Iranian Jews (Persia)

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Iranian Jews (Persia)

Judaism is among the oldest religions practiced in Iran and the Biblical Book of Esther contains references to the experiences of the Jews in Persia. Jews have had a continuous presence in Iran since the time of Cyrus the Great of the Achaemenid Empire. Cyrus invaded Babylon and freed the Jews from Babylonian captivity. The history of immigrant Jews to Iran goes back to more than 3000 years ago. According to the most recent Iranian census, the Jewish population of Iran is 8,756.

The beginnings of Jewish history in the area of present-day Iran date back to late biblical times. The biblical books of Isaiah, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronicles, and Esther contain references to the life and experiences of Jews in Persia. In the book of Ezra, the Persian kings are credited with permitting and enabling the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their Temple; its reconstruction was affected "according to the decree of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia" (Ezra 6:14). This great event in Jewish history took place in the late sixth century BCE, by which time there was a well-established and influential Jewish community in Persia.

Ayatollah Khomeini met with the Jewish community upon his return from exile in Paris, when heads of the community, disturbed by the execution of one of their most distinguished representatives, the industrialist Habib Elghanian, arranged to meet him in Qom. At one point he said:

"In the holy Quran, Moses, salutations upon him and all his kin, has been mentioned more than any other prophet. Prophet Moses was a mere shepherd when he stood up to the might of pharaoh and destroyed him. Moses, the Speaker-to-Allah, represented pharaoh's slaves, the downtrodden, the mostazafeen of his time.”

At the end of the discussion, Khomeini declared that "We recognize our Jews as separate from those godless, bloodsucking Zionists." and issued a fatwa decreeing that the Jews were to be protected.

Jews are protected in the Iranian constitution and allowed one seat in the Majlis. After Israel, it is home to the second-largest Jewish population in the Middle East.

131:5.1 Zoroaster was himself directly in contact with the descendants of the earlier Melchizedek missionaries, and their doctrine of the one God became a central teaching in the religion which he founded in Persia. Aside from Judaism, no religion of that day contained more of these Salem teachings.

97:10.2 When the Jews had been freed by the Persians they returned to Palestine only to fall into bondage to their own priest-ridden code of laws, sacrifices, and rituals. And as the Hebrew clans rejected the wonderful story of God presented in the farewell oration of Moses for the rituals of sacrifice and penance, so did these remnants of the Hebrew nation reject the magnificent concept of the second Isaiah for the rules, regulations, and rituals of their growing priesthood.

Rickey H. Crosby (Petitor Veritatis)