Thursday, October 15, 2009

T) King Cyrus in the Koran

Should we be astonished that Cyrus is honorably mentioned in the Koran1, however not by his name Cyrus but as "Dhool-Qarnain" (verses 82ff), literally the Lord of the Two Horns? This title cannot refer to Alexander the Great, as suggested by Western scholars and partly taken up by Moslems, too. The description of the wars the Dhool-Qarnain of the Koran waged, does not fit at all Alexander's wars. It depicts accurately Cyrus' wars. Moreover, the title "Lord of the Two Horns" does not make any sense in connection with Alexander, but it may well refer to Cyrus' kingship of the Medo-Persian double monarchy2; or to his accepting the title "King of Babel(Babylon)" besides "King of Persia".

Relating the term "Dhool-Qarnain" to the two titles "King of Persia" and "King of Babel (Babylon)" would have also a spiritual dimension: Babel was founded as a spiritual kingdom in confrontation to what Shem and 'Eber represent. Since Babylon represented at that time also what is known in English as Babel, Babylon's surrender to Cyrus who prepared for restoring the Temple could be interpreted as an admittance of his political and spiritual supremacy. The term "Dhool-Qarnain", or "Lord of the Two Horns", would then describe his kingship of the two spiritual entities, i.e. the kingdom of Persia which supported Israel, and of Israel's antagonist, Babylon, now subdued.

However, the latter was subdued militarily and politically only. The ill spiritual endeavor of Babel's adherents, "to build a tower with its head in the heavens", so as to "make a name unto themselves"3, continued throughout history, till our days. History proved that Alexander's Greece, and later on Rome, linked much more up to Babel than to Cyrus' Persia. As this was known at the time Rassul Muhammed referred to him as Dhool-Qarnain, we may safely conclude that this term describes him as King of Persia and King of Media.

It seems to me there is significance to the fact that "Dhool Qarnain" is mentioned in a Sura entitled "The Cave". As its predominant subject appears the story of some men, he amongst them, who got hidden in a cave for several hundred years and who, after they came out, were not recognized by the new generation nor could they familiarize therewith. Isn't that – perhaps intentionally – accurately depicting what happened with Cyrus? True, he is known in history as The Great, but he is quite unknown as "Anointed of the Lord": in that nomination of his he is like hidden away in a cave; and unrecognized even when he comes out from it. Besides Prophet Isaiah, it is the Koran’s intention to remind us of him. – May it be mentioned here that the Koran is in line with the Hebrew Bible in all respects, including Ishmael’s specific call.

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