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Ezra, Esther & Leonidas

 

“The books of Ezra and Nehemiah are one book in the Hebrew Bible and should be seen as a unit.  They were written by Ezra the priest, and Jewish tradition says he wrote the books of Chronicles, as well as Ezra and Nehemiah.  Ezra [like Jeremiah in the fall of Jerusalem] was an eyewitness to many of these events and was a key character in the later events.  These books were written some time in the 5th century BC…” [The Word For Today Bible, NKJV, p. 588]  This is going to be a history, which will include in it the books of Ezra and Esther, as well as covering some of the critical history of the Persian Empire, along with the struggle of the Greek city-states to maintain their freedom against the vast and powerful Persian Empire under both Darius and his son Xerxes.  This will fill in the historic gap between Kings & Chronicles and the historic events, fulfilled prophecies, found in the book of Daniel.  As such, part of this will be an expository study of Ezra and Esther, but will also read like an exciting history text.  So let’s step into a sort of historic time-machine and go back to where the story of Kings & Chronicles end and this one starts off.

 

Part I:  The Fall of Jerusalem, then Babylon, the Rise of Persia

 

2nd Chronicles 36:15-23, “And the LORD God of their fathers sent warnings to them by his messengers, rising up early and sending them, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place.  But they mocked the messengers of God, despised his words, and scoffed at his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.  Therefore he brought against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, on the aged or the weak; he gave them all into his hand.  And all the articles from the house of God, great and small, the treasures of the king and of his leaders, all these he took to Babylon.  Then they burned the house of God, broke down the wall of Jerusalem, burned all its palaces with fire, and destroyed all its precious possessions.  And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths.  As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.”

 

Proclamation of Cyrus

 

“Now in the first year of Cyrus [559BC] king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying,

‘Thus says Cyrus king of Persia:  All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD God of heaven has given me.  And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah.  Who is among you of all His people?  May the LORD God be with him, and let him go up!’”

 

Cyrus Prophecied in Isaiah

 

But long before, during the lifetime of Isaiah, during the reign of Hezekiah king of Judah (715-686BC), God prophecied through Isaiah about this proclamation of Cyrus, naming Cyrus long before he was born. So let’s say God prophecied this around 700BC through Isaiah.  In Isaiah 44:24-28 God is promising Judah and Jerusalem, and the Temple will be re-inhabited and rebuilt, long before they fell under Nebuchadnezzar.  Cyrus was born either 600BC or 576BC, so God prophecied through Isaiah about Cyrus 100 years before his birth, bare minimum.  Isaiah 44:24-28, “Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and he who formed you from the womb:  I am the LORD, who makes all things, who stretches out the heavens all alone, who spreads abroad the earth by myself; who frustrates the signs of babblers, and drives diviners mad; who turns wise men backward, and makes their knowledge foolishness; who confirms the word of his servant, and performs the counsel of his messengers; who says to Jerusalem, ‘You shall be inhabited,’ to the cities of Judah, ‘You shall be built,’ and I will raise up her waste places; who says to the deep, ‘Be dry!  And I will dry up your rivers’; Who says to Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd, and he shall perform all my pleasure, saying to Jerusalem, ‘You shall be built,’ and to the temple, ‘Your foundations shall be laid.’”  In Isaiah 45:1-5 the LORD is speaking directly to Cyrus, who is not yet born.  This is fascinating.  If ever there is a proof of the Bible, fulfilled prophecy is one of the major proofs.  Isaiah 45:1-5, “Thus says the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held---to subdue nations before him and loose the armor of kings, to open before him the double doors, so that the gates will not be shut:  ‘I will go before you and make the crooked places straight; I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the LORD, who call you by your name, am the God of Israel.  [The LORD, the God of Israel had just called Cyrus, Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, by name through this prophecy in Isaiah 45, verses 1-5.  Isaiah wrote and lived during the reign of king Hezekiah of Judah, and was killed by his evil son Manasseh.  Hezekiah reigned from 715-686BC.  So at the very latest, 686BC, this prophecy predated the birth of Cyrus the Great by 86 years, as Cyrus was born 600BC at the earliest date.  Some date him as being born 576BC, which would make Isaiah’s prophecy at the very latest, predate Cyrus’ birth by 90 years.  Could be more, as we don’t know when Isaiah 44 and 45 were penned, perhaps even earlier.]  For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel my elect.  I have even called you by your name; I have named you, though you have not known me.  I am the LORD, and there is no other; there is no God besides me.  I will gird you, though you have not known me.  That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting that there is none besides me.  I am the LORD, and there is no other…’”

