SATRAP (A. V. "prince," "lieutenant"):
Ruler of a province in the governmental system of ancient Persia. The Old Persian form of the word, "khshathrapavan" (protector of the kingdom), occurs twice in the inscriptions of Darius Hystaspes at Behistun (iii. 14, 55) with reference to the rulers of Bactria and Arachosia; and this is corrupted into the Biblical . The office was created by Darius, who selected the satraps from the Persians only, and frequently from those of royal blood. They originally numbered twenty; and their primary duty was to regulate the taxes of the provinces which they governed and to send to the king the revenues collected therein, although they were likewise required to levy troops.
The late and distorted references to satraps in Ezra, Esther, and Daniel are of little historical value. Ezra viii. 36 states that the decree of Artaxerxes for rebuilding the Temple was delivered to them—a statement obviously absurd, since only one could, under any circumstances, be concerned with Palestine. In like manner, in Esth. iii. 12, R. V. (comp. ib. ix. 3), Haman issues orders in the name of Ahasuerus "unto the king's satraps, and to the governors that were over every province, and to the princes of every people." These provinces, which extended "from India unto Ethiopia" (comp. the mention of "Hindu" [India] and "Mudraya" [Egypt] in the Old Persian inscriptions of Darius, Persepolis e 11, 17-18; Naḳs-i Rustam a 25, 27), were in all 127 (Esth. i. 1, viii. 9, xiii. 1, xvi. 1; Dan. vi. 1; I Esd. iii. 2; Josephus, "Ant." xi. 6, §§ 6, 12), a number which at once shows the lack of historical accuracy in these accounts (comp. the conflicting and valueless statements of Josephus, who says, "Ant." x. 11, § 4, that Darius founded 360 satrapies, but in another passage, ib. xi. 3, § 2, only 127). In Dan. iii. 2, R. V. (comp. ib. iii. 27, vi. 7), the satraps of Nebuchadnezzar (!) are mentioned together with "the deputies, and the governors, the judges [or chief soothsayers], the treasurers, the counselors, the sheriffs [or lawyers], and all the rulers of the provinces." Over the satraps, according to the account in Daniel, were set three "presidents" as supervisors (Dan. vi. 2-4, 6, 7), evidently a reminiscence of some such system of mutual control as that described in Xenophon's "Cyropedia," viii. 6, § 16.
- Brisson, De Regio Persarum Principatu, pp. 234-250, 631, Strasburg, 1710 (1st edition, Paris, 1590, still of value for its collection of classical references);
- Lagarde, Gesammelte Abhandlungen, pp. 68-70. Leipsic, 1866;
- Spiegel, Eranische Alterthumskunde, i. 227-234, iii. 629-633, ib. 1871-78;
- idem, Altpersische Keilinschriften, 2d ed., ib. 1882;
- Buchholz, Quæstiones de Persarum Satrapis, ib. 1896.