Zoroastrians and Judaism

Fall of Assyria’s Empire and Rise of the Moses Legend

Assyria’s great empire lasted no longer than would the empires that began in the late nineteenth century — about seventy-five years. Assyria weakened itself economically by continuous wars to maintain its empire, including defending against invasions by an Indo-European tribal people, the Cimmerians, who came upon the Assyrians from the northeast. The Assyrians spent themselves expanding into Egypt and in quelling the rebellions of Egyptian princes. The Cimmerian menace increased, and more rebellions occurred within the empire. Assyria was burdened by the expense of maintaining its army. Soldiers had to be paid. Massive numbers of horses had to be cared for and fed. Siege engines had to be moved against rebellious cities. Continue reading Zoroastrians and Judaism

Manichaeism : The Prophet Mani

Manichaeism, a Universalist Faith

The Prophet Mani

An artist’s concept of Mani the Prophet

from Wikimedia Commons

The Prophet Mani

Persia was between India and the Roman Empire, and the Silk Road ran through it, making Persia a crossroad of ideas. It had Jews who had had fled from their homeland. After the Jews came Christians. Buddhist ideas were imported from India, and there was the indigenous Zoroastrianism. And into the mix of religious ideas arose a blend the various religions into a universalist faith:Manichaeism (pronounced mani-KEY-ism).

The founder of Manichaeism, Mani, is believed to have been the son of Parthian royalty, born in a village near Ctesiphon and a boy when Ardashir overthrew Parthian rule. As a young boy, Mani might have been taken by his father into a cult called the “Practitioners of Ablutions” — a cult that believed in washing away sins in baptisms. Or the group may have been the Elkesaites, a Jewish-Christian sect that arose around the year CE 100, a group believed to have celebrated the Sabbath, practiced vegetarianism, believed in circumcision, condemned the apostle Paul and criticized what it called falsehoods in Christian scripture and Mosaic law — a sect that died out around the year 400. Continue reading Manichaeism : The Prophet Mani

The Governmental System In Ancient Egypt

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Egypt had one of the first organized governments. Before Upper and Lower Egypt were united, each area was ruled by a king. In 3100 BC, after the country was united into a centralized system of government, it was then divided into 42 nomes, or regions. A governor ruled each region but had to obey the pharaoh.

The pharaoh was the highest authority and had total power over the people. The pharaoh controlled the executive and judicial branches of government and was assisted by many appointed civil servants. When selecting these aides, the pharaoh had to follow the legal rules of seniority and literacy.

Government officials in the Old Kingdom held positions such as the Royal Courtiers, Advisors, Councilors, and Ministers. The Royal Court’s status grew over time and covered religious, civil, judicial, and military duties. The Advisor was the highest official in the state, but not a member of the government’s higher Council. The Council was comprised of senior state officials who enforced legislation and royal decrees and later assumed judiciary functions. The Minister was the head of the judges.

A number of administrators specialized in handling taxes, finance, public works, and labor distribution on various projects. Egypt was the first country to implement a system for workers in governmental projects such as crafts, industry, agriculture, and construction.

Courts of law existed in all Egyptian regions. Many contracts and papyri about petitions and verdicts prove that there were specific, fixed laws concerning everyday transactions such as inheritance, marriage, grants, wills, land ownership, and other commercial transactions. Everything was recorded and kept in an archive, including wills, title deeds, census lists, orders, tax lists, letters, inventories, regulations, and trial transcripts.

During the Greco-Roman age, the Ptolemaic king took the position of pharaoh and followed the system of central government. Because the priests threatened the invaders’ control, the Ptolemies tried to weaken them by stripping the temples of their properties and rights. They later changed their policy and won the priests’ support by showing respect to Egyptian beliefs and building more temples. The Ptolemies maintained the country’s division into regions with the governor as the head. The governor acquired a military character as the leader of the garrison and its financial administrator. Inside these districts there were exclusive cities for the elite Greek classes to live in, such as Nokratis, Alexandria, and Ptolemia.

