Tag Archives: Persia

New Resource on Persia from BiblePlaces.com

Persia is the only major country in the Bible Lands that I have not been able to visit. I was delighted when I learned that Todd Bolen, of BiblePlaces.com, had made such a trip.

In his usual thorough way, Bolen has included all the sites one might need in teaching about Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Cyrus, Darius, Xerxes, Artaxerxes, the return from Exile, and more!

There are 1600 high-resolution images of historical sites and scenery in modern Iran.


Persia – Volume 19 – in the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.

BiblePlaces.com is offering this Volume 19 of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands for the introductory price of $25.00. You will have immediate download and also receive the DVD. In addition to ordering a copy for yourself, this is a wonderful gift to consider for some minister or Bible teacher. Even if they already have the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands, this is a new volume.

Time is running out on this introductory price of $25.00. Go here for secure ordering info.

I suggest you subscribe to the BiblePlaces Newsletter. Here is a link to the most recent issue which also includes more of the Persia photos. At the bottom of the page you will learn how to subscribe.

Visual illustrations for Daniel 8

In Daniel’s vision of a ram and a male goat we are given a glimpse of the two world empires following Babylon — the Medo-Persian Empire and the Alexandrian (or Hellenistic/Grecian) Empire.

Daniel sees a ram.

I raised my eyes and saw, and behold, a ram standing on the bank of the canal. It had two horns, and both horns were high, but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last. (Daniel 8:3 ESV)

Ram at Socoh. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A ram. With horns like that it is easy to see who is boss. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In apocalyptic literature the visions take liberty with reality. It would require an artist to draw the ram and the male goat exactly as Daniel saw them.

Then Daniel sees a male goat.

As I was considering, behold, a male goat came from the west across the face of the whole earth, without touching the ground. And the goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes. (Daniel 8:5 ESV)

A male goat in Gilead (modern Jordan). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A male goat in Gilead (modern Jordan). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The interpretation is easier for us than it was for Daniel before Gabriel gave him an understanding of the vision (vs. 15-16).

As for the ram that you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia.  And the goat is the king of Greece. And the great horn between his eyes is the first king.  (Daniel 8:20-21 ESV)

It will not be difficult to find other uses for photos of the ram and the male goat in Bible lessons (e.g., Genesis 15:9; Leviticus 23:19; 16:5)

Pieces of Cyrus cylinder found in British Museum

A report in PressTV, which appears to be an Iranian source, says:

Iranian inscription expert Abdolmajid Arfaei says the newly-found pieces of the Cyrus cylinder had been housed in the British Museum.

“The pieces have most probably been housed in the museum and only recently recognized as parts of the Cyrus cylinder,” Arfaei told ISNA.

The British Museum recently announced that some new parts of the cylinder’s broken pieces have been found, which might be a clue to some other documents sent by Cyrus the Great to other regions.

“If there are any new pieces, then they can provide more information about the contents of the cylinder,” Arfaei said.

When asked about the theory of Cyrus making 10 cylinders and sending to different territories, Arfaei said, “If there existed more than one cylinder, at least one of them should have been found by now.”

Head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) Hamid Baqaei announced on Saturday that the British Museum had invited an Iranian team to collaborate on studying the newly-found pieces.

The Cyrus the Great cylinder is inscribed in Babylonian cuneiform with an account by Cyrus II, king of Persia (559-530 BC) and is considered the world’s first charter of human rights.

The ancient cylinder was scheduled to be given to Iran on loan in September 2009; however, the British Museum backed out of the agreement, citing Iran’s post-election unrest.

Tehran had earlier said that it would cease cooperation with the British Museum until the cylinder is loaned to the National Museum of Iran.

Iran has assured the British side about the safety of the priceless artifact.

The Cyrus Cylinder in the British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Cyrus Cylinder in the British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Cyrus was the Persian King who conquered Babylon and later allowed captives, such as the Jews, to return to their home and rebuild their temple.

In the first year of the reign of King Cyrus of Persia, in fulfillment of the promise he delivered through Jeremiah, the LORD moved King Cyrus of Persia to issue a written decree throughout his kingdom. It read: “This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: ‘The LORD God of the heavens has given to me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has appointed me to build for him a temple in Jerusalem in Judah. May the LORD your God energize you who belong to his people, so you may be able to go back there!” (2 Chronicles 36:22-23 NET’ cf. Ezra 1:1-2)

HT: Dr. Claude Mariottini

Did Zoroastrianism influence Christianity?

There are many subjects on which I would enjoy commenting, but I have determined to keep this Blog as a travel blog pertaining primarily to biblically related sites. And, I don’t have time to take care of another blog.

