In The Days of Achashverosh...The Ties of Two Ancient Peoples PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 10 July 2010 07:56

  by Gerald A. Honigman

 A Kurdish friend, Hamma Mirwaisi, recently had his book published, Return of the Medes--An Analysis of Iranian History.

While Hamma and I disagree over some of his assertions, his book is an important contribution to the literature of his people and promotes a better tomorrow for all of the Middle East's inhabitants.
     Hama's story is that of a truly stateless people--some thirty-five million Kurds, descendants of the Medes, and part of the greater Airyanem Vaejah nations --who still have no "roadmap" demanded for them by the world to better their future. Arabs must have almost two dozen states--including one born on at least part of what was earlier promised to be an Independent Kurdistan instead (Iraq)--but Kurds are simply ignored (or worse) in this regard by an assortment of users and abusers...both locally and from afar.
     As I began reading Hamma's own labor of love (I know of those things too), I noticed important names and events which I was already familiar with surfacing in the words of this modern day Kurdish freedom fighter, or peshmerga.
     Follow these excerpts from the Hebrew Bible's Book of Esther (the Megillah), which is read around early spring each year, to commemorate the rescue of  the Jews in ancient Iran to see what I mean...
     And it came to pass in the days of Achashverosh... who ruled from Hodu to Cush, one hundred and twenty-seven provinces...when Achashverosh sat on his royal throne, which was in Shushan (Susa) the capital, in the third year of his reign, he made a feast for all his ministers and servants; the army of Persia and Media, the nobles and all the ministers of the provinces in his service.
     After these events, King Achashverosh promoted Haman, son of Hamdata, the Agagite and placed his seat above all his fellow ministers... All the king's servants...bowed before Haman, for so had the king commanded...but Mordechai would not kneel or bow...he had told them that he (would never bow )because he was a Jew.
     When Haman saw that Mordechai would not kneel or bow before him, Haman was filled with wrath. But he thought it contemptible to kill only Mordechai, for they had informed him of Mordechai's nationality. Haman sought to annihilate all the Jews, Mordechai's people, throughout Achashverosh's entire kingdom... Haman said to King Achashverosh, 'There is one nation scattered and dispersed among the nations throughout the provinces of your kingdom, whose laws are unlike those of any other nation and who do not obey the laws of the King. It is not in the King's interest to tolerate them.  If it please the King, let [an edict] be issued for their destruction...'
     Jews have had to deal with many Hamans over the course of their long history--including those who walk Planet Earth right now. At least one, indeed, currently lives in the same place where Haman lived.
     Corroboration is very important to historians. I have written about ancient corroboration, by other peoples, of Hebraic accounts in earlier years. One example, also involving ancient Iran and the Jews, is worth mentioning again given what's happening these days with the Iran of Ahmadinejad and the mullahs vis-a-vis Israel.
     Here are some excerpts from the Kurash Prism, the decree of Cyrus the Great for the return of the Jews to the current nation of Israel in 539 BCE. This version is found in the CAIS website, the Circle Of Ancient Iranian Studies...
     I am Kurash, King of the World, Great King,...King of Babilani, King of Kiengir and Akkade, King of the four rims of the earth, Son of the region from as far as Assura and Susa, Akkade, Eshnunna, the towns Zamban, Me-turnu, Der as well as the region of the Gutians, I returned to these sacred cities on the other side of the Tigris the sanctuaries of which have been ruins for a long time, the images which used to live therein and established for them permanent sanctuaries. I also gathered all their former inhabitants and returned them to their habitations. Furthermore, I resettled upon the command of Marduk, the great lord, all the gods of Kiengir and Akkade whom Nabonidus had brought into Babilani to the anger of the lord of the gods, unharmed, in their former temples, the places which make them happy.
     Now, follow these events in the Jews' own writings in the Hebrew Bible, Ezra 1:1-8 :
     In the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord inspired King Cyrus of Persia to issue this proclamation throughout his kingdom...: "Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia: "All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord, the God of heaven, has given to me, and he has also charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever belongs to any part of his people, let him go up, and may his God be with him! Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin and the priests and Levites---everyone, that is, whom God had inspired to do so---prepared to go up to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. All their neighbors gave them help in every way, with silver, gold, goods, and cattle, and with many precious gifts besides all their free-will offerings. King Cyrus, too, had the utensils of the house of the Lord brought forth which Nebuchadnezzar had taken away from Jerusalem and placed in the house of his god. let's return to Hamma's book...
     I will never hear The Megillah being read again during Purim without thinking about my Kurdish friends...Remember King Achashverosh in the Book of Esther?
     Check out  these excerpts and paraphrases from Hamma's Story # 10, "Emperor Cyaxares I Plan To Liberate the Medians from the Scythians"...
     Cyaxares invited Madius (the Scythian ruler and subjugator of Medes) and a large number of his warriors to a festival...many laid down their arms and became drunk, but no Median warriors did so...When Cyaxares called out "Ahashverosh," the code word for the attack, the Medes attacked...Most Scythians were killed, some seized and arrested.
     Cyaxares became known as the liberator of the Median people and was reinstated as the King of Kings of the Median Empire. He was nicknamed Ahashverosh, or Ahasuerus, for his attack on the Scythians. Aha means "now" and shverosh means "revolution" or "revolt."
     Subsequent chapters or "stories" discuss Cyrus, Queen Vashti, Assyria, Babylonia, Esther, and so forth...all important to the history of the Jews as well. Since I have not completed the book yet, I am sure that there will be other revelations yet to come.
     The search for historical truth is tedious, exciting, and often leads us in directions unknown before. An open mind is always essential if truth is indeed what is sought.
     Despite our best efforts, lots of "facts" will remain forever missing or open to various interpretations. And, as the saying goes, behind every myth, there is usually an element of truth. Among other things, the study of history involves an exploration of this latter relationship. It is especially exhilarating when the pieces all start to come together--hence, the importance of corroborative evidence. So, as just one last example for now, while scholars may debate the exact relationship between the Habiru / Apiru of ancient Egyptian and other peoples' correspondence with vassals in the very area where the Hebrews were invading (and at about the same time) after the Exodus, such discoveries as those in the above Tel el-Amarna tablets and elsewhere are valuable indeed.
     I am thankful to Hamma for opening yet another one of those doors for me in the study of my own people's history as well as that of his own.
     The stories of his new book, The Return of the Medes--An Analysis of Iranian History and that of my own, The Quest For Justice In The Middle East--The Arab-Israeli Conflict in Greater Perspective, focus on the plight of two ancient peoples for a slice of the justice pie which history had/has long denied them. Both aim for a future in which the relative rights of all peoples in the region can at last be achieved--for the benefit of the Middle East and beyond...                


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