Esther lived in Iran

I just finished a book called “DNA & Tradition”, by Rabbi Yaakov Kleiman.  The book discusses evidence of Hebrew DNA, and talks about the science and religion of Judaism.  As part of the discussion, I learned these interesting facts.

The oldest diaspora communities are in Assyria, later conquered by Babylonia (now modern-day Iraq) and Persia (now modern day Iran). They have been there for 2000-2500 years.

The story of Purim, described in the Book of Esther occurs in the 5th century BC in Persia. The burial sites of Esther and Mordechai are still venerated in Iran, as well as the prophet Ezekiel.

I also remember that Abraham wandered from Turkey, to Kuwait, to Egypt, to Israel, to Saudi Arabia.  It seems the bible covers quite a geographic diversity.  Nineveh, the city Jonah wanted to destroy, is across the river from Mosul, Iraq.  Mt Ararat is thought to be in Turkey.  It makes me want to go on an Arab/Persian Bible tour.  Anyone want to come?  Are there other biblical stories you can think of that aren’t located in Egypt or Israel?


8 comments on “Esther lived in Iran

  1. Yes, he lived in Iraq. Any others?

  2. How about Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden? Missouri is a long way from Cairo. And pencil me in for the Arab/Persian bible tour.

  3. I talked to my friend from Iran, and she did not know Esther was buried in Iran. I asked about traveling there (and if they might cut off my head) and she said it is a wonderful place. I didn’t really get a good answer for how they feel about Americans.

    I get the impression that she is not very religious. She is a physician, and I don’t think muslims think very highly of women gaining that much education. Perhaps I am mistaken, but to me she seems much more cosmopolitan than the images we see on tv with covered heads, long robes, etc. I would have no idea she was from Iran or muslim if she hadn’t told me.

  4. I think it depends on what country and what culture they were raised in. Turkey, for example, is pretty liberal by Muslim standards, which is why it’s popular with European tourists. It’s not at all unusual for Turkish women to go without the hijab. Another interesting example is Benazir Bhutto. Now there was an educated Muslim woman who managed to do in her lifetime that not even Hillary Clinton could, by becoming Prime Minister of Pakistan. It’s ironic that she managed it in a country that would be among the last that we could imagine it happening.

    I think that such a tour would be fascinating, although I must admit that I’m a bit uneasy about travelling in that part of the world. But of course, there aren’t really too many places in this world that are immune from terrorism.

    It’s too bad, really, that so many of these fascinating places are so inacessible or dangerous to westerners. For example, I think Yemen looks fascinating, but I wouldn’t dare go there now.

    Maybe someday we’ll be amazed that the generation after us will be travelling so freely and safely to such places, sort of like how my dad was amazed when I went to the former East Germany and the Czech Republic. It was unthinkable to him when he was my age.

    As far as non-Egypt or Israel Bible stories, it made me think about a commercial I see on CNN all the time for Armenia. Their slogan is “Noah’s Route, Your Route.” Wondering what they mean by this, I searched a bit and on Wikipedia it says: “Armenia lies in the highlands surrounding the Biblical mountains of Ararat, upon which, according to Judeo-Christian history, Noah’s Ark came to rest after the flood.”

    Ethiopia is also mentioned a lot in the Bible. I think that the stone churches in Ethiopia look fascinating. I have a friend who lived there for 3 years and absolutely loved it.

  5. I’m not familiar with my geography. I thought Mt Ararat was in Turkey–is it in Armenia? Is Armenia next to Turkey?

    I know what you mean about wanting to travel safely. I traveled with a Canadian on a cruise a few years ago, and it makes me want to pretend to be Canadian abroad. He worked for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He did tell us that Canadians are generally welcome in most countries, but there was a country (in Africa, I believe) that didn’t like Canadians. I don’t remember the whole story, but it was a funny story.

    Good catch on Ethiopia. I had forgotten that one. The whole Queen of Sheba story is really interesting. I know that there are some jews in Ethiopia that claim to have the Ark of the Covenant. As the legend goes, the Queen of Sheba had a child with Solomon. Supposedly, the ark was spirited away to Ethiopia to keep it from the Assyrians or Babylonians–I can’t remember which. The son of Solomon was a “rightful” guardian of the ark. Anyway, supposedly, there is a church/synagogue in Ethiopia which contains the ark, but of course, nobody is allowed in to see it except the High Priest, so there is no verification. Perhaps I’ll have to research this some more and make a new blog post….

  6. Armenia borders with Turkey, but I’ve also always understood that Mount Ararat was in Turkey. But I believe that particular mountain range stretches into both countries. I’ll have to look at it more closely on Google Earth.

    I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’ve heard that some Americans that travel abroad sew a little Canadian flag on their backpack (something that a lot of Canadian backpackers tend to do) because they think they’ll be treated better. Canadians probably do it to differentiate themselves from Americans while abroad, believing that we’re better-liked. But I think Canadians are just fooling themselves if they think they’re any more refined or sophisticated than Americans. Except for a few who are bilingual French-English, or happen to speak another language, Canadians are just as bad for assuming that they can get by on English anywhere in the world. Sometimes I’ve seen Americans stick out like a sore thumb different European places, but to be honest, they could be Canadians for all I know. It can be hard to tell us apart. 🙂 And I have to say, I think that Americans (and Canadians) generally have an upper-hand on friendliness and openness over Europeans.

    The African country that guy was referring to was probably Somalia. Back in the 90’s, a Somali teenager was beaten to death by a couple of Canadian soldiers participating in UN humanitarian efforts there. A public inquiry was called and it found problems with the leadership of the Canadian Forces, which led to a huge scandal for the Canadian military and damaged our image abroad. It was a shameful tragedy that I’m sure the Somalis haven’t forgotten.

  7. I’m sorry to hear about that Somali episode. Perhaps you are correct.

    My friend’s wife spoke French/English fluently, and was wonderful to have with us while we toured France. They were a fun couple, and we met them again a few years later in Australia. They also visited us in Utah, and we toured the Olympic sites in Park City, Utah with them, as well as Temple Square. It seems we have lost touch, but you inspire me to regain contact with them.

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