All of this prediction is precisely fulfilled in later history. Carved soldiers and royal officials lined the walls, all bearing gifts for the mighty emperor in whose hall they stood. Omissions? His reputation as great was probably enhanced by the extent to which his figure was mythologized. appeared. Could a newborn infant be a threat to a king? Alexander went on to conquer other lands, but Persia remained under his control until his death in 323 BC. who succeeded his father Cyrus and is referred to in Ezra 4 as Artaxerxes. He also captured several Greek cities in Ionia, a region of Asia Minor along the Aegean Sea. In Herodotuss historically dubious account of Cyruss upbringing, Cyrus overthrows his grandfather Astyages and unites the latters Median kingdom with the Persian one he inherited. The record of Daniel 8 and 11 is also significant as forming the prophetic bridge from Babylon to Alexander and giving the background of Israels history in this period. For example, he surrounded the kingship with ceremony and ritual. Afraid the dream would come true, he ordered his servants to kill young Cyrus. The Avesta says that people who live good lives in the service of Ahura Mazda will be rewarded after death. He met Alexander again at Arbela, in 331 BC, and fled once more. Copyright 2021 Some Rights Reserved (See Terms of Service), A Brief Historical Overview of Ancient Persia, Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window), Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window), Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window), Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window), Click to email a link to a friend (Opens in new window), Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported, Equus: The Historic Tale of the Domesticated Horse, Gun Culture Variations and Trends across the United States, Clearing the Name of a Horse Blamed for Near-Defeat at Waterloo, How Firearm Manufacturers Influence American Gun Culture, Spectacle and Spectatorship at the 19th-Century American Horse Racetrack. Cyrus died in 530 BC while fighting in Central Asia. Later emperors were mostly weak and could not maintain order. For most of its early history, the Persian Empire was relatively peaceful. Though under the domination of Assyria until the seventh century b.c., their rise in power was contemporary with the decline of the Assyrian Empire and in 614 b.c. Nehemiah adds the important final chapter in Israels reconstruction. Cyrus conquered the Medes and established one of the largest empires of the ancient world, the Persian Empire. For the first year of his reign, Darius had to fight to restore order in Persia. Others given this title include Artaxerxes of Ezra 7:1, known as Artaxerxes I Longimanus who reigned 465-425 b.c., and Ahasuerus or Xerxes of Esther 1:1 who reigned 486-465 b.c. The more important kings of the Medo-Persian Empire are again the subject of prophecy in Daniel 11:2 where Daniel is told: Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all: and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia. The first of the three kings which were to follow Darius the Mede (Daniel 11:1) can be identified as Cambyses II. While the Semites spoke various Semitic languages, such as Arabic, Hebrew, and Assyrian, the languages of the Persians and Medes were Indo-Iranianthat is, they belonged to a group of languages that is more closely related to modern-day European languages than to Semitic tongues. The emperor himself worshipped Ahura Mazda, as did many of the emperors who followed him. Following these roads, messengers on horseback could travel across the entire Persian Empire in a matter of days. The lower horn apparently refers to the kingdom of the Medes and the higher horn that came up later to the kingdom of Persia, which dominated Media. The idealized biography by Xenophon is a work for the edification of the Greeks concerning the ideal ruler, rather than a historical treatise. First mention of the Medes in Scripture is found in the prophetic utterance of Isaiah when he declared 175 years before it was fulfilled, Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it (Isaiah 13:17; cp. Most scholars agree, however, that Cyrus the Great was at least the second of the name to rule in Persia. The emperors who followed never achieved the level of power and prestige he enjoyed. Some emperors discouraged the practice of other religions. John F. Walvoord, long-time president of Dallas Theological Seminary, was one of the most prominent evangelical scholars of his generation. The kingdom of the Medes and the Persians is described as a bear which raises itself on one side (referring to Persia being greater than Media) and has three ribs in its mouth. Most historians consider Dariuss reign the high point of Persian culture. Emperor Xerxes, the son of Darius I, tried to expand upon his fathers success. His saga follows in many details the stories of hero and conquerors from elsewhere in the ancient world. Get hooked on history as this quiz sorts out the past. (Student Encyclopaedia Britannica Article). Next Cyrus turned to Babylonia, where the dissatisfaction of the people with the ruler Nabonidus gave him a pretext for invading the lowlands. The forces of Ahura Mazda were locked in an eternal struggle against the forces of Ahriman. Smaller roads branched off the Royal Road to connect other key cities. While Persia continued to flourish as a nation, the days of the great Persian Empire were over.

