During the length of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, two nations were not vassal to Babylon: Media and Persia, because these two nations helped Babylon overthrow Nineveh and the Assyrian empire. The Medians were descended from Madai the son of Japheth, and the Persians only record Japheth as their ancestor. As the ancient manners, customs, dress, and language of the Persians were so alike to the Medians, it has been assumed that they must have been closely related at one time.
In the early years of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, the kings of Media and Persia made an alliance together. The king of Media gave his daughter to be the wife of the son of the king of Persia (600 bc), and in that same year, a new son was born to the Median king, whom the Greeks called Cyaxares, but the Hebrews called Darius.
The following year, a son was born to the Persian prince and his Median princess, whom they named Cyrus (599 bc). This was the year that Nebuchadnezzar took eight-year- old Jeconiah captive to Babylon. Thus it was that in the same year the Jews suffered desolation at the hands of the Babylonians, God provided a savior for them, whose coming was foretold by the prophet Isaiah many years before (Isa 44:28, 45:1).
Cyrus spent many of his childhood years at the court of his Median grandfather, learning hunting, warfare, horseback riding, and all the pursuits which occupied royal princes at this age. His constant companion in everything was Darius, who although only a year older than him, was his uncle. When he was seventeen, Cyrus was called home to finish his education at the Persian royal court, and when he was twenty- seven, his education completed, he took his position as a man, according to Persian custom.
Now in due course of time, the old Median king died, and Darius ascended to the Median throne. Nebuchadnezzar also died, and his son ascended the Babylonian throne. The new king of Babylon released Jeconiah from prison, where he had dwelt for the past thirty- seven years, and until the end of his days, was treated like a favored guest of the Babylonian court.
It was not long, however, before Nebuchadnezzar’s son was killed through a conspiracy (560 bc). His murderer took the throne, and began arming against King Darius, who had been allies of the Babylonian royal family he had just supplanted. The king of Persia appointed his son Cyrus general of the Persian army, and sent him, with thirty thousand trained and hardened soldiers, to the aid of Darius. Darius had also been assembling his troops, and when Cyrus arrived, he appointed his childhood companion general of the Median forces as well.
Thus the combined armies of the Medians and Persians marched against Babylon with Cyrus at their head. The usurper was slain, but as his son immediately assumed the throne, the conflict continued. As the new king of Babylon proved to be exceedingly wicked, the Babylonians removed this boy from the throne, and made Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson, Nabonidus, king; but as he was frequently away from the capital, he made his son Belshazzar co- regent with him (555 bc).
Cyrus, by this time, had moved his army into Asia Minor, where he was defeating the countries which were allied with Babylon, so as to prevent a hostile army coming against him from his back, while he was besieging the strongly fortified Queen City, as Babylon was known. This war took many years, and it was during this time, while Belshazzar ruled in Babylon, that Daniel had the visions recorded in Dan 7-8.