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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Rages

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( ῾Ράγη, ῾Ράγοι ; Vulg. Rages, Ragau) was an important city in north- eastern Media, where that country bordered upon Parthia. It is not mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures, but occurs frequently in the book of Tobit (1:14; 5:5; 6:9, 12, etc.), and twice in Judith ("Ragau" [1:5,15]). According to Tobit, it was a place to which some of the Israelitish captives taken by Shalmaneser (Enemessar) had been transported, and thither the angel Raphael conducted the young Tobiah. In the book of Judith it is made the scene of the great battle between Nebuchodonosor and Arphaxad, wherein the latter is said to have been defeated and taken prisoner. Neither of these accounts can be regarded as historic, but the latter may conceal a fact of some importance in the history of the city.

Rages is a place mentioned by a great number of profane writers. The name is said to have been derived from the chasms (ῥαγάς ) made in the vicinity by earthquakes (Strabo, i, 13). It appears as Ragha in the Zendavesta, in Isidore, and in Stephen; as Raga in the inscriptions of Darius; Rhalce in Duris of Samos (Fr. 25), Strabo (xi, 9, § 1), and Arrian (Exp. Alex. iii, 20); and Rhagcoea in Ptolemy (vi, 5). Properly speaking, Rages is a town, but the town gave name to a province, which is sometimes called Rages or Rhagae, sometimes Rhagiana. It appears from the Zendavesta that here was one of the earliest settlements of the Arians, who were minglgd, in Rhagiana, with two other races, and were thus brought into contact with heretics (Bunsen, Philosophy of Universal History, iii, 485). Isidore calls Rages "the greatest city in Media" (p. 6), which may have been true in his day; but other writers commonly regard it as much inferior to Ecbatana. It was the place to which Frawartish (Phraortes), the Median rebel, fled when defeated by Darius Hystaspis, and at which he was made prisoner by one of Darius's generals (Beh. Inscs. col. ii, par. 13). (See MEDIA).

This is probably the fact which the apocryphal writer of Judith had in his mind when he spoke of Arphaxad as having been captured at Ragau. When Darius Codomannus fled from Alexander, intending to make a final stand in Bactria, he must have passed through Rages on his way to the Caspian Gates; and so we find that Alexander arrived there, in pursuit of his enemy, on the eleventh day after he quitted Ecbatana (Arrian, Exp. Alex. iii, 20). In the troubles which followed the death of Alexander, Rages appears to have gone to decay, but it was soon after rebuilt by Seleucus I (Nicator), who gave of the name of Europus (Strab. 11:13, § 6; Steph. Byz. ad voc.). When the Parthians took it, they called it Arsacia, after the Arsaces of the day; but it soon afterwards recovered its ancient appellation, as we see by Strabo and Isidore. That appellation it has ever since retained. with only a slight corruption, the ruins being still known by the name of Rhey. These ruins lie about five miles south-east of Teheran, and cover a space 4500 yards long by 3500 yards broad. The walls are well marked, and are of prodigious thickness; they appear to have been flanked by strong towers, and are connected with a lofty citadel at their north-eastern angle. The importance of the place consisted in its vicinity to the Caspian Gates, which, in a certain sense, it guarded. Owing to the barren and desolate character of the great salt desert of Iran, every army which seeks to pass from Bactria, India, and Afghanistan to Media and Mesopotamia, or vice versa, must skirt the range of mountains which runs along the southern shore of the Caspian. These mountains send out a rugged and precipitous spur in about long. 52º 25' E. from Greenwich, which runs far into the desert, and can only be rounded with the extremest difficulty. Across this spur is a single pass the Pylae Caspiae of the ancients and of this pass the possessors of Rhages must have at all times held the keys. The modern Teheran, built out of its ruins, has now superseded Rhey; and it is perhaps mainly from the importance of its position that it has become the Persian capital. For an account of the ruins of Rhey, see Ker Porter, Travels, i, 357-364; and compare Fraser, Khorassan, p. 286.


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Rages'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/r/rages.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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