Ahasuerus

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Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

1. The Graecised form is Cyaxares ; king of Media, conqueror of Nineveh; began to reign 634 B.C. Father of Darius the Mede or Astyages , last king of Media, 594 B.C. Tradition says Astyages' grandson was Cyrus, son of his daughter Mandane and a Persian noble, Cambyses, first king of Persia, 559 B.C. Cyrus having taken Babylon set over it, as viceroy with royal state, his grandfather Astyages, or (as chronology requires) Astyages' successor, i.e. Darius the Mede.

2. Cambyses, Cyrus' son, is the second Ahasuerus, 529 B.C. ( Ezra 4:6.) A Magian usurper, impersonating Smerdis, Cyrus' younger son, succeeded; Ahasuerus or Artaxerxes ( Ezra 4:4-7). The Jews' enemies, in the third year of Cyrus ( Daniel 10:12;  Daniel 10:18;  Ezra 4:5), sought by "hired counselors" to frustrate the building of the temple, and wrote against them to Ahasuerus (Cambyses) and Artaxerxes (Pseudo-Smerdis) successively. Ahasuerus reigned seven and a half years.

Then the Magian Pseudo-Smerdis, Artaxeres, usurped the throne for eight months. The Magi being overthrown, Darius Hystaspis succeeded, 521 B.C. ( Ezra 4:24.)

3. Darius Hystaspis' son was Ahasuerus the third or Xerxes (See Esther ), father of Artaxerxes Longimanus ( Ezra 7:1). The gap between Ezra 6 and Ezra 7 is filled up with the book of Esther. The character of Ahasuerus III. much resembles that of Xerxes as described by Greek historians. Proud, self willed, impulsive, amorous, reckless of violating Persian proprieties, ready to sacrifice human life, though not wantonly cruel. As Xerxes scourged the sea and slew the engineers because his bridge over the Hellespont was swept away by the sea, so Ahasuerus repudiated his queen Vashti because she did not violate female decorum and expose herself to the gaze of drunken revelers; and decreed the massacre of the whole Jewish people to please his favorite, Haman; and, to prevent the evil, allowed them in self defense to slay thousands of his other subjects.

In the third year was held Ahasuerus, feast in Shushan ( Esther 1:3): so Xerxes in his third year held an assembly to prepare for invading Greece. In his seventh year Ahasuerus replaced Vashti by marrying Esther ( Esther 2:16), after gathering all the fair young virgins to Shushan: so Xerxes in his seventh year, on his defeat and return from Greece, consoled himself with the pleasures of the harem, and offered a reward for the inventor of a new pleasure (Herodotus 9:108). The "tribute" which he "laid upon the land and upon the isles of the sea" ( Esther 10:1) was probably to replenish his treasury, exhausted by the Grecian expedition.

The name in the Persepolitan arrow-headed inscriptions is Κshershe . Xerxes is explained by Herodotus as meaning "martial"; the modern title "shah" comes from Ksahya , "a king," which forms the latter part of the name; the former part is akin to Shir , a lion. The Semitic Αhashverosh equates to the Persian Κhshayarsha , a common title of many Medo-Persian kings. Darius Hystaspis was the first Persian king who reigned "from India (which he first subdued) to Ethiopia" ( Esther 1:1); also the first who imposed a stated tribute on the provinces, voluntary presents having been customary before; also the first who admitted the seven princes to see the king's face; the seven conspirators who slew Pseudo-Smerdis having stipulated, before it was decided which of them was to have the crown, for special privileges, and this one in particular.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [2]

