“And the God that hath caused his name to dwell there destroy all kings and people, that shall put to their hand to alter and to destroy this house of God which is at Jerusalem. I Darius have made a decree; let it be done with speed.”
It could be argued that Persia’s power and influence reached its zenith during the reign of Darius ‘the Great’ Artaxerxes. Darius played a central role in the Jewish people’s reestablishment of Jerusalem and the temple service. By his sixth year of rule the Second Temple, the very heart of Jerusalem, was completed, nearly sixteen years after permission to build it had first been given by Cyrus.
Darius was the third Persian ruler after Cyrus the Great. Cyrus died in 530 BC, and his son Cambyses II ruled for eight years. For a short period after Cambyses’s death, Bardis the Magian usurper (aka Smerdis) ruled. This imposter, by some accounts, was a double for Cambyses II’s murdered brother. When Cambyses died, Bardis, who was already impersonating the brother of Cambyses II, took the game to a whole new level and assumed the throne as Artaxerxes of Persia. After ruling for less than a year, he was deposed by Darius ‘the Great’, son of Hystaspes, also known historically as Artaxerxes (Ezra 6:14. See also Ussher, Annals of the World, page 126, section 1015.)
Trouble in the Promised Land
To understand the decree given by Darius ‘the Great’, we need to back up a bit and give a little history of the Jewish people’s efforts to Continue reading