Darius the Great Inscription Found in Israel

The great Persian ruler was father of the king of the Purim story, and a great benefactor of Israel’s restoration after the Babylonian exile.

By Israel Today Staff | | Topics: archaeology
Darius the Great inscription.
Darius the Great inscription. Photo: Yoli Schwartz/Israel Antiquities Authority

UPDATE: Israel Antiquities Authority has put out a statement that the shard with King Darius’s name is NOT AUTHENTIC.

The Authority was fooled by a facsimile and have retracted their original press release stating that it is aunthenic. But it is not. Keep that in mind when you read the report below.

Happy Purim!


A rare inscription bearing the name of the Persian King Darius the Great, a powerful monarch who ruled over much of the Near East from 522 to 486 BC, was found at Tel Lachish in central Israel this week.

King Darius is mentioned by name in the Bible in the books Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai and Zechariah. His reign is significant for the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem and the restoration of Jewish religious life after the Babylonian exile.

The Persian Empire, under the reign of Cyrus the Great, conquered the Babylonian Empire and allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their holy places. In Ezra 6:1-12, it is written that Darius the Great issued a decree allowing the Jews to continue the rebuilding of the Temple, and he provided financial support for the project under the direction of the Jewish leader Zerubbabel. The decree stated that the expenses for the project were to be paid from the royal treasury.

A closer view of the Darius inscription in Old Persian. Photo: Shai Halevi/IAA

Darius the Great is also referenced in the book of Daniel, which describes a vision of four beasts representing four successive empires. The third beast is described as a leopard with four wings and four heads, which is interpreted as representing the The Achaemenid Persian Empire (Medes and Persians) under the reign of Darius the Great.

Darius had several sons, and while none of them was named Ahasuerus in Persian or Aramaic, his most famous son and successor, Xerxes I, also known as Xerxes the Great, has been linked to the Persian ruler of the Purim story.

The Achaemenid Empire was a powerful empire that spanned a vast territory, including Persia, parts of Central Asia, and much of the Near East. Darius the Great was one of its most powerful kings, and he is credited with expanding the empire’s borders and consolidating its power. During his reign, the empire reached its peak, and became one of the most powerful states in the world.

View of Tel Lachish National Park, an important First Temple era city. The sign displays a passage from Isaiah regarding the Assyrian conquest of the region during the reign of Judah’s King Hezekiah. Photo: Michael Giladi/Flash90

Lachish, where the inscription was found, was a fortified city in the southern kingdom of Judah, and it was an important center of trade and commerce during the biblical period. It was also a site of military conflict, and it was besieged and conquered by the Assyrians in the 8th century BC and by the Babylonians in the 6th century BC.

The city is mentioned in several books of the Old Testament, including Joshua, Kings and Chronicles. In the book of Joshua, it is described as one of the cities conquered by the Israelites during their conquest of the Promised Land. In the book of Kings, it is mentioned as a city that was fortified by King Rehoboam, the son of King Solomon. And in the book of Chronicles, it is described as a city that was destroyed by the Babylonians during their conquest of Judah.

The discovery of the inscription at Tel Lachish is believed to have been written during the reign of Darius the Great, and it may reveal important information about Darius’ reign and his relationship with the region. It is written in Old Persian, a language that was used by the Achaemenid Empire and is closely related to modern Persian. The inscription is believed to be a royal decree or proclamation, and it may have been written to mark an important event or achievement. The period is significant for the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem and the restoration of Jewish religious life after the Babylonian exile. This was a period of significant political and military change in the region, and the inscription may shed new light on the relationship between the Achaemenid Empire, the city of Lachish, and the return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel.

Watch Israel Today’s Virtual Tour of Lachish


Israel Today Membership

Read all member content. Access exclusive, in-depth reports from Israel! Free Zoom events. Connect with Israel right from your home! Raise a voice of truth and hope. Support Faith-based journalism in Jerusalem!


/ month
Full access to Israel Today's Member-only content on all Digital Platforms.
Become a Member


/ year
Full access to Israel Today's Member-only content on all Digital Platforms.
Save 18% Per Month.
Become a Member

Six Months

every 6 months
Full access to Israel Today's Member-only content on all Digital Platforms.
Save 9% Per Month.
Become a Member

Leave a Reply

Israel Today Newsletter

Daily news

FREE to your inbox

Israel Heute Newsletter

Tägliche Nachrichten

KOSTENLOS in Ihrer Inbox

Subscribe to our Daily Newsletter