The Babylonia vs. Egypt Smackdown – A Poem for Haftarah Bo by Rick Lupert

Jeremiah (still not a bullfrog)
told by the Lord (maker of bullfrogs and
Jeremiah, and Egypt, and rivers, and
Babylonia, and Nebuchadnezzar, and
everything really)

that Egypt (former site of all
Israeli construction firms, still conducting
tests after the river turned red, still
working on a backup plan for when the
lights go out, still mourning the loss of
their first born)

is going down (down, as in the Babylonians
are coming down, and on the way they’ll
scoop up our folks for a little exile and
weeping, but when they get into the Sinai
they’re really going to make a nothing
out of everything you’ve got, Pharaoh.)

I don’t think the Babylonians had it
out for us (us, the bagel makers, the
land harvesters, the doers of what
we’re told by the Lord and the ones who
claim to be hearing from the Lord, lest
we get shipped off to Babylonia.)

It’s just that we were in the way (the way,
as in the big area of promised land between
where the Babylonians and Egyptians
separately hang out.) (Hang Out, as in
where they live their lives, conduct their
businesses, eat their food, and hosted their
former slaves or brand new exiles.)

Not to worry says the Lord to Jeremiah
(still, still not a bullfrog) and goes on to
confirm, oh yes, there will be weeping
by the rivers, but, pack light, we’ll be back
in a generation or so.

God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos Angeles poet Rick Lupert created the Poetry Super Highway (an online publication and resource for poets), and hosted the Cobalt Cafe weekly poetry reading for almost 21 years. He’s authored 21 collections of poetry, including “God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion“, “I’m a Jew, Are You” (Jewish themed poems) and “Feeding Holy Cats” (Poetry written while a staff member on the first Birthright Israel trip), and most recently “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) and edited the anthologies “A Poet’s Siddur: Shabbat Evening“,  “Ekphrastia Gone Wild”, “A Poet’s Haggadah”, and “The Night Goes on All Night.” He writes the daily web comic “Cat and Banana” with fellow Los Angeles poet Brendan Constantine. He’s widely published and reads his poetry wherever they let him.


Timeline: A history of Iranian Jews

722 B.C.E.

After Shalmaneser V conquers the kingdom of Israel, a group of captive Jews said to be descendants of the 12 tribes of Israel is sent into exile in Persia.

605-562 B.C.E.

Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire,  conquers Judah and Jerusalem and sends a group of Jews into exile in the city of Isfahan in Persia. A Jewish quarter is built in the city for the Jews, which is named Judea (Yahudieh). The city of Isfahan also has been mentioned as being called Judea by some Islamic historians.

586 B.C.E.

Babylonians destroy the First Temple
in Jerusalem.

537 B.C.E.

After the overthrow of Babylon by the Persian Emperor Cyrus the Great, founder of the Achaemenid Empire, a group of captive Jews, along with the prophet Daniel, is allowed to reside in Iran and practice its religion freely. They settle in the capital city of Susa, southern Iran. The shrine of Daniel is in Susa.

521 B.C.E.

King Cyrus allows the Jewish pilgrims in Persia to return to Israel to rebuild the Second Temple. After his death, the new king of Persia, Darius the Great, orders completion of the construction of the Second Temple. 

486-465 B.C.E.

The third king of the Achaemenid Empire, Ahasuerus, comes to power. Haman and his wife, Zeresh, plot to murder all the Jews of Persia. The plan is foiled by Esther, the Jewish queen of Persia. The Jewish holiday Purim is a remembrance of this event. The tombs of Esther and her cousin Mordecai are in the city of Hamadan, Iran.

520-330 B.C.E.

After the relocation of the capital city in Persia by the Achaemenid Empire kings, the Jews of Iran start moving to new capital cities. Cities such as Shiraz and Hamadan attract many Jews.

330-323 B.C.E.

Greeks led by Alexander invade and conquer Iran. Despite the Iranian cultural conflict with Hellenism, historians agree that Alexander treated the Jews respectfully.

247 B.C.E.-224 C.E.

Brothers Arashk and Tirdat come to power. Arashk is to become the first king of the Arsacid (or Parthian) dynasty. Under the reign of Parthians, Iranian Jews live in prosperity.

135 C.E.

Religious persecution of Jews in Palestine by the Romans brings many Jewish refugees into the Parthian Empire.

226-651 C.E.

The last Parthian king is overthrown by Ardashir I, and the Sassanid dynasty is founded. For the first time in the history of Iran, Jews suffer occasional persecution.

634-1255 C.E.

Arabs invade Iran and suppress all the rebellions. Islamic rules begin to be imposed and conversion to Islam occurs gradually. Jews, along with other religious minorities — Christians and Zoroastrians —  are persecuted, and social restrictions and discriminations are imposed.

1256-1318 C.E.

Mongols capture Persia. The situation for Persian Jews becomes more dangerous when the seventh ruler of the Mongolian Empire, Ghazan Khan, converts to Islam in 1295. Jews are forced to convert to Islam.

1502-1925 C.E.

Safavid and Qajar dynasties come to power. Shia Islam is proclaimed to be the state religion. Mistreatment of Jews continues occasionally. Because of the persecution, thousands of Persian Jews immigrate to Palestine between the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the 19th century, Jews in the city of Mashhad are forced to convert to Islam, but many of them keep practicing Judaism in the privacy of their homes.

1925-1979 C.E.

Pahlavi dynasty comes to power. Modernization and reforms are imposed, and Jewish life starts to improve.

1979 to present

The Islamic Revolution turns the Iranian kingdom into an Islamic republic. Since the revolution, the number of Jews has decreased from 120,000 to fewer than 20,000. Iranian Jews have mostly immigrated to the United States — particularly Los Angeles — and to Israel.

Iranian Jews: The art, culture and history