The Ptolemies enacted laws prohibiting intermarriage between the Greeks and the Egyptians. During this time, the judiciary system recognized four separate sets of law for Egyptians, Greeks and foreigners, Greek cities, and the Jewish people. The “Polytium” system appeared, which was a league of all-Greek classes, acting as an independent board of a military-like nature. It also had social and religious activities and was subject to the king. The division between the Egyptians and the Greeks did not last long. Some Egyptians became attendants and administrators and marriage between Egyptians and Greeks gradually increased.

When Egypt became a Roman province, the Romans made no changes unless necessary. The Roman emperor became the pharaoh of Egypt and was portrayed in the Egyptian temples wearing the pharaoh’s double crown and clothes. The emperor directly managed Egypt’s affairs and took the leadership of the Roman Army. A new post was added in the administration which was the chief judge.

From the Roman legal point of view, Egypt’s population was divided into two basic divisions: Romans and Egyptians. However, the word “Egyptians” was used to refer to all the population of Egypt including the Egyptians, Greeks, and the Jewish people. A head tax was imposed on Egyptians but not on Roman citizens and Alexandrians, who held the right to join the army and were exempt from taxes. During the Roman era, Egyptians lived under very bad conditions because of high taxes and forced labor. Reforms applied in the third century gave Roman citizenship to everybody and the privileges enjoyed by the minority were cancelled. Decentralization was later applied by King Diocletian.

After Egypt became an Islamic province, it continued to be governed from abroad. The caliph appointed a ruler who governed Egypt and managed its affairs in the caliph’s name. He supervised collecting “Al-Kharag,” which is the tax on agricultural land. Christians and Jews paid taxes and Muslims paid Zakah. The Police Chief was responsible for preserving security and the post official was responsible for the communication between Egypt and the Center of Caliphate.


MOHAMMAD BIN MUSA AL-KHAWARIZMI-Kheva

MOHAMMAD BIN MUSA AL-KHAWARIZMI

(Died 840 C.E.)

Abu Abdullah Mohammad Ibn Musa al-Khawarizmi was born at Khawarizm (Kheva), south of Aral sea. Very little is known about his early life, except for the fact that his parents had migrated to a place south of Baghdad. The exact dates of his birth and death are also not known, but it is established that he flourished under Al- Mamun at Baghdad through 813-833 and probably died around 840 C.E. Continue reading MOHAMMAD BIN MUSA AL-KHAWARIZMI-Kheva

Cyrus The Great

Cyrus The Great
Cyrus II, Kourosh in Persian, Kouros in Greek

Artistic portrait of Cyrus the Great
Cyrus (580-529 BC) was the first Achaemenid Emperor. He founded Persia by uniting the two original Iranian Tribes- the Medes and the Persians. Although he was known to be a great conqueror, who at one point controlled one of the greatest Empires ever seen, he is best remembered for his unprecedented tolerance and magnanimous attitude towards those he defeated.

Upon his victory over the Medes, he founded a government for his new kingdom, incorporating both Median and Persian nobles as civilian officials. The conquest of Asia Minor completed, he led his armies to the eastern frontiers. Hyrcania and Parthia were already part of the Median Kingdom. Further east, he conquered Drangiana, Arachosia, Margiana and Bactria. After crossing the Oxus, he reached the Jaxartes, where he built fortified towns with the object of defending the farthest frontier of his kingdom against nomadic tribes of Central Asia.

The victories to the east led him again to the west and sounded the hour for attack on Babylon and Egypt. When he conquered Babylon, he did so to cheers from the Jewish Community, who welcomed him as a liberator- he allowed the Jews to return to the promised Land. He showed great forbearance and respect towards the religious beliefs and cultural traditions of other races. These qualities earned him the respect and homage of all the people over whom he ruled.

