Hosea 7 – God’s Response & Persian Empire:Cyrus the Great and His Successors

Father, it would be great to have a One World Order if Jesus was in charge, but we both know that isn’t how it’s going to happen until Jesus returns.  Yet, the wicked One World Order may be coming.

It is said that everything must come to an end, whether it is good or bad.  And that is how it always is, at least here in our world.  So why do people continue to conquer others instead of help each other because no matter what, there is an end?

For example, look at Alexander the Great, no one ever managed to kill him, but he still lost in the end.  Some say he died of alcoholic liver disease or strychnine poisoning, but there is much more proof that he died to typhoid fever at the age of 33.

Let’s move away from war and look at Al Capone, no one every killed him and the government couldn’t even put him in prison for all of the illegal activities he did, they locked him up for tax evasion and he died due to syphilis, a stroke, and finally pneumonia at the age of 48.

There is nothing on earth that has been here forever, accept for You and when Jesus Christ comes back He will rule the world forever, it’s inevitable, so I just don’t understand why people can’t see the obvious.

“Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.

For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.

The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1 Cor 15:24-26).

“And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Lk 1:33).

“And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever” (Rev 11:15).

Anyway, the Persian Empire was in power for 1,000 years after Alexander the Great died, so I want to look at… 

Hosea 7
God’s Response

Ruins of the walls of the ancient capital of Samaria,
built by Omri and Ahab, husband of Jezebel.

1 When I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim was discovered, and the wickedness of Samaria: for they commit falsehood; and the thief cometh in, and the troop of robbers spoileth without.

“Ephraim” – Israel, the northern kingdom.

“Samaria” – another name for the northern kingdom, of which Samaria was the royal city, selected by Omri to be capital of Israel.

2 And they consider not in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness: now their own doings have beset them about; they are before my face.

“I remember” – all is open to the Lord (see Ps 90:8), but the wicked believe God doesn’t see (see Ps 10:6, 11, 14:1; Eze 8:12).

3 They make the king glad with their wickedness, and the princes with their lies.

Samaria (City)
Shomron (Samaria) was the capital city of the Northern Kingdom, established by Omri and Ahab. An important Hellenistic and Roman cities in the Holy Land.

4 They are all adulterers, as an oven heated by the baker, who ceaseth from raising after he hath kneaded the dough, until it be leavened.

5 In the day of our king the princes have made him sick with bottles of wine; he stretched out his hand with scorners.

6 For they have made ready their heart like an oven, whiles they lie in wait: their baker sleepeth all the night; in the morning it burneth as a flaming fire.

7 They are all hot as an oven, and have devoured their judges; all their kings are fallen: there is none among them that calleth unto me.

“Judges…kings” – four kings were assassinated in 20 years, Zechariah and Shalum in a seven-month period (2 Kgs 15:10-15).

8 Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned.

 

Zechariah of Israel was a king of the northern Israelite Kingdom of Israel, and son of Jeroboam II.

“Cake not turned” – a metaphor describing unwise policies.  Baked on hot stones, the cake was burned on the bottom and raw on the top.

9 Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not: yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not.

“Gray hairs” – he was old before his time, but ignored the danger signals.  Tribute to Tiglath-pileser and to Egypt had sapped the country economically.

10 And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face: and they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek him for all this.

11 Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart: they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria.

“Without heart” – Menahem turned to Assyria and Pekah to Egypt.  Hoshea alternated in allegiance to both.

12 When they shall go, I will spread my net upon them; I will bring them down as the fowls of the heaven; I will chastise them, as their congregation hath heard.

“My net” – the Lord Himself was the hunter, not the nations, and Israel was certain to be caught.

Pekah was king of Israel. He was a captain in the army of king Pekahiah of Israel, whom he killed to become king. Pekah was the son of Remaliah.

13 Woe unto them! for they have fled from me: destruction unto them! because they have transgressed against me: though I have redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against me.

14 And they have not cried unto me with their heart, when they howled upon their beds: they assemble themselves for corn and wine, and they rebel against me.

15 Though I have bound and strengthened their arms, yet do they imagine mischief against me.

16 They return, but not to the most High: they are like a deceitful bow: their princes shall fall by the sword for the rage of their tongue: this shall be their derision in the land of Egypt.