 

About Cyrus and the end of the Babylonian Empire

 

First we will look at how Cyrus conquered into the Babylonian territory, and then took the city of Babylon.  From Wikipedia we get “The Battle of Opis, fought in September 539BC, was a major engagement between the  armies of Persia under Cyrus the Great [Cyrus II] and the Neo-Babylonian Empire under Nabonidus during the Persian invasion of Mesopotamia.  At the time, Babylonia was the last major power in western Asia that was not yet under Persian control…At the time of the Battle of Opis, Persia was the leading power in the Near East.  Its power had grown enormously under its king, Cyrus II, who had conquered a huge swathe of territory to create an empire that covered an area corresponding to the modern countries of Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan.  The only remaining significant unconquered power in the Near East was the Neo-Babylonian Empire, which controlled Mesopotamia and subject kingdoms such as Syria [the territory which had been] Judea, Phoenicia and parts of Arabia.” While the children of Judah were in captivity in Babylon, the Babylonian Empire was conquered by the Persians under Cyrus the Great in 539BC, this same Cyrus mentioned by name in Isaiah chapters 44 and 45, one hundred years before his birth.  The Persians at Cyrus’ command began to allow the Jews to return.  Zerubbabel took around 50,000 people back to begin work on the construction of the temple.  Later, Ezra followed with about 2,000 more people to aid in rebuilding the temple,  and Nehemiah would follow to help restore the city walls of Jerusalem.  The book of Ezra begins with the declaration that came from Cyrus, the founding king of the Medo-Persian Empire, which gave the Jews permission to return to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple.  This was the declaration of which Daniel prophesied in Daniel 9:25.  It started the clock ticking which would culminate in the coming of the Messiah, Yeshua haMeshiach, Jesus Christ.  The book of Ezra follows the efforts of Zerubbabel and those with him to institute the building project of the Temple, and the first six chapters chronicle the problems they went through.  Then chapters 7 through 10 tell of Ezra’s involvement as he came to encourage the people and to complete the restoration of the Temple, and is about how he led them in spiritual reform.  He wasn’t just interested in finishing a building project, he cared about the spiritual condition of the people.  Ezra is a great example of a man who led by following the Word of God and by encouraging others to obey the Word of God. 

 

Now back to how Cyrus conquered the Babylonian Empire, and its capital city, Babylon, the last of his major conquests, and installed his uncle, Darius the Mede, as ruler over the province of Babylon.  After the conquest of Babylon, Darius the Mede continued to live in the city of Babylon up until his death in 536BC.  He is the king Darius spoken of in the Book of Daniel.

 

Cyrus’ Conquest into Babylonia, the Battle of Opis

 

