Chapter 7 - The Post-Exilic Persian Influence On the Idea of Satan
So far in our discussion, we have seen there is little if not any true reference to a Satanic being in the Torah or the Judges or the history of the kings of Israel. We have seen the Hebrew Scriptures clearly reveal that a lying spirit comes from Yahweh and that an evil spirit comes from Yahweh. It is necessary that we discuss for a while, how the changes in the understanding or philosophy of a being called Satan came to be.
For this task, I would like to ask you to view the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament not as an anthology that was constructed in one distinct period, rather I ask that you see the Scriptures in sections. The sections I am asking you to recognize will be seen as two individual periods of history and are understood to have a very distinct chronological position in the development of the Hebrew Scriptures and the mindset of the Hebrew people as it pertains to “Satan” and to evil. In the simplest form of the sectioning, we can separate the Hebrew Scriptures as the pre-exilic and the post-exilic books. Some writings were complete before the Hebrew people went into the Persian exile while others were not written until the time of the Persian exile and beyond. The Israelites had a very profound and intense history. A history of kings who would lead them in the ways of the most High and of kings who, as the scriptures put it, ”did evil in the sight of God.” This caused the children of Israel to break God’s commands and engage in sin, thereby walking after the ways of their wicked Fathers. Here is one example of this concept from the Hebrew Scriptures where we are told that King Zechariah was considered a King who did evil.
And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, as his fathers had done: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin. 2Kings 15:9
A quick search of the phrase, “did evil in the sight” on the e-sword bible software program resulted in 37 verses that contain almost the exact phrase. So the Israelite history was a very up and down history and journey in respect to walking in a manner that was pleasing to God by keeping the Torah of Yahweh and refusing the evil. A major portion of this journey for the Israelites was written about in the Scriptures and compiled in the books of Genesis through Kings. These books were written prior to the 6th Century BC when Israel went into exile as a result of the sin they had walked in for so long.
During the period of exile, the children of Israel learned many things from their Babylonian and Persian hosts. Many beliefs and practices were taken from their captors and subtly applied to the Israelite religious culture. We will talk more of what was learned to their detriment shortly, for the present, it is helpful to note that portions of the major and minor prophetic books were written after the exile to Babylon. Those writings that were penned during this period then, is the second section of the Hebrew Scriptures I would like to consider within the context of the development of a Satan doctrine.
Essentially, we have the pre-exilic writings and the post-exilic writings. Often times the reader of the Bible will confuse the time that the books were written with being the same time as what was written in the books. This error would be tantamount to a present day historian writing about the First World War and a reader thinking that he was recounting the events from a first person perspective. For instance, the Book of Isaiah was written to cover a period of history that is quite large and the writers often write of things that happened far in the past in relation to the day they wrote the information on the page.
In the Book of Isaiah, we are given prophesies in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah; all kings of Judah. The period of these Kings covered around 120 years. If Isaiah were a history book I could see the intent in covering such a large chunk of time but it is not identified as a history book although it contains much history amid the prophesies, warnings, exhortations, and encouragements. Some sections speak in the present while others speak of the future. So to be clear, the occurrences written about in the particular texts of the individual biblical books often are written down at one point in history but are referring to a time before that in which they were written. It is also quite regular to have a statement made as a prophecy, which will occur hundreds of years in the future. Nonetheless, one must attempt to place the statements found in Scripture, into their historical context by determining at what point of Israel’s history the statement was made. In Prophets of Israel, George Knight says;
“Thus for example we owe an unqualified debt of gratitude to those scholars who were able to show that the book of Isaiah covers a period of some 250 years of Hebrew thought. It is only as a result of their labors that we are able to place the great majority of passages in their historical setting. Till we were in the position to do so, much of “Isaiah” was virtually meaningless.
It is quite important that the notable prophecy in Isaiah 45 given to King Cyrus, is placed in its proper historical setting if we are to attempt to understand it correctly. In this prophecy, we are told Cyrus is Yahweh’s Messiah. I am using the English understanding of the Hebrew term Mashiach. This is a term which is affixed to Yeshua the Messiah/Mashiach and is a title and descriptor of the role of the individual honored with it. In Scofield’s Reference Notes to the Bible, he has this to say of Cyrus as a Messiah;
The only instance where the word is applied to a Gentile. Nebuchadnezzar is called the "servant" of Jehovah (Jer_25:9); (Jer_27:6); (Jer_43:10) This, with the designation "My shepherd" (Isaiah_44:28) also a Messianic title, marks Cyrus as that startling exception, a Gentile type of Christ. The points are:
(1) both are irresistible conquerors of Israel's enemies. (Isaiah_45:1); (Rev_19:19-21).
(2) both are restorers of the holy city (Isaiah_44:28);
(3) through both is the name of the one true God glorified (Isaiah_45:6); (1Co_15:28).
The study of a Gentile King being called Yahweh’s Messiah, is full of interesting implications. Yahweh chooses to use any creature in His creation to accomplish His will. The fact a pagan King can be called His Messiah lends well to the argument that it would also be probable that evil could be stated to be coming from Yahweh. Both of these concepts can be equally inane if considered through the ideas that Yahweh does only the good, whilst the evil is under the control of “Satan.” However, as has been shown through the Scriptures, evil in a type that is different from the wickedness in man’s heart, can and does proceed forth from Yahweh.
To move on from the discussion of Cyrus as Messiah I would like to have you consider further the different sections of the bible and their periods of coming into existence as mentioned above. Specifically for our discussion, we will look at the Books of 1st and 2nd Samuel and 1st and 2nd Chronicles. These books repeat vast amounts of information and are used to cross-reference each other when one studying is looking into the issue of a King or perhaps a King’s reignal period. There is so much repetition of information between these two books that one might ask the question of why they are both in the Scriptures? I might suggest they are both extremely valuable as a tool to establish chronologies which when compared to secular history and ancient Kings’ chronologies, aids in proving the accuracy and historicity of the Scriptures.
If you are to read from a copy of the Hebrew Bible today, you will find that the Chronicles are intentionally placed at the back for certain reasons as opposed to closer to the front as in English Bibles. There are multiple other reasons why they are both contained within the Hebrew Scriptures and true there is also large quantities of unrepeated information between the two accounts, however, for our purposes I believe there is at least one glaring difference between these two amazingly similar books that can be used to help us understand the transition period. This transition period is the period when the well-understood concept of the adversary coming from God evolves with a serious twist. It is in this pivotal period of biblical history that the adversary starts to become a character called “Satan,” a character who many believe is an actual distinct personality.
The Adversary is God According to One Writer and is Called The Sawtawn By Another
The books of 1st and 2nd Samuel cover much of the same information as the Books of 1st and 2nd Chronicles, however they were written in very different periods. The Samuel duo was written prior to the exile of the Israelites to Babylon and the Chronicles duo was written sometime after the exile to Babylon. Both were written to aid in giving a historical account of the timeline of the Kings of Judah and Israel. Now both sets of books may have been written with a very similar purpose, however the mindset of the writers may have been dissimilar in some areas.
When the book of Samuel was penned, it was clearly understood by the Israelites that both good and evil came from Yahweh. In the pre-exilic version of our target verses, Yahweh moves David to number Israel; quite opposite to that is the blaming of “Satan” as the one provoking David to number Israel in the book of Chronicles. The clear language used in the Hebrew is calling the inciter an adversary. However, although I believe the Chronicler simply used a different word to describe the action of God inciting David, the question could be raised asking if the Chronicler was in fact equating Yahweh with the adversary or if he thought that the adversary was a different force than the God spoken of in the Samuel account. Giving the benefit of the doubt to the writer of Chronicles I suspect he was simply using a different term for what God was doing when He incited David to number the tribes of Israel. Samuel says “God” and the Chronicler says “sawtawn”- meaning adversary. Putting these two passages in the same Bible must not be seen as a contradiction rather it is to be seen that the God of 2nd Samuel 24 is the adversary of 1st Chronicles 21.
This theosophical shift reveals itself in the account of David numbering the tribes of Israel as inspired to do so by Yahweh so that a judgment on the Israelites may be brought about. Numbering Israel in the manner of Kings is against the Torah. The Torah prescribes numbering through the collection of the half-shekel temple tax each year. Every male over the age of 20 was to bring their half-shekel to the temple. By Yahweh moving David to number the Israelites in a manner that is against the prescribed manner, the judgment of Yahweh is brought upon the sheep, those who are servants of the King. The appearances in the Scriptures of two different sources of the inspiration to number Israel are given in the verses quoted below. The subject has been highlighted.
2Samuel 24:1-2 And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved Davidagainst them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah. 2 For the king said to Joab the captain of the host, which was with him, Go now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan even to Beersheba, and number ye the people, that I may know the number of the people.
1Chronicles 21:1-2 And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel. 2 And David said to Joab and to the rulers of the people, Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan; and bring the number of them to me, that I may know it.
