Monday, March 2, 2015

The True Facts About Iran and Jews

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                           
Queen Esther, a Jewess of Persia

Jews living in Iran have a long history that goes back to the days when Iran was Persia.  How did Jews wind up in Persia?  Back in 722 BCE, the Assyrians had attacked Israel and had taken as slaves the best of the population.  Then later the Babylonians had attacked the Assyrians and had won.  They in turn came and attacked Israel in 597 BCE and again in 586 BCE, also carrying away the best of the population.  Then in 538 BCE Cyrus of Persia conquered the Babylonian Empire and so the Jews were under Persian rule.

This is when the story of Queen Esther took place.  Many Jews lived in Persia and in lands that were Persian controlled.  Cyrus II, King of Persia, died in 529 BCE.  He has been identified by modern scholars as Xerxes who reigned from 486 BCE to 465 BCE and was the son of Darius I.   It was Cyrus who in 538 BCE granted permission to the exiles of Judah in Babylon to return to their homeland and rebuild the Temple.  The Jewish exiles regarded Cyrus as a Divine agent.  No wonder, to have a turn-around from being their captor to their savior, the person who sent them back to their homeland.  

Our story of Queen Esther was that she was married to King Ahasueros, King of Persia.  She was the daughter of Abihail and her uncle was Mordecai, a descendant of King Saul of the tribe of Benjamin (Israel's first king) and advisor to King Ahasueros/Achashverosh.  .  The king's main advisor was named Haman.  The story, according to scholars, took place before 339 BCE.  In 2nd Temple times the scroll of Esther called the Megillat Esther was read and included in the canon.  It is read every Purim which falls on the 14th of Adar I which is on this year's March 5th.  Haman, a descendant of the tribe of Amalek (terrible to the Israelites)  wanted all the Jews under Persian rule throughout the 127 provinces of the Persian Empire  which almost amounted to the whole world to be put to death.   They were numerous and influential in the capital, Susa (Shushan).  We associated Hitler with Haman.    

If you're not familiar with the Book of Esther's story, Haman hated the Jews because Mordecai didn't treat him with enough humility and cow-tow to him.  Esther found out about his plot to have all Jews suddenly attacked and killed and so told her husband after fasting for 3 days to get the courage to do so, as she then had to confess that she was Jewish, and Ahasueros didn't know of this.  Haman and his sons are hung for their dastardly attempt.

There was no Islam in those days.  There was Zoroastrianism which was a religion founded by Zoroaster in about the 7th century BCE who was a prophet of ancient Persia.  It was a belief in light and righteousness and bears some resemblance to Judaism which rejected the  dualism of Zoroastrianism. They believed that man's task is the fight for the light and the good;  evil is conquered not by ascetic abnegation but by truthfulness, justice, and productive work as well as by strict attention to ritual purity.   We look at Isaiah (45:7) who wrote;  "I form the light and create darkness;  I make peace and create evil:  I am the Lord, that doeth all these things."

There was also something called Parsiism, also known as Mazdaism.  This also inclued belief in an individual judgment after death, a final era of redemption, and the appearance of savior-types called soshants.  Isaiah in (45:6-7) and (50:10-11) combats these beliefs, but there was probably some influence of Parsiism on Judaism like in its conception of angels and demons.

Later during  talmudic times,   Judaism was persecuted by the Magi or fire worshippers of the Zoroastrians.  "The earliest known usage of the word Magi is in the trilingual inscription written by Darius the Great, known as the Behistun Inscription.Old Persian texts, pre-dating the Hellenistic period, refer to a Magus as a Zurvanic, and presumably Zoroastrian, priest."  .  There were 3 kings named Darius from Persia.  Darius I reigned from 522 to 486 BCE and inherited the throne of Cyrus.  at the beginning of his reign, he permitted Zerubbabel and the Jews who had returned to Jerusalem to resume reconstruction of the Temple.

Moving along to Mohammad, born in 570 CE and died in 632 CE without leaving a male heir or a will naming who was to be the leader of Islam.  It became divided between Mohammad's daughter's husband and Mohammad's advisor as to who would be the successor.

Sunni Islam developed out of the prophet's advisor, Abu Bakr.  The successors are called Caliphs.

