THE Medes and the Persians are referred to repeatedly in the Scriptures because they pursued a policy of religious toleration that served to fulfill Bible prophecy.
Jehovah had permitted the Jews to be taken into captivity by Babylon, a nation that did not release captive peoples. Yet, God also had foretold Jewish restoration to their homeland. (Jer 27:22; 30:3) Medo-Persia, referred to in the Bible symbolically as a bear (Da 7:5), served Jehovah’s purpose in this regard.
Shortly after Babylon’s fall, Persian King Cyrus decreed that the formerly captive Jews could return to their homeland and rebuild Jehovah’s temple. (Ezr 1:2-4) Darius I later honored this decree. (Ezr 6:1-11) King Ahasuerus (evidently Xerxes I), when properly informed, signed a decree that thwarted a scheme to exterminate the Jews. (Es 7:3–8:14) In 455 B.C.E., King Artaxerxes Longimanus granted permission for Nehemiah to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls, thus beginning the prophetic countdown to the appearance of the Messiah.—Ne 2:3-8; Da 9:25.