Notice the apparent huge theological discrepancy in the above two passages. Both of these passages are contained in every bible whether it is a Christian Bible or the
Hebrew Tanak. One passage clearly indicates God moved David and the other clearly states it was Satan. How could the Bible confuse such a clear concept? Was Yahweh or was Satan responsible for moving David to count the people? How are we to reconcile these two conflicting statements? Is it possible the many commentaries which state God let “Satan” have his way, by removing His hand from the situation, have failed to assess the cultural understanding and historical context at the time of the writing of the two passages? If we are planning to believe the words of the Hebrew Scriptures then we are left with little option but to see that according to the words in the two accounts in question, either Satan is God or God is Satan in some manner and sense. We can easily reconcile the words by understanding that Yahweh has always been and is in these accounts, the only force in the universe; therefore, He is the inciter on both accounts. The Satan in the Chronicles account is simply the Hebrew words ha sawtawnand should be translated into English as “the adversary.” This concept of the adversary might be the same adversary that proceeded from Yahweh in the story of Balaam when Balak attempts to have Balaam curse Israel ( see Numbers 23). In fact, in 1st Samuel 26 more understanding of evil being either from man or from God is given us, when David asks Saul to consider whom the one is that is stirring up against him. The two options for who the antagonist is are presented as either God or men.
Now therefore, I pray thee, let my lord the king hear the words of his servant. If the LORD have stirred thee up against me, let him accept an offering: but if they be the children of men, cursed be they before the LORD; for they have driven me out this day from abiding in the inheritance of the LORD, saying, Go, serve other gods.
This verse is an extraordinary statement about the origin of evil by David the soon to be king of Israel. If we are willing to recognize David’s ancient understanding of there being no supernatural force but Yahweh, then one might see why David does not attribute Saul’s pursuit of him to a cosmic Satan. In the above verse, David is calling out to Saul and Saul’s camp after creeping into the camp of Saul with his companion warrior, Abishai. David calls out to Saul and puts forth the statement that Saul is pursuing David for one of two reasons. David states that either Yahweh has stirred Saul against David or it is humans who have stirred Saul against David to hunt David like an animal.
David, knowing the persecution he was enduring came from either Yahweh prompting Saul or from men who were prompting Saul, gives no indication he is considering his persecution as an action from a character such as Satan. David even goes so far as to say that he will make a sin offering to Yahweh in an attempt at expiation, which will bring Yahweh to turn from His act of using Saul to persecute David. If however it is men responsible for the persecution coming through Saul, David rightly speaks a curse on them, as they will be responsible for David being driven from the Holy Land wanting David to engage in false worship in a nation where Yahweh is not the only honored deity. David is the recipient of Saul’s persecution through the relentless pursuit Saul engages in. David’s life is made to be miserable and he is continually running for his life. He has had more than one chance to kill King Saul but as a man of integrity, he will not touch Yahweh’s anointed.
I might add here a note about the common cliché thrown out to people who speak a negative word against certain, supposedly anointed Christian pastors and leaders. The “Lord’s anointed” is nothing more than a reference to the man who is anointed by Yahweh to be King. David and in fact the people of God (Elohim), had a correct view of Yahweh and did not possess a belief in a supernatural, created being, who is in obstinate, wicked rebellion against the Creator.
When we look at the discrepancy between the 2nd Samuel use of “God” as the inciter and the 1st Chronicles use of “Satan” as the inciter of David, we are able to understand the shift in the thinking of who is responsible for evil. Addressing the question of timing and when, in Israel’s history, the book of Samuel and the book of Chronicles were authored, will help us understand the reason for the different terminology. The book of Samuel is accepted to have been authored and edited to its completion by the early 7th century Before Christ. The book of Chronicles is understood to have been authored and edited by the early 4th century BC. Even a ballpark dating of these two books will still reveal the “Samuel” compilation was penned before the exile of the Israelites into Babylon and the book of Chronicles was penned after the return from exile in Babylon.
Allow me to share a bit of information on how the book of Chronicles was compiled. This should provide us with the clear understanding that the book of Samuel long preceded the book of Chronicles. And help us to conclude that the wording used by the Chronicler in this verse about Satan inciting David, is only descriptive terminology aimed at explaining what the actions of God were as outlined hundreds of years earlier in 2nd Samuel. We find this testimony about the book of Chronicles in the Nelson’s Study Bible under the heading Author and Date.
Originally First and Second Chronicles were one book. The overall consistency of style in the book indicates that although several contributors might have worked on it at various stages, one editor shaped the final product.
Jewish tradition identifies the editor as Ezra. However, some have argued that the genealogies in 3:17-24 may include as many as eleven generations past Zerubabbel. To include such information, the book would have to have been written as late as the middle of the third century B.C.
On the other hand it is possible that 3:17-24 may embrace only three generations. If so a date of approximately 425 B.C for the completion of Chronicles is quite reasonable. Ezra was active between 460 and 430 B.C.and thus could have incorporated this particular genealogy into the book.
Under the heading Sources and Historicity in the Nelson Study Bible:
It is evident the Chronicles is the result of a compilation process. The chronicler made use of the books of Samuel and Kings for about half the narrative.
Writing about the same event, the compiler of First Chronicle simply emphasized a different perspective on them than did the authors of Samuel and Kings.
Under the headingPurpose in the Nelson Study Bible:
Writing approximately when the Israelites returned from captivity…
The view of the editors of the Nelson Study Bible is not contested in biblical scholarship. We find supporting testimony in the much-used text titled, Surpassing Wonder The Invention of the Bible and Talmuds; By Donald Harman Akenson. This textbook is intense in its information about the history of the world’s holiest book and profound rabbinic writings. It clarifies many extremely important points regarding the evolution of the Scriptures and it also confuses and perhaps distorts many points regarding the divine authorship of the Scriptures. However, one cannot argue with most of the historical perspective on the writing of the Bible. The author lucidly demonstrates the known books that returned from exile included Genesis to Kings as a major portion of their kitbag. This testified to the fact that 2nd Samuel was written prior to the exile in Babylon. The book Surpassing Wonder states numerous interesting suggestions about the book of Chronicles. Among those is found the following;
Pg 72…Both the Book of Ezra-Nehemiah and of Chronicles rewrite the estimate of the editor-writer of Genesis-Kings…
Pg 73…On the surface it is the least necessary book in the Bible. For the most part, it is merely a précis of the Genesis-Kings unity, a fact that it’s author tangentially acknowledges (II Chron.24:27). Fully 95 percent of the text is an abstract of material found in Joshua-Judges-Samuel-Kings and therefore, Chronicles appears to be intended to supplant these volumes.
Akenson’s statement about the Chronicler of the Book of Chronicles intending to supplant Joshua to Kings can be argued against. However, I can see clearly from what was stated in the Nelson’s Study Bible, “Writing about the same event, the compiler of First Chronicle simply emphasized a different perspective on them than did the authors of Samuel and Kings…” that the book of Chronicles was not a pre-exilic book and it was authored through the use of the book of Samuel, among others. The books of 1st and 2nd Samuel are pre-exilic books. Understanding that Chronicles was penned centuries after Samuel, leads the reader to decide if the writer was infusing a Persian dualistic philosophy on the story of God causing David to number the tribes of Israel in 2nd Samuel 24 and attempting to introduce a cosmic Satan into the biblical record. If the writer was not introducing a cosmic Satan then one must decide that the writer simply used his literary license to describe Yahweh as a type of adversarial force that influenced David to take action in order for God to test David and subsequently administer justice. Agreeing the writer of Chronicles likely was not referring to a cosmic Satan by using the word for adversary, allows us to now move on to the question of “What happened in Babylon?”…..that is, as it pertains to the concept of Satan.
What Was Different About the Babylonian and Persian Philosophy of Good and Evil?
The situation in Babylon was typical of any exiled person’s situation and involved social, cultural, and theological assimilation to a large degree. The period of exile in Babylon was a period of longing for the restoration of the temple and the return to the land, by the Hebrew people. Israel had been told they would be punished for the wickedness and the way they had neglected to obey Yahweh in accordance with the way He was asking to be obeyed. Because of disobedience to the Creator, the Israelites were exiled. Once they were in exile, it did not become any easier for the Israelites to be obedient but through the change of circumstances, the Israelites realized what they had lost in being ejected by Yahweh from the Holy Land. They now missed it and wanted it back. Incidentally, there is never a Hebrew prophet who equated Israel being sent into exile, an apparently evil situation and circumstance, with the actions and desires of a satanic entity. The prophets completely understood that Yahweh was responsible for all the bad that had come upon Israel. Now, while they were in their exile they began to fulfill a prophecy about themselves that was given in the Torah. In Deuteronomy 4, the prophecy speaks of the eventual scattering of the Children of Israel as a result of their sins. In the places they are scattered they will serve the false gods of the heathen whom they are scattered amidst. God calls the false gods of the nations “gods” and a supernatural embodiment of evil such as Satan, would fit into the same category as these other false gods. Just as Molech was seen to be another God of those who served it, so too would Satan be another God of those who serve him through crediting him with the evil that God causes. The following passage from the Torah explicitly explains that Yahweh will scatter the disobedient among heathen nations where they will serve those nations’ gods.
And the LORD shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the LORD shall lead you. And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men's hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell.
So according to the eternal words of the Torah, the people of God did just as was told of them. They corrupted themselves, were removed out of the land of their inheritance, they were scattered among the heathen and served other gods. Just a reminder that these gods are not some supernatural demons, spirits, or devils; these gods are the work of men’s hands, if we believe verse 28 above. The fact that the exile to Babylon resulted in worship of false gods and false worship practices to false gods is no surprise. It in fact was “destined” to happen. Destined to happen not because of the powerful “satanic” influence of the heathen; but it was destined to happen because Yahweh knew the hearts of the people. God knew that they would eventually drift away from Yahweh and His ways, which left them open to worship after the imaginations of their hearts.
