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Ahasuerus (Hebrew: אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ, Modern Aḥašveroš Tiberian ʾĂḥašwērôš; Greek: Ασουηρος in the Septuagint; Latin: Xerxes or Assuerus in the Vulgate; Persian: 𐎧𐏁𐎹𐎠𐎼𐏁𐎠 Khashayarsha, commonly transliterated Achashverosh) is a name used several times in the Hebrew Bible, as well as related legends and Apocrypha. This name (or title) is applied in the Hebrew Scriptures to three rulers. The same name (or title) is also applied uncertainly to a Babylonian official noted in the Book of Tobit.

Equivalence of the names Ahasuerus and Xerxes

The name Ahasuerus is equivalent his Greek name of Xerxes, both deriving from the Old Persian language Khashayarsha. The form Xerxes has not traditionally appeared in English bibles,[1] but has rather appeared as Ahasuerus. Many other translations and paraphrases[2] have used the name Xerxes.

The name Xerxes comes to us from the Greek Ξέρξης. The English name Ahasuerus is derived from a Latinized form of the Hebrew Áchashwerosh (אחשורוש), which is a Hebrew rendering of the Babylonian Achshiyarshu: both this and the Greek Ξέρξης are renderings of the Old Persian Xšayāršā (also spelt Khsayârshâ).[3] Thus this literary change was created as the name moved across each of the language groups in a westerly direction from Persia until it entered English translations of the Bible.

In the Bible


Book of Esther

Henry Taylor as Ahasuerus in a photograph by Julia Margaret Cameron.

Ahasuerus is given as the name of the King of Persia in the Book of Esther[4]. 19th century Bible commentaries generally identified him with Xerxes I of Persia.[5] The Greek version (Septuagint) of the Book of Esther refers to him as Artaxerxes, and the historian Josephus relates that this was the name by which he was known to the Greeks.[6] Similarly, the Vulgate, the Midrash of Esther Rabba, I, 3 and the Josippon identify the King as Artaxerxes. The Ethiopic text calls him Arťeksis, usually the Ethiopic equivalent of Artaxerxes. John of Ephesus and Bar-Hebraeus identified him as Artaxerxes II, a view strongly supported by the 20th century scholar Jacob Hoschander.[7] Masudi recorded the Persian view of events which affirms the identification and al-Tabari similarly placed the events during the time of Artaxerxes II despite being confused by the Hebrew name for the king. Josephus and the Vulgate present "Ahasuerus" as a different name for the king to "Artaxerxes" rather than an equivalent in different languages. Indeed an inscription from the time of Ataxerxes II records that he was also known as Arshu understood to be a shortening of the Babylonian form Achshiyarshu derived from the Persian Khshayarsha. (Xerxes). The Greek historians Ctesias and Deinon noted that Artaxerxes II was also called Arsicas or Oarses respectively similarly understood to be derived from Khshayarsha, the former as the shortened form together with the Persian suffix -ke applied to such shortened names.[7]

Book of Ezra

Ahasuerus is also given as the name of a King of Persia in the Book of Ezra.[8] Jewish tradition regards him as the same Ahasuerus of the Book of Esther; the Ethiopic text calls him Arťeksis, as it does the above figure in Esther.

Book of Tobit

In some versions of the deuterocanonical Book of Tobit, Ahasuerus is given as the name of an associate of Nebuchadnezzar, who together with him, destroyed Nineveh just before Tobit's death.[9] A traditional Catholic view is that he is identical to the Ahasuerus of Daniel 9:1[10] In the Codex Sinaiticus Greek (LXX) edition, the two names in this verse appear instead as one name, Ahikar (also the name of another character in the story of Tobit). Other Septuagint texts have the name Achiachar. Western scholars have proposed that Achiachar is a variant form of the name "Cyaxares I of Media", who historically did destroy Nineveh, in 612 BC.

Book of Daniel

Ahasuerus is given as the name of the father of Darius the Mede in the Book of Daniel.[11] Josephus names Astyages as the father of Darius the Mede, and the description of the latter as uncle and father-in-law of Cyrus by mediaeval Jewish commentators matches that of Cyaxares II, who is said to be the son of Astyages by Xenophon. Thus this Ahasuerus is commonly identified with Astyages. He is alternatively identified, together with the Ahasuerus of the Book of Tobit, as Cyaxares I, said to be the father of Astyages. Views differ on how to reconcile the sources in this case. One view is that the description of Ahasuerus as the "father" of Darius the Mede should be understood in the broader sense of "forebear" or "ancestor." Another view notes that on the Behistun Inscription, "Cyaxares" is a family name, and thus considers the description as literal, viewing Astyages as an intermediate ruler wrongly placed in the family line in the Greek sources.

