From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [1]

The boundaries of Persia varied from era to era, but the name Persia is usually associated with the territory on the northern side of the Persian Gulf. In ancient times the north-western part of this territory (the area that bordered the Mesopotamian Plain) was known as Elam ( Genesis 14:1). At times the Bible makes a distinction between Elamites and Persians ( Ezra 4:9), but usually Elam is simply another name for Persia ( Isaiah 11:11;  Isaiah 21:2;  Jeremiah 25:25;  Jeremiah 49:35-39). Regions to the north of Elam that were later closely allied with Persia were Media and Parthia ( Esther 1:18;  Acts 2:9).

Persia’s period of greatest power was during the reign of the Emperor Cyrus. Having come to the Persian throne about 558 BC, Cyrus proceeded to enlarge his territory, as one by one he conquered kingdoms large and small. One of his greatest triumphs was the conquest of Media. Media then became Persia’s strongest ally, and its leaders shared in the civil and military leadership of the expanding Persian Empire. So closely were the Medes and the Persians associated that people sometimes used their names interchangeably. The greatest victory for the Medo-Persian army came in 539 BC, when it conquered Babylon and Cyrus became undisputed ruler of the region ( Isaiah 13:17;  Isaiah 21:1-10;  Isaiah 44:28;  Isaiah 45:1;  Jeremiah 51:11;  Jeremiah 51:28;  Daniel 5:30-31;  Daniel 8:20;  Daniel 9:1;  Daniel 10:1).

Upon becoming ruler of Babylon, Cyrus quickly gave permission for all the people held captive by Babylon in foreign lands to return to their homelands. As a result many of the Jews returned to Jerusalem, where they soon began rebuilding the temple and the city ( Ezra 1:1-4). They completed the temple in 516 BC, in the reign of a later Emperor, Darius ( Ezra 6:14-15). (This Darius is a different person from Darius the Mede, the man who led the Medo-Persian attack on Babylon over twenty years previously; cf.  Daniel 5:30-31.)

When at times non-Jewish people of the region opposed and persecuted the Jews in Jerusalem, the Persian rulers protected the Jews ( Ezra 5:3-17;  Ezra 6:1-12;  Nehemiah 2:9-10;  Esther 8:9-14). The Persian government even gave the Jews funds to help carry out their program for the reconstruction of their nation and religion ( Ezra 6:8-10;  Ezra 7:14-16;  Ezra 7:21-24;  Nehemiah 2:7-8). At times the Emperor gave his personal support to Jewish leaders who went from Persia to Jerusalem to teach and reform the Jewish people ( Ezra 7:11-20;  Nehemiah 2:5-8).

The capital of Persia was Susa, or Shushan ( Esther 1:1-3;  Esther 2:3;  Esther 9:11;  Daniel 8:2). The Empire was divided into provinces ruled by Persian or Median nobles (satraps), with local people under them as governors and other officials ( Ezra 4:8-10;  Ezra 5:3;  Ezra 5:14;  Ezra 6:2;  Ezra 7:21;  Nehemiah 2:9;  Nehemiah 5:14;  Nehemiah 7:2;  Esther 3:1;  Esther 8:9;  Esther 10:3).

Persian rule lasted about two hundred years, but the biblical narratives cover little more than the first half of this period. Several Emperors feature in the record.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [2]

 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." (See Elam 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). Ρarsa is the native name, the modern Ρarsee ; supposed to mean "tigers". Originally simple in habits, upon overthrowing the Medes they adopted their luxury. They had a dual worship, Οromasdes or Οrmuzd , "the great giver of life," the supreme good god; Μithra , the "sun", and Ηome , 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.

Αvesta is the name for "Deity". Ζend is related to Κhandas , "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.

History . 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).

Holman Bible Dictionary [3]

The nation was named for the southernmost region of the area, called Parsis or Persis. It was a harsh land of deserts, mountains, plateaus, and valleys. The climate was arid and showed extremes of cold and heat. Gold and silver and wheat and barley were native to the area.

The region was settled shortly after 3000 B.C. by people from the north. An Elamite culture developed which, at its peak in 1200 B.C., dominated the whole Tigris River valley. It lasted until 1050 B.C. After its destruction, other northern groups entered the area. Among these groups were tribesmen who formed a small kingdom in the region of Anshan around 700 B.C. It was ruled by Achaemenes, the great great-grandfather of Cyrus II, the Great. (Thus, the period from Achaemenes to Alexander is called the Achaehymenid period.) This small kingdom was the seed of the Persian empire.

