Persian Kings in the Bible
The books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Haggai, Zachariah, and Malachi were written during the time of the early Persian Kingdom.
The following is a summary of the activities of the Persian kings in secular history:
- Cyrus was the founder of the Mede-Persian Empire. He conquered the Media, Lydia, and Babylonain Empires. Because he was a gracious liberator, he permitted the conquered nations to worship their own gods. He was benevolent toward various captive people who hadsuffered under the rule of Nebuchadnezzar and his successors. The Jews were allowed toreturn to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple and Cyrus even gave financial help. Also, hebuilt Parargardae, a royal residence 100 miles north of Shiraz.
- Cambysses was the son of Cyrus and was given the task of conquering Egypt.He assumed the throne after his father’s death and conquered Egypt. However, on theway home from his conquest he heard that a pretender has taken the throne pretending to beanother son of Cyrus called Smerdis. Cambysses died on his return trip.
- Pseudo Smerdis, the imposter, ruled for several months. He gained a large followingby remitting taxes for three years throughout the empire. However, Darius kept theloyalty of the Persian army and eventually captured and killed Pseudo Smerdis.
- Darius, after killing Pseudo Smerdis, defeated 9 kings (local uprisings) in 19 battlesin 2 years. These victories are recorded in the famous Behistun Inscription carved in rock some 30 miles from Kermanshah. Darius began the great work of Persepolis located 30 milesnorth of Shiraz. The main hall has the inscription, “I am Darius, great king, king of kings, kingof alnds — who constructed this palace.” Darius was a good organizer of his kingdom. Hedefeated the Greeks partially and organized an efficient postal service.
- Xerxes was Darius’s son. He continued the war against the Greeks and continued building at Persepolis.
- Artaxerxes was the son of Xerxes who continued building at Persepolis.