Ahasuerus / Xerxes
Oxford Dictionary of the Bible
by W.R.F. Browning (NY: Oxford University Press, 1996)
Ahaseurus. Probably to be identified with Xerxes I (486-465 BCE), who is mentioned by the Greek historian Herodotus. As portrayed in the bok of Esther, Ahasuerus oscillated between the threat of a holocaust at the instigation of Haman, followed by protection of the Jews throught the intervention of his Jewish queen Esther. The story is fictitious and written to provide an account of the origin of the feast of Purim; the book contains no references to the known historical evens of the reign of Xerxes.
Xerxes. Ruler of Persia from 486 to 465 BCE, called Ahasuerus in Ezra 4:6. His defeat by the Greeks at the naval battle of Salarmis in 480 BC is described by the Greek historian Herodotus. There are problems about the biblical chronology since the complaint against the returning Jews (Ezra 4:6) must have been made just before 445 BCE. However, the problems may be easily solved by detaching 4:6 from 4:7, which belongs in the reign of a different ruler.
Ahasuerus (Xerxes I) is the Persian ruler in the book of Esther, but this book is more in the nature of legend than history. In Dan 9:1 Ahasuerus is said to be the father of Darius the Mede, though in fact he was the son of Darius the Great.
Harper’s Bible Dictionary
edited by Paul J. Achtemier (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985)
You are strongly recommended to add to your library the excellent revised edition of Harper's Bible Dictionary titled, The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, Revised Edition, edited by Paul J. Achtemeier, with the Society of Biblical Literature (NY: Harper Collins, 1996). It is currently the best one-volume Bible dictionary in English, and it is available at Border's Books, Christian Science Reading Rooms, http://www.borders.com, or http://www.christianbook.com.
Ahasuerus, king generally identified as Xerxes I (485-464 b.c.) and described in the book of Esther as ruling from India to Ethiopia (Esther 1:1).
After banishing his queen, Vashti, he sought a replacement, selecting Esther. In the story of Esther and Mordecai, Ahasuerus appears as malleable and prone to extreme actions, first manipulated by Haman to allow the destruction of all Jews and then later by Esther and Mordecai to permit the Jews to defend themselves at the cost of many Gentile lives.
The historical Xerxes I ruled over twenty satrapies (Herodotus, Hist. III, 89), and his queen was Amestris from a noble Persian family (Hist. VII, 61).
According to Daniel 9:1, Ahasuerus was the father of Darius the Mede, and in Tobit 14:15 Ahasuerus joins Nebuchadnezzar in the destruction of Nineveh. Both notices pose severe chronological and historical problems.
Xerxes, the name of several rulers of the Persian Empire.
1 Xerxes I, who ruled 486-465 b.c. and is known from Greek history for his attempts at conquering the Greek mainland. He is probably the ruler referred to in Ezra 4:6 (there called Ahasuerus, from the Persian form of his name), a passage out of chronological context, who received a complaint against the Jews who had returned to Palestine from the Exile. In Dan. 9:1, an Ahasuerus is mentioned as the father of Darius the Mede (but see 2). The Persian ruler of the book of Esther (1:1, etc., there also called Ahasuerus) is presumably based on Xerxes I, but as presented in Esther he is more a legendary than a historical figure. The Greek translators of the Septuagint (and cf. Josephus Antiquities II. 184) consistently render Ahasuerus as Artaxerxes, however.
2 Xerxes II, 425 b.c., who succeeded Artaxerxes I (the son of Xerxes I) but was assassinated almost immediately. He is probably not referred to in the Bible.
Edited for BibleTexts.com by Robert Nguyen Cramer