Persia; Persians

Concise Bible Dictionary:

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 Chron. 36:22-2322Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, 23Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the Lord God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The Lord his God be with him, and let him go up. (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 (Dan. 2:31-3931Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. 32This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, 33His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. 34Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. 35Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. 36This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king. 37Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. 38And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold. 39And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. (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” (Dan. 7:55And 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. (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 45:1-21Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; 2I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron: (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 1:1919If it please the king, let there go a royal commandment from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes, that it be not altered, That Vashti come no more before king Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal estate unto another that is better than she. (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 (Dan. 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:
Historical Names. Began to reign about Scripture Names
2. Astyages, his son, last king of Media. 593 Probably Darius the Mede.
b) Babylon taken. 538
7. Xerxes, his son. 485 Ahasuerus of Esther.
8. Artabanus (seven months). 475
10. Xerxes II (two months). 425
11. Sogdianus. 425
13. Artaxerxes II., Muemon 405
14. Ochus, or Artaxerxes III 359
15. Arses 338
16. Darius III (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 1:11Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus, (this is Ahasuerus which reigned, from India even unto Ethiopia, over an hundred and seven and twenty provinces:) (Esther 1:1) speaks of a hundred and twenty-seven provinces. See DANIEL and ESTHER.

Jackson’s Dictionary of Scripture Proper Names:

he divided