Now Iran
"..even now the Persians never call their country anything but Iran, never "Persia." ISBE
Also see Ahasuerus | Artaxerxes | Assyria | Babylon

Also see the history of Judah and the Persian Empire timeline

Medes-Media Empire

Babylonian, Median, and other
Oriental Empires, c. 600 B.C.

Persian Empire

500 BC

Timeline of the Bible and the Mede and Persian Empire
Wikipedia: From Bronze to Iron Ages (c 1206-1150 BC) | Neo-Assyrian Empire (934-608 BC) | Babylonia (now Iraq):

Early Iron Age, * Neo-Babylonian Empire (Chaldean Era), Persian (now Iran):

* Median Empire (612-549 BC) Medes (Iran): "By the 6th century BC, after having together with the Babylonians defeated the Neo-Assyrian Empire, the Medes were able to establish their authority, lasting for about sixty years, from the sack of Nineveh in 612 BC until 549 BC when Cyrus the Great established the Achaemenid Empire by defeating Astyages, king of Media."
* Achaemenid Empire aka Persian Empire (Iran) (ca 550–330 BC) With the Median Empire it became the Medo-Persian Empire, largest in ancient history.
* Cyrus II the Great founded the Persian Empire under the Achaemenid dynasty (c 600 BC or 576–530 BC).
    In 538 BC, King Cyrus gave permission to certain Jews held captive in Babylon to return to Jerusalem and start rebuilding the temple which they started in 537 BC.
* Cyrus's son Cambyses II became sole king and extended the empire into Egypt in 530-522 BC.
* Smerdis (Bardiya) usurper, 522 BC
* Darius I the Great 521-486 BC
"The Book of Ezra (chapter 6, verse 1) describes the adoption and precise instructions to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. It was completed and inaugurated of the sixth year of Darius (March 515 BCE), as also related in the Book of Ezra (chapter 6, verse 15), so the 70-year prophecy of Jeremiah was fulfilled.

Between Cyrus and Darius, an exchange of letters with King Ahasuerus and Artaxerxes is described (Chapter 4, Verse 7), the grandson of Darius I, in whose reign Ezra and Nehemiah came to Jerusalem...

There is mention of a Darius in the Book of Daniel, identified as Darius the Mede. He began ruling when he was 62 years old (chapter 5, verse 31), appointed 120 satraps to govern over their provinces or districts (chapter 6, verse 1), was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans (chapter 9, verse 1), and predated Cyrus (chapter 11, verse 1). Therefore, many scholars identify him with Cyaxares II [a Median king] rather than Darius I of Persia."

* Xerxes I - likely Queen Esther's husband Ahasuerus of the Book of Esther. Ahasuerus (Xerxes) was an ancestor of Darius the Mede
* Artaxerxes I Longimanus, 465-424 BC
"The rebuilding of the Jewish community in Jerusalem had begun under Cyrus the Great, who had permitted Jews held captive in Babylon, to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple of Solomon. Consequently, a number of Jews returned to Jerusalem in 538 B.C., and the foundation of this "Second Temple" was laid the following year.

In Artaxerxes' 20th year (445 B.C.), Nehemiah, the king's cupbearer, apparently was also a friend of the king as in that year Artaxerxes inquired after Nehemiah's sadness. Nehemiah related to him the plight of the Jewish people and that the city of Jerusalem was undefended. The king sent Nehemiah to Jerusalem with letters of safe passage to the governors in Trans-Euphrates, and to Asaph, keeper of the royal forests, to make beams for the citadel by the Temple and to rebuild the city walls."

