Even powerful kings don’t live forever. Other powerful men ascended to the throne in the capital of what was now called Persia, and these people impacted the Israelites, and so, they ended up in the Bible with more than one mention.
“Long before Esther’s time, the people of Israel and Judah (later called Jews) had been dispersed throughout the Near East by the Assyrians and the Babylonians. Eventually the Persians absorbed nearly all of these lands into their empire, which reached its greatest extent during the time of Esther.”1.
After his death, Nebuchadnezzar’s son took the throne, ruling from 562 – 560 B.C., a short reign.
Nebuchadnezzar’s son Evil-Merodach committed all sorts of sordid and vicious acts, died, and was succeeded by Neriglissar (560 – 556 B.C.). Labaski-Marduk then reigned from 556 to 539 B.C., a long reign for this lineage. Nabonidus, also spelled Nabu-Naʾid (“Reverer of Nabu”) was king of Babylonia until Babylon fell to Cyrus, king of Persia. In 539 B.C. Less than a century after its founding, the legendary Persian king Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon.
The fall of Babylon was complete when the empire came under Persian control.
“Xerxes I, in Old Persian Khshayarsha, known by the name Xerxes the Great, (born c. 519 B.C.—died 465, Persepolis, Iran), Persian king (486–465 B.C.), the son and successor of Darius I. He is best known for his massive invasion of Greece from across the Hellespont (480 BCE), a campaign marked by the battles of Thermopylae, Salamis, and Plataea. His ultimate defeat spelled the beginning of the decline of the Achaemenian Empire.
Esther gave up her ability to marry a man of her own people, to mother her children as a Jewish woman, and instead Esther found herself chosen by the most powerful man in the world, possibly Xerxes I, one who seemed to favor her people. There was nothing romantic about this. Xerxes I‘s wife Amestris was a Persian queen, mother of Achaemenid King of Kings Artaxerxes I of Persia.
Amestris died in 424 BC. She was of Iranian nationality. She eventually was buried in the Tomb of Xerxes I in Iran. Together with Xerxes I, they had several children: Artaxerxes I, Amytis of Persia, Darius, Hystaspes, Rodoguna, and Darios. All are considered to be Iranian. Their Place of burial: Tomb of Xerxes I, Iran.
“Amestris was the daughter of Otanes, one of the seven noblemen reputed to have killed the magus who was impersonating King Bardiya in 522 BC. After this, Darius I the Great of Persia assumed the throne. According to Herodotus, Otanes was honoured with royal marriages. Darius I married Otanes’ daughter Phaedymia while Otanes married a sister of Darius, who gave birth to Amestris.
When Darius died in 486 BC, Amestris was married to the crown prince, Xerxes. Herodotus describes Amestris as a cruel despot:
“I am informed that Amestris, the wife of Xerxes, when she had grown old, made return for her own life to the god who is said to be beneath the earth by burying twice seven children of Persians who were men of renown.” — Herodotus, Histories 7.114
Yikes! If this was Xerxes I’s wife, no wonder he was seeking for a replacement.
Upon the discovery of the equivalence of the names Ahasuerus and Xerxes, some Bible commentators began to identify Ahasuerus with Xerxes I and Vashti with the wife named Amestris mentioned by Herodotus. From the artistic depiction of Vashti/Amestris, she isn’t a woman to be trifled with.
It would appear that Esther became the beautiful Jewish wife of the Persian king Ahasuerus (Xerxes I). Her cousin, or other relative, Mordecai persuaded the king to retract an order for the general annihilation of Jews throughout the empire. The massacre had been plotted by the king’s chief minister, Haman the Amalekite or Agagite, the date decided by casting lots (purim)(source).
Haman was the last Amalekite of the tribe of people who had tried since ancient times to eradicate the Jews from existence, beginning when they journeyed through the wilderness. The Amalekites pursued them to harm them.