This is the way in which Cyrus and his army started conquering the Babylonian Empire.  First he secured an ally in a ruler of a province of the Babylonian Empire called Gutium.  This man was named Gubaru, or known to us as general Gobryas, the one who actually led Cyrus’ army under the walls of Babylon through it’s famous river-gates, at either end of the city, where the Euphrates entered and exited this 70-square mile city.  But this all began with the Battle of Opis, after Cyrus, Gobryas and the army had crossed the Tigris river, approaching the city of Opis.  “The battle was fought in or near the strategic city of Opis, north of the capital Babylon.  It resulted in a decisive defeat for the Babylonians.  A few days later, the city of Sippar surrendered to the Persians and Cyrus’s forces entered Babylon apparently without a fight…The Nabonidus Chronicle records that the battle took place in the month of Tashritu (27 September-27 October) “at Opis on the [bank of the] Tigris.”…The Persian army under Cyrus fought “the army of Akkad” (meaning the Babylonians in general, not the city of that name)…The outcome of the battle was clearly a Babylonian defeat, possibly a rout, as the defeated Babylonian army is not mentioned again in the chronicle…The defeat at Opis appears to have ended any serious resistance to the Persian invasion.  The Nabonidus Chronicle states that following the battle, “on the fourteenth day [6 October] Sippar was captured without battle.  Nabonidus fled.”   Cyrus remained in Sippar, and “on the sixteenth day [12 October] Ug/Gubaru, governor of Gutium [general Gobryas], and the army of Cyrus without battle entered Babylon.”  Nabonidus himself was captured shortly afterward when he returned to Babylon.  Herodotus and Xenophon present broadly similar versions of events.  According to Herodotus, Cyrus marched to Babylon along the side of the Diyala river (past Opis), though the battle is not mentioned), where the Persians fought a battle with the Babylonians near the capital.  Cyrus subsequently laid siege to Babylon, ordering his troops to dig a canal to drain off part of the Euphrates to enable his troops to penetrate the city through weak points in its defenses…Herodotus, Xenophon and the Biblical Book of Daniel all assert that the Babylonians were taken by surprise while celebrating a festival.” [Full Wikipedia account at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Opis ]

 

Herodotus’ account

 

We will now look at the account of Herodotus.  “The histories by the Greek researcher Herodotus of Halicarnassus, who wrote in the fifth century BC on the Persian conquest of Babylon:

“Cyrus on his way to Babylon came to the banks of the Gyndes, a stream which, rising in the Matienian mountains, runs through the country of the Dardanians, and empties itself into the river Tigris.  The Tigris, after receiving the Gyndes, flows on by the city of Opis [i.e. Baghdad], and discharges its waters into the Erythraean sea [i.e. the Persian Gulf].  When Cyrus reached this stream, which could only be passed in boats, one of the sacred white horses accompanying his march, full of spirit and high mettle, walked into the water, and tried to cross himself; but the current seized him, swept him along with it, and drowned him in its depths.  Cyrus, enraged at the insolence of the river, threatened so to break its strength that in future even women should cross it easily without wetting their knees.  Accordingly he put off for a time his attack on Babylon, and, dividing his army into two parts, he marked out by ropes one hundred and eighty trenches on each side of the Gyndes, leading off from it in all directions, and setting his army to dig, some on one side of the river, some on the other, he accomplished his threat by the aid of so great a number of hands, but not without loosing thereby the whole summer season.  Having, however, thus wreaked his vengeance on the Gyndes, by dispersing it through three hundred and sixty channels, Cyrus, with the first approach of the ensuing spring, marched forward against Babylon.  The battle was fought a short distance from the city, in which the Babylonians were defeated by the Persian king, whereupon they withdrew within their defenses.  Here they shut themselves up, and made light of his siege, having laid in store of provisions for many years in preparation against this attack; for when they saw Cyrus conquering nation after nation, they were convinced that he would never stop, and that their turn would come at last.  Cyrus was now reduced to great perplexity, as time went on and he made no progress against the place.  In this distress either someone made the suggestion to him, or he bethought himself of a plan, which he proceeded to put into execution.  He placed a portion of his army at the point where the river enters the city, and another body at the back place where it issues forth, with orders to march into the town by the bed of the stream, as soon as the waters became shallow enough:  he then drew off with the unwarlike portion of his host, and made for the place where [former queen] Nitocris dug the basin for the river, where he did exactly what she had done formerly:  he turned the Euphrates by a canal into the basin, which was then a marsh, on which the river sank to such an extent that the natural bed of the stream became fordable.  Hereupon the Persians who had been left for the purpose at Babylon by the river-side, entered the stream, which had now sunk so as to reach about midway up a man’s thigh, and thus got into the town.  Had the Babylonians been apprised of what Cyrus was about, or had they noticed the danger, they would never have allowed the Persians to enter the city, but would have destroyed them utterly; for they would have made fast all the street gates which gave upon the river, and mounting upon the walls along both sides of the stream, would so have caught the enemy, as it were, in a trap.  But, as it was, the Persians came upon them by surprise and so took the city.  Owing to the vast size of the place [reportedly, 70 square miles], the inhabitants of the central parts (as the residents at Babylon declare) long after the outer portions of the town were taken, knew nothing of what had chanced, but as they were engaged in a festival, continued dancing and reveling until they learnt the capture but too certainly.  Such, then, were the circumstances of the first taking of Babylon.” [Herodotus, Book I, par. 189-191.  See http://www.bible-history.com/quotes/herodotus_2.html.

