From Bible Encyclopedia
mē´di-a (מדי, mādhay; Achaem. Persian Mada; Μηδία, Mēdía):
Lay to the West and Southwest of the Caspian, and extended thence to the Zagrus Mountains on the West On the North in later times it was bounded by the rivers Araxes and Cyrus, which separated it from Armenia. Its eastern boundaries were formed by Hyrcania and the Great Salt Desert (now called the Kavîr), and it was bounded on the South by Susiana. In earlier times its limits were somewhat indefinite. It included Atropatene, (Armenian Atrpatakan, the name, “Fire-guarding,” showing devotion to the worship of Fire) to the North, and Media Magna to the South, the former being the present Ā'ẓarbāījān. Near the Caspian the country is low, damp and unhealthy, but inland most of it is high and mountainous, Mt. Demavand in the Alburz range reaching 18,600 ft. Atropatene was famed for the fertility of its valleys and table-lands, except toward the North. Media Magna is high; it has fruitful tracts along the course of the streams, but suffers much from want of water, though this was doubtless more abundant in antiquity. It contained the Nisaean Plain, famous for its breed of horses. The chief cities of ancient Media were Ecbatana, Gazaea, and Ragae. The Orontes range near Ecbatana is the present Alvand. Lake Spauta is now known as Urmi (Urumiah).
Hebrew מדי, Madai, which is rendered in the King James Version:
We first hear of this people in the Assyrian cuneiform records, under the name of Amada, about 840 B.C.. 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 (2 Kings 17:6). From this subjection they achieved deliverance, and formed themselves into an empire under Cyaxares (633 B.C.). This monarch entered into an alliance with the king of Babylon, and invaded Assyria, capturing and destroying the city of Nineveh (625 B.C.), thus putting an end to the Assyrian monarchy (Nahum 1:8; Nahum 2:5, Nahum 2:6; Nahum 3:13, Nahum 3:14).
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 (558 B.C.).
The “cities of the Medes” are first mentioned in connection with the deportation of the Israelites on the destruction of Samaria (2 Kings 17:6; 2 Kings 18:11). Soon afterwards Isaiah (Isaiah 13:17; Isaiah 21:2) speaks of the part taken by the Medes in the destruction of Babylon (Compare Jeremiah 51:11, Jeremiah 51:28). Daniel gives an account of the reign of Darius the Mede, who was made viceroy by Cyrus (Daniel 6:1-28). The decree of Cyrus, Ezra informs us (Ezra 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.