Amalekite, member of an ancient nomadic tribe, or collection of tribes, described in the Old Testament as relentless enemies of Israel, even though they were closely related to Ephraim, one of the 12 tribes of Israel. The district over which they ranged was south of Judah and probably extended into northern Arabia.
According to the Midrash, the Amalekites were sorcerers who could transform themselves to resemble animals, in order to avoid capture. Thus, in 1 Samuel 15:3, it was considered necessary to destroy the livestock in order to destroy Amalek. In Judaism, the Amalekites came to represent the archetypal enemy of the Jews.
Was Esther the mother of Artaxerxes? This is also a possibility. Or was he a child of Vashti? This research revealed a split on both sides of the question. There’s no way for us to know for certain. We can only speculate. Artaxerxes I, (died 425 BC, Susa, Elam [now in Iran]), after taking over the rule of the Achaemenid king of Persia (reigned 465–425 BC.
- 1Succession to the throne
- 2Egyptian revolt
- 3Relations with Greece
- 4Portrayal in the Book of Ezra and Nehemiah
- 5Interpretations of actions
- 6Medical analysis
- 8See also
- 10External links
Succession to the throne
Artaxerxes was probably born in the reign of his grandfather Darius I, to the emperor’s son and heir, Xerxes I. In 465 BC, Xerxes I was murdered by Hazarapat (“commander of thousand”) Artabanus, the commander of the royal bodyguard and the most powerful official in the Persian court, with the help of a eunuch, Aspamitres. Greek historians give contradicting accounts of events. According to Ctesias (in Persica 20), Artabanus then accused Crown Prince Darius, Xerxes’s eldest son, of the murder, and persuaded Artaxerxes to avenge the patricide by killing Darius. But according to Aristotle (in Politics 5.1311b), Artabanus killed Darius first and then killed Xerxes. After Artaxerxes discovered the murder, he killed Artabanus and his sons.
Artaxerxes had to face a revolt in Egypt in 460–454 BC led by Inaros II, who was the son of a Libyan prince named Psamtik, presumably descended from the Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt. In 460 BC, Inaros II revolted against the Persians with the help of his Athenian allies, and defeated the Persian army commanded by satrap Akheimenes. The Persians retreated to Memphis, and the Athenians were finally defeated in 454 BC, by the Persian army led by Megabyzus, after a two-year siege. Inaros was captured and carried away to Susa.
Relations with Greece
Themistocles stands silently before Artaxerxes
After the Achaemenid Empire had been defeated at the Battle of the Eurymedon (c. 469 BC), military action between Greece and Persia was at a standstill. 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. After Cimon‘s failure to attain much in this expedition, hostilities ceased. Later sources argue that the purported Peace of Callias was agreed among Athens, Argos and Persia in 449 BC; however, the existence of a formal treaty between the Greek States and Persia is disputed.
Artaxerxes I offered asylum to Themistocles, who was probably his father Xerxes’s greatest enemy for his victory at the Battle of Salamis, after Themistocles was ostracized from Athens. Also, Artaxerxes I gave him Magnesia, Myus, and Lampsacus to maintain him in bread, meat, and wine. In addition, Artaxerxes I gave him Skepsis to provide him with clothes, and he also gave him Percote with bedding for his house. Themistocles would go on to learn and adopt Persian customs, Persian language, and traditions.