When Cyrus II came to his father's throne in 559 B.C., his kingdom was part of a larger Median kingdom. The Medes controlled the territory northeast and east of the Babylonians. In 550 B.C. Cyrus rebelled against Astyages, the Median king. His rebellion led to the capture of the king and gave Cyrus control over a kingdom stretching from Media to the Halys river in Asia Minor. Soon Cyrus challenged the king of Lydia. Victory there gave Cyrus the western portion of Asia Minor. Then, in 539 B.C., Babylon fell to Cyrus due to his skill and internal dissension in the Babylonian Empire. See Babylon .

Cyrus died in 530 B.C.; however, the Persian Empire continued to grow. Cambyses II, Cyrus' son, conquered Egypt in 525 B.C. Cambyses' successor Darius I expanded the empire eastward to the Indus and attempted to conquer or control the Greeks. Darius lost to the Greeks at Marathon in 490 B.C. This was the greatest extension of the empire. Later emperors did little to expand the empire. They even had difficulty holding such a far-flung empire together.

The Persian Empire is important to the history and development of civilization. It had major effects on religion, law, politics, and economics. The impact came through the Jews, the Bible, contacts with the Greeks, and through Alexander the Great's incorporation of ideas and architecture from the Persians.

Politically, the Persian Empire was the best organized the world had ever seen. By the time of Darius I, 522-486 B.C., the empire was divided into twenty satrapies (political units of varying size and population). Satrapies were subdivided into provinces. Initially, Judah was a provincein the satrapy of Babylon. Later, Judah was in one named “Beyond the River.” The satrapies were governed by Persians who were directly responsible to the emperor. Good administration required good communications which called for good roads. These roads did more than speed administration, though. They encouraged contacts between peoples within the empire. Ideas and goods could move hundreds of miles with little restriction. The empire became wealthy and also gave its inhabitants a sense that they were part of a larger world. A kind of “universal awareness” developed. The use of minted coins and the development of a money economy aided this identification with a larger world. The emperor's coins were handy reminders of the power and privileges of being part of the empire. Also, the Persians were committed to rule by law. Instead of imposing an imperial law from above, however, the emperor and his satraps gave their authority and support to local law. For the Jews this meant official support for keeping Jewish law in the land of the Jews.

The Persian Empire affected the Jews and biblical history a great deal. Babylon had conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple in 586 B.C. When Cyrus conquered Babylon, he allowed the Jews to return to Judah and encouraged the rebuilding of the Temple ( Ezra 1:1-4 ). The work was begun but not completed. Then, under Darius I, Zerubabbel and the high priest, Joshua, led the restored community with the support and encouragement of the Persians. ( Ezra 3-6 tells of some of the events while Haggai's and Zechariah's prophecies were made during the days of the restoration.) Despite some local opposition, Darius supported the rebuilding of the Temple which was rededicated in his sixth year (  Ezra 6:15 ). Also, both Ezra and Nehemiah were official representatives of the Persian government. Ezra was to teach and to appoint judges ( Ezra 7:1 ). Nehemiah may have been the first governor of the province of Yehud (Judah). He undoubtedly had official support for his rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem.

The Jews had trouble under Persian rule, too. Although Daniel was taken into Exile by the Babylonians ( Daniel 1:1 ), his ministry continued through the fall of the Babylonians ( Daniel 5:1 ) into the time of the Persians ( Daniel 6:1 ). His visions projected even further.  Daniel 6:1 shows a stable government but one in which Jews could still be at risk. His visions in a time of tranquillity remind readers that human kingdoms come and go. Esther is a story of God's rescue of His people during the rule of the Persian emperor: Ahasuerus (also known as Xerxes I). The story shows an empire where law can be used and misused. Jews are already, apparently, hated by some. Malachi, too, is probably from the Persian period. His book shows an awareness of the world at large and is positive toward the Gentiles and the government.

Throughout the period, the Jews kept looking for the kind of restoration promised by prophets such as Isaiah ( Isaiah 40-66 ) and Ezekiel ( Ezekiel 40-48 ). Prophets such as Haggai and Zechariah and Malachi helped the Jews to hope, but these men of God also reminded their hearers of the importance of present faithfulness and obedience to God. See  Ezekiel 40-48;  Ezekiel 40-48;  Ezekiel 40-48;  Ezekiel 40-48;  Ezekiel 40-48;  Ezekiel 40-48;  Ezekiel 40-48 .

