Madai, one of Noah’s grandsons from Japheth [Gen 10:3], is considered the forefather of the Medians. A Median royal line of rule was well established by the time of Alexander the Great (356–323 BC), according to the Berossus of Babylon fragments. It is historically generally agreed (Herodotus: “Hist.” i. 16 et seq.), however, that Media begins — the Median empire founded — by Dejoces (Δηïóκης) , according to Bill Cooper.
Media was the westward lay of land south of the Caspian Sea. It enjoys biblical prominence (over a dozen references) because of an association with Israeli history. It embraces territory today represented by Azerbaijan, the southern shores of the Caspian Sea, the Persian Iraq (cf. Arab Iraq) province of ‘Irak-‘Ajami, and districts of Iran (modern Persia) which adjoin the mountainous of Kurdistan and Luristan provinces.
The Medes (Kurds) enjoyed co-hegemony with Persia (Iran) — the Medo-Persian empire. This empire ruled over Israel for over 200 years, from the overthrow of Babylon in 539 B.C.E. until the Medo-Persians were themselves defeated by Alexander the Great in 331 B.C.E.
The ancient capital of the Median Empire was Ecbatana, now Hamedan in north-west Iran.
… The descendants of Madai (Madaeans) were known to the Assyrians as Amada, to the Greeks as Medai, and in Old Persian inscriptions referred to as the Mada. The earliest surviving reference to the Medes in secular documents appears in the inscriptions of Shalmaneser III king of Assyria from ca. 858-824 BC, in which he tells us that he invaded the land of the Medes to plunder them of their fine horses. Both Strabo and Herodotus confirm that the Medes were of Indo-European (Japhetic) origin and we know also that their language was of this group. After 631 BC, the Medes joined with the people of Askuza (Ashchenazim) and those of Gomer (Cimmerians) in an attempt to throw off the Assyrian yoke.
Today, the Kurds are considered ancestors of the Medes.
The word Darius was likely a title, meaning “Holder of the Sceptre”, rather than name. The phrase Darius the Mede meant: “The Sceptre-holder [King] of the Medes“.
Darius son of Astyages, according to Josephus, brought to an end—along with his relation, Cyrus, King of Persia—the Babylonian Empire. Indeed, Darius may be one and the same with Gubaru, governor of Babylon during the rule of Cyrus of Persia.
[Note: There are two separate people named Gubaru—or at least one Gubaru and one Ugbaru—during this time. The former, more frequently referred to also as Ugbaru, is Cyrus’ general who conquered Babylon and served as its first Persian ruler (or co-ruler with Cyrus) and the latter Gubaru was a governor of Babylon who comes on the scene after Cambyses (Persian king who followed directly from Cyrus), by which time it is thought that the former Gubaru—i.e. the man most likely to be Darius the Mede—had already died.]
There remains conjecture about this identity (see caption below). Treating Darius as the King of the Medes based in Babylon, while Cyrus (of Persia) was his otherwise busy overseer, may be the best working hypothesis that marries with the biblical Book of Daniel.
Cyrus was renowned for magnanimity in victory.
The Cyrus Cylinder reads:
I am Cyrus, King of the globe, great king, mighty king, King of Babylon, king of the land of Sumer and Akad, King of ……, king of the four quarters of Earth, son of Cambysis (Kambujiye), great king, king of Anshan, grandson of Cyrus (Kurosh), great king, king of Anshan, descendant of Teispes (Chaish Pish), great king, king of Anshan, progeny of an unending royal line, whose rule, The Gods, Bel and Nabu cherish, whose kingship they desire for their hearts’ and pleasures.
Continuing, from Cyrusthegreat.com, we read:
One of the truly astounding prophecies of the Bible is found in the last verse of Isaiah 44, together with chapter 45:1ff, (an unfortunate chapter break). It has to do with Cyrus, king of Persia. According to the historian Herodotus (i.46), Cyrus was the son of Cambyses I. He came to the Persian throne in 559 B.C. Nine years later he conquered the Medes, thus unifying the kingdoms of the Medes and the Persians.
Vladimir Minorsky, Russian linguistic historian, suggested that the Medes may have been forefathers of the modern Kurds. The Medes, who linguistically resemble the Kurds, invaded the region in the eighth century BC. Not, however, according to Dutch scholar Martin van Bruinessen:
There is no evidence to permit such a connection across the considerable gap in time between the political dominance of the Medes and the first attestation of the Kurds.
Contemporary linguistic evidence also challenges the view of a Median Kurdish descent. Professor of Iranian Studies, Gernot Windfuhr, identified the Kurdish languages as Parthian, albeit with a Median substratum. Kurdish language expert, David Neil MacKenzie, argues that Kurdish more closely resembles Persian than Median and should not be regarded a “NW-Iranian” language . Professor of Iranian Studies at Yerevan State University (Armenia), Garnik Asatrian goes further:
The Central Iranian dialects, and primarily those of the Kashan area in the first place, as well as the Azari dialects [Southern Tati] are probably the only Iranian dialects which can pretend to be the direct offshoots of Median. In general, the relationship between Kurdish and Median are not closer than the affinities between the latter and other North Western dialects — Baluchi, Talishi, South Caspian, Zaza, Gurani, etc.
References (and further reading)
- Mitochondrial DNA Haplogroup U7 – Kurdish DNA
- Who were the Medes and Persians? – Egypt Search
- Media – Jewish Encyclopedia
- Bill Cooper – Lambert Dolphin
- Medes – Wikipedia (accessed 28 June 2018)