was the king of Persia, who advanced Esther to be queen, and at her request delivered the Jews from the destruction plotted for them by Haman. Archbishop Usher is of opinion that this Ahasuerus was Darius Hystaspes; and that Atossa was the Vashti, and Artystona the Esther, of the Scriptures. But, according to Herodotus, the latter was the daughter of Cyrus, and therefore could not be Esther; and the former had four sons by Darius, besides daughters, born to him after he was king; and therefore she could not be the queen Vashti, divorced from her husband in the third year of his reign, nor he the Ahasuerus who divorced her. Besides, Atossa retained her influence over Darius to his death, and obtained the succession of the crown for his son, Xerxes; whereas Vashti was removed from the presence of Ahasuerus by an irrevocable decree,  Esther 1:19 . Joseph Scaliger maintains that Xerxes was the Ahasuerus, and Hamestris his queen, the Esther, of Scripture. The opinion is founded on the similitude of names, but contradicted by the dissimilitude of the characters of Hamestris and Esther. Besides, Herodotus says that Xerxes had a son by Hamestris that was marriageable in the seventh year of his reign; and therefore she could not be Esther. The Ahasuerus of Scripture, according to Dr. Prideaux, was Artaxerxes Longimanus. Josephus positively says that this was the person. The Septuagint, through the whole book of Esther, uses Artaxerxes for the Hebrew Ahasuerus wherever the appellation occurs; and the apocryphal additions to that book every where call the husband of Esther Artaxerxes; and he could be no other than Artaxerxes Longimanus. The extraordinary favour shown to the Jews by this king, first in sending Ezra, and afterward Nehemiah, to relieve this people, and restore them to their ancient prosperity, affords strong presumptive evidence that they had near his person and high in his regard such an advocate as Esther.

Ahasuerus is also a name given in Scripture,  Ezra 4:6 , to Cambyses, the son of Cyrus; and to Astyages, king of the Medes,  Daniel 9:1 .

Smith's Bible Dictionary [3]

Ahasue'rus. (Lion-King). The name of one Median and two Persian kings mentioned in the Old Testament.

1. In  Daniel 9:1, Ahasuerus is said to be the father of Darius the Mede. See Darius . This first Ahasuerus is Cyaxares, the conqueror of Nineveh. (Began to reign B.C. 634).

2. The Ahasuerus king of Persia, referred to in  Ezra 4:6, must be Cambyses, thought to be Cyrus' successor, and perhaps his son. (B.C. 529).

3. The third is the Ahasuerus of the book of Esther. This Ahasuerus is probably Xerxes of history,  Esther 1:1. (B.C. 485), and this conclusion is fortified by the resemblance of character and by certain chronological indications, the account of his life and character agreeing with the book of Esther.

In the third year of Ahaseuerus, was held a great feast and assembly in Shushan, the palace,  Esther 1:3, following a council held to consider the invasion of Greece. He divorced his queen, Vashti, for refusing to appear in public at this banquet, and married, four years afterwards, the Jewess Esther, cousin and ward of Mordecai.

Five years after this, Haman, one of his counselors, having been slighted by Mordecai, prevailed upon the king to order the destruction of all the Jews in the empire. But before the day appointed for the massacre, Esther and Mordecai influenced the king to put Haman to death and to give the Jews the right of self-defence.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [4]

Ahasuerus ( A-Hăs-U- Ç'Rus ), Lion-King, the name of one Median and two Persian kings mentioned in the Old Testament. 1. In  Daniel 9:1 Ahasuerus is said to be the father of Darius the Mede. The first Ahasuerus is Cyaxares, the conqueror of Nineveh, b.c. 634. 2. The Ahasuerus, king of Persia, referred to in  Ezra 4:6, must be Cambyses, thought to be Cyrus' successor, and perhaps bis son. b.c. 529. 3. The third is the Ahasuerus of the Book of Esther. This Ahasuerus is probably Xerxes of history,  Esther 1:1, b.c. 485, and this conclusion is favored by the resemblance of character and by certain chronological indications, the accounts of his life and character agreeing with the book of Esther. In the third year of Ahasuerus was held a great feast and assembly in Shushan the palace,  Esther 1:3, following a council held to consider the invasion of Greece. He divorced his queen Vashti for refusing to appear in public at this banquet, and married, four years afterwards, the Jewess Esther, cousin and ward of Mordecai. Five years after this, Hainan, one of his counsellors, having been slighted by Mordecai, prevailed upon the king to order the destruction of all the Jews in the empire. But before the day appointed for the massacre, Esther and Mordecai induced the king to put Haman to death, and to give the Jews the right of self-defence.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [5]

1. Father of Darius, incidentally named in  Daniel 9:1 . It is supposed that the word Ahasuerus is an appellative, or official title, as Pharaoh was in Egypt, and that the person referred to is the Cyaxares of history, king of Media.

