Called by the Hebrews MADAI, and supposed to have been peopled by the descendants of Madai the son of Japheth, Ge 10:2; extended itself on the west and south of the Caspian Sea, from Armenia and Assyria on the north and west, to Farsistan or Persia proper on the south; and included the districts now called Shirvan, Adserbijan, Ghilan, Masanderan, and Irak Adjemi. It covered a territory larger than that of Spain, lying between 32 degrees and 40 degrees of north latitude, and was one of the most fertile and earliest cultivated among the kingdoms of Asia. It had two grand divisions, of which the northwestern was called Atropatene, or Lesser Media, and the southern Greater Media. The former corresponds to the modern Abserbijan, now, as formerly, a province of the Persian empire, on the west of the Caspian, surrounded by high mountains of the Tauritic range, except towards the east, where the river Kur, or Byrus, discharges its waters into the Caspian. The Greater Media corresponds principally to the modern Irak Adjemi, or Persian Irak. Ecbatana was the ancient capital.
Media is one of the most ancient independent kingdoms of which history makes mention. After several centuries of subjugation under Assyria, the Medes rebelled under Arbaces in the time of Sardanapalus, and again in the time of Sennacherib, about 700 B. C.. They became powerful, cultivated, and wealthy, Isa 13:17-18; 21:2-3, and continued an independent kingdom until under Cyrus, Media became united with Persia. In this way arose the Medro-Persian kingdom; and the "laws of the Medes and Persians" are always mentioned by the sacred writers together, Es 1:19, etc.; Da 6:8,12, etc. So also the "Chronicles" of the Medes and Persians are mentioned together, Es 10:2. Indeed, from this time inward, the manners, customs, religion, and civilization of the Medes and Persians seem ever to have become more and more amalgamated. And in general it would seem, as we may gather from the ancient Zend writings, that the Medes, Persians, and Bactraians were originally the same people, having in common one language, the Zend, and one religion, the worship of Ormuzd, the highest being, under the symbol of fire. They also worshipped the stars, particularly the planets; and still more, the sun and moon. The priests of this religion, the Magi, were a Median race, to whom were intrusted the cultivation of the sciences, and the performance of the sacred rites. Among these, and as is supposed before the time of Cyrus, appeared Zerdusht, or Zoroaster, as a reformer, or rather as the restorer of the ancient but degenerated religion of light, whose disciples have maintained themselves even to the present day in Persia and India, under the name of Guebres.
Media is first mentioned in the Bible as the part of Assyria to which the ten tribes were transported: at first, those beyond the Jordan, by Tiglath-pileser, 1Ch 5:26; and afterwards, about 721 B. C., the remainder of Israel, by Shalmaneser, 2Ki 17:6. The subsequent history of Media is involved in that of Persia. Both countries were subdued by Alexander of Macedon, 330 B. C.; and in the next century became tributary to the Parthians on their east, in connection with whom they are mentioned in Ac 2:9. See PERSIA.
We first hear of this people in the Assyrian cuneiform records, under the name of Amada, about B.C. 840. They appear to have been a branch of the Aryans, who came from the east bank of the Indus, and were probably the predominant race for a while in the Mesopotamian valley. They consisted for three or four centuries of a number of tribes, each ruled by its own chief, who at length were brought under the Assyrian yoke (2Ki 17:6). From this subjection they achieved deliverance, and formed themselves into an empire under Cyaxares (B.C. 633). This monarch entered into an alliance with the king of Babylon, and invaded Assyria, capturing and destroying the city of Nineveh (B.C. 625), thus putting an end to the Assyrian monarchy (Na 1:8; 2:5-6; 3:13-14).
Media now rose to a place of great power, vastly extending its boundaries. But it did not long exist as an independent kingdom. It rose with Cyaxares, its first king, and it passed away with him; for during the reign of his son and successor Astyages, the Persians waged war against the Medes and conquered them, the two nations being united under one monarch, Cyrus the Persian (B.C. 558).
The "cities of the Medes" are first mentioned in connection with the deportation of the Israelites on the destruction of Samaria (2Ki 17:6; 18:11). Soon afterwards Isaiah (Isa 13:17; 21:2) speaks of the part taken by the Medes in the destruction of Babylon (comp. Jer 51:11,28). Daniel gives an account of the reign of Darius the Mede, who was made viceroy by Cyrus (Da 6). The decree of Cyrus, Ezra informs us (Da 6:2-5), was found in "the palace that is in the province of the Medes," Achmetha or Ecbatana of the Greeks, which is the only Median city mentioned in Scripture.
MEDIA. It has been commonly thought that Media was peopled by the descendants of Madai, son of Japheth, Ge 10:2. The Greeks maintain that this country took its name from Medus, the son of Medea. If, however, Madai and his immediate descendants did not people this country, some of his posterity might have carried his name thither, since we find it so often given to Media, from the times of the Prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, and from the transportation of the ten tribes, and the destruction of Samaria under Salmaneser, A.M. 3283. Media Proper was bounded by Armenia and Assyria Proper on the west, by Persia on the east, by the Caspian provinces on the north, and by Susiana on the south. It was an elevated and mountainous country, and formed a kind of pass between the cultivated parts of eastern and western Asia. Hence, from its geographical position, and from the temperature, verdure, and fertility of its climate, Media was one of the most important and interesting regions of Asia. Into this country the ten tribes who composed the kingdom of Israel were transplanted, in the Assyrian captivity, by Tiglath-pileser and Salmaneser. The former prince carried away the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half Manasseh, on the east side of Jordan, to Halah, and Habor, and Hara, and to the river of Gozan. His successor carried away the remaining seven tribes and a half, to the same places, which are said to be "cities of the Medes, by the river of Gozan," 1Ch 5:26; 2Ki 17:6. The geographical position of Media was wisely chosen for the distribution of the great body of the captives; for, it was so remote, and so impeded and intersected with great mountains and numerous and deep rivers, that it would be extremely difficult for them to escape from this natural prison, and return to their own country. They would also be opposed in their passage through Kir, or Assyria Proper, not only by the native Assyrians, but also by their enemies, the Syrians, transplanted thither before them. The superior civilization of the Israelites, and their skill in agriculture and in the arts, would tend to civilize and improve those wild and barbarous regions.