Persian mythology developed in what is now Iran about 1500 B.C.E. It eventually became the religion called Zoroastrianism from the prophet Zoraster (628 B.C.). He is credited with writing the Yasna Haptanghaiti as well as the Gathas, hymns which are at the core of Zoroastrianism.
Mithra is known as the god of light, justice and war. Mithra means ‘pact, contract, covenant.” Mithra watches over men and their deeds, agreements and contracts. He protects against attacks and controls the cosmic order – night and day and the change of seasons. He is associated with fire and the sun and became known as the sun god in Iran. Mithraism is well-known today because of its growth during the Roman Catholic Empire.
Mithra protects the Kingly Fortune or Divine Glory. Only the legitimate rulers of the Iranians were privileged to possess the Divine Glory. Persian priests of Mithra were called Zoroastrians priests.
He is depicted as riding on a chariot pulled by white horses. He carries a silver spear, wears a golden cuirass and is armed with golden-shafted arrows, axes, maces, and daggers.
The festival of Mithra was the celebration of the autumn equinox. October is named after Mithra.
Ahura Mazda (twin to Mithra)
Ahmadi Muslims view Zoroaster as a prophet of God and describe the expressions of Ahura Mazda, the god of goodness and Ahraman, the god of evil as merely referring to the coexistence of forces of good and evil enabling humans to exercise free will.
Ahura Mazda is known as the Wise Lord. He is the god of absolute goodness, wisdom and knowledge. He is the creator of the sun, the stars, light and dark, humans and animals and all spiritual and physical activities. He is opposed to all evil and suffering.
Think About and Discuss Android Developer Sunil Jain created a totally free application in 2012 that gives a listing of the 101 holy names of Dadar Hormuzd aka Ahura Mazda. Pictures of Ahura are also found on the application. Why do you think this Persian god is being brought back into the modern world?
Where and why do you think the Mazda-named car originated?
The Evil Spirit, who is constantly attempts to destroy the world of truth and to harm men and beasts. Lives in darkness in the north, the home of all demons and he is capable of changing his appearance to that of a lizard, a snake or a youth. Disguised, he fights all that is good and attempts to lure all, into the world of darkness, deceit and lies.
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals YHVH God had made. He said to the woman,’ Did God relaly say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” …. “You will not surely, die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5).
Think About and Discuss How does Angra Mainyu fit into the verses in Genesis 3:4-5. Could it be that the ‘adversary’ has its roots in Zoroastrianism, in Persia, in Iran, the place where the Islamic religion flourishes today? Notice how the ‘evil spirit’ attempts to destroy the world of truth. Read Matthew 4:1-10. What similarities or differences do you see between what happened to Yeshua in the wilderness and the descriptions of the Zoroastrian religion of Persia?
Queen Esther and Persia
“Mordechai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This girl, who was also known as Esther, was lovely in form and features, and Mordechai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died” (Esther 2:7).
Esther, born Jewish with the name of Hadassah is the heroine of the book of Esther. She lived in Persia in the area of modern day Iraq during the exile. She became Queen of Persia when she married King Ahasuerus (Xerxes).
Daniel relates that during the Babylonian captivity Jewish people were given names of Babylonian gods or goddesses. Esther is a name derived from the goddess, Ishtar and means ‘star’.
Think About and Discuss What would be the reason for giving a Jewish girl the name, Esther or Ishtar? How is Ishtar related to Babylon?
What would it be like today if the King of Persia or the modern-day leader of Iraq were to take a Jewish girl as his wife? How do you think he would react if he found out that one of his closest friends had put out an edict to kill all the Jews which included his wife? Do you think times have changed? Yes or no. Why or why not?
Yeshua and Persia
The term Magi was reserved for a tribe of the Medes who were priests for the Persian empire and the Zoroastrian religion. They were sometimes used as envoys to travel to other countries, representing the royal family. They kept calendars, tides, medicine, religion, alchemy. They would have been particularly interested in the night sky and how they reflected upon the events on earth.
“After Yeshua was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:1-2).
In Matthew 2, there is the account that Magi from the east came to Jerusalem to see the baby born king. Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He learned from the that there was a king born in Bethlehem and eventually had all young boys killed in and around the area.
Think About and Discuss Knowing the animosity between Ishmael and Jacob, Israel and the Arab nations, do you find it interesting that the magi lied to King Herod? Why or why not?
Other Persian Gods
Ardvi Sura Anahita
Goddess of all the waters and the source of the cosmic ocean. She drives a chariot pulled by four horses: wind, rain, cloud and sleet. She is regarded as the source of life.
Atar means fire and is the son of Ahura Mazda, the Wise Lord.
Warrior god and messenger of Mithra. Aggressive, victorious force against evil. Carries the chariots of the lords.
God of the wind who chases the Evil Spirit with his sharp spear and golden weapons to protect the good creations of Ahura Mazda. Makes lightning and dawn.
God of rains is personified as the star Sinus or Canis Major. Makes water pour down upon field, upon the whole world, and vapor rising from the sea moves forward in the form of clouds, pushed by the wind.
God who gives health and strength, and who provides rich harvests and sons. His name is that of a plant with healing potency believed to be of the genus Ephedra.
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