Darius Hystaspis (i.e. son of Hystaspes or Vashtaspa), the fifth in descent from Achaemenes, the founder of the Perso-Arian dynasty, or ninth in the succession of the Archeemenids (comp. Herod. 7:11), as he styles himself in the Behistun (q.v.) Inscription (Rawlinson, Herod. 2:491), being third descendant from the younger brother of Cambyses, father of Cyrus, was, according to the popular legend (Herod. 1:209, 210), already marked out for empire during the reign of Cyrus. Cambyses having died without issue, and no other son of Cyrus surviving, Darius was hereditary successor to the throne, to which, as Herodotus relates, he was elected on the death of the pretended Smerdis by his fellow-conspirators. In the Canon, the date of his succession is B.C. 521, and the length of his reign 36 years, both points confirmed by Herodotus (vii. 1-4), according to whom he died five years after the battle of Marathon (therefore B.C. 485), after a reign of thirty-six years (also attested by an Egyptian inscription, Rosellini, Mon. Storici, ii; 164). He devoted himself to the internal organization of his kingdom, which had been impeded by the wars of Cyrus and Cambyses, and the confusion of the reign of Smerdis. His designs of foreign conquest were interrupted by a revolt of the Babylonians, under a pretender who bore the royal name of Nabukudrassar (Niebuhr, Gesch. Ass. und Bab. p. 94), which was at length put down, and punished with great severity (B.C. cir. 516). After the subjugation of Balylon, Darius turned his arms against Scythia, Libya (Herod. 4:145 sq.), and India (Herod. 4:44). Thrace and Macedonia acknowledged his supremacy, and some of the islands of the Agaeean were added to his dominion in Asia Minor and the seaboard of Thrace (B.C. 513505). Shortly afterwards he came into collision with Greece, and the defeat of Marathon (B.C. 490) only roused him to prepare vigorously for that decisive struggle with the West which was now inevitable. His plans were again thwarted by rebellion. Domestic quarrels (Herod. 7:2) followed on the rising in Egypt, and he died (B.C. 485) before his preparations were completed (Herod. 7:4).
With regard to the Jews, Darius Hystaspis pursued the same policy as Cyrus, and restored to them the privileges which they had lost. For the usurpation of Smerdis involved a religious as well as a political revolution, and the restorer of the Magian faith willingly listened to the enemies of a people who had welcomed Cyrus as their deliverer (Ezr 4:17 sq.). But in the second year of Darius, B.C. 520, as soon as his power had assumed some solidity, Haggai (Hag 1:1; Hag 2:1,10) and Zechariah encouraged their countrymen to resume the work of restoration (Ezr 5:1 sq.), and when their proceedings came to the king's knowledge he confirmed the decree of Cyrus by a new edict, and the Temple was finished in four years (B.C. 516; Ezr 6:15), though it was apparently used before that time (Zec 7:2-3). The benefits conferred by Darius upon the Jews are not mentioned in his inscriptions. Of the satrapies, twenty in number, into which he formed the empire, Palestine would be part of the fourth, including Syria, Phoenicia, and Cyprus. The fourth king of Persia, who should "be far richer than they all, and by his strength, through his riches, should stir up all against the realm of Grecia (Da 11:2), may be Darius, if the pseudo-Smerdis is reckoned, but the description better suits Xerxes (see Hitzig in the Kgf. exeget. Hdb. in loc.).
III. "Darius the Persian" (דּ8 הִפִּרסַיַ, Sept. Δαρεῖος ὁ Πέρσης) occurs (Ne 12:22) in a passage which merely states that the succession of priests was registered up to his reign. The question as to the person here intended bears chiefly on the authorship of the passage. It may be briefly stated thus: If, as is more commonly believed, this king be Darius Nothus (originally Ochus), who came to the throne in B.C. 424, and reigned nineteen years, we must (assuming that the Jaddua here mentioned is the high-priest who went out to meet Alexander the Great [q.v.] on his entry into Jerusalem, Josephus, Ant. 11:8) conceive either that Jaddua reached an age exceeding a century — for so long he must have lived, if he was already high-priest in the reign of Darius Nothus, and saw Alexander's entry; or that the Jaddua of Nehemiah and of Josephus are not the same person. Carpzov has tried to show, from this very chapter, that the Jaddua of ver. 22 was a Levite, and not the high-priest (Introduct. ad Libr. Vet. Test. p. 347). SEE JADDUA. If, however, the register was continued to a later time, as is not improbable, the occurrence of the name Jaddua (ver. 11, 22), who was high-priest at the time of the invasion of Alexander (q.v.), points to Darius III Codomannus, the antagonist of Alexander, and last king of Persia, B.C. 336-330 (1 Maccabees 1:1). Compare Jahn, Archaol. II, 1:272 sq.; Keil, Lehrb. d. Einleit. § 152, 7, who defends at length the integrity of the passage. On this latter view, we must either assume that Nehemiah himself attained the age of 130 years at least, or that this passage is an interpolation by a later hand (Bertholdt, Einleit. 3, 1031). Perhaps the meaning of the verses in question only is, that the priests enumerated were those included in the genealogical records down to the time of the return from Babylon, i.e. as finally made out by Nehemiah and Ezra (ver. 26); and therefore containing those prospectively high-priests, although at the time but children. Supposing that Jaddua was five years of age at the time of the closing of the O.T. canon, SEE EZRA, in B.C. 406 (to which date Nehemiah undoubtedly lived), he would have been but about fifty years old on his accession as high-priest (q.v.), B.C. cir. 359. The king referred to in Ne 12:22, would then be Darius Nothus. This explanation is consistent with all the circumstances, and leaves the authenticity of the passage unaffected.
DARIUS II was named OCHUS (Ωχος), but on his accession he was distinguished by the epithet NOTHUS (Νόθος), from his being one of the seventeen illegitimate sons of Artaxerxes I or Longimanus, who made him satrap of Hyrcania. He rebelled against Sogdianus, another brother, who had murdered their father, and, with the aid of several of the provincial satraps, succeeded in gaining supreme power, putting the usurper to death. He was a weak prince, completely under the control of his favorites, and especially of his wife Parysatis; and his reign was distinguished by continual insurrections, particularly that of the Egyptians, who succeeded in gaining for a while their independence (B.C. 414). Darius died in B.C. 405-4, and was succeeded by his oldest son Artaxerxes II (Ctesias, Pers. 44-56; Diod. Sic. 12:71; 13:36, 70, 108; Xenoph. Hell. 1:2, 19; 2:1, 8; Anab. 1:1, 1).