as Gubaru, who was the governor appointed over Babylon by Cyrus, which is strongly supported by the biblical text because Daniel 5:31 (6:1) and Daniel 9:1 make clear that Darius the Mede was appointed king over Babylon.

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