Israel has been exiled, are worshipping other gods, and end up adopting Babylonian worship practices as well as adopting the Babylonian/Persian philosophy that there is a good God as well as the antagonist bad God. These were likely introduced to the Israelites in the form of the gods of Zoroastrianism. Ahura Mazda was the all-powerful good god and Ahriman was the antagonistic and evil producing god, according to Zoroastrianism. Let’s explore this Zoroastrian philosophy a little more…no… a lot more.
First, let’s get a few simple definitions from Webster’s World Encyclopedia 2004, of some of the key characters in Zoroastrianism.
The Zoroastrian concept of more than one Supreme Being was foreign to the Israelites. The faith of Israel as handed down by Moses was to be an explicitly monotheistic faith. As Israel became more and more engrossed and engulfed by the culture they were exiled to and flourishing in many ways, they naturally became more syncretistic. Syncretism is the process of adopting, accepting, and merging pagan practices that are not original to the faith of the God of the Scriptures, with the faith of the God of the Scriptures. I say Israel “naturally” became more syncretistic, due to the fact that Yahweh told us we were to remain isolated from the cultural melting pot of heathen nations because if we didn’t we would inevitably be drawn to adopt their gods and practices. While the nation of Israel was engaged with other pagan nations on a fairly intimate level, they “naturally” became more syncretistic. If Yahweh knew we were inclined to move in this harmful direction then I think it is fair to say it happened
naturally. “Naturally,” simply means this was the expected outcome of having a close association with nations who were not worshipping Yahweh.
History; Greek form of Zarathustra
Life: 6th –c B.C.
Iranian prophet and founder of the ancient Parsee religion which bears his name. He had visions of Ahura Mazda, which led him to preach against polytheism. He appears as a historical person only in the earliest portion of the Avesta. As the centre of a group of chieftains, he carried on a struggle for the establishment of a holy agricultural state against Turainian and Vedic aggressors.
History (Persian “Wise Lord”)
The name for God used by Zoroaster and his followers. The world is the arena for the battle between Ahura Mazda and Ahriman, the spirit of evil- a battle in which Ahura Mazda will finally prevail and become omnipotent.
The supreme evil spirit, Angra Mainyu, the lord of darkness and death in Zoroastrianism. Ahriman is engaged in a continuing struggle with Ahura Mazda, Zoroaster’s name for God
The scriptures of Zoroastrianism, written in Avestan, a language of the E-branch of the Indo-European family. Traditionally believed to have been revealed to Zoroaster, only the Gathas, a set of 17 hymns, may be attributed to him. Few portions of the original survive
Assimilation Brings Compromise and New Beliefs
In the exceptional book Peoples of the Old Testament World,  a book given a Publication award in 1995 by the Biblical Archeology Society, we are provided some excellent information on the religion of the Persian King, Darius, who followed Cyrus in continuing the return of the Jewish exiles to the Holy Land. This great Persian world leader was a devout Zoroastrian according to the testimony of the above-mentioned book. The order of ruler-ship during the years of Israel’s exile were Cyrus II for approximately 29 years, Cambyses II for only about 7 years and Darius I for a period of about 36 years. The Persian religion of these time-periods has been well documented to be the religion of Zoroastrianism. The Israelites had not been known to have a doctrine similar to the good entity versus an evil entity doctrine that was taught to them in their exile. We find through the study of the religion of Darius the Zoroastrian, that he was a ruler with amazing morals and ethic. This great leader was eager to allow the exiled Israelites, the Judahites who were now a group of people beginning to be labeled as Jews, to return to their homeland and rebuild the Temple that was destroyed in their captivity. On the surface, it seems this act by the Persian ruler was a noble act in heartfelt service to Yahweh. Would that not be an astounding move for a leader to make as an act of service to the one Creator? I agree it would, however this particular ruler, as a worshipper of Ahura Mazda the Zoroastrian god, was simply doing what good Zoroastrian rulers did. He was being tolerant and supportive of other religions. A real ecumenical flare was common to the religion of Darius. It was a common practice to allow the worshippers of other gods to build their temples and practice their worship.
This was such a wise political move. For a people who are under a particular ruler to be given freedom of worship by that ruler, it follows that the people will remain content with their ruler and it can be expected in many cases that this people will show support to the ruler who provides them with religious freedom. The tragedy in the religious freedom concept lies in the fact that when a group is privileged with being part of a religious, cultural mosaic, they are then exposed to all the other religions that are practiced in their culture. Now exposure in and of itself may not be bad; however the exposure coupled with a slow slide into compromise over a long period will always improve the odds that a group who are purely intending to worship Yahweh in the manner He prescribes, will take on some of the practices of the culture they are in. In a sense, tolerance breeds syncretism. Take for example the use of a Christmas tree by Bible believing Christians in North America.
Now history proves that Christmas and the Christmas tree are both a holiday and a decoration borrowed from ancient pagan religion. In fact Christmas was never celebrated by the early 1st Century believers and in particular the festivities which occurred at the winter solstice were categorically pagan and neither the Messiah nor any of the apostles who walked with Him ever condoned or celebrated this festival. The trappings that are associated with this festival are not practices prescribed by Yahweh as ways to worship Him, nor are they original to any early Bible believing, Messiah following group. This was understood by differing religious groups at different points in history and some as recently as the Mennonites in the early to mid 20th Century.
In my family, I have an aunt and uncle who are arguably from a Mennonite background. I mention them not because of a prejudice against Mennonites but because of the traditional view many in the Mennonite culture have had regarding pagan festival practices.
This particular aunt and uncle were instrumental about 38 years ago, in directing and encouraging my parents to pursue the God of the Bible. My Aunt and Uncle had been very strong in their stand to not erect a Christmas tree at Christmas, because they knew it was a custom drawn from a pagan worship practice and it in no way was associated with the celebration of the Messiah’s Birth.
Incidentally, the Messiah Yeshua whom is called Jesus by many, was not born on December 25 or anytime near that date. The December 25th date of the celebration of His birth is not connected to the historical Yeshua or to His followers for hundreds of years after His death and resurrection. It has been proven that Yeshua was born in the fall of the year 3 BC. Recognizing the origins of the Christmas tree as being non-biblical, my Aunt and Uncle would teach against the use of the “pagan” Christmas tree, until slowly, after years of exposure to it and years of seeing that the use of it brought no harm on the users, they began to tolerate this “pagan” practice. Once toleration of this practice was firmly established in the philosophy of this Aunt and Uncle, they then were able to take the next step. The next step now is obvious and today this Aunt and Uncle erect a Christmas tree when they celebrate the supposed birth of Christ in the month of December along with the rest of the culture. They and millions do so without considering to the fullest, who, what, where, and when this type of a celebration and its practices come from. Just as with my Aunt and Uncle, syncretism occurred for the Israelites due to a prolonged exposure to practices and beliefs that were not found in Israel’s theology, before their experience of being in exile in Babylon,
When the Babylonians fell to the Persians, the oppressive, somewhat restrictive regime began to fall with it. Because it was Babylon who had taken captive the Israelites and not Persia, perhaps the Persian rulers had diminishing interest in keeping the captives captive due to the fact that Persia was not their original captor. After all the Persian rulers’ battle had been with the Babylonians, of which these “Jews” were clearly not. For a ruling King to offer freedom to a captive people is an excellent strategy for engendering favor from the captives and affirming His sovereignty over a people group. To deliver them to freedom is tantamount with being the Messiah. After all, a characteristic of the Messiah in Hebrew thought is one who has the power to deliver Yahweh’s people from captivity. This is a large part of why the prophet of the Most High calls Cyrus the Mashiach (Messiah) in Isaiah 45 verse 1 as seen below where the word “anointed” has been translated back to the word used in Hebrew.
Thus saith the LORD to his mashiach, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;
When the Israelites were in Persia and Cyrus had made the decree for the Israelites to return and rebuild their Temple, it may have seemed as if the pagan Persian ruler was inclined to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. However history reveals this ruler was only inclined to further his own cause as it pertained to the god he worshipped, which was no god at all but was given the name Ahura Mazda, meaning wise Lord. Honoring the religions and gods of the people in his kingdom was a practice that benefited the ruler Cyrus. The benefit was realized through Cyrus acquiring support and loyalty at various levels from his subjects. A result of Cyrus’ decree was that Israel as a people group were liberated and sent on their way home. They had been prospering in the Persian world due to the favor they experienced through the many years of assimilation in exile. Many of the Israelites had established businesses and entered the Kings service. In fact, Nehemiah, a well-known Hebrew, was the respected cupbearer of the king and was instrumental in the return to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Holy Temple. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia has this to say of the Royal Cupbearer:
The office of cupbearer was “one of no trifling honor” (Herod. iii. 34). It was one of his chief duties to taste the wine for the king to see that it was not poisoned, and he was even admitted to the king while the queen was present (Neh_2:6). It was on account of this position of close intimacy with the king that Nehemiah was able to obtain his commission as governor of Judea and the letters and edicts which enabled him to restore the walls of Jerusalem.
