As at the first verse of chapter 5, it may be necessary in some languages to introduce transition material here, since this is the beginning of a new chapter, a new section, and a new story. Many people may start reading at this point without reference to the previous chapters. In some cases it will be possible to begin “One day King Darius…” or “After he became king, Darius….”
It pleased Darius: another way of saying this is “Darius was pleased.” However, the focus is not on his pleasure but on his will. It will be more natural in most languages to say something like “Darius decided,” “… ordered the appointment,” or “… made a decree appointing” (compare 4.2 and comments). The Darius of this story may have been Darius I, who ruled over the Persian Empire from 522 to 486 B.C.
Satraps: the term thus translated in Revised Standard Version is the same as in 3.2. See comments at that point. The English word “satrap” comes from the Persian (through Greek) for the title of the highest authority over a “satrapy,” or a particular administrative subdivision of the Persian Empire. The word has become a part of the English language as a technical term of Persian history, but it is not common language. Consequently a more general term will have to be sought in common language translations, such as “governors” (Good News Translation).
To be throughout the whole kingdom: the verb to be in this context carries the meaning “to exercise power,” “to be in charge” (Revised English Bible), or to “hold office” (Good News Translation), and should probably be so translated in most languages.
A possible model for restructuring this verse is something like Die Bibel im heutigen Deutsch: “Darius subdivided his kingdom into one hundred and twenty provinces and named a governor over each one of them.”
Quoted with permission from Péter-Contesse, René & Ellington, John. A Handbook on Daniel. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 1994. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .