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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [1]

the son of Cyrus, king of Persia. He succeeded his father, A.M. 3475, and is the Ahasuerus mentioned in  Ezra 4:6 , to whom, as soon as he came to the crown, the Samaritans applied by petition, desiring that the rebuilding of Jerusalem might be stopped. What the motives were which they made use of to prevail upon this prince, we are ignorant; but it is certain, that though he was not persuaded to revoke his father's decree, yet he put a stop to the works, so that for the remaining seven years and five months which he reigned, the building of the city and temple was suspended. See Ahasuerus .

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [2]

( Καμβύσης , a Gracized form of the old Persic Kabujiya, a "bard," Rawlinson, Hercdotms, in, 455), the second Persian monarch of the name, was the son of Cyrus the Great (but by what mother is disputed), whom he succeeded, B.C. 530. In the fifth year of his reign he invaded Egypt, taking offense, according to Herodotus (3:1), at the refusal of Amasis, the father of Psammenitus, the then reigning Egyptian king, to give him his daughter in marriage; but the real cause of the campaign (comp. Herodotus, 1:77) was the ambition of Cambyses (see Dahlmann, Herod. p. 148) to accomplish the design of his father in recovering this portion of Nebuchadnezzar's conquests (see Jeremiah 43; Jeremiah 46; Ezekiel 29-32; comp. Newton, On the Prophecies, 1:357). (See Cyrus). Egypt was subdued, according to Ctesias, through treachery; according to Panteenus (7:9), by intrigue; but according to Herodotus, in a pitched battle, after which the whole country, as also the Cyrenians and Barcans, submitted to him. He proceeded to execute his design of reducing Ethiopia also, but was compelled to retreat for want of provisions, his attack on Carthage having likewise failed through the refusal of his Phoenician allies to co-operate with him against their own colony. He was thus defeated in his plans, which doubtless contemplated the securing to Persia the caravan trade of the Desert (Herod. 2:1; 3:1-26; Ctesias, Pers. 9; Justin. 1:9; comp. Heeren's African Nations, 1:6). Diodorus says, indeed, that he penetrated as far as Merob, and even founded that city, naming it after his mother; but this statement is equally incorrect (see Strabo, p. 790) with that of Josephus, who says he changed its name to Meroe in honor of his sister (Ant. 2:10, 2). The conduct of Cambyses after this exhibited the darkest character of tyranny to such an extent that the Egyptians, whom he ruled with an iron sway (comp.  Isaiah 19:4), attributed to him madness as the punishment of his impiety, and even the Persians ever after styled him the "despot" ( Δεσπότης , Herod. 3:89). Indeed, he appears to have been subject to epileptic fits from his birth (Herod, 3:8), and his behavior evinced a violence of temper bordering upon frenzy.' He is said to have married his own sisters, and to have brutally killed one of them for bewailing the execution of his own brother Smerdis by his order. His atrocities provoked an insurrection, headed by one of the Magian priests, who assumed the name of the murdered prince "Smerdis" (q.v.); and, as Cambyses was marching to put down the pretender, he died at Ecbatana of an accidental wound in the thigh, B.C. 521, leaving no heir (Herod. 3:61sq. Ctesias, Excerpt. Pers., gives a somewhat different account of his end, and also makes his reign eighteen years; but Clemens Alexandrinus, Strom.1:895, says he reigned ten years). (See Persia). He is named Kabujiya on the Persian tablet of the Behistun inscription (Rawlinson, Herod. 2:492,493). (See Cuneiform Inscriptions). His name also appears on the Egyptian monuments in a royal cartouch. (See Hieroglyphics).

Cambyses is probably the "Ahasuerus" mentioned in  Ezra 4:6, as the Persian king addressed by the enemies of the Jews for the purpose of frustrating the rebuilding of the Temple, B.C. 529. Josephus also calls this monarch Cambyses, The Son Of Cyrus, and he gives the correspondence between the king and his Syrian viceroys in detail (Ant. 11:2:1 and 2), which he has evidently blended with that which took place with his successor, the pseudo-Smerdis ("Artaxerxes,"  Ezra 4:7 sq.), since he does not name the latter, but only alludes to the usurpation of the Magians in the interval before the accession of Darius Hystaspis (Ib. in, 1). (See Ahasuerus).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [3]

kam - bı̄´sēz (Aram., כנבנזי; Persian, Kambujiya  ; Assyrian, Kambuzia  ; Egyptian, Kambythet  ; Susian, Kanpuziya ): The older son of Cyrus, king of Persia. Some have thought that he is the Ahasuerus of   Ezra 4:6 . This seems to be most improbable, inasmuch as the Hebrew form of Ahasuerus is the exact equivalent of the Old Persian form of Xerxes, and we have no evidence that Cambyses was ever called Xerxes.