The Israelites who desire to return to Judea were enabled to do so with the costs covered by the Persian ruler Darius. Darius had lived and worked along side these peoples for many years now and seems to have little, if none at all, resistance to edicting their complete liberty. Seemingly, this hard working, Hebrew people of integrity had gained much respect and trust. In actual fact, they posed no threat at all to the Persian Empire and its ruler. Therefore, when Yahweh prompted the heart of Darius to liberate them, there is no mention of Darius’ resistance to letting Yahweh’s people go. For Darius, the release of a long oppressed and captive people had magnificent return for a politician strategizing to gain ever more power and looking to be seen as sovereign over the land. This release though did not come without cost to the people of Yahweh and to the faith of that people. After all the years of exile, some difficult but many prosperous, the returning exiles were leaving Persia with some very profound baggage. Baggage, which can be attributed to the persistent and seemingly “harm-free” exposure, to the gods and philosophies of Persia. In Peoples of the Old Testament World, we are told this of Darius:
Scholars disagree about whether the Achemenids were Zoroastrians. Though some scholars such as Boyce believe that all the Achemenians, including Cyrus II, were Zoroastrians, the evidence is quite inconclusive for Cyrus II and Cambyses II(footnote 75) The strongest case for a Zoroastrian background can be made in the case of Darius I, who mentions the god Ahura Mazda repeatedly in his Behistun inscription. Though the King focused on Ahura Mazda, Persepolis texts from Darius’s reign indicate that the court also recognized numerous other gods as well (footnote 76). Both Biblical and nonbiblical texts indicate that in general the Achemenian Kings not only tolerated other religions but actively sought their prayers and devotions by granting subsidies. (footnote 77)
Footnote 75-Dandamaev and Lukonin, Culture and Social Institutions, 34-48; T. Cuyler Young Jr., “ The Consolidation of the Empire and Its Limits of growth Under Darius and Xerxes,” in CAH 4:100-101
Footnote 76-Richard N. Frye, Religion in Fars under the Achaemenids,” in Orientalia J. Duchesne-Guillemin Emerito Oblata ( Leiden: Brill, 1984), 172
Footnote 77- H. Koch, Die reliriosen Verbaltnisse der Dareiozeit ( Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1977); idem, “ Gotter und ihre Vereherung in achamenidischen Persien,”Zeitschrift fur Assyriologie 77 (1987): 239-78
It is clear Darius was a Zoroastrian, however, that does not prove the returning exiles would have adopted a philosophy of the existence of a good and evil force from the Persian environment. To prove conclusively through one piece of information or another from history is not possible. Even in light of the book of Esther, which tells of events in the Persian community after the legislated return of the exiles by Darius, we can see the Persian influence on the exiles. In the book of Esther the King Xerxes who is Ahasuerus, is ruler over 127 provinces from Ethiopia to India. This kingdom was host to varied religions and those who were relocated there for one reason or another would eventually adopt some of the religious practices and customs of their host. It is even impossible in today’s “enlightened” culture to avoid experiencing some syncretism when one culture is inundated with the practices of another culture for an extended period of time. The syncretism that occurs usually does not happen intentionally but it does happen and is often quite voluntary. That is to say, the sojourner in the host country invariably is desensitized to the practices of their host country, and will begin at some point expressing the manifest signs of assimilation. The effects of assimilation of the Hebrew culture are still manifest in that culture to the present day. In fact it is understood by ancient sages in the Hebrew culture that there was a great battle against assimilation in the 2nd century BCE. This battle is what is now remembered in the post Mosaic festival of Hanukkah. This festival came about because of the rebellion of a handful of devout “Jews” when their way of life was being ripped away from them by the wicked King Antiochus Epiphaneus in about 167 BCE.
Antiochus had passed legislation that all Jews were to stop circumcising their babies and could no longer keep the Sabbath as was commanded by Yahweh. The Jews of the Antiochus period were also prohibited from keeping Yahweh’s Holy festival days and were not permitted to study Torah. The goal of the Antiochus legislation was to assimilate the Jews and thereby render their religion inactive, which as any leader with foresight knew, would eventually lead to the Jews voluntarily performing the worship practices of the state religion instead of, or at least joined together with, the faith of the Scriptures and the one true God, Yahweh.
It seems odd that an ancient culture could have such a monumental impact on the cultures that it rubs elbows with. If we were part of a kingdom that was as far reaching and influential as the Persian kingdom, we might better understand how the philosophical tentacles of that kingdom might find their way into the philosophies and religions of the varied cultures it is host to.
How far reaching was the kingdom of Medio-Persia in those days? Just how big of an impact did 127 provinces have on the known world socio-geographical constitution? A simple map from the period shows that the territory covered by the Persian Empire in the 6th century BCE was vast. The empire covered a large amount of territory and had taken on more geography than the conquered kingdom of Babylon, which was defeated by the Medes in the 6th Century BCE. Also notable is that the conquering of Persia by Alexander the great did not contain a significant expansion of the previous Persian kingdom geography. To give a head count for the number of subjects which were present in the Persian kingdom is difficult but it is easy to see the Persian influence was widespread and the philosophies which flowed out of such a tolerant yet significant empire as it related to religious thought were far reaching. As for the “Jewish” subjects that were present in Persia at the time, I have read that the numbers of Jews in Persia may have been in the area of 120,000 around the period of Cyrus’ reign which allowed for the first wave of repatriation to Judea for the Jews.
The Persian exile as it pertains to the mindset of the “Jews” shows a similar result as has occurred for numerous foreigners who have immigrated to North America and then had children who grew up here. The children, upon attaining the age of 10 years old for example, would already begin to manifest signs of significant differences in their belief system. The effects of assimilation are unavoidable unless that child is rigidly guarded from “Western” influence. Through the social integration which takes place, they will exhibit the propensity to practice “Western ways” and tolerate, if not internalize and accept, Western values, morals and religious beliefs. Santa Clause may be a somewhat simplistic analogy for this idea. Many immigrants, more precisely the second generation of said immigrants, have amended their beliefs and practice to eventually include some recognition of the fantasy Santa Clause of Western Culture. Many have made Canada their home and had little interest in the Santa Clause of the Western world until they have had sufficient exposure. The parents may retain their concrete beliefs surrounding the existence of this Santa person but the growing and assimilated children invariably will come to accept into practice a belief in Santa Clause and his supposed benevolent acts.
Looking at the story of Esther, we can see the frog in the boiling water scenario was present in the post Darius Persian kingdom. The second in command to Ahasuerus was a man called Haman. Haman had the power to cause the subjects of his Lords kingdom to bow to him as he passed by. At the risk of speaking from the silence of Scripture, it does seem apparent that most people did comply with this practice. The fact that Haman was making a stink over one man named Mordechai, who wouldn’t bow to the second in command, seems to paint a picture of not many disobedient Jews in regards to the bowing to Haman policy. Generally most of the thousands of Jews in the Persian kingdom had fallen victim to the philosophies of the kingdom due to their assimilation and prosperity. After all, Jeremiah the prophet had told them Yahweh wanted them to take wives, and to build houses, and to farm land there.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; 5 Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; 6 Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished.
However, these captives who were taken into exile, then raised to the status of colonized Jews, took their freedom to prosper and enjoy the land of their exile too far. They began enjoying the religion and practices of the captor. This is why when the decree from Cyrus came for the Judeans to begin returning to the Land of Israel, that eventually Nehemiah and Ezra put out a clarion call for the returning exiles to commit to the Torah, the pure faith of the fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. These inspiring spiritual and political leaders saw the state of the remaining Israelite people. Those who weren’t sent to Babylon in the original captivity had allowed the faith of Yahweh to deteriorate and the Holy City of God, the place where He had placed His name, to remain a pile of uninspiring rubble. If the Jews in exile had remained faithful to the pure worship practice and form of the Torah then Ezra and Nehemiah would not have had to lead such an intentional revival and restoration to the ancient paths from the Torah. It would be one thing to have to restore proper worship due to years of neglect by the people of the Book who were always supposed to remain faithful to Yahweh, but one does not typically cease a deeply ingrained practice of a religion or ritual without replacing the one they have abandoned, to some degree. In fact, what may often occur is that because of the void left in the life of the individual or people group as a result of neglecting their first love so to speak, they are opened to another taking its place. This is likely what happened to the exiled Israelites. They were sent to exile by God as Jeremiah 29: 7 and other verses teach us.
In exile they may have lamented their captivity and the loss of many of the lives of their kin while being able to at least maintain their faith and value system in their hearts if not fully able to practice it outwardly. Even though the Persian way was to tolerate other religions, the exiles were not able to fully participate in the Temple service and associated festivals and practices, which are truly a badge of identity for the people of Yahweh. As time marched on the realization came that those in exile were going to be there for at least 70 years, until Yahweh would intervene in some form, as Jeremiah 29:10 indicates.
For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. Jeremiah 29:10
So, the exiled people begin to accept that they are to build lives in the land of their captor and to seek the peace of the city they are in. I can imagine the people of Yahweh took seeking peace a little too far. God never intended that seeking peace meant giving up seeking peace with Him. It appears that the exiles may have done just that in Babylon. For a time they remembered Zion with tears but absence did not make their hearts grow fonder and the Israelites in exile became less and less Israelitish and more and more Babylonian to Persian-like in practice and philosophy. I am not saying they completely abandoned their beliefs and practice, but for certain they were the recipients by choice of a much more destructive and subtle plot. They became syncretized in so many ways with the religion that eventually led to Judaism and to Christianity.
