Bible Encyclopedias

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Ahasuerus; Asseurus

a -haz - -ē´rus , (Septuagint Ἀσσούηρος , Assoúēros , but in Tobit 14:15 Asúeros ; the Latin form of the Hebrew אהשׁורושׁ , 'ăḥashwērōsh , a name better known in its ordinary Greek form of Xerxes): It was the name of two, or perhaps of three kings mentioned in the canonical, or apocryphal, books of the Old Testament.

1. In Esther

There seems to be little reasonable doubt, that we should identify the Ahasuerus of Est with the well-known Xerxes, who reigned over Persia from 485 to 465 bc, and who made the great expedition against Greece that culminated in the defeat of the Persian forces at Salamis and Plataea. If Est be taken as equivalent to Ishtar, it may well be the same as the Amestris of Herodotus, which in Babylonian would be Ammi-Ishtar, or Ummi-Ishtar. Amestris is said to have been the daughter of Otanes, a distinguished general of Xerxes, and the grand-daughter of Sisamnes, a notorious judge, who was put to death with great cruelty by the king because of malfeasance in office. Sisamnes may be in Babylonian Shamash-ammanu-(shallim). If he were the brother and Otanes the nephew of Mordecai, we can easily account for the ease with which the latter and has ward Esther, were advanced and confirmed in their Positions at the court, of Xerxes.

2. In Ezra

An Ahasuerus is mentioned in Ezra 4:6 , as one to whom some persons unnamed wrote an accusation against Judah and Jerusalem. Ewald and others have suggested that this Ahasuerus was Cambyses, the son and successor of Cyrus. It seems to be more probable that Xerxes, the son and successor of Darius Hystaspis, is meant: first, because in the following verse Artaxerxes, the son and successor of Xerxes, is mentioned; and secondly, because we have no evidence whatever that Cambyses was ever called Ahasuerus , whereas there is absolute certainty that the Pets Khshayarsha, the Hebrew 'ăḥashwērōsh , the Greek Assoúēros or Xerxes, and the Latin Ahasuerus , are the exact equivalents of one another.

3. In Tobit

In the apocryphal book of Tobit (14:15, the King James Version) it is said that before Tobias died he heard of the destruction of Nineveh, which was taken by Nabuchodonosor and Assoúēros . This Assoúēros can have been no other than Cyaxares, who according to Herodotus (i.196) took Nineveh and reduced the Assyrians into subjection, with the exception of the Babylonian district. As we shall see below, he was probably the same as the Ahasuerus of Daniel 9:1 . The phrase "which was taken by Nabuchodonosor and Assoúēros " is not found in the Syriac version of Tobit.

4. In Daniel

An Ahasuerus is said in Daniel 9:1 to have been the father of Darius the Mede, and to have been of the seed of the Medes. It is probable that this Ahasuerus is the same as the Uvakhshatara of the Persian recension of the Behistun inscription, which in the Babylonian is Umaku'ishtar, in the Susian Makishtarra, and in Herod Cyaxares. It will be noted that both the Greek Cyaxares and the Hebrew Akhashwerosh omit the preformative uva - and the "t " of the Persian form Uvakhshatara. That this Median king had sons living in the time of Cyrus is shown by the fact that two rebel aspirants to the throne in the time of Darius Hystaspis claimed to be his sons, to wit: Fravartish, a Median, who lied saying, "I am Khshathrita of the family of Uvakhshatara" (Behistun Inscr, col. II, v); and Citrantakhma, who said, "I am king in Sagartia of the family of Uvakhshatara" (id, II, xiv). If we accept the identification of Gubaru with Darius the Mede, then the latter may well have been another of his sons, at first a sub-king to Astyages the Scythian, as he was later to Cyrus the Persian.

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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Ahasuerus; Asseurus'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. 1915.

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