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The Medes and the Persians in Old Testament prophecy

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posted on May, 26 2017 @ 05:01 PM
When I was at school, we called it the Persian empire.
That’s how it’s labelled on the scruffy-looking map filling half a page in my old notebook.
The book of Daniel describes the state more accurately as the kingdom “of the Medes and the Persians”. The Medes were the leading nation in the grand coalition which built up the empire, until they came under Persian rulers.

The empire had a strong impact on the development of the Jewish nation, though the fact is not fully reflected in our collected prophecies.

As far as the Old Testament is concerned, these nations first become visible in the turmoil which accompanied the collapse of the Assyrian empire and the rise of the Babylonians to take their place.
When Jeremiah is sending his notional “cup of the wine of the Lord’s wrath” to the nations of the world, the list of recipients includes “all the kings of Media” (Jeremiah ch25 v25).
Persian mercenaries are found in the armies of the king of Tyre (Ezekiel ch27 v10).
Persia is also mentioned in the grand coalition of northern tribes which is expected to fight under the banners of “Gog of the land of Magog” (Ezekiel ch38 v5).

These peoples become interesting for prophecy when they seem capable of overcoming the empire of Babylon.
When Isaiah prophesies against Babylon, he says “Behold, I am stirring up the Medes against them…” (Isaiah ch13 vv17-18).
And again, “Go up, O Elam, lay siege, O Media;
All the sighing she has caused I bring to an end” (Isaiah ch21 v2).
Similarly in Jeremiah; “The Lord has stirred up the spirit of the kings of the Medes, because his purpose concerning Babylon is to destroy it, for that is the vengeance of the Lord, the vengeance for his temple” (Jeremiah ch51 vv11-12).

These hopes were fulfilled in a spectacular way when Babylon was absorbed into the kingdom of Cyrus. For political reasons of his own, he chose to allow the various “captive nations” which had been collected by the Babylonians to return to their old homes.
Of course, the Jews of Jerusalem were among the beneficiaries of this policy.
Therefore Isaiah celebrates Cyrus as the unconscious agent of the Lord’s plans for the redemption of Israel;
“I am the Lord…
Who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd and he shall fulfil all my purpose’;
Saying of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be built’,
And of the Temple, ‘Your foundations shall be laid’.
Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him…
‘For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I surname you, though you do not know me…’” (Isaiah ch44 v28, ch45 vv1-4).
Later kings allowed Ezra and Nehemiah to go and help to rebuild the community.

The Persian empire went through a time of crisis after the death of Cambyses.
We know that Cambyses led his armies into the conquest of Egypt.
According to the “official story” (as provided by Darius later), he made a point of killing his brother Bardes first.
While he was in Egypt, a man called Gaumata, but claiming to be Bardes, launched a rebellion and claimed the throne for himself. Cambyses hurried home from Egypt, when he heard the news, but he died at some point on the way back.
A group of Persian nobles killed Gaumata and placed Darius on the throne instead.
(The “conspiracy theory” version would be that Gaumata really was Bardes, and that the official story masks a change of dynasty)

Darius had a lot more work to do before he could call his throne secure.
There was an immediate rebellion in Babylon, which had not forgotten being an independent state. Once he had suppressed that rebellion and was establishing control there, further rebellions broke out in the north among the Medes, in the east among the Bactrians, and among the nomadic tribes of Persia.
While he was out campaigning in these areas, the Babylonians rebelled again.
Part of the problem was the dubious loyalty of the satraps, or provincial governors, appointed by his predecessors. He needed to assert his control over them, and his command of the empire was not complete until he had carried this process into Egypt, five years after the crisis began.

This turmoil is the background of the book of Haggai and the opening chapters of Zechariah, which are set in the “second year” of the reign of Darius.
The four horsemen of Zechariah’s first vision had been sent out by the Lord “to patrol the earth”.
They now stand among the myrtle trees, waiting to report back on the information they’ve gathered.
“We have patrolled the earth, and behold all the earth remains at rest” (ch1 vv7-11).
The news makes the angel of the Lord very indignant, because of the contrast that with God’s people in Jerusalem and the other cities of Judah, “against which thou hast had indignation these seventy years”.
Then the angel himself is able to report the Lord’s response to this complaint;
“I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion. And I am angry with the nations that are at ease; for while I was angry [with Jerusalem] but a little, they furthered the disaster” (vv12-15).
The premise of this reaction is that the peace of the world at large comes at the expense of the peace of Zion.
The Lord promises to restore his people; “The Lord will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem” (v17).
But this can only be done by overturning the peace of the rest of the world.