2. Persian king to whom the enemies of the Jews made their accusation against those in Judah and Jerusalem.  Ezra 4:6 . He is supposed to be Cambyses, son of Cyrus.

3. Persian king who "reigned from India even unto Ethiopia," and took the Jewish maiden Esther to be his queen. He is held to have been Xerxes, son of Darius Hystaspis. This was in the seventh year of his reign, the year when he returned from his unsuccessful expedition against Greece. His rash conduct in repudiating his queen because she would not violate the decorum of her sex, and his giving up the whole of the Jewish people to the pride of Haman, agrees with his folly in scourging the sea and putting the engineers to death because a storm injured the bridge they had made. See ESTHER. For the succession of the Persian kings see Persia

Easton's Bible Dictionary [6]

  • The father of Darius the Mede, mentioned in  Daniel 9:1 . This was probably the Cyaxares I. known by this name in profane history, the king of Media and the conqueror of Nineveh.
  • The king mentioned in  Ezra 4:6 , probably the Cambyses of profane history, the son and successor of Cyrus (B.C. 529).
  • The son of Darius Hystaspes, the king named in the Book of Esther. He ruled over the kingdoms of Persia, Media, and Babylonia, "from India to Ethiopia." This was in all probability the Xerxes of profane history, who succeeded his father Darius (B.C. 485). In the LXX. version of the Book of Esther the name Artaxerxes occurs for Ahasuerus. He reigned for twenty-one years (B.C. 486-465). He invaded Greece with an army, it is said, of more than 2,000,000 soldiers, only 5,000 of whom returned with him. Leonidas, with his famous 300, arrested his progress at the Pass of Thermopylae, and then he was defeated disastrously by Themistocles at Salamis. It was after his return from this invasion that Esther was chosen as his queen.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [7]

A royal title, common to several Median and Persian kings named in Scripture.

1. The father of Dares the Mede,  Daniel 9:1 . The most probable opinion is that the name here designates Astyages, the grandfather of Cyrus. See below, and Darius I

2. Mentioned  Ezra 4:6 , the son and successor of Cyrus; probably Cambyses, who reigned seven and a half years from B. C. 529.

3. The husband of Esther, most probably Xerxes. Commentators have been much divided, and have understood under this name all the Persian kings in succession. But the other kings of Persia are all mentioned in Scripture by their own names, or at least definitely pointed out; while Xerxes is not mentioned, unless under this name. Besides, recent researches show that Hebrew word for Ahasuerus is readily formed from the Persian name of Xerxes, the name Xerxes being only a Greek corruption of the Persian. See Esther .

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [8]

Known also as Xerxes I, Ahasuerus ruled over the Persian Empire from 486 to 465 BC. At that time the Jews had returned from exile and the temple in Jerusalem had been rebuilt (completed in 516 BC). The completion of the city walls, however, awaited the governorship of Nehemiah (who arrived in Jerusalem in 445 BC). Ahasuerus is therefore not involved in the events narrated in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, though he is referred to in  Ezra 4:6. He is the king who features in the story of Esther. (For further details see Esther ; Persia .)

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [9]

AHASUERUS (old Pers. Khshayârshâ ). The Persian king (b.c. 485 465) known to Greek history as Xerxes . Complaints against the Jews were addressed to him (  Ezra 4:6 ). It is he who figures in the Book of Esther;   Daniel 9:1 erroneously makes him father of Darius the Mede, confusing the latter with Darius Hystaspis, the father of Xerxes. The Ahasuerus of Tob 14:15 is Cyaxares.