In legend

In some versions of the legend of the Wandering Jew, his true name is held to be "Ahasuerus."[12]

See also


  1. ^ KJV, NASB, Amplified Bible, ESV, 21st Century KJV, ASV, Young's Literal Translation, Darby Translation, Holman Christian Standard Bible, etc.
  2. ^ NIV, The Message, NLT, CEV, NCV, NIRV, Today's NIV, etc.
  3. ^ Nichol, F.D., Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 3, Review and Herald Publishing Association, (Washington, D.C., 1954 edition), p.459, "Historical Setting"
  4. ^ Esther 1
  5. ^ The Religious Policy of Xerxes and the "Book of Esther", Littman, Robert J., The Jewish Quarterly Review, 65.3, Jan 1975, p.145-148.
  6. ^ Ahasuerus at the
  7. ^ a b Jacob Hoschander, The Book of Esther in the Light of History, Oxford University Press, 1923
  8. ^ Ezra 4:5-7
  9. ^ Book of Tobit, 14:15.
  10. ^ Maas, A. (1907). Assuerus. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved April 15, 2009 from New Advent:
  11. ^ Daniel 9:1
  12. ^ Andrei Oişteanu, ""The legend of the wandering Jew in Europe and Romania."". Retrieved 2008-03-12.  Studia Hebraica.

External links

This article incorporates text from the public-domain Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

AHASUERUS (the Latinized form of the Hebrew r?),y; in LXX. Avvob pos, once in Tobit Aabnpos), a royal Persian or Median name occurring in three of the books of the Old Testament and in one of the books of the Apocrypha. In every case the identification of the person named is a matter of controversy.

In Dan. ix. i Ahasuerus is the father of Darius the Mede, who "was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans" after the conquest of Babylon and death of Belshazzar. Who this Darius was is one of the most difficult questions in ancient history. Nabonidos (Nabunaid, Nabu-nahid) was immediately succeeded by Cyrus, who ruled the whole Persian empire. Darius may possibly have acted under Cyrus as governor of Babylon, but this view is not favoured by Dan. vi. 1, vi. 25, for Darius (v. 31) is said to have been sixty-two years old at the time (638 B.C.). This would make him contemporary with Nebuchadrezzar, which agrees with Tob. xiv. 15, where we read "of the destruction of Nineveh, which Nebuchadnezzar and Ahasuerus took captive." As a matter of fact, however, Cyaxares and Nabopolassar were the conquerors of Nineveh, and the latter was the father of Nebuchadrezzar. Cyrus did, on ascending the throne of Babylon, appoint a governor of the province, but his name was Gobryas, the son of Mardonius. The truth is, no doubt, as Prof. Sayce points out, that the book of Daniel was not meant to be strictly historical. As Prof. Driver says, "tradition, it can hardly be doubted, has here confused persons and events in reality distinct" (Literature of the Old Test. (6) p. 500).

In Ezra iv. 6 Ahasuerus is mentioned as a king of Persia, to whom the enemies of the Jews sent representations opposing the rebuilding of the temple at Jerusalem. Here the sequence of the reigns in the Biblical writer and in the profane historians - in the one, Cyrus, Ahasuerus, Artaxerxes, Darius; in the other, Cyrus, Cambyses, Smerdis, Darius - led in the past (Ewald, &c.) to the identification of Ahasuerus with Cambyses (529-522 B.e.), son of Cyrus. The name Khshayarsha, however, has been found in Persian inscriptions, and has been thought to be equivalent to the Xerxes (485-465 B.C.) of the Greeks. On Babylonian tablets both the forms Khishiarshu and Akkashiarshi occur amongst others. Modern scholars, therefore, identify the Ahasuerus of Ezra with Xerxes.

In the book of Esther the king of Persia is called Ahasuerus (rendered in LXX. "Artaxerxes" throughout). The identification of Ahasuerus with Artaxerxes I. Longimanus, the son and successor of Xerxes, though countenanced by Josephus, deserves little consideration. Most students are agreed that he must be a monarch of the Achaemenian dynasty, earlier than Artaxerxes I.; and opinion is divided between Darius Hystaspes and Xerxes. In support of the former view it is alleged, among other things, that Darius was the first Persian king of whom it could be said, as in Esther i. 1, that he "reigned from India even unto Ethiopia, over an hundred and seven and twenty provinces"; and that it was also the distinction of Darius that (Esther x. 1) he laid "a tribute upon the land and upon the isles of the sea" (cf. Herod. iii. 89). In support of the identification with Xerxes it is alleged (1) that the Hebrew 'Ahashverosh is the natural equivalent of the old Persian Khshayarsha, the true name of Xerxes; (2) that. there is a striking similarity of character between the Xerxes of Herodotus and the Ahasuerus of Esther; (3) that certain coincidences in dates and events 'See Trumbull, Threshold Covenant, pp. 46 sqq.; Haddon, Study of Man, pp. 347 sqq.; P. Sartori, Zeitschr. fiir Ethnologie, 1898, pp. I seq.

corroborate this identity, as, e.g., the feast in the king's third year (cf. Esther i. 3 with Herod. vii. 8), the return of Xerxes to Susa in the seventh year of his reign and the marriage of Ahasuerus at Shushan in the same year of his. To this it may be added that the interval of four years between the divorce of Vashti and the marriage of Esther is well accounted for by the intervention of an important series of events fully occupying the monarch's thoughts, such as the invasion of Greece.

See articles "Ahasuerus" in the Encyclopaedia Biblica, Hastings' Dictionary, the Jewish Encyclopaedia; S. R. Driver, Introd. to the Lit. of the Old Test.; Friedrich Delitzsch in the Calwer Bibellexikon (1893).

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Proper noun




  1. (Biblical) A king of Persia, later identified with Xerxes.
  2. A name given to the Wandering Jew.


Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

  1. (Daniel) = Cyaxares I., father of Darius the Mede
  2. (Ezra) = Camyses
  3. (Esther) = Xerxes


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