Ancient authorities differ as to who was the mother of Cambyses. It is variously said that she was Cassandane, a Persian princess, Amytis, a Median princess, or Nititis, a daughter of Apries king of Egypt. He had one brother, Bardes or Smerdes, whom he put to death secretly shortly after his accession, probably because of an attempted rebellion. Cambyses organized an expedition for the conquest of Egypt, which was rendered successful by internal treachery and by the aid of the Phoenician, Cyprian and Greek fleets. During this campaign Cambyses seems to have acted with good generalship and with clemency toward the conquered. After the subjugation of Egypt, Cyrene and Barca, the modern Tripoli, submitted to his sway. He then desired to undertake the conquest of Carthage, but was compelled to give it up, because his Phoenician allies, without whose ships it was impossible for him to conduct his army in safety, refused to join in an attack upon a country that had been colonized by them. He is said to have sent an army of 50,000 men against the oasis of Jupiter Ammon. This army is said to have perished in the sands. A little less unsuccessful expedition was made against Ethiopia. After some initial successes, Cambyses was forced to return to Egypt with the shattered remains of his army. He found that the Egyptians were in revolt, led by their king Psammetichus III, whose life he had formerly spared. This revolt was put down with great harshness, the Egyptian king being taken and executed, and many of the temples being destroyed. Shortly after this, Cambyses heard that a certain Magian, who claimed to be his brother Smerdes whom he had secretly put to death, had set himself up as king of Persia, and that almost the whole of his Asiatic dominions had acknowledged him as king. With the fragments of his army he started toward Persia to attack the usurper, but on the way was killed by a wound inflicted by himself, it is uncertain whether by accident or with intention. His general and cousin, Darius Hystaspis, soon put down the false Smerdis and reigned in his stead.

For two or more years Cambyses was king of Babylon, while his father was king of the lands. The son was a drunkard and subject to fits of unbridled passion, but seems to have been of good capacity as a general and as an administrator. Many of the tales that have been told against him were doubtless invented by his enemies, and he has left us no records of his own. That he married his own sisters is probable; but it must be remembered that this was the custom of the Egyptian kings of that time and may have been of the Persian kings as well. As to his conduct in Egypt, the only contemporary Egyptian authority says that he worshipped before the holiness of Neit as all the pious kings had done, that he ordered that the temple of Neit should be purified, and that its revenues should be restored as they had been before they had been confiscated by Akhmes for his Greek troops. He adds also that not merely were the strangers who had taken up their abode in the temple of Neit ejected from her sanctuary, but that their goods were taken away and their houses destroyed. Darius Hystaspis, the only other contemporary source of information, says of him simply that he was the son of Cyrus, of the same father and mother as Bardes, whom he slew secretly at some time before he set out on his Egyptian campaign; and that he died by suicide shortly after he had heard of the rebellion of Persia, Media and the other provinces against him, and of the establishment of Gaumata the Magian as king under the claim that he was "Barzia, the son of Cyrus and brother of Cambyses."

The name of Cambyses is found in three of the Elephantine papyri recently published (September, 1911) by Professor Sachau of Berlin. The fragment numbered 59 1 is so broken that it is impossible to make out the connection or the sense. In papyrus I, we are told that when Cambyses came to Egypt he found in the fortress of Yeb (Elephantine) a temple or synagogue ( 'agōra' ), which had been built in the days of the Egyptian kings; and that although he had torn down the temples of the Egyptian gods, he had allowed no harm to be done to that of Yahweh. The third papyrus is so interesting, because of its mention of Bagoas, the Persian governor of Jerusalem in 407 bc, who had hitherto been known only from Josephus, and of Dalayah the son of the Sanballat who opposed the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem in the time of Ezra-Nehemiah, that we shall now give a translation of it in full: "A memorial of that which Bagoas and Dalayah said to me: Thou shalt say in Egypt unto Arsames with regard to the house of the altar of the God of heaven that was built in the fortress of Yeb before the time of Cambyses and which the accursed(?) Waidrang destroyed in the 14th year of Darius the king, that it shall be built again upon its place as it was before, and that meal-offerings and incense-offerings shall be offered upon that altar as they used to be."


For further information as to the history of Cambyses see Rawlinson, Ancient Monarchies  ; Prasek, Geschichte der Meder und Perser  ; the Behistun inscription in the editions of the various recensions by Bezold, Spiegel, Weisbach, Thomson, and King; Herodotus; Josephus; the Sachau papyri; and Petrie, History of Egypt , III.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [4]

Camby´ses [AHASUERUS]