You see the human heart, which is said to be continually inclined to evil, is not going to do a one-hundred-eighty degree turn and cast off everything that is righteous and good at once. Nor is it going to embrace everything that is wicked and evil at once. Desensitization is not done through a wholesale abandonment of past practices in exchange for the beliefs and practices of the people with whom they are associated. A people group or individual rather, picks and chooses the compromises and syncretistic options that are presented to them along the journey. This is all part of God testing our hearts so that we will eventually see we have wicked hearts and cannot exist and plan to enter His kingdom, unless there is a Messiah to intercede for us. All we need to do is accept His offer to be our Messiah and then do our honest best to obey His laws, commands, and statutes.
Do you remember when you were 11 years old? Let me take it from my perspective. I am 40 years old right now so 11 years old would be 29 years ago.
As an 11-year-old child in a family of the 1970’s, we only had three channels on the television in our home. Now, I recently heard that the first cable, multi channel feed was occurring in the late fifties, but we only had three channels in our house for most of my childhood and teen life. One of those was a French channel. In those days, we didn’t watch very much T.V. but I do recall the absolute horror that swept across the family room and the discussions that would ensue in social gatherings of the then Christian groups we circulated in as a family, as the topic of television programming and foul language along with questionable themes was discussed. The language and themes of the 70’s were seen by the adults of the 70’s, in many circles, as unacceptable and harmful and unwholesome in a variety of ways. Those groups opposed to the direction of the television entertainment industry were very unwilling to tolerate what they felt they and their families were unrighteously subjected to.
Well, fast forward to today, 2007. I don’t think I need to get too involved here but just as an example of what has become acceptable in the entertainment choices of the now adult children of the parents who less than 30 years ago were offended by the presentation on their 2 plus one French channel television. It is difficult now to even imagine primetime T.V. without words like whore, ass, bitch, bastard, and others… Not to mention the violence and sexual content in most popular programming. The presence of homosexuality in almost every popular television program; sexual images and innuendo in commercials; as well as disrespect for authority; including disrespect for parents by children and teens, is continually seen in programs and commercials. I was recently listening to a teaching by a Rabbi on morality when I was reminded of the years when the popular program about a Magic Genie and a US Military Officer called, I Dream of Genie, was on the air.
This mystically powered, simple servant of the man who rescued her from her bottle, was not allowed to have her navel showing. She was told by the censors of NBC to keep it covered and therefore wore her harem trouser pulled up high enough to cover the navel. Suffice it to say, that in this present generation, 10-year-old girls are accustomed to having their belly buttons showing much of the time. This practice is almost unquestioned, and even less questioned in the older set of teen girls, up into early adulthood.
The point is that assimilation is always at work. What was not so socially acceptable at one time becomes acceptable as exposure to it continues and more and more of the people who make up the culture, accept that previously unacceptable practice, belief, or ideal. A subtle an inevitable shift in a mindset is often the cause of this assimilation. It is simple to see how profound the changes can be from one generation to the next when a group of people has children in a culture that is not the culture of their original heritage. Being integrated in a society or culture with pervasive and persistent ideologies and philosophies which are different from those of one’s heritage, is almost certainly going to entice a person to think less of the practices of their own heritage and accept more, those that are ever present in their current reality. The statement “when in Rome do as the Romans” may be just what many of the unwitting Jews were guilty of as it pertained to being in Persia.
We have seen from the Scripture how those with a monotheistic faith in Yahweh, held no prevailing belief in a cosmic Satan as the source and orchestrator of evil upon man, neither as individuals nor as a people group. What I am proposing for you to consider is that the period of exile was a period of tremendously profound assimilation and one that brought Israel into a realm of dualism. A realm where good could be attributed to Yahweh and evil could be attributed to a character that came to be known as Satan. I am suggesting that because the pre-exilic writings of the Israelites do not suggest there is any supernatural force in creation other than Yahweh, that a belief in a cosmic force as the propagator of evil came as a result of Zoroastrian and Persian influence. When a person migrates to a different land today and is prosperous, they will often acquire an altered belief system based on the things they are exposed to in the new land. So too did the Jewish people obtain an altered belief system which incorporated beliefs and practices that were not present in the pre-exilic faith system of the People of Yahweh. Being in exile where they prospered and came under strong influence from positive environment and host culture, assimilation could not be avoided and Israel took on many of the religious characteristics of the Persians.
The book Too Long in The Sunprovides the following statement regarding the receptivity of the exiled Israelites towards the ruler of the Medo-Persian empire:
…when Cyrus, the Persian emperor, conquered an area, it was his policy to restore the worship of the resident gods. By doing this Cyrus, although a conqueror, was well received, and even looked upon as a hero: supporting the local god. This was also the case when Cyrus ordered the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. To state this plainly… Cyrus told them what they wanted to hear! 
The above statements suggest that the actions of Cyrus would have been a strong impact in lives of the arguably monotheistic Hebrews. Via Cyrus’ political moves, the Israelites would have been sympathetic towards the benevolent ruler who allowed them such freedom. An understanding of religious thought in the Medo-Persian Empire is of great importance. It was from a climate of religious tolerance that Judah returned to Jerusalem, bringing with them traditions that had absolutely nothing to do with the worship of God. Belief in a second God as the force responsible for evil and others are the traditions condemned by Jesus when he spoke to the Chief Priests and Pharisees. Because of their refusal to abandon these false beliefs, they "stumbled" and failed to receive their long awaited Messiah, Jesus Christ. God will not allow the slightest pagan tradition to be combined with His worship. All such attempts are in vain!
Take note that Persia, Greece, and Rome were all interested in accumulating patriots for their empires. Each of these kingdoms did much in the way of adding philosophical content to the succeeding kingdom. They also were all quite accommodating to their citizens in order to make an environment of general safety, comfort, and well-being, which would often cause citizens to extend some measure of loyalty to the country they were being cared for and protected by. This can be seen in a study of the Hellenization of Jewish people as they participated in Greek culture under the rule of Alexander the Great after 336 BCE. Many Jews sided with their host ruler and agreed to extend loyalty to the Greek nation due to the relative security, support, and prosperity they were recipients of while in the Greek Empire. The Ahura info website discloses this information about the ancient Persian Empire:
For more than three thousand years Persia was a melting pot of civilizations and demographic movements between Asia and Europe.
Under Cyrus the Great, it became the centre of the world's first empire. Successive invasions by the Greeks, Arabs, Mongols, and Turks developed the nation's culture through rich and diverse philosophical, artistic, scientific and religious influences.
We are now in a position to consider how the monotheism that was expected of the Israelites was altered by the Persian exile and the religious influences they were exposed to for generations. We know that the Israelites who were exiled to Babylon, which became Persia during their exile, were embroiled in a culture that practiced Zoroastrianism. Iran was known as Persia until 1935. Today the most common religion in Iran is Islam but Zoroastrianism is one of three other religions officially recognized in Iran. The other two state-recognized religions are Judaism and Christianity. All three are considered monotheistic.
Introducing Another God
Looking back to the 6th Century BC, with Judahites embroiled in a Zoroastrian culture it is recognized that the concept was taught that claims there was a good god, and there was an evil counterpart who was responsible for bad. The Israelites prospered in
Persia and grew as a people-group through marrying Persians and having children. Assimilation was thorough due to the Zoroastrian principle of tolerance that was practiced in Persia. The Jewish people slowly began to accept the Zoroastrian precepts and were relatively unthreatened as the principles were generally supportive of a good life and lifestyle for the Jews. Isaiah’s prophecy of King Cyrus the Messiah came to pass and King Cyrus issued a decree that the Jews could go back to Judea and rebuild their temple and practice their religion. This allowance was in line with the “try to please as many people in the kingdom as possible” mentality which worked well for the Persians as they ultimately received some measure of loyalty and incurred little in the way of rebellions and uprising from the subjects.
The Jewish People returned home in waves over the next few decades. The first wave returned under Zerubabbel and the returns under Ezra and Nehemiah were not many years behind. Not all Jews chose to return to Jerusalem but many who did return took with them ideas they had adopted in exile. Eventually the Temple and wall of Jerusalem were slowly rebuilt. Haggai and Zechariah prophesy and exhort the returned exiles. Jerusalem is slowly rebuilt and many of the prophets continue to address the ways of the people as not pleasing to Yahweh. The Persian idea of an evil entity opposed to the Sovereign God, who is engaged with the Sovereign in a cosmic battle, became part of many of the Jews’ belief system. This concept, which was carried through right to the “Christian Era,” is difficult to entirely define or identify as far as some of the specifics of the concept and how it migrated with the Hebrew people is concerned. The path this concept followed on its way to entering Christianity is very interesting but I assure you, the idea of a cosmic Satan did not originate with the theology of the pre-exilic Israelites who are commonly referred to as the Jews today. Nor did this theology or rather “demonology,” get revealed to the people of God by the Creator while they were in exile.
