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Ahasuerus (Persian: خشایارشا Khashayarsha,Hebrew: אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ, Modern Aẖashverosh Tiberian ʼĂḥašwērôš; Greek: Ασουηρος Asouēros in the Septuagint; Latin: Xerxes or Assuerus in the Vulgate; 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 to 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 ʼAkhashverosh(אחשורוש), which is a Hebrew rendering of the Babylonian Achshiyarshu: both this and the Greek Ξέρξης are renderings of the Old Persian Xšayāršā (also spelled 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

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]

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