“Deceitful bow” – the arrow missed the mark; Israel missed her purpose for being.

“Derision” – Egypt would fail to assist Israel and then would belittle God’s power.

“Egypt” – there is no record of a forced exile of large numbers to Egypt.  Some captives were taken there (2 Kgs 23:34; Jer 22:11-14) and some fugitives voluntarily went there (2 Kgs 25:26; Jer 42-44).  A return from Egypt is envisioned in 11:11; Isa 11;11, 27:13; Zech 10:10).

Persian Empire:
Cyrus the Great and His Successors

The Persians were Aryans, speaking one of the eastern Indo-European group of languages. Two lines developed from an early leader, Teispes, who had conquered Elam in the time of the decline of the Assyrian Empire – one line in Anzan, the other in Persia. Cyrus II, king of Anzan, united the nation, and conquered Media, Lydia, and Babylonia. His son, Cambyses, took Egypt, which was later ruled by Darius, the son of Hystaspes. Persepolis (see map) was an ancient city of Persia that served as a ceremonial capital for Darius and his successors.

Like Sargon of Akkad, the Persian conqueror Cyrus the Great, born around 585 B.C., was a storied figure whose dramatic ascent to power inspired legends.

By one account, he was of royal birth but was sent secretly to be raised by shepherds when the king of the Medes, to whom Persians were then subject, dreamed that Cyrus would overthrow him and ordered the infant killed.

Both the Persians and the Medes spoke Indo-European languages and were descendants of Aryans who entered Iran from the north.

An inscribed cylinder tells how Cyrus he Great captured Babylon.

 Centuries later, Nazi Germany constructed a fiction of a superior Aryan race, but in reality, these people had much in common with other groups in the region.

Like Semitic tribes such as the Amorites or the nomadic Israelites described in the Book of Genesis, they were mostly pastoralists who herded sheep or cattle and followed their herds from place to place.

Presiding over them were priests, known as magi among the Persians, and nobles or chieftains who gained wealth and prestige by waging war. The legend of Cyrus’s upbringing linked him both to the warrior elite and to common Iranians who followed their flocks, signifying that he was close to all his subjects and tended to their needs like a good shepherd.

The first Persian kings may have been elected by a council of tribal chieftains. By the time Cyrus took the throne in 559, however, kingship was hereditary, passed down through the Achaemenid dynasty to which he belonged.

After mounting a successful rebellion against the king of the Medes, Cyrus became the ruler of all Iranians, whose skill at fighting on horseback gave his army great mobility. He next campaigned against Lydia, a country rich in gold, located in Asia Minor near the Aegean Sea.

Cyrus’s successor Darius I ruled at the Iranian city of Susa in a court adorned with winged sphinxes.

According to the Greek historian Herodotus, Lydia’s fabulously wealthy king, Croesus, launched the war with Persia after being assured by a soothsayer that he would destroy a great kingdom.

The prophecy came true, but it was his own kingdom that fell when Cyrus besieged Croesus and his troops at their capital, Sardis, and captured the city in 546.

After conquering lands surrounding Mesopotamia, Cyrus closed in on Babylon, which was weakened by internal divisions after King Nabonidus elevated another god above that city’s patron deity, Marduk.

Many Babylonians turned against their king and saw no reason to oppose Cyrus, who was known to spare those who yielded to him. In 539, they opened their gates to the Persians, who entered the city “in peace, amidst joy and jubilation,” according to an inscription touting Cyrus’s triumph.

Cyrus reassured Babylonians by publicly worshiping their beloved Marduk, just as he won the gratitude of other people he conquered by restoring images of gods seized in battle and allowing exiles from Judah and other kingdoms to return home.

Cyrus the Great died in 529 while campaigning against defiant tribes around the Caspian Sea. He would be remembered not just as a mighty conqueror, but also as a magnanimous victor who won over those he defeated by showing mercy.

One was the esteem in which he was held in later years by the wars they waged against his Persian successors.   In the words of the Greek author Xenophon:

He honored his subjects and cared for them as if they were his own children: and they, on their part, revered Cyrus as a father.

These coins, stamped with royal emblems, were issued in Lydia around the time of Croesus.
Not many rulers were as rich as Croesus, king of Lydia in Asia Minor. His kingdom contained large deposits of electrum, an alloy of gold and silver, which he used to issue coins – a practice that originated in Lydia and Greece a century or so before Croesus took power around 560 B.C.