# Cyrus I of Anshan, son of Teispes
# Cambyses I of Anshan, son of Cyrus I
# Cyrus II the Great, son of Cambyses I, ruled from c.550-530 BCE E(ruler of Anshan c. 559 BCE – conquered Media 550 BCE)
# Cambyses II, son of Cyrus the Great, ruled 529-522 BCE
# Smerdis (Bardiya), alleged son of Cyrus the Great, ruled 522 BCE (Possibly an usurper)
# Darius I the Great, brother-in-law of Smerdis and grandson of Arsames, ruled 521-486 BCE
# Xerxes I the Great, son of Darius I, ruled 485-465 BCE
# Artaxerxes I Longimanus, son of Xerxes I, ruled 465-424 BCE
# Xerxes II, son of Artaxerxes I, ruled 424 BCE
PERSIA in scriptures [BibleGateway Search]
Cross Reference Bible links
2 Chronicles 36:20-23 | more in Ezra, Esther, Ezekiel, and Daniel | Nehemiah 12:22

PERSIA [Fausset's Bible Dictionary]             Map from Macrohistory and World Report maps

Ezekiel 27:10; Ezekiel 38:5.
"Persia proper" was originally a small territory (Herodot. 9:22).

On the N. and N.E. lay Media,
on the S. the Persian gulf,
Elam on the W.,
on the E. Carmania. Now Furs, Farsistan.

Rugged, with pleasant valleys and plains in the mid region and mountains in the N.

The S. toward the sea is a hot sandy plain, in places covered with salt.

Persepolis (in the beautiful valley of the Bendamir), under Darius Hystaspes, took the place of Pasargadae the ancient capital; of its palace "Chehl Minar," "forty columns," still exist. Alexander in a drunken fit, to please a courtesan, burned the palace. Pasargadae, 40 miles to the N., was noted for Cyrus' tomb (Arrian) with the inscription, "I am Cyrus the Achaemenian." (See CYRUS.) The Persians came originally from the E., from the vicinity of the Sutlej (before the first contact of the Assyrians with Aryan tribes E. of Mount Zagros, 880 B.C.), down the Oxus, then S. of the Caspian Sea to India. There were ten castes or tribes: three noble, three agricultural, four nomadic; of the last were the "Dehavites" or Dali (Ezra 4:9).

The Pasargadae were the noble tribes, in which the chief house was that of the Achaemenidae. Darius on the rock of Behistun inscribed: "from antiquity our race have been kings. There are eight of our race who have been kings before me, I am the ninth." frontELAM on its relation to Persia.) The Persian empire stretched at one time from India to Egypt and Thrace, including all western Asia between the Black Sea, the Caucasus, the Caspian, the Jaxartes upon the N., the Arabian desert, Persian gulf, and Indian ocean on the S. Darius in the inscription on his tomb at Nakhsh-irustam enumerates thirty countries besides Persia subject to him, Media, Susiana, Parthia, Aria, Bactria, Sogdiana, Chorasmia, Zarangia, Arachosia, Sattagydia, Gaudaria, India, Scythia, Babylonia, Assyria, Arabia, Egypt, Armenia, Cappadocia, Saparda, Ionia, the Aegean isles, the country of the Scodrae (European), Ionia, the Tacabri, Budians, Cushites, Mardians, and Colchians. The organization of the Persian kingdom and court as they appear in Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, accords with independent secular historians.

The king, a despot, had a council, "seven princes of Persia and Media which see his face and sit the first in the kingdom" (Esther 1:14; Ezra 7:14). So Herodotus (iii. 70-79) and Behistun inscription mention seven chiefs who organized the revolt against Smerdis (the Behistun rock W. of Media has one inscription in three languages, Persian, Babylonian, and Stythic, read by Grotefend). "The law of the Persians and Medes which alters not" (Esther 1:19) also controlled him in some measure. In Scripture we read of 127 provinces (Esther 1:1) with satraps (Esther 3:12; Esther 8:9; Xerxes in boasting enlarged the list; 60 are the nations in his armament according to Herodotus) maintained from the palace (Ezra 4:14), having charge of the revenue, paid partly in money partly in kind (Ezra 7:21-22).

