Definitions

Ahasuerus

Ahasuerus

[uh-haz-yoo-eer-uhs, uh-has-, uh-hazh-oo-; Seph. Heb. ah-khahsh-ve-rawsh; Ashk. Heb. ah-khuhsh-vey-ruhsh]
Ahasuerus, Hebrew form of the name Xerxes, as used in the Bible. The Ahasuerus in the Book of Esther is probably Xerxes I. That in the Book of Tobit may be Cyaxares I, destroyer of Nineveh. The name of the father of Darius the Mede is also given as Ahasuerus.
Persian Khshayarsha

Xerxes I, detail of a bas-relief of the north courtyard in the treasury at Persepolis, late elipsis

(born circa 519 BC—died 465 BC, Persepolis) Persian king (486–465 BC) of the Achaemenian dynasty. The son of Darius I, he had been governor of Babylon before his succession. He ferociously suppressed rebellions in Egypt (484) and Babylonia (482). To avenge Darius's defeat by the Greeks at the Battle of Marathon, he spent three years raising a massive army and navy. When a storm destroyed the bridges he had built to cross the Hellespont, he had them rebuilt and for seven days oversaw the crossing of his army, numbering 360,000 troops by modern estimates, supported by more than 700 ships. The Persians broke through at the Battle of Thermopylae and pillaged Athens, but then lost their navy at the Battle of Salamis (480). Xerxes returned to Asia, leaving the army behind; it withdrew after its defeat at the Battle of Plataea (479). In Persia he began an extensive building campaign at Persepolis. Drawn unwittingly into palace intrigues, he killed his brother's family at the queen's demand. He was murdered by members of his court. His setback in Greece was regarded as the beginning of the decline of the Achaemenid dynasty.

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Ahasuerus (Latin:Xerxes, Persian: Khashayarshah, commonly transliterated Achashverosh) is a name used several times in the Hebrew Bible, as well as related legends and apocrypha.

Equivalence of the names Ahasuerus and Xerxes

The name Ahasuerus is equivalent to Xerxes, both deriving from the Persian Khashayarshah. The form Xerxes has not traditionally appeared in English bibles, but has rather appeared as Ahasuerus. Many other translations and paraphrases have used the name Xerxes. This name or title (i.e. Ahasuerus) applied in the Hebrew Scriptures to three different rulers. The same name (or title) is also applied uncertainly to a Babylonian official noted at the Apocryphal book of Tobit.

The name Xerxes comes to us directly from the Greek Ξέρξης. The English name Ahasuerus is derived from the Latin transliteration of the Hebrew Áchashwerosh (אחשורוש). This in turn is the Hebrew equivalent of the Babylonian Achshiyarshu: both this and the Greek Ξέρξης are transliterations from the Old Persian Xšayāršā (also spelt Khsayârshâ). Thus this literary change was created as the name moved across each of the language groups in a westerly direction from Persia until it entered English translations of the Bible.

In the Bible

Book of Esther

Ahasuerus is given as the name of the King of Persia in the Book of Esther. 19th century Bible commentaries generally identified him with Xerxes I of Persia,, although this assumption is now rejected by other scholars. The Greek version of the Book of Esther refers to him as Artaxerxes, and the historian Josephus relates that this was the name by which he was known to the Greeks. Similarly, the Midrash of Esther Rabba, I, 3 identifies the King as Artaxerxes. The Ethiopic text calls him Arťeksis, usually the Ethiopic equivalent of Artaxerxes. Bar-Hebraeus identified him as Artaxerxes II, a view strongly supported by the 20th century scholar Jacob Hoschander. . An inscription from the time of Ataxerxes II records that he was also known as Arshu understood to be a shortening of the Babylonian form Achshiyarshu derived from the Persian Khshayarsha. (Xerxes). The Greek historians Ctesias and Deinon noted that Artaxerxes II was also called Arsicas or Oarses respectively similarly understood to be derived from Khshayarsha, the former as the shortened form together with the Persian suffix -ke applied to such shortened names.

Book of Ezra

Ahasuerus is also given as the name of a King of Persia in the Book of Ezra. Jewish tradition regards him as the same Ahasuerus of the Book of Esther; the Ethiopic text calls him Arťeksis, as it does the above figure in Esther. 19th century Bible scholars suggested that he might be Cambyses II.

Book of Tobit

In some versions of the deuterocanonical Book of Tobit, Ahasuerus is given as the name of an associate of Nebuchadnezzar, who together with him, destroyed Niniveh just before Tobit's death. A traditional Catholic view is that he is identical to the Ahasuerus of Daniel 9:1 In the Codex Sinaiticus Greek (LXX) edition, the two names in this verse appear instead as one name, Ahikar (also the name of another character in the story of Tobit). Other Septuagint texts have the name Achiachar. Western scholars have proposed that Achiachar is a variant form of the name "Cyaxares I of Media", who historically did destroy Nineveh, in 612 BC.

Book of Daniel

Ahasuerus is given as the name of the father of Darius the Mede in the Book of Daniel. Josephus names Astyages as the father of Darius the Mede, and the description of the latter as uncle and father-in-law of Cyrus by mediaeval Jewish commentators matches that of Cyaxares II, who is said to be the son of Astyages by Xenophon. Thus this Ahasuerus is commonly identified with Astyages. He is alternatively identified, together with the Ahasuerus of the Book of Tobit, as Cyaxares I, said to be the father of Astyages. Views differ on how to reconcile the sources in this case. One view is that the description of Ahasuerus as the "father" of Darius the Mede should be understood in the broader sense of "forebear" of "ancestor." Another view notes that on the Behistun Inscription, "Cyaxares" is a family name, and thus considers the description as literal, viewing Astyages as an intermediate ruler wrongly placed in the family line in the Greek sources.

In legend

In some versions of the legend of the Wandering Jew, his true name is held to be "Ahasuerus.

See also

References

External links

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