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Bible Dictionaries

Morrish Bible Dictionary

Persia, Persians

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The Persians were located between Media and the Persian Gulf, but very little is known of their history until the time of Cyrus, when the kingdoms of Israel and Judah had been brought to an end. 2 Chronicles 36:22,23 . Apparently they were a union of tribes, the ancestors of Cyrus being the chiefs of the leading clan. They conquered Elam ('ANSHAM' on the monuments). Media ruled them in early times, but under Cyrus the yoke was shaken off, and, together with the Medes, they formed the second Gentile empire, succeeding that of Babylon. In the great image of Daniel 2 Nebuchadnezzar was represented by the head of gold. The empire that followed was an 'inferior' one, represented by the breast and arms of silver. Daniel 2:31-39 . This refers to the Medo-Persian kingdom. It was inferior in that the nobles concurred in the king's laws, and the king could not alter them: the power was depreciated from gold. It is further described as a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in its mouth between the teeth, an emblem of its power and rapacity. To it was said, "Arise, devour much flesh. " Daniel 7:5 .

The history in Daniel 5 relates that it was Darius the Mede that 'took the kingdom.' He was the first head of the empire, and his taking the kingdom does not clash with Cyrus taking the city of Babylon, which is implied in Isaiah 45:1,2 . See BABYLON. On the death of Darius, Cyrus succeeded and reigned in Babylon, and from thence the Persian element prevailed in the empire. The Persians are mentioned before the Medes in Esther 1:19 . This agrees also with the above passage in Daniel 7 which represents the bear as raising itself on one side.

The Medo-Persian empire is further represented as a ram with two horns, one higher than the other, though it came up last. It pushed westward, northward, and southward, and no beast could stand before it, nor deliver out of its hand. This again exactly corresponds with the above description; the one horn higher than the other representing Persia. The same chapter (Daniel 8:6,7 ) speaks of a he-goat that rushed upon the ram and smote it and cast it to the ground and stamped upon it; and none could deliver it. This foretold the destruction of the Persian empire by that of Greece in the person of Alexander the Great.

For the dealings of the Persian kings with Israel, see AHASUERUS, and the names of the other kings mentioned in Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther. The following table gives the succession of the kings, with approximate dates:

Table of Succession of Persian Kings

Historical Names. Began to reign about B.C. Scripture Names.

1. Cyaxares, king of Media … … … 633 Ahasuerus: Daniel 9:1 .

2. Astyages, his son, last king of Media … … 593 Probably Darius the Mede.

3. Cyrus, king of Persia … … … … 558 Cyrus: 2 Chronicles 36:20-23 .

Babylon taken … … … … 538

Cyrus reigns at Babylon … … … 536 Cyrus: Ezra 1:1 .

4. Cambyses, his son … … … … 529 Ahasuerus: Ezra 4:6 .

5. Gomates, a Mede, who personified Smerdis 522 Artaxerxes: Ezra 4:7 .

6. Darius Hystaspes … … … … 521 Darius: Ezra 5:5; Haggai 1:1 etc.

7. Xerxes, his son … … … … … 485 Ahasuerus of Esther.

8. Artabanus (seven mouths) … … … 475

9. Artaxerxes, Longimanus … … … 474 Artaxerxes: Ezra 7:1; Nehemiah 2:1 .

10. Xerxes 2. (two months) … … … 425

11. Sogdianus … … … … … … 425

12. Darius 2, Ochus or Nothus … … … 424 Darius: Nehemiah 12:22 .

13. Artaxerxes 2, Mnemon … … … … 405

14. Ochus, or Artaxerxes 3 … … … … 359

15. Arses … … … … … … 338

16. Darius 3. (Codomanus) … … … … 336

Defeated by Alexander … … … 331 end of the Persian empire.

The above dates are those usually given to the kings of Persia, except Nos. 8 and 9, the common dates of which Usher and Hengstenberg have proved to be incorrect. See SEVENTY WEEKS. The kingdom of Babylon was smaller in extent than that of Persia. This latter included what is now known as Turkey in Asia, Persia, Afghanistan and Baluchistan, as far as the river Indus, with a good portion of Egypt. According to the language of scripture it had 'devoured much flesh.' Esther 1:1 speaks of a hundred and twenty-seven provinces. See DANIEL and ESTHER.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Morrish, George. Entry for 'Persia, Persians'. Morrish Bible Dictionary. 1897.

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