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Introduction to the Book of Isaiah

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Isaiah Bible Study
Introduction to the Book of Isaiah

 

 

 

 


INTRODUCTION TO ISAIAH

     I.     OPENING STATEMENTS

     A.     Isaiah is quoted more often in the NT than any other prophet (over 411). His message was one of:

     1.     one God,

     2.     one world,

     3.     one faith.

     B.     Isaiah is wonderfully Messianic:

     1.     the special children, chapters 7–14,

     2.     the Servant Songs, chapters 42:1–9; 49:1–7; 50:4–11; 52:13–53:12,

     3.     the future Messianic Kingdom (New Age), chapters 56–66

     C.     E. J. Young, in An Introduction to the Old Testament, has said:

     1.     “The book of Isaiah is rightly considered the greatest of the OT prophecies” p. 168.

     2.     “Of all the prophets of Israel, Isaiah understood most completely the mind of God and His plan for the ages” p. 171

     3.     “In spiritual insight he is unsurpassed in all the OT” p. 172

     II.     THE NAME OF THE BOOK

     A.     The book is named after its prophetic spokesman.

     B.     The name means “salvation of YHWH” or “YHWH saves.” The Hebrew names that end in “iah” are an abbreviation of YHWH, as are the names that begin in English with a “j” and a vowel, example Joshua and Joel.

     III.     CANONIZATION

     A.     This is the first of the four scrolls of the Latter Prophets:

     1.     Isaiah

     2.     Jeremiah

     3.     Ezekiel

     4.     the Twelve (minor prophets)

     B.     It was accepted early and completely into the sacred writings of the Israelites.

     IV.     GENRE

     A.     Isaiah’s literary skills surpass all OT prophets. His word plays and poetry are majestic and intriguing. The book is mostly poetry.

     B.     It is difficult to sit down and read all of Isaiah at one time. It is difficult to outline the book. This is because Isaiah was a preacher, not an author or editor. His book records his spoken messages. There are linked together, sometimes:

     1.     by theme,

     2.     by chronology,

     3.     by the cultural norms of the Ancient Near East which are so different from our own.

     V.     AUTHORSHIP

     A.     Jewish views of authorship

     1.     The Talmud’s Baba Bathra 15a said Hezekiah and his men wrote (i.e. edited or compiled) Isaiah, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs. This implies the entire book is from the prophet.

     2.     Ben Sirah, in “Ecclesiasticus 49:17–25, written about 185 b.c., said, “Isaiah, son of Amoz,” wrote the book (1:1; 12:1; 13:1).

     3.     II Chronicles 32:32 attests to Isaiah’s vision and the parallel in Kings (II Kgs. 18:19–20:19.)

     a.     from wealthy noble family in Jerusalem, possibly even a cousin to King Uzziah.

(1)     some evidence that “iah,” which is an abbreviation of YHWH, was practiced almost exclusively among Judah’s royalty.

(2)     Isaiah’s access to the King also lends support to his possible family connection.

(3)     cf. Talmud, “Meg.” 10b

     b.     married a prophetess (8:3)

(1)     first son, “Shear-Jashub,” which means “a remnant shall return”

(2)     second son, “Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz” (8:3) which means “speed the spoil, haste the booty”

     c.     Isaiah had one of the longest prophetic ministries of any of the OT prophets. He was God’s spokesman in Judah from the reign of Jotham (742–735 b.c.) to that of Hezekiah (715–687 b.c.) with the possibility of into the reign of Manasseh (687–642 b.c.); Manasseh was possibly co-regent from 696 b.c.

     d.     if II Chron. 26:22 refers to Isaiah then he was the official scribe and keeper of the official chronicles of the king.

     e.     traditions said he was sawed in two during Manasseh’s reign.

     4.     Moses ben Samuel Ibn Gekatilla, about ad 110, said that chapters 1–39 are Isaiah’s but chapters 40–66 were written during the Second Temple period (Persian Period, 538–430 b.c.)