That is the prophet’s understanding of the great succession crisis in Persia.
It is the God-given opportunity for the community of Jerusalem to develop their own plans, while the central authorities are distracted.
In the first place, they want to rebuild the Temple. The prophet Haggai provides the stimulation that gets the project moving;
“Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel [the governor] and Joshua the son of Jehozadak the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the words of Haggai the prophet” (Haggai ch1 v12).
Zechariah adds the promise that Zerubbabel, having laid the foundation, would also be allowed to complete the house of the Lord (Zechariah ch4 v9).
There were objections from local rivals, according to the story in Ezra. Nevertheless, a search of central records confirmed that royal permission had been given in the past, and the building was completed (Ezra ch6).

The kings of Persia had been generous enough to appoint the current representative of the house of David as their local governor. The title of “governor”, however, was the most they were prepared to allow.

The prophets hint at the possibility of raising Zerubbabel to a higher status, taking advantage of the political turmoil of the time.
“Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying; I am about to shake the heavens and the earth and to destroy the thrones of kingdoms… On that day, I will take you, O Zerubbabel my servant, the son of Shealtiel, says the Lord, and make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you, says the Lord of hosts” (Haggai ch2 vv21-23).
Zechariah calls him “the Branch”, and says that once the Temple is complete the Branch will “bear royal honour and shall sit and rule on his throne”.
If this was attempted, it cannot have been successful, in the long term. We may guess that autonomous action would not have been tolerated by the Persians.
All we know is that the house of David don’t appear again, even as governors.

posted on May, 26 2017 @ 05:02 PM
The Medes and the Persians in Daniel

In Daniel, the successor to Belshazzar of Babylon is “Darius the Mede” (Daniel ch5 v31).
People have tried to find a way of identifying this man with one of the subordinates of Cyrus.
The simplest answer, though, is probably that the book of Daniel was written at a later date, when the name of Darius the king was better known than the name of Cyrus.

In the story of Daniel ch6, king Darius is persuaded to enact an interdict, irrevocable “according to the law of the Medes and the Persians”, forbidding the subjects of the empire to petition any god other than the king himself. Darius has thus been trapped into imposing the punishment of “the lion’s den” upon Daniel, who is loyal to the God of his people. Yet the king is pleased when Daniel escapes unharmed.
This story (like the story of Esther) seems to reflect the precarious position of the Jewish faith under the Persian empire; officially tolerated, under a sympathetic administration, but struggling to survive against the hostility of other parties.

The dream vision of Daniel ch7 portrays four beasts, or kingdoms, rising up out of the great sea.
The first beast (v4) is the iconic image of a lion with eagles’ wings, which can be identified with Babylon.
The second beast (v5) is a lop-sided bear- “It was raised up on one side”. We can recognise this beast as the joint empire of the Medes and the Persians, one side of the partnership remaining stronger than the other.
The beast is told to “Arise, and devour much flesh”, referring to its formidable powers of conquest.
In particular, it holds three ribs between its teeth, presumably representing the absorbed empires of Assyria, Babylon, and Egypt.
This is followed by the empire of Alexander (v6), and the more contentious fourth beast of vv7-8.

Many modern academic scholars prefer a revised interpretation, such as;
1 Babylon
2 The Medes
3 The Persians
4 Alexander
But that’s an artificial system. There is little reason in history to separate out the Medes and the Persians, and even less reason in the book of Daniel, which always keeps the two peoples together.
This revision has a transparent purpose. The scholars recognise that the “little horn” of ch8 represents the infamous Antiochus Epiphanes, and they want to identify the “little horn” of this chapter as the same king. The fourth beast needs to be Alexander’s empire in order to make that possible.
The ingenious juggling becomes unnecessary once we understand that this little horn represents a different king with a similar character, ruling in the more distant future.

The fall of the Persian empire to the all-conquering Alexander is a major landmark in the second half of Daniel, portrayed in three different places.

It is implied by the fact that the third beast, the leopard of ch7 v6, has wings, representing the speed of Alexander’s conquests.