J. Taylor.

Holman Bible Dictionary [10]

XerxesPersia

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [11]

(Hebrew Achashverosh', אֲחְְשׁיֵרוֹשׁ , prob. the Hebrew form of Xerxes;  Tobit 14:15, Ἀσύηρος ), the name, or rather the Title, of three or four Median and Persian monarchs in the Bible. (See Media); (See Persia). The true native orthography of the name Xerxes, long a subject of dispute (Simonis Lex. V. T. p. 580; Jahn, Einleit. Ins A. T. p. 299; Pott, Etymol. Forsch. 1, 65; Hyde, Rel. Vet. Pers. p. 43), has recently been brought to light from the cuneiform inscriptions of Persepolis (Grotefend, in Heeren's Ideen, 1, 2, pl. 4), where it is written Khshyarsha (Niebuhr, 2, p. 24), or Ksharsa (Lassen, Keilschr. p. 23), which seems to correspond to the modern Persian Shyr-Shah, Lion-King (Gesenius, Thes. Heb. p. 75), corresponding nearly to the interpretation, Ἀρήϊος , given by Herodotus (6, 98). It may be of service here to prefix a chronological table of the Medo- Persian kings from Cyaxares to Artaxerxes Longimanus, according to their ordinary classical names. The Scriptural names conjectured to correspond to them are added in italics. (See Cuneiform Inscriptions); (See Hieroglyphics).

1. Cyaxares, king of Media, son of Phraortes, grandson of Deioces, and conqueror of Nineveh, began to reign B.C. 634. "Ahasuerus" 4.

2. Astyages his son, last king of Media, B.C. 594. "Ahasuerus" 1 .

3. Cyrus, son of his daughter Mandane and Cambyses, a Persian noble, first king of Persia, 559. "Cyrus." 4. Cambyses his son, 529. "Ahasuerus" 2.

5. A Magian usurper, who personates Smerdis, the younger son of Cyrus, 521. "Artaxerxes" 1.

6. Darius Hystaspis, raised to the throne on the overthrow of the Magi. 521. "Darius" 2.

7. Xerxes, his son, 485. "Ahasuerus" 3.

8. Artaxerxes Longimanus (Macrocheir), his son, 465-495. "Artaxerxes" 2.

1. The First Ahasuerus (Sept. Ἀσούηρος , Theodotion Ξέρξης ) is incidentally mentioned in  Daniel 9:1 as the father of Darius (q.v.) the Mede. It is generally agreed that the person here referred to is the ASTYAGES (See Astyages) (q.v.) of profane history. (Jehring, in the Biblioth. Brem. 8, 565 sq.; Bertholdt, Excurs. Zum Daniel 2, 848 sq.) According to others, however (Rawlinson's Herodotus, 1, ess. 3, § 11), his father, Cyaxares (q.v.), is meant, as in  Tobit 14:15.

2. The Second Ahasuerus (Sept. Ἀσσούηρος ) occurs in  Ezra 4:6, where it is said that in the beginning of his reign the enemies of the Jews wrote an accusation against them, the result of which is not mentioned (Havernick, Einleit. 2, 1:296). Chronologers have been very much divided in identifying this prince with those mentioned in profane history (Prideaux's Connection; Gray's Key; Tomline's Elements; Hale's Analysis; Ussher's Annals); so much so that some author or another has sought to identify him in turn with each personage in the line of Persian kings, unless it be Cyrus and Smerdis. The form of the word favors Xerxes, but this is inconclusive, as it is rather a Title than a distinctive proper name. The account of Josephus (Ant. 12, 6) favors the popular identification with Artaxerxes Longimanus, but his testimony is mere opinion in such a case, and this king is elsewhere mentioned in this very book of Scripture ( Ezra 7:1) by his usual name. The order of time in the sacred narrative itself requires us to understand CAMBYSES (See Cambyses) (q.v.), son of Cyrus, who came to the throne B.C. 529, and died after a reign of seven years and five months. His character was proverbially furious and despotic. Much confusion has been caused by mistaking this Ahasuerus for the following (Stud. u. Krit. 1847, 3, 660, 669, 678).