Shia Islam comes from Muhammad's daughter's husband who conveniently was also Mohammad's 1st cousin as well as son-in-law.  Now before you raise an eyebrow, intermarriage of family was very common and is probably still practiced in the Middle East.  It was also practiced in the beginnings of Judaism as well.  Remember, Sarah and Abraham were related, Abraham being her uncle.   Successors in this branch of Islam are called Imams as the descendants of Mohammad are called.  The Shi'a were more stern in their attitude towards Jews.

One interesting factor is that the King of Jordan is a direct descendant of Mohammad and bears the Cohen gene with a slight mutation showing he is of the Arab line and he is a Sunni Muslim.  The same thing happens with other Sunnis as well.  They have this tie to Mohammad.

Whereas in Mohammad's day the Jews were treated as people of the Book (meaning the Bible) along with the Christians,  and were treated as dhimmis, where they had to pay a poll tax for living there, there are Jews still living in Iran but have not been allowed to leave.  A cousin's daughter of mine married an Iranian Jew who had to escape out of Iran on a camel with other young teens many years ago in order to get out.  Today he is a doctor in the USA.  During the days of  the Shah of Iran, the life of Jews was all right.  Then the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini came along.
"Ruhollah Moosavi Khomeini was an Iranian religious leader, revolutionary, politician, and leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution 

 He  saw the overthrow of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran." "Cassette copies of his lectures fiercely denouncing the Shah as (for example) "... the Jewish agent, the American serpent whose head must be smashed with a stone", became common items in the markets of Iran,helped to demythologize the power and dignity of the Shah and his reign. 
Aware of the importance of broadening his base, Khomeini reached out to Islamic reformist and secular enemies of the Shah, despite his long-term ideological incompatibility with them.   

1 February 1979, Khomeini returned in triumph to Iran, welcomed by a joyous crowd estimated (by BBC) to be of up to five million people.  Although revolutionaries were now in charge and Khomeini was their leader, some opposition groups claim that several secular and religious groups were unaware of Khomeini's plan for Islamic government by wilayat al-faqih, which involved rule by a marja' Islamic cleric  Under Khomeini's rule, Sharia (Islamic law) was introduced, with the Islamic dress code enforced for both men and women by Islamic Revolutionary Guards and other Islamic groups

Khomeini was the first and only Iranian cleric to be addressed as "Imam", a title hitherto reserved in Iran for the twelve infallible leaders of the early Shi'a.  He was also associated with the Mahdi or 12th Imam of Shia belief in a number of ways.

Life for religious minorities largely deteriorated under Khomeini. Senior government posts were reserved for Muslims. Schools set up by Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians had to be run by Muslim principals.  Conversion to Islam was encouraged by entitling converts to inherit the entire share of their parents (or even uncle's) estate if their siblings (or cousins) remain non-Muslim.   Iran's non-Muslim population has decreased. For example, the Jewish population in Iran dropped from 80,000 to 30,000

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the 6th president of Iran.  Only 5'2",  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is an Iranian politician who was the sixth President of Iran from 2005 to 2013.  It has just come out that he may have Jewish genes in his family tree.  I'm not surprised being Jews have lived in Persia/Iran for ages.  Many Iranians may find they have a connection to Jews.  

Even so, he has not inherited a Jewish heart.  "The accusations about Iran include that Iran is striving to obtain nuclear arms and developing long-range firing capabilities—and that Ahmadinejad issued an order to keep UN inspectors from freely visiting the nation's nuclear facilities and viewing their designs, in defiance of an IAEA resolution.   

Following a May 2009 test launch of a long-range missile, Ahmadinejad was quoted as telling the crowd that with its nuclear program, Iran was sending the West a message that "the Islamic Republic of Iran is running the show."

"Ahmadinejad abides by Iran's long-standing policy of refusing to recognize Israel as a legitimate state, and wants the Jewish people who immigrated to Israel to return to their "fatherlands" (translated).
In a 2005 speech Ahmadinejad praises the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei for demanding that "... the regime that occupies Jerusalem must vanish from the pages of time"' However, the original translation was much more ominous, with Ahmadinejad threatening to "wipe Israel off the face of the map," and for the next several years this mistranslation was repeated thousands of times in the media and by politicians."  Mistranslation?  Really?  Then we've heard even worse coming out of his mouth; being called plagues, etc.  "Despite any controversy surrounding the mistranslation, the Official Web site of the President of Iran quotes Ahmadinejad as saying in 2011 "The reason for our insistence that the Zionist regime should be wiped out and vanished is that the Zionist regime is the main base for imposing oppression and harbors the main terrorists of the world." "   His style, and that of others, is to turn things around and call the Israelis who defend their land terrorists.   I wonder what he calls those who are the attackers?  