In the next chapter, Daniel has a vision of a ram with two horns. This animal, too, represents the coalition of the Medes and the Persians; “Both horns were high, but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last”. This ram was charging “westward and southward and northward” from its eastern base, and nobody was able to stand against him.
Until a he-goat with a single “conspicuous horn” came rushing in at great speed, without even touching the ground, broke both horns of the ram and trampled him down.
In case there is any doubt about the interpretation of this vision, the angel Gabriel spells it out in the second half of the chapter and identifies the goat as “the king of Greece”.

The message of ch8 is repeated more concisely as the introduction of ch11. A fourth king of Persia, more wealthy than his predecessors, will “stir all up against the kingdom of Greece”(resulting in those battles of Marathon and Thermopylae and Salamis which we learned about in school).
In reaction to this, “ a mighty king will arise [Alexander] who shall rule with great dominion and do according to his will” (ch11 vv2-3).
Then the rest of the chapter is about the wars of the successors of Alexander.
The Persian empire has done its work in Biblical history.

posted on May, 26 2017 @ 05:03 PM
We used to see threads from one of the other members of ATS, arguing that the vision of Daniel ch8 was predicting a war between America and Iran. This was a few years back, when our eyes were more focussed on that relationship.
I have commented elsewhere on the general fallacy of looking for modern politics in the prophecies of the Old Testament.
Another objection, in this particular case, is that the symbols were being interpreted inconsistently. If we’re going to go by the literal geography and understand “Persia” as Iran, then we should go by the literal geography and understand “Greece” as Greece. If the passage is predicting any modern war, it is predicting a war between Greece and Iran.
The other member used to argue that Daniel was confused and misled by the sight of Greek-looking architecture in his vision of America. We only have to look at the context to realise that this claim has no substance. It is clear that Daniel saw no buildings of any kind in his vision. The image which he saw was a goat, and the angel sent by God identified the goat as the king of Greece. We have no reason to think that the angel was misinformed.

posted on May, 26 2017 @ 05:04 PM
Jews and religion. Oy vey!

posted on May, 26 2017 @ 06:58 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

Good post D thanks . End time prophesy can be a interesting subject to think about but it seems that at the end of the day it will only be recognizable after it happens .Jesus first coming was quite ambiguous for a reason .( God didn't want TPTB to know) and I suspect has made the second coming as clear as the first . I gave up on trying to know when and decided to just wait and watch .

posted on May, 26 2017 @ 07:31 PM

I have a problem for you to consider here. Something that throws off everything you know about bible prophesy. And what is it? This.

The first century Jews botched the first century Apocalypse. And how did they do it? They killed John the Baptist. And the problem was he wasn't supposed to die. And working it through I figured out they managed to trigger a 2000 year Leviticus 26 curse. And that's why this world is "off" so to speak. The Apocalypse of Daniel 9-24 never ended. A 2000 year detour was placed between the 69 and the 70 week. This curse is still running.

And here is the details on the curse.

Malachi 4

5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:
6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

Matthew 17
10 And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?
11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.
12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.
13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.

Obviously the curse was triggered. Where do you find the details for it?

In the book of Hosea.
Hosea 6
1 Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.
2 After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.

2nd Peter 3
8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

And if you read the rest of Hosea you realize that it's one large prophesy dealing with a curse on Israel. The day of Jezreel prophesy.

And this curse is the reason you cannot count out any "end time prophesies" in the bible. The end times come at the end of the curse.

posted on May, 27 2017 @ 05:25 AM
I have been led to understand that the Modern 'Kurds' were once known as the Medes... what is your take on that ?

I also wonder if the 'nuclear Treaty' Iran agreed to with Obama is involved with the rise of the Armies of Magog under the leadership of Gog

the Shia-v-Sunni conflict is manipulated by the occult powers, see: Albert Pike video @ 4:04 :

feedback appreciated

posted on May, 27 2017 @ 05:31 AM
a reply to: DISRAELI

I don't believe in prophecy, but, historically, the relations between the Jews and Persians have always been better than those between the Jews and Arabs or Arabs and Persians. The greatest, unspoken, fear in the Arab world is that Israel and Iran will realize that they have more in common with each other than they do with the petty kingdoms and dictatorships of the region, and that they will work together to create a modern economic power bloc. Here's hoping.

posted on May, 27 2017 @ 06:00 AM
a reply to: DJW001
In the Middle Ages, the Jews fared rather well in the Arab world. That's where they went when they were exiled from Spain. Only the twentieth-century friction about Palestine turned it into a confrontational relationship.
Recent history suggests that both Turkey and Iran could work with Israel, as long as they were more secular than they are at the moment.

posted on May, 27 2017 @ 06:25 AM

originally posted by: St Udio
I have been led to understand that the Modern 'Kurds' were once known as the Medes... what is your take on that ?

