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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Artaxerxes

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the Greek form (Ἀρταξέρξης ) of the name, or rather title, of several Persian kings (on each of which see fully in Smith's Diet. of Class. Biog. s.v.), and applied in the Auth. Vers. to several of them occurring in the O.T. The Hebrew form (Artachshast', אִרְתִּחְשִׁסְתְּ , Ezra 7:1; Ezra 7:7; or Artachshasht', אִרְתִּחְשִשְׁתְּ, Ezra 4:8, 11, 26; Ezra 6:14; once Artachshashta', אִרְתִּחִשִׁשִׁתָּ, Ezra 4:7; Sept. Ἀρθασασθά) is a slight corruption of ארתחשׁתר, which letters De Sacy has deciphered in the inscriptions of Nakshi Rustam, and which he vocalizes Artahshetr (Ant i. d. 1. Perse, p. 100). Gesenius pronounces them Artachshatr; and, by assuming the easy change of r into s, and the transposition of the s, makes Artachshast very closely represent its prototype (Thes. Heb. p. 155). The word is a compound, the first element of which, are found in several Persian names is geerally admitted to mean great; the latter part being the Zend khshethro, king (Lassen, in the Zeitschriftfiar d. Kunde d. Morgenl. 6:161 sq.). Thus the sense of great warrior (μέγας ἀρήιος ), which Herodotus (vi, 98) assigned to the Greek form Artaxerxes, accords with that which etymology (see Lassen, Keilschrift, p. 36) discovers in the original Persian title (particularly when we consider that as the king could only be chosen from the soldier-caste-from the Kshatriyas warrior and king are so far cognate terms); although Pott, according to his etymology of Xerxes, takes Artaxerxes to be more than equivalent to Artachshatrto be "magnus regum rex" (Etym. Forsch. i, p. lxvii). (See CUNEIFORM INSCRIPTIONS); (See HIEROGLYPHICS).

1. The Persian king who, at the instigation of the adversaries of the Jews, obstructed the rebuilding of the Temple, from his time to that of Darius, king of Persia (Ezra 4:7-24). The monarch here referred to is probably, (See AHASUERUS), not Cambyses (as Josephus says, Ant. 11:2, 1), but the immediate predecessor of Darius Hystaspis, and can be no other than the Magian impostor Smerdis (Σμέρδις ), who seized on the throne B.C. 522, and was murdered after a usurpation of less than eight months (Herod. iii, 61-78). Profane historians, indeed, have not mentioned him under the title of Artaxerxes; but neither do Herodotus and Justin (the latter of whom calls him Oropastes, i, 9) agree in his name (see Bertheau, Gesch. d. Isr. p. 397). (See SMERDIS).

2. As to the second Artaxerxes, in the seventh year of whose reign Ezra led a second colony of the Jewish exiles back to Jerusalem (Ezra 7:1 sq.), the opinions are divided between Xerxes (with Michaelis in loc.; Jahn, Einl. II, i, 276; Archaol. II, i, 259; De Wette, Einl. § 195, and others) and his son Artaxerxes Longimanus (so H. Michaelis; Offerhaus; Eichhorn, Einl. iii, 697; Bertholdt, Einl. iii, 989; Gesenius, Thesaur. p. 156; Kleinert, in the Dorpat. Beitr. i, 1; Keil, Chronicles p. 103; Archinard, Chronology, p. 128, and many others). Josephus (Ant. 11:5, 6) calls him Xerxes; but, from various considerations (chiefly that because the first portion of the book of Ezra relates to Darius Hystaspis, it does not follow that the next king spoken of must be his successor Xerxes; that Nehemiah's absence of twelve years is ample to allow the confusion in the infant colony under the merely moral sway of Ezra; and that Josephus likewise confounds the Artaxerxes of Nehemiah with Xerxes, while the author of the apocryphal version of Esdras [1 Esdr. ii, 17; 7:4; 8:8] correctly calls both these kings Artaxerxes, a name, moreover, more like the Heb. form, and in that case not conflicting with the distinctive title of Xerxes in Esther), it is nearly certain that (as in Syncell. Chronicles p. 251) he is the same with the third Artaxerxes, the Persian king who, in the twentieth year of his reign, considerately allowed Nehemiah to go to Jerusalem for the furtherance of purely national objects, invested him with the government of his own people, and allowed him to remain there for twelve years (Nehemiah ii, 1 sq.; v, 14). It is almost unanimously agreed that the king here intended is Artaxerxes Longimainus (Ἀρταξέρξης [otherwise Ἀρτοξέρξης, Bahr ad Ctes. p. 166,175]). (See NEHEMIAH).

