Persian culture—specifically Magi society—paralleled Jewish culture in some striking ways. Magi society contained two divisions, or Councils. The Lower Council was concerned with priestly/scholarly duties. The Upper Council wielded great influence over Persia’s government. In Jewish culture, the Pharisees were the highest-ranking religious leaders, while the Sanhedrin was the highest Jewish legislative and judicial court.
Unlike virtually every other culture throughout history, Jewish culture did not worship carved images of God. This important distinction created conflict when other countries tried to overtake the Israelite nation. My books allude to some of those events and their consequences. For example, in 168 BC, the Greek king Antiochus IV Epiphanes invaded Jerusalem. He erected a statue of Zeus in the Jews’ Temple and sacrificed a pig on the altar of incense. (That started the Maccabean Revolt.) Sometime near Jesus’ birth, Herod the Great erected a Roman eagle image over the Temple gate. It was cut into pieces late in Herod’s life. He executed the Jewish “offenders,” along with other acts of violence.