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In Bible versions:

Persians: NET NIV NRSV
a country located primarily east of the Persian Gulf
citizen(s) of Persia

that cuts or divides; a nail; a gryphon; a horseman ( --> same as Persis)
Google Maps: Persia (34° 47´, 48° 30´)


Strongs #06539: orp Parac

Persia = "pure" or "splendid"

1) the empire Persia; encompassed the territory 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
1a) Persia proper 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

Persian = see Persia "pure" or "splendid"

2) the people of the Persian empire

6539 Parac paw-ras'

of foreign origin; Paras (i.e. Persia), an Eastern country,
including its inhabitants:-Persia, Persians.

Strongs #06540: orp Parac (Aramaic)

Persia = "pure" or "splendid"

1) the empire Persia; encompassed the territory 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
1a) Persia proper 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

Persian = see Persia "pure" or "splendid"

2) the people of the Persian empire

6540 Parac paw-ras'

(Aramaic) corresponding to 6539:-Persia, Persians.
see HEBREW for 06539

Strongs #06542: yorp Parciy

Persian = see Persia "pure" or "splendid"

1) an inhabitant of Persia

6542 Parciy par-see'

patrial from 6539; a Parsite (i.e. Persian), or inhabitant of
see HEBREW for 06539

Strongs #06543: yorp Parciy (Aramaic)

Persian = see Persia "pure" or "splendid"

1) an inhabitant of Persia

6543 Parciy par-see'

(Aramaic) corresponding to 6542:-Persian.
see HEBREW for 06542

Persia [EBD]

an ancient empire, extending from the Indus to Thrace, and from the Caspian Sea to the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. The Persians were originally a Medic tribe which settled in Persia, on the eastern side of the Persian Gulf. They were Aryans, their language belonging to the eastern division of the Indo-European group. One of their chiefs, Teispes, conquered Elam in the time of the decay of the Assyrian Empire, and established himself in the district of Anzan. His descendants branched off into two lines, one line ruling in Anzan, while the other remained in Persia. Cyrus II., king of Anzan, finally united the divided power, conquered Media, Lydia, and Babylonia, and carried his arms into the far East. His son, Cambyses, added Egypt to the empire, which, however, fell to pieces after his death. It was reconquered and thoroughly organized by Darius, the son of Hystaspes, whose dominions extended from India to the Danube.

Persia [NAVE]

An empire which extended from India to Ethiopia, comprising one hundred and twenty-seven provinces, Esth. 1:1; Dan. 6:1.
Government of, restricted by constitutional limitations, Esth. 8:8; Dan. 6:8-12.
Municipal governments in, provided with dual governors, Neh. 3:9, 12, 16-18.
The princes advisory in matters of administration, Dan. 6:1-7.
Status of women in, queen sat on the throne with the king, Neh. 2:6.
Vashti divorced for refusing to appear before the king's courtiers, Esth. 1:10-22; 2:4.
Israel captive in, 2 Chr. 36:20; captivity foretold, Hos. 13:16.
Men of, in the Tyrian army, Ezek. 27:10.
Rulers of: Ahasuerus, Esth. 1:3.
Darius, Dan. 5:31; 6; 9:1.
Artaxerxes I, Ezra 4:7-24.
Artaxerxes II, Ezra 7; Neh. 2; 5:14.
Cyrus, 2 Chr. 36:22, 23; Ezra 1; 3:7; 4:3; 5:13, 14, 17; 6:3; Isa. 41:2, 3; 44:28; 45:1-4, 13; 46:11; 48:14, 15.
Princes of, Esth. 1:14.
System of justice, Ezra 7:25.
Prophecies concerning, Isa. 13:17; 21:1-10; Jer. 49:34-39; 51:11-64; Ezek. 32:24, 25; 38:5; Dan. 2:31-45; 5:28; 7; 8; 11:1-4.
See: Babylon; Chaldea.


(pure, splended), 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.
  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 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.


PERSIA - pur'-sha, (parats; Persia; in Assyrian Parsu, Parsua; in Achemenian Persian Parsa, modern Fars): In the Bible (2 Ch 36:20,22,23; Ezr 1:1,8; Est 1:3,14,18; 10:2; Ezek 27:10; 38:5; Dan 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


PERSIANS - pur'-shanz, -zhanz (parac, also = PERSIA, PERSIS (which see); adjective parci Hebrew, and parcay, Aramaic.; Persai, adjective only in Neh 12:22; Dan 6:28; Achaem. Persian Parsa, name of both country and people; does not occur in Avesta):


1. Three Classes

2. Tribal and Clan Divisions

3. Achemenian Dynasty


1. Writing

2. Institutions and Customs


1. Cyrus

2. Capture of Babylon

3. Cambyses

4. Pseudo-Smerdis

5. Darius I

6. Darius' Suez Canal

7. Xerxes I

8. Artaxerxes II

9. Xerxes II

10. Later Persian Kings



The Persians are not mentioned in the Bible until the exilic books (2 Ch 36:20,22,23; Ezr 1:1,2,8; 3:7; Est 1:19, etc.; Dan 5:28; 6:8,12,15,28), being previously included under the Medes (Gen 10:2), as they were by Thucydides, and even by Xenophon often.