Albert F. Bean

Smith's Bible Dictionary [4]

Per'sia. (Pure, Splended). Per'sia and Per'sians. 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.

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.

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.

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.

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, 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.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [5]

In Hebrew Paras,  Ezekiel 27:10 , a vast region in Asia, the southwestern province of which lying between ancient media on the north and the Persian Gulf on the south, appears to have been the ancient Persia, and is still called Pharsistan, or Fars. The Persians, who became so famous after Cyrus, the founder of their more extended monarchy, were anciently called Elamites; and later, in the time of the Roman emperors, Parthians. See PARTHIA.

The early history of the Persians, like that of most of the oriental nations, is involved in doubt and perplexity. Their descent is traced to Shem, through his son Elam, after whom they were originally named. It is probable that they enjoyed their independence for several ages, with a monarchical succession of their own; until they were subdued by the Assyrians and their country attached as a province to that empire. From this period, both sacred and profane writers distinguish the kingdom of the Medes from that of the Persians. It is not improbable that, during this period, petty revolutions might have occasioned temporary disjunctions of Persia from Assyria, and that the Persian king was quickly again made sensible of his true allegiance. When Media became independent, under Dejoes and then Phraortes, Persia became also subject to its sway, as a tributary kingdom. Media having vanquished her great rival Assyria enjoyed a long interval of peace, during the reign of Astyages, son of Cyaxares. But his successor, Cyaxares the Second, united with the Persians against the Babylonians, and gave the command of the combined armies to Cyrus, who took the city of Babylon, killed Belshazzar, the terminated that kingdom 538 B. C.

Cyrus succeeded to the thrones of Media and Persia, and completed the union between those countries, which appear to have been in reality but two nations of he same race, having the same religion (See MAGI and Media and using languages near akin to each other and to the ancient Sanscrit. Previously to their union under Cyrus, Daniel speaks of the law of the Medes and Persians as being the same.

The union was effected B. C. 536. The principal events relating to Scripture, which occurred during the reign of Cyrus, were the restoration of the Jews, the rebuilding of the city and temple, and the capture of Babylon, B. C. 539,  Ezra 1:2 . His dominion extended from the Mediterranean to the region of the Indus. Cambyses his successor, B. C. 529, added Egypt to the Persian realm, and the supremacy of Egypt and Syria was often in contest during subsequent reigns,  Ezra 4:6 . He was followed by Smerdis the Magian, B. C. 522,  Ezra 4:7; Darius Hystapis, B. C. 521,  Ezra 5:6; Xerxes, the Ahasuerus of the book of Esther, B. C. 485, Artabanus, B. C. 465; Artaxerxes Longimanus, B. C. 464,  Nehemiah 2:1; Xerxes 2., B. C. 424; Sogdianus and Darius Nothus, B. C. 424; Artaxerxes Mnemon, B. C. 404; Artaxerxes Ochus, B. C. 364; Arses, B. C. 338; and Darius Codomanus, B. C. 335, who was subdued and slain by Alexander of Macedon, B. C. 330. In the seventh century Persia fell under the power of the Saracens, in the thirteenth it was conquered by Genghis Khan, and in the fourteenth by Tamerlane. Modern Persia is bounded north by Georgia, the Caspian sea, and Tartary; east by Afghanistan and Beloochistan; south by Ormus; and west by the dominions of Turkey. Its inhabitants retain to a remarkable extent the manners and custom of ancient Persia, of which we have so vivid a picture in Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Daniel.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [6]