 

The Last Night of Babylon, Daniel’s Account

 

Next, in Daniel chapter 5, verses 1-30 we’ll see the account of what was going on in the royal palace at Babylon, with the famous “handwriting on the wall” while general Gobryas was right outside the wall, and in the process of entering the city of Babylon proper through the river-gates at either end of the city.  (Babylon was a 70-square mile city which had the Euphrates running right through the middle of it.)  Belshazzar is the nephew of Nabonidus, who was the real king of the Babylonian Empire at this time.  Nabonidus had been outside of the city of Babylon trying to deal with Cyrus and his army, and he and his army had just retreated into the city after loosing a battle just outside the city, while his nephew was preparing to have this big party which we will read about.  Daniel 5:1-30, “Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand.  While he tasted the wine, Belshazzar gave the command to bring the gold and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple which had been in Jerusalem, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them.  Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple of the house of God which had been in Jerusalem; and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them.  They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.  In the same hour the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace; and the king saw part of the hand that wrote.  Then the king’s countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other.  The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers.  The king spoke, saying to the wise men of Babylon, ‘Whoever reads this writing, and tells me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck, and he shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.’  Now all the king’s wise men came, but they could not read the writing, or make known to the king its interpretation.  Then king Belshazzar was greatly troubled, his countenance was changed, and his lords were astonished [perplexed].  The queen, because of the words of the king and his lords, came to the banquet hall.  The queen spoke, saying, ‘O king, live forever!  Do not let your thoughts trouble you, nor let your countenance change.  There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God.  And in the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, were found in him; and king Nebuchadnezzar your father---your father and king---made him chief of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers.  Inasmuch as an excellent spirit, knowledge, understanding, interpreting dreams, solving riddles, and explaining enigmas were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation.’”

 

The Writing on the Wall Explained

 

“Then Daniel was brought in before the king.  The king spoke, and said to Daniel, ‘Are you that Daniel who is one of the captives of Judah, whom my father the king brought from Judah?  I have heard of you, that the Spirit of God is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you.  Now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought before me, that they should read this writing and make known to me its interpretation, but they could not give the interpretation of the thing.  And I have heard of you, that you can give interpretations and explain enigmas.  Now if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation, you shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around your neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.’  Then Daniel answered, and said before the king, ‘Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another; yet I will read the writing to the king, and make known to him the interpretation.  [Comment:  Daniel was offered the third highest position in Babylon, plus riches and honor, if he could interpret the handwriting that was on the wall in Belshazzar’s party.  But his response was very pointed, just before he read and interpreted the writing.  He told Belshazzar, “Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another.”  In other words, “Keep you stuff.  My ministry is not for sale.”  He then interpreted it for free.  So many ministries today seem to be for sale.  The motivation seems to be financial.  Jesus said in Matthew 10:8, “Freely you have received, freely give.”  Ministries of God should not be charging money for the Gospel or the Word of God that they give out to the world, or are giving out for the spiritual nourishment of members of the Body of Christ.]  O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father a kingdom and majesty, glory and honor.  And because of the majesty that he gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him.  Whomever he wished, he executed; whomever he wished, he put down.  But when his heart was lifted up, and his spirit was hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him.  Then he was driven from the sons of men, his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys.  They fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till he knew that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever he chooses.  But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this.  And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven.  They have brought the vessels of his house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them.  And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in his hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified.  Then the fingers of the hand were sent from him, and this writing was written.  And this is the inscription that was written:

 

MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN

 

This is the interpretation of each word.  MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; TEKEL:       You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.’  Then Belshazzar gave command and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a chain of gold around his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. 

