The Persian Empire was founded by Cyrus the Great who conquered Babylon in 536 BC. Cyrus issued the decree for the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. Under Darius the second Temple of Zerubbabel was completed; and under Xerxes, or Ahasuerus, the events recorded in the Book of Esther in the Bible happened; under Artaxerxes the Jewish state was reformed by Ezra, and the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt by Nehemiah. The capital of the Persian Empire was Shushan. The Empire lasted a little more than 200 years, and came to an end in 330 BC.
Kings of Persia
Cyrus II “the Great” (600-529 BC) founded the first Persian Empire. Cyrus the Great respected the customs of the lands he conquered and allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem.
Cambyses II (530-522 BC) – He conquered Egypt during his reign.
Darius I (aka Darius the Great) (522-486 BC) rule the Persian empire at it peak. The Second temple was completed during his reign.
Xerxes I (Ahasuerus) 486-465 BC – is the King who marries Esther.
Artaxerxes I (465-425 BC) commissions Ezra & Nehemiah to return and rebuild Jerusalem.
Xerxes II (425-424 BC) was assassinated by his half-brother, who was in turn assassinated by Darius II.
Darius II (423-404 BC) – little is know about his reign.
Artaxerxes II (404-359 BC)
Artaxerxes III (359-338 BC)
Artaxerxes IV (Arses) (338-336 BC)
Darius III (336-330 BC) – defeated by Alexander the Great.
Persia is referenced 29 times in 25 verses in Scripture: 2Ch 36:20; 2Ch 36:22; 2Ch 36:23; Ezr 1:1; Ezr 1:2; Ezr 1:8; Ezr 3:7; Ezr 4:3; Ezr 4:5; Ezr 4:7; Ezr 4:24; Ezr 6:14; Ezr 7:1; Ezr 9:9; Est 1:3; Est 1:14; Est 1:18; Est 10:2; Eze 27:10; Eze 38:5; Dan 8:20; Dan 10:1; Dan 10:13; Dan 10:20; Dan 11:2.
Persian (2x) in Neh 12:22; Dan 6:28.
Cyrus is mentioned 23 times in 19 verses (12X in Ezra): 2Ch 36:22; 2Ch 36:23; Ezr 1:1; Ezr 1:2; Ezr 1:7; Ezr 1:8; Ezr 3:7; Ezr 4:3; Ezr 4:5; Ezr 5:13; Ezr 5:14; Ezr 5:17; Ezr 6:3; Ezr 6:14; Isa 44:28; Isa 45:1; Dan 1:21; Dan 6:28; Dan 10:1.
- Chronology of Ezra-Nehemiah
- Wikipedia: List of the Kings of Persia
- Encyclopedia Britannica: Cyrus the Great
- Ancient History Encyclopedia: Cyrus the Great
- 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia: Cyrus the Great
- American Tract Society Dictionary: Cyrus
- Bridgeway Bible Dictionary: Cyrus
- Easton’s Bible Dictionary: Cyrus
- Fausset Bible Dictionary: Cyrus
- Holman Bible Dictionary: Cyrus
- Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible: Cyrus
- Kitto’s Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature: Cyrus
- Morrish Bible Dictionary: Cyrus
- International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Cyrus
- McClintock and Strong: Cyrus; Cyrus (2)
Maps – Holman Bible Atlas
- World Powers of the 6th century BCE
- The Conquests of Cyrus the Great
- The Persian Empire
- The Return of the Jewish Exiles to Judah
- Judah in the 5th century BCE
- Palestine after the Exile