3. The Third Ahasuerus (Sept. Ἀρταξέρξης ) is the Persian king of the book of Esther. The chief facts recorded of him there, and the Dates of their occurrence, which are important in the subsequent inquiry, are these: In the third year of his reign he made a sumptuous banquet for all his nobility, and prolonged the feast for 180 days. Being on one occasion merry with wine, he ordered his queen, Vashti, to be brought out, to show the people her beauty. On her refusal thus to make herself a gazing-stock, he not only indignantly divorced her, but published an edict concerning her disobedience, in order to insure to every husband in his dominions the rule in his own house. In the seventh year of his reign he married Esther, a Jewess, who, however, concealed her parentage. In the twelfth year of his reign his minister Haman, who had received some slights from Mordecai the Jew, offered him 10,000 talents of silver for the privilege of ordering a massacre of the Jews in all parts of the empire on an appointed day. The king refused this immense sum, but acceded to his request; and couriers were despatched to the most distant provinces to enjoin the execution of this decree. Before it was accomplished, however, Mordecai and Esther obtained such an influence over him that he so far annulled his recent enactment as to despatch other couriers to empower the Jews to defend themselves manfully against their enemies on that day; the result of which was that they slew 800 of his native subjects in Shushan, and 75,000 of them in the provinces. (See Jour. Sac. Lit. July, 1860, p. 385 sq.)

The same diversity among chronologers has existed with reference to the identification of this Ahasuerus as with the preceding, with whom he has usually been confounded. But the circumstances under which he is mentioned do not well comport with those under which any other of the Persian kings are introduced to us in Scripture. Now from the extent assigned to the Persian empire ( Esther 1:1), "from India even unto Ethiopia," it is proved that Darius Hystaspis is the earliest possible king to whom this history can apply, and it is hardly worth while to consider the claims of any after Artaxerxes Longimanus. But Ahasuerus cannot be identical with Darius, whose wives were the daughters of Cyrus and Otanes, and who in name and character equally differs from that foolish tyrant. Josephus (Ant. 11, 6, 1) makes him to be Artaxerxes Longimanus; but as his twelfth year ( Esther 3:7) would fall in B.C. 454, or 144 years after the deportation by Nebuchadnezzar, in B.C. 598 ( Jeremiah 52:28), Mordecai, who was among those captives ( Esther 2:6), could not possibly have survived to this time. Besides, in  Ezra 7:1-7;  Ezra 7:11-26, Artaxerxes, in the Seventh year of his reign, issues a decree very favorable to the Jews, and it is unlikely, therefore, that in the Twelfth ( Esther 3:7) Haman could speak to him of them as if he knew nothing about them, and persuade him to sentence them to an indiscriminate massacre. Nor is the disposition of Artaxerxes Longimanus, as given by Plutarch and Diodorus (11, 71), at all like that of this weak Ahasuerus. It therefore seems necessary to identify him with XERXES (See Xerxes) (q.v.), whose regal state and affairs tally with all that is here said of Ahasuerus (the names being, as we have seen, identical); and this conclusion is fortified by the resemblance of character, and by certain chronological indications (see Rawlinson's Hist. Evidences, p. 150 sq.).

As Xerxes scourged the sea, and put to death the engineers of his bridge because their work was injured by a storm, so Ahasuerus repudiated his queen, Vashti, because she would not violate the decorum of her sex, and ordered the massacre of the whole Jewish people to gratify the malice of Haman. In the third year of the reign of Xerxes was held an assembly to arrange the Grecian war (Herod. 7, 7 sq.); in the third year of Ahasuerus was held a great feast and assembly in Shushan the palace ( Esther 1:3). In the seventh year of his reign Xerxes returned defeated from Greece, and consoled himself by the pleasures of the harem (Herod. 9, 108); in the seventh year of his reign "fair young virgins were sought" for Ahasuerus, and he replaced Vashti by marrying Esther. The tribute he "laid upon the land and upon the isles of the sea" ( Esther 10:1) may well have been the result of the expenditure and ruin of the Grecian expedition. Throughout the book of Esther in the Sept. Artaxerxes is written for Ahasuerus, but on this no argument of any weight can be founded. (See Esther).

Xerxes was the second son of Darius Hystaspis, whom he succeeded on the throne about B.C. 486, and was succeeded by his son Artaxerxes Longimanus about B.C. 466 (omitting the seven months' reign of the usurper Artabanus). He is famous in history from his memorable invasion of Greece at the head of an army of more than three millions, who were repulsed by the little band of Spartans at Thermopylae, and, after burning the city of Athens, were broken to pieces, and the remnant, with the king, compelled to return with disgrace to Persia (Baumgarten, De fide Esth. p. 141 sq.; De Wette, Einleit. 1, 274; Petavius, Doctrina Temp. 15, 27; Kelle, Vindic. Esth. Freib. 1820; Rambach, Annotat. 2, 1046; Bertholdt, Einleit. 5, 2422; Scaliger, Emend. Temp. 1. 6; Justi, Neue Abhandl. 1, 38 sq.; Gesenius, Thes. Heb. 1, 75).