Much of what Isaiah speaks as a testimony of the “one God and none else” was spoken to exhort the people of God to recognize He alone is worthy of worship and He alone is responsible for all the good and the evil which has been brought upon them and was ever present or ever will be. Yahweh always wants His children to understand and act in accordance with the axiom, that there is no other “God-like” being anywhere in existence. He has stated this in places other than the book of Isaiah but the context of Isaiah stating it, shows it was stated to provide some much-needed redirection to the Israelites. Proclaiming that it is Yahweh who “creates evil” would hopefully discourage them from imposing God-like abilities of the creation of evil, upon an imagined “evil God.” This other God was a force that was seen in Zoroaster’s vision and became part of the accepted Persian dualism that testifies falsely to the existence of at least two Gods. Below are several instances in the Scriptures where Yahweh is said to be the only God and as you read them, you may notice that the words are often shown in the first person to indicate that the Creator Himself is the one proclaiming Himself as the sole cosmic force in the Universe.
Deuteronomy 4:35 Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that Yahweh he is God; there is none else beside him.
Deuteronomy 4:39 Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the LORD he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.
1Kings 8:60 That all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God, and that there is none else.
Isaiah 45:5 I am Yahweh, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:
Isaiah 45:6 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am Yahweh, and there is none else.
Isaiah 45:14 Thus saith the LORD, The labour of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thine: they shall come after thee; in chains they shall come over, and they shall fall down unto thee, they shall make supplication unto thee, saying, Surely God is in thee; and there is none else, there is no God.
Isaiah 45:18 For thus saith Yahweh that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.
Isaiah 45:21 Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I Yahweh? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.
Isaiah 45:22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.
Isaiah 46:9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,
Joel 2:27 And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am Yahweh your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed.
The words of Isaiah and others are clear; there is no God at all, anywhere who has any power. When Yahweh told us in Isaiah 45 that He creates evil but we still choose to believe that “Satan” creates evil, then we are saying there is one in the earth like God. This means that if we believe there is a “Satan” who brings evil into this world, we believe there is another God. We can use any language we like to speak of the evil that supposedly comes from “satan.” If we say he causes, brings, orchestrates, or any other verb to indicate he is responsible for the true evil in the world; we are simply dancing around the truth with semantics to justify a dualistic belief system. If Satan brings about or “orchestrates” evil, then he is the one who “creates” evil. If Satan has the power to create, then he is like God, the Creator, we then are right back in the position of calling Yahweh a liar because we have been told that there is NONE LIKE HIM.
Perhaps you have heard one of the many theories that actually try to implicate “Satan” as a creator. Albeit these theories suggest he is a creator, they state he is a creator of the perverse, and one who creates for the purposes of destruction. I came across this bizarre theory of Satan as a creator recently from a couple of religious leaders who wrote in 1992. Jason Zolot and Damien Royce wrote a work titled, “Did God Destroy the Dinosaurs?” In a twisted fabrication of one account on the creation of the world and the associated satanic activity as it pertains to man, Royce and Zolot postulated their conclusion that Yahweh gave Satan the ability to create. This being, who eventually became Satan, was initially just Lucifer. As Lucifer tampered with creation he turned into Satan and then set out to create creatures of violence for his amusement and the amusement of other angelic beings, many of whom ended up cavorting with Satan in his escapades of destructive behavior. Royce and Zolot go on to teach Satan eventually created the dinosaurs and turned the earth into a ,” freakish, hellish nightmare world drenched in the blood and gore of violence, death and destruction, an obscene parody of what God had intended…..His bloodlust became insatiable.”
These profoundly intelligent but deeply disturbed men go on to teach that the fallen angels at first assumed the form of the dinosaurs for fun but the exposure to abject killing and bloodshed caused them to not see physical life as anything of value. Eventually these fallen angels “grew morally dissolute.”
This wacky teaching by Royce and Zolot is just one example along a spectrum of ideas that suggests “satan” has the power to create.
The decision really falls to each individual. Do you believe there is another creator who at the very least has the power to create evil? Or do you believe that there is none other with the ability to create, except Yahweh, the one who is big enough to take responsibility for the good and the evil just as He stated in Isaiah 45:
I am Yahweh, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. Isaiah 45:5-7
I will say this though, as we see what the Scriptures say about the evil in the world we are soon able to conclude there are only two options for pinning the evil on someone. Evil comes either from man and the heart inclined to do evil or from Yahweh the one who creates evil. This means that all the sin and rebellion, seen throughout the world, is not the result of demonic forces imparting themselves in the form of an evil spirit into people like Saddam Hussein or George W. Bush. The bottom line is that evil came straight from the pit of their wicked hearts, the heart which is deceitful above all else. My heart is no different than any one else’s in the world in that it too has the ability to produce wickedness, wickedness that some may attribute to demons and satan, but in fact, it is just the heart that is yet to be completely reformed by agreeing with God and His Messiah in all things.
Zoroastrian philosophy is widely recognized as having influenced the great monotheistic religions of the world. I use the descriptor “great” in mentioning these faiths only because they are referred to as great by many scholars, historians, and teachers. However, they would not be considered great in the eyes of the Creator or the Messiah as they propagate false doctrine as if it were true. They are faiths which have adopted and put into practice many unbiblical, and in some cases pagan rites, rituals and concepts. They have become daughters of ancient, false pagan religions by their close resemblance of form and function to the ancient pagan religions that were used as a springboard through time. Even Royce and Zolot although recognizing Zoroastrianism as just another dying religion, they rightly conclude that it was a forerunner of modern Judeo-Christianity. The ancient pagan religion of Zoroastrianism has had influence on such world religions as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. I find it interesting that in Iran today, which is the area of ancient Persia, Islam is the official religion but the “Big 3,” of which Zoroastrianism is one, are all government-recognized religions. The encyclopedia Britannica is one of a plethora of resources that clearly state the connection of Zoroastrianism with Judaism and Christianity. Here are some quotes from the encyclopedia:
Macropedia Volume 15 page 785 under the topic Revelation.
A fourth great prophetic religion, which should be mentioned for its historic importance, is Zoroastrianism, once the national faith of the Persian Empire. Zoroaster (Zarathustra), a prophetic reformer of 7th century BC, apparently professed a monotheistic faith and a stern devotion to truth and righteousness. At the age of 30 he experienced a revelation from Ahura Mazda(The Wise) and chose to follow him in the battle against the forces of evil. This revelation enabled Zoroaster and his followers to comprehend the difference between good (Truth) and evil (The Lie) and to know the one true god. Later forms of Zoroastrianism apparently had an impact on Judaism, from the time of the Babylonian exile, and throughout Judaism, on Christianity. (Bold emphasis added throughout)
Macropedia Volume 4 page 479 under the topic Christianity.
Only in post-biblical Judaism does the devil become the adversary of God, the prince of angels, who created by God and placed at the head of the angelic hosts, entices some of the angels into revolt against God. In punishment for his rebellion he is cast from heaven together with his mutinous entourage, which was transformed into demons.
In a further paragraph on this same page (479) we are told:
Through the influence of the dualistic thinking of Zoroastrian religion during the Babylonian exile (586-538 BC) in Persia, Satan took on features of a countergod in late Judaism.
On page 551 and 552 of Volume 4 under the topic Christian Myth and Legend.
It was Iranian mythological concepts of the ages of the world, translated through Jewish apocalyptic views, that most influenced Christian views of time, history and man’s ultimate destiny…
Ahura Mazda (the Wise Lord) symbolized by light and later called Ormazd, dwelt in infinite time with Ahriman, symbolized by darkness. Ahriman, like Satan in Christianity, went against the Wise Lord. The four ages of the world created after the fall of Ahriman depict the successive stages of the struggle in finite time between the lords of good and evil for the allegiance and the souls of men.
Macropedia Volume 7 page 62 under the topic Exegesis and Hermeneutics, Biblical.
On the other hand the Iranian religious influence, primarily that of Zoroastrianism, on the angelology and eschatology (concepts of the last times) of Judaism in the last two centuries BC is unmistakable, especially among the Pharisees, ( a liberal Jewish sect emphasizing piety) and the Qumran community(presumably the Essenes) near the dead sea. In the latter, indeed, Zoroastrian dualism finds clear expression, such as in the concept of a war between the sons of light and the sons of darkness, although it is subordinated to the sovereignty of the one God of Israel.
Micropedia Volume 10 page 885 under the topic Zoroaster.
Historians of religion also speculate on possible connections between Zoroastrianism and other religions, especially Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Also Micropedia Volume 10 page 885 under the topic Zoroastrianism and Parsiism.
The ancient pre-Islamic religion of Iran that survives there in isolated areas and more prosperously in India, where the descendants of Zoroastrian Iranian (Persian) immigrants are known as Parsees, or Parsis ( hence Parsiism). Founded by the Iranian prophet and reformer in the 6th century BC, this religion, containing both monotheistic and dualistic features, influenced the other major Western religions- namely Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Micropedia Volume III page 461 and 462 under the topic, Demons, hierarchy of.
Jewish demonology was further developed in Kabbalism, a medieval mystical movement.
The hierarchy of demons in Christianity is based on various sources; Jewish , Zoroastrian, Gnostic (a syncretistic religious dualistic belief system in which matter is viewed as evil, the spirit good, and salvation as being attainable through esoteric knowledge, or gnosis) and the indigenous religions that succumbed to Christian missionizing.
Macropedia Volume 19 pages 1169 to 1171 under the topic Zoroaster we find various interesting statements:
According to the sources, Zoroaster was probably a priest. Having received a vision from Ahura Mazda, the Wise Lord, who appointed him to preach the truth, Zoroaster was apparently opposed in his teachings by the civil and religious authorities in the area in which he preached.