We had a comment on The Persian background of Iran that needs some comment. Our reader says,

And incidentally, there’s much more of Iran in the bible. The original “apple” was actually a pomegranate — which comes from Iran, for example. Mithraism, a Persian religion, was the basis for the celebtration of Christmass. The whole concept of hell and heaven and angles was introduced from Zoroastrianism into Judaism and then Christianity.

The Bible does not speak of an “apple” in the Garden of Eden. In Genesis 3:3 and 3:6 we are told that Adam and Eve had been told not to eat “from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden.” The fruit was good for food. Earlier, in Genesis 1:29 we are told that God gave man “every tree which has fruit yielding seed, it shall be food for you.” The Hebrew words are the same for fruit, tree, and food in both Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. We certainly do not know that the fruit was pomegranate.

The issue of whether Judaism and Christianity have borrowed some basic concept from Zoroastrianism is debatable. Notice the comment by Lewis and Travis in Religious Traditions of the World (Zondervan, 1991).

The relation between Zoroastrianism and the chief monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, is debated. Part of the problem is due to the fact that the collection of Zoroastrian teaching was not completed until the fourth century C.E. [A.D.], leaving in some doubt who may have influenced whom in such matters as angels, resurrection, and eschatology. (57)

If one takes the New Testament as the complete and final revelation of the will of God for man, as I do, any changes in doctrine after New Testament times must be considered as departures from the faith. The argument goes something like this:

  • The New Testament is the completed revelation of the mind of God to man (Ephesians 3:1-7; 1 Corinthians 2:6-13; Ephesians 4:5; Jude 1:3; Romans 1:16; I Corinthians 1:21, et al.). The Scripture is the inspired word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
  • Jesus is God (John 1:1; Hebrews 1:8; Colossians 1:15-17). He became flesh (John 1:14). He died on the cross for the sins of mankind (1 Corinthians 1:23; 2:2, 8; 15:3-4; Hebrews 9:28; Acts 2:36; 4:10).
  • The Bible warns about going beyond this teaching (1 John 4:1; Galatians 1:6-8; 2 John 1:9-11).

It is true that Mithraism was a significant competitor of Christianity in the second century Roman Empire. It was one of the favorite mystery religions of the Roman soldiers. At Caesarea Maritima on the Mediterranean coast, in one of the substructures of a public building, evidence has been found indicating that one of the vaults served as a Mithraeum in the early 2nd century A.D.

Building at Caesarea Maritima converted to a Mithraeum in the early 2nd century A.D. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Building at Caesarea Maritima converted to a Mithraeum in the early 2nd century A.D. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Christmas, as a religious holiday, is not known in the New Testament. In this case we must say that later Christianity borrowed aspects of it from pagan sources. See my article on The Truth About Christmas here for more details.

If you are interested in a complete study about the relation between Persia and the Bible, I suggest Edwin M. Yamauchi’s Persia and the Bible with foreword by Donald J. Wiseman) Baker, 1990.

Yamauchi tells us that “the central cult image of Mithraism was the statue of the tauroctony or depiction of Mithras slaying the bull.” He says over 500 representations of this image have been found. Here is one I photographed in the Britism Museum.

The Sun-god Mithras slaying a bull. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins in the British Museum.

The Sun-god Mithras slaying a bull. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins in the British Museum.

The Persian background of Iran

The August, 2008, issue of National Geographic has a good article on the Ancient Soul of Iran. The emphasis is on the rich Persian history of the area. The article is online at ngm.com. The article includes many of those fabulous NG photographs. Most of them were shot in low light to evoke the past glory of Iran. There are more photos at the website than in the magazine. You might be able to buy a copy of the magazine at your local bookseller.

Iran is the only major area of the Bible world that I have been unable to visit. Maybe that will change within the next few years. Marguerite Del Giudice says,

In fact, the first thing people said when I asked what they wanted the world to know about them was, “We are not Arabs!” (followed closely by, “We are not terrorists!”

The article features the people of Iran, and not the government. There are some interesting comments on the influence of Zoroastrianism’s teaching.

Many of the great museums of the world have ancient Persian artifacts. This is especially true of the Louvre, the British Museum, and the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. Here is a photo from the Louvre of one of the Persian archers.

Archer from the Palace of Darius in the Louvre. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Archer from the Palace of Darius in the Louvre. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Persians played a significant role in the Restoration of the Judeans to their land after the Babylonian Exile. Here are a few highlights.

  • Cyrus, who conquered Babylon, allowed the Jews to return to their land in 536 B.C. See 2 Chronicles 36, and compare the Cyrus Cylinder (in the British Museum).
  • Darius I allowed the Jews to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem (520-516 B.C.; Ezra 6:1-5).
  • Xerxes is the Ahasuerus of the book of Esther.
  • During the reign of Artaxerxes I, the second group of Jews return under the leadership of Ezra (458 B.C.). Nehemiah returned to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (444 B.C.).