[Avodah] persian era

Eli Turkel eliturkel at gmail.com
Tue Feb 19 01:12:17 PST 2013

The standard Persian cronolgy is

Cyrus - Cambysis (son)

Darius - Xerxes (son) - Artaxerxes (son).
Darius usurps the crown and as Lisa points out the exact events are murky.

These events are noted in various writings on walls and other writings that
(see for example The Persian Empire: A Corpus of Sources from the
Achaemenid Period<http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0415552796/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER>
 - by Amélie Kuhrt)

Lisa writes
<<Chazal actually don't say much about how long Darius and Cyrus reigned.>>

However they give the total Persian rule as 54 years
standard chronolgy says Darius I ruled from 522 to 486 BCE (36 years)
including the battle of Marathon

Lisa and I both seem to agree that his son Xerxes was Achashverosh. This
means Achasverosh
was the son of Darius and not the father of Darius as chazal seem to state.
In any case if Achashverosh is the son of Darius I then he reigned after
the Temple was rebuilt in the days of Darius

Xerxes reigned from 486 to 465 (21 years) and was murdered by a bodyguard.
Also spent much time fighting the Greeks

from Wikipedia
After the military blunders in Greece, Xerxes returned to Persia and
completed the many construction projects left unfinished by his father at
Susa and Persepolis. He built the Gate of all Nations and the Hall of a
Hundred Columns at Persepolis, which are the largest and most imposing
structures of the palace. He completed the Apadana, the Palace of Darius
and the Treasury all started by Darius as well as building his own palace
which was twice the size of his father's. His taste in architecture was
similar to that of Darius, though on an even more gigantic scale.He also
maintained the Royal Road built by his father and completed the Susa Gate
and built a palace at Susa.

both Darius and Xerxes left many inscriptions detailing their various

Artaxerxes ruled from 465 to 424 (41 years). He is named on an inscription
in a building in Susa.
Thus the reigns of these 3 kings is from 522 to 424 approximately 100 years
and doesnt include Cyrus and Cambysis.
Again as mentioned many times Artaxerxes is mentioned in Ezra and Nehemiah
and so seems to conform to standard chronology while Chazal are forced to
conflate several kings.
In addition Nehemia mentions 6 high priests not including Shimon HaTzaddik.
Thus there seems to be a total of at least 8 high priests son after son
within 54 years.
Artscroll tries to explain that Yehishua Cohen Gadol was 100 at the
rebuilding of the Temple and that each of his descendants was Cohen Gadol
for only a short period before dying.
Seems highly unlikely.

Lisa writes
<I think it's telling that native is equated to Greek.  The Greeks were not
native to Persia.  The Jews, however, were.  We lived there.  We were
local. >>

I was totally lost by this remark. Again Ezra and Nehemia seem to use the
same names as the standard secular chronolgy. Seder Olam Raba is written in
EY about 500 years later while the more detailed Gemara statement are about
1000 years after the events.
Everyone agrees that the Greek accounts need to be taken with a very large
grain of salt both because they were prejudiced and because they didnt use
modern historical methods for determining the truth.
Nevertheless they present Persian-Greco wars from about 500 to 450 (50
It is  hard to believe they made up battles between themselves and the
If the entire Persian empire lasted only 54 years then these wars began
immediately after the conquest of Babylonia and then immediately following
the end of these wars Alexander invaded Persia (implying that the
Peloponnesian wars never occurred).

Later Persian history is beyond our current interest but is discussed by
several contemporary  Greek historians

Eli Turkel
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