     5.     Ibn Ezra (ad 1092–1167) followed Gekatilla’s lead and denied chapters 40–66 to Isaiah.

     B.     Modern scholarship’s views of authorship

     1.     A good historical summary is found in R. K. Harrison’s Introduction to the Old Testament, Eerdmans, 1969.

     2.     A good discussion of the technical reasons for asserting two authors can be found in S. R. Drivers’ Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament, reprint 1972.

     3.     No Hebrew or Greek (LXX) manuscripts have ever been found which show a division between chapters 1–39 and 40–66.

     a.     There is a two line space at the end of chapter 33 in the Dead Sea Scrolls. This implies a dividion at this point, not chapter 39.

     b.     There seems to be a parallel structure between 1–33 and 34–66. This dual structure based on the author’s own day and then the future, was common in the Hebrew prophets (cf. Ezekiel, Daniel and Zechariah).

     4.     Modern scholarship has no unanimity as to how many authors or where to divide the book.

     C.     Some reasons for the unity of Isaiah

     1.     Twenty-five terms are found in both sections of Isaiah which are not found elsewhere in the OT (NIV), Intro. to Isaiah, p. 1014).

     2.     The title “the Holy One of Israel” occurs 13 times in chapters 1–39 and 14 times in chapters 40–66 and only six times in all other OT books.

     3.     Jesus, in Jn. 12:38, 40, quotes from both Isa. 53:1 and 6:10 and attributes both to Isaiah.

     4.     Passages from Is. 40–66 are attributed to Isaiah in Matt. 3:3; 8:17; 12:17; Lk. 3:4; 4:17; Jn. 1:23; Acts 8:28 and Rom. 10:16–20

     5.     There is no manuscript evidence of a division of the book at chapter 39 (MT, DSS)

     6.     No historical mention of a great prophet (Deutro-Isaiah) in the 6th century. R. K. Harrison, in Introduction to the Old Testament, adds about this subject,

“Arguments from literary style were greatly in vogue at the end of the nineteenth century, but in the light of a much wider knowledge of ancient Near Eastern languages they have now assumed a far less important position. The very subjectivity of stylistic considerations had a great appeal for the adherents of the Graf-Wellhausen theory of literary analysis, who say no inconsistency whatever in perusing material ascribed to a Biblical author, and then denying parts of that very corpus to him because the literary form and vocabulary of each chapter did not happen to be identical. Apparently it did not occur to those early investigators that it was only possible to derive some concept of the style of an ancient author as the result of careful study of all the material ascribed to him, and that subsequent rejection of part or all of that corpus could only be validated on the basis of some rigorous external control.” p. 776

     D.     Some reasons for multiple authorship of Isaiah.

     1.     In chapters 40–66 the name “Isaiah” is not mentioned.

     2.     Chapters 40–66 do not fit into Isaiah’s historical setting.

     3.     There seems to be a mixing of Isaiah’s references to:

     a.     Assyria’s invasion, exile and their judgement

     b.     Babylon’s invasion, exile and their judgement.

     4.     There are obviously some reasons for theorizing multiple authorship:

     a.     change of historical setting

(1)     pre-invasion Judah, 1–39

(2)     exile, 40–55

(3)     post-exilic Judah, 56–66

(4)     in Isaiah 1–39 the Temple will never fall while in 40–66 it apparently has already fallen. The author seems to be an exile.

     b.     change of terms to describe God’s chosen:

(1)     Messianic child

(2)     Suffering Servant

(3)     Israel as:

(a)     wife (50:1)

(b)     servants of YHWH (54:17)

