("Rages," Tobit 1:14; 4:1,20; 5:5; 6:9,12; 9:2; "Ragau," Judith 1:5,15; Rhagai, Rhaga, Rhage, Rhagau; in Darius' Behistun Inscriptions, II, 71, 72, Raga, a province; in Avesta, Vend. I, 15, Ragha, city and province; perhaps, "the excellent"):
In Eastern Media, one forced march from Caspian Gates, 11 days' journey from Ecbatana, 5 1/2 miles South of present Tehran; the capital of the province of the same name, though by Ptolemy called Rhagiana.
A very ancient city, the traditional birthplace of Zoroaster (Zarathustra; Pahlavi Vendidad, Zad sparad XVI, 12, and Dabistan i Mazahib). In Yasna XIX, 18, of the Avesta, it is thus mentioned:
"The Zoroastrian, four-chief-possessing Ragha, hers are the royal chiefs, both the house-chief, the village-chief, and the town-chief: Zoroaster is the fourth." In Vend. I, 15: "As the tenth, the best of both districts and cities, I, who am Ahura Mazda, did create Ragha, which possesses the three classes," i.e. fire-priests, charioteers, husbandmen. Later it was the religious center of magism. A large colony of captive Israelites settled there. Destroyed in Alexander's time, it was rebuilt by Seleucus Nicator (circa 300 BC), who named it Europos. Later, Arsaces restored it and named it Arsacia.
In the early Middle Ages Ragha, then called Rai, was a great literary and often political center with a large population. It was the birthplace of Harun'al Rashid (763 AD). It was seized and plundered (1029 AD) by Sultan Machmud, but became Tughril's capital. In the Vis o Roman (circa 1048 AD) it is an important place, 10 days journey across the Kavir desert from Merv. It was a small provincial town in about 1220 AD. It was sacked by Mongols in 1220 AD and entirely destroyed under Ghazan Khan circa 1295. A Zoroastrian community lived there in 1278 AD, one of whom composed the Zardtusht-Namah.
(3) Present Condition.
Near the ruins there now stands the village of Shah Abdu'l 'Acim, connected with Tehran by the only railway in Persia (opened in 1888).
Ptolemy, Diodorus Siculus, Pliny, Strabo; Ibnu'l Athir, Jami'u t Tawarikh, Tarikh i Jahan-gusha Yaqut; Justi, Iranisches Namenbuch; E.G. Browne, Literary Hist of Persia; modern travelers.
W. St. Clair Tisdall
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