According to Bill Cooper:

Noah’s grandson, Madai, son of Japheth [Gen 10:3], is commonly regarded as progenitor of the Median race. And while the Median royal line of rule may extend back two thousand years before the time of Alexander (Berossus of Babylon fragments), for historic purposes the story of Media begins with Dejoces (Δηïóκης), founder of the empire (Herodotus: “Hist.” i. 16 et seq.).

Iran’s northwestern city of Hamedan was Ecbatana, capital of the ancient Median Empire.

A house by the only currently excavated street on the tell of ancient Ecbatane, Hamadan, Iran. [Wikimedia Commons]
Medes, the First (Western) Iranian Kingdom [CAIS: The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies]
Median rhyton in shape of rams head gold [Wikimedia Commons]

Media is the ancient name of a country located south and west of the Caspian Sea, associated with events in Jewish history (mentioned more than a dozen times in the Hebrew scriptures), embracing territory roughly corresponding to present-day Azerbaijan, southern borders of the Caspian, province of ‘Irak-‘Ajami (Persian Iraq, cf. Arab Iraq), and the districts of modern Persia which adjoin the mountains of Kurdistan and Luristan …

Apadana Hall, 5th century BC carving of Persian and Median soldiers in traditional costume (Medians are wearing rounded hats and boots) [Wikimedia Commons]

The Persian Empire incorporating the kingdom of Media [Image by User:ChrisO, Wikimedia Commons]

… 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.

Archaeological sites attributed to the Medes [Wikimedia Commons]

The Medes likely equate with the Kurds of today.


Darius the Mede

According to historians, Darius was likely a title, meaning “Holder of the Sceptre” so that the phrase Darius the Mede meant: “The Sceptre-holder [King] of the Medes“. According to Josephus, Darius was son of Astyages who brought to an end—along with his relative, Cyrus, King of Persia—the Babylonian Empire. Darius is considered by many to be one and the same with Gubaru, the man thought to have been the governor of Babylon during the rule of Cyrus of Persia.

[Note: As luck would have it, there are two separate people named Gubaru—or at least one Gubaru and one Ugbaru—around this period. The former, more frequently referred to also as Ugbaru, is Cyrus’ general who conquered Babylon and served as its first Persian ruler (or perhaps 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, however, as the caption below suggests. 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. In such case, the first and only year of Darius’ reign coincides with the first year of the three-year reign of Cyrus (see Daniel chapters 10 and 11).

Darius In Parse [Image as per User:ArionEstar, Wikimedia Commons]
See also Darius the Great showing his feet on the body of Gaumata the false king; while holding his right hand up thanking Ahura Mazda for his triumph.


Cyrus the Great

Cyrus was renowned for his 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, 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.

Wikipedia (as at March 2018):

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.

2500 years old Apadana Palace, persepolis, Fars Province, Iran. [Wikimedia Commons]
References (and further reading)
  1. Mitochondrial DNA Haplogroup U7 – Kurdish DNA
  2. Who were the Medes and Persians? – Egypt Search
  3. Media – Jewish Encyclopedia
  4. Bill Cooper – Lambert Dolphin

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