     5.     Modern conservative scholars:

     a.     E. J. Young’s statement about chapters 56–66 is helpful, “another possibility is that Spirit-led, editor-collected prophecies from different prophets of the Isaiah school around the basic themes of this section.” p. 188

     b.     G. R. K. Harrison’s statement, “The present writer holds to the view that Isaiah, like the majority of the other extant prophetic writings, represents an anthology of utterances given at various times, and as such the work merits no different treatment from that accorded the other major Old Testament prophecies. In this connection it is important to note that arguments based upon differences of style or literary expression are immediately vitiated by this approach, since an anthology may be taken quite fairly as representing the total style of the author over the different periods of his creative activity. Justification for describing the work as an anthology in the best sense of that term is furnished by the opening verse of the prophecy, which constitutes a heading for the work, and speaks specifically of the revelatory material that Isaiah the son of Amoz received in visions concerning Judah and Jerusalem in days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. As with all anthologies it is fairly evident that the book contained only a selection of the available prophetic oracles and sermons, and it is highly probable that Isaiah produced considerably more material than has survived in his book. The nature of the prophecy as an anthology is further indicated by the presence of superscriptions in Isa. 2:1 and 13:1, which may have represented, or pointed to the presence of, earlier collections of prophetic utterances.” p. 780

     6.     The literary style of chapters 40–66 is different from chapters 1–39.

     E.     Concluding comments about authorship

     1.     Godly scholars continue to disagree about how our OT book of Isaiah came to be in its current form (cf. DSS and MT). The main emphasis must be placed on its inspiration and trustworthiness in revealing the character and purposes of YHWH.

     2.     We must reject any pre-suppositions that deny God’s faithful revelation through Isaiah. This also includes the a priori rejection of predictive prophecy and the lowering of the OT to an exclusively human, contemporary, historical account.

     VI.     DATE

     A.     Isaiah is part of the 8th century prophets

     1.     Jonah, Amos and Hosea in the north, during the reign of Jeroboam II (786–640 b.c.)

     2.     Isaiah and Micah in the south

     B.     He was born in 760’s b.c. and was called into prophetic office around 742 b.c. in the year Uzziah died (6:1). Uzziah is also called Azariah (783–742 b.c.).

     C.     Isaiah had a long ministry from the closing years of Uzziah (783–742 b.c.) through Jotham (742–735 b.c.), Ahaz (735–715 b.c.), Hezekiah (715–687 b.c.) and possibly Manasseh (687–642 b.c.).

     D.     R. K Harrison states that the book is an anthology of the porphet’s writings and sermons over many years through several Judean kings. It was finally compiled and edited after the prophet’s death, about 630 b.c.

     VII.     HISTORICAL SETTING

     A.     Eighth Century Prophets

     1.     The biblical material is found in:

     a.     II Kings 14:3–17:6

     b.     II Chronicles 25–28

     c.     Amos

     d.     Jonah

     e.     Hosea

     f.     Isaiah

     g.     Micah

     2.     The simplest summary of the state of idolatry among God’s people can be seen in Hosea:

     a.     2:16, “will no longer call Me Baali”

     b.     4:12–13, “ …daughters play the harlot …”

     c.     4:17, “Ephraim is joined to idols; let him along”

     d.     13:2 “men kiss calves!” (ritual)

     3.     Social setting

     a.     It was a time of economic prosperity and military expansion for both Israel and Judah. However, this prosperity was beneficial only to the wealthy class. The poor were exploited and abused. It almost seems that “the buck and the gun” became additional idols!

     b.     The social stability and property of both Israel and Judah is related to several causes:

(1)     the long and prosperous reigns of Jeroboam II (786–746 b.c.) in the North and Uzziah (783–742 b.c.) in the South.

(2)     Assyrians’ defeat of Syria by Adad-Nirari III in 802 b.c.

(3)     the lack of conflict between Israel and Judah.

(4)     the taxation and exploitation of the trade routes from north to south through the land bridge of Palestine caused rapid economic growth, even extravagance for the wealthy class.

     c.     The “Ostraca of Samaria” which are dated during the reign of Jeroboam II seem to indicate an administrative organization much like Solomon’s. This seems to confirm the widening gap between the “haves” and “have nots.”

     d.     The dishonesty of the wealthy is clearly depicted in Amos, who is called “the prophet of social justice.” The bribery of the judiciary and the falsification of commercial weights are two clear examples of the abuse that was common apparently in both Israel and Judah.

     4.     Religious Setting

     a.     It was a time of much outward religious activity but very little true faith. The fertility cults of Canaan had been amalgamated into Israel’s religion. The people were idolaters but they called it YHWHism. The trend of God’s people toward political alliances had involved them in pagan worship and practices.

     b.     The idolatry of Israel is spelled out in II Kgs. 17:7–18.