As far as I can see, it isn't easy to tell. Of course it suits the self-esteem of the Kurds themslves to make that claim. There were many different tribes in that region at the time. It looks as though the word "Kurd" (like the word "Hebrew") only gradually mutated from a social term into an ethnic term. There might well be Medes in the gene mix, but it would be unsafe to assume a direct descent.

I also wonder if the 'nuclear Treaty' Iran agreed to with Obama is involved with the rise of the Armies of Magog under the leadership of Gog

But the armies of Magog are supposed to be coming at a time when Israel are completely at peace and fearing no attack from any side. It does not look as though that situation is going to be realised any time soon.

I'm not sure, in any case, how much value there is in trying to tie these prophecies to geographical locations.
I'll be looking at the various "Last battle" prophecies in a couple of weeks. Several of the prophets offer the story of one final assault on God's people from the outside world, which God will deal with decisively.
Looking closely, though, I come to the conclusion that each prophet is using the name of the current"outsiders" of his own time. Micah is writing in the age of Assyrian domination, so he names Assyria. Ezekiel is writing in an age when the "barbarians" were the mountain tribes north of Mesopotamia, so he names those tribes. Revelation is wriiten in an age when the Parthians beyond the Euphrates were the big threat to the Roman empire, so the invaders in Revelation come from beyond the Euphrates.
So I don't think these prophecies are really giving us any hard geographical information. I think they are giving us a varety of symbolic labels coveringthe concept of "the people outside the civilised peacefull world".

If we can't tie them to geographical locations, then there is nothing to be gained from trying to tie them to current events.

posted on May, 27 2017 @ 01:40 PM
a reply to: ntech
Your point does not really relate to the Medes and the Persians, but I will make a couple of observations on the general idea.
Firstly, I don't believe that much of the prophecy found in the Old Testament refers to the end-times. That is the overall theme of this series.
Secondly, I don't believe that it's possible to apply dates to the few prophecies which do refer to the end-times. That is the theme of my older thread The futility of date-setting.
If these events have no fixed dates, there is no great significance in the concept of "postponement".

I think our real information about the end-times is limited to three things;
1 God's enemies will make one final devastating assault on his people.
2 When that happens, he will deal with it.
3 When the first thing happens, our task is to remember the second thing, and respond with faith rather than despair.

edit on 27-5-2017 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 27 2017 @ 01:54 PM
a reply to: ntech

That is a interesting post or observation you made . Its always about what if's and if the whole nation of Israel would have excepted their Messiah then we may not be where and when we are today but ...

posted on May, 27 2017 @ 02:16 PM
a reply to: the2ofusr1
Yes, "waiting and watching" certainly seems like the best plan.
We don't need to know the date in advance, because there isn't anything we're expected to do in advance.

edit on 27-5-2017 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 27 2017 @ 04:07 PM
There is a parallel relation between the kingdom of Alexander the Great and Antiochus Epiphanes with the future kingdoms of Revelation. The prophecy is intermixed between then and the future.
Alexander the Greats kingdom was split into 4 kingdoms as will the kingdom of the future. The he-goat will take over the world and will be split to the 4 winds.

posted on May, 27 2017 @ 05:43 PM
Daniel 8:3-10

3 Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns: and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last.

4 I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great.

5 And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes.

6 And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had there seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power.

7 And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake his two horns: and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand.

8 Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven.

9 And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land.

10 And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them.

Then is verse 17 we read

Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision.

The Angel describes the ram as the Medes and Persians and the he-goat as Greece. Yet the he-goat traveled across the surface of the whole earth, without touching the ground. Alexander was fast, but he didn't travel across the surface of the whole earth, without touching the ground. If you look on a map, where the Media Persian empire would have existed (Iran) and draw a line due west across the surface of the whole earth (the diameter of the earth), there is only one country the he-goat originated from.

posted on Jun, 2 2017 @ 04:56 PM
a reply to: SeekAnswers

Just one more thing I would add to your post there. This little parable on the return of Christ.

