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A Revelation

December 28, 2009
Having worked with the topic for some months, I had built the argument for giving greater weight to Zoroastrianism as a background contributor to Hebrew, Christian and Muslim Scriptures, based largely on new evidence from the Quran, and also on the reasonable presumption of a warm mutuality between Jewish and Zoroastrian priests in Babylon. But I was frustrated at the apparent lack of hard evidence of this from the Torah itself. On the night of November 21, 2009 I went to bed with this concern on my mind and in my prayers, and a “revelation” was given to me in the middle of that night. This might seem like a strange occurrence for a moderate mainstream Protestant, but it is not beyond imagining that God revealed to me that some form of the name of Zoroaster is indeed found in the Hebrew Scriptures.

We live in a grand and rambling old house with a library in the attic on the fourth floor, where I keep two or three prized possessions: a Bishops’ Bible from 1558, the classic Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1911), and The Family Bible Encyclopedia (Curtis, 1972) an ecumenical undertaking which I regard as one of the best biblical resources ever published – but which was so expensively produced that it went bankrupt almost immediately. I dreamed that I was going up to check on the revelation that I would find the proof concerning the occurrence of Zoroaster in the Torah in the latter of these resources.

I awoke and went to the library, smiling at myself, expecting to find nothing, and was of course confirmed in my expectation that no entry existed under the name of Zoroaster. But my eye fell on Zerubbabel, an entry about the grandson of King Jehoiachin, the last monarch of the Southern kingdom of Judah. Born in Babylon and thoroughly immersed in its culture, even the name of Zerubbable was not Hebrew but Persian, strange for the presumptive heir to the throne of these homesick exiles. In fact, it was young Zerubbable who would eventually be called upon by the new Persian Zoroastrian rulers of Babylon to lead the Jewish people back to Jerusalem, and it was he who would be entrusted with a vast treasure, a government grant large enough to rebuild the city and resettle the inhabitants. He also rebuilt the “sanctuary” in Jerusalem, this time as a “temple,” not a Zoroastrian fire temple exactly, but a place of sacrifice adapted to the model of the temples of the benefactor whose theology had been adopted or integrated into that of Israel.

I felt I had been guided to this entry. Then at the bottom of the page I was thrilled to note that the alternate spelling of his name in English is Zorobable, used in the New Testament and the Apocrypha, among other places, and translated as Zoro of Babylon, a clear eponym for Zoroaster, right there in the royal family of Judah, an obvious usage of the name of the Zoroastrian founder and prophet. I realized subsequently that Zorobable is the spelling rendered in the Greek Septuagint version of the Hebrew Scriptures, adopted in the Latin, French and most other languages, while English Bibles follow the Hebrew tradition with a transliteration of the Persian spelling. But nowhere have I found adequate reference to what is now an obvious and important connection between Zoro Aster and Zoro of Babylon. Nothing but the most intimate relationship between these two religions and their priests can explain the giving of this name to a royal son who would be entrusted with the resources to rebuild the city and also the religion of the Jews, one considered a messianic figure by many Jews. Indeed, the very concept of a messiah / saviour is increasingly regarded as of Zoroastrian origin, as we will see.

This appeared to cinch my argument, along with recent appreciations that the Pharisee movement also had its origins in the Persian era of Babylon, and that they are the Farsi, Parsee, Pharisee or the “Persian” party who maintained the Zoroastrian doctrines of Judgment and Resurrection to Paradise. One could ignore the linguistic alliteration were it not for universally accepted evidence that the Pharisees movement began in Persia and the “coincidence” that their much of their theology is Zoroastrianism in a Hebrew context.

The fact that the Torah, Gospel and Quran all begin with opening chapters not copied from the Avesta Scriptures, but clearly related to this Persian source is what I am working to articulate at present, but meanwhile I invite input from linguists and others regarding the name Zorobabel, and also in reference to the name of the Pharisees. You can contribute to this discussion by clicking on instructions below this entry (my preference), or by emailing me directly, as most collaborators seem to prefer, which is also fine.
Posted by: Brian Arthur Brown