(1)     In v. 8 they followed the worship practices of the Canaanites.

(a)     fertility worship (cf. Lev. 18:22–23)

     i)     high places, vv. 9, 10, 11

     ii)     sacred pillars (Baal), vv. 10, 16

     iii)     Asherim, v. 16, these were wooden symbols of the female consort of Baal. They were either: carved stakes or live trees.

(b)     divination, v. 17. This was condemned in Lev. 19–20 and Deut. 18.

(2)     In vs. 16 they continued the worship of the two golden calves, symbolizing YHWH, set up at Dan and Bethel by Jeroboam I (I Kgs. 12:28–29).

(3)     In v. 16 they worshiped the astral deities of Babylon: sun, moon, stars and constellations.

(4)     In v. 18 they worshiped the Phoenician fertility fire god, Molech, by sacrificing their children (cf. Lev. 18:21; 20:2–5). This practice is called “ molech “. It was not the name of the god.

     c.     Baalism (cf. W.F. Albright’s Archaeology and the Religion of Israel p. 82ff)

(1)     Our best archaeological source is “Baal Epic of Ugarit.”

(a)     It depicts Baal as a seasonal dying and rising god. He was defeated by Mot and confined to the underworld. All life on earth ceased. But, helped by the female goddess (Anat), he rises and defeats Mot each spring. He was a fertility deity who was worshiped by imitation magic.

(b)     He was also known as Hadad .

(2)     El is the chief deity of the Canaanite pantheon but Baal’s popularity usurped his place.

(3)     Israel was most influenced by Tyrian Baalism through Jezebel who was the King of Tyre’s daughter. She was chosen by Omri for his son, Ahab.

(4)     In Israel Baal was worshiped at local high places. He was symbolized by an uplifted stone. His consort is Asherah, symbolized by a carved stake symbolizing the tree of life.

     d.     Several sources and types of idolatry are mentioned.

(1)     The golden calves at Bethel and Dan set up by Jeroboam I to worship YHWH.

(2)     The worship of the Tyrian fertility god and goddess at local high places.

(3)     The necessary idolatry involved in political alliances of that day.

     5.     Brief summary of the invasions of Assyria and Babylon during the eighth century which affected Palestine:

     a.     The four eighth century prophets were active during the rise of the Tigris-Euphrates empire of Assyria. God would use this cruel nation to judge His people, particularly Israel.

(1)     The specific incident was the formation of a trans-Jordan political and military alliance known as the “Syro-Ephramatic League” (735 b.c.). Syria and Israel tried to force Judah to join them against Assyria. Instead Ahaz sent a letter to Assyria for help. The first powerful empire-minded Assyrian king, Tiglath-Pileser III (745–727 b.c.),responded to the military challenge and invaded Syria.

(2)     Later, Assyria’s puppet king, Hoshea (732–722 b.c.), in Israel, also rebelled, appealing to Egypt. Shalmaneser V (727–722 b.c.) invaded Israel again. He died before Israel was subdued but his successor, Sargon II (722–705 b.c.), captured Israel’s capital of Samaria in 722 b.c. Assyria deported over 27,000 Israelites on this occasion as Tiglath-Pileser had exiled thougsand earlier in 732 b.c.

     b.     After Ahaz’s death (735–715 b.c.) another military coalition was formed by the trans-Jordan countries and Egypt against Assyria (714–711 b.c.). It is known as the “Ashdod Rebellion.” Many Judean cities were destroyed when Assyria invaded again. Initially Hezekiah supported this coalition but later withdrew his support.

     c.     However, again, another coalition tried to take advantage of the death of Assyria’s powerful king, Sargon II, in 705 b.c. along with the many other rebellions which occurred throughout the Assyrian empire.

(1)     Hezekiah fully participated in this rebellion. IN light of this challenge Sennacherib (705–681 b.c.) invaded (701 b.c.) Palestine and camped near the city of Jerusalem (II Kgs. 18–19; Is. 36–39) but his army was miraculously destroyed by God.

