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People's Dictionary of the Bible


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Persia (per'shĭah, or shah), Heb. Pharas, pure, or tigers? Ezekiel 38:5. A country in Central Asia. The term is generally applied in Scripture to the Persian empire, but in Ezekiel 38:5 it designates Persia proper. The Persian empire extended from the Indus on the east to Thrace on the west, and from the Black and Caspian Seas on the north to the Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf, and the Red Sea on the south. It, at times, included Western Asia and portions of Europe and Africa. Persia proper was an unproductive country south of Media. The interior was a great plateau, having an average elevation of 4000 feet above the sea, broken by mountains and valleys and interspersed with fruitful plains. The founder of the Persian dynasty was Achæmes, and it was tributary to the Medes until a revolt under Cyrus about b.c. 588, when it rapidly extended its sway over Asia Minor, and in b.c. 538 over Babylon, where the Persians came into contact with the captive Jews. Cyrus issued a decree permitting the Jewish captives to return to their own land. 2 Chronicles 36:20-23; Ezra 1:8. A later king, called Artaxerxes in Scripture, forbade the rebuilding of the temple, but Darius Hystaspes authorized the work to go on. Ezra 4:5-24; Ezra 6:7-12. Xerxes, who was probably the Ahasuerus of the book of Esther, succeeded him, and was defeated by the Greeks, assassinated, and succeeded by his son Artaxerxes Longimanus, who was friendly to the Jews. Ezra 7:11-28; Nehemiah 2:1-9. Only one of his successors is noticed in Scripture, Darius the Persian. Nehemiah 12:22. After lasting about 200 years the Persian empire was overthrown by Alexander the Great, b.c. 330, and followed by the Macedonian, the third great world-empire. Daniel 8:3-7; Daniel 8:20.

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Bibliography Information
Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'Persia'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. 1893.

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