After a brief look at the web researching Medo-Persia it seems that biblical scholars use Medo-Persia as a term and others use Achaemenid as a term referrring to the same empire. Cyrus gets a lot of love as the uniter of the Medes and Persians, however the empire is still a ‘beast’ in the eyes of God emerging from the seas of chaos. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has this to say about the Achaemenid Persian Empire:
The Achaemenid Persian empire was the largest that the ancient world had seen, extending from Anatolia and Egypt across western Asia to northern India and Central Asia. Its formation began in 550 B.C., when King Astyages of Media, who dominated much of Iran and eastern Anatolia (Turkey), was defeated by his southern neighbor Cyrus II (“the Great”), king of Persia (r. 559–530 B.C.). This upset the balance of power in the Near East. The Lydians of western Anatolia under King Croesus took advantage of the fall of Media to push east and clashed with Persian forces. The Lydian army withdrew for the winter but the Persians advanced to the Lydian capital at Sardis, which fell after a two-week siege. The Lydians had been allied with the Babylonians and Egyptians and Cyrus now had to confront these major powers. The Babylonian empire controlled Mesopotamia and the eastern Mediterranean. In 539 B.C., Persian forces defeated the Babylonian army at the site of Opis, east of the Tigris. Cyrus entered Babylon and presented himself as a traditional Mesopotamian monarch, restoring temples and releasing political prisoners. The one western power that remained unconquered in Cyrus’ lightning campaigns was Egypt. It was left to his son Cambyses to rout the Egyptian forces in the eastern Nile Delta in 525 B.C. After a ten-day siege, Egypt’s ancient capital Memphis fell to the Persians.
The three ribs in the teeth of the beast are thought to be the conquests of the Persians. Specifically the conquests are Lydia, Mesopotamia and Egypt. Heavenly powers direct the Persian Empire and show it favour. We forget how God directs even the most glorious achievements.
5 “And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, ‘Get up and eat your fill of flesh!’
- What does this beast look like?
- How would you describe an empire that is described like this?
- Who is telling the empire to eat its fill of flesh?
- Which empires have represented themselves as bears?
- How might a person become aware of spiritual forces directing empires if they have not read the Bible?