Artaxerxes I of Persia

Artaxerxes I of Persia

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Artaxerxes I was the sixth king of kings of the Achaemenid Empire from 465 BCE to 424 BCE. He was the son of Xerxes I of Persia
Xerxes I of Persia
Xerxes I of Persia , Ḫšayāršā, ), also known as Xerxes the Great, was the fifth king of kings of the Achaemenid Empire.-Youth and rise to power:...

 and Amestris
Amestris
Amestris or Amastris was the wife of Xerxes I of Persia, mother of king Artaxerxes I of Persia. She was known to have been poorly regarded by ancient Greek historians....

, daughter of Otanes.
  • (Greek: Ἀρταξέρξης, Old Persian  Artaxšaça, "whose rule (xšaça < *xšaθram) is through arta
    Asha
    Asha is the Avestan language term for a concept of cardinal importance to Zoroastrian theology and doctrine. In the moral sphere, aša/arta represents what has been called "the decisive confessional concept of Zoroastrianism." ...

    (truth)"; Modern Persian
    Persian language
    Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

     اردشیر یکم )
  • Ardeshir; the name has nothing to do with Xerxes
    Xerxes
    Xerxes is a male name. Most notably, it may refer to Xerxes I of Persia . It may also refer to:-People:*Xerxes II of Persia, reigned 424 BCE*Xerxes of Armenia, Armenian king, assassinated around 212 BCE...

    )

He may have been the "Artasyrus
Artasyrus
Artasyrus an Armenian recorded as being the Satrap of Armenia during the reign of king Artaxerxes II. His son Orontes was already Satrap of Matiene during the reign of the same king, so it appears there is confusion in the historical records, which is understandable in that western sources about...

" mentioned by Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

 as being a Satrap of the royal satrapy of Bactria.

In Greek sources he is also surnamed μακρόχειρ Macrocheir (Latin: Longimanus), allegedly because his right hand was longer than his left.

After Persia had been defeated at Eurymedon, military action between Greece and Persia was at a standstill. When Artaxerxes I took power, he introduced a new Persian strategy of weakening the Athenians by funding their enemies in Greece. This indirectly caused the Athenians to move the treasury of the Delian League
Delian League
The Delian League, founded in circa 477 BC, was an association of Greek city-states, members numbering between 150 to 173, under the leadership of Athens, whose purpose was to continue fighting the Persian Empire after the Greek victory in the Battle of Plataea at the end of the Greco–Persian Wars...

 from the island of Delos
Delos
The island of Delos , isolated in the centre of the roughly circular ring of islands called the Cyclades, near Mykonos, is one of the most important mythological, historical and archaeological sites in Greece...

 to the Athenian acropolis. This funding practice inevitably prompted renewed fighting in 450 BCE, where the Greeks attacked at the Battle of Cyprus. After Cimon's failure to attain much in this expedition, the Peace of Callias
Peace of Callias
The Peace of Callias is a purported treaty established around 449 BC between the Delian League and Persia, ending the Persian Wars. The peace was agreed as the first compromise treaty between Achaemenid Persia and a Greek city....

 was agreed between Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

, Argos
Argos
Argos is a city and a former municipality in Argolis, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Argos-Mykines, of which it is a municipal unit. It is 11 kilometres from Nafplion, which was its historic harbour...

 and Persia in 449 BCE.

Artaxerxes I offered asylum to Themistocles
Themistocles
Themistocles ; c. 524–459 BC, was an Athenian politician and a general. He was one of a new breed of politicians who rose to prominence in the early years of the Athenian democracy, along with his great rival Aristides...

, who was the winner of the Battle of Salamis
Battle of Salamis
The Battle of Salamis was fought between an Alliance of Greek city-states and the Persian Empire in September 480 BCE, in the straits between the mainland and Salamis, an island in the Saronic Gulf near Athens...

, after Themistocles was ostracized from Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 and Artaxerxes I gave him Magnesia
Magnesia on the Maeander
Magnesia or Magnesia on the Maeander was an ancient Greek city in Anatolia, considerable in size, at an important location commercially and strategically in the triangle of Priene, Ephesus and Tralles. The city was named Magnesia, after the Magnetes from Thessaly who settled the area along with...

, Myus
Myus
Myus, Caria was an ancient city-state and was one of twelve major settlements formed in the Ionian Confederation, called the Ionian League. The city was said to have been founded by Cyaretus , a son of Codrus. Myus was a small peninsula, it is now however surrounded by land...

 and Lampsacus
Lampsacus
Lampsacus was an ancient Greek city strategically located on the eastern side of the Hellespont in the northern Troad. An inhabitant of Lampsacus was called a Lampsacene. The name has been transmitted in the nearby modern town of Lapseki.-Ancient history:...

 to maintain him in bread, meat and wine, Palaescepsis to provide him with clothes and he gave him Percote
Percote
Percote was a town or city on the southern side of the Hellespont, to the northeast of Troy. Percote is mentioned a few times in Greek mythology, where it plays a very minor role each time. It was said to be the home of a notable seer named Merops, also its ruler...

 with bedding for his house.

Portrayal in the Book of Ezra and Nehemiah


Artaxerxes commissioned Ezra
Ezra
Ezra , also called Ezra the Scribe and Ezra the Priest in the Book of Ezra. According to the Hebrew Bible he returned from the Babylonian exile and reintroduced the Torah in Jerusalem...