Persia ( Per'Shĭah, or Shah ), Heb. Pharas, Pure, or Tigers?  Ezekiel 38:5. A country in Central Asia. The term is generally applied in Scripture to the Persian empire, but in  Ezekiel 38:5 it designates Persia proper. The Persian empire extended from the Indus on the east to Thrace on the west, and from the Black and Caspian Seas on the north to the Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf, and the Red Sea on the south. It, at times, included Western Asia and portions of Europe and Africa. Persia proper was an unproductive country south of Media. The interior was a great plateau, having an average elevation of 4000 feet above the sea, broken by mountains and valleys and interspersed with fruitful plains. The founder of the Persian dynasty was Achæmes, and it was tributary to the Medes until a revolt under Cyrus about b.c. 588, when it rapidly extended its sway over Asia Minor, and in b.c. 538 over Babylon, where the Persians came into contact with the captive Jews. Cyrus issued a decree permitting the Jewish captives to return to their own land.  2 Chronicles 36:20-23;  Ezra 1:8. A later king, called Artaxerxes in Scripture, forbade the rebuilding of the temple, but Darius Hystaspes authorized the work to go on.  Ezra 4:5-24;  Ezra 6:7-12. Xerxes, who was probably the Ahasuerus of the book of Esther, succeeded him, and was defeated by the Greeks, assassinated, and succeeded by his son Artaxerxes Longimanus, who was friendly to the Jews.  Ezra 7:11-28;  Nehemiah 2:1-9. Only one of his successors is noticed in Scripture, Darius the Persian.  Nehemiah 12:22. After lasting about 200 years the Persian empire was overthrown by Alexander the Great, b.c. 330, and followed by the Macedonian, the third great world-empire.  Daniel 8:3-7;  Daniel 8:20.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [7]

an ancient kingdom of Asia, bounded on the north by Media, on the west by Susiana, on the east by Carmania, and on the south by the Persian Gulf. The Persians became very famous from the time of Cyrus, the founder of the Persian monarchy. Their ancient name was Elamites, and in the time of the Roman emperors they went by the name of Parthians; but now Persians. See CYRUS and for the religion of the ancient Persians, See Magi .

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [8]

A kingdom in Asia. This was the kingdom, in the government of the world, which succeeded the Babylonish, when Cyrus, king of Persia, had destroyed the Chaldean powers. (See  Isaiah 45:1-25 and  Daniel 5:30-31)

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [9]

pûr´sha , - zha ( פּרס , pāraṣ  ; Περσίς , Persı́s  ; in Assyrian Parsu , Parsua  ; in Achemenian Persian Pārsa , modern Fārs ): In the Bible (  2 Chronicles 36:20 ,  2 Chronicles 36:22 ,  2 Chronicles 36:23;  Ezra 1:1 ,  Ezra 1:8;  Esther 1:3 ,  Esther 1:14 ,  Esther 1:18;  Esther 10:2;  Ezekiel 27:10;  Ezekiel 38:5;  Daniel 8:20;  Daniel 10:1;  Daniel 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 ārya , "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 Āryan Persians seem to have occupied the country in the 8th or 9th century BC.

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [10]

Occupies the tableland 5000 ft. high between the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea on the S., the Caspian Sea and Turkestan on the N., Armenia on the W., and Afghanistan and Beluchistan on the E., and is a country three times as large as France; lofty mountain ranges traverse it from NW. to SE. and gird its northern boundary; the highest peak is Mount Demavend, 18,500 ft., in the Elburz, overlooking the Caspian. Most of the rivers evaporate inland; only one is navigable, the Karun, in the SW.; Lake Urumiyah, in the NW., is the largest, a very salt and shallow sheet of water. The eastern half of the country is largely desert, where the sand is swept about in clouds by the winds. With little rain, the climate is intensely hot in summer and cold in winter. Forests clothe the outer slopes of the mountains, and scanty brushwood the inner plains. Wheat and barley are grown on higher levels, and cotton, sugar, and fruits on the lower, all with the help of Irrigation. Agriculture is the chief industry; there are manufactures of carpets, shawls, and porcelain. The internal trade is carried on by caravans; foreign trade is not extensive, and is chiefly in Russian hands; the exports include opium, carpets, pearls, and turquoises. The capital is Teheran, a narrow, crooked, filthy town, at the southern foot of the Elburz. Tabriz, in the NW., is the emporium of trade. Ispahân, Meshed, Barfurush, and Shiraz are the other important towns. The Government is despotic; the emperor is called the Shah. The people are courteous and refined in manner, witty, and fluent in speech; they are of Aryan stock and Mohammedan faith. The original empire of Persia was established by Cyrus 537 B.C. A century later decay set in. Revival under Parthian and Sassanian dynasties lasted from 138 B.C. till A.D. 639. Persia became then a province of the Arabs. From the 14th century it fell under Mongol sway, and again in the 16th century under Turkish. The present dynasty was founded in 1795. The future of the country is in Russian and British hands.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [11]

Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Persia'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.