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American Tract Society Bible Dictionary


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In Hebrew Paras, Ezekiel 27:10 , a vast region in Asia, the southwestern province of which lying between ancient media on the north and the Persian Gulf on the south, appears to have been the ancient Persia, and is still called Pharsistan, or Fars. The Persians, who became so famous after Cyrus, the founder of their more extended monarchy, were anciently called Elamites; and later, in the time of the Roman emperors, Parthians. See PARTHIA.

The early history of the Persians, like that of most of the oriental nations, is involved in doubt and perplexity. Their descent is traced to Shem, through his son Elam, after whom they were originally named. It is probable that they enjoyed their independence for several ages, with a monarchical succession of their own; until they were subdued by the Assyrians and their country attached as a province to that empire. From this period, both sacred and profane writers distinguish the kingdom of the Medes from that of the Persians. It is not improbable that, during this period, petty revolutions might have occasioned temporary disjunctions of Persia from Assyria, and that the Persian king was quickly again made sensible of his true allegiance. When Media became independent, under Dejoes and then Phraortes, Persia became also subject to its sway, as a tributary kingdom. Media having vanquished her great rival Assyria enjoyed a long interval of peace, during the reign of Astyages, son of Cyaxares. But his successor, Cyaxares the Second, united with the Persians against the Babylonians, and gave the command of the combined armies to Cyrus, who took the city of Babylon, killed Belshazzar, the terminated that kingdom 538 B. C.

Cyrus succeeded to the thrones of Media and Persia, and completed the union between those countries, which appear to have been in reality but two nations of he same race, having the same religion (See MAGI and MEDIA,) and using languages near akin to each other and to the ancient Sanscrit. Previously to their union under Cyrus, Daniel speaks of the law of the Medes and Persians as being the same.

The union was effected B. C. 536. The principal events relating to Scripture, which occurred during the reign of Cyrus, were the restoration of the Jews, the rebuilding of the city and temple, and the capture of Babylon, B. C. 539, Ezra 1:2 . His dominion extended from the Mediterranean to the region of the Indus. Cambyses his successor, B. C. 529, added Egypt to the Persian realm, and the supremacy of Egypt and Syria was often in contest during subsequent reigns, Ezra 4:6 . He was followed by Smerdis the Magian, B. C. 522, Ezra 4:7; Darius Hystapis, B. C. 521, Ezra 5:6; Xerxes, the Ahasuerus of the book of Esther, B. C. 485, Artabanus, B. C. 465; Artaxerxes Longimanus, B. C. 464, Nehemiah 2:1; Xerxes 2., B. C. 424; Sogdianus and Darius Nothus, B. C. 424; Artaxerxes Mnemon, B. C. 404; Artaxerxes Ochus, B. C. 364; Arses, B. C. 338; and Darius Codomanus, B. C. 335, who was subdued and slain by Alexander of Macedon, B. C. 330. In the seventh century Persia fell under the power of the Saracens, in the thirteenth it was conquered by Genghis Khan, and in the fourteenth by Tamerlane. Modern Persia is bounded north by Georgia, the Caspian sea, and Tartary; east by Afghanistan and Beloochistan; south by Ormus; and west by the dominions of Turkey. Its inhabitants retain to a remarkable extent the manners and custom of ancient Persia, of which we have so vivid a picture in Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Daniel.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of the topics are from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary published in 1859.

Bibliography Information
Rand, W. W. Entry for 'Persia'. American Tract Society Bible Dictionary. 1859.

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