The manner in which the baby Cyrus was given to a shepherd to raise is reminiscent of Moses in the bulrushes in Egypt, and the overthrow of his tyrannical grandfather has echoes in other myths and legends. Historians are not sure which of the legends details are accurate. in alliance with the Chaldeans they captured Nineveh resulting in the downfall of the Assyrian Empire. By Herodotuss own admission, however, this is only one of several versions of the events that he had come across. Our editors will review what youve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. His personality as seen by the Greeks influenced them and Alexander the Great, and, as the tradition was transmitted by the Romans, may be considered to influence our thinking even now.

Xerxes, the son of Darius, ruled from 486 to 465 BC. Opposing Ahura Mazda, however, was an evil spirit named Ahriman. When Cyrus conquered a region, he allowed people to keep their own customs rather than forcing them to adopt Persian ones. The three ribs may refer to the principal elements of the kingdom, namely, the Medes, the Persians, and Babylonia. He is referred to in Ezra 4:24. With this army, Darius won new lands in the east and triedbut failedto conquer Greece. Together, the peoples of Persia made some amazing cultural achievements. Cyruss career as a military leader began in earnest in 550 BCE, when he rose up against his Median overlord (and by some accounts, his grandfather), King Astyages. At the heart of Dariuss army was a group of highly trained soldiers called the Ten Thousand Immortals. The satrapies furnished soldiers for the king's armies. Cyrus also kept Babylon as a winter capital. At the center of the city was a high-ceilinged audience hall unlike anything else in the Ancient Near East. He marched into Asia Minor and conquered the fabulously wealthy kingdom of Lydia. The two important steps of rebuilding the temple and rebuilding the city during the reign of the Persians mark this period as the time of Israels partial restoration in preparation for the coming of their Messiah. until he was killed in battle in 530 b.c.) He was, therefore, the only god that people should worship. Designed as a ceremonial city by Darius I, the entire city of Persepolis was a monument to Persias glory. Zoroastrianism was one of the first religions to teach dualism, the belief that the world is controlled by two opposing forces, good and evil. To ensure that the satraps remained loyal, Darius sent officials called the kings eyes and kings ears on inspection tours. According to a Greek historian, the Persians summed up Cyruss achievements with this inscription carved on his tomb: O man, I am Cyrus, son of Cambyses, who founded the empire of the Persians and was king of Asia. Artaxerxes was a common name ascribed to many kings. The walls of the great palace in the capital city of Susa, for example, sported lions, bulls, and giraffes made of painted brick. He also instituted a new training system for the army. On his way back home to crush the rebellion, Cambyses died and Persia was left without a ruler. For example, they crafted delicate drinking vessels out of gold set with precious gems. He demanded strict enforcement of the severe laws of the Medes and Persians. Shortly after the couples first son, Cyrus, was born, the king had a dream that the baby would grow up to overthrow him. He conciliated local populations by supporting local customs and even sacrificing to local deities. He was followed by Smerdis, a usurper who reigned for eight months. The ruler of Cilicia in Asia Minor had become an ally of Cyrus when the latter marched against Croesus, and Cilicia retained a special status in Cyruss empire. Cyrus' son Cambyses II, who ruled from 529 to 522 BC, successfully crossed the hostile Sinai Peninsula on his way to conquering Egypt in a short campaign. Zoroasters teachings on how people should best serve the god were eventually compiled and recorded in the Avesta, the sacred text of Zoroastrianism. The ruins today, though few, arouse admiration in the visitor. His most notable accomplishment was perfecting the system of government begun by Cyrus. No explanation is given of this, but the strength of a bear is a good symbol of the empire of the Medes and the Persians. In this way, the Persians remained subject to the Medes for centuries. The spiritual revivals under Ezra and Nehemiah are a corresponding spiritual restoration which the people thoroughly needed. The columns that supported the ceiling were brightly painted and topped with stone figures. They will enter a heaven filled with pleasures. Rebellions were common, and trade slowed. Satraps who received unfavorable reports from these inspectors were punished or replaced. Located in the area south of the Caspian Sea and east of the Zagros Mountains, its original domain stretched for 600 miles north and south, and 250 miles east to west. (Some think he is the ruler mentioned in Ezra 4:7-24 instead of Cambyses.) In October 539 bce, the greatest city of the ancient world fell to the Persians. Thus it was by diplomacy as well as force of arms that he established the largest empire known until his time. A further prophetic picture of the empire of the Medes and the Persians is given in Daniel 8 where the ram with two horns which is destroyed by the goat is an obvious reference to the kingdom of the Medes and the Persians. The teachings of Zoroaster never completely disappeared, though, and gradually they began to spread again, both in Persia and to other parts of the world. As a result of this increased trade, the empire grew richer. 21:2). The Medes and the Persians are anticipated in the expression in Daniel 2:39, And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee. This refers to the chest of silver in the image of Daniel 2, where the two arms anticipated the dual kingdom of the Medes and the Persians, More detail is given in the vision of Daniel recorded in 7:5 where Daniel describes the second beast in these words, And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.. Malachi gives the concluding chapter of the Old Testament before Israel was plunged into the so-called four hundred silent years before Christ came. The fourth verse describes their conquests westward, northward, and southward which characterize the history of this empire as there was no considerable progress eastward. When Cyrus defeated Astyages he also inherited Median possessions in eastern Iran, but he had to engage in much warfare to consolidate his rule in this region.