…; he did however place Ahura Mazda at the center of a kingdom of justice that promised immortality and bliss.
Zoroaster’s teachings, as noted above, centered on Ahura Mazda who is the highest god and alone is worthy of worship.
The conspicuous monotheism of Zoroaster’s teaching is apparently disturbed by a pronounced dualism: the “Wise Lord” has an opponent, Ahriman, who embodies the principle of evil, and whose followers, having freely chosen him, are also evil.
Thus say varied quotes from different contributors to the 1978 Edition of Encyclopedia Britannica. There is clear consensus as to the influence of the Zoroastrian/ Persian religion on the western religions. As with any collection of scholarly material, there is not agreement on all points surrounding the topic. Notice one quote stated the 6th century BC and another states the 7th century BC for Zoroaster’s beginnings. I am not able to prove exactly the precise time of Zoroaster’s existence and his vision-inspired philosophy, to do so though is not necessary to see that the “Big 3” have been influenced significantly by this ancient pagan religion.
We have taken a fair bit of time to understand the experience of the Israelites while in exile and their relation to Zoroastrianism. This information is crucial if we intend to come to an understanding of certain uses of the word “Satan” in the Hebrew Scriptures. The information on Zoroastrianism is also crucial in trying to piece together the puzzle of why sawtawn is portrayed in the Hebrew Scriptures as different from what we seem to see in the “New Testament.” It is clear that there are two different ideas of who is responsible for evil. The idea that the Israelites generally held to before their Persian excursion was that Yahweh was responsible for “evil.” Some time during and subsequently after the exile in Persia, many thought it to be some cosmic, evil adversarial force as was taught by Zoroaster to his followers.
After ingesting a lot of information about the paradigm shift of the Israelites in exile, over the past number of pages, we are now able to reconcile why two different writers, from different periods, penned the same story but wrote of different characters. One of them stating it was “God” who had caused something to happen while the other said it was sawtawn (translated Satan)who caused the exact same thing to happen. Understanding the view on good and evil that was planted and nurtured during the exile, allows us to reconcile the very opposite pictures we are given in two accounts of the same numbering of the tribes of Israel. Let me remind you of these two accounts where you will clearly see they are the identical account but the writer of 2nd Samuel names God as the inciter while the Chronicler is shown in English to name Satan as the inciter.
2Samuel 24:1 And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.
One solution as to why the first accounting of this incident reveals God to be the inciter is that the above verse was written before the exile period when all the writers of what is now called Scripture, understood that good and evil come from Yahweh for a purpose. Moreover, often the purpose is judgment and divine strategizing to get the people He is angry with to eventually turn back to Him in obedience. The next account, which was written after the exile, has the English name “Satan” as the one who incited David. Please keep the fact that the Hebrew word used means “adversary” in the front of your mind as you read.
1Chronicles 21:1 And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.
This verse was written after the exile period when many of the Israelites had returned from Persia and had carried with them religious concepts that they learned in exile. One solution as to why there is change in identity of the inciter when reading the English translation, is that many post-exile Israelites had adjusted their concept of God. Many came to believe Yahweh was a good God who wouldn’t bring evil on the people He loves. With Chronicles being written a few hundred years after the exile we must at least consider the possibility of this writer expressing the new found perspective of good and evil in his work. I believe the writer of Chronicles is not intentionally trying to teach a lie to the reader, but in this case, he may simply be writing from what he knows. Although the writer in all probability identified with the correct understanding of the word sawtawn as a term meaning adversary, it is possible that what he knew about where evil comes from was based on a teaching about a false god that controls evil. It has to be a case of one or the other in this instance. Either the writer believed that God was the adversary and therefore recounts the story from 2nd Samuel 24 by describing God as sawtawnor the writer found himself aligned with the less palatable view and performed his own revision of the story by claiming that Satan was the one who caused David to number Israel. Again, I state that I perceive the writer was true to the Scriptures and was simply describing God as an adversary when he used the word sawtawn in place of the word God to identify the inciter of David. Whatever the case in this instance, we are still left with the problem that although the writer may have been referring to Yahweh as the adversary when he said sawtawn incited David to number the tribes, those who read his words today generally impose their cosmic diabology on this passage. Such an error includes imposing a literal Satan on his words because that is how the English has been handed down to us.
While in Persia the Israelites and subsequently the writer of Chronicles, were exposed to the “other” God, the God that was alleged to be responsible for evil. This false god paralleled Yahweh in so many ways that the exiles ingested the wrong philosophies about the true God of the Universe and began attributing evil to “the adversary.” “The adversary” was actually Yahweh but in using a different term to identify the adversary, this force eventually became separate from Yahweh in the minds of the confused and was given an identity of its own. Sawtawn the adversary began to become Satan the evil archenemy of God. Whether the writer of Chronicles intended one philosophy of evil or the other matters little. What is clear is that in the period of his writing, Jews not only began Judaism, the forerunner of Christianity, but Jews began to truly apply literalness to the sawtawn and the title of an adversary began to be used as a name of an entity. Effectively, sawtawn became SATAN.
If we base our decision about this topic on current Christian thinking which has decided there is a Satan and associated demons, then we are neglecting much of what the Holy Scriptures that were used by the apostles and the Messiah have to say. If we base our decision on reconciling the texts that are apparent contradictions, via the use of history and a cultural understanding, then we will in all probability come to the correct conclusion. The conclusion I might add, no matter how logical it may appear, still must be imbued by the Spirit of truth for one to receive it and grow in truth.
That spirit of truth is available to all humanity and all it takes to access it is an honest desire to accept the truth no matter what it looks like, where it comes from, or how different it is from what we have been taught all our lives. Once we are over that hump then the truth we are receiving must be weighed against the whole counsel of God, which is contained in the Holy Scriptures, called, the “Old Testament.” We see below in 2nd Timothy, the Apostle Paul reminds Timothy of the value of the “Old Testament” when he exhorts his student with words that declare it is the “Old Testament” which has led him to salvation and is given by inspiration of God.
And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. 2Timothy 3:15-17
THE TIMING OF ISAIAH’S WORDS ADD A PIECE TO THE PUZZLE
By now in our study, we may be getting a distinct understanding of the ancient belief of the Israelites in the area of the Sovereignty of God. In an attempt to provide another piece to the puzzle of how the concept of Satan as an “autonomous” evil entity made its way into present day religious thinking, I would like to address the timing of the writing of the book of Isaiah. Isaiah’s instruction came at a pivotal time in Israelite history during exile. Prior to the exile there was not an Israelite understanding that leant itself to an evil adversary who was going to fight against the Good God and His people until the end of time.
We have discussed at length the thought that it wasn’t until exposure and assimilation into the Babylonian and Persian cultures, that Israel, or at least part of the people of Israel began to embrace a Persian doctrine of good and evil. Those who had power to propagate false doctrines adopted the concept of an evil entity that is opposing Yahweh and then imparted the same concept to the faith of Israel, which became a version of Pharisaic Judaism. Much of the religion of Pharisaic Judaism continued to morph and evolve into Christianity. There is still much to consider in the effort to prove conclusively that the Christian concept of a wicked being called Satan is one of many adopted false teachings from ancient pagan Zoroastrianism.
The doctrine of Satan is merely one of the erroneous doctrines found in much of Christianity today. I encourage you to explore carefully most of the main doctrines and practices of Christianity, which involves Catholicism and Protestantism, to understand the numerous other concepts that are mere traditions of men but have been accepted and taught as being doctrine. We will continue here to stay on the topic dealing with the non-existence of Satan.
The Prophet Isaiah is the most quoted prophet in the “New Testament” and is truly known to be one of the major prophets of Israel and Christianity. He is also one of the Major Prophets who told of the soon coming Messiah throughout his writings. We have already discussed the prophecy in Isaiah 45 of Cyrus being the Messiah in the sense of a Royal figure acting as a deliverer of the people of Judah who were in exile. As with any of the ancient Biblical writings, there are many theories and ideas of the authorship of the Book of Isaiah. Some say it is broken into two parts, some say three and I have even read of some who think there are seven distinct divisions in the book. Many scholars indicate multiple authors authored the book of Isaiah. A common theory is that three authors wrote the book and the complete contents were compiled by another party. Probably the least accepted view is that the Book of Isaiah was penned in its entirety by the Prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz, during the period of His life. It is well accepted that Isaiah contains at least two sections written by different authors at different time-periods. This acceptance does not make it so and some compellingly argue for complete authorship by the Prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. For the sake of argument, I share the following understanding from Westminster College as presented in a class called Understanding The Bible. Dr. Bryan Rennie identifies conclusively the different periods of the Isaiah texts and for our present study, I would like you to note the time-period that the chapters which repeatedly declare that there is one God, are written. Utilizing the work of many scholars before him, Dr. Rennie identifies these different periods as “Divisions of the Book of Isaiah.”
UNDERSTANDING THE BIBLE Dr. Bryan Rennie
The Divisions of the Book of Isaiah.
Proto-Isaiah, 1 - 39.
1. Biographical details of the life of Isaiah.
2. Assyria as major power.
3. Exile as future threat.
4. Emphasis on the judgement to come.
5. Implicit monotheism.
Before 587 in Jerusalem
Deutero-Isaiah, 40 - 55.