, a Jewish priest-scribe, by means of a letter of decree, to take charge of the ecclesiastical and civil affairs of the Jewish nation. A copy of this decree may be found in
.

Ezra
Ezra
Ezra , also called Ezra the Scribe and Ezra the Priest in the Book of Ezra. According to the Hebrew Bible he returned from the Babylonian exile and reintroduced the Torah in Jerusalem...

 thereby left Babylon in the first month of the seventh year (~ 457 BCE) of Artaxerxes' reign, at the head of a company of Jews that included priests and Levites. They arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month of the seventh year (Hebrew Calendar
Hebrew calendar
The Hebrew calendar , or Jewish calendar, is a lunisolar calendar used today predominantly for Jewish religious observances. It determines the dates for Jewish holidays and the appropriate public reading of Torah portions, yahrzeits , and daily Psalm reading, among many ceremonial uses...

).

The rebuilding of the Jewish community in Jerusalem had begun under Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

, who had permitted Jews held captive in Babylon, to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple of Solomon. Consequently, a number of Jews returned to Jerusalem in 538 B.C., and the foundation of this "Second Temple" was laid the following year.

In Artaxerxes' 20th year (444 B.C.), Nehemiah
Nehemiah
Nehemiah ]]," Standard Hebrew Nəḥemya, Tiberian Hebrew Nəḥemyāh) is the central figure of the Book of Nehemiah, which describes his work rebuilding Jerusalem and purifying the Jewish community. He was the son of Hachaliah, Nehemiah ]]," Standard Hebrew Nəḥemya, Tiberian Hebrew Nəḥemyāh) is the...

, the king's cupbearer, apparently was also a friend of the king as in that year Artaxerxes inquired after Nehemiah's sadness. Nehemiah
Nehemiah
Nehemiah ]]," Standard Hebrew Nəḥemya, Tiberian Hebrew Nəḥemyāh) is the central figure of the Book of Nehemiah, which describes his work rebuilding Jerusalem and purifying the Jewish community. He was the son of Hachaliah, Nehemiah ]]," Standard Hebrew Nəḥemya, Tiberian Hebrew Nəḥemyāh) is the...

 related to him the plight of the Jewish people and that the city of Jerusalem was undefended. The king sent Nehemiah
Nehemiah
Nehemiah ]]," Standard Hebrew Nəḥemya, Tiberian Hebrew Nəḥemyāh) is the central figure of the Book of Nehemiah, which describes his work rebuilding Jerusalem and purifying the Jewish community. He was the son of Hachaliah, Nehemiah ]]," Standard Hebrew Nəḥemya, Tiberian Hebrew Nəḥemyāh) is the...

 to Jerusalem with letters of safe passage to the governors in Trans-Euphrates, and to Asaph
Asaph (Bible)
Asaph is the name of three men from the Old Testament of the Hebrew Bible. The articles related to the son of Berachiah and descendant of Kohath refer to the same person.* Asaph, the father of Joah * Asaph, son of Berachiah the Gershonite...

, keeper of the royal forests, to make beams for the citadel by the Temple and to rebuild the city walls.

Interpretations of Artaxerxes actions


Roger Williams
Roger Williams (theologian)
Roger Williams was an English Protestant theologian who was an early proponent of religious freedom and the separation of church and state. In 1636, he began the colony of Providence Plantation, which provided a refuge for religious minorities. Williams started the first Baptist church in America,...

, a seventeenth-century Christian minister and founder of Rhode Island
Rhode Island
The state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, more commonly referred to as Rhode Island , is a state in the New England region of the United States. It is the smallest U.S. state by area...

, interpreted several passages in the Old and New Testament to support limiting government interference in religious matters. Williams published The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution, describing his analysis of why a civil government should be separate from religion according to the Bible. Williams believed that Israel was a unique covenant kingdom and not an appropriate model for New Testament Christians who believed that the Old Testament covenant had been fulfilled. Therefore, the more informative Old Testament examples of civil government were "good" non-covenant kings such as Artaxerxes
Artaxerxes
Artaxerxes may refer to:The throne name of several Achaemenid rulers of the 1st Persian Empire:* Artaxerxes I of Persia, Artaxerxes I Longimanus, r. 465–424 BC, son and successor of Xerxes I...

, who tolerated the Jews and did not insist that they follow his state religion.

Offspring


By queen Damaspia
Damaspia
Damaspia was a queen of Persia, wife of king Artaxerxes I, and mother of Xerxes II, his legitimate heir. She was probably Persian....

  • Xerxes II

By Alogyne of Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

  • Sogdianus

By Cosmartidene of Babylon
  • Darius II
    Darius II of Persia
    Darius II , was king of the Persian Empire from 423 BC to 405 BC.Artaxerxes I, who died on December 25, 424 BC, was followed by his son Xerxes II. After a month and a half Xerxes II was murdered by his brother Secydianus or Sogdianus...

  • Arsites


By Andia of Babylon
  • Bogapaeus
  • Parysatis
    Parysatis
    Parysatis was the 5th-century BCE illegitimate daughter of Artaxerxes I, Emperor of Persia and Andia of Babylon.She was the half-sister of Xerxes II, Sogdianus and Darius II...

    , wife of Darius II Ochus

By another(?) unknown wife
  • An unnamed daughter, wife of Hieramenes, mother of Autoboesaces and Mitraeus

By various wives eleven other children

External links