Archaemenes (Hakhamanish)

Teispes (Chaishpish, Sispis)



Cyrus Ariaramnes (Ariyaramna)


Cambyses Arsames (Arshama)


Cyrus the Great Hystaspes (Vishtaspa)


Cambyses Darius I

Xerxes I (Ahasuerus)

Artaxerxes I (Longimanus)


| |

Xerxes II Sogdianus Darius II

(Nothos, Ochos)



Artaxerxes III (Ochos) (Sisygambis,

a daughter)

Arses |

Darius III (Codomannus)

(Neh. 12:22; 1 Macc. 1:1)

I. Affinity.

Being of the same stock as the Medes they shared the name Aryans (Achaem. ariya; Av. airya; Sanskrit, arya, "noble"); compare the Naqsh i Rustam Inscription, where Darius I calls himself "a Persian, son of a Persian, an Aryan, of Aryan descent" (II. 13, 14). Tradition assigns as their earliest known habitat the so-called Airyanem Vaejo ("Aryan germ"), a district between the Jaxartes and the Oxus (Vendidad I), whence they migrated gradually to what was afterward known as Persis (modern Fars), including probably part of Elam.

1. Three Classes:

The Avesta shows that the Medo-Pers community was divided into 3 classes (zantu): the Athravans or fire-priests, the Rathaestars or charioteers, and the Vastryafshuyans or cattle-rearers (compare the three original Hindu castes, the Brahmans, the Kshattriyas and the Vaisyas). A fourth class, the artisans or Hutis, came later. But these were classes, not castes.

2. Tribal and Clan Divisions:

They were also divided into tribes, clans (Achaem. vith; Av. vis; compare vicus) and families or households (Achaem. tauma; Av. nmana). Herodotus (i.125) mentions ten Persian tribes, the chief being the Pasargadae, to which belonged the Achemenian clan (phretre) which included the royal family. This dynasty traced its origin to Achaemenes (Chakhamanish) according to Darius and Herodotus.Oxus (Vendidad I), whence they migrated gradually to what was afterward known as Persis (modern Fars), including probably part of Elam.

3. Achemenian Dynasty:

The following scheme will serve to show the descent of the line of Persian kings mentioned in the Bible and in secular history up to the time of the fall of the dynasty in 331 BC.

II. Civilization.

1. Writing:

The Persians had indulged less in luxury than the Medes, until their conquest of Media and other lands under Cyrus the Great gave them the opportunity, which they were not slow to embrace, being famed for their readiness to adopt foreign customs. Writing was introduced from Babylonia through Elam.

2. Institutions and Customs:

This cuneiform character was afterward superseded by one derived from Syria, from which came the Avestic writing, which, in its corrupt Pahlavi form, lasted until the Arabian conquest imposed the Arabic character on the people. The Achemenian kings probably borrowed from Babylon and further developed their system of royal posts (Est 8:14) or messengers (and even the words aggaroi, and astandai, used to denote them, are almost certainly Babylonian). Of these men's pace it was said, "No mortal thing is quicker." The custom of showing special honor to the "Benefactors of the King" (Herodotos viii.85: orosaggai = Av. uru plus sanh, "widely renowned") is referred to in Est 6:1,2,3, and that of covering the (head and) face of a criminal condemned to death (with a large black cap) (Est 7:8,9) occurs in the Shahnamah also.

(1) The King.

The king was an arbitrary ruler with unlimited power, the council of seven princes who stood nearest to the throne (Est 1:14; compare Herodotos iii. 70-84) having no share in the government.

(2) The Army.

As soldiers, the Persians were famous as archers and javelin-throwers; they were also skilled in the use of the sling, and above all in riding. Boys were taken from the women's into the men's part of the house at the age of 5, and were there trained in "riding, archery and speaking the truth" until 20 years old. In Darius' inscriptions, as well as in the Avesta, lying is regarded as a great crime.

(3) Marriage.

The Persians practiced polygamy, and marriages between those next of kin were approved of. Pride and garrulity are mentioned as distinctive of the Persian character.

III. History.

1. Cyrus:

Persian history, as known to us, begins with Cyrus the Great. His ancestors, for at least some generations, seem to have been chiefs or "kings" of Anshan, a district in Persia or Elam. Cyrus himself (Western Asiatic Inscriptions, V, plate 35) gives his genealogy up to and including Teispes, entitling all his ancestors whom he mentions, kings of Anshan. Phraortes, king of the Medes, is said to have first subjugated the Persians to that kingdom about 97 years before Cyrus (Herodotus i.102). Cyrus himself headed his countrymen's revolt against Astyages, who advanced to attack Pasargadae (549 BC). His army mutinied and surrendered him to Cyrus, whom the Greeks held to be his grandson on the mother's side. Cyrus, becoming supreme ruler of both Medes and Persians, advanced to the conquest of Lydia. He defeated and captured Croesus, overran Lydia, and compelled the Greek colonies in Asia Minor to pay tribute (547 BC).