As this prince began to reign B.C. 466, the restoration under Ezra will fall in B.C. 459, and the first under Nehemiah in B.C. 446. See the Meth. Quart. Review, July, 1850, p. 495. Others (as J. D. Michaelis) understand Artaxerxes Memon (reigned B.C. 404-359) to be meant (comp. Nehemiah 13:28, with Josephus, Ant. 11:8, 3 and 4); but Bertholdt (Einleit. iii, 1014) shows that the age of Eliashib (q.v.) will not allow this (comp. Nehemiah 3:1, with 12:1, 10); for Eliashib, who was high-priest when Nehemiah reached Jerusalem (Nehemiah 3:1), i.e. on this last supposition, B.C. 385, was grandson of Jeshua (Nehemiah 12:10), high- priest in the time of Zerubbabel (Ezra 3:2), B.C. 535. We cannot think that the grandfather and grandson were separated by an interval of 150 years. Besides, as Ezra and Nehemiah were contemporaries (Nehemiah 8:9), this theory transfers the whole history contained in Ezra 7, ad fin., and Nehemiah to this date, and it is hard to believe that in this critical period of Jewish annals there are no events recorded between the reigns of Darius Hystaspis (Ezra 6) and Artaxerxes Mnemon. As already observed, there are again some who maintain that as Darius Hystaspis is the king in the sixth chapter of Ezra, the king mentioned next after him, at the beginning of the seventh, must be Xerxes, and thus they distinguish three Persian kings called Artaxerxes in the Old Testament, (1) Smerdis in Ezra 4 :(2) Xerxes in Ezra 7, and (3) Artaxerxes Longimanus in Nehemiah. But (in addition to the arguments above) it is almost demonstrable that Xerxes is the Ahasuerus of the book of Esther, (See AHASUERUS), and it is hard to suppose that besides his ordinary name he would have been called both Ahasuerus and Artaxerxes in the 0. T. it seems, too, very probable that the policy of Nehemiah ii was a continuation and renewal of that of Ezra 7, and that the same king was the author of both. Now it is not possible for Xerxes to be the Artaxerxes of Nehemiah, as Josephus asserts (Ant. 11:5, 6), for Xerxes only reigned 21 years, whereas Nehemiah (Nehemiah 13:6) speaks of the 32d year of Artaxerxes. Nor is it necessary to believe that the book of Ezra is a strictly continuous history. It is evident from the first words of ch. 7 that there is a pause at the end of ch. 6. Indeed, as ch. 6 concludes in the 6th year of Darius, and ch. 7 begins with the 7th year of Artaxerxes, we cannot even believe the latter king to be Xerxes without assuming an interval of 36 years (B.C. 516-479) between the chapters, and it is not more difficult to imagine one of 56, which will carry us to B.C. 1459, the 7th year of Artaxerxes Longimanus. We conclude, therefore, that this is the king of Persia under whom both Ezra and Nehemiah carried on their work; that in B.C. 457 he sent Ezra to Jerusalem; that after 13 years it became evident that a civil as well as an ecclesiastical head was required for the new settlement, and therefore that in 446 he allowed Nehemiah to go up in the latter capacity. From the testimony of profane historians, this king appears remarkable among Persian monarchs for wisdom and right feeling, and with this character his conduct to the Jews coincides (Diod. 11:71).


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Artaxerxes'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/a/artaxerxes.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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Tuesday, November 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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