Mounted posts (unique to Persia and described by Xenophon, Cyr. 8:6,17, and Herodotus, viii. 98), with camels (Strabo 15:2, section 10) and horses pressed into service without pay (angareuein; Matthew 5:41; Mark 15:21), conveyed the king's orders (Esther 3:10; Esther 3:12-13; Esther 8:10; Esther 8:14), authenticated by the royal signet (so Herod. iii. 128). A favorite minister usually had the government mainly delegated to him by the king (Esther 3:1-10; Esther 8:8; Esther 10:2-3). Services were recorded (Esther 2:23; Esther 6:2-3) and the actors received reward as "royal benefactors" (Herodotus iii. 140); state archives were the source of Ctesias' history of Persia (Diod. Sic. 3:2.) The king lived at Susa (Esther 1:2; Nehemiah 1:1) or Babylon (Ezra 7:9; Nehemiah 13:6).

In accordance with Esther 1:6, as to "pillars of marble" with "pavement of red, blue, white, and black," and "hangings of white, green, and blue of fine linen and purple to the pillars," the remains exhibit four groups of marble pillars on a pavement of blue limestone, constructed for curtains to hang between the columns as suiting the climate. (Loftus' Chaldeea and Susiana.) One queen consort was elevated above the many wives and concubines who approached the king" in their turn." To intrude on the king's privacy was to incur the penalty of death (compare Herodotus, iii. 60-84 with Esther 2:12; Esther 2:15; Esther 4:11-16; Esther 4:5). Parsa is the native name, the modern Parsee; supposed to mean "tigers". Originally simple in habits, upon overthrowing the Medes they adopted their luxury. They had a dual worship, Oromasdes or Ormuzd, "the great giver of life," the supreme good god; Mithra, the "sun", and Home, the "moon", were under him.

Ahriman, "the death dealing" being, opposed to Oromasdes. Magianism, the worship of the elements, especially fire, the Scythic religion, infected the Persian religion when the Persians entered their new country. Zoroaster (the Greek form of Zerdusht), professing to be Ormuzd's prophet, was the great reformer of their religious system, the contemporary of Daniel (Warburton 4:180, but according to Markham 1500 B.C., before the separation of the two Aryan races, the Indians and Persians) and acquainted with the Jewish Scriptures, as appears from his account of creation (Hyde 9; 10; 22; 31, Shahristani Relig. Pers.), and from his inserting passages from David's writings and prophecies of Messiah.

He condemns the notion of two independent eternal principles, good and evil, and makes the supreme God Creator of both (and that under Him the angel of light and the angel of darkness are in perpetual conflict) as Isaiah teaches, and in connection with the prophecy of Cyrus the Jews' deliverer from Babylon: "thus saith Jehovah to His anointed, Cyrus ... I will go before thee, I will break in pieces the gates of brass ... I form the light and create the darkness; I make peace and create evil." Zoroaster taught that God created the good angel alone, and that the evil followed by the defect of good. He closely imitates the Mosaic revelation. As Moses heard God speaking in the midst of the fire, so Zoroaster pretends.

As the divine glory rested on the mercy seat, so Zoroaster made the sacred fire in the Persian temples to symbolize the divine presence. Zoroaster pretended that fire from heaven consumed sacrifices, as often had been the case in Israel's sacrifices; his priests were of one tribe as Israel's. In his work traces appear of Adam and Eve's history, creation, the deluge, David's psalms. He praises Solomon and delivers his doctrines as those of Abraham, to whose pure creed he sought to bring back the Magian religion. In Lucian's (De Longaevis) day his religion was that of most Persians, Parthians, Bactrians, Aryans, Sacans, Medes, and Chowaresmians. His Zendavesta has six periods of creation, ending with man as in Genesis.

Avesta is the name for "Deity". Zend is related to Khandas, "metre," from the same root as scandere, scald "a poet," "scan." Mazdao, his name of Ormuzd, "I am that I am," answers to JEHOVAH in Exodus 3. He expected a zoziosh or "saviour". Fire, originally made the symbol of God, became, as Roman Catholic symbols, at length idolized. The Parsees observe the nirang; "rubbing the urine of a cow, she goat, or ox over the face and hands", the second thing a Parsee does in getting up in the morning. The women after childbirth undergo it and have actually to drink a little of it! The Parsees pray 16 times a day. They have an awe of light. They are the only orientals who do not smoke. The priests and people now do not understand one word of the Zendavesta. (Muller.) The Persian language was related to the Indian Sanskrit.