Ahmadinejad has stated contentious speeches and statements, including calls to "eliminate the Zionistregime"   Ahmadinejad took part in a protest called "The World Without Zionism" and has derided Israel on numerous occasions.  He has urged regional powers to cut diplomatic and economic ties with Israel and halt oil sales. Tensions have risen over Iran's nuclear program during his period as president.  .
Ahmadinejad's remarks have been criticized by various world bodies and governments, including the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations.  Ahmadinejad said most Jews in Israel "have no roots in Palestine, but they are holding the destiny of Palestine in their hands and allow themselves to kill the Palestinian people."  He denies the Holocaust and our ancient history.  
On Israel's 60th birthday in 2008 , Ahmadinejad said:
Though he is no longer in power and we have Rhoheini taking his place as president, we have 

the same issues and feelings towards Israel with the new president.  The only difference is that 

not as vocal about it.  Netanyahu doesn't trust him.  

Ali Hosseini Khamenei ; born 17 July 1939) is the second and current Supreme Leader of Iran and a Shia Cleric Ali Khamenei succeeded Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the Iranian Revolution, after Khomeini's death, being elected as the new Supreme Leader by the Assembly of Experts on 4 June 1989. He had also served as the President of Iran from 1981 to 1989. In 2012, Forbes selected him 21st in the list ofThe World's Most Powerful People. He bears the title before his name of Sayyid.  

Knowing how the winds change in Sharia Islamic Iran, one cannot depend on what one leader may say, because the next leader can take a new twist to it.  That can be said of many nations, but especially about Iran.  This is why Netanyahu wants a nuclear agreement very tight and not loose, so it cannot be misinterpreted.  It must contain protection for all times for Israel.  Rouhani may be president, but he takes his marching orders from the  Ayatollah Khamenei.   Unlike the executive in other countries, the President of Iran does not have full control over Iran's foreign policy, the armed forces, or nuclear policy, as these are ultimately under the control and are the responsibility of the Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah.  

Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel is speaking to the USA Congress, or those who are brave and interested enough to attend, tomorrow on March 3rd, warning them of the dangers of the deal being made so far by their Secretary of State, John Kerry and approved by their president, Barack Hussein Obama.    On the 4th is the Fast of Esther, something done to remember her fasting for 3 days as penitence.  Jews had been converting in noticable numbers in order to save their lives throughout the empire in Esther's day.  During this year coming, none did.  Instead, many had their faith strengthened from their lives being saved by Esther.  On the next day, the 5th, is the holiday of Purim where Jews will  read from the Megillah which is the scroll of the story of Esther.

We share in the very same merit that redeemed the Jewish people in the days of Mordechai and Esther.  We hope that Netanyahu's going to plead with Congress will also redeem Israel from a fate worse than death, a nuclear attack of even one atomic bomb that could wipe out the little state in one day, something Haman expected to do but was stopped by Esther's pleading.  Esther could have lost her life.  King Ahasueros had gotten rid of his first Queen Vashti just because she wouldn't do a belly dance in front of him and his friends at a party.  Esther had to confess being Jewish to him.  Thank goodness he truly loved her.  She lived on.  As it turned out, it is believed that King Darius was her son.
Queen Esther with son, King Darius I
  1. According to some sources, although Esther dreaded having a son with Achashverus and did everything in her power to prevent it, by Divine Providence she had a son named Darius, who was crowned years later as the king and eventually allowed the Jews to resume the building of the 2nd Temple in Jerusalem.  So he would have been Darius I. 
  2. An odd fact is that the Persian Gulf War ended victoriously on Purim, 5751.  This is the Jewish year of 5775.  That was 24 years ago.  
  3. Reference:The New Standard Jewish Encylopedia 1992


  1. i love the book of esther. God is right there everywhere in it yet never mentioned once. He saved israel from destruction then.......and He has not changed.

  2. It is a beautiful story. I wonder how many Muslim Iranians know that story. I doubt it. I thought Netanyahu might lead with parts of the story tomorrow, but now I don't think so, though it would be nice. I just listened to Susan Rice make a speech to AIPAC today. Then I listened to Charles Krauthmeyer blow that up. I hope Netanyahu uses the same arguments.