Cyrus and Darius, Instruments of Godby Rit Nosotro
COMP: Analyze the expansion and administration of Cyrus the Achaemenid (558 BC) against Darius the emperor of Persia (521 BC). Why was kingdom of Lydia in Anatolia so important to the Persians?
History happens in God's time. The rise and fall of history are not coincidence, our sovereign God intervines for His good will and knows the beginning from the end. "For the scripture says of Pharaoh: 'I raised you out for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.' therefore, God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden." (Romans 9:17-18) So it is with every power on earth, "for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God" (Romans 13:1). having this framework, one can now better understand Cyrus and Darius as instruments of God.
Persia dominated the land beginning with Cyrus the Great in 539 BC and kept expanding its territories. "Cyrus was the father, Cambyses was a master, and Darius was a shopkeeper," a quote that demonstrates each King's individuality towards ruling the land. Persia and Medes were coalitions, keeping peace by the royal marriage of Astyages (585-550BC) and a Lydian princess. This peace was disrupted in 550 BC by Cyrus, son of Cambyses, who led an army to seize Astyages; thus Cyrus became the dominate ruler of the land. Isaiah 45:1 prophesied, "Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped to subdue nations before him and strip kings of their robes, to open doors before him- and the gates shall not be closed," continuing on in verse four, "For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I surname you, though you do not know me." Although Cyrus conquered Lydia, Crocesus would not accept his authority. Crocesus tried to bribe Delphi, Greece with an immense amount of money and when an oracle was returned, he assumed the message was in his favor. Going to battle, Cyrus attacked, and once again won control over the Ionian Greeks. Clever Cyrus used the smell of his camels to defeat the enormous army supporting Crocesus. Ironically, by listening to the oracle, Cyrus destroyed a great empire- his own. Illogically, the Ionians saw the fall of Sardis, a return of their independence forcing Cyrus to subjugate their cities, eventually gaining authority of the Ionian Greeks letting him move onto bigger and better places.
After dealing with the problems of Lydia, Cyrus spread his Empire into Central Asia. He marched to Hycania (Iron-Caspian shore), Parthia (Northeaster Iran), and Bacteria (Afghanistan) stopping at the India's border. Next, he captured Jaxartes and made it his northern boundary building forts all along the border. Succeeding, the dominate rule went to Opis, Babylon and held seize to their city. Meanwhile, King Belshazzar, celebrated inside the city, mocking God by drinking out of the Temple's golden cups. Ingeniously, the Persians damned up a tributary of the Euphrates, marched into the seeming invincible Babylon City and nearly wiped them out, including Belshazzar.
"I have aroused Cyrus in righteousness, and I will make all his paths straight; he shall build my city and set my exiles free " a verse taken from Isaiah 45:13. A decree was passed by Cyrus to let all Jews taken in captivity to return to their homeland and returned the golden cups Belshazzar defiled. Thus, Cyrus fulfilled God's word. He died in December of 530BC; buried near Pasargadae.
Around 522BC, Darius, the leader of conspirators assisted by seven others, killed the ursuper in the Median fortress. He claimed the throne to be his by his distant relations to Cyrus the Great making part of the Achaemenid family and to insure his authority he married Atossa, daughter of Cyrus. He faced the difficulty to overcome all the rebellions, which he accomplished in 520 and 519BC. He decided a humble attitude previously used by Cyrus was not appropriate for a king of his day, and instead he abused power. On New Year's Eve Darius expected gifts, or realistically the things he commanded, from every area in his empire. Darius also added to his empire a more impressive capital named Persepolis.
Earning the name, "shopkeeper," he improved the empire with many impressive accomplishments. Lydian invention of money, roads with inns set up every 15 miles, the first postal service, and introducing useful crops to new areas were just a few highlights of his achievements. Recalling that the Temple building had come to a halt in Cyrus' time, Darius was the one who allowed the Temple building to occur. Under his rule, he also decided to separate the empire into twenty provinces called strapies, which were taxed, and ruled by a King's appointed governor. Greek initiation of the Persian Wars, and the success of Marathon in 490BC only persisted to harm the Persian empire- ultimately destroying it. Darius died in 845BC unable to finish his preparations for a second battle against Greece.
A vast empire dominating the known world contributed immensely to the forming of history, in fact the area the empire only showed great diversity in the different types of exotic "gifts" brought to king Darius. They varied from frankincense to young eunuchs. From triumph to defeat, the Persian Empire played a major role in shaping future events. God uniquely planned every battle that occurred to result in his end product, the birth of Jesus Christ. Persia was the perfect empire to expose divine will because of His intervention in using both Cyrus and Darius to help the children of Israel continue God's plan toward the resurrection of Christ "in the fullness of time". With the amazing fulfillment of prophesy, God reveals Himself to believers.
Check your understanding!
What clever trick did Cyrus use to defeat Crocesus?
How did the Persians destroy the seemingly invincible Babylonian City?
How did Darius claim the throne in 522BC?
Why did Darius earn the name, "shopkeeper?"
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