The Persians

Ezra 9:9 - For we [were] bondmen; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem.

The Old Testament - A Brief Overview

The Persian Empire

Ancient Persian Sculpture

The new masters of the ancient world belonged to a particularly handsome race. This 5th-cent. B.C. glazed brick frieze is from the harem of Xerxes, the royal household at Persepolis. Their beards are carefully arranged in little curls in Persian fashion. At the heart of the imperial Persian army was the elite bodyguard known as the Ten Thousand Immortals, whose ranks included Medes, Elamites and Persians.

The Cyrus Cylinder

As the policy of Assyrian and Babylonian kings had been to deport conquered peoples to other parts of the empire, the Persian policy was the opposite and much more humane. They would send captives back to their land, as mentioned on the fired clay Persian "Cyrus Cylinder" as follows:

". . . to Ashur and Susa, Agade, Ashnunnak, Zamban, Meturnu, Deri, with the territory of the land of Gutium, the cities on the other side of the Tigris . . . the gods who dwelt in them, I brought back to their places . . . all their inhabitants I collected and restored them to their dwelling places . . . I liberated those who dwelt in Babylon from the yoke that chafed them . . . I am Cyrus, king of all things, the great king . . . king of all the earth . . ."

He also declares that he made good the wrong done by his predecessors by sending captives home, helping in the rebuilding of their temples and the return of their gods. This edict included the Jews. No doubt God had ordained Cyrus, who was a noble and just monarch, to issue a decree releasing the Jews. The remarkably powerful prophesy of Isaiah is captivating in the light of history for it was written 150 years before Cyrus:

Isa 44:28-45:1

Who says of Cyrus, 'He is My shepherd, and he shall perform all My pleasure, saying to Jerusalem, "You shall be built," and to the temple, "Your foundation shall be laid." "Thus says the LORD to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held-- to subdue nations before him and loose the armor of kings, to open before him the double doors, so that the gates will not be shut . . ."


Persia was the mountainous plateau to the east of the lower Tigris-Euphrates Valley. The Persian empire was larger than the Babylonian and Assyrian empires, extending eastward to India and reaching westward to Greece. Its capitals were Persepolis and Susa. As a world empire it lasted 200 years (536-331 B.C.)

The Persian Kings were:

Cyrus (538-529 B.C.) Conquered Babylon and allowed the Jews to return.

Cambyses (529-522 B.C.) Stopped work on the Temple.

Darius I (521-485 B.C.) Authorized completion of the Temple.

Xerxes (Ahasuerus) (485-465 B.C.) Esther was his Queen.

Artaxerxes I (465-425 B.C.) Authorized Nehemiah to rebuild Jerusalem.

Xerxes II (424 B.C.)

Darius II (423-405 B.C.)

Artaxerxes II (405-358 B.C.)

Artaxerxes III (358-338 B.C.)

Arses (338-335)

Darius III (335-331 B.C.) He was defeated by Alexander the Great (331 B.C.) at the famous battle of Arbela, near Nineveh. This was the fall of Persia and the rise of Greece.


Alexander's marching army


The Story of the Bible - The Old Testament, Quick Summary, About, Divisions, Timeline, Charts, Maps, Creation, Adam and Eve, The Flood, The Tower of Babel, Abraham the First Hebrew, Isaac, Son of Promise, Jacob and the 12 Tribes, Joseph and Egypt, Moses and the Exodus, The Giving of the Law, The Tabernacle, The Wilderness Wanderings, Joshua and the Promised Land, The Judges, Samuel the Prophet, Saul, Israel's First King, King David, King Solomon, The Divided Kingdom, The Northern Kingdom of Israel, The Southern Kingdom of Judah, The Assyrian Captivity, The Babylonian Captivity, The Return From Babylon, The Prophets, The Messiah, Conclusion, Bibliography and Credits

Summary of the Old Testament Books - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

Read the Old Testament Stories - The 7 Days of Creation, The Fall of Man, Cain and Abel, Noah's Ark

Bibliography Resources on the Old Testament

A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, Revised and Expanded by Archer, 508 Pages, Pub. 2007


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