(2)     There is some question among scholars as to how many times Sennacherib invaded Palestine. (Example: John Bright has one invasion in 701 b.c. and another possible one in 688 b.c., cf p. 270.)

(3)     Hezekiah was spared an Assyrian takeover but because of his prideful exhibition of the treasures of Judah to the Babylonian delegation, Isaiah predicted Judah’s fall to Babylon (39:1–8). Jerusalem fell to Nebuchadnezzar in 587–586 b.c.

     d.     Isaiah also predicted the restoration of God’s people under Cyrus II, the Medo-Persian ruler (41:2–4; 44:28; 45:1; 56:11). Nineveh fell in 612 b.c. to Babylon but the city of Babylon fell in 539 b.c. to Cyrus’ army. In 538 b.c. Cyrus issued a decree that all exiled people, including the Jews, could return home. He even provided funds from his treasury for the rebuilding of the national temples.

     B.     A Brief Historical Survey of the Powers of Mesopotamia (using dates based primarily on John Bright’s A History of Israel, p. 462ff):

     1.     Assyrian Empire (Gen. 10:11):

     a.     religion and culture were greatly influenced by the Sumerian/Babylonian Empire.

     b.     tentative list of rulers and approximate dates:

(1)     1354–1318     Asshur-Uballit I:

(a)     conquered the Hittite city of Carchemish.

(b)     began to remove Hittite influence and allowed Assyria to develop.

(2)     1297–1266     Adad Nirari I (powerful king).

(3)     1265–1235     Shalmaneser I (powerful king).

(4)     1234–1197     Tukulti-Ninurta I
- first conquest of Babylonian empire to the south.

(5)     1118–1078     Tiglath-Pileser I
- Assyria becomes a major power in Mesopotamia.

(6)     1012–972     Ashur-Rabi II

(7)     972–967     Ashur-Resh-Isui II.

(8)     966–934     Tiglath-Pileser II.

(9)     934–912     Ashur-Dan II.

(10)     912–890     Adad-Nirari II.

(11)     890–884     Tukulti-Ninurta II.

(12)     890–859     Asshur-Nasir-Apal II.

(13)     859–824     Shalmaneser III.
Battle of Qarqar in 853

(14)     824–811     Shamashi-Adad V.

(15)     811–783     Adad-Nirari III.

(16)     781–772     Shalmaneser IV.

(17)     772–754     Ashur-Dan III.

(18)     754–745     Ashur-Nirari V.

(19)     745–727     Tiglath-Pileser III:

(a)     called by his Babylonian throne name, Pul, in II Kgs. 15:19.

(b)     very powerful king.

(c)     started the policy of deporting conquered peoples.

(d)     in 735 b.c. there was the formation of the “Syro-Ephramatic League” which was an attempt to unify all the available military resources of the trans-Jordan nations from the head waters of the Euphrates to Egypt for the purpose of neutralizing the rising military power of Assyria. King Ahaz of Judah refuses to join and is invaded by Israel and Syria. He wrote to Tiglath-Pileser III for help against the advice of Isaiah (cf Is. 7–12).

(e)     in 732 Tiglath-Pileser III invades and conquers Syria and Israel and places a vassal king on the throne of Israel, Hoshea (732–722 b.c.). Thousands of Jews were exiled to Media (cf. II Kgs. 15–16).

(20)     727–722     Shalmaneser V.
- Hoshea forms an alliance with Egypt and is invaded by Assyria (cf. II Kgs. 17).

(21)     722–705     Sargon II:

(a)     after a three year siege, started by Shalmaneser V, his general and successor Sargon II, conquers the capital of Israel, Samaria. Over 27,000 are deported to Media.

(b)     the Hittite empire is also conquered.

(c)     in 714–711 another coalition of trans-Jordan nations and Egypt rebelled against Assyria. This coalition is known as “the Ashdod Rebellion.” Even Hezekiah of Judah originally was involved. Assyria invaded and destroyed several Philistine cities.

