AHASUERUS
Also see Persia | Artaxerxes | Cyrus | Xerxes | Introduction to Esther

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AHASUERUS [Easton Bible Dictionary]

There are three kings designated by this name in Scripture.
* 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.


AHASUERUS [Smith Bible Dictionary]

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. [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 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 influenced the king to put Haman to death and to give the Jews the right of self-defence.


AHASUERUS [Fausset's Bible Dictionary]

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 isKshershe. 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 Ahashverosh equates to the Persian Khshayarsha, 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.


XERXES (Ahasuerus) [ISBE]

zerks'-ez:
The name is an attempt to transliterate into Greek (Xerxes) the Persian Khshayarsha. The same word in unpointed Hebrew took the form 'chshwrsh, probably pronounced 'achshawarash, but at a later time it was wrongly vocalized so as to produce 'achashwerosh, from whence "Ahasuerus" in English versions of the Bible comes.

Xerxes was king of Persia in 485-465 BC. The first part of his reign was marked by the famous campaign into Greece, beginning in 483. After the defeat at Salamis in 480 Xerxes himself withdrew from the expedition and it was finally discontinued in the next year. During the remainder of his reign, Xerxes seems to have spent a listless existence, absorbed in intrigues of the harem, and leaving the government to be carried on by his ministers and favorites (often slaves). He was finally murdered by his vizier and left an unenviable reputation for caprice and cruelty. For the various Biblical references see AHASUERUS .

Burton Scott Easton


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