4. The Fourth Ahasuerus ( Ἀσούηρος ) is mentioned ( Tobit 14:15), in connection with Nabuchodonosor (i.e. Nabopolassar), as the destroyer of Nineveh (Herod. 1, 106); a circumstance that points to CYAXARES (See Cyaxares) (q.v.) I (Polyhistor Ap. Syncell. p. 210), a Median king, son of Phraortes, and father of Astyages (Ilgen, Comment. in loc.).

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [12]

Ahasue´rus or Achashverosh is the name, or rather the title, of four Median and Persian monarchs mentioned in the Bible.

The first Ahasuerus is incidentally mentioned, in  Daniel 9:1, as the father of Darius the Mede. It is generally agreed that the person here referred to is the Astyages of profane history. See the article Darius.

The second Ahasuerus occurs in  Ezra 4:6, where it is said that in the beginning of his reign the enemies of the Jews wrote an accusation against them, the result of which is not mentioned. The Persian king here meant seems to be the immediate successor of Cyrus, the frantic tyrant Cambyses, who came to the throne B.C. 529, and died after a reign of seven years and five months.

The third Ahasuerus is the Persian king of the book of Esther. The chief facts recorded of him there, and the dates of their occurrence, which are important in the subsequent inquiry, are these: In the third year of his reign he made a sumptuous banquet for all his nobility, and prolonged the feast for 180 days. Being on one occasion merry with wine, he ordered his queen Vashti to be brought out, to show the people her beauty. On her refusal to violate the decorum of her sex, he not only indignantly divorced her, but published an edict concerning her disobedience, in order to insure to every husband in his dominions the rule in his own house. In the seventh year of his reign he married Esther, a Jewess, who, however, concealed her parentage. In the twelfth year of his reign, his minister Haman, who had received some slights from Mordecai the Jew, offered him 10,000 talents of silver for the privilege of ordering a massacre of the Jews in all parts of the empire on an appointed day. The king refused this immense sum, but acceded to his request; and couriers were dispatched to the most distant provinces to enjoin the execution of this decree. Before it was accomplished, however, Mordecai and Esther obtained such an influence over him, that he so far annulled his recent enactment as to dispatch other couriers to empower the Jews to defend themselves manfully against their enemies on that day; the result of which was, that they slew 800 of his native subjects in Shushan, and 75,000 of them in the provinces.

Although almost every Medo-Persian king, from Cyaxares I down to Artaxerxes III (Ochus), has in his turn found some champion to assert his title to be the Ahasuerus of Esther, some have contended on very plausible grounds that Darius Hystaspes is the monarch referred to. But in the first place, it is impossible to find the name of Darius in Achashverosh; and, in the second, the moral evidence is against him. The mild and just character ascribed to Darius renders it highly improbable that, after favoring the Jews from the second to the sixth year of his reign, he should become a senseless tool in the hands of Haman, and consent to their extirpation. Lastly, we read of his marrying two daughters and a grand-daughter of Cyrus, and a daughter of Otanes—and these only; would Darius have repudiated one of these for such a trifle, when his peculiar position, as the first king of his race, must have rendered such alliances indispensable?