Achaemenes led the emigrating Persians into their final settlement, 700 B.C. Teispes, Cambyses I. (Kabujiya in the monuments), Cyrus I, Cambyses II, and Cyrus the Great reigned successively. After 80 years' subjection to the Medes the Persians revolted and became supreme, 558 B.C. Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon and restored the Jews (Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 45:1-4; Ezra 1:2-4). His son Cambyses III conquered Egypt (Ahasnerus, Ezra 4:6), but failed in Ethiopia. Then the Magian priest Gomates, pretending to be Smerdis, Cyrus' son, whom Cambyses had secretly murdered, gained the throne (522 B.C.), and Cambyses III committed suicide. He forbade the Jews building the temple (Ezra 4:7-22, Artaxerxes). By destroying the Persian temples and abolishing the Oromasdian chants and ceremonies, and setting up fire altars, Pseudo Smerdis aliented the Persians, Darius, son of Hystaspes, of the blood royal, revolted, and slew him after his seven months' reign.

He reverted to Cyrus' policy, by grant enabling the Jews to complete the temple in his sixth year (Ezra 6:1-15). Xerxes (Ahasuerus) his son held the feast in his third year at Shushan for "the princes of the provinces," preparatory to invading Greece. His marriage with Esther in his seventh year immediately followed his flight from Greece, when lie gave himself up to the pleasures of the seraglio. His son Artaxerxes Longimanus befriended Ezra (Ezra 7:1; Ezra 7:11-28) and Nehemiah (Nehemiah 2:1-9) in their patriotic restoration of the Jews' national polity and walls. (See DANIEL; CYRUS; MEDES; PARTHIA; AHASUERUS; ARTAXERXES.) "Darius the Persian" or Codomanus (Nehemiah 12:22) was conquered by Alexander the Great (Daniel 8:3-7).

PERSIA [Smith Bible Dictionary]

(pure, splended),
Persia proper was a tract of no very large dimensions on the Persian Gulf, which is still known as Fars or Farsistan , a corruption of the ancient appellation. This tract was bounded on the west by Susiana or Elam, on the north by Media on the south by the Persian Gulf and on the east by Carmania. But the name is more commonly applied, both in Scripture and by profane authors to the entire tract which came by degrees to be included within the limits of the Persian empire. This empire extended at one time from India on the east to Egypt and Thrace on the west, and included. besides portions of Europe and Africa, the whole of western Asia between the Black Sea, the Caucasus, the Caspian and the Jaxartes on the north, the Arabian desert the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean on the south.

The only passage in Scripture where Persia designates the tract which has been called above "Persia proper" is (Ezekiel 38:5) Elsewhere the empire is intended. The Persians were of the same race as the Medes, both being branches of the great Aryan stock.

1. Character of the nation .

--The Persians were a people of lively and impressible minds, brave and impetuous in war, witty, passionate, for Orientals truthful, not without some spirit of generosity: and of more intellectual capacity than the generality of Asiatics. In the times anterior to Cyrus they were noted for the simplicity of their habits, which offered a strong contrast to the luxuriousness of the Medes; but from the late of the Median overthrow this simplicity began to decline. Polygamy was commonly practiced among them. They were fond of the pleasures of the table. In war they fought bravely, but without discipline.

2. Religion .

--The religion which the Persians brought with there into Persia proper seems to have been of a very simple character, differing from natural religion in little except that it was deeply tainted with Dualism. Like the other Aryans, the Persians worshipped one supreme God. They had few temples, and no altars or images.

3. Language .

--The Persian language was closely akin to the Sanskrit, or ancient language of India. Modern Persian is its degenerate representative, being largely impregnated with Arabic.