According to an ancient legend, the baby who grew up to be King Cyrus the Great of Persia was indeed a threat. An account of the latter appears in the Bible: Cyrus is the ruler that liberated the Jewish people from their Babylonian captors. His attempt failed, however, and Xerxes returned to Persia in defeat. It stretched more than 1,500 miles and linked the major cities of Susa and Sardis. Only by divine revelation could Daniel know in advance that the conquests of the Medes and Persians would be to the north, south and west, but not to the eastin contrast to the Macedonian conquests which were mainly to the east, as indicated in subsequent verses in the activities of the he goat. Officials known as the king's eyes made regular visits to the satrapies and reported their observations to the king. It does, however, indicate the high esteem in which Cyrus was held, not only by his own people, the Persians, but by the Greeks and others. Our knowledge of his reign after this point is vague, although its likely that he died while undertaking campaigns on his eastern frontier. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Persian history for the next 125 years was filled with conspiracies, assassinations, and the revolts of subject peoples ground down by ruinous taxation. Not wanting to kill a helpless baby, one of the servants took Cyrus out of the city and gave him to an old shepherd to raise. From a prophetic standpoint, Xerxes was important as incurring the undying hatred of the Grecian people which forms the background of the conquest of Alexander the Great more than a century later. According to the Greek historian, Cyrus was at first successful in defeating the ruler of the nomadscalled the Massagetaiwho was a woman, and captured her son. Good communication was essential to ruling the Persian Empire. During this period the captives of Judah were permitted to go back to Jerusalem and restore their ancient city and its temple. Herodotuss telling proceeds in a recognizably mythic fashion: King Astyages has a dream that his grandson Cyrus would usurp him. (Cyrus II or Cyrus the Great reigned from 559 b.c. Please refer to the appropriate style manual or other sources if you have any questions. His empire, stretching from the Aegean Sea to the Indus River, was the largest that had ever existed at the time of his rule. Daniels description of it in Daniel 8:3, 4 is characteristic of the two centuries of the rule of the Medes and the Persians. While in Egypt, he received word of a rebellion in Persia. Darius the Mede is mentioned a number of times in Daniel (6:1, 6, 9, 25, 28; 9:1; 11:1). Although satraps had considerable local authority, they had to obey the wishes of the king. Little is known about the last years of Cyruss life, and various contradicting stories of his death exist. Powerful as Darius was, he could not personally control everything that happened in the empire. Cyrus was also tolerant toward the Babylonians and others. Brewminate: A Bold Blend of News and Ideas. The history of the Medes and the Persians, constituting as it does accurate and meticulous fulfillment of Gods prophetic Word, is another important evidence supporting the hope that prophecies yet unfulfilled will have their day of fulfillment in the consummation of the age. Animals were a common subject in Persian art. In the 4th century BCE, Xenophon wrote a biography that framed Cyrus as the ideal ruler; Ctesias also wrote about Cyruss life in the 4th century, offering an account that diverges notably from Herodotuss. Jeremiah includes the Medes as one of many nations which will be punished by God (Jeremiah 25:25). The appeal to Darius the king mentioned in Ezra 6:1 is a reference to Darius I, known as Darius the Great who reigned 522-486 b.c., and should not be confused with the Darius the Mede of Daniels prophecy., Iran Chamber Society - Biography of Cyrus II, The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies - Cyrus the Great, The Father and Liberator, Ancient History Encyclopedia - Biography of Cyrus the Great. After inheriting the empire of the Medes, Cyrus first had to consolidate his power over Iranian tribes on the Iranian plateau before expanding to the west. Phoenicia, Egypt, and the Greek colonies of Asia Minor also supplied ships and sailors. Astyages marched against the rebel, but his army deserted him and surrendered to Cyrus in 550 bce. Turning eastward, Cyrus expanded his empire to the border of India. His son Arses, who succeeded him, was poisoned two years later and all his children slain. Cyrus, when he reached manhood in Persis, revolted against his maternal grandfather and overlord. Corrections? Learn about Cyrus the Great and the Achaemenian Empire. ). Each satrap governed a region, or satrapy, in the emperors name. Rulers in the capital needed to know what was happening elsewhere in the empire in order to make decisions. Alternate versions of Cyruss life can be found in other Classical texts, such as works by the Greek historians Xenophon and Ctesiasboth of whom lived not long after Herodotus.

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