The whole question, therefore, lies between Xerxes and his successor, Artaxerxes Longimanus. As Artaxerxes allowed Ezra to go to Jerusalem with a colony of exiles in the seventh year of his reign ( Ezra 7:1-7); and as he issued a decree in terms so exceedingly favorable to the religious as well as civil interests of the Jews ( Ezra 7:11-26), how could Haman, five years afterwards, venture to describe the Jews to him as a people whom, on the very account of their law, it was not for the king's profit to suffer? And how could Haman so directly propose their extermination, in the face of a decree so signally in their favor, and so recently issued by the same king? especially as the laws of the Medes and Persians might not be altered! Again, as Artaxerxes (assuming always that he is the Artachshast of  Ezra 7:1, and not Xerxes) was capable of such liberality to the Jews in the seventh year of his reign, let us not forget that, if he is the Ahasuerus of the book of Esther, it was in that same year that he married the Jewess. Now, if—by taking the first and tenth months in the seventh year of the king (the dates of the departure of Ezra, and of the marriage of Esther) to be the first and tenth months of the Hebrew year (as is the usual mode of notation), and not the first and tenth from the period of his accession—we assume that the departure of Ezra took place after his marriage with her, his clemency might be the effect of her influence on his mind. Then we have to explain how he could be induced to consent to the extirpation of the Jews in the twelfth year of his reign, notwithstanding that her influence still continued, for we find it evidently at work in the twelfth year. But if, on the other hand, his indulgence to Ezra was before his marriage, then we have even a greater difficulty to encounter. For then Artaxerxes must have acted from his own unbiassed lenity, and his purposed cruelty in the twelfth year would place him in an incongruous opposition with himself. As we, moreover, find Artaxerxes again propitious to their interests, in the twentieth year of his reign—when he allowed Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem—it is much easier to believe that he was also favorably disposed to them in the twelfth. At any rate, it would be allowing Esther a long time to exercise an influence on his disposition, if his clemency in the twentieth year was due to her, and not to his own inclination. Besides, the fact that neither Ezra nor Nehemiah gives the least hint that the liberal policy of Artaxerxes towards them was owing to the influence of their countrywoman, is an important negative point in the scale of probabilities. In this case also there is a serious difficulty in the name. As Artaxerxes is called Artachshast in Ezra and Nehemiah, we certainly might expect the author of the book of Esther to agree with them in the name of a king whom they all had had such occasion to know. Nor is it perhaps unimportant to add, that Norberg asserts, on the authority of native Persian historians, that the mother of Bahman, i.e. Artaxerxes Longimanus, was a Jewess. This statement would agree excellently with the theory that Xerxes was Ahasuerus. Lastly, the joint testimony borne to his clemency and magnanimity by the acts recorded of him in Ezra and Nehemiah, and by the accordant voice of profane writers, prevents us from recognizing Artaxerxes in the debauched, imbecile, and cruel tyrant of the book of Esther.

On the ground of moral resemblance to that tyrant, however, every trait leads us to Xerxes. The king who scourged and fettered the sea; who beheaded his engineers because the elements destroyed their bridge over the Hellespont; who so ruthlessly slew the eldest son of Pythius because his father besought him to leave him one sole support of his declining years; who dishonored the remains of the valiant Leonidas; and who beguiled the shame of his defeat by such a course of sensuality, that he publicly offered a reward for the inventor of a new pleasure—is just the despot to divorce his queen because she would not expose herself to the gaze of drunken revelers; is just the despot to devote a whole people, his subjects, to an indiscriminate massacre; and, by way of preventing that evil, to restore them the right of self-defense (which it is hard to conceive how the first edict ever could have taken away), and thus to sanction their slaughtering thousands of his other subjects.

There are also remarkable coincidences of date between the history of Xerxes and that of Ahasuerus. In the third year of his reign the latter gave a grand feast to his nobles, which lasted 180 days ( Esther 1:3); the former, in his third year, also assembled his chief officers to deliberate on the invasion of Greece. Again, Ahasuerus married Esther at Shushan, in the seventh year of his reign: in the same year of his reign, Xerxes returned to Susa with the mortification of his defeat, and sought to forget himself in pleasure—not an unlikely occasion for that quest for fair virgins for the harem ( Esther 2:2). Lastly, the tribute imposed on the land and isles of the sea also accords with the state of his revenue exhausted by his insane attempt against Greece. In fine, these arguments, negative and affirmative, render it so highly probable that Xerxes is the Ahasuerus of the book of Esther, that to demand more conclusive evidence, would be to mistake the very nature of the question.

The fourth Ahasuerus is mentioned in  Tobit 14:15, in connection with the destruction of Nineveh. That circumstance points out Cyaxares I as the person intended.

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