MEDIA (Latin, Media; Greek, Μηδία; Old Persian, Māda; Hebr. ):

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In Bible.

Ancient name of a country which is located south and west of the Caspian Sea, and is associated with events in Jewish history. The confines of Media anciently embraced territory corresponding roughly to the present Azerbaijan, the southern borders of the Caspian, the province of 'Iraḳ-'Ajami, and the districts of modern Persia which adjoin the mountains of Kurdistan and Luristan. In the Hebrew Scriptures Media and the Medes are mentioned more than a dozen times. The antiquity of the name is believed to be shown by its having been borne by Noah's grandson Madai, son of Japheth (Gen. x. 3 [A. V. 2]), who is commonly regarded as the progenitor of the Median race, Mount Ararat being within the ancient Median borders. From the Bible, furthermore, it is known that Israelites were placed in cities of the Medes by Shalmaneser, King of Assyria, after his conquest of Samaria (II Kings xvii. 6, xviii. 11); and Media is referred to under the form "Amada" or "Madai" in the records of this king and of Tiglath-pileser. Allusions to Media in connection with Persia are not rare in certain books of the Scriptures; and the laws of the Medes and Persians became a synonym for all that was fixed and unalterable (Esth. i. 3, 14, 18, 19; x. 2; Dan. v. 28, vi. 8, viii. 20). The part taken by Media and Elam, meaning Persia, in the overthrow of Babylon forms a portion of the prophecy of the elder Isaiah (Isa. xiii. 17, xxi. 2; comp. also Jer. xxv. 25). At Ecbatana, in the province of the Medes, moreover, was found the famous edict of Cyrus granting a decree for the building of the Temple at Jerusalem (Ezra vi. 2; I Esdras vi. 23). The same capital is prominent likewise in the Book of Judith (Judith i. 1 et seq.); and the ancient Median city Rhages figures elsewhere in this book and strikingly in the narrative of Tobit (Judith i. 5, 15; Tobit i. 14, v. 5, vi. 10). On the identification of "Darius the Median" and on Daniel's position under his rule (Dan. v. 28, vi. 8, viii. 20, ix. 1, xi. 1), see Daniel; Darius.

Ctesias' Account.

With regard to Media as a factor in the world's history, the antiquity of the people as an Iranian nation is conceded, even though the existence of a so-called Median empire in very remote times may be open to some doubt. According to the fragments of Berosus of Babylon, however, the Median royal line extended back almost two thousand years before the time of Alexander the Great; and the historian Ctesias pretends to give a list of kings and their reigns running back nearly to 1000 B.C. For historic purposes, however, the story of Media begins with Dejoces (Δηïόκης), whom Herodotus ("Hist." i. 16 et seq.) describes as the founder of the empire. This monarch is mentioned as "Dayaukku" in the inscriptions of Sargon; and he ruled over Media from 709 to 656 B.C. or, more exactly, from 700 to 647. He was succeeded by Phraortes (Old Persian, "Fravartish"), who extended the boundaries and sway of Media and ruled from 647 to 625. Phraortes in turn was followed by Cyaxares (Old Persian, "[H]uvaxshatara"; Babylonian, "Uvakuishtar"), whose reign (625-585 B.C.) formed the culmination of the Median ascendency. It was under this ruler, in alliance with Nabopalasar, King of Babylon, that the destruction of Nineveh and the overthrow of the Assyrian empire took place (c. 607-604 B.C.). His successor was Astyages (Bab. "Ishtuvegu"), whom Oriental tradition erroneously identifies with the legendary Azh-Dahak of Babylon. With the rule of Astyages (585-550 B.C.) came the decline and final overthrow of Media by Persia under Cyrus. The Median supremacy was lost sight of in the greater glory of Persia. Thenceforth the two nations came to be regarded as one, their names being often united and used interchangeably, although divisions were recognized. After the death of Alexander the Great, for example, Media Minor; which corresponds roughly to Azerbaijan, was distinguished from Media Major, which became a part of the Syrian empire; and, again, Media Major was later comprised in the Parthian domain and was finally included in the great empire of the Sassanians.

From the religious standpoint also Media is important because Zoroaster is believed to have arisen in that country; and the similarities between Zoroastrianism and Judaism are many and striking. See Avesta; Persia.

  • F. Justi, Gesch. Irans von den Aeltesten Zeiten, in Geiger and Kuhn, Grundriss der Iranischen Philologie, pp. 406-415, Strasburg, 1897;
  • Rawlinson, Five Great Monarchies of the Ancient Eastern World, vols. iii.-iv., London, 1865;
  • M. Duncker, Gesch. des Alterthums, Leipsic, 1877 (= History of Antiquity, Eng. transl. by E. Abbott, London, 1881);
  • J. Oppert, Le Peuple et la Langue des Mèdes, Paris, 1879;
  • Ed. Meyer, Gesch. des Alterthums, Stuttgart, 1884;
  • idem, Die Entstehung des Judenthums, Halle, 1896.
G. A. V. W. J.
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