Cyrus’s son and heir, Cambyses, enlarged the empire by invading Egypt – which had regained power since rebelling against Assyria a century earlier and conquering that kingdom in 525.

The Persians, little known before Cyrus launched his campaigns, were now masters of the Middle East.  But that alone did not assure them of lasting glory.  Throughout history, many such empires left little impression on posterity.

Some collapsed quickly after the death or defeat of their architect; others survived for a generation or two before crumbling.

One reason empires were short-lived was that they were often ruled by men who prided themselves on leading armies to battle and embarked on long campaigns to expand their realms or put down rebellions.

Obama has the exact same mind-set, he’s a fool.

Such lengthy absences allowed plots and power struggles to develop within the palace. After conquering Egypt, for instance, Cambyses spent three years securing his grip on that country and advancing southward up the Nile into Nubia.

Meanwhile, a rebellion, possibly led by his brother and successor Bardiya, was brewing against him at home. Upon learning of the plot in 522, Cambyses rushed back, but he died on the way.

When Bardiya died as well, the man who then took the throne, Darius, claimed that Cambyses had ordered Bardiya killed after discovering his brother’s treachery. Darius may well have staged a coup against Bardiya, however, and then shifted the blame to Cambyses.

Some Persians considered Darius a murderous usurper, and many subjects in distant lands saw this as an opportunity to rebel. This succession crisis left the empire in turmoil and might have shattered it had not King Darius I been as shrewd as he was ruthless.

By his own account, his troops crushed nine uprisings in the first three years of his reign. After restoring order to his realm, Darius expanded it by advancing its eastern frontier to the Indus River and its western boundary beyond the Bosporus, the strait separating Asia from Europe.

Darius unified his empire by issuing coins like the one shown here and building roads used by merchants and messengers traveling between his mountainous Iranian homeland and the Aegean Sea.

More significant than his conquests, however, were the steps he took to consolidate the vast dominion, demonstrating an organizational genius rivaled by few ancient or modern rulers.

Adopting a system initiated by Cyrus, Darius divided the Persian Empire into more than 20 provinces called satrapies, governed by satraps he appointed. The local officials who served under each satrap were mostly natives of that province and ran their districts without much interference from their Persian overlords.

One of the main responsibilities of satraps was to collect taxes – annual levies that replaced the irregular tribute payments demanded by the rulers of other ancient empires.

When demands for tribute were too heavy, they caused resentment and rebellion; when they were too light, kings had difficulty funding their army and administration unless they found new lands to plunder.

By imposing regular taxes, Darius sought to avoid those extremes. The success of this system depended on the loyalty and integrity of satraps, who could cause turmoil if they overtaxed subjects to enrich themselves or fund campaigns against the emperor.

Darius dispatched secret agents to spy on his distant appointees.  He also formed a trusted imperial guard of a thousand men within a larger elite corps of Persian troops called the Ten Thousand Immortals.

Both taxation and trade were facilitated by coins Darius issued, a practice he adopted from Lydian and Greek rulers.  Unlike gold or silver ingots that had to be weighted to determine their value, Persian coins – stamped with an idealized image of Darius as a warrior drawing his bow – had a fixed value and were easily exchanged.

Traders, troops, and imperial spies moved quickly about the Persian Empire on roads built by Darius and his successors.  The greatest of those was the Royal Road, which extended for more than 1,500 miles from Ephesus on the Aegean Sea to Susa in western Iran, the empire’s administrative center.

Darius’s army was led by the elite corps known as the Ten Thousand Immortals. The corps had 1,000 men and when one died he was promptly replaced so their number remained constant.

Other roads led south from Susa to Pasargadae, Cyrus’s former stronghold and burial place, and to Persepolis, where Darius and his successors build a splendid palace complex.  Caravans of traders riding donkeys or camels took about three months to traverse the Royal Road, but royal dispatches could be relayed from Susa to Ephesus in a week by express riders.

Darius presided a court with great pomp, seated on a high throne below a purple canopy. “By the grace of Ahura Mazda am I king,” declared Darius, who claimed a divine right to rule granted him by Ahura Mazda, the supreme deity of Zoroastrianism, a religion based on the teachings of the Iranian prophet Zoroaster.

