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Bible Dictionaries

Fausset's Bible Dictionary


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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 isΚshershe . 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 Αhashverosh equates to the Persian Κhshayarsha , 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.

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These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Ahasuerus'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. 1949.

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