“Xerxes was the son of Darius I and Atossa, daughter of Cyrus; he was the first son born to Darius after his accession to the throne. Xerxes was designated heir apparent by his father in preference to his elder brother Artabazanes. When his father died, in 486 BC, Xerxes was about 35 years old and had already governed Babylonia for a dozen years.” (source)
This brings us to his son, Artaxerxes I who ruled over the Israelites. Amestris, the queen rejected by Xerxes, appears to be the mother of Artaxerxes I.
When Artaxerxes I took power, he introduced a new Persian strategy of weakening the Athenians by funding their enemies in Greece. This indirectly caused the Athenians to move the treasury of the Delian League from the island of Delos to the Athenian acropolis. This funding practice inevitably prompted renewed fighting in 450 BC, where the Greeks attacked at the Battle of Cyprus. (source)
After all of these kings, kings, and more kings, coupled with wars, wars, and rumors of wars, Artaxerxes I was now a central character of the Biblical Book of Ezra, appearing also in the Book of Nehemiah.Artaxerxes I, son of Xerxes I, was a central character of the Biblical Book of Ezra, appearing also in the Book of Nehemiah. Click to discover more. #Nehemiah #OldTestament Click To Tweet
Ezra was a priest and scribe at Susa who was sent by Artaxerxes I, along with a significant number of Jewish families, to Jerusalem in order to standardize the Law of Moses. Yes, the Persians wanted the Law of Moses to be established in Israel.
Nehemiah was a high official at Artaxerxes I‘s court, said to be his cupbearer – and so confidante – who was distressed that Jerusalem’s walls were in ruin and the city was left with no defenses.
Artaxerxes I appointed Nehemiah Governor of Judea and sent him to personally oversee the rebuilding of the walls. Because he was in this position of intimate daily connection with Artaxerxes I, even tasting his every drink before it crossed the king’s lips, Nehemiah could ask for a favor, and it would be granted. And so, he did. Next week we’ll examine that request.
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