Matthew 24
27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

The big question being what did he mean by the carcass reference? My thought is this. He is simply referencing another prophecy. And my guess is that it's Daniel 8. Why? If you consider the battle between the ram and goat what do you have after the battle? A dead ram. A carcass.

Now consider recent history. 2 nations in the middle east were conquered by a powerful western nation. Were Iraq and Afghanistan the horns of the ram? If so then what are we waiting for as the next step in the prophecy? For the tribulation in the middle east to end.

Lets say I'm worried at the moment. Especially considering what I know about the curse above.

posted on Jun, 4 2017 @ 12:08 AM
a reply to: ntech

Looking at the context of Matthew 24:28, Jesus is speaking about his return and the gathering of his elect. In Luke 17:37, we see more of an explanation to the context of his response. The same context exists in Revelation 19, where Jesus returns to earth in power and great glory, in Revelation 14, he gathers his elect from the four winds and the rest go into the winepress of his wrath. In Revelation 19 he calls for the birds of the earth to come devour the flesh of kings that lie dead in the fields.
Plainly speaking, when Jesus returns with his Army, the armies of the world are going to start shooting rockets and artillery at him and he is going to mow them down, and call on the birds of the world to come clean up the mess.

And the vision of the ram and the he-goat seems to be a parallel between Alexander the Great and Antiochus Epiphanes and a country of the future, that attempts to take over the world and the anti-christ.

Daniel 8:4
I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great.

The 2 horned ram was trying for domination, this verse right here would count Iran and Afghanistan out. Though some Christian theories say that since the Angel told Daniel that the ram is the Medes and Persians that the 2 horns represent Russia and Iran. Russia being the large horn of course and the smaller horn being Iran.
Though the vision seems to be intermingled with events that took place with Alexander the great and modern day, like the he-goat traveling across the whole surface of the earth without touching the ground. It wasn't until the last 75 years or so that this feat was a real possibility for a military.

Daniel 8:8
Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven.

Also here in verse 8, the he goat became very great and then the great horn was broken and 4 horns replaced it toward the 4 winds of heaven. The 4 winds of heaven reference the entire world, the 4 horns are 4 kingdoms that rise up.

Daniel 8:17
So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision.

In verse 17 the angel says the vision is meant for the time of the end. Which would lead us to believe it is meant for the time of the book of Revelation and in the book of Revelation we see in chapter 13, 4 kingdoms rise from the sea. And we also read in Daniel chapter 8, the he goat became strong after kicking the ram to the curb, that context is similar to Revelation 6 with the opening of the 1st seal when the white horse goes out conquering and to conquer and the rider is carrying a bow suggesting the conquering is a military conquest. And we also see in the book of Revelation that one of the dominating countries of the earth is Babylon the harlot.
Then we see in Revelation 18 verse 16 that Babylon is clothed in fine linen (White), purple (blue) and scarlet (red).

When I lay the end times prophecies on the table and look at it with our present day situation, when nation rises against nation and kingdom against kingdom, when the U.S. tries to end world war III and attempts to take over the world, the U.N. will stage a coup and then will split the world into 4 provinces or 4 economic unions. These unions, for the most part already exist, the American union (North American union), The European union, the African union and the Asian union. The ten horns will rise out of the European union which its capital city will be Rome Italy.

edit on 4-6-2017 by SeekAnswers because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 4 2017 @ 12:37 AM
But is it true in the old testament the Gog Magog war is a small local one in the Mid East.....

Israel and Syria or Jordan?

posted on Jun, 4 2017 @ 07:47 AM
a reply to: GBP/JPY
The Gog of Magog chapter is one of the few portions of Old Testament prophecy which do genuinely relate to the end-times. They are all about a final battle preparing the ground for the ideal end-time state, and that is how we know.
I'm not sure, though. that we can pay too much attention to what they say about the geography. Several prophets write about God's people being attacked by the outside world, but they all seem to describe the outsiders in terms of the outsiders of their own time. Micah calls them the Assyrians, Joel talks about "all the nations", Ezekiel fixes on the assortment of tribes which currently lived in eastern Turkey and northern Iran.
So I think all we can say about the Gog war is that God's people (who are now the church) will experience a final assault from those who are not God's people.

posted on Jun, 4 2017 @ 08:17 AM
Excellent post D !

And here's a little something to ponder.


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