2. Capture of Babylon:

He overthrew the Sute (Bedouin) across the Tigris the following year, and was then invited by a large party in Babylonia to come to their help against the usurper Nabunahid, whose religious zeal had led him to collect as many as possible of the idols from other parts of Babylonia and remove them to Babylon, thereby increasing the sacredness and magnificence of that city but inflicting injury on neighboring and more ancient sanctuaries. Defeating Nabunahid's army and capturing the king, Cyrus sent his own forces under Gobryas (Gubaru, Gaubaruva)to take possession of Babylon. This he did in June, 538, "without opposition and without a battle." The citadel, however, where Belshazzar "the king's son" was in command, held out for some months, and was then taken in a night attack in which "the king's son" was slain. Cyrus made Gobryas viceroy of Chaldea, and he "appointed governors in Babylonia (Cyrus' "Annalistic Tablet"). When Gobryas died within the year, Cyrus' son Cambyses was made viceroy of the country, now become a province of the Persian empire. Cyrus restored the gods to their sanctuaries, and this doubtless led to permission being given to the Jews to return to Jerusalem, taking with them their sacred vessels, and to rebuild their temple. Cyrus was killed in battle against some frontier tribe (accounts differ where) in 529 BC. His tomb at Murghab, near the ruins of Pasargadae, is still standing.

3. Cambyses:

Cyrus' son and successor, Cambyses, invaded Egypt and conquered it after a great battle near Pelusium (525 BC). During his absence, a Magian, Gaumata, who pretended to be Smerdis (Bardiya), Cambyses' murdered brother, seized the throne. Marching against him, Cambyses committed suicide.

4. Pseudo-Smerdis:

After a reign of 7 months, the usurper was overthrown and slain by Darius and his 6 brother-nobles (their names in Herodotus iii.70 are confirmed with one exception in Darius' Besitun Inscription, column iv, 80-86). Darius became king as the heir of Cambyses (521 BC). But in nearly every part of the empire rebellions broke out, in most cases headed by real or pretended descendants of the ancient kings of each country.

5. Darius I:

After at least 3 years' struggle Darius' authority was firmly established everywhere. He then divided the empire into satrapies, or provinces (dahyava), of which there were at first 23 (Beh. Inscription, column i, 13-17), and ultimately at least 29 (Naqsh i Rustam Inscription, 22-30). Over these he placed satraps of noble Persian or Median descent, instead of representatives of their ancient kings. His empire extended from the Indus to the Black Sea, from the Jaxartes to beyond the Nile.

6. Darius' Suez Canal:

Darius united the latter river with the Red Sea by a canal, the partly obliterated inscription commemorating which may perhaps be thus restored and rendered: "I am a Persian; with Persia I seized Egypt. I commanded to dig this canal from the river named the Nile (Pirava), which flows through Egypt, to this sea which comes from Persia. Then this canal was dug, according as I commanded. And I said, `Come ye from the Nile through this canal to Persia.' "

Darius' expedition into Scythia, his success in subduing the rebellion among the Asiatic Greeks, his attempts to conquer Greece itself and his overthrow at Marathon (499-490 BC) are part of the history of Greece. A rebellion in Egypt had not been repressed when Darius died in 485 BC.

7. Xerxes I:

Xerxes I, who succeeded his father, regained Egypt, but his failure in his attempts to conquer Greece largely exhausted his empire. In 464 BC he was murdered. His son Artaxerxes I, surnamed "the longarmed," succeeded him, being himself succeeded in 424 BC by his son Xerxes II, who was murdered the following year. This ended the legitimate Achemenian line, the next king, Darius II (styled Nothos, or "bastard," as well as Ochos), being one of Artaxerxes' illegitimate sons (we pass over Sogdianus' brief reign).

8. Artaxerxes II:

Artaxerxes II, Mnemon, succeeded his father and left the throne to his son Artaxerxes III, Ochos. The latter was murdered with all his sons but the youngest, Arses, by an Egyptian eunuch Bagoas, probably in revenge for Artaxerxes' conduct in Egypt (338 BC).

9. Xerxes II:

Arses was murdered by Bagoas 3 years later, when Darius III, Codomannus, the son of Sisygambis, daughter of Artaxerxes II, and her husband, a Persian noble, ascended the throne.

10. Later Persian Kings:

Darius was completely overthrown by Alexander the Great in the battle of Gaugamela or Arbela, 331 BC, and shortly after fell by an assassin's hand. This ended the Persian empire of the Achaemenides, the whole of the lands composing it becoming part of the empire of Macedon.

IV. First Mention in Inscriptions.

Persia (Parsua) is first mentioned as a country in an inscription of Rammanu Nirari III (WAI, I, plate 35, number 1, l. 8), who boasts of having conquered it and other lands (he reigned from 812 to 783 or from 810 to 781 BC).


Besides the main authorities mentioned in the text, we learn much from Spiegel, Die Altper-sischen Keilinschriften, Arrian, Thucydides, Polybius, Strabo, Curtius.

W. St. Clair Tisdall

Also see definition of "Persia" in Word Study

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