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Who Was Ahasuerus?

Rock relief of an Achaemenid king, most likely Xerxes, located in the National Museum of Iran, Darafsh

by Trent Dee Stephens, PhD, for the Come Follow Me lesson July 25-31; Esther

We read in Esther 1:1-2,Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus, (this is Ahasuerus which reigned, from India even unto Ethiopia, over an hundred and seven and twenty provinces:). That in those days, when the king Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan the palace…

Most modern scholars equate the Biblical Ahasuerus with the historical Xerxes I, or Xerxes the Great, who ruled from 486 to 465 BC. Wikipedia states that, “He was the son and successor of Darius the Great (r. 522–486 BC) and his mother was Atossa, a daughter of Cyrus the Great (r. 550–530 BC), the founder of the Achaemenid empire.”

In Western history, Xerxes invaded Greece in 480 BC, famous for the Battle of Thermopylae, where 300 Spartan warriors withstood the huge Persian army long enough for the Greeks to better prepare for the invasion. The Persian invasion of Greece ended with the famous Battle of Salamis (September, 480 BC) where the Greek fleet soundly defeated Xerxes’ Persian fleet. Fearing that the Greeks might attack the bridges across the Hellespont and trap his army in Europe, and also needing to put down a Babylonian revolt, Xerxes retreated with most of his army to Persia. However, nearly the entire army died of starvation or disease on the return voyage.

Xerxes was assassinated in August 465 BC, by Artabanus, commander of the royal bodyguard and the most powerful officer of the Persian court, with the help of a eunuch named Aspamitres.

Trent Dee Stephens, PhD

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