Persia 11: From Xerxes to Artaxerxes
Posted By: Charles Pope
Date: Saturday, 15 December 2007, at 7:49 a.m.
- The sources also differ as to whether Themistocles came to the court of Xerxes or Artaxerxes. In reality, he presented himself to both. By 465 BC, Xerxes was ready to bury his identity as a Judah-figure.
- As it was said, “They remembered not Gideon and all he had done for them”. Like his role model Gideon, Xerxes was “disrespected” for failing to utterly destroy his father’s enemies. Xerxes was not especially honored either in Greece or Persia. No doubt, there were many of the court that did not appreciate his tactics in securing the Empire.
- Henceforth, Xerxes would be referred to only as Artaxerxes, and associated exclusively with the “Benjamin” type. The name Artaxerxes (Artakhshathra, “true power/dominion”) connotes “rightful ruler”, that is, a neo-Sargon. (Cf Arda-shir, “true-king”)
- Compare also the Middle Kingdom Gudea/Benjamin who ousted the conspirators Mentuemhet/Levi and Naram-Sin/Simeon, and also superseded Ur-Bau/Reuben. A “Simeon” and the “Levi” of the Persian royal house were now dead, namely Mardonius/Mordecai/Masistus and Arabignes. The family Reuben, Artobarzanes/Artabanus/Pausanius was presently considered a loyal subject.
- As Artaxerxes, the king was given a new epithet, Macro-Cheir, “long hand”. Cheir (“hand”) or Cheiron was a Greek epithet of Judah (from a Hebrew word for “hand”). However, when prefixed with Macro-, the epithet corresponds more closely to Benjamin, “son of the strong/right (by implication, extended) hand”.
- Artaxerxes was however still known more colloquially as Arses (Arsa), which is a name that properly belonged to Xerxes as a neo-Arsa/Tiglath-pileser III.
- It is possible that Xerxes used both names from the beginning of his reign, but only Artaxerxes after 465 BC. If so, then the Year 5 inscription of Artaxerxes in Egypt should be dated to 481 BC rather 461 BC. Regardless, the 41-year reign of Artaxerxes encompasses the 21 years attributed to Xerxes. The total reign was 41 years and not 62.
© Charles N. Pope, US Library of Congress. All rights reserved.