4. History .

--The history of Persia begins with the revolt from the Medes and the accession of Cyrus the Great, B.C. 558. Cyrus defeated Croesus, and added the Lydian empire to his dominions. This conquest was followed closely by the submission of the Greek settlements on the Asiatic coast, and by the reduction of Caria and Lycia. The empire was soon afterward extended greatly toward the northeast and east.

In B.C. 539 or 538, Babylon was attacked, and after a stout defence fell into the hands of Cyrus. This victory first brought the Persians into contact with the Jews. The conquerors found in Babylon an oppressed race -- like themselves, abhorrers of idols, and professors of a religion in which to a great extent they could sympathize. This race Cyrus determined to restore to their own country: which he did by the remarkable edict recorded in the first chapter of Ezra. (Ezra 1:2-4) He was slain in an expedition against the Massagetae or the Derbices, after a reign of twenty-nine years.

Under his son and successor, Cambyses, the conquest of Egypt took place, B.C. 525. This prince appears to be the Ahasuerus of (Ezra 4:6).

Gomates, Cambyses’ successor, reversed the policy of Cyrus with respect to the Jews, and forbade by an edict the further building of the temple. (Ezra 4:17-22) He reigned but seven months, and was succeeded by Darius.

Appealed to, in his second year, by the Jews, who wished to resume the construction of their temple, Darius not only granted them this privilege, but assisted the work by grants from his own revenues, whereby the Jews were able to complete the temple as early as his sixth year. (Ezra 6:1-15).

Darius was succeeded by Xerxes, probably the Ahasuerus of Esther.

Artaxerxes, the son of Xerxes, reigned for forty years after his death [sic] and is beyond doubt the king of that name who stood in such a friendly relation toward Ezra, (Ezra 7:11-28) and Nehemiah (Nehemiah 2:1-9) etc. He is the last of the Persian kings who had any special connection with the Jews, and the last but one mentioned in Scripture.

His successors were Xerxes II, Sogdianus Darius Nothus, Artaxerxes Mnemon, Artaxerxes Ochus, and Darius Codomannus, who is probably the "Darius the Persian" of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 12:22) These monarchs reigned from B.C. 424 to B.C. 330.

The collapse of the empire under the attack of Alexander the Great took place B.C. 330.


pur'-sha, (parats; Persia; in Assyrian Parsu, Parsua; in Achemenian Persian Parsa, modern Fars):
In the Bible (2 Chronicles 36:20,22-23; Ezra 1:1,8; Esther 1:3,14,18; 10:2; Ezekiel 27:10; 38:5; Daniel 8:20; 10:1; 11:2) this name denotes properly the modern province of Fars, not the whole Persian empire. The latter was by its people called Airyaria, the present Iran (from the Sanskrit word arya, "noble"); and even now the Persians never call their country anything but Iran, never "Persia." The province of Persis lay to the East of Elam (Susiana), and stretched from the Persian Gulf to the Great Salt Desert, having Carmania on the Southeast. Its chief cities were Persepolis and Pasargadae. Along the Persian Gulf the land is low, hot and unhealthy, but it soon begins to rise as one travels inland. Most of the province consists of high and steep mountains and plateaus, with fertile valleys. The table-lands in which lie the modern city of Shiraz and the ruins of Persepolis and Pasargadae are well watered and productive. Nearer the desert, however, cultivation grows scanty for want of water. Persia was doubtless in early times included in Elam, and its population was then either Semitic or allied to the Accadians, who founded more than one state in the Babylonian plain. The Aryan Persians seem to have occupied the country in the 8th or 9th century BC.

W. St. Clair Tisdall

PERSIA [Thompson Chain Reference]

    * 2 Chronicles 36:20
    * Ezra 1:1
    * Esther 1:3
    * Esther 1:18
    * Daniel 8:20
    * Daniel 10:1
    * Daniel 11:2 

Home | Keyword Index