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Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature

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Achme´tha (Ezra 6:2; in the Apocrypha 2 Maccabees 9:3; Judith 1:1-2; Tobit 3:7; Joseph. Antiq. x. 11, 7; xi. 4, 6; also, in Greek authors, Ecbatana), a city in Media. The name seems to have been applied exclusively to cities having a fortress for the protection of the royal treasures. In Ezra we learn that in the reign of Darius Hystaspes the Jews petitioned that search might be made in the king's treasure-house at Babylon, for the decree which Cyrus had made in favor of the Jews (Ezra 5:17). Search was accordingly made in the record-office ('house of the rolls'), where the treasures were kept at Babylon (Ezra 6:1): but it appears not to have been found there, as it was eventually discovered 'at Achmetha, in the palace of the province of the Medes' (Ezra 6:2). In Judith 1:2-4, there is a brief account of Ecbatana, in which we are told that it was built by Arphaxad, king of the Medes, who made it his capital. It was built of hewn stones, and surrounded by a high and thick wall, furnished with wide gates and strong and lofty towers. Herodotus speaks of it in similar terms, and ascribes its foundation to Dejoces, who was probably the same with the Arphaxad of Judith.

Ecbatana has been usually identified with the present Hamadan, which is still an important town, and the seat of one of the governments into which the Persian kingdom is divided. It is situated in north lat. 34° 53´, east long. 40°, at the extremity of a rich and fertile plain, on a gradual ascent, at the base of the Elwund Mountains, whose higher summits are covered with perpetual snow. Some remnants of ruined walls of great thickness, and also of towers of sun-dried bricks, present the only positive evidence of a more ancient city than the present on the same spot. Heaps of comparatively recent ruins, and a wall fallen to decay, attest that Hamadan has declined from even its modern importance. The population is said by South-gate to be about 30,000, which, from what the present writer has seen of the place, he should judge to exceed the truth very considerably. It is little distinguished, inside, from other Persian towns of the same rank, save by its excellent and well-supplied bazaars, and the unusually large number of khans of rather a superior description. This is the result of the extensive transit trade of which it is the seat, it being the great center where the routes of traffic between Persia, Mesopotamia, and Persia converge and meet. Its own manufactures are chiefly in leather. Many Jews reside here, claiming to be descended from those of the Captivity who remained in Media. Benjamin of Tudela says that in his time the number was 50,000. Modern travelers assign them 500 houses; but the Rabbi David de Beth Hillel, who was not likely to understate the fact, and who had the best means of information, gives them but 200 families. He says they are mostly in good circumstances, having fine houses and gardens, and are chiefly traders and goldsmiths. In the midst of the city is a tomb, which is said to be that of Mordecai and Esther. As Ecbatana was then the summer residence of the Persian court, it is probable enough that Mordecai and Esther died and were buried there; and traditional testimony, taken in connection with this fact, and with such a monument in a place where Jews have been permanently resident, is better evidence than is usually obtained for the allocation of ancient sepulchers. The tomb is in charge of the Jews, and is one of their places in pilgrimage.

History notices another Ecbatana, in Palestine, at the foot of Mount Carmel, towards Ptolemais, where Cambyses died. It is not mentioned by this or any similar name in the Hebrew writings.





Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Achmetha'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature". https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​kbe/​a/achmetha.html.
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