Persian Empire Map

Map of the Persian Empire at its height around 500 B.C.

The Medo-Persian empire is considered the most powerful of the ancient empires. At the height of its power, during the reign of Darius I the Great, the empire controlled more than 2.9 million square miles (7.5 million square kilometers) of land and spanned three continents: Asia, Africa and Europe. Its control extending eastward into India and reached westward to Greece. Its capitals were Persepolis and Susa, with its kings sometimes residing in Babylon.

It is estimated that in 480 B.C. the empire had 50 million people living until its control. This hugh amount was roughly 44% of the world's population at the time - making Persia the largest empire by population percentage.
Kings of the
Persian Empire
Ruler / King Dates reigned
Cyrus the Great 559 - 530  Conquered the Median Empire in 549 B.C. and the Babylonian empire in 539. Issued decree allowing Jews in captivity to return to Jerusalem.
Cambyses II 529 - 522   
Darius I
the Great
521 - 486  Rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem resumes and is completed (Ezra 6:15). Under Darius' reign the empire reaches its peak in power and land controlled.
Xerxes I 485 - 465    
Artaxerxes I 464 - 424 Authorized his cupbearer, Nehemiah the prophet, to rebuild Jerusalem's walls.
Darius II Nothius423 - 405   
Artaxerxes II 404 - 359 Longest reigning Persian king.
Artaxerxes III 358 - 338  
Artaxerxes IV Arses337 - 336   
Darius III 336 - 330  Last king of the empire. Darius is defeated by Alexander the Great in 331 B.C. at the battle of Arbela near Nineveh. Persia subsequently falls and Alexander captures Babylon.

One of the first acts of King Cyrus the Great, who was a "singularly noble and just monarch," was to authorize the return of the Jews to Jerusalem and to their own land, as is stated in the book of 2Chronicles 36:22-23.

Prophecy and World Empires

The Persians were the second world empire represented in several dreams God gave to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. These dreams so troubled the king that it kept him awake all night. He sought their interpretation amongst his magicians, astrologers and sorcerers - his wise men. There was, however, one catch. These 'wise men' had to first state what the king dreamed BEFORE they gave its meaning! The king was so serious about this matter that he declared if his counselors could not tell him his dream they, and their entire households, would be put to death (Daniel 2:1-5, 10, 12)!

Four of the king's wise men were the prophet Daniel and his three friends. Just before they were also to be killed Daniel told the king that he could tell him what he wanted. After Daniel and his friends prayed to God the secret of the dream - that God was foretelling all the Gentile kingdoms to rule the earth from Babylon to the Beast - was revealed (Daniel 2:27-31, 36-39).

In 539 B.C. - more than sixty years after Nebuchadnezzar's prophetic dream - Cyrus, king of the Persian empire, invaded Babylonia and defeated the Babylonians at Opis. They quickly surrendered and Cyrus' soldiers entered the capital city of Babylon without a fight.

Additional Study Materials
Was the Greek empire
the greatest in history?
Map of Roman Empire
at its peak of power
Map of Palestine
under King Herod
Did Athens ever
lead a world power?
Bible Answers to Questions  -  Basic Articles  -  Beginners Studies  -  Pictures  -  In-Depth Articles  -  Life of Paul
Maps and Timelines  -  Prophecy  -  Reference Materials  -  Roman Empire  -  The Sabbath  -  Study by Topic
Discount Bookstore  -  FREE books