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Susa also called Shushan, usually referred to as the citadel of Susa, was the capital of the Persian Empire and location of the Royal Palace, belonging to Persian kings, most notably King Xerxes. Susa was located in the Persian the province of Elam and had many Elamites (descendants of Shem's son Elam) living in the city [1][2]. Also large amounts of Jews from the remnant of Judah lived in the city of Susa rather than returning to their home in Jerusalem. This city was very culturally and ethnically diversified containing populations groups such as the Jewish, the Elamites, Persians and some presence of almost every ethnic group present throughout the Empire. The city Susa was a heavily fortified city and was often referred to as a fortress or citadel.

History

Foundation

The city of Susa was founded sometime before the nation of Persia became prominent over the Babylonian Empire. The city of Susa was the provincial headquarters for the Persian province of Elam and was largely populated by Elamites. Due to this it is likely that the city was founded by ancestor's of Noah's grandson, and Shem's son Elam.

Prophecy in the city

By the time of the Babylonian besiegement of Jerusalem the Persian Empire was recognized as a rivaling nation and in it the citadel of Susa. This is evident, because in the Book of Daniel, Daniel records a vision where he sees himself in the city of Susa [1]. In order to identify the city Daniel likely would've been knowledgeable about the city, explainable because of his close connection to the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, who would have had much knowledge concerning his rival empire. If Daniel had not been familiar with the city then revelation from the Holy Spirit contributed to the identification of the city as Susa.

In his vision, Daniel describes himself next to the Ulai Canal [1], which flowed near the city. In the prophetic dream, Daniel saw next to the canal a two-horned ram [3] who charged in various directions [4]. A goat then came and attacked the ram, killing it [5].

Then from the Ulai canal the Angel Gabriel gave [6] an interpretation of the vision, explaining how the ram was Median Persia and the goat Greece [7]. While the prophecy was more concerned about the overall symbolism of the empires themselves, all of the events are seen in Susa near the Ulai Canal. Further the city being present in the prophecy with the Ram charging around it is only symbolic of the power seat that was held in the city.

Jewish Prevalence in the city

After one year since Persia had conquered the Babylonian Empire, King Cyrus gave a decree permitting all Jews to return to Jerusalem. Though Ezra recorded masses of Israelites returning, a large populous stayed throughout the Persian empire. Susa eventually became a very prevalent city for Persian-Jews to live. One notable Jew who lived in Susa was the prophet Nehemiah who recorded parts of his book there[8], before returning to Jerusalem.

Xerxes Rule

One of the most biblically documented periods of the city of Susa is under the Persian rulership of King Xerxes[9]. Once during Xerxes rules he held a banquet in the city at his palace[10]. During this 180 day banquet[11] all of the high government officials were in the city. Large crowds of people from the lower to the upper class were present in the city during this grand celebration[12].

During the party, Xerxes or Ahasuerus became drunk and so requested his wife Vashti to come and present herself before all the government officials and the people in the city[13], so that they may admire her beauty while she wore her royal crown. The queen had held her own party inside the adjacent Royal Palace[14], but refused to come outside to the courtyard, leading to her being deposed[15].

Needing a replacement wife, a decree from Xerxes was dispatched from Susa throughout the entire kingdom[16], which suggests Susa was also the communication logistics center for all of Persia.

Characteristics

Susa was usually referred to as the "citadel of Susa" and it is because of this it is assumed that it was heavily fortified. Being the capital city of the entire Persian Empire it was probably the military headquarters of the Persian Army. The Royal Palace likely dominated the city in both space and functions of the city. The Royal Palace had an enclosed garden for the specific purpose of keeping the privacy of the King and his guests separate from the city[12]. This also suggests the King's Palace was within the city itself.

Verses

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Daniel 8:2
  2. Ezra 4:9 (Link)
  3. Daniel 8:3 (Link)
  4. Daniel 8:4 (Link)
  5. Daniel 8:5-7 (Link)
  6. Daniel 8:15-16 (Link)
  7. Daniel 8:19-22 (Link)
  8. Neh 1:1 (Link)
  9. Esther 1:2 (Link)
  10. Esther 1:3 (Link)
  11. Esther 1:4 (Link)
  12. 12.0 12.1 Esther 1:5
  13. Esther 1:11 (Link)
  14. Esther 1:9 (Link)
  15. Esther 1:21 (Link)
  16. Esther 1:22 (Link)

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