Greek Esther 1:1Note: The deuterocanonical portions of the book of Esther are several additional passages found in the Greek translation of the Hebrew book of Esther, a translation that differs also in other respects from the Hebrew text (the latter is translated in the NRSV Old Testament). The disordered chapter numbers come from the displacement of the additions to the end of the canonical book of Esther by Jerome in his Latin translation and from the subsequent division of the Bible into chapters by Stephen Langton, who numbered the additions consecutively as though they formed a direct continuation of the Hebrew text. So that the additions may be read in their proper context, the whole of the Greek version is here translated, though certain familiar names are given according to their Hebrew rather than their Greek form, for example, Mordecai and Vashti instead of Mardocheus and Astin. The order followed is that of the Greek text, but the chapter and verse numbers conform to those of the King James, or Authorized, Version. The additions, conveniently indicated by the letters A–F, are located as follows: A before 1.1; B after 3.13; C and D after 4.17; E after 8.12; F after 10.3.Addition AMordecai’s DreamIn the second year of the reign of Artaxerxes the Great, on the first day of Nisan, Mordecai son of Jair son of Shimei son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, had a dream. He was a Jew living in the city of Susa, a great man serving in the court of the king. He was one of the captives whom King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had taken captive from Jerusalem with King Jeconiah of Judea. And this was his dream: Noises and confusion, thunder and earthquake, tumult on the earth! Then two great dragons came forward, both ready to fight, and they roared terribly. At their roaring every nation prepared for war, to fight against a nation of righteous people. It was a day of darkness and gloom, of tribulation and distress, affliction and great tumult on the earth! And the whole righteous nation was troubled; they feared the evils that threatened them and were ready to perish. Then they cried out to God, and at their outcry, as though from a tiny spring, there came a great river with abundant water; light came, and the sun rose, and the lowly were exalted and devoured those held in honor. Mordecai saw in this dream what God had determined to do, and after he awoke he had it on his mind, seeking all day to understand it in every detail.A Plot against the KingNow Mordecai took his rest in the courtyard with Gabatha and Tharra, the two eunuchs of the king who kept watch in the courtyard. He overheard their conversation and inquired into their purposes and learned that they were preparing to lay hands on King Artaxerxes, and he informed the king concerning them. Then the king examined the two eunuchs, and after they had confessed it, they were led away. The king wrote these things down as a commemoration, and Mordecai wrote an account of them. And the king ordered Mordecai to serve in the court and rewarded him for these things. But Haman son of Hammedatha, a Bougean, who was in great honor with the king, determined to injure Mordecai and his people because of the two eunuchs of the king.End of Addition AArtaxerxes’ BanquetIt was after this that the following things happened in the days of Artaxerxes, the same Artaxerxes who ruled over one hundred twenty-seven provinces from India to Ethiopia.In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
Greek Esther 1:10Dismissal of Queen VashtiOn the seventh day, when the king was in good humor, he told Haman, Bazan, Tharra, Boraze, Zatholtha, Abataza, and Tharaba, the seven eunuchs who served King Artaxerxes,In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
Greek Esther 2:21Now two of the king’s eunuchs, who were chief bodyguards, were upset because of Mordecai’s advancement, and they plotted to kill King Artaxerxes.In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
Greek Esther 3:1Mordecai Refuses to Do ObeisanceAfter these events King Artaxerxes honored Haman son of Hammedatha, a Bougean, and exalted him, and would seat him first among all the king’s Friends.In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
Greek Esther 3:7In the twelfth year of the reign of Artaxerxes, Haman came to a decision and cast lots, taking the days and the months one by one, to fix on one day to destroy the whole people of Mordecai. The lot fell on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar.In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
Greek Esther 3:8Decree against the JewsThen Haman said to King Artaxerxes, “There is a certain nation scattered among the other nations in all your kingdom; their laws are different from those of every other nation, and they do not keep the laws of the king. It is not expedient for the king to tolerate them.In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
Interpretations of actions
Ethnicities of the Empire on the tomb of Artaxerxes I at Naqsh-e Rostam.
Roger Williams, a 17th-century Christian minister and founder of Rhode Island, interpreted several passages in the Old and New Testament to support limiting government interference in religious matters. Williams published The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience, arguing for a separation of church and state based on biblical reasoning. Williams believed that Israel was a unique covenant kingdom and not an appropriate model for New Testament Christians who believed that the Old Testament covenant had been fulfilled. Therefore, the more informative Old Testament examples of civil government were “good” non-covenant kings such as Artaxerxes, who tolerated the Jews and did not insist that they follow his state religion.
By queen Damaspia
By Cosmartidene of Babylon
By another(?) unknown wife
By various wives
- Eleven other children