Although Zoroastrians recognized the existence of other gods or spirits, some good and some demonic, Ahura Mazda surpassed them all and embodied truth, justice, and wisdom. He reigned as king of kings in heaven, as Darius did on earth.

Although Darius did not impose his beliefs on people of other faiths, Zoroastrianism influenced Judaism and later Christianity, whose followers shared with Zoroastrians a belief in heaven and hell and the coming of an apocalypse, or day of judgment, when the fate of all souls would be decided.

For more than three decades, Darius remained lord of the Middle East. People there had long been ruled by kings or emperors who wielded power over many cities or countries and, like Darius, claimed to be divinely inspired, if not actually divine.

When Persian forces advanced west to the Aegean Sea and crossed into Europe, however, they entered the Greek world, consisting of independent city-states with inhabitants who resisted imperial domination.

Before Athens instituted democracy in the 5th century B.C. by allowing all free male citizens to elect their leaders, many Greek city-states were ruled by tyrants, who seized power and functioned as dictators.

Some of them were popular figures who overthrew oligarchies (ruling councils of aristocrats) and won favor among citizens.

But Greeks did not worship these tyrants, nor bow to rulers who considered themselves immortal or invincible – sins of pride for which ambitious men who soared too high or reached too far were punished by the gods in Greek myths and tragedies.

Darius overreached after the Ionians – residents of Greek city-states along the eastern shore of the Aegean Sea – rebelled against him in 499 B.C. Although he suppressed that revolt, he then set out to punish the Athenians and others on the Greek mainland who had aided the Ionians.

Sculpted in relief, Persian nobles ascend a stairway reconstructed by archaeologists at Persepolis, built by Darius I and his successors.

Like many emperors who succeeded continually in battle, he grew overconfident and thought his troops were superior to any challenge. His army was considerably larger than the opposing Greek forces, but the Athenians were fighting on their own turf and outmaneuvered their foes in 490 B.C. at Marathon, inflicting a stinging defeat on the Persians.

Darius died in 486 B.C. before he could launch another campaign against the Greeks or put down an uprising in Egypt, where rebels were encouraged to learn that the Persians were not unbeatable.

Darius’s son and successor, Xerxes, brutally suppressed the revolt in Egypt as well as a rebellion in Babylon, where his troops destroyed the shrine of Marduk, the god honored earlier by Cyrus the Great.

Such stern measures led the Greeks to denounce Xerxes as a despot who lacked the wisdom and restraint of Cyrus and foolishly thought his powers were limitless.

According to Herodotus, Xerxes vowed not just to avenge the defeat at Marathon and conquer Greece but also to extend Persian territory as far as “heaven reaches the sun will then shine on no land beyond our borders; for I will pass through Europe from one end to the other.”

Xerxes made meticulous preparations for war against the Greeks.  For three years, he amassed troops from various countries and assembled a huge fleet of galleys – warships propelled by oars. Yet he and his commanders found it hard to supply and coordinate their sprawling forces.

This ancient Zoroatrian emblem, known as the Faravahar, shows an inspired figure standing amid spread wings symbolizing heaven and its supreme ruler, Ahura Mazda.

Greek galleys, defending their home waters, caught the much larger Persian fleet in a narrow strait at Salamis in 480 B.C. and won a smashing victory. Disheartened, Xerxes sailed away with what remained of his navy, leaving his army to be defeated at Plataea in 479 B.C. by Greeks who had vowed to fight to the death and “put freedom before life.”

This campaign marked the end of Persian expansion and demonstrated that even the mightiest empires had their limits, imposed by geography and human nature, or the tendency of men to fight harder for their own land than when campaigning on foreign ground for a remote emperor who might not even speak their language.

Xerxes withdrew to his palace at Persepolis, where he was assassinated in 465 B.C.  Persian power declined under Xerxes’ successors, who overtaxed their subjects and as a result faced frequent rebellions.

Darius III, the last king of the Achaemenic dynasty founded by Cyrus, wilted under the blistering assaults of Macedonians led by their inspirational commander, Alexander the Great, who conquered the Persians in 330 B.C. and made their empire his own.

Two centuries of Persian rule left a deep impression, however, and much of the region would remain under Persian influence or control for a thousand years to come.

…the Persian Dynasties.