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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Persia, Persians

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PERSIA, PERSIANS. The Persians, when they appeared first in history, were the southern branch of the Iranians who had migrated, in the 10th or 9th cent. b.c., from the tableland of Turkestan westward and southward. They were for long subject to the more numerous and powerful northern branch (see Medes), from whom, however, they were separated by the country of Elam, through their settlement in the district later called Persis, east of the Persian Gulf. Southern Elam they acquired before b.c. 600. Their prince, Cyrus , the second of that name among the ruling family of the Achæmenides, threw off the Median yoke and deposed his sovereign Astyages in b.c. 550. In 545 the kingdom of Lydia fell to him by the capture of Sardis under its king Crœsus. In 539 Babylon surrendered to his troops without fighting, after a two weeks’ campaign, and became thenceforth one of the Persian capitals. Thus the Babylonian empire was added to the Medo-Persian. Cf. Isaiah 13:14 , Isaiah 13:21 (where in v. 6 ‘Elam’ stands for Persia, into which it was incorporated; see above) 41, 44 47, Jeremiah 50:1-46 ; Jeremiah 51:1-64 .

Thus was founded the greatest W. Asian empire of antiquity, whose power, moreover, was upon the whole consistently employed for the protection of the subject peoples, including in the great satrapy ‘beyond the River’ the Hebrew community in Palestine which was reestablished by the generosity of Cyrus himself (see Ezra and Neh. passim ). Of the kings who succeeded Cyrus there are named in OT, Darius Hystaspis (b.c. 521 486), his son Xerxes (486 465, the ‘Ahasuerus’ of Esther), Artaxerxes i. (465 424). See these names in their alphabetic places. To them is possibly to be added Cambyses, son of Cyrus the Great, made king of Babylon in 538, and thus corresponding to the misnomer’ Darius the Mede’ of Daniel 6:1 ff; Daniel 9:1 ; Daniel 11:1 .

J. F. M‘Curdy.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Persia, Persians'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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