(22)     705–681     Sennacherib:

(a)     in 705 another coalition of trans-Jordan nations and Egypt rebelled after the death of his father, Sargon II. Hezekiah fully supported this rebellion. Sennacherib invaded in 701. The rebellion was crushed but Jerusalem was spared by an act of God (cf. Isa. 36–39 and II Kgs. 18–19.)

(b)     Sennacherib also put down rebellions in Elam and Babylon.

(23)     681–669     Esarhaddon:

(a)     first Assyrian ruler to attack and conquer Egypt.

(b)     he had great sympathy for Babylon and rebuilt its capital city.

(24)     669–663     Asshurbanipal:

(a)     also called Osnappar in Ezra 4:10

(b)     his brother Shamash-shum-ukin was made king of Babylon. This brought several years of peace between Assyria and Babylon but there was an undercurrent of independence which broke out in 652, led by his brother.

(c)     fall of Thebes, 663

(d)     defeat of Elam, 653, 645

(25)     633–629     Asshur-Etil-Ilani.

(26)     629–612     Sin-Shar-Ishkun.

(27)     612–609     Asshur-Uballit II:
- enthroned king in exile in Haran after the fall of Asshur in 614 and Nineveh in 612.

     2.     Neo-Babylon Empire:

     a.     703- ?     Merodach-Baladan:
started several revolts against Assyrian rule.

     b.     652     Shamash-Shum-Ukin:

(1)     Esarhaddon’s son and Asshurbanipal’s brother.

(2)     he started a revolt against Assyria but was defeated.

     c.     626–605     Nabopolassar:

(1)     he was the first monarch of the Neo-Babylonian Empire.

(2)     he attacked Assyria from the south while Cyaxares of Media attacked from the northeast.

(3)     the old Assyrian capital of Asshur fell in 614 and the powerful new capital of Nineveh fell in 612.

(4)     the remnant of the Assyrian army retreated to Haran. They even installed a king.

(5)     in 608 Pharaoh Necho II (cf. II Kgs. 23:29) marched north to help the remnant of the Assyrian army for the purpose of forming a buffer zone against the rising power of Babylon. Josiah, the godly king of Judah (cf. II Kgs. 23), opposed the movement of the Egyptian army through Palestine. There was a minor skirmish at Megiddo. Josiah was wounded and died (II Kgs. 23:29–30). His son, Jehoahaz, was made king. Pharaoh Necho II arrived too late to stop the destruction of the Assyrian forces at Haran. He engaged the Babylonian forces commanded by the crown prince Nebuchadnezzar II and was soundly defeated in 605 at Carchemish on the Euphrates.

On his way back to Egypt he stopped at Jerusalem and sacked the city. He replaced and deported Jehoahaz after only three months. He put another son of Josiah on the throne, Jehoiakim (cf. II Kgs. 23:31–35).

(6)     Nebuchadnezzar II chased the Egyptian army south through Palestine but he received word of this father’s death and returned to Babylon.

Later the same year he returned to Palestine. He left Jehoiakim on the throne of Judah but exiled several thousand of the leading citizens and several members of the royal family. Daniel and his friends were part of this deportation.

     d.     605–562 Nebuchadnezzar II:

(1)     from 597–538 Babylon in complete control of Palestine.

(2)     in 597 another deportation from Jerusalem occurred because of Jehoiakim’s alliance with Egypt (II Kgs. 24). He died before the arrival of Nebuchadnezzar II. His son Jehoiachin was only king for three months until he was exiled to Babylon. Ten thousand citizens, including Ezekiel, were resettled close to the city of Babylon by the Canal Kebar.

(3)     in 586, after continued flirtation with Egypt, the city of Jerusalem was completely destroyed (II Kgs. 25) and a mass deportation occurred. Zedekiah, who replaced Jehoiachin, was exiled and Gedaliah was appointed governor.

