Glossary of Terms

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)

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).

Xerxes, the name of several rulers of the Persian Empire.


Edited for by Robert Nguyen Cramer