DREAM, PART 3
after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours. (Daniel 2:39 NKJV)
Babylonian Empire, beginning with King Nebuchadnezzar, was the head of gold on
the image in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. The dream foretold that a kingdom will
arise after his kingdom that will be in some degree inferior to his. The
inferiority began with the generations of kings that followed Nebuchadnezzar
ending with the surrender of Nabonidus to Cyrus the Persian on October 10, 539
silver chest and arms of the image in the dream represent the Medes and Persians
in the Medo-Persian Empire. This empire is more properly the Persian Empire as
the Persians were the predominant people of this kingdom. The two arms of the
image certainly suggest the dual nature of the alliance within this kingdom.
names are predominant at the time the Persians overpowered the Babylonians:
Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian, both of whom are mentioned in the Book of
Daniel. Darius was the older of the two and identified with Cyaxares II, the
last king of the Medes. Cyrus was Persian on his father’s side and Mede on his
mother’s side and happened to be the nephew of Darius. Cyrus was the heir to
the throne of Persia and a high ranking officer in the Persian army. Darius
formed an alliance with Cyrus to consolidate their armies and annex the failing
kingdom of Babylon. History suggests that Cyrus was really the leading force
against the Babylonians and the expansion of the Persian kingdom. Darius appears
to be credited in the Book of Daniel, possibly because he was the elder of the
two, but more likely because he held the throne of Media at the time and was the
one that lead in the overthrow of the city of Babylon. Daniel 5:31 records the
fact that Darius “received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.”
Medes and the Persians were essentially social opposites. It is said that the
Medes were given to extravagance in dress, eating, and drinking. They liked
jewelry and they painted their faces because they felt this made them beautiful
people. They did not care about education but depended on their great wealth and
beautiful appearance for success. Character was not of concern or an issue with
the Medes. The Persians, on the on the other hand, were temperate, wore plain
clothing and did not use jewelry or ornamentation. They placed great importance
on education, especially their military schools.
Medes entered history before the Persians. They were descendants of Madai, third
son of Japheth, and grandson of Noah. They settled south of the Caspian Sea and
called their country Media after Madai and referred to themselves as Medes.
Their society fell into anarchy and almost destroyed itself having divided into
six tribes. A Mede by the name of Dejoces to control, united the Medes, and
established a monarchy in approximately 710 B.C. Dejoces was succeeded by his
son Pharaortes, who reigned twenty-two years and conquered parts of Persia. He
was later overpowered and killed by the Assyrians. Cyaxares I followed his
father, Phraotes, on the throne and took Media back from the Assyrians. He
reigned forty years and was followed by his son Astyages. Cyaxares had a
daughter named Mandana whom he gave in marriage to Cambyses the Persian. The
wife of Cyaxares died and he remarried and had a son he named Cyaxares II, also
known as Darius. One year after the birth of Darius, Cambyses and Mandana had a
son whom they called Cyrus and known in history as Cyrus the Great, the Cyrus of
Persians settled in the southwest Iranian plateau around 850 B.C. Their
territory was bounded on the west by the Tigris River and the south by the
Persian Gulf, what is now the modern nation of Iran. The Persians called
themselves the Parsa and were originally a nomadic people. They eventually
formed an infrastructure to support their growing influence and established a
capital city of Pasargadae. They were closely aligned with the Medes due to
common ancestry. In 550 B.C. Cyrus the Great rebelled against the Medes for
their mismanagement of the Persian interests and consolidated the Medes and
Persians into the Medo-Persian Empire, or the Persian Empire. The dual nature of
this Empire continued through the reign of Darius after which the throne
continued only through the Persian line of succession.
was educated in the lengthy Persian system and spent 13 years in military school
until the age of forty. Cyrus was one year younger than his uncle, the Median
king Darius, and had been in charge of the Medo-Persian army for about
twenty-one years at the fall of Babylon. He was a humane ruler and tolerant of
the religions of conquered nations. He was God’s man at this time in history
with regard to the Jews. The Prophet Isaiah foresaw this and recorded in Isaiah
says the LORD to His anointed, To
Cyrus, whose right hand I have held—To subdue nations before him and loose the
armor of kings, to open before him the double doors, so that the gates will not
be shut: I will go before you and make the crooked places straight; I will break
in pieces the gates of bronze and cut the bars of iron.
was under the rule of Cyrus that the Jews returned to Jerusalem from their
Babylonian captivity and were given leave to rebuild the temple and the walls of
Jerusalem. The fact that Cyrus was chosen by God is remarkable; Isaiah lived
from about 760 to 695 B.C. and recorded the name and works of Cyrus almost two
hundred years before the fact. Through Isaiah God calls his “His anointed”
and describes his God-given mission to subdue nations. God even tells Cyrus that
He will go before him and make the way for him to subdue the nations.
ruled the Persian Empire from its inception at the fall of Babylon in 539 to his
death in 530 B.C. Herodotus the historian wrote that Cyrus died in a fierce
battle against Tomyris the queen of the Massagetae. Xenophon claims that Cyrus
died peaceably at his capital city. Plutarch said that his tomb bore this
inscription: O man, whosoever thou art and whensoever thou comest, for I know
that thou wilt come, I am Cyrus and I won for the Persians their empire. Do not,
therefore, begrudge me this little earth which covers my body.
was followed on the throne by his son, Cambyses who reigned from 530 to 522 B.
C. Cambyses was followed by his brother Smerdis, also known as Bardiys, who
reigned only for a few months in 522 B.C. There is confusion and different
understandings about Smerdis; he may have been killed by his brother before
ascending to the throne and the man that sat on the throne may have been an
imposter. Whoever he was, he was stabbed to death by some Persian nobles and
replaced by Darius I in September 522 B. C. This is not the same Darius that
captured the city of Babylon; this man reigned from 522 to 486 B.C.
next king was Xerxes I, known in the Bible as Ahasuerus of the Book of Esther.
He was known for his great wealth and the Jews prospered under his rule. One of
his officials, Haman, tried to destroy all the Jews in the Empire and would have
succeeded had it not been for the Jew, Mordecai. Xerxes set up the eventual
destruction of the Persian Empire by forming an alliance with the enemies of
Greece with the intention of adding Greece to his empire. Xerxes reigned from
486 to 465 B.C.
remaining Persian kings were Artaxerxes, 465–424 B.C.; Darius II, 424–404
B.C.; Artaxerxes II, 404–359 B.C.; Artaxerxes III, 359–338 B. C.; Arses, 338
until his assassination in 336 B.C.; and Darius III, 336–330 B.C., the last
Persian king. He was defeated by Alexander the Great of Macedonia in 331 B.C.
and murdered by one of his satraps, Bessus—also his cousin, in 330 B.C.
ends this silver kingdom, having lasted from the fall of Babylon in 539 B.C. to
its defeat at the hand of Alexander the Great in 330 B.C.