1. No biographical details.
2. Babylon as major power and Persia growing.
3. Exile as present suffering.
4. Emphasis on redemption.
5. Explicit monotheism.
Shortly before 538 in Babylon.
Trito-Isaiah, 55 - 66. Very similar to Deutero-Isaiah but contains evidence of the Persian takeover and the return from Exile.
After 538 in Jerusalem
Chapters 36 - 39 appear to be historical narratives edited into the book from 2 Kings 18:13 to 20:19 at a later date. Chapters 24 - 27 is proto-Apocalyptic, a literary style which developed only after the return from Exile and so is also probably a later editorial addition. Chapters 13 - 23 also appear to be later additions. This still leaves Chs. 1 - 12 and 27 - 35 as original material deriving directly from the late 7th and early 6th centuries BCE.
The above understanding indicates chapters 40 to 55 were written shortly before 538 BC in Babylon, which had become Persia by that time. If this is so then we are better able to understand some of Isaiah’s words in relation to the topic of the non-existence of Satan we are discussing. Isaiah and the Jewish exiles are in Babylon and have been adopting and accepting Zoroastrian religious concepts. Isaiah 45 was written near the end of the exile when Isaiah proclaims that it is Yahweh who is the creator of evil. Isaiah was confronting a false belief of the Persians that claimed some other god was responsible for the creation of evil circumstances. This foreign philosophy was dramatically opposed to the pre-exilic belief that there is only one God, who causes both the good and the evil to fall upon His people.
Although the ancient Israelites ascribed to a belief in other god’s while not fully coming under the dominance of the gods of the nations, the entire nation of Israel was commanded to adhere to the concept of one God as is stated in Deuteronomy 4 and then again in the prayer/anthem of the Children of Israel called the Shema, meaning hear in the purest sense of actively hearing and diligently obeying, which is found in Deuteronomy 6: 4-9. Yahweh wanted Israel to diligently accept and embrace the fact that He was the only God in the universe. Below is the first line of this text:
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD
This section of the Torah has long been the first verses a young Israelite child commits to memory, often by the age of two years old. The Shema states not only who one is as an Israelite but it also states in absolutes who Yahweh is. Albert Barnes comments very insightfully in his notes on the Bible.
These words form the beginning of what is termed the “Shema” (“Hear”) in the Jewish Services, and belong to the daily morning and evening office. They may be called “the creed of the Jews.”
This weighty text contains far more than a mere declaration of the unity of God as against polytheism; or of the sole authority of the revelation that He had made to Israel as against other pretended manifestations of His will and attributes. It asserts that the Lord God of Israel is absolutely God, and none other. He, and He alone, is Jehovah (Yahweh) the absolute, uncaused God; the One who had, by His election of them, made Himself known to Israel.
It was not easy to pull the wool over the prophet Isaiah’s eyes. He was sold-out to the concept of Yahweh’s Sovereignty and oneness as the only force to be acknowledged. He understood there was no other force in existence. Therefore when the Jews were getting near the end of their exile period, Isaiah was able to give them the prophecy of King Cyrus being Yahweh’s anointed and he was also able to admonish the Persian King who was propagating the dualistic philosophy, telling him that there is no force, no other god but Yahweh. It was clear by now that the Jews in exile had begun to attribute evil that was happening to them or those around them, to an evil entity. It makes perfect sense for Yahweh to send His man to tell the Jews to clean up their act before He liberates them from exile. So Isaiah gave a prophecy and a number of admonishments. Multiple times Isaiah reiterates to the Persian leaders and those who are said to be Israelites, that there is “one God and none else” but the most poignant example of Isaiah discouraging the exiles from attributing anything in their lives to any other power is seen when he tells them that Yahweh creates evil. The ancients before the exile were clear on this point. We have already looked at the concept of where evil comes from in many references which took place in the pre-exilic existence of Israel. Now however, Isaiah, speaking quite strongly I presume, is proclaiming that it is Yahweh who does “all these things.” “All these things” refers to the good and the evil that has come upon the Israelites.
I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I Yahweh do all these things. Isaiah 45:7
It is absolutely undeniable that the reason God had Isaiah speak these words in chapter 45 is because Israel, the Jews in exile, needed to hear them. What were “all these things” Yahweh was referring to? The Jews were not denying giving credit to the Creator of the Universe for the good in their lives. However, as humans the Israelites seem to have a need to pin the bad, or evil in their lives on some identifiable source. As faithful Hebrews who were still relatively close, historically speaking, to the great wars and deliverances in Israel’s history, it was simple to attribute the good that had occurred to them, to the Almighty. However, it seems the Hebrew captives were not so eager to attribute the bad to the Almighty. Crediting Yahweh for the good and the evil had been the general attitude for the Israelites throughout most of their turbulent history up until now. However, being in exile caused them to consider an adjustment to the long held belief that Yahweh causes evil to happen to His chosen people. It isn’t so unrealistic to perceive how this major paradigm shift occurred for the exiles.
How would you or I respond if we were forced into exile for almost two full generations? Perhaps we too would recognize that bad happens and then begin to agree with our captor-host that someone other than the “Wise Lord” was the hand behind the bad. The “Wise Lord” is not just a different name for the one true God, Yahweh, but is the name of the good God in a two-Deity dualistic system, which attributes evil to the bad god Ahriman, their second deity. There are many examples of a nations’ drifting from what they once knew as a concrete unalterable value, to a value based on moral relativism. We only need consider how the once unacceptable public display of homosexuality has become more than tolerated in our own Western culture today. Moral relativism has been affecting the world for millennia and the Jews in exile were not immune to its insidiousness. Assimilation, which caused a two-God philosophy to flourish, was like an infection that embedded itself deep into the theosophical fibers of a once pure pattern of faith, in people that were chosen to share the morality of the Creator with the world. Now Isaiah wanted to do what prophets do best, that is speak the message of the Creator and give the exiles the opportunity to reject their syncretism, which enabled false belief in some other force, and acknowledge once again that Yahweh is the only force and the only source of all things. The Israelites were about to be delivered and in much the same way that John the Baptist was anointed to prepare the way of Messiah the deliverer, by calling all who would hear to turn to the true practice of the Faith in Yahweh. So too is Isaiah preparing Israel to be delivered by Cyrus, Gods anointed, by announcing that it would be wise to reject the palatable yet eroding ways and beliefs of the Zoroastrian concept of good and evil. Isaiah’s message could not have been clearer to
those who would hear it; no less than eight times in three chapters does Isaiah declare that there is only one God.
The message was profound and sadly, the message was lost to a huge segment of the returning exiles and the dualistic, two-God philosophy, became seated in the theology of many returning exiles. Returning exiles that would embrace the false message and see to it that it was embellished and enhanced in ways that would be so illogical that many were left to believe without question that those who propagated the false doctrine knew what they were talking about. What was to be a purely monotheistic culture was almost irreversibly altered by accepting and then furthering a two God theology that was never taught in the Scriptures, by the Prophets, or intended to be taught by the Creator, the only God.
 E-Sword can be downloaded for free on the internet at the following web address: http://www.e-sword.net/index.html
 Below is a chart indicating the approximate years of the reigns of each of the 4 kings of Judah mentioned in Isaiah. It is to be noted these dates are approximate and could conceivably be open to correction based on various chronology and archeological data. However the dates indicated, show the reader there was a significant time period covered by the writings which are labeled as the Book of Isaiah.
 Bible Guides, Prophets of Israel (1) Isaiah, page 25. By George Knight
 Pg 659 In the introduction to the book of First Chronicles, Nelson’s Study Bible, Nelson’s Complete Study System; NKJV version
 Page 65, Surpassing Wonder The Invention of the Bible and Talmuds; By Donald Harman Akenson. Published by McGill Queens.
 Surpassing Wonder The Invention of the Bible and Talmuds; By Donald Harman Akenson. Published by McGill Queens. From Chapter 3 Returning with Yahweh to Jerusalem Pages72 and 73
 Peoples of the Old Testament World; Edited by; Alfred J. Hoerth, Gerald L. Mattingly and Edwin Yamauchi. Published By Baker Books. Pages 122-123
 Taken from entry on “Nehemiah” in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
 Page 122 of Peoples of the Old Testament World; Edited by; Alfred J. Hoerth, Gerald L. Mattingly and Edwin Yamauchi. Published By Baker Books.
 Information for the number of Jews in Persia at the time of Cyrus can be found at this web page; http://www.dangoor.com/74034.html
 Chapter 4, pg 46 Too Long in The Sun by Richard M Rives, Partakers Publications. This information is also available at the corresponding web site http://www.toolong.com/medo.htm
 In the King James Version the word, “LORD” when seen in capital letters is originally found in the Hebrew as the four-letter name of God and can be transliterated as Yahweh. The word LORD is not the Creator’s name but is a title for Yahweh. Some in Judaism and similar streams of religious movement believe it is inappropriate to attempt to pronounce the name of God and refer to it as the ineffable name of God. Here and elsewhere, I have replaced the English title LORD with the transliterated name of God, Yahweh.
 Taken from http://www.westminster.edu/staff/brennie/prophets.htm, (used by permission)
 Information taken from http://www.westminster.edu/staff/brennie/prophets.htm
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