Daily Israel Report

Iran Plans on Destroying Tomb of King Cyrus, Friend of the Jews

Iran is planning on submerging the tomb of King Cyrus (Coresh), known for authorizing the Jewish return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Holy Temple.
By Ezra HaLevi
First Publish: 1/13/2008, 2:59 PM

Iran is planning on submerging the tomb of King Cyrus (Coresh), the Persian King known for authorizing the Jewish exiles to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Holy Temple.

According to a report by Omedia, an Iranian organization is demanding that the International Criminal Court take action against those responsible.

The Iranian ayatollahs are planning on destroying the tomb as part of a general campaign to sever the Persian people from their non-Islamic heritage; Cyrus was thought to be a Zoroastrian and was one of the first rulers to enforce a policy of religious tolerance on his huge kingdom. Journalist Ran Porat quoted a young Iranian who said that the measures being taken by the Islamic Republic’s regime include the destruction of archaeological sites significant to this heritage.

“The government is in the final stages of constructing a dam in southern Iran that will submerge the archaeological sites of Pasargad and Persopolis – the ancient capital of the Persian Empire,” the report states. “The site, which is considered exceptional in terms of its archaeological wealth and historical importance, houses the tomb of the Persian King Cyrus.”

Cyrus, who lived from 576-530 BCE, liberated Babylonian Jewry from their exile in the famous Declaration of Cyrus (mentioned in the book of Ezra in both Hebrew and Aramaic).

A group of Iranian academics opposed to the regime’s policies founded a group called the Pasargad Heritage Foundation with hopes of getting the United Nations involved in protecting the historical site. Most recently, the foundation filed a petition with the International Criminal Court against the Iranian official in charge of maintaining the sites, charging him and his bureau with "crimes against humanity, due to the systematic state-sanctioned destruction of the culture of the ancient Iranian world and its historical heritage."

Though the city of Pasargad is a ruin, Cyrus’s Tomb has remained largely intact and it has been partially restored to counter its natural deterioration over the years.
 
Cyrus was praised in the Tanach (Isaiah 45:1-6), though he was also criticized for believing the false report of the Cuthites, who wanted to halt the building of the Second Temple. They accused the Jews of conspiring to rebel, so Cyrus in turn stopped the construction of the temple, which would not be completed until 516 BCE, during the reign of Darius the Great, the grandson of Queen Esther.