(4)     Gedaliah was killed by Jewish renegade military forces. These forces fled to Egypt and forced Jeremiah to go with them. Nebuchadnezzar invaded a fourth time (605, 596, 586, 582) and deported all remaining Jews that he could find.

     e.     562–560     Evil-Merodach, also known as Amel-Marduk
- he released Jehoiakim from prison but he had to remain in Babylon (cf II Kgs. 25:27–30; Jer. 52:31).

     f.     560–556     Neriglissar.
- he was Nebuchadnezzar’s general who destroyed Jerusalem.

     g.     556- Labaski-Marduk.
- he was Neriglissar’s son but was assassinated after only nine months.

     h.     556–539     Nabonidus:

(1)     Nabonidus was not related to the royal house so he married a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar II.

(2)     spent most of the time building a temple to the moon god “Sin” in Tema. He was the son of the high priestess of this goddess. This earned him the enmity of the priests of Marduk, chief god of Babylon.

(3)     spent most of his time trying to put down revolts and stabilize the kingdom.

(4)     he moved to Tema and left the affairs of state to his son, Belshazzar, in the capital in Babylon (cf. Dan. 5).

     i.     ? -539     Belshazzar (co-reign)
- the City of Babylon fell very quickly to the Medo-Persian Army under Gobryas of Gutium by diverting the waters of the Euphrates and entering the city unopposed. The priests and people of the city saw the Persians as liberators and restorers of Marduk. Gobryas was made Governor of Babylon by Cyrus II. Either Cyrus II or Gobryas is the “Darius the Mede” of Dan. 5:31 and 6:1. Darius means “Royal One.”

     3.     Medio-Persian Empire: Survey of the Rise of Cyrus II (Isa. 44:28; 45:1–7):

     a.     625–585     Cyaxares was the king of Media who helped Babylon defeat Assyria.

     b.     585–550     Astyages was king of Media. Cyrus was his grandson by Mandane.

     c.     550–530     Cyrus II of Ansham was a vassal king who revolted.

(1)     Nabonidus, the Babylonian king, supported Cyrus.

(2)     Cyrus II dethroned Astyages.

(3)     Nabonidus, in order to restore a balance of power, made an alliance with:

(a)     Egypt.

(b)     Croesus, King of Lydia (Asia Minor).

     d.     547- Cyrus II marched against Sardis (capital of Lydia).

     e.     November 2, 539, Gobryas of Gutium, with Cyrus’ army, took Babylon without resistance. Gobryas was made governor of Babylon.

     f.     539- in October, Cyrus II “the great” personally entered as liberator. His policy of kindness to national groups reversed years of deportation as a national policy.

     g.     538- Jews and others were allowed to return home and rebuild their native temples.

     h.     530- Cyrus’ son, Cambyses II, succeeded him.

     i.     530–522 reign of Cambyses II.
- added Egyptian empire in 525 to the Medo-Persian Empire.
- possibly committed suicide.

     j.     522–486 Darius I came to rule.

(1)     he was not of the royal line but a military general.

(2)     he organized the Persian Empire using Cyrus’ plans for Satraps (cf Ezra 1–6; Haggai; Zechariah).

(3)     he set up coinage like Lydia.

     k.     486–465 reign of Xerxes I:

(1)     put down Egyptian revolt.

(2)     intended to invade Greece and fulfill Persian dream but was defeated in the battle of Thermopoly in 480 and Salamis in 479.

(3)     Esther’s husband who is called Ahasuerus in the Bible was assassinated in 465.

     l.     465–424 Artaxerxes I reigned (cf. Ezra 7–10; Nehemiah; Malachi):

(1)     Greeks continued to advance until confronted with the Pelopanisian Civil Wars.

(2)     Greece divides (Athenian - Pelopanisian).

(3)     Greek civil wars lasted about 20 years.

(4)     during this period the Jewish community is strengthened.

     m.     423–404     Darius II reigned.

     n.     404–358     Artaxerxes II reigned.

     o.     358–338     Artaxerxes III reigned.

     p.     338–336     Arses reigned.
q.     336–331     Darius III reigned.[1]


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[1]Utley, R. J. D. Old Testament Survey: Genesis - Malachi. Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International, 2000. Page 163.

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