Easy Bible History for Dummies, with an excursis on why Persia is so much less threatening than Iran

The Assyrians begin to rise and spread roughly in the mid- 9th century, and eventually spread out and conquer just about everybody, including Egypt. This is when the kingdom of Israel in the N. gets destroyed, we get our ten so-called “lost tribes” (who are hauled off and resettled throughout the Assyrian empire), and the southern kingdom of Judah gets completely conquered except for Jerusalem. This is the time of Isaiah, and many of the other prophets.

Then the Babylonians become dominant around 612, and take over the Assyrian empire (but not Egypt.) This time, they take Jerusalem too, destroying the temple and hauling everyone important off to Babylon in the Exile. This is the time of Lehi, Ezekiel, and others.

This Babylonian empire is short-lived, less than 100 years. Cyrus the Persian (with a Persian-Mede alliance) conquers Babylon, and he institutes very different policies from the Assyrians/Babylonians. He sends the Jews back home from Babylon to rebuild their temple with royal Persian funding.This is the time of Ezra, Nehemiah and others. As you might imagine, the Israelites like Cyrus the Persian a good bit, and Cyrus is called God’s messiah or anointed one in Isaiah 45:1. (Sidenote: Cyrus in Hebrew is pronounced Koresh. David Koresh, of Waco Texas fame, took his name from two of God’s anointed and combined them, to show just how really super-anointed he was.)

Geographically speaking, Mesopotamia (Assyria/Babylon) today is mostly in Iraq, and Persia in Iran. (On some of the differences and how “Persia” is so much less threatening than “Iran,” check out this clip from an Iranian-American comic on the Axis of Evil Comedy tour. Minor language.)

So, as we move on in our reading, just remember ABC, Assyrians Babylonians Cyrus the Persian, and you’ll do fine.

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  • Emily U

    That was interesting. I’m in Nursery now, and I feel like I’m missing out on some good OT stuff, so it’s nice to get some of that here.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/ BHodges

    What a great way to remember. Nicely done.

  • carrie monson

    my favorite part of this posting? “I was in… Egypt? Or was it Sweden? I confuse the two.” hilarious.

  • http://ethesis.blogspot.com/ Stephen M (Ethesis)

    Couple things, I’d much prefer a single page layout as an available option.

    Second, what about getting into the Philistines.

    Where they:

    (a) Phoenicians?
    (b) (i) Hellenic Greeks (including Greek mercenaries serving in Egyptian armies)?
    (b) (ii) Post-Achaean Greeks?
    (c) Native Semitic peoples (including Hyksos and others)?
    (d) Native non-Semitic peoples?
    (e) Other migratory peoples?
    (f) all of the above (depending on the time).

    The fact that the answer appears to be some sort of (f) makes for interesting discussions.

  • Ben S

    I talked about the Philistines (and Sea Peoples) a bit in one of the podcasts on David, a few weeks back.

  • Neylan

    SO helpful. Thanks Ben as always.

  • http://ethesis.blogspot.com/ Stephen M (Ethesis)

    Ben, is there a transcript somewhere?

  • http://ethesis.blogspot.com/ Stephen M (Ethesis)

    I ask having downloaded the transcripts I could find and not having seen in either the word doc or the pdf the material you are referring to.

  • http://ethesis.blogspot.com/ Stephen M (Ethesis)

    Ah, found a transcript I missed, you put the Philistines as Cretans. No Mycenaean influence at all.

    I’d still say my (f) is a better description, but I could well be wrong.

    I think the military band that David led for a while was probably more Greek than Cretan.


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