Bas-Relief of Cyrus the Great, in Pasargad, Iran
The victory over Babylonia expressed all the facets of the policy of conciliation which Cyrus had followed until then. He presented himself not as a conqueror, but a liberator and the legitimate successor to the crown. He also declared the first Charter of Human Rights known to mankind. He took the title of “King of Babylon and King of the Land”. Cyrus had no thought of forcing conquered people into a single mould, and had the wisdom to leave unchanged the institution of each kingdom he attached to the Persian Crown. In 539 BCE he allowed more than 40,000 Jews to leave Babylon and return to Palestine. This step was in line with his policy to bring peace to Mankind. A new wind was blowing from the east, carrying away the cries and humility of defeated and murdered victims, extinguishing the fires of sacked cities, and liberating nations from slavery.

Cyrus was upright, a great leader of men, generous and benelovent. The Hellenes, whom he conquered regarded him as ‘Law-giver’ and the Jews as ‘the annointed of the Lord’.

Prior to his death, he founded a new capital city at Pasargade in Fars. and had established a government for his Empire. He appointed a governor (satrap) to represent him in each province, however the administration, legistlation, and cultural activities of each province was the responsibility of the Satraps. Accoding to Xenophon Cyrus is also reputed to have devised the first postal system, (Achaemenide achievements). His doctrines were adopted by the future emperors of the Achaemenian dynasty.

Cyrus The Great

Cyrus II, Kourosh in Persian, Kouros in Greek

Artistic portrait of Cyrus the Great

Cyrus (580-529 BC) was the first Achaemenid Emperor. He founded Persia by uniting the two original Iranian Tribes- the Medes and the Persians. Although he was known to be a great conqueror, who at one point controlled one of the greatest Empires ever seen, he is best remembered for his unprecedented tolerance and magnanimous attitude towards those he defeated.

Upon his victory over the Medes, he founded a government for his new kingdom, incorporating both Median and Persian nobles as civilian officials. The conquest of Asia Minor completed, he led his armies to the eastern frontiers. Hyrcania and Parthia were already part of the Median Kingdom. Further east, he conquered Drangiana, Arachosia, Margiana and Bactria. After crossing the Oxus, he reached the Jaxartes, where he built fortified towns with the object of defending the farthest frontier of his kingdom against nomadic tribes of Central Asia.

The victories to the east led him again to the west and sounded the hour for attack on Babylon and Egypt. When he conquered Babylon, he did so to cheers from the Jewish Community, who welcomed him as a liberator- he allowed the Jews to return to the promised Land. He showed great forbearance and respect towards the religious beliefs and cultural traditions of other races. These qualities earned him the respect and homage of all the people over whom he ruled.

Bas-Relief of Cyrus the Great, in Pasargad, Iran

The victory over Babylonia expressed all the facets of the policy of conciliation which Cyrus had followed until then. He presented himself not as a conqueror, but a liberator and the legitimate successor to the crown. He also declared the first Charter of Human Rights known to mankind. He took the title of “King of Babylon and King of the Land”. Cyrus had no thought of forcing conquered people into a single mould, and had the wisdom to leave unchanged the institution of each kingdom he attached to the Persian Crown. In 539 BCE he allowed more than 40,000 Jews to leave Babylon and return to Palestine. This step was in line with his policy to bring peace to Mankind. A new wind was blowing from the east, carrying away the cries and humility of defeated and murdered victims, extinguishing the fires of sacked cities, and liberating nations from slavery.

Cyrus was upright, a great leader of men, generous and benelovent. The Hellenes, whom he conquered regarded him as ‘Law-giver’ and the Jews as ‘the annointed of the Lord’.

Prior to his death, he founded a new capital city at Pasargade in Fars. and had established a government for his Empire. He appointed a governor (satrap) to represent him in each province, however the administration, legistlation, and cultural activities of each province was the responsibility of the Satraps. Accoding to Xenophon Cyrus is also reputed to have devised the first postal system, (Achaemenide achievements). His doctrines were adopted by the future emperors of the Achaemenian dynasty.