Persia 23: Ramses IX, Father of Darius

Two sons of Ramses IX are known from archaeology, High Priest of Amun Nebmaatre and Mentu-hirkhepshef. We should expect that Pasher-en-Mut would be appointed High Priest of Amun in fulfillment of his role model Paser of the 19th Dynasty. Nebmaatre does relate somewhat to the name Arta-phrenes, Arta being the Persian equivalent of Maat, as noted previously. However, the name Nebmaatre also points to another “son” of Ramses IX/Taharqa, specifically Nebuchadrezzar, who assumed the name Nebmaatre Ramses (VI) in Egypt as part of his own play for the Great Throne. Furthermore, Nebmaatre hails back to the throne name of Amenhotep III. As noted previously, Nebuchadrezzar was trying to fulfill the roles of both leading sons of “Joseph” (Yuya), those being “Solomon” (Amenhotep III) and “Moses” (Akhenaten). And he was sharing the two roles with Assurbanipal.

The name of the other son of Ramses IX was Montu-hir-khepshef, which is synonymous with Seth-hir-khepshef, the eldest son of Ramses II by the God’s Wife of Amun Nefertari. The earlier Seth/Montu-hir-khepshef was also known by the Libyan name Osorkon III. Montu-hir-khepeshef is therefore the apparent Egyptian name of Darius, who patterned himself after Osorkon III and who also assumed the Libyan name of Osorkon (son of Sheshonq/Masaharta/Mentuemhet). This Osorkon of the late 21st Dynasty is conflated by Egyptologists with another Osorkon son of Sheshonq in the early 22nd Dynasty in order to forge a link between the two dynasties. However, it has been fully proven that there was no transition between these two dynasties. After the 21st Dynasty, Manetho lists “minor” dynasties. There is a chronological break between his 21st Dynasty and 22nd Dynasty.

Sheshonq (A) of the 22nd Dynasty was the Libyan name of pharaoh Amenhotep II. One of his leading sons was also called Osorkon (or Osokhor). This was his “fifth son”, the designated family “Issachar”, who was Sem-Priest (Crown Prince) prior to Thutmose IV, but was killed by his angry/jealous brothers over the rape of Mutemwia/Dinah. His Egyptian name was Amenhotep C (son of Amenhotep II).

Egyptologists call Osorkon son of Sheshonq in the late 21st Dynasty Osorkon “the Elder”. He should be more properly called Osorkon V. He was not the first notable Osorkon of the royal family, but instead the last. His mother was named as queen Mehytemweskhet, the Libyan name of Nubian Shepenwepet II.

In Persian accounts, Darius and Artaphrenes (Cyrus) were considered to have the same father, Ahasuerus (Mentuemhet). From Egyptian archaeology, it is clear that the mother of Artaphrenes/Pasher (Cyrus) was Nitocris while the mother of Darius was Shepenwepet II.

Ctesias said that Astyges had no (true) sons. However, Xenophon called Darius the son of Astyges (a claim that was repeated by Josephus). Ctesias and Xenophon were both essentially correct on the matter. As the legal son of Astyges/Taharqa/Ramses IX, Darius was referred to as Montu-hir-khepshef.

Montu-hirkepshef (a.k.a. Ramses-Montu-hir-khepshef) had the titles of Generalissimo, 1st King’s Son (of His Body), and Eldest King’s Son (of His BodyHigh Priest Nebmaatre had the somewhat lesser status of King’s Son (of His Body). ). Ref: Hilton and Dodson, “The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt”, p193. These emphatic and lofty titles were evidently not enough to guarantee the loyalties of these “sons”. When Nebuchadrezzar marched on Jerusalem/Thebes and deposed Taharqa, one of his leading commanders was Darius (called by the Babylonian name Nabu-zaradan, a cross between Osorkon and Assurdan). As noted above, Pasher/Ush-Ankhhurru resisted Nebuchadrezzar and was captured, but eventually declared successor of both Taharqa/Astyges and Tanuatamon/Cambyses II.

Although Mentuemhet seems to have managed to stay more-or-less neutral in the epic struggle, his sons probably could not. Pasher was clearly opposed to Nebuchadrezzar. On the other hand, Darius was identified as a leading commander under Nebuchadrezzar when he came to destroy Jerusalem.

In his final years, Nebuchadrezzar was also intent on attacking (and it seems even killing) Taharqa. He had in fact already murdered his (other, true) father Sennacherib/Nabopolassar. In the 18th Dynasty, Akhenaten was confronted by his own father, and according to Greek tradition actually did kill him.

It was however not Nebuchadrezzar/Bardiya that won (or was given) the prize of capturing Taharqa/Astyges, but another grandson of his, Cyrus the Great.

Taharqa was very much like the earlier Amenhotep III in that he had no royal sons and one prominent daughter. (The notable daughter of Amenhotep III was called Sitamun.) Also like Amenhotep III, Taharqa was very much against handing over his throne to a Moses-figure. He rejected both Nebuchadrezzar and Assurbanipal. Paser-en-Mut/Cyrus was chosen instead.

We must suspect that Astyges actually surrendered himself to Cyrus as a show of favor and appointment to what remained of his dominions. We are told that Cyrus thereafter treated Astyges not as a prisoner but with honor, even referring to him as his father rather than grandfather.

Upon capturing Astyges, Cyrus did not succeed to the Great Throne, but became the next tanist, that is the next Joseph (Zadok/Ptah). Neither Astyges (Psamtik/Taharqa) nor Cambyses II (Psamtik II/Tanuatamon) had attained the Great Throne, but were subordinate to one or another of their brothers throughout their careers.

Cyrus may in fact have initially assumed the name Ankhare Psamtik III as a consequence of his inheritance from both Psamtik I (Taharqa) and Psamtik II (Tanuatamon), but eventually had to concede the rule of Egypt to Darius and his choice of ruler, Amasis. For Cyrus, however, becoming “Joseph” would have been thought of as a stepping stone to the Great Throne, if not immediately, certainly for his dynastic line.

Darius supplanted Assurbanipal and thereby became the new Great King, the new “Judah, “David”, “Benjamin”, “Joshua”, and even a new “Jacob”. As a repetition of Osorkon III/Assur-Dan III, Darius had the precedent to seize power, and he did in fact usurp the Great Throne from Assurbanipal much as Osorkon III had claimed the Great Throne (and by calling himself Ramses) upon the death of Ramses II. Osorkon III had not lived long after his coup. His son Takelot III/Tiglath-pileser III succeeded him to the Great Throne, but it was taken from him by the Joseph-figure Piye/Sargon II. This additional precedent placed immense pressure on Darius and his son Xerxes.

The position of Joseph was a highly coveted one at this time. Not only could Cyrus hope to eventually claim the birthright as “the Joseph”, but so did at least two other well-placed princes, Amasis (Mordecai) and Otanes (Daniel).