 

Belshazzar’s Fall

 

That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain.  And Darius the Mede received the kingdom being about sixty-two years old.”

 

Who was this Darius the Mede?

 

The Bible is clear that this Darius the Mede played a key role in the downfall of Babylon, and yet he is apparently missing from secular history.  Or is he?

(A) Darius was not his real name but was given more as a title and reflection for the kingdom of which he governed.  You can see clearly in the original names attached to the rest of the “Dariuses” yet to come, i.e.: Darius I, The Great; Darius II, Ochus; and Darius III, Codomannus…Yet, the irony of the name of Darius the Mede goes even farther than a mere title of recognition.  For just as “Darius” is attached to Persia, so “the Mede” is attached to the kingdom of Media.  Thus in merely pronouncing the name, you can get a picture of the patriotism of his heritage as well as his loyalty to his newfound government.  “Yes I am Darius, an established ruler of Persia, but you may call me the Mede, for this I will forever be.”

(B) As Cyrus the Great also was recorded as having conquered the kingdom, the two had to have worked closely together in some form or another, as well.  And from an excerpt taken from the Greek historian Xenophon, we can read the following two paragraphs: 

[8.5.17] “And now when the march had brought them into Media, Cyrus turned aside to visit Cyaxares.  After they had embraced, Cyrus began by telling Cyaxares that a palace in Babylon, and an estate, had been set aside for him so that he might have a residence of his own whenever he came there, and he offered him gifts, most rich and beautiful.  [18] And Cyaxares was glad to take them from his nephew, and then he sent for his daughter, and she came, carrying a golden crown, and bracelets, and a necklace of wrought gold, and a most beautiful Median robe, as splendid as could be.  [19] The maiden placed the crown upon the head of Cyrus, and as she did so Cyaxares said: ‘I will give her to you, Cyrus, my own daughter, to be your wife.  Your father wedded the daughter of my father, and you are their son; and this little maid whom you carried in your arms when you were with us as a lad, and whenever she was asked whom she meant to marry, she would always answer “Cyrus.”  And for her dowry I will give her the whole of Media: since I have no lawful son.’  “---Xenophon (translated by H. G. Dakyns,) The project Gutenberg Etext of Cyropaedia, Book 8, C-4, line 17-19--- http://www.gutenberg.net/etex00/cyrus10.yxt

The Encyclopedia Britannica informs us that “according to Ctesias, an ancient historian, the wife of Cyrus (mother of Smerdis and Cambyses) was the daughter of a Median king.”  If so, it would seem no more than natural that Cyrus, under moral obligation, should grant his father-in-law (and uncle) the first place in the united kingdom (Cyrus being king of Persia all the same) till after Darius’ death, only two years later (536BC), when Cyrus became head of the empire.”  [John Kofal, Help & Food, vol. 40, p. 314]

[researched by Kelly Santee at http://www.presentruth.com/2008/06/darius-the-mede-his-identity-revealed/]

 

So it appears that Darius the Mede, also known as Cyaxares II, was the uncle of Cyrus the Great, and Cyrus married his daughter, named Cassandane.  Darius the Mede, the uncle of Cyrus, was then placed over the city of Babylon, and perhaps the whole province of Babylon (and Cyrus was married to his uncle Darius’ daughter [she was Cyrus’ first cousin]).  Darius the Mede was a co-ruler with Cyrus.  Naturally, Cyrus was very much in love with Cassandane.  From this marriage, Cyrus had four children, two sons and two daughters: Cambyses II, Bardiya (Smerdis), Atossa, and another unnamed daughter.  Cyrus’ sons Cambyses II and Smerdis both later became kings of Persia, and his daughter Atossa married Darius the Great and bore him Xerxes I.  The book of Ezra, covering the repopulation of Judah and Jerusalem, and the rebuilding of the temple, has a lot to do with the kings of Persia and Persian history involving Cyrus, his sons and grandson, Xerxes, which will take us, interestingly enough, into the book of Esther.

 

Death of Cyrus the Great

 

Cyrus’s reign lasted between 29 and 31 years.  Cyrus did not venture into Egypt, as he himself died in battle, fighting the Massagetae along the Syr Darya in December 530BC.  He was succeeded by his son Cambyses II, who managed to add to the empire by conquering Egypt, Nubia, and Cyrenaica during his short rule.  As seen from our study in Kings & Chronicles (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/kings/3.html and http://www.unityinchrist.com/kings/4.html) we all know who the Scythians and Massagetae were.  Cyrus, trying to expand the borders of his empire into the Russian steppes, attempted to invade the Scythians.  He chose to attack the eastern Scythians, called the Massagetae, a really  stupid mistake.  Later on, Darius the Great (married to Cyrus’ daughter Atossa) tried to attack the Black Sea Scythians, again a huge mistake.  The account of these two battles follows.  This same Darius the Great, father of Xerxes, would then go on to attack the Greeks at Marathon in 490BC, and loose badly again.  The Persian Empire wanted to expand north and northwest into southern Europe---they wanted a truly worldwide empire, as we’ll see during Xerxes reign.

 

The Scythian-Persian Wars

 

These next two historic accounts taken straight from Herodotus will amaze you.

 

1st Major Scythian-Persian War: 530BC

(or “don’t mess with the Scythians,” part I)

 

King Cyrus was trying to expand the northern border of the Persian Empire.  He was one of the founding military rulers of the Persian Empire, and he was trying to expand it.  He went north with a good sized army and attacked a Scythian tribe called the Massagetae, along with another one called the Dahae.  Tamara Rice shows that the Scythians were expanding into the region east of the Caspian Sea soon after the Black Sea Scythians returned to their new homeland just north of Armenia (just after their 28 year sojourn in the Middle
East during the reign of Josiah, king of Judah).  She says in her book The Scythians:

 

“The Scythians had ruled a large portion of western Asia for twenty-eight years.  They were now back in Urartu…at this date…some turned eastward again, to occupy the tract of steppe lying between the Caspian and Sea of Aral, blending there with the Dahai kinsmen to form an ethnic group from which the Parthians were to spring some three hundred years later.  Others may have pushed as far as India…whilst others remained in Armenia.” 

 

So just around 530BC king Cyrus of Persia invaded the Scythians who were located east of the Caspian Sea.  The specific tribes mentioned as being attacked by Cyrus were the “Massagetae” as well as the “Dahae”, which would equate to the Israelite tribes of Manasseh and Dan.  The Encyclopedia Britannica says the “Dahae” are also called the “Dana” or “Dahans.”  Their queen was named Tomyris.  Herodotus tells us the Massagetae were Scythians, so again we have another identifying name that ties the Scythians to the ten tribes of Israel.  These eastern Scythians were the descendants of the three and a half tribes who were taken captive in 745BC, east past Assyria and they were sunworshippers.  This fits when we read the next quote.  Just before the Persian invasion Queen Tomyris sent this message to Cyrus:  “King of the Medes, cease to be so eager to do what you are doing…rule over your own people, and endure to look upon us governing ours.”  After the fighting began she sent another message to Cyrus, warning him, “If you do not so, I swear by the sun, the lord of the Massagetae, that, for all your insatiability of blood, I will give you your fill of it.”  Cyrus should have listened to Queen Tomyris’ warning.  Herodotus went on to describe the bloody battle that followed.  Obviously this invading Persian army was annihilated on the spot.  We don’t have casualty figures, but we do know Persia wielded huge armies, most conscripts coming from the conquered countries which they brought into their empire.  Here is Herodotus’ description of the battle:

 

“Tomyris, since Cyrus would not listen to her, gathered all her host together and fought him.  Of all the battles that were fought among the barbarians, I judge this to have been the severest…finally the Massagetae got the upper hand.  The most of the Persian army died on the spot, and among them, Cyrus himself…Tomyris sought out his corpse among the Persian dead, and…she filled a skin with human blood and fixed his head in the skin, and, insulting over the dead, she said: ‘I am alive and conqueror, but you have…rob[bed] me of my son [Tomyris’ son died in the war]…Now…I will give you your fill of blood, even as I threatened.’  There were